Lina Rifai’s work revolves around teaching IU Kokomo students about evolution and diversity of life.
Rifai, an associate professor of vertebrate biology, is a Noblesville resident.
“We talk about how natural selection works or how organisms change over time and populations change over time and the different driving forces behind it. We use this in class to introduce diversity of life,” Rifai said. “We go over a lot of different concepts that are often misunderstood about evolution.”
Rifai said “survival of the fittest” is not necessarily the best term to describe evolution.
“We tend to think about fit being strong and fast, but it’s about reproduction and who can have the most offspring the most successfully,” Rifai said.
The class also covers the five major mass-extinction events.
“Once we get to the current period, we do a project about how we are currently undergoing mass extinction (and cover) what mass extinction is in more detail, which is losing a lot of species in a short time,” Rifai said. “We talk about how we ourselves affect our own surroundings, because obviously we are part of nature. How are we responsible for the mass extinction occurring?”
Rifai often focuses on Indiana in her class.
“We talk about interesting endangered animals or plants or other life, but I think it’s more relatable (in Indiana),” she said.
Rifai has taught the class since 2010. She also teaches human anatomy and ornithology.
“Evolution and bird biology are mostly my field of research,” she said.