The Herzberg Lecture is held annually in honour of Gerhard Herzberg, a former Chancellor of Carleton University and recipient of the 1971 Nobel Prize for Chemistry. The lecture emphasizes the relationship between science and society and seek to address an aspect of science which has a pronounced impact on our daily lives.

The Herzberg Lecture is free and open to the public.

The 2022 Herzberg Lecture: Evolution in a Rapidly Changing World

Presented by Dr. Sally Otto, Killam University Professor at the University of British Columbia.

Wednesday, Nov. 23, 2022
7 p.m. ET on Zoom


In this talk…

Human activities are reshaping the selective pressures faced by organisms and altering which species survive and which go extinct. Dr. Otto will discuss how the evolutionary trajectory of life is being altered in an increasingly human-impacted world.


About the speaker

Sarah (Sally) Otto is a Killam University Professor at the University of British Columbia. Otto is known for her theoretical studies investigating how biological systems evolve, with over 200 publications and a book. Dr. Otto was co-founder of the Canadian Society of Ecology and Evolution and has recently served on the Species at Risk Advisory Council to the  Minister of Environment and Climate Change Canada. She launched and directs the Liber Ero program, a Canadian-wide post-doctoral program in conservation science. During the pandemic, she has been a co-leader of the BC COVID-19 modelling group and CoVaRR-Net’s ‘computational biology and modelling’ pillar. Awards include a MacArthur Fellowship, a Steacie Fellowship and Steacie Prize, and fellowship in the Royal Society of Canada, the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, and the National Academy of Sciences.

Previous lectures, 2000-present

  • Immune Responses to SARS-CoV-2 (WATCH) (2021)
    Dr. Akiko Iwasaki of Yale
    Professor, Yale School of Medicine
  • Increasing Diversity in Computer Science at All Levels (WATCH) (2020)
    Dr. Maria Klawe
    President, Harvey Mudd College
  • Biological and Cultural Evolution: Six Characters in Search of an Author (WATCH) (2019)
    Freeman Dyson
    Professor emeritus of the Institute for Advanced Study in Princeton, New Jersey. American mathematician and theoretical physicist most famous for his work in quantum electrodynamics, solid-state physics, astronomy, and nuclear engineering
  • Signaling through DNA (2017)
    Jacqueline K. Barton
    John G. Kirkwood and Arthur A. Noyes Professor in the Division of Chemistry and Chemical Engineering at the California Institute of Technology
  • Wetlands: The Kidneys of Our Planet (2016)
    Dr. William J. Mitsch
    Juliet C. Sproul Chair for Southwest Florida Habitat Restoration and Management and Professor of Marine and Ecological Science Juliet C. Sproul Chair for Southwest Florida Habitat Restoration and Management Professor of Marine and Ecological Science, Florida Gulf Coast University
  • The Brain on Stress: Novel Epigenetic Mechanisms of Brain Plasticity (2015)
    Dr. Bruce McEwen
    Alfred E Mirsky Professor and Head of the Harold and Margaret Milliken Hatch Laboratory on Neuroendocrinology at the Rockefeller University
  • More Food, Smaller Footprint: Earth System Science and Biological Agriculture (2014)
    Dr. Gerald M. Ross
    Organic Farmer and Consultant in Farm Design, Maui, Hawaii
  • Must We Irradiate Food?
    Dr. Rick Holley, University of Manitoba
  • Shaken and Stirred: The Cost of Earthquakes and How Science Can Help (2011)
    Dr. John Cassidy
    Research Scienties, Geological Survey of Canada, Natural Resources Canada and Head of the Earthquake Seismology Section
  • The Dynamic Brain: Adaptation, Changing Environments and Life Circumstances (2010)
    Dr. Anthony Phillips
    Scientific Director, CIHR’s Institute of Neurosciences, Mental Health and Addition
  • Doing More Good than Harm: Building an Evidence Base for Environmental Policy and Practice (2009)
    Dr. Andrew Pullin
    Centre for Evidence-based Conservation
    University of Wales, Bangor, Wales
  • The Large Hadron Collider: Shedding Light On a Dark Universe (2008)
    Dr. Rolf-Dieter Heuer
    Director in Charge of High Energy Physics and Astroparticale Physics, Deutsche Elektronen-Synchrotron
  • Seeing and Feeling Nanotechnology: Plastics That Change Colour With Electricity and Pressure (2007)
    Dr. Geoffrey A. Ozin
    Tier 1 Canada Research Chair and Distinguished University Professor
  • Origami, Linkages, and Polyhedral: Folding with Algorithms (2006)
    Dr. Erik D. Demaine
    Associate Professor of Computer Science, Massachusetts Institute of Technology
  • The Art of Research (2005)
    Dr. Ram Murty
    Professor and Queen Research Chair in Mathematics
  • Dinosaurs: The Cultural Icons of Science (2004)
    Dr. Philip Currie
    Head of the Dinosaur Research, Royal Tyrrell Museum of Paleontology
  • Fisheries Impact on Marine Ecosystems and Their Implication of Global Securities (2003)
    Dr. Daniel Pauly
    Professor of Fisheries, University of British Columbia
  • How Does the Sun Shine? (2001)
    Dr. John N Bahcall
    Institute for Advanced Study School of Natural Sciences, Princeton University
  • Words and Rules: The Ingredients of Language (2000)
    Dr. Steven Pinker
    Department of Brain and Cognitive Sciences, Massachusetts Institute of Technology