Dawkins to get award

Richard Dawkins, British ethologist, evolutionary biologist and popular science author, will receive the ninth Nierenberg Prize for Science and the Public Interest on April 7.

Each year, the Scripps Institution of Oceanography awards the prize, named for William A. Nierenberg (1919-2000), a renowned national science leader who served Scripps Oceanography as director from 1965 to 1986. Past winners include J. Craig Venter, Dame Jane Goodall and Walter Cronkite.

The event, which opens with the awards presentation, will be held at 7 p.m. in the Mandell Weiss Theatre of the La Jolla Playhouse on the UCSD campus. Dawkins will lecture on “The Purpose of Purpose” after the ceremony.

Dawkins believes humans unnecessarily apply meaning to aspects of the world, such as our natural surroundings and the universe, according to a news release on the event.

Dawkins is known for his “selfish gene” theory in which the gene is the principal unit of natural selection in evolution. Dawkins, author of many books based on his theory of evolution, including “The Selfish Gene,” was the originator of the term “meme,” which spawned the theory of memetics.

Dawkins has been featured on National Geographic Television, the BBC and on U.S. college campuses discussing the importance of Darwin’s theory of human evolution and natural selection.

He has also been interviewed extensively about his own views of creationism and religion, including his argument that science demonstrates how God does not exist.

The public is invited to attend, and admission is free. Reservations are not necessary, but seating and parking are limited. For information, call (858) 534-4109.