Each summer over 100 combined Vassar students and professors participate in the Undergraduate Research Summer Institute (URSI), an intensive 10-week campus program in which students conduct original scientific research under faculty direction. At the annual URSI symposium students give presentations about their summer research projects and an invited distinguished speaker provides a keynote address.
The 2014 URSI symposium will be held on Wednesday, October 1, from 3:00-6:45pm in the Villard Room of Main Building, beginning with oral presentations by four of this summer’s student researchers. At 4:15 pm, New York Times correspondent Amy Harmon will give the keynote address, “Amy's Adventures in GMO-land: A New York Times Reporter Explores the Rift Between Public Perception and Scientific Consensus in the Topsy-Turvy Debate over Biotechnology in Agriculture.” All activities are free and open to the public.
Harmon is a national correspondent for the Times, covering the impact of science and technology on American life. She has won two Pulitzer Prizes: one in 2008 for her series, “The DNA Age,” the other as part of a team for the series “How Race is Lived in America,” in 2001.
Harmon is interested in all the ways science and technology shape life. An article she wrote about a twenty-something facing the eventual onset of Huntington’s disease, “Facing Life with a Lethal Gene,” was included in the Best American Science Writing 2008 and in the 10th anniversary edition of the anthology, Best of the Best American Science Writing in 2010. Harmon’s series about human testing of a new type of a cancer drug, “Target Cancer,’’ received the annual journalism award given by the National Academies of Science. She has also frequently written about autism.
Harmon holds a BA in American culture from the University of Michigan. Her first journalism job was as a researcher in the Detroit bureau of the Los Angeles Times until transferring to the paper’s newsroom in Los Angeles, eventually covering a beat on the rise of the Internet as a social and business phenomenon. In 1997, she joined the New York Times.
URSI was founded in 1986 and is among the nation's oldest undergraduate scientific research programs. Complete information on the symposium and the overall URSI program can be found online at http://ursi.vassar.edu/symposium/ .
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Vassar College is a highly selective, coeducational, independent, residential liberal arts college founded in 1861.