FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Friday, March 24, 2006
Contact: Dave Wellman, Director of Communications (304) 696-7153
Scientist E. O. Wilson featured speaker at Honors Convocation
HUNTINGTON, W.Va. – Dr. E. O. Wilson, one of the most highly respected scientists in the world, will speak on “The Future of Life” at the Elizabeth Gibson Drinko Honors Convocation Friday, April 7 at Marshall University.
The Honors Convocation, which is an awards and recognition ceremony for Marshall's outstanding honors students, begins at 7 p.m. at the Joan C. Edwards Performing Arts Center. It is the highlight of the 12th annual John Deaver Drinko and Elizabeth Gibson Drinko Celebration of Academics, which begins on Thursday, April 6 with the Drinko Symposium.
Dr. Charles Somerville, interim head of the department of biological sciences at Marshall and this year’s Drinko Fellow, is the featured speaker at the Drinko Symposium, which is the first event of the Celebration of Academics.
Somerville speaks at 2 p.m. Thursday, April 6. His topic is “Antibiotic Resistant Bacteria in the Ohio River Basin: Why Look at Small Things in a Big River?” Both the Honors Convocation and the Drinko Symposium are free to the public, and each will be followed by a public reception in the performing arts center lobby.
Dr. Alan Gould, executive director of the Drinko Academy, said he expects a “thought-provoking and educational evening” when Wilson addresses the audience on Friday.
“Not only is E. O. Wilson one of the most famous entomologists in the world, he also is one of the most provocative,” Gould said. “In his address on ‘The Future of Life,’ Wilson will predict what life on earth will be like if we do not address current threats to our planet.”
Wilson is Pellegrino University Research Professor, Emeritus, at Harvard University. He was hailed as “the new Darwin” by Thomas Wolfe, and one of “America’s 25 Most Influential People” by Time Magazine. He twice has received the Pulitzer Prize, once for "The Ants" and a second for "On Human Nature."
He also wrote other groundbreaking books, including "Naturalist," "Sociobiology" and "Consilience." He was a professor of biology at Harvard from 1955 to 1977.
Wilson’s scientific contributions began at age 13 near the docks of Mobile, Ala., where he discovered the first known U.S. colonies of fire ants or, as they are known in the South, “the ants from hell.” Wilson’s book, “The Future of Life,” published in 2002, offers a plan for saving Earth’s biological heritage.
He has received about 75 awards in international recognition for his contributions to science and humanity, including the U.S. Medal of Science in 1976; Japan’s International Prize for Biology in 1993; the Crafoord Prize from the Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences in 1990; the French Prix du Institut de la Vie in 1990; Germany’s Terrestrial Ecology Prize in 1987; Saudi Arabia’s King Faisal International Prize for Science in 2000, and the Franklin Medal of the American Philosophical Society in 1999.
Wilson also has received 27 honorary doctoral degrees from institutions in North America and Europe.
Somerville was a microbiologist with the U.S. Air Force at Tyndall Air Force Base in Florida before coming to Marshall in August 1997. He served as an assistant professor in the department of biological sciences until 2002, and as an associate professor in the same department until 2005, when he became interim head.
Each summer for the past five years, Somerville has joined with other Marshall professors and students, along with professors and students from four other regional colleges and universities, in the annual Ohio River Run, a research expedition aboard the Chattanooga Star Riverboat that covers the river’s entire 981 miles.
Participants spend nearly two weeks studying the condition of the Ohio River and its major tributaries. They study the biology, chemistry and geology of the river.
Somerville has received or been nominated for many awards while at Marshall, including the Marshall and Shirley Reynolds Outstanding Teacher Award in 2004. He was Researcher of the Year in Marshall’s chapter of Sigma Xi in 2002, and received the Marshall University Research Corporation award for Excellence in Sponsored Research in 1998.
Here is the complete schedule of public events for the 2006 Celebration of Academics: