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03.10.17

Centenary celebrations for seminal ‘On Growth and Form’

Centenary celebrations for seminal ‘On Growth and Form’

The University of Dundee will pay tribute to the hugely influential biologist and mathematician D’Arcy Thompson with a packed programme of events celebrating the 100th anniversary of his seminal book, ‘On Growth and Form’.

The book has inspired scientists, artists and thinkers as diverse as Alan Turing, Richard Dawkins and Claude Lévi Strauss. The evolutionary biologist, Stephen Jay Gould, referred to the book as being “the greatest work of prose in twentieth century science.”

To mark the centenary there will be a number of events taking place at Dundee and also at the University of St Andrews. The series of talks, lectures and exhibitions will start on Friday 6 October, with the Armistead Lecture.

Dundee’s curator of Museum Services, Matthew Jarron, is one of the organisers of the centenary celebrations. He said, “It is very fitting that we are conducting this year’s Armistead Lecture about ‘On Growth and Form’ seeing as D’Arcy chaired the lecture back in 1890.

“The centenary celebrations are a way of us showcasing D’Arcy’s huge international importance. The programme aims to introduce D’Arcy’s amazing ideas and influence to as wide an audience as possible.

“I am sure he’d be delighted that his work continues to inspire new forms of creativity and discovery today.”

D’Arcy Thompson held the position of Professor of Natural History at University College, Dundee for 32 years. He then moved to the University of St Andrews in 1917 to take up the chair of Natural History and remained there for the last 31 years of his life.

The centenary events will include a three-day conference, split between Dundee and St Andrews. Starting on Friday 13 October, it will feature a range of presentations covering every aspect of D’Arcy’s work and the various fields that it has influenced.

The conference also coincides with the opening of a new exhibition exploring ‘On Growth and Form’ and its legacy at Dundee’s Lamb Gallery.

People will get the chance to hear about D’Arcy Thompson’s work in his own words. Archivist Meic Pierce Owen has delved into the University of St Andrews archives and has found over 30,000 letters written by D’Arcy. He will explore the highlights of the collection at a special talk on Saturday 9 December at the D’Arcy Thompson Zoology Museum in Dundee.

The celebrations start on Friday 6 October until Saturday 13 January 2018. For more information go to https://www.ongrowthandform.org/.