Posted on Feb 26, 2010

Take an intellectual trip to galaxies far, far away or investigate the intricately complex world of musical variation. Whatever your interest, the Distinguished Science and Engineering Lecture Series won’t disappoint.

Beginning Tuesday, March 2, the series is part of a joint research initiative between Union and Skidmore College to study recruitment and retention of female professors in science (including social science), technology, engineering, and math fields. It is funded by a $500,000 National Science Foundation grant the colleges received in 2008.

Brenda Johnson

The project is led by Union Mathematics Professor Brenda Johnson and Skidmore Sociology Professor Catherine White Berheide. Skidmore Mathematics Professor Alice Dean co-led the effort with Johnson last year.

“The idea is to showcase the work of remarkable women,” Johnson said. “We want to give faculty chances to connect with peers who share common interests, and we want to give students the opportunity to see how many possibilities are out there in these fields.”

Vera Rubin of the Carnegie Institution of Washington will deliver the first lecture in the three-part series, “Rotating Galaxies and Dark Matter,” in Skidmore’s Palamountain Hall on Tuesday at 5:30 p.m.

On Wednesday, March 10 at 4:45 p.m. in Olin Auditorium, Diana Dabby of the Franklin W. Olin College of Engineering will present “Creating Musical Variation.” She’ll discuss her use of ideas from chaos theory to create variations of musical themes.

“I’m fascinated by the work all the women are doing,” Johnson said. “For instance, Diana Dabby’s work draws from music, mathematics and engineering all at once, and that’s incredibly interesting.”

The series concludes with a talk by Robin Bell of the Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory of Columbia University on April 20 at 5:15 p.m. in Olin Auditorium. Her topic will be announced shortly.

Bell’s presentation is co-sponsored by Union’s Geology Department and the NSF Advance Skidmore Union Network, as the research initiative is officially known. Dabby’s lecture is also sponsored by the Network, and has additional support from Union’s Music Department and Electrical and Computer Engineering Department.

All events are open to all members of the Union community. For more information on the speakers or the NSF Advance Skidmore Union Network, click here.