Darwin Day Tennessee

Educating our community about evolution

Darwin Day in Knoxville, Tennessee is a volunteer-run event dedicated to informing the public about evolution and its importance as a unifying concept in all of biology. Our goal is to disseminate factual information in the context of a non-confrontational and rational discussion based on empirical evidence.

We sponsored our first Darwin Day event on February 12th of 1997, the 188th birthday of Charles Robert Darwin. Since this first Darwin Day, the annual celebration has grown to include an annual keynote speaker, a teacher’s workshop, and other events. See Sheffield & Bauer (2017) and Goodman (2008) for publications describing its evolution and impact.

2021: Darwin Cake Day!

We have three events this year: an Evolution Bake Off, a Reddit AMA,, and a Biodiversity Viewing Party. See below.

Evolution Bake Off: Use the hashtag #evolutionbakeoff to tag a biodiversity or evolution inspired baked creation on Twitter, Facebook, Pinterest, Flickr, Instagram, or wherever you use social media: Dodo Donuts, Trilo-Bites, Kludgie the Legged Whale ice cream cake. Use your imagination! To make sure we don’t miss it (though we’ll be checking the tag on various platforms), please fill in this form. We’d love all submissions in by 11:59 pm US Eastern on Feb. 19. Here’s an inspiration from Leila Battison:

Note this has no affiliation with any television shows or other baking competitions. And, sadly, taste will not be assessed by us, but we hope you and those in your bubble enjoy the taste of your creations.

Reddit AMA on Evolution: We will host an ask me anything about evolution on the Ask Science subreddit on Monday, Feb. 15, 2021. People can start adding questions now at https://www.reddit.com/r/askscience/comments/lkeguh/askscience_ama_series_we_are_evolutionary/ and we’ll jump on throughout the afternoon to answer them. Our panelists will be:

If you want an example of the sort of discussion that takes place, here’s a past one on vertebrate paleontology that might be of interest.

Biodiversity Viewing Party: Friday, Feb. 26, 6:30 - 8 pm US Eastern Time: We will all watch together the first episode of the nature documentary Our Planet, after an introduction by Dr. Laura Russo about biodiversity. Dr. Russo’s talk will be streamed followed by a Q&A while people watch the movie. Bring your family! [though note the movie is rated PG]. The documentary can be seen on Netflix and on YouTube. We also embed it below:

Due to covid, we will not be co-hosting the annual Darwin’s birthday party with the McClung museum, and our fantastic Darwin and Wallace puppets will remain safely at home. But they will return in 2022!

2020: Keynote Dr. Jessica Ware

Here is a talk by Dr. Ware at the March for Science:

Phylum Feast: Wednesday, February 12th, 11:30 am. Ayres 308h

Keynote Dr. Jessica Ware. Wed. Feb 12, 6 pm, Strong Hall 101

Evolution Board Game Tournament Saturday, February 15th, 11:30 am, McClung Museum

Darwin’s Birthday Party Saturday, February 15th, 12:30 pm, McClung Museum

This year’s organizer is Krista De Cooke (kdecooke@vols.utk.edu).

Sponsors for Darwin Day this year include the University of Tennessee, Knoxville’s departments of Theater; Religious Studies; Classics; Math; History; Sociology; Plant Sciences; Art; and Ecology & Evolutionary Biology; as well as the National Institute for Biological and Mathematical Synthesis (NIMBioS).

2019: Keynote Dr. Alan Templeton

Birthday party: Darwin’s birthday party was hosted at the McClung museum.

Organizers: Mali Hubert, Claire Winfrey, Clara Howell

2018: Keynote Dr. Nizar Ibrahim

German/Moroccan paleontologist Nizar Ibrahim, a postdoctoral scholar in vertebrate anatomy and paleontology at the University of Chicago, scours the deserts of North Africa for clues to life in the Cretaceous period, when the area was a large river system teeming with a profusion of diverse life. In addition to unearthing many huge dinosaur bones, he has discovered fossil footprints and a new species of flying reptile with an 18-foot wingspan that lived 95 million years ago. His upcoming paper describing the ecosystem of what is now Morocco’s Sahara Desert in the mid-Cretaceous period will be a milestone, providing the most detailed account of the diversity, paleoecology, and geologic context of fossil vertebrates from North Africa. His description is especially important, since northern Africa and the mid-Cretaceous period are underexplored and underrepresented in paleontology. “We found an entire lost world; a window on a moment of major evolutionary change,” he says. Nizar Ibrahim was named a National Geographic Emerging Explorer in 2014.

Birthday party: Darwin’s birthday party was hosted at the McClung museum.

Organizers: Maggie Limbeck and Jessica Beck

Informational Handouts


On Understanding Evolution

In the Classroom