Mercedes Burns

Assistant Professor, Biological Sciences

“I’m an evolutionary biologist, and I teach an advanced topics course in the biological sciences department called the “Evolution of Sex.” This course focuses on how separate sexes evolved to produce specialized cells for the purpose of reproduction. Among other topics, we also discuss the widespread maintenance of homosexuality in the Tree of Life, and how human sexuality today is informed by our common ancestry with primates and extinct hominin species. Amidst the bewildering messages media presents us with regarding the science of sex, gender, and sexuality, I have made inclusivity my mission for this course by both beginning and ending the semester discussion not just with the current scientific understanding of how we have evolved to express identity and preference, but also the human experience of sexuality and gender diversity.”