Osher Lifelong Learning Institute/CARTA Biennial Master Class I: "An Anthology of Anthropogeny" (Fall 2022)

Presented by: Osher Lifelong Learning Institute (UC San Diego Extension) and the UC San Diego/Salk Center for Academic Research and Training in Anthropogeny (CARTA)

Venue: Osher (UC San Diego Extended Studies La Jolla Campus): 9600 North Torrey Pines Road, Building D, Classroom 129.

Coordinators: Lindsay Hunter (CARTA) and Mavis Porter (Osher)

Format: In this series of talks, five prominent UC San Diego scholars, all CARTA members, address different topics related to human origins research. The talks are both in person (UC San Diego Environment, Health & Safety protocols permitting) and online. In person participation requires an Osher membership. CARTA supporters are invited to join the online sessions at no cost via Zoom. Each class is a lecture for roughly the first hour followed by participant Q&A.

Past Classes:


Pascal Gagneux
One Health and Emerging Diseases
Osher Master Class I: An Anthology of Anthropogeny
Dec 7, 2022

This talk will address the latest insights into the origin of humans and how this single species of primate became a planetary force. I will discuss biological aspects ranging from molecules (e.g., DNA, glycoproteins, antibodies, etc.) to societies (e.g., nature deficit syndrome, habitat destruction, field biology, agricultural and medical practice, and emerging diseases).

The notion of “One Health,” a holistic approach to the health of ecosystems, non-human animal species and humans, is getting a lot of traction. The ongoing COVID-19 pandemic and the more recent monkey pox out-outbreak are just two examples of spill-over infections and the countless ways in which human activities affect health at a planetary level. The combination of climate change, the need to feed 9 billion people, large scale ecological disturbance, injustice and inequity, and global mobility leave us with many difficult decisions if we hope to prevent future emerging diseases.


Margaret Schoeninger
Evolution of the Human Diet
Osher Master Class I: An Anthology of Anthropogeny
Nov 23, 2022

This lecture will discuss the evolution of the human diet in a comparative setting. It will highlight the importance of cultural inventions from hunting prey much larger than ourselves to processing and cooking food. All indications are that humans are now biologically dependent on the cultural practice of cooking.


Carol Marchetto
Stem Cells and Human Evolution
Osher Master Class I: An Anthology of Anthropogeny
Nov 9, 2022

Comparative analyses of brain cells in closely related species can shed light on changes occurring during evolution. The study of post-mortem brains of nonhuman primates (NHPs) has been limited and often does not recapitulate important species- specific developmental hallmarks. This talk will discuss new technology to investigate the development of live neurons from human and nonhuman primates and compare specific cell behaviors such as migration and maturation. We show differential migration patterns in human neural progenitor cells compared to those of chimpanzees and bonobos, suggesting changes related to maturation timing in human neurons. The strategy proposed here lays the groundwork for further comparative analyses between humans and NHPs and opens new avenues for understanding the differences in the neural underpinnings of cognition and neurological disease susceptibility between species.


Adena Schachner
Music, Dance, Evolution: The Origins and Consequences of Human Musicality
Osher Master Class I: An Anthology of Anthropogeny
Oct 26, 2022

Music and dance are cultural universals and begin early in infancy. In this talk, we'll explore the origins of these fundamentally human behaviors, from an evolutionary, cognitive, and developmental perspective. Why can humans move to a beat, while many other species cannot? What can children’s early development tell us about the musical mind? And what consequences does musicality have, for human social and even moral behavior?


Charles Kennel
The Coming Crisis of the Anthropocene
Osher Master Class I: An Anthology of Anthropogeny
Oct 12, 2022

This talk will broadly trace connections between past and present human exploitation of the environment, the coming crisis of the Anthropocene and what we humans can do to alleviate the crisis.