The Virginia Tech College of Science is hosting Professor Geraldine Richmond, the presidential chair in science at the University of Oregon’s Department of Chemistry, as the final speaker for the 2019 J. Mark Sowers Distinguished Lecture Series.

Richmond will speak about the importance of global engagement in science. In her abstract of the talk, Richmond wrote, “Food security is only one of the many complex and interconnected challenges embedded in ensuring a sustainable world in the face of climate change and a population soon to reach 9 billion [people]. All such challenges demand a major shift in how we seek innovative ways to coexist with ever-expanding needs for energy, food, water, and a healthy environment.”

She added, “Solutions demand innovative international research collaborations and policies that include talents and perspectives from both the developed and developing world. This presentation will share the many stories and insights gained from my collaborative efforts with several thousand scientists and engineers in many developing countries around the globe."

Among the regions she will focus on are rural Laos, where more than 50 percent of newborns become stunted by age 2 due to chronic malnourishment and the lack of potable water. Worldwide, Richmond said, 161 million children younger than 5 many of them in Africa and Asia  suffered irreversible stunting as of 2016.

She will present her talk at 7:30 p.m. on Oct. 24 at the at the Graduate Life Center Auditorium on the Virginia Tech campus. The lecture is free and open to the public. No RSVP is needed.

A professor of chemistry, Richmond is a member of the National Academy of Sciences and the American Academy of Arts and Sciences and is a Fellow of the American Chemical Society (ACS), the American Physical Society (APS), the Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS), and the Association for Women in Science. She has served on many international, national, and state governing and advisory boards, including the National Science Board; as the U.S. Science Envoy to the Lower Mekong River Countries of Vietnam, Laos, Cambodia, Burma and Thailand; and secretary of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences. She now serves as president of Sigma Xi, the honorary scientific society.

Richmond founded and currently directs COACh, a grass-roots organization that has helped more than 20,000 women scientists and engineers in career advancement in the U.S. and countries in Asia, Africa, and Latin America. Among her numerous awards are the 2018 Priestley Medal from the American Chemical Society (ACS), the National Medal of Science (2013), and the Joel H. Hildebrand Award in the Theoretical and Experimental Studies of Liquids from ACS (2011).

The Sowers lecture series launched in 2017 and has included speakers Professor David Reitze, physicist and executive director of the Laser Interferometer Gravitational-Wave Observatory (LIGO) Project at California Institute of Technology; Steven Strogatz of Cornell University; and 1999 Nobel Prize in Physics co-winner Gerard ‘t Hooft, a theoretical physicist from Utrecht University.

The lecture series is funded by Mark Sowers, a Richmond, Virginia, businessman and longtime supporter of the College of Science, and his wife, Debi. “I hope that people will be inspired by the lecture series and to bring attention to Virginia Tech and its brilliant researchers for the advancement of fundamental physics,” Sowers has said of the events.

A programming committee for the series is composed of faculty from across the College of Science.

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