BUIES CREEK - Campbell University will be the destination for scientists and science students from across the state next spring when it hosts the North Carolina Academy of Science’s 109th Annual Meeting March 23-25.
The annual meeting showcases a wide variety of research topics, keynote presentations and several other programs, and the 2012 topic will be “environmental stewardship.” The keynote address will be presented by Dr. Stuart Pimm of Duke University’s Nicholas School of the Environment. Pimm is a renowned authority in conservation biology and biodiversity and has penned more than 150 scientific papers, written several books and spoken to Congress on the Endangered Species Act.
The topic of Pimm’s presentation will be “biodiversity - the most beautiful carbon.”
“Modern society creates daunting challenges to preserving our environment,” said Dr. Karen Guzman, associate professor for the Department of Biological Sciences and one of the event’s main organizers. “Creative solutions from all disciplines of science are necessary to overcome these challenges.”
Guzman said the annual meeting will draw strengths from all fields of science to provide an “excellent venue” to focus on the environment.
“The meeting is a great opportunity for both professionals and students from across the state to hear about recent research advances, to present their own research and to network with other scientists,” she added.
Getting Pimm involved in the event is big for Campbell University, Guzman said, because of the respect he has earned in the scientific community. The Institute of Scientific Information recognized Pimm in 2002 as being one of the world’s most highly cited scientists, and he has been recognized with several awards in recent years, including the Heineken Prize and the Tyler Prize for Environmental Achievement.
“At the same time, he is a hands-on scientists who has played a key role in conservation, such as working to restore the Florida Everglades ecosystem,” Guzman said. “And he will be able to relate to the professionals and students in the Academy from his extensive field experience.”
Another topic on the agenda will be natural gas exploration in North Carolina. Nearby Durham, Lee, Chatham and Moore counties are currently at the center of debate over “fracking,” or horizontal natural gas drilling, a controversial method of extracting natural resources by mixing chemicals with water. North Carolina recently passed a law allowing offshore drilling and the study of fracking and its impact on Central North Carolina’s environment.
Other special programs will include a session on science and photography, programs tailored specifically for high school teachers and several workshops, including one on graduate and professional schools.
According to Dr. Mark Hammond, Dean of the College of Arts & Sciences and a biology professor at Campbell, both the College and the University are approaching the spring meeting with “great enthusiasm.”
“Because of the College’s long-standing reputation of educating extraordinary undergraduate science majors, bringing the Senior Academy to Buies Creek is a special honor for us,” Hammond said. “Few people realize that over one-fourth of the undergraduate students at Campbell are preparing for a career in the sciences, such as biology, chemistry, medicine and pharmacy through the academic programs of the College of Arts & Sciences.”
Hammond said the meeting will also allow Campbell to show the outside world its recent campus renovations, as many attendees will be first-time visitors or people who haven’t stepped foot on campus in over five years.
“Dr. Guzman and her committee are working diligently to ensure that everyone’s experience is a great one,” Hammond said.
LEARN MORE: Find out more about the North Carolina Academy of Science online at http://www.ncacadsci.org/.
STORY: By Billy Liggett, Assistant Director for Publications
PHOTO: Dr. Stuart Pimm, scheduled speaker at the North Carolina Academy of Science's Annual Meeting