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Future Humans: Sex & Evolution

13 June 2018 @ 7:00 pm8:15 pm

Go on a journey through genomic and epigenetic research to learn how sex chromosomes work in all vertebrate animals, how they evolved, and about the decline of the human Y chromosome.
Graphic representation of X and Y chromosomes

The presence of a Y chromosome is what determines whether a new human will be a male – and it’s disappearing!

Over a long period of time, from generation to generation, the genetic information in the Y chromosome has been degenerating, and one day it will no longer be a functional component of human reproduction.

What will happen to all the men when this day arrives? Will this create an extinction event for humans, or will humans evolve a new way – or several new ways – to assign genders and continue as a successful species? Might there even be more than one species of human in the future?

These are just some of the questions that drive Professor Jenny Graves’ amazing genomic and epigenetic research. In this interactive presentation, Jenny will take us on a journey to discover how her work has transformed our understanding of how sex chromosomes work in all vertebrate animals, how they evolved, and how she has predicted the decline of the human Y chromosome.

About the speaker

Professor Jenny Graves AO is based at La Trobe University Bundoora. She is an evolutionary geneticist who works with Australian animals; notably, kangaroos, platypus, Tasmanian Devils and dragons (lizards). Her research has contributed to a deeper understanding of the immune system, prion diseases and blood proteins, and helped understand the tumour diving the Tasmanian Devil to extinction. In a collaboration between La Trobe and the University of Canberra, she is studying how bearded dragons change sex in response to temperature, a critical issue as the climate warms.

In 2017 Jenny was the first solo woman to win the Prime Minister’s Prize for Science for her pioneering work in genetics. She is an Officer of the Order of Australia, a recipient of the Australian Academy of Science’s Macfarlane Burnet Medal and was the 2006 L’Oreal-UNESCO Laureate for Women in Science.


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13 June 2018
7:00 pm – 8:15 pm
Event Categories:


Event type:
Suitable for:
Secondary students, Adults
Human body and movement, Innovation and technology


NorthSTEM Network


Eltham High School
30–60 Withers Way
Eltham, Victoria 3095 Australia
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