Richard Dawkins received the Penn Museum's Wilton Krogman Award for Distinguished Achievement in Biological Anthropology Wednesday evening, March 12, 2013. The award was presented by Julian Siggers, Williams Director, Penn Museum, at the sold-out 2013 Bicentennial Philomatheon Society Annual Oration, held in the 1,500-seat Irvine Auditorium on the University of Pennsylvania campus.
Renowned evolutionary biologist and the former Charles Simonyi Professor of the Public Understanding of Science at Oxford University, Dr. Dawkins is author of numerous best-selling books, including The Selfish Gene, The Extended Phenotype, The Blind Watchmaker, Climbing Mount Improbable, The Ancestor's Tale, The God Delusion, and, most recently, a book for children, The Magic of Reality: How We Know What's Really True.
Paul Mitchell, B.A. undergraduate student in Biological Anthropology and Philosophy at the University of Pennsylvania and an engaged Penn Museum researcher and public presenter, is the Philomathean Society's Annual Oration Director. He welcomed the packed house, and spoke a bit about the evening's orator.
"Dr. Dawkins is renowned not only for his beautifully lucid prose and his vocal criticism of intelligent design, anti-scientific thinking, and religious fundamentalism, but also his theoretical contributions to advancing the gene-centered view of evolution and coining the term "meme" to describe the evolution and spread of cultural information. These ideas have fueled discussion of the basis of evolutionary change and the nature of culture for decades since they were first presented in his 1976 bestseller, The Selfish Gene."
The Wilton Krogman Award for Distinguished Achievement in Biological Anthropology was developed in memory of Dr. Wilton M. Krogman, former professor of Physical Anthropology (1947-1971) and founder of the Philadelphia Center for Research in Child Growth, now the W.M. Krogman Center for Research in Child Growth and Development. Dr. Donald Johanson, most famous for the 1974 discovery of "Lucy," a 3.2-million-year-old hominid fossil in Ethiopia, was the last recipient of the award in 2008. This was the fourth presentation of the Award, first given in 2000 (Dr. F. Clark Howell) and again in 2004 (Dr. Ralph Holloway).