NORTH ADAMS, MASS. — Massachusetts College of Liberal Arts (MCLA) announces this spring’s Brown Bag Lecture Series will begin with “Things That Go Bump in Our Past: Evolutionary Insights into How We Learn to be Afraid,” by Dr. Justin Golub, MCLA assistant professor of biology, on Friday, Feb. 10.

This event is free and open to the public. All Brown Bag lectures will take place on a Friday, at 3 p.m. in the campus’s faculty center, Bowman Hall room 121.

According to Golub, much of our ability to learn can be seen in our evolutionary past.

“By looking at our taxonomic cousins, fish, we are able to explore the ability to learn during the early life stages. Using threespine stickleback, zebrafish and guppies, I have found that fish are able to learn danger through chemical signals – taste and smell – during their pre-natal development,” Golub explained. 

“Evidence suggests pre-natal learning is highly plastic, or flexible, and widespread,” he continued. “This ability to learn helps the fish avoid danger in highly variable environment, and increases survival as they grow. This research provides a pathway to start looking at our own ability to learn, and how pre-natal experiences might affect our behavior and development.”

The Brown Bag Lecture Series allows MCLA faculty to present and discuss their scholarly activities, and provides campus and community members opportunities to learn about their interests and research.

The Series will continue on Friday, March 24, with Dr. Elizabeth Hartung, an assistant professor in the Mathematics Department; and on Friday, April 28, with Dr. Karen Cardozo, assistant professor of interdisciplinary studies at MCLA.

In addition his work as an assistant professor of biology at MCLA, Golub is the College’s chair of undergraduate research. He has been at MCLA for the past five years. Originally from Great Neck, N.Y., Golub earned his Bachelor of Science degree from Union College in Schenectady, N.Y.; his Master of Science degree from Concordia University in Montreal, Quebec, Canada; and his Ph.D. from Clark University in Worcester.

Massachusetts College of Liberal Arts (MCLA) is the Commonwealth's public liberal arts college and a campus of the Massachusetts state university system. MCLA promotes excellence in learning and teaching, innovative scholarship, intellectual creativity, public service, applied knowledge, and active and responsible citizenship. MCLA graduates are prepared to be practical problem solvers and engaged, resilient global citizens.

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