Mendel exhibit nears conclusion

Press Release

As part of the 80th anniversary of the Mendel Medal Celebration, Villanova and The Academy of Natural Sciences have teamed up to bring the exhibit, “Gregor Mendel: Planting the Seeds of Genetics,” to Philadelphia. Co-sponsored by Villanova University and the Academy, “Gregor Mendel” went on display May 24 and will close on Sept. 28.

Visitors of the exhibit can recreate Mendel’s groundbreaking pea experiments, analyze DNA sequences and identify dominant and recessive genes.

Other features include Mendel’s botanical specimens, scientific instruments, manuscripts, correspondence and even his gardening tools.

The exhibit was developed by Chicago’s The Field Museum, in partnership with The Vereinigung zur Förderung der Genomforschung in Vienna, Austria, and the Mendel Museum in Brno, Czech Republic.

“The journey to bring this Mendel exhibit to the city began over three years ago,” said University President Rev. Peter Donohue, O.S.A.

“Father Kail Ellis, O.S.A., Villanova’s dean of the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences, learned of its development and said, ‘Let’s share this exhibit and bring it to Philadelphia.’

“Now after years of hard work and ongoing collaboration, this vision is being realized.”

“As an Augustinian university, Villanova is delighted to co-sponsor this fascinating exhibit and partner with The Academy of Natural Sciences.”

“The opportunity allows us to share our unwavering commitment to academic excellence and exploration.”

The Mendel exhibit at The Academy of Natural Sciences is only one component of Villanova University’s year-long celebration devoted to highlighting Mendel’s lasting impact on scientific discovery and exploration as well as the concept of sustainability.

The Mendel Medal will be awarded to Rev. George V. Coyne, S.J., Ph.D., in a ceremony on Saturday.

Coyne is an astronomer and former director of the Vatican Observatory.

Currently, he is director emeritus at the Vatican Observatory and president of the Vatican Observatory Foundation.

The medal is awarded to outstanding scientists who have done much to advance the cause of science.

Additionally, The Academy of Natural Sciences will host a symposium entitled, “Mendel in the 21st Century: The Scientific, Social and Ethical Impact of Genetics in Our World.”

This two-day interdisciplinary symposium runs Sept. 22-23 and features experts speaking on such topics as biodiversity, evolution, genetics, agricultural and global sustainability.

The keynote speaker will be Sean B. Carroll, Ph.D, a professor of molecular biology and genetics and an investigator with the Howard Hughes Medical Institute at the University of Wisconsin. His lecture will kick off the symposium on Sept. 21.

The Mendel exhibit also coincides with the “Villanova Commitment to Sustainability,” an ongoing, campus-wide initiative exploring environmental, economic and cultural sustainability in a variety of contexts.

This initiative will involve student and faculty education, curriculum development, research, sustainable campus programs and community outreach.

“One of our goals in partnering with the Academy in presenting the Mendel exhibit is to educate visitors that they can appreciate the significance of his research and how, without his work, our current knowledge of the human genome would be nonexistent,” Ellis said. “Mendel laid the foundation from which all breakthroughs in genetic research came to be, and that is something that most people just don’t know. By highlighting Mendel for an entire year, we are about to showcase him before large and diverse audiences.”

Students and faculty of Villanova are invited and encouraged to attend events sponsored by the University and the Academy of Natural Sciences to learn more about this important Augustinian figure.