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New York Times science writer Cornelia Dean to speak at WestConn

DANBURY, CONN. — Cornelia Dean, senior science writer for The New York Times and author of an acclaimed book on scientific and public policy issues in managing America’s coastal resources, will discuss what makes science “newsworthy”—and why some science stories never make the morning newspaper or evening television news—in a lecture on Thursday, April 12, at Western Connecticut State University.

Dean, who previously served as The Times’ chief science editor, will explain “How and Why Science Makes the News” as part of WestConn’s spring semester Science-at-Night series, sponsored by the School of Arts and Sciences to promote wider public understanding and informed public policy on significant topics of scientific research. Dean’s talk will be at 7 p.m. in Room 125 of the Science Building on the university’s Midtown campus, 181 White St. in Danbury. Admission will be free and the public is invited.

Recipient of a bachelor’s in American civilization from Brown University and a master’s from Boston University, Dean served for 15 years as a reporter and editor for the Providence (R.I.) Journal before joining The New York Times editorial staff as a national desk reporter in 1984. After stints as assistant and deputy science editor and deputy Washington bureau editor, Dean served from 1997 to 2003 as The Times’ science editor, with responsibilities for the newspaper’s daily coverage of science, health and technology as well as production of the weekly “Science Times” section. In her current assignment as senior science writer for The Times, she has covered a wide range of themes including environmental protection and conservation, the role of women in the sciences, and the use and misuse of scientific information in American politics and public discourse.

Dean is the author of the critically acclaimed 1999 book “Against the Tide: The Battle for America’s Beaches,” which was named a New York Times Book Review Notable Book of the Year and received Honorable Mention for the Library Journal’s Best Book of the Year award. “Against the Tide” combined dramatic factual accounts of natural disasters with painstaking research of scientific studies to provide a comprehensive portrait of coastal erosion, beachfront destruction and the consequences of human intervention and economic development for the future of America’s coastline.

In a review published in Science magazine, Tom Drake wrote, “‘Against the Tide’ flashes like a metaphorical lighthouse to warn scientists, policymakers and the public about the state of the shoreline.” Former CBS anchor Walter Cronkite described the book as an “incredibly well researched” handbook for “anyone interested in the preservation of the nation’s beaches,” providing a reminder that America’s vulnerable coastal regions “are a national heritage and a precious resource that we owe our future generations.”

In addition to her successful career as a journalist and author, Dean has shared her insights on science, public policy and journalism as a visiting instructor and lecturer at colleges across the Northeast. During the 2003-2004 academic year, she held a fellowship at the Joan Shorenstein Center on the Press, Politics and Public Policy at the Kennedy School of Government at Harvard University. She also has taught seminars and classes at Vassar College, the University of Rhode Island and the Columbia University School of Journalism. Her professional affiliations include memberships on the Corporation Board of Trustees of Brown University and the advisory board of the Metcalf Institute for Environmental and Marine Reporting.

For more information, call Assistant Professor of Chemistry Dr. Jennifer Frederick at (203) 837-9365.