Emory Report
March 19, 2007
Volume 59, Number 23

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March 19, 2007
‘Luminaries’ lectures to feature world-renowned scientists

by holly korschun

Eight internationally renowned scientific scholars will visit Emory over the next several months to speak about their vision of the most transformative areas of science. The scholars also will act as “thought leaders” for a provost’s committee charged with recruiting eight to ten leading science faculty to Emory College.

The scholars will meet with and advise Emory’s Science Distinction Committee as it selects areas of focus for hiring distinguished new faculty researchers in accordance with Emory’s strategic plan, “Where Courageous Inquiry Leads.” Provost Earl Lewis chairs the committee, and the initiative is led by professor Lanny Liebeskind and Vice Provost and Deputy Provost Santa Ono. It includes professors Jocelyn Bachevalier, Keith Berland, Michelle Lampl, David Lynn, Edward Mocarski, Leslie Real and Vaidy Sunderam. The committee has been working for the past four months to put together this program and to obtain input from the Emory College science faculty on possible focus areas for cluster hiring.

Andrew Fire, professor of pathology and genetics at Stanford University and a member of the National Academy of Sciences, will speak March 22 at 3 p.m. in the Woodruff Health Sciences Center Auditorium to deliver the 2007 Robert Clinton Rhodes Lecture in the Department of Biology. Fire and Craig Mello shared the 2006 Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine for their discovery of RNA interference — gene silencing by double-stranded RNA.

Seven additional scientists have also agreed to serve as thought leaders, and will deliver lectures as part of the Luminaries in Science Lecture Series. These include a second Nobel laureate — professor Peter Agre of Duke University — and professor Benedict Gross, dean of Harvard College.

The Science Distinction Committee will use University strategic plan funds to hire three or four new faculty members within each of two or three selected areas that are expected to transform science at Emory College. After soliciting suggestions from all College faculties for the areas of focus, the committee received 15 proposals. Thus far it has selected five areas for final consideration and will announce the two to three areas of focus in the next few months.

“Emory’s Science Hire Initiative is intended to strengthen the core sciences in Emory College, which at the same time will elevate the sciences and enhance scientific collaboration throughout the University,” said Lewis. “We will leverage the existing strengths of our College science departments and recruit new visionary scientists. We expect to increase Emory’s national reputation in the sciences and break new ground in scientific discovery at Emory over the next decade.”

Ono added, “The presence of this elite group of scientists on campus will not only help us select areas of focus and to identify outstanding future hires for Emory College, they shall also via their lectures contribute to scientific discourse at Emory over the upcoming months, a discourse that I hope will include all parts of the Emory community.”

The Luminaries in Science series will be open to the entire Emory community and to the public and there is no charge for admission.

Other Luminaries in Science speakers include:
(Final dates TBD)

Peter Agre
2003 Nobel Laureate in Chemistry; vice chancellor for science, Duke University; member, National Academy
of Sciences

Carlos Bustamante
Department of molecular and cellular biology; University of California, Berkeley; investigator, Howard Hughes Medical Institute; member, National Academy of Sciences David Clapham Professor of neurobiology and cardiovascular research, Harvard Medical School; investigator, Howard Hughes Medical Institute; member, National Academy of Sciences

Richard Davidson
William James and Vilas Professor of Psychology and psychiatry director, William Keck Laboratory for Functional Brain Imaging and Behavior, University of Wisconsin, Madison

Benedict Gross
Dean, Harvard College; professor of mathematics; member, National Academy of Sciences

Susan Lindquist
Professor of Biology, Whitehead Institute for Biomedical Research, MIT; member, National Academy of Sciences

Nancy Moran
Regents’ Professor, department of ecology and evolutionary biology, University of Arizona; member, National Academy of Sciences