Who should lecture at the White House?

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Who should lecture at the White House?

Postby mccormickdk » Jan 06 2009 2:06 pm

On Dec. 7, US President-elect Barack Obama said that he and Mrs. Obama were looking forward including scientific lectures in the White House cultural program. In BioTechniques' January 2009 editorial, we asked our readers to nominate potential lecturers. Who would you want to hear, what should they talk about, and why is it important that they be heard?
Last edited by mccormickdk on Jan 12 2009 3:08 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Postby mpagel » Jan 06 2009 7:12 pm

A couple of names off the top of my head
Jared Diamond - works well at bringing science to the masses
J. Craig Venter - had an innovative way of making a private enterprise make a governmental scientific organization work more efficiently.
Roderick MacKinnon - first structure of an ion channel. Implications to human health (cardiac, renal and psychological to name a few)
Hwang Woo Suk or Elizabeth (Betsy) Goodwin - good to have a sobering talk about science-gone-wrong every now and again
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Postby MolBioGangsta » Jan 06 2009 8:34 pm

I would agree with Jared Diamond, for similar reasons as stated.

Another, that readily comes to mind is Oliver Smithies. He has had a successful, diverse career; is an eloquent speaker and seems to have a good balance of current events and translational application with his work.
I'll sequester your Taq, siRNA, and antibodies from the fridge, while you surveil and attempt feedback inhibition, then I'll incubate you in 50 g of staurosporine... -Molecular biology gangster
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Postby jelhai » Jan 07 2009 6:24 pm

Suggestions thus far have naturally focused on those who have a vision of the scientific future, but I think that there is much to be said for having someone speak about the past. What research conditions have historically led to unforseen discoveries that have had major impacts on our understanding of the world? What might we do to foster such conditions? I think that Horace Freeland Judson would be able to speak eloquently on those points.
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Postby dcissell » Jan 13 2009 11:32 pm

I would recommend Frank Cepollina, Deputy Associate Director for the Hubble Space Telescope Development Project at NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center. He could explain the many possible uses of space missions to expand scientific knowledge and how, in many cases, robotic missions can be more productive than manned missions.
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Who should lecture at the White House?

Postby kuritaro » Jan 15 2009 6:26 pm

I suggest asking scientist-educators as well as the many excellent scientists already suggested. The president of the Council on Undergraduate Research, for instance, or faculty who are devoting a significant chunk of their time to enhancing and improving undergraduate (and graduate) education in the sciences -- where is our future scientific progress going to come from if not from the students we inspire today?

(Full disclosure: CUR's president-elect is chair of my department.)
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Moravian College
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