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Planning for 2006 SNC is Well Underway


June 13, 2006

DELAWARE, Ohio — It's official. "The Citizen Scientist: How Science Affects Our Daily Lives" is the title of the 2006 Sagan National Colloquium at Ohio Wesleyan University.

The SNC will host a variety of events this fall, including the following speakers:

  • Dr. Chris Impey – is a University Distinguished Professor in the department of astronomy at the University of Arizona. In 2002, he was named the National Science Foundation Distinguished Teaching Scholar as well as the Arizona Teacher of the Year by the Carnegie Foundation, and in 2005, he was selected a Galileo Circle Scholar, the College of Science's highest honor. He created the Astronomica Web site, which provides students with interactive tools and instructional technology, and has been instrumental in curriculum development in astrobiology. Dr. Robert Pennock – professor in the Lyman Briggs School of Science at Michigan State University. He teaches courses in the philosophy of science, artificial life, evolutionary computation, and issues related to ethics in science. Pennock is the author of Tower of Babel: The Evidence against the New Creationism. In 2005, Pennock was called as an expert witness in the Kitzmiller et al v. Dover Area School Board case, which was being tried in the U.S. District Court in Harrisburg, Penn. The suit tested the constitutionality of a policy that allowed teaching of intelligent design creationism in a public school. Dr. Sherwood Rowland – OWU Class of 1948, was awarded the Nobel Prize in Chemistry in 1995 for his work showing that chlorofluorocarbons (CFC) often found in spray cans contribute to the depletion of the ozone layer. This work was investigated by other labs and led to the banning the use of CFC in aerosols in 1978. Dr. Rowland is currently a professor of chemistry at the University of California, Irvine and continues his research in atmospheric chemistry and chemical kinetics. Dr. Jeffrey Sachs – director of The Earth Institute, Quetelet Professor of Sustainable Development, and Professor of Health Policy and Management at Columbia University, will deliver the 2006-2007 Eddy Lecture as part of the SNC. He is one of the most prominent economists in the world, and his recent focus has been on issues of global health and poverty. Dr. Peter W. Singer – National Security Fellow at the Brookings Institution where he is Foreign Policy Studies Director for the Project on U.S. Policy Toward the Islamic World. His SNC lecture will focus on "Robotics and Warfare." P.J. and Marcy Terry – OWU Classes of 1999 and 2000 respectively, will lead a roundtable discussion about genetic counseling. They have gone through genetic counseling and learned they are both carriers of the cystic fibrosis gene, which means any children they have will have a 25% chance at having the disease.
  • Dr. Chris Wolverton – assistant professor of botany at OWU will lead students in a hands-on experiment to search in food we eat every day for a gene that has been genetically engineered into corn. The gene is known as Bt and is naturally found in the bacterium Bacillus thuringiensis. Bt produces a compound that can kill some insect larvae and is often thought of as a natural pesticide. This lab will search for the Bt gene in foods such as corn flakes, corn chips, and baby food.

Laura Tuhela-Reuning, scanning electron microscopist and assistant professor of microbiology, will serve as co-director of this year's SNC along with Chris Wolverton, assistant professor of botany. Tuhela-Reuning says the idea for this year's SNC topic came from a departmental discussion about the Dover court case regarding the constitutionality of teaching intelligent design creationism in public schools. Dr. Robert Pennock, who is one of this year's SNC speakers, was the expert witness in the case. He is a professor of history, philosophy and sociology of science.
"It struck us that here was a philosopher whose career was intertwined with science," says Tuhela-Reuning. "Our discussion turned to an observation of how science influences many different disciplines that, as of themselves, are not necessarily considered scientific disciplines."

The interaction of science with other disciplines such as economics and global development will be explored in the context of six distinct areas of scientific inquiry. Possible topic intersections include: The Big Bang : : Implications in Religion; Stem Cells: : Bioethics; and Molecular Genetics: : Patent Laws and DNA; just to name a few.

For details about the Sagan National Colloquium, check out the Connect2 OWU story about SNC, or call Tuhela-Reuning at 740-368-3511 or Wolverton at 740-368-3503.