How We Do It


Chicago Council on Science and Technology (C2ST) presents “Out for the Sperm Count: Mysteries of a Declining Resource”

CHICAGO, Illinois (September 2, 2013) –For several decades, there has been mounting evidence of declining human sperm counts in various industrialized populations. But there are marked differences in occurrence and timing between regions, suggesting an environmental effect. Sperm counts have not yet declined to levels where fertility is severely threatened, but how serious is the problem and what might the future hold for our species?

Professor Robert Martin, Author and Field Museum Curator, discusses this and much more from his new book, “How We Do It: The Evolution and Future of Human Reproduction.”

The book, which has been receiving positive reviews in both the popular and scientific world, focuses on the evolution of human reproduction and that of other mammals as well, which Martinargues, is critical to understanding it in humans.

Martin, the A. Watson Armour III Curator of Biological Anthropology at the Field Museum in Chicago, is a member of the Committee on Evolutionary Biology at the University of Chicago. He was previously on the faculty of University College London, a visiting professor of anthropology at Yale, a visiting professor at the Musée de l’Homme, Paris, and the director of the Anthropological Institute in Zurich.He writes a blog, “How We Do It, for the magazine Psychology Today, and has been researching reproduction for over 40 years.

Here is an excerpt from an August, 2013 Wall Street Journal review of his new book: “(Martin) repeatedly whisks away our smug sense of human exceptionalism and at the same time links many seemingly unrelated aspects of our biology to reproduction. The much-vaunted large human brain, he notes, evolved under constraints of pregnancy, not just cognitive capacity…The brains of human infants, however, grow extremely quickly, increasing fourfold in the first year, a rate comparable to that of a fetus still in the womb. By rights, or at least by the same measure as other primates, a human pregnancy “should” be 21 months long to encompass all that brain growth—a conclusion likely viewed with horror by, well, anyone. It doesn’t last that long, of course, probably because human pelvic girdles, having been adapted for walking upright on two legs, couldn’t accommodate an infant with a head that big. Humans are thus born physiologically premature…Much of “How We Do It” puts what we consider “natural” under scrutiny. Being complicated, it turns out, is not only more accurate than being simple; it is far more interesting.”

DETAILS: Tuesday, Sept. 24, 2013. Northwestern University Downtown Campus, Baldwin Auditorium. 303 E. Superior St., 60611 Chicago, IL. Reception and registration at 5pm, program at 6 pm.

C2ST will be selling books at the program for $20 each but supplies are limited.Dr. Martin will be signing copies of his book after the program.

Fees: C2ST members free;Field Museum staff, docents and members free; $5 students;$20 non-members.

To register, visit For more information, contact Andrea Poet at 312/ 567-5795, or

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