Random AsidesScience

Texas Dudes Rock Evo

Have I mentioned lately that I’m a dude?

Have I mentioned lately that I’m from Texas?

Well, I am both. And because I’m full of testosterone, and because I’m feeling especially Texas-y today, I thought I’d give a quick shout out to some dudes from Texas who were given a special award recently.

Yeah. Yeah. I know this is Skepchick. I know I might be breaking the rules just a little bit with all the “man stuff”. But I already admitted to steroid hormones flowing unfettered through my testes, and today is one of those crisp Texas days that make me say “y’all” a lot, so you’ll just have to forgive me.

Besides, these guys are being recognized for distinguished careers promoting and defending good science, and I’m pretty sure that trumps gender in this case.

So let’s just ignore their penises for the time being.

Anyway . . . . In recognition of their decades of defending and promoting evolution, the National Center for Science Education has bestowed the 2010 Friend of Darwin award (not to be confused with the Darwin Awards) on three Texans who have fought the good fight for science.

The winners are (beyond the fold):

Dr. David Hillis— Alfred W. Roark Centennial Professor in Natural Sciences Section of Integrative Biology, College of Natural Sciences, at the University of Texas at Austin. An expert in biotic diversity, Dr. Hillis has written several textbooks (including Life: The Science of Biology) and over 170 papers for journals ranging from Science to Journal of Heredity.

Says Dr. Eugenie C. Scott, NCSE’s executive director:

David has inspired countless teachers about the importance of teaching evolution. When we anticipated problems with the Texas board of education’s adoption of high school biology textbooks in the early 2000s, we turned to David. He was brilliant in his response then, and in the most recent battles in Texas in the rewriting of the science education standards.

Dr. Gerald Skoog— Director of the Center for Integration of Science Education & Research (and Dean Emeritus), College of Education at Texas Tech University. Dr. Skoog has been a tireless advocate for evolution education, working with myriad local Texas communities and professional organizations. And he’s contributed hundreds of articles, essays, and reviews for such journals as Science Education, Education Week, Science and Children, Journal of Teacher Education, and The American Biology Teacher.

Says Dr. Scott:

Dr. Skoog’s lifelong scholarship in evolution education has had a huge impact for 40 years. He literally wrote the book on the coverage of evolution in textbooks. We all depend on Gerry for his scholarship. And he has served NCSE in very important ways–when we’ve needed help, especially in Texas, he’s always been there for us. He’s been a wonderful ally and leader in the field of evolution education.

Dr. Ronald Wetherington— Professor of Anthropology and Director of the Center for Teaching Excellence at Southern Methodist University. An expert in evolutionary theory, Dr. Wetherington has taught human evolution and forensic anthropology to thousands of students, is the author of Understanding Human Evolution and 4 other books on anthropology and archaeology, and has developed and conducted numerous educational seminars for kids and for teachers. The Texas Freedom Networknamed Dr. Wetherington its 2009 “Grassroots Hero.”

Says Dr. Scott:

Ron is second to none when it comes to the time, energy, skill, and enthusiasm he’s brought to the battle over Texas science standards. His honesty and his ability to earn the trust of school board members has paid huge dividends in the struggle for good science education standards in Texas. We owe him a lot.

Doctors Hillis, Skoog, and Wetherington join the rarefied ranks of past FODers, which include Carl Zimmer, Steven Schafersman, Lawrence Krauss, Ken Miller, and Barbara Forrest.

The awards ceremony, hosted by NCSE and emceed by Scientific American’s Steve Mirsky, took place in San Diego on Friday the 12th.

Sam Ogden

Sam Ogden is a writer, beach bum, and songwriter living in Houston, Texas, but he may be found scratching himself at many points across the globe. Follow him on Twitter @SamOgden

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11 Comments

  1. Hot Diggity Hot Damn! YeeHaw and Yipee! Hell I thought I was the only free thinker in all of West Texas. Texas Tech and Lubbock, TX are my alma mater and hometown. It ain’t often an overeducated good ole boy gets the motivation to comment on Skeptchick. However, having raised a daughter who is a science teacher, I am glad to see Dr. Skoog mentioned. It’s hard for me to imagine how difficult his life outside the academic community might be, given the hardshell fundamental religious conservative community in which he works. I often find I keep my mouth shut and opinions to my self for fear of reprisal and outright discrimination.

  2. My addled brain [I stayed up very late to watch Stephen Fry on Craig Ferguson’s show] read that sentence as “three Texans who have fought the food fight for science”.

    Wow, I thought – flinging barbecue for science! Doesn’t that just scream “men and monkeys = descended from same ancestor”.

  3. With those awesome dudes fighting the good fight down there, I guess I can’t just write off the entire state of Texas like I sometimes want to. Oklahoma is still on my shit list though.

    But still, it’s hard to forgive you guys for that damned “God Blessed Texas” song.

  4. Speaking as another protuberant Texan, I’m extremely pleased to see these scientists and teachers recognized by the NCSE.

    Now if only we could get the value of science and, you know, teaching, recognized by the state board of education….

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