Emory Report

Mar. 15, 1999

 Volume 51, No. 23

Nobel laureates, Pulitzer Prize winners here for symposium

In 1979 the first-ever Pulitzer Prize for feature writing was awarded for the article "Mrs. Kelly's Monster." Edna Kelly was a 57-year-old wife and mother who over time had suffered seizures, hemorrhages, partial loss of eyesight and paralysis. The "monster" was a tangled knot of abnormal blood vessels in the back of her brain that caused two aneurysms, years of unending pain and, ultimately, her death. To remove the aneurysms and attack the monster required an operation that would take Kelly's doctors to "the hazardous frontiers of neurosurgery."

This feature--first published in the Baltimore Evening Sun in 1978 and later in Reader's Digest--chronicled the entire operation. Reporter Jon Franklin's pioneering use of narrative journalism to humanize a highly technical neurosurgical procedure resulted in that historic first Pulitzer for feature writing. Now a two-time winner, Franklin is one of four Pulitzer Prize-winning journalists and five Nobel Prize-winning scientists who will appear in a March 19 symposium at Emory titled "Reporting Science in the 21st Century."

The daylong event will begin at the Turner Center at 9 a.m. with a welcome and introductions by President Bill Chace. Its three panel sessions--"The Challenge of Communicating Scientific Complexity Simply," "What's Right and Wrong about Science Reporting" and "Improving Science Reporting"--are free and open to the public.

"Science and technology have greatly quickened the pace of change in our world and presented us with moral urgencies that our ancestors only imagined," said Chace. "Educated citizens now have a responsibility to understand the science that so profoundly affects our thinking about the world and the very nature of being human."

"Science and society both benefit when capable science reporters and writers illuminate these issues," added Sidney Perkowitz, Candler Professor of Physics and co-presenter of the symposium.

The symposium's co-sponsor is the American Physical Society, an organization of more than 40,000 physicists worldwide that will hold its centennial celebration in Atlanta from March 20-26. "The problem of communicating scientific complexity simply has been with us since Galileo explained the comet of 1598 to frightened multitudes of people in the town square of Padua," said Jerome Lederman, the APS president and Nobel Prize-winning physicist from MIT who's a guest speaker at the symposium.

Joining Friedman in the first session are Mario Molina, a 1995 Nobel Prize-winning chemist, also from MIT, and Leon Lederman, the internationally renowned high-energy physicist from the Illinois Institute of Technology who won the Nobel in physics in 1988.

Franklin will appear in the second session with Nobel-winning physicists Douglas Osheroff (1996) of Stanford University and Joseph Taylor (1993) of Princeton.

The symposium's final session features Pulitzer Prize winners Laurie Garrett, a science and medical writer for Newsday; Michael Toner, a science reporter for The Atlanta Journal-Constitution; and Deborah Blum, journalism professor at the University of Wisconsin at Madison.

For more information call 404-727-4221 or visit the Journalism Program web site at <http://www.emory.edu/ COLLEGE/JOURNALISM/newsworthy>.

--Jacqueline Bullard

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