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Antioch College June 17 Science Panel Includes Nobel-Winning Geneticist Mario Capecchi

YELLOW SPRINGS, Ohio – June 9, 2011 – Five noted scholars, including Nobel Prize-winning geneticist Mario Capecchi, will discuss the history of the sciences at Antioch College, as well as their research and careers, during a moderated discussion at the College’s Alumni Reunion at 10:30 a.m., Friday, June 17, in McGregor Hall on Antioch’s campus, One Morgan Place, Yellow Springs, OH 45387.

Moderated by former Antioch College President Joan Straumanis (Antioch class of 1957), the panel includes Capecchi (class of 1961), physicist Michael Barnett (class of 1966), molecular biologist Ellen Fiss (class of 1976), and geoscientist Stephen Meyers (class of 1996).

“Antioch College is famously productive of doctorates, having been in the top ten colleges on that measurement,” Straumanis said. “What is less well known is the large number of chemists, physicists, biologists, earth scientists, psychologists and engineers whose undergraduate origins were at the college.”

This year’s Alumni Reunion, held from June 16-19, has “Science & Invention” as its theme. Capecchi will deliver the keynote address to reunion attendees at 7:30 p.m., Saturday, June 18. In his talk, he is expected to speak about the Antioch College he encountered when he arrived in the late 1950s and its impact on his career as a researcher and educator.

The June 17 panel discussion sets the tone for the entire weekend, the first large-scale gathering of alumni at the College since last summer when Congressional Del. Eleanor Holmes Norton spoke about the College’s tough road toward independence. After three years of negotiations and the closing of the college, the alumni of Antioch College bought back their campus and its assets from Antioch University, a five-campus system it founded.

In recent months, the College has recruited a class of 35 students who will enter as first-year undergraduates in the fall; attracted faculty to teach; and earned the approval of the Ohio Board of Regents to offer the Bachelor of Arts and Bachelor of Science degrees.

The sciences figure prominently at the revived Antioch College. Two of the 11 study areas are science specialties – health and environmental sciences – and all students, regardless of major, must take a distribution of Foundation courses that include three courses in the sciences. A chemist, Dr. David Kammler, was among the first faculty hires at the new college. Additionally, all of the new Global Seminars on world issues have a science component.

About the Panelists:

  • Joan Straumanis ’57 (moderator) has been a high school teacher, college faculty member, dean, and president of Antioch College and Metropolitan College of New York. Straumanis, who has a Ph.D. from the University of Maryland, promoted fundamental research on neuroscience and the nature of learning while at the National Science Foundation and the Fund for the Improvement of Postsecondary Education. As president of Antioch, she helped found the Eco League, a consortium of colleges committed to environmental education.
  • Michael Barnett ’66 is a senior physicist at Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory and is a fellow of the American Physical Society. Barnett, who earned a Ph.D. from University of Chicago, is head of the international Particle Data Group, founder of the Contemporary Physics Education Project, and founder of QuarkNet. He is also the coordinator of the education and outreach program of the ATLAS Experiment at the Large Hadron Collider, a project that includes 3,000 physicists.
  • Mario Capecchi ’61 is an investigator of the Howard Hughes Medical Institute and Distinguished Professor of Human Genetics at the University of Utah School of Medicine. Best known for pioneering the technology of gene targeting in mouse embryo-derived stem (ES) cells, Capecchi was awarded the Nobel Prize in Physiology and Medicine in 2007. He received his B.S. in chemistry and physics from Antioch College and his Ph.D. in biophysics from Harvard University.
  • Ellen Fiss ’76 is the research leader at Roche Molecular Systems in Pleasanton, California. Previously, she held positions as lead researcher for projects at the University of California Medical Center, Albert Einstein College of Medicine of Yeshiva University, and the Chiron Corporation. She holds six patents in the field of molecular biology and biochemistry of infectious diseases. After completing her undergraduate studies in chemistry at Antioch College, she went on to earn her doctoral degree at the University of California at Berkeley.
  • Stephen Meyers ’96 is an assistant professor of geoscience at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, and is the author of numerous publications on the mechanisms of climate change, the controls on the global carbon cycle, and the measurement of geologic time. His research is motivated by the use of ancient Earth System perturbations as natural climate “experiments,” to provide a context for understanding modern and future climate change. Stephen received a B.S. degree in Environmental Science from Antioch College, followed by an M.S. and Ph.D. degrees in geological sciences from Northwestern University.

About Antioch College
A private, independent nonprofit liberal arts college in Yellow Springs, Ohio, Antioch College will offer a four-year, undergraduate residential experience to a new class of students beginning in the fall of 2011. The College curriculum puts equal emphasis on rigorous liberal arts learning, work (cooperative education), and community engagement. Students will complete individualized majors based on one of 11 concentrations, a language minor, and six full-time work experiences. The institution, originally founded in 1850, is now completely independent of Antioch University, the multi-campus system it created.

Gariot P. Louima 

Chief Communications Officer
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