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Town hall set for panel of top science journalists on Nov. 4

WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. -– The public is invited to talk with leading science writers on Nov. 4 during Purdue University’s three-day Science Journalism Laureates program.

This year three new laureates will be named, to be joined by eight honored earlier. This is the program’s fourth year. Both groups will participate in a public town hall meeting beginning at 9:30 a.m. Nov. 4 in the Lawson Computer Science Building foyer to discuss “Communicating Complex Ideas.” Moira Gunn, a Purdue alumnus and host of “Tech Nation” and “BioTech Nation,” which are heard on National Public Radio, will moderate the discussion, during which questions will be taken from the audience. A public reception will follow.

Science Journalism LaureatesThe discussion and reception are free and open to the public. The forum will be taped for later broadcast on “Tech Nation.”

“Both faculty and students will find the forum engaging and informative,” said professor Gabriela Weaver, director of the Discovery Learning Research Center and co-organizer of the Science Journalism Laureates Program with professor Howard Sypher, head of the Department of Communication. “We address and try to solve complex problems daily, and the art of explaining our work to the public is a critical step toward success. Science writers such as these laureates are key to that communication.”

Also during their stay, the journalists will interact with the Purdue community and hear brief presentations from faculty. The new science journalism laureates to be honored on campus for the first time this year are:

  • Steve Levy, senior writer for WIRED Magazine. Previously, he was chief technology writer and a senior editor for Newsweek. Levy has won several awards, including the Computer Press Association Award for a report he co-wrote in 1998 on the Y2K problem. He is the author of six books, including “Crypto,” about the revolution in cryptography.
  • Shankar Vedantam, an author, correspondent and columnist for the Washington Post. He also wrote for the Philadelphia Inquirer, Knight-Ridder’s Washington bureau and New York Newsday. He writes about science and human behavior and routinely explores the overt and covert influences that shape people’s attitudes to the world around them. His interests also include the role of science and religion in everyday life and the effects of religious faith on health. In his articles he has explored the interplay between neuroscience and spirituality.
  • Keith Devlin, co-founder and executive director of Stanford University’s Human-Sciences and Technologies Advanced Research Institute, a co-founder of Stanford Media X university-industry research partnership program and a senior researcher in the Center for the Study of Language and Information. He is a commentator on National Public Radio’s “Weekend Edition Saturday,” where he is known as “The Math Guy.” He is the author of more than two dozen books, several aimed at the general public. Devlin also created the concept “soft mathematics,” introduced in the final chapter of his book “Goodbye, Descartes.”

The laureates are selected based on their reputation for thought-provoking work and ability to translate scientific discoveries into a format the public can easily understand.

The event’s sponsors are the colleges of Liberal Arts, Science, Health and Human Sciences, Engineering, Agriculture, Technology, Education, and Pharmacy, as well as the School of Veterinary of Medicine, Continuing Education and Conferences, Discovery Learning Center, Purdue Libraries, the Department of Communication, Discovery Park, the Office of Engagement, and the Office of the Provost.

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