News Archive

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• April 28, 2016: Robert T. Pennock. “Experimental Evolution in the Classroom: The Active LENS Project.” Envisioning the Future of Undergraduate STEM Education: Research and Practice. Washington DC.

• Jan. 19, 2016: We are now accepting applications for the second annual LEVERS Avida-ED Workshop for MSU biology faculty to be held at Michigan State University, East Lansing, MI in June 9 -11, 2016. [Applications CLOSED March 2016].

• July 13, 2015. Louise Mead, “Using Evolution in Action to Address Students’ Naive Concepts.” Poster. Gordon Conference on Undergraduate Biology Education Research. Lewiston, ME.

• July 8-10, 2015 James J. Smith, Western Conference for Science Education (WCSE), invited speaker, Western University, London, ON, Canada.

• June 27, 2015. Louise Mead, “Contextual gains in student understanding of evolution after inquiry-based exercises with digital organisms” Presentation. Evolution 2015 conference.. Sao Paolo, Brazil.

• June 13, 2015. James J. Smith, HHMI/BioQUEST/SCN Conference, invited speaker, Harvey Mudd College, Claremont, CA.

• June 4-6, 2015: Active LENS Workshop. We held the first of our national Avida-ED faculty development workshops as part of our NSF Active LENS grant at Lyman Briggs College and the BEACON Center for the Study of Evolution in Action here at MSU. The grant funded 18 participants—mostly university and college biology faculty—in nine teams of two and BEACON funded an additional team of two High School teachers. Teams came from both public and private colleges, universities, community college, and high schools, with participants from California, Florida, Illinois, Michigan, New Mexico, North Carolina, Ohio, Pennsylvania and Virginia.

• June 1, 2015. Robert T. Pennock. “Teaching Evolution and Scientific Practices using Avida-ED.” Project 2061. American Association for the Advancement of Science. Washington DC.

• May 28-31, 2015: Jim Smith will present “Avida-ED: An artificial life platform for teaching evolutionary principles and the nature of science”, which has been accepted at the 22nd Annual ASM Conference for Undergraduate Educators to be held at the Renaissance Austin Hotel in Austin, TX.

• April 15, 2015: The Avida-ED Project is pleased to welcome our new software developer Diane Blackwood. Diane has an MS in biomedical engineering and a PhD in Wildlife and Fisheries Science and has done research on dolphin acoustics. Most recently, she developed software for the Fish & Wildlife Research Institute. Diane will be primarily working on a browser-based version of Avida-ED that will avoid the need to maintain cross-platform versions of the application.

• February 3, 2015: Robert T. Pennock gives an invited Avida-ED talk and demo to biology instructors. Sidwell Friends School, Washington DC.

• November 14, 2014: Robert T. Pennock gives an invited talk on “Digital Darwin: Evolution in Action in Your Computer” at the National Association of Biology Teachers (NABT) conference in Cleveland, OH.

• October 15, 2014: Postdoc position offered for Avida-ED project. Please download and pass along our position description. We will begin reviewing applications November 15. UPDATE: The position has been filled. Welcome Mike Wiser!

• Oct. 3, 2014. Wendy Johnson and Robert T. Pennock give “Evolution in Action in the Classroom with Avida-ED Digital Evolution Software” workshop at Life Discovery – Doing Science conference, San Jose CA.

• September 7, 2014: Avida-ED curriculum article published in American Biology Teacher: Amy Lark, Gail Richmond, Robert T. Pennock. “Modeling Evolution in the Classroom: The Case of the Fukushima Butterflies” (2014, 76(7):450-454).

Abstract: New science standards and reform recommendations spanning grades K-16 focus on a limited set of key scientific concepts from each discipline that all students should know, but also emphasize the integration of these with science practices so that students learn not only the “what” of science but also the “how” and “why”. In line with this approach, we present an exercise that models the integration of fundamental evolutionary concepts with science practices. Students use Avida-ED digital evolution software to test claims from a study on mutated butterflies in the vicinity of the compromised Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant complex subsequent to the Great East Japan Earthquake of 2011 (Hiyama et al., Scientific Reports 2 Article 570, 2012). This exercise is appropriate for use in both high school and undergraduate biology classrooms [pdf]

• September 2014: The National Science Foundation has awarded the Avida-ED project a five year $2.3m grant to support Avida-ED software and curriculum development, assessment studies, and a series of national faculty development workshops. Robert T. Pennock is the Principle Investigator, with Richard Lenski, Louise Mead, Charles Ofria and James Smith as Co-Principle Investigators.

• August 2014: Robert T. Pennock is a co-PI of a new grant from the Howard Hughes Medical Institute (HHMI) to reform STEM gateway courses at MSU. Part of this five-year $1.5m grant will fund a programmer and graduate student for the Avida-ED project.

• April 8, 2014: Robert T. Pennock “Observing Digital Evolution with Avida-ED”.  Guest lecture in Brian O’Shea’s LB490A seminar, Michigan State University, East Lansing MI.

• March 6, 2014: New model exercise and instructor support materials added “Exploring the Effects of Mutation Rate on Populations” by James Smith and Amy Lark.

• Feb. 13, 2014: Robert T. Pennock “Teaching Evolution and the Nature of Science using Avida-ED” Biology Dept. invited seminar, University of Northern Michigan, Marquette, MI.

• Feb. 12, 2014: Robert T. Pennock gives “Digital Darwin: Harnessing Evolution in Your Computer” Darwin Day talk, University of Northern Michigan, Marquette, MI.

• January 2014. Golden version of Avida-ED 2.0 released. This is mostly an “under the hood” revision that provides a flexible and powerful foundation for future feature enhancements, but there are some changes that will provide immediate benefits. Major code optimizations make everything run faster with larger world sizes. The speed increase also allowed us to replace the previous pre-evolved ancestor organism with the standard simple replicator ancestor used in the research version of Avida. See Version History for full list of improvements and changes in Avida-ED 2.0.

• February 2014: New model exercises and instructor support materials on are now available on the Curriculum page, including “Exploring the Effects of Mutation Rate on Individuals” by Amy Lark, and “Exploring Selection and Fitness” by Amy Lark and Robert T. Pennock.

• August 28, 2013: Amy Lark, Wendy Johnson, Louise Souther Mead, Jim Smith, Gail Richmond, and Robert T. Pennock “Learning with digital evolution software: Improving student understanding and acceptance of evolution.” at Vision & Change in Undergraduate Education: Chronicling Change, Inspiring the Future, Washington, DC.

• July 11 – 14, 2013: Amy Lark, Wendy Johnson, Louise Souther Mead, Jim Smith, Gail Richmond & Robert T. Pennock. “Learning with digital evolution software: Improving student understanding and acceptance of evolution.” Society for the Advancement of Biology Education Research (SABER), Minneapolis, MN.

• June 20 – 26, 2013: Amy Lark, Wendy Johnson, Louise Souther Mead, Jim Smith, Gail Richmond & Robert T. Pennock. “Learning with digital evolution software: Improving student understanding and acceptance of evolution.” Evolution 2013, Snowbird, UT.

• May 7, 2013: Amy Lark, Gail Richmond & Robert T. Pennock “Modeling evolution in the classroom: The case of Fukushima’s mutant butterflies.” (w/ ).  CREATE-ing Collaborations in STEM Education Research Mini-Conference, East Lansing MI.

• March 24, 2013: Amy Lark, Wendy Johnson, Louise Souther Mead, Jim Smith, Gail Richmond & Robert T. Pennock. “Teaching with digital evolution software: Assessing student understanding of fundamental concepts.”.  Mid-west Ecology and Evolution Conference (MEEC), South Bend, IN.

• Feb. 13, 2013: Robert T. Pennock “Observing Evolution in Action in the Lab and the Classroom”  Honors, iBLEND, MARC and RISE symposium. North Carolina A & T University.

• February 2013. A beta version of Avida-ED 2.0 is released for Mac OS X.

• August 1, 2012: Robert T. Pennock give invited talk “Special Topics in CS: Avida-ED” at Michigan Tapestry Workshop.

• July 19, 2012: Robert T. Pennock gives presentation “Learning Evolution and the Nature of Science using Avida-ED Digital Evolution Software” International Artificial Life XIII Conference. East Lansing, MI.

• July 7, 2012: Robert T. Pennock gives Avida-ED Software Demonstration. Education Symposium.  Society for the Study of Evolution Conference.  Ottawa, Canada.

• June 20-22, 2012: Wendy Johnson and Amy Lark gives invited talk “The impact of Avida-ED digital evolution software on student understanding of natural selection” on Avida-ED at Integrating STEM Education Research into Teaching: Knowledge of Student Thinking National Conference, University of Maine, Orono, Maine.

• June 20-22, 2012: Amy Lark and Wendy Johnson give workshop “Experimenting with natural selection in the classroom using Avida-ED software” at Integrating STEM Education Research into Teaching: Knowledge of Student Thinking National Conference, University of Maine, Orono, Maine.

• May 8-9, 2012: Lark, A., Johnson, W., Mead, L., Smith, J., and Pennock, R. (2012). “Experimenting with Natural Selection in the Classroom using Avida-ED”. Poster presented at CREATing the Future of STEM Education, East Lansing MI, May 2012.

• March 9, 2012. Amy Lark gives Avida-ED demonstration at Michigan Science Teachers Association 2012 Annual Conference, Lansing, MI.

• March 9, 2012. Wendy Johnson, “Observing Natural Selection in the Classroom.”Michigan Science Teachers Association 2012 Annual Conference, Lansing, MI.

• February 12, 2012. Amy Lark gives Avida-ED demonstration at Darwin Discovery Day. MSU Museum.

•November 3, 2011. Robert T. Pennock gives a talk and demonstration of Avida-ED at iBEST Colloquium, University of Idaho.

• September 16, 2011: Robert T. Pennock gives a talk and demonstration of Avida-ED at Utah State University.

• September 2011. We have provided a temporary fix for the font display problem that occurs under Mac OS X 10.6 (Snow Leopard) and 10.7 (Lion). We are currently at work on a complete recoding of Avida-ED that will make it fully compatible and ready for the new features we have planned for the next major release, but in the meantime users running these systems should download Avida-ED 1.2.0.3011+.

• March 31-April 1, 2011: Robert T. Pennock gives a workshop demonstration of Avida-ED at University of Texas at Austin.

• March 24-25, 2011, Robert T. Pennock gives a workshop demonstration of Avida-ED at North Carolina A&T University.

• February 23, 2011, Charles Ofria gives a talk and and demonstration of Avida-ED at University of Washington.

• February 11, 2011, Robert T. Pennock gives an invited talk and demonstration of Avida-ED at The College of Charleston.

• Spring 2010: We have developed a BETA version of a new plug-in for Avida-ED that allows the user to create a “Multi-dish” with multiple sub-environments. University instructors who might be interested in helping with classroom beta-testing, please contact the Avida-ED Project <pennock5{at}msu.edu>.

• October 9, 2009: Robert T. Pennock gives an invited talk and demonstration of Avida-ED at University of Missouri, Biochemistry department colloquium.

• March 28, 2009: Robert T. Pennock gives an invited talk and demonstration of Avida-ED at AAAS Speak Out for Science teacher workshop. Tulsa, OK.

• August 14, 2008: Robert T. Pennock presents Avida-ED poster at NSF CCLI PI conference. Washington DC.

• June 22, 2008: Robert T. Pennock gives an invited talk and demonstration of Avida-ED at Evolution 2008 Society for the Study of Evolution (SSE) conference. Minneapolis, MN.

• May 29, 2008: Robert T. Pennock gives a workshop demonstration of Avida-ED at BioQUEST/NESCent SELECTION Workshop: Tools for Teaching Evolution. Durham, NC.

• April 4, 2008: Robert T. Pennock gives an invited talk and demonstration of Avida-ED at National Evolutionary Synthesis Center, Duke University.

• April 18, 2008: Robert T. Pennock gives an invited talk and demonstration of Avida-ED at 7th Annual International Bioethics Forum: Evolution in the 21st Century. BioPharmaceutical Technology Center, Madison, WI.

• November 28, 2007: A half-day workshop on using Avida-ED will be given at the National Association of Biology Teachers (NABT) meeting in Atlanta, Georgia. Register at http://www-dev.nescent.org/eog/signup_digital_organism.php.

• November 2, 2007: Released a special Mac OS X version of Avida-ED that runs natively on Intel Macs. Now available in the Download area.

• October 19, 2007: Robert Pennock gives an invited talk and demonstration of Avida-ED at the National Science Teacher Association (NSTA) conference in Detroit, Michigan.

• July 7, 2007: Robert Pennock gives an invited talk about the design and development of Avida-ED at the Genetic and Evolutionary Computation Conference (GECCO) in London, England.

• June 19, 2007: After three years of development and classroom testing, Avida-ED was officially released for public distribution at the Society for the Study of Evolution meeting in Christchurch, New Zealand.