Joined: July 2005
I went back to school in my late thirties because I'd started reading Stephen Jay Gould and Carl Sagan for fun, and reading the popular literature on evolutionary biology made me remember that I'd always wanted to be an entomologist (slap upside the head -- how did I ever forget to do what I loved for 25 years?)
It was through Gould's writing that I learned about MacLean v. Arkansas Board of Ed. I was mystified -- I had no idea that such things still went on in the U.S. When I was a kid, my mother had told me about the Scopes trial. I remember her laughing when she told the story. Incidentally, she's Catholic and has only a high-school education -- and she thought that banning the teaching of evolution in schools was silly. Then again, in 1960s New England, that kind of thing was something that only happened somewhere else 40 years earlier. Imagine my surprise to find out that it was still going on in the U.S. in the 1980s!
So, although I've never been a public activist on this issue, I've been interested in it for 20 years. I actually encountered creationist students for the first time when I was a grad student and biology TA at Western Michigan. Now that I'm a postdoc thinking about an eventual full-time academic job, I've realized that I'd better keep up with the problem more closely.
My own research interests are more on the scale of population and community ecology, but like all of biology, all of this makes sense only in the light of evolution. The educational problem is much broader, of course. Most adults don't make direct use of evolutionary concepts on the job, for instance -- but the deliberate mis-education of children and college students about science is not just dishonest, but inflicts on them a severe impediment to understanding the world.