So, about a year, maybe two, a professor from History of Ideas wanted to create an interdiciplinary centre for human evolution at AU. It wasn’t funded but during the grant writing phase I wrote a bit for it and thought it would be a great idea.

It wasn’t funded, as I said, but when looking at the plans for the project I realised that funding wasn’t necessary for most of what was intended for the centre.

Essentially the idea was to get people at my university together to talk human evolution. Anyone who is interested in human evolution and human prehistory. I am 100% behind that.

At BiRC we think we are on the beat about human evolution but there are so many aspects of it that we don’t think about just because we don’t know about it. It is the unknown unknowns.

It would be really great to get together people from different groups to chat. If nothing else just to chat.

There’s a guy at the university hospital who’s written books (that I have really enjoyed reading) about human evolution. Why don’t I chat with him often? Because I don’t have the opportunity!

So when funding wasn’t given I emailed Peter Kjaergaard (the guy who applied) and asked why we didn’t just do the project anyway without funding.

Turns out there is no reason, so we started the project without funding. We just email people we think are interested and meet for lunches or such before or after seminars we think will be interesting.

Peter then had the great idea of holding our own lecture series. Informal meetings where we have lunch and talk about what one of our own is doing. We called it Human Evolution Lunch Lectures (although he apparently thought the acronym was too HELL’ish so on the homepage they are now called Human Evolution Lunch Seminars). That has to change because as everyone knows you go to hell if you believe in evolution.

We’ve only had one of those, but it was great. A talk about the evolution of our fascination of horror movies. It turns out that the humanities have something to add to our entertainment and I for one am happier to fund it now.

Besides the HELL part we have just gotten together once a month to have lunch and chat. I didn’t know, I really didn’t know, how much relevant work is done at my own university! Departments I have never heard about are doing work very related to what I am doing, just in very different fields of research.

I don’t know how to describe what we are doing, but I am very happy that we are doing it!

Author: Thomas Mailund

My name is Thomas Mailund and I am a research associate professor at the Bioinformatics Research Center, Uni Aarhus. Before this I did a postdoc at the Dept of Statistics, Uni Oxford, and got my PhD from the Dept of Computer Science, Uni Aarhus.

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