Introduction to Evolution: From Darwin to DNA

Instructor: Dr. Sergios-Orestis Kolokotronis

Spring 2017: February 23, March 2, 9, 23, 30 (5 sessions; Thursdays, 6:10-8:10 PM)


Are Darwin’s findings still relevant today? How could he have come up with the idea of evolution through natural selection if he did not know about DNA or how heredity works? And how did heredity work, again…? Now that we have decoded the human genome, what do we know – and still don’t – about life? This course will lead students on a broad exploration of evolutionary science, seeking to answer questions such as these, among many others. We will review the history of evolutionary thought and science, genetics and heredity, the main mechanisms by which evolution acts, and the tools and findings of evolutionary research, including the evolution of humans and microbial pathogens.

Dr. Sergios-Orestis Kolokotronis is an Assistant Professor of Epidemiology at the School of Public Health at SUNY Downstate Medical Center located in Brooklyn. He maintains secondary affiliations at the American Museum of Natural History, NYU, and the New York Botanical Garden. His research group focuses on molecular evolution of biological diversity by employing modern tools drawn from genomics and bioinformatics to investigate the tempo and mode of evolution leading to adaptation of organisms to their environment. Having worked on endangered species, his interests are now focused on the application of evolutionary thinking to questions in public health, such as infectious diseases and pathogen vectors, as well as polluted environments and their microbial communities. He has coauthored numerous scientific publications that can be accessed at He received his Ph.D., M. Phil, and M.A. in Ecology and Evolutionary Biology from Columbia University and was a postdoctoral fellow at the American Museum of Natural History’s Sackler Institute for Comparative Genomics.