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Last modified: Monday, September 22, 2008

Biodiversity expert Daniel Janzen to speak at Indiana University

Sept. 22, 2008

BLOOMINGTON, Ind. -- Daniel H. Janzen, one of the world's foremost conservation biologists and the first recipient of the prestigious Crafoord Prize for biosciences, will give a public lecture Monday, Sept. 29, at Indiana University Bloomington, as part of the Workshop in Political Theory and Policy Analysis colloquium Fall 2008 series.

Janzen will speak on "How to DNA Barcode the Tropical Wild World and Endow It as Well: The ACG Example from Northwestern Costa Rica." The talk will take place noon-1:30 p.m. in the Frangipani room of the Indiana Memorial Union.

Daniel Janzen

Daniel Janzen

Janzen is the DiMaura Professor of Conservation Biology at the University of Pennsylvania and technical adviser to the Area de Conservacion Guanacaste (Guanacaste Conservation Area) in northwestern Costa Rica. Known for his research on the co-evolution of plants and animals, he is the author of more than 400 scientific articles. He and his biologist wife, Winnie Hallwachs, are among the primary architects of the Guanacaste Conservation Area, which was decreed a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1999.

"He is very well respected from the academic side, but he's also an innovator in figuring out how to establish a conservation area and involve local people in managing and protecting it," said Xavier Basurto, a visiting scholar at IU's Workshop on Political Theory and Policy Analysis.

Janzen received the inaugural Crafoord Prize for biosciences, given by the Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences, in 1984, in recognition of research that combined detailed observation and simple field experiments, especially his breakthroughs regarding the co-evolution of ants and acacia trees. "While he did not coin the term 'co-evolution,' he has done more to spread this notion around the scientific world than anybody else," the award citation said.

He received a MacArthur Foundation "genius award" in 1989 and the Kyoto Prize in Basic Science in 1997. He is a member of the U.S. National Academy of Sciences, the Costa Rican National Academy of Sciences, and is a longtime honorary member of the Costa Rican National Park Service.

In addition to working for the funding and protection of the Guanacaste Conservation Area -- an assortment of protected areas totaling more than 500 square miles -- Janzen has focused on the study of tropical caterpillars and their parasites, the conservation of tropical biodiversity and the promotion of "bioliteracy" as a tool for managing and protecting biological diversity.

Janzen, who rarely gives public lectures, will speak at IU about the potential for developing a pocket-sized DNA bar-coder that would enable anyone to instantaneously learn the identity of, for example, a plant or insect encountered in the wild. Such a device, he has said, would "democratize" environmental science, increasing the likelihood that many more people will understand -- and care about -- biodiversity. He also will speak about using the example of the Guanacaste Conservation Area as a model for funding DNA bar-coding.

The Workshop in Political Theory and Policy Analysis, an IU research center since 1975, combines teaching, research, and related activities where faculty, visiting scholars, and students participate in productive scholarship related to institutional analysis and design. For information on the Workshop, see