UNCW celebrates annual ‘Darwin Day’


Jack Kessler

Dr. Michaela Howells, standing amongst cardboard cutouts of her peers and Darwin himself, holds a cup of the insects she brought for attendees to snack on during Darwin Day Wednesday night in Cameron Hall.

Jack Kessler, Contributing Writer

Volunteers passed around cups of insect snacks, Darwin fanatics dressed up in kitschy costumes, professors delivered speedy presentations and everyone’s appreciation for the renowned naturalist Charles Darwin grew—some might say, evolved—last Wednesday night in Cameron Hall during UNCW’s annual Darwin Day Celebrations.

“This was a terrific Darwin Day,” said department of psychology professor Dr. Katherine Bruce. “I think that we started celebrating Darwin Day, oh my gosh it’s been probably 12 years ago, and I think this was the best one ever. It started with a few cupcakes and a ‘happy birthday Darwin’ and now it has turned into this whole big interdisciplinary just appreciation for everything natural selection.”

International Darwin Day, a celebration of the life and accomplishments of Charles Darwin, takes place annually on the naturalist’s birthday of Feb. 12. The celebration works to both educate and inspire those gathered to follow in the footsteps of its namesake.

“Darwin means a lot because the theory of evolution—well evolution—is the backbone of biology. It’s how we understand everything from how microbes evolve to how we have whales and frogs and all this diversity on the planet,” said assistant professor of marine embryology Dr. Jacob Warner.

The first International Darwin Day took place in 1995 and was established at UNCW around a decade ago as a collaboration between various academic departments and student clubs. This year’s celebration included short presentations by faculty members from the departments of anthropology, history, psychology, earth science, ocean science, biology and marine biology as well as trivia and birthday festivities.

“So there was a group of faculty members, senior faculty members, who held a huge celebration about ten years ago,” said assistant department of anthropology professor Dr. Michaela Howells. “And with that, there was a couple years when we didn’t do any kind of Darwin Day, and a group of us came on and heard that we had a Darwin Day before. We wanted to have another Darwin Day, and so we got together —Dr. Crowe, myself, Kamel—we came together and brought together the first Darwin Day. It was really successful, students loved it, and so we’ve been having one every year since.”