Lee Dugatkin and Lyudmila Trut with fox subjects
Lee Dugatkin and Lyudmila Trut with fox subjects

Take adorable, furry creatures involved in revolutionary scientific research, add soviet-era politics and intrigue, set them in the often brutal -35° winters of Siberia and you have the makings of an incredible story.

Lyudmila Trut has spent nearly 60 years domesticating silver foxes at her research location in Siberia where she and Dmitri Belyaev set out to recreate the evolution of wolves into dogs in real time. Starting with essentially wild foxes, they selectively bred the animals, which developed dog-like physical characteristics and gentle temperaments in only a decade.

Lee Dugatkin, PhD, professor of biology at the University of Louisville, spent time with Trut and the foxes in the dead of winter in 2012 and 2014, gathering information for his new book with Trut, “How to Tame a Fox (and Build a Dog).” He will tell their story at the next Beer with a Scientist event July 12.

A science historian in addition to biologist, Dugatkin will describe how Trut and her mentor risked not just their careers, but to an extent their lives, to achieve scientific history, developing a loving bond with their animal subjects along the way.

“It’s one of the most important experiments ever undertaken, and layer on to that the political intrigue and human-animal love stories and how could I not fall in love with this project?” Dugatkin said.

Dugatkin’s talk begins at 8 p.m. on Wednesday, July 12, at Against the Grain Brewery, 401 E. Main St. in Louisville. A 30-minute presentation will be followed by an informal Q&A session.

Although Dugatkin does not have one of Trut’s domesticated foxes on hand, he will have plenty of photos and details.

Admission is free. Purchase of beer, other beverages or menu items is not required but is encouraged.

 

Upcoming Beer with a Scientist dates: 

  • Aug. 9
  • Sep. 13
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Betty Coffman
Betty Coffman is a Health Communications Specialist, working on the Health Sciences Campus with departments in the School of Medicine. A UofL alumna and Louisville native, she served as a writer and editor for local and national publications and as an account services coordinator and copywriter for marketing and design firms prior to joining UofL’s Office of Marketing and Communications.