Paleobiologist Geerat Vermeij Is Next Speaker in New-Emeriti Lecture Series

Distinguished Professor Emeritus Geerat Vermeij, portrait, leaning against files, UC Davis faculty
Geerat Vermeij's latest book explores a new approach to thinking about the evolution of life through the accumulation of 'power,' defined as the ability of organisms to take up or expend energy. (UC Davis photo)

Distinguished Professor Walter Leal is shining a spotlight on some of our newest emeriti, featuring them in a video and a lecture series. The next talk, by paleobiologist Geerat Vermeij, is scheduled for 3 p.m. Wednesday, Feb. 15.


  • WHAT: New-Emeriti Distinguished Lecture Series
  • WHO: Geerat Vermeij, paleobiologist, Department of Earth and Planetary Sciences
  • WHEN: 3 p.m. Wednesday, Feb. 15
  • WHERE: In person and livestream

“Most of our colleagues remain so active that we are unaware of their ‘retirement’ until we see their signature with the suffix ‘emeritus’ or ‘emerita’ in an email or another document,” Leal says in the introduction to “Tribute to Our New Emeriti,” the video he released last fall highlighting 24 faculty members who retired in 2021-22.

Leal, of the Department of Molecular and Cellular Biology, College of Biological Sciences, also organized the New-Emeriti Distinguished Lecture Series, featuring three of the emeriti from the video.

Each lecture is being held in person and online, the livestream option being typical for Leal, who, as you may recall, produced two virtual symposia on COVID-19 during the first year of the pandemic, among many other online programs. Watch Leal’s Biochemistry Channel on YouTube.

The New-Emeriti Distinguished Lecture Series began in December with Harris Lewin, distinguished professor emeritus and the Robert and Rosabel Osborne Endowed Chair in Evolution and Ecology, College of Biological Sciences, and former vice chancellor of research. 

For the winter lecture, Vermeij, distinguished professor emeritus, Department of Earth and Planetary Sciences, College of Letters and Science, will address “The Evolution of Power,” the subject (and title) of his forthcoming book.

“The new book and the lecture will focus on the unifying theme of power, energy taken up or spent per unit of time,” Vermeij said, as quoted in this article on the College of Letters and Science website. “I shall focus on the place of humans as the most powerful species (individually and collectively) ever to have evolved, and on the unique monopoly we have created; yet humans follow a trend of increasing power throughout the history of life.” Listen to Vermeijs lecture preview.

The winter program also will feature Andy Jones, continuing lecturer in the University Writing Program and a former poet laureate of the city of Davis, reciting a poem he has written in tribute to recent emeriti.

The 2022-23 lecture series will conclude with Sharon Strauss, distinguished professor emerita, Department of Evolution and Ecology, College of Biological Sciences, as the speaker for spring quarter, 3 p.m. Monday, April 17.

Leal said the series is a way of expressing appreciation to predecessor faculty members, those who “laid the foundation for us to succeed.”

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