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Symposium Panelists



Dr. Ehab Abouheif

One of the greatest discoveries in biology over the last decade is that all animals use the same genes to control the development of their body plan. If all animals share the same genes then how have the diverse body plans, from jelly fishes to humans, evolved?

Dr. Abouheif is an evolutionary developmental biologist who has tried to answer this fundamental question by using ants as a model system in his lab for almost 15 years now. He is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Biology at McGill University. Dr. Abouheif's publications can be found on his website.

Ehab is the first Canada Research Chair in Evolutionary Developmental Biology in Canada, and in 2006 became an Alfred P. Sloan Research Fellow for his interdisciplinary approach to Evolutionary and Developmental Biology."


Dr. Anila Asghar

is an Assistant Professor at the School of Education, The Johns Hopkins University. She received her doctorate in Education from Harvard University and did postdoctoral research at the Evolution Education Research Center (EERC) at McGill University focusing on the intersections among Islam, science, culture, and education. She is exploring the various ways in which the theory of evolution is understood by scientists, biology teachers, and students in diverse Islamic cultures and communities. She has been working in the areas of science education, cognitive development, faculty development, peace studies and conflict resolution, and curriculum development in Canada, Pakistan, and the US. Her research interests include science and religion, cognitive and emotional development, developing scaffolded contexts for faculty development (K-12 and university), conceptual change and problem-solving in science, education reform, STEM education, and the role of disciplinary knowledge-making practices in academic development.

Link to Dr. Asghar's homepage.

Dr. Saouma BouJaoude


graduated from the University of Cincinnati, Cincinnati, Ohio, USA in 1988 with a doctorate in Curriculum and Instruction with an emphasis on science education. From 1988 to 1993 he was assistant professor of science education at the Department of Science Teaching, Syracuse University, Syracuse, New York, USA. In 1993 he joined the American University of Beirut (AUB). Between 1994 and 2003 he was Director of the Science and Math Education Center and is presently the Chairperson of the Department of Education and professor of science education at AUB. Prior to completing his Doctorate, Dr. BouJaoude was a secondary science teacher and assistant principal of a private school in Lebanon. His research interests include the nature of science, curriculum, teaching methods, and students’ views about the theory of evolution. Reports of his research appeared in the Journal of Research in Science Teaching, Science Education, International Journal of Science Education, School Science and Mathematics, the Science Teacher, and School Science Review among other publications. Dr. BouJaoude has written chapters in edited books in English and Arabic and has been an active presenter at local, regional and international education and science education conferences. In addition, Dr. BouJaoude was a member of the Higher Committee of the Lebanese Science Curriculum, education consultant for the Lebanese Center for Educational Research and Development, and a consultant for UNESCO regional Office in Beirut and the UNESCO Office in Cairo, Egypt.

Dr. BouJaoude is a member of the National Association for Research in Science Teaching (NARST), the American Educational Research Association (AERA), the European Science Education Research Association. Between 2004 and 2007 he was the International Coordinator and a member of the Executive Board of NARST. Presently he serves on the editorial board of the Journal of Science Teacher Education, is a consulting editor for International Review of Education, a contributing international editor of Science Education, a consulting editor of the African Journal of Educational Studies in Mathematics and Science, and a reviewer for School Science and Mathematics, and Journal of Research in Science Teaching. In 2008 he was appointed as a member of the Supreme Education Council of Qatar.

Link to Dr. BouJaoude's homepage.


Dr. Minoo Derayeh,

a specialist on Islam, World Religions and Gender Studies is a Professor at York University in Toronto. She taught at Concordia University and also at McGill University where she received her MA at the Institute of Islamic Studies and her Ph.D. in the Department of Culture and Values, at the Faculty of Education. Her research interests are related to gender and religion, modernity and tradition, and religion and social justice. Her book entitled Gender Equality in Iranian History: from Pre-Islamic Times to the Present was published in 2006. Her articles on “Myth of Creation and Hijab,” and “Challenging Patriarchy: Iranian Women in the Motion Picture Industry,” are forthcoming. She is currently working on a project related to the understanding of the concepts of jihad and peace on the part of Muslim university students in Canada and Turkey. At York University she teaches a variety of courses including Nature of Religion, Contemporary Religious Issues, History of Religion, Islam through the Ages, and Women in the Quran and the Prophetic Tradition. Her students have nominated her for four awards for excellence in teaching at university, provincial and national levels.

Link to Dr. Derayeh's homepage.

Dr. Taner Edis


is associate professor of physics at Truman State University, Kirksville, MO, USA. His work in theoretical and computational physics has ranged from condensed matter to atmospheric modeling, with diversions into the philosophy of machine intelligence. Lately he has been able to indulge a long-standing interest in examining the gray areas between science and pseudoscience, and science and religion. His books are The Ghost in the Universe: God in Light of Modern Science (Prometheus, 2002), Science and Nonbelief (Greenwood, 2006), and An Illusion of Harmony: Science and Religion in Islam (Prometheus, 2007). He has co-edited Why Intelligent Design fails: A Scientific Critique of the New Creationism (Rutgers UP, 2004) with Matt Young.

Link to Dr. Edis's homepage.


Dr. Salman Hameed

is Assistant Professor of Integrated Science & Humanities at Hampshire College, Massachusetts. He is currently working on understanding the rise of creationism in the Islamic world and how Muslims view the relationship between science & religion. He is also analyzing reconciliation efforts between astronomers and Native Hawaiians over telescopes on top of sacred Mauna Kea in Hawaii. He teaches “History and Philosophy of Science & Religion” and “Science in the Islamic World”, both at Hampshire College.

Link to Dr. Hameed's homepage.

Mr. Josh Rosenau

is a Public Information Project Director at the National Centre for Science Education (NCSE) in California. At the University of Chicago, he majored in Biology, where he researched the evolutionary relationships between Philippine rodent species based on phallic morphology. An interest in the ways that ecological interactions lead to morphological differentiation brought him to the natural history museum at the University of Kansas, where he is currently completing a doctorate in Ecology and Evolutionary Biology. JoshRosenau

His research focuses on modeling the ecological niche and geographic ranges of species. He is especially interested in the ways that ecology influences the biogeography and evolution of mammals.

As an evolutionary biologist in Kansas during the 2005 state science standards fight, Josh worked with grassroots groups and the media to improve public understanding of the issues, and to promote honest and accurate science education. Media outlets from local papers to MSNBC and Nature magazine quoted him and his online writings to help their audiences understand the events in Kansas and their broader context. In addition to close coverage of the school board and education policy, he created websites contrasting the scientific contributions of ID and other forms of creationism with the broad utility of evolution to sciences from astronomy to zoology, and especially in medical research.

In addition to the ecology and evolution of mammals, Josh is interested in the process by which the public gathers information about science, and in ways scientists can be more effective in helping the public understand what science is and how we know what we know.

Link to Mr. Rosenau's homepage.

Dr. A. Uner Turgay

did his undergraduate work at Robert College in Istanbul, Turkey, in international economics. He received his M.A. and Ph.D. degrees from the University of Wisconsin-Madison, U.S.A. in history. In 1976, he joined the faculty of the Institute of Islamic Studies at McGill University, Montreal, and served as its Director between 1991 and 2004. Uner_Turgay_web Professor

Turgay's research interests generally lie in the fields of Ottoman social and economic history, ideological developments in the Islamic world during the nineteenth and twentieth centuries, and the current political trends in the Middle East and Central Asia. He teaches graduate seminars on: Ottoman History, Development of Nationalism Among Muslim Peoples, Economic and Social Developments in Muslim Countries, and Muslims in Central Asia. Professor Turgay is active in several academic associations in North America and overseas. He is the past Chairman of the Canadian Institute of International Affairs (Montreal Branch).

Link to Dr. Turgay's homepage.

Dr. Jason Wiles


grew up in Arkansas, a southern state in the heart of the American Bible Belt with a storied history of controversy around the teaching of evolution in public schools. Dr. Wiles grew up in a creationist family and earned his first degree in biology at a private religious university where evolution was largely absent from the curriculum. He went on to earn master’s degrees in both biology and geosciences, both heavy on evolutionary evidence and theory. After having taught biology and other sciences at a number of colleges, universities, and institutions of secondary education for several years, he recognized that a great many students had similar misconceptions and related difficulties in learning about biology that were rooted in a misunderstanding of evolution, whether or not these barriers were based on religious beliefs.

Given his own personal experience, and given the centrality of evolution to a deep understanding of the life and Earth sciences, Wiles was motivated to learn more about the teaching and learning of evolution. He eventually earned a Ph.D. at McGill University focusing on evolution education, and for the past four years has served as Research Manager and now as Associate Director of the Evolution Education Research Centre. He joined the faculty in the Biology Department at Syracuse University in 2008 and enjoys a secondary appointment in the SU Department of Science Teaching.

Link to Dr. Wiles' homepage.


Brian Alters

Dr. Brian Alters

is a university professor and host of a prime-time nationally-broadcast television show. He holds the Tomlinson Chair in Science Education, is named Sir William Dawson Scholar, and is appointed internationally at McGill University in Montréal and at Harvard. Along with producing 5 books in the last 8 years on biology, evolution, religion and education, Dr. Alters is founder and director of the Evolution Education Research Center, a joint involvement between researchers in science and education at McGill University and Harvard. He sits on the Board of the U.S. National Center for Science Education, and various editorial boards. He recently won McGill University’s highest teaching award, the President’s Prize for Excellence in Teaching.

Dr. Alters was recruited as the only Expert Witness from Canada, in the largest, most important, and highest profile federal trial on science education in the past quarter-century. It was the landmark U.S. Federal case on the teaching of intelligent design versus evolution in public schools (a.k.a: The Dover Pennsylvania Case, Scopes II, and Kitzmiller). The judge cited Professor Alters’ testimony 20 times in his written verdict. His work has been reported world-wide in thousands of articles and media outlets, including Nature, ABC, CNN, CBC, MSNBC, Associated Press, The New York Times, Scientific American, MTV, and a cover story on Rolling Stone.

Last year, the CBC recruited Dr. Alters to host a series of prime-time nationally-broadcast television shows titled Project X. The series is a science magazine show with the mandate to educate the public about science. It airs on CBC, BBC, and PBS stations and has been seen by millions. His best selling book, with a Foreword by the late Stephen Jay Gould, is Defending Evolution.

Link to Dr. Alters' homepage.