Unitarian Universalists to host Darwin Day celebration Feb. 12

January 23, 2022

The Unitarian Universalists of Southern Delaware will hold its seventh Darwin Day celebration online from 10:30 a.m. to 12 p.m., Saturday, Feb. 12, via Zoom.

Harry Dillner will speak on Designing Humans: A Darwinian Perspective, and a discussion will follow his presentation.

A University of Delaware Osher Lifelong Learning Institute teacher, Dillner has taught What Darwin Didn’t Know for the past 10 years.

With his discovery of evolution by natural selection in the mid-19th century, Darwin showed that the origins and adaptions of living things, including humans, could be explained by natural processes without recourse to an intelligent designer.

Since Darwin’s time, a wealth of evidence from many fields including paleontology, geology, genetics and molecular biology has enabled understanding about how mutation and selection, operating over the last 6 million years in small groups of hominids, have resulted in the evolution of the human species. With this evidence, possible relationships with earlier hominids can be determined; the spread of hominids across the planet can be plotted; and environmental factors can be assessed, such as climate change, which drove the acquisition of bipedalism and big brains.

Recent analysis of ancient DNA from Neanderthals and Denisovans provides a window into the lives of these now extinct closely related cousins, and modern-day humans’ relationship with them.

Dillner is a retired high school biology teacher and science education specialist. He earned a bachelor’s degree at Indiana University of Pennsylvania and a master’s degree at the University of Delaware.

For nearly 30 years, Dillner taught biology at Christiana High School, where he chaired the science department and served as the district science chair. He coached high school teams for the Science Olympiad, co-directed the Delaware Science Olympiad, and supervised the cell biology event at National Science Olympiad tournaments.

He also co-chaired the Life Science subcommittee during the development of Delaware’s K-12 Science Standards. From 1996 to 2003, Dillner served as an education specialist for the Delaware Department of Education, where he developed instructional materials and conducted teacher training to support the Delaware High School Science Standards for inquiry, genetics, evolution and biotechnology.

In recognition of his teaching and leadership, Dillner received the Presidential Award for Excellence in Science Teaching, the Christiana School District Teacher of the Year Award and the Outstanding Biology Teacher Award for Delaware.

UUSD’s Darwin Day celebration is free and open to the public. To register and obtain the Zoom meeting link, contact

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