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Best Friends Forever: The Science of Cooperation
February 6 @ 7:00 pm - 9:00 pm| Free
Life on Earth would be unthinkable without cooperation: the cells making up our bodies and those of other animals and plants work together, we ourselves often work together in teams, just like ants do in colonies or plants do with their pollinators. We even work together with our microbiome: the bacteria in our gut. Yet, the evolution of cooperation has mystified scientists for over a century and here we’ll hear why this remained such a burning question for so long and how we are now starting to answer it.
Dr. Aniek Ivens is an evolutionary ecologist currently working at The Rockefeller University in NYC. The overarching theme of her work is ‘cooperation’, be it between ants in a colony or between different organisms, such as between us and the bacteria in our gut. In her research, Aniek studies how such examples of cooperation evolved to be what they are today and how they have shaped life on Earth as we know it, including ourselves. In her work she combines computer simulations with field studies of ants, the aphids they farm in their nest as well as these insects’ gut microbiome. Previously, she worked at the Universities of Wageningen, Groningen (The Netherlands) and Copenhagen (Denmark), where she not only studied these cattle-tending ants but also crop-growing ants. When not in the field or lab, she also puts cooperation into practice as member of Improv team ‘The Hand-me-Downs’. You may catch her performing in one of their shows on stages throughout NYC or in her solo-improv show ‘Dr. Aniek Discovers’.
Image from: http://theeyzmaster.deviantart.com/art/Abby-Friends-Mary-and-Anna-569370437