Biology professors to keynote USD IdeaFest presentations

VERMILLION, S.D. -- The University of South Dakota will present two distinguished keynote speakers during IdeaFest 2011. Lawrence J. Wangh, Ph.D., will deliver the keynote address, “Role of Serendipity in Scientific Discovery: A Personal Account,” at noon on Wednesday, April 13, while Beth Shapiro, Ph.D., is slated to present, “Sequencing the Dead,” at 7:30 p.m. on Thursday, April 14. Both programs are in the ballroom of the Muenster University Center.

Wangh is a professor in the department of biology at Brandeis University, as well as a Sigma Xi Distinguished Lecturer. He has a B.A. from Brandeis University and received his Ph.D. from Rockefeller University. Wangh has made many discoveries in chemistry and molecular diagnostics, and he is also working on stem cell research and ways to detect early forms of cancer. A photo of Wangh is available for download at www.usd.edu/press/news/images/releases/Lawrence_Wangh.jpg.

Shapiro, a National Geographic Emerging Explorer and assistant professor in the department of biology at Penn State University, has a B.S. and M.S. in ecology from the University of Georgia and a Ph.D. in zoology from Oxford University. She is researching the molecular evolution of extinct animals through phylogenetics (the study of evolutionary relatedness among organisms), and extractions of ancient DNA and viruses. A photo of her is available for download at www.usd.edu/press/news/images/releases/Beth_Shapiro.jpg.

IdeaFest is The University of South Dakota’s annual event that showcases accomplishments in graduate and undergraduate research, creative scholarship and academic engagement. Established in 1992 as a celebration of academic and cultural diversity at USD, IdeaFest 2011 boasts the largest number of participants to date as 369 students will be involved in 188 presentations.

IdeaFest 2011 is hosted by the USD Center for Academic Engagement, Council for Undergraduate Research and Creative Activity, USD Graduate School, Office of Research and Sponsored Programs, Sigma Xi, USD Office of Academic Affairs and the College of Arts & Sciences, Department of Biology, & Department of Earth Sciences. More information about IdeaFest is available by e-mail: ideafest@usd.edu, and by calling (605) 677-6338.