About Kristin Sewell

Ph. D. Student  

Change we can believe in

One of your classmates mentioned this in his Unit 2 essay and I thought it was funny. I wonder if Shepard Fairey is going to be sued by the Darwin estate? 🙂 Maybe the Democrats ought to revise their slogan and use the “very gradual” version instead…



Can’t find your WordPress login email?

Hey guys,

As you know, you’re required to do two blog posts and comment on two additional blog posts. In order to do this, you must use your unique login. The login and password were sent to you at the beginning of the session. If you can’t find it now (btw, it’s two days til the end of the course!!!) you should:

1) search your email for “wordpress” in the From category.


2) email Jen. She will re-send it to you.

I highly recommend searching for it on your own first as Jen may not be able to respond to you immediately and you’re running out of time to get this assignment done.

Jen’s email is bengtso4@msu.edu

Thanks, Kristin


Mutant Squirrels!! Evolution in action…

When I first moved to Michigan from Arizona two years ago, I was shocked to see squirrels unlike any other I’d ever seen! Black squirrels? How could this be? It turns out black squirrels are a mutation in the gray squirrel population. Black squirrels are common from Florida to Canada and throughout the Midwestern U.S. and, much to the dismay of English “squirrel purists”, have been exported from America to the United Kingdom.


Apparently, in the United Kingdom these little critters have had biologists scratching their heads for awhile. They’ve been monitoring these guys for a long time and have been looking for the original mutation in the gray squirrel family tree, unsuccessfully so far. What could be the benefit of darker fur? They also seem to be more aggressive supposedly from increased levels of testosterone. How does increased aggression benefit the squirrel population? These are just some of the questions biologists are asking. The author of this article says black squirrels absorb more heat in winter and therefore need less food when it’s scarce.

Another site describes the mutation thus:

Evolution, on a genetic level, is a change in the frequency of alleles in a population over time. The Eastern Gray Squirrel (Sciurus carolinensis) demonstrates evolution in action. This familiar species, commonly seen pillaging bird feeders and scampering about trees in neighborhoods around Acton, has a geographical range that extends from Florida up through Canada and into the Midwest. Surprising to many, the “gray” squirrel has a black variant that can be born from normal gray-furred parents. Such offspring contain a mutation that causes more melanin to be concentrated in their hairs, giving these squirrels a black appearance. Offspring born from such mutants are likely to inherit this trait since it is a dominant allele.

So as you all return to East Lansing this fall, remember what you’ve learned about the processes of evolution and smile knowingly at the little black squirrels that cross your path.

Me feeding a squirrel last year during archaeological field school-- not a black squirrel, though


Split Outcome in Texas Battle on Teaching of Evolution

Posted by Riley Bullough Aug 03, 2012 @ 13:07

I came across this article when i was researching some extra information about evolution. Whenever there is articles about teachers refusing to teach a certain certain subject involving evolution, or religion, it always interests me.


This article talks about how teachers in Texas are now refusing to teach their students about how the human species has evolved over time. There is a twenty year old mandate in Texas that states they have to teach about it, but they are refusing. The teachers are supposed to teach the students the strengths and weaknesses of all of the theories of evolution.

This is absolutely related to this course, because throughout the entire summer, we have been studying the strengths and weaknesses of several different evolution related theories.

I definitely do not agree with the teachers, because I think it is definitely necessary for young kids to understand how the evolutionary process works, and how they exist how they do.

Meet your TA: Kristin Sewell

We are two weeks into the course and I’ve had a chance to meet a few of you via email. I thought I’d take a couple of minutes to make a video so you can learn a little about me and how I can help you successfully complete this course. Please take a moment to view the video by following the link:  Kristin Sewell