UNC Charlotte Guest Lectures Share a Close View of Greatest Modern Adventure

Monday, March 10, 2014

CHARLOTTE - March 10, 2014 - We are in the middle of the greatest age of exploration that the world has ever known, and two prominent witnesses and chroniclers of that adventure will soon be in Charlotte to talk about what they have seen.

What has been happening is not the mere discovery of new continents, but the exploration of vast new worlds in and around us – the astounding new views of  life emerging from genomics and molecular biology,  the surprising emerging picture of a huge and complex microbial world – and then, moving way beyond us, also the exploration of the universe itself.

We are at what may be the high point of the age of scientific exploration, and two well-known science writers --  Carl Zimmer, a science journalist who has covered the biggest stories of modern bioscience,  and science historian Amy Shira Teitel, a science journalist and blogger on space travel --  have had front row seats to some of  humankind’s biggest discoveries.  Both will share the excitement of what they have seen and what they know when they visit  as part of the UNC Charlotte NC Science Festival Guest Lecture Series.

Acclaimed science book author, Weekly NY Times science columnist and writer of the popular “The Loom” blog for National Geographic, Carl Zimmer will be part of a free panel discussion on Friday, March 28 at 3 p.m. in EPIC Building G256 on the UNC Charlotte campus. Titled “What’s Coming in Genomics?” The  panel will also include noted genomics researchers Anthony Fodor, Dennis Livesay and Jessica Schlueter, all from UNC Charlotte’s Department of Bioinformatics. At 8 p.m. that evening at the UNC Charlotte Center City Auditorium, Zimmer will conclude his visit with a free public lecture entitled “You Are Thousands of Species: Discovering the Life Within You.” The lecture is co-sponsored by the North Carolina Science Festival, which has designated it as one of the festival’s “Signature Events.” A public reception and book-signing will follow.

Zimmer is, in the words of The New York Times Book Review, “as fine a science essayist as we have,” and few write as eloquently and knowledgeably about contemporary biology. He won the National Academies Communication Award, which praised him “for his diverse and consistently interesting coverage of evolution and unexpected biology.” He is also a two-time winner of the American Association for the Advancement of Science Journalism Award. Zimmer writes regularly for National Geographic, The New York Times, where he writes the “Matter” column, and other major publications. He has written ten widely praised science books. In all of his work, Zimmer explores the latest advances in biology, from newly discovered fossils shedding light on our origins to the latest advances in biotechnology and medicine. Hailed for his lyrical engaging prose (and admired by scientists for his accuracy and authority), Zimmer offers his readers startling new insights into our place in the natural world.

Zimmer has earned numerous awards and fellowships for his work, and he is a frequent guest on radio shows such as “Radiolab,” “Fresh Air,” and “This American Life.” His books include Evolution: The Triumph of an Idea, called “as fine a book as one will find on the subject” by Scientific American. His 2004 book Soul Made Flesh, a fascinating history of the brain, was named one of the top 100 books of the year by The New York Times Book Review, and dubbed a “tour-de-force” by The Sunday Telegraph. His other books include At the Water’s Edge and Parasite Rex, which the Los Angeles Times hailed as “a book capable of changing how we see the world.” His 2008 book, Microcosm: E. coli and the New Science of Life, was hailed as “quietly revolutionary” by The Boston Globe and was a finalist for the Los Angeles Book Prize. Zimmer is also the author of a ground-breaking textbook about evolution, The Tangled Bank, which Edward O. Wilson praised “the best written and best illustrated introduction to evolution of the Darwin centennial decade, and also the most conversant with ongoing research.”

Science historian and web journalist Amy Shira Teitel has been interested in spaceflight since an early age and has learned a copious amount of its back story, which she writes about in her blog “Vintage Space,”  hosted by Popular Science. On April 2 at 7 p.m. in EPIC G256, she will give a free public lecture entitled, “How NASA Designed its Moon Mission,” detailing the unexpected history of what many consider to be humanity’s greatest accomplishment to date.

Teitel explains that there is a lot missing in the popular account:  “We're all familiar with the Apollo lunar mission profile. The Saturn V rocket launched the spacecraft to the Moon where, once in orbit, only the small lunar module landed on the surface. Throughout the return trip, pieces of the spacecraft were discarded once they were no longer needed until only the gumdrop-shaped command module was left to fall through the atmosphere. But why? Apollo missions didn't start out following this profile at all. This talk will go through just how NASA ended up with the lunar mission we know and love today, and all the strange and sometimes crazy ideas the agency abandoned along the way. “

Teitel is a widely published writer on the history of space travel and on space science. In addition to “Vintage Space,” she currently writes for Discovery News, Al Jazeera English, Motherboard, DVICE, Scientific American Videos, and Physics Focus and has written for Universe Today and AmericaSpace.

In addition to the Guest Lecture Series,  UNC Charlotte is sponsoring a host of public events for the NC Science Festival (March 28-April 13), including a Faculty Lecture Series (four events), a Science Film Series (four events), a Star Party, and the UNC Charlotte Science and Technology Expo, a large exhibition of science and technology from UNC Charlotte and the greater Charlotte community on April 13 at the Union Mall on the UNC Charlotte campus.

All events are free and open to the public.

For event locations, maps and more information, see http://ncsciencefestival.uncc.edu  or call 704-687-5743. All events are sponsored by UNC Charlotte in association with the NC Science Festival. University sponsors include UNC Charlotte Research and Economic Development, the College of Computing and Informatics, the College of Liberal Arts & Sciences, the College of Education, the College of Health and Human Services and the Graduate School. Charlotte Mecklenburg Schools and Discovery Place are community partners and WFAE 90.7 fm is a media partner.



Media relations contact:  Jim Hathaway, 704-687-5743, jbhathaw@uncc.edu

Media note: photos of events, including lecturers and panelists are available at: https://www.dropbox.com/sh/ne02c8lgb2swbrh/zlc3nf04K1  For assistance, contact Jim Hathaway



Science journalists Zimmer and Teitel to talk major achievement of science at NC Science Festival