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Paleontologist to speak at Bethel College on evolution of whales

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NORTH NEWTON, KAN. -- When Rodney Frey, Bethel College registrar, saw a picture of a paleontologist named Philip Gingerich in National Geographic, the name rang a bell. Indeed, Frey and Gingerich had met in Africa 35 years earlier, where they were both participants in the Teachers Abroad Program. After exchanging e-mails with Gingerich, Frey suggested to the Bethel convocation committee that Gingerich would make an excellent speaker.

On Friday, March 31, Gingerich will visit Bethel College to speak in convocation on an especially timely topic--evolution.

Gingerich’s primary field of study is fossil record and evolution of mammals. His latest research on the origin and early evolution of whales has led him to Pakistan and Egypt for field study. Gingerich and his team of researchers have found and collected skeletons, many virtually complete, of several species of whales from the Eocene epoch.

Gingerich received a B.A. from Princeton University in 1968, an M.Phil. from Yale University in 1972 and a Ph.D. from Yale in 1974. He has received numerous fellowships and research grants. He is currently a professor of paleontology, geological sciences, biology and anthropology at the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor, and is also the director of the university’s Museum of Paleontology.

National Geographic has not been Gingerich’s only national media exposure--National Public Radio science reporters have quoted him several times in stories on paleontology. In 2000, he was featured in a PBS documentary on evolution, and he has been in documentaries shown on British and German public television.

Gingerich will present a natural sciences seminar entitled "How fast is evolution" at 7 p.m. on Thursday, March 30, in the Administration Building chapel on the North Newton campus.

On Friday, March 31, he will speak in convocation on the topic of "Evolution: the fossil record and the origin of whales" at 11 a.m. in Krehbiel Auditorium of the Fine Arts Center.

Admission to both these events is free and open to the public.

Bethel College is a four-year liberal arts college affiliated with Mennonite Church USA. Founded in 1887, it is the oldest Mennonite college in North America. Bethel is known for its academic excellence and has been named a Top Tier college by U.S. News & World Report every year since 1998. For more information, see the Bethel web site at www.bethelks.edu.

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