Splash Biography


Major: Ecology and Evolutionary Biology

College/Employer: Thomas Near Laboratory at Yale University

Year of Graduation: 16

Picture of Ethan France

Brief Biographical Sketch:

I'm an evolutionary biologist, Splash admin and Yale graduate currently working in the university's ichthyology lab. I primarily study evolution and the diversity of life—but though my research focuses on fish, I also have many other interests. I’ve taught classes on a wide range of subjects, including human evolution, mythology, monster movies, Roman history and phylogenetics.

Past Classes

  (Clicking a class title will bring you to the course's section of the corresponding course catalog)

E2174: Almost Human: Bigfoot and Other Mystery Apes in Sprout Fall 16 (Oct. 01 - 15, 2016)
Giant primates have featured in myth and legend for thousands of years. Some, like the gorilla, have since been discovered by scientists. Others, like the famed bigfoot and yeti, remain mysterious. Using paleontology, anthropology and evolutionary science, we will answer several key questions. Could these creatures be real? How can science help us separate truth from fantasy? And why do we find giant apes so fascinating in the first place?

S1945: Reading the Bones in Splash Spring 16 (Apr. 02, 2016)
Skeletons aren't just dry bones. To anthropologists and forensic scientists, they're valuable clues. In this class, we'll learn how to determine the age, sex, heritage, diet, health, species and lifestyle of the dead -- all from bones alone. We'll look at skeletons from an anthropological perspective, focusing on what they tell us about human evolution, and from a forensic perspective, focusing on what they tell us about crime. The next time you visit a museum, you'll know all about the bones on display before even looking at the labels.

C1830: The History of the World in 240 Minutes in Sprout Spring 16 (Feb. 13 - 27, 2016)
This class will cover the entire length of human civilization -- around 5,400 years -- over the course of three meetings. Students will witness the rise and fall of civilizations, examine key events from all over the globe, and meet the men and women who shaped the course of history. As you'd probably guess, this class will be broad in scope and and rapidly-paced. Students with a background in history may find it easier to follow and may gain more from the experience. All students, however, should emerge with a general sense of civilization's major developments and turning points. The first meeting will cover the years from 3,400 BCE to 500 CE -- the beginning of civilization to the fall of the Roman Empire. The second meeting will cover the period from roughly 500 to 1750, covering the Medieval period and Renaissance and concluding at the start of the Industrial Revolution. The last meeting will move from that period to the present day -- 2016.

H1744: The Rise of Rome in Splash Fall 15 (Nov. 14, 2015)
Over the course of five hundred years, Rome transformed from a fledgling town in central Italy to the center of a trans-Mediterranean empire. This class will explore the city's rise to power and the historical events which pushed it to dominance.

E1689: An Introduction to Yokai in Sprout Fall 15 (Oct. 03 - 17, 2015)
This class will introduce students to the Yokai -- a unique group of monsters from Japanese mythology including the Kappa, Tengu, Oni and countless more. You'll learn the different types of Yokai, the reasons they came about, and why these creatures are still relevant in Japanese culture today.

E1690: Mass Extinction in Sprout Fall 15 (Oct. 03 - 17, 2015)
Six mass extinctions have occurred in Earth's history -- each one destroying a tremendous number of species in a short amount of time. But what caused these extinctions, and how did they change the development of the planet? And most importantly, what can we do to stop the one occurring now?

H1621: Norse Mythology in Splash Summer 15 (Jul. 25 - 26, 2015)
An introduction to the gods, goddesses, monsters and giants worshipped by the vikings -- including Thor, Odin, Loki and Tyr. No previous knowledge of mythology is required.

S1622: Fish of the Deep Sea in Splash Summer 15 (Jul. 25 - 26, 2015)
Fish of all types have adapted themselves to the cold, dark, inhospitable waters of the deep ocean -- but how? Meet some of the strangest creatures of the abyss and learn how they survive in one of the unlikeliest places on the planet.

H1623: Global Dragonology in Splash Summer 15 (Jul. 25 - 26, 2015)
Myths from around the world -- including Mexico, China, Germany and Australia -- all feature the creatures we call dragons. But how did these creatures get to be so commonplace, and why are they so universal? Come and meet the diverse dragons of global legend, and learn the answers to this question and many more.

S1624: Discovery -- the Giant Squid and Other Former "Monsters" in Splash Summer 15 (Jul. 25 - 26, 2015)
Some animals we now know well -- including the giant squid, the panda, and the mountain gorilla -- used to be considered nothing more than legend. But how do stories about these creatures stack up against reality? Are there more large animals out there to be found, and what can we learn about the folklore surrounding them? This class explores the intersection between science and fable -- and in particular, the creatures which cross that boundary.

S1470: Human Evolution: Our Family Tree in Splash Spring 15 (Apr. 04, 2015)
Our species' closest living relatives are the chimpanzees and gorillas -- but that wasn't always true. Meet some of the prehistoric species that make up our own family, from ancestors like the Australopithecines to cousins like the Neanderthals. Basic understanding of evolution is expected; no knowledge of human evolution or paleontology required.

S1471: Beyond Jaws: The Sharks and Rays in Splash Spring 15 (Apr. 04, 2015)
There are over a thousand species of sharks and rays -- and despite what Hollywood would have you believe, most of them are harmless to humans. Come learn the fascinating truth behind these famous deep-sea creatures as we separate fact from fiction and explore Jaws' family tree.

S1263: Arthropod Diversity in Splash Fall 14 (Nov. 08, 2014)
You've heard of ants, crabs and spiders... but how about mantis shrimp, springtails and vinegaroons? This course will explore the strangest members of the arthropod family tree, and will examine their unique adaptations to nature's challenges.

H1265: The Meaning of Monsters in Splash Fall 14 (Nov. 08, 2014)
Humankind has been inventing strange creatures for thousands of years. In this class, we'll discuss the reason why, while examining monsters from the hydra to King Kong. We'll find out what these monsters meant to the societies that created them, and why we're still making them today.

S966: Paleontology Beyond Dinosaurs in Splash Spring 14 (Mar. 29, 2014)
You know Stegosaurus, Diplodocus and T. Rex. But what about Kaprosuchus and Moropus? This class will introduce students to some of the most interesting prehistoric creatures they've never heard of.

S967: Phylogeny and "Tree Thinking" in Splash Spring 14 (Mar. 29, 2014)
How do we know that birds evolved from dinosaurs? How do we identify our species' closest relatives? This brief seminar will cover an important topic in evolutionary biology -- the construction of phylogenetic trees.

H760: It's Alive! Giant Monsters in Film in Splash Fall 13 (Nov. 09, 2013)
There’s more to Godzilla than rubber suits and bad dubbing. In this class, we will explore giant monsters as both social metaphors and pop-culture icons. We will trace their evolution through eight decades of film, and learn why their grip on the public imagination is so strong. Whether you're a movie buff or a monster fan, this class is for you!

S785: Here there be Monsters: An Introduction to Cryptozoology in Splash Fall 13 (Nov. 09, 2013)
Bigfoot. Yeti. The Loch Ness Monster. For centuries, scientists and crackpots alike have sought ought mysterious creatures. From hoaxes to discoveries, this class will trace the history of cryptozoology. It will analyze the field's triumphs, as well as its shortcomings, and explore the valid methods behind the "madness" of bigfoot-hunting.