In five days I will get on an airplane and fly to Madrid, then Guayaquil, Ecuador, and then on to the Galápagos archipelago.

I think I might need to sit down and take a deep breath after typing that. I wasn’t sure if I’d ever get to visit the Enchanted Islands, evolution’s spectacular living laboratory and Darwin’s inspiration. It’s truly the opportunity of a lifetime.

…and the opportunity of my lifetime.

You see, I’ve spent the last twenty years studying biology, the last fifteen focusing on genetics, the last ten on evolutionary biology, the last seven on the genetic underpinnings of systematics and biodiversity at the Natural History Museum in London, the last four as the HMS Beagle Project‘s science director and the last three as the science coordinator of the Museum’s Darwin200 campaign.

I’ve even extracted DNA from Galápagos mockingbird specimens Charles Darwin and HMS Beagle’s captain Robert Fitzroy themselves collected in 1835.

My truly heartfelt thanks to the Wellcome Trust for this opportunity. They picked me to accompany the winners of their Survival Rivals school competition on the basis of my proposal to capture our experience in increasingly reflective and refined layers of writing, much the way Darwin did, but using the tools of Web 2.0.

More on the particulars of my proposal — “Galapagos 2.0” — coming soon!

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