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NPR Science Friday Host Ira Flatow will speak at the Green Bank Observatory on March 19th

The inaugural Frank Drake Lectureship will be held at the Green Bank Observatory on Tuesday March 19th.  The recipient of this first lectureship is Ira Flatow, Host and Executive Producer of the radio and podcast program Science Friday.   Amanda White, Manager of Public Outreach at the GBO, said the lectureship is based on one that’s been around since 1966 and whose recipients have included 7 Nobel Prize winners.

“We also have the Jansky Lectureship,” she said. “The Janksy Lectureship is given out to scientists, astronomers, different things in that field who’ve done really amazing research and have advanced the field of science.”

The Jansky Lectureship is named for Karl G. Jansky who, in 1932, first detected radio waves from a cosmic source and through his discoveries, started the science of radio astronomy.  White said the GBO wanted to create a lectureship that was unique to this observatory.

“The Green Bank Observatory wanted to create the Frank Drake Lectureship a little differently,” she said. “This is more for an individual in an outreach position or otherwise that is really promoting science and getting science out to the greater good to more people.”

The Lectureship is named for Frank Drake, a Harvard-trained astronomer who was one of the first astronomers to arrive at the then NRAO in Green Bank in 1958.   He pioneered the use of radio telescopes in the Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence (SETI) and is well known for creating the Drake Equation, a formula used for estimating the number of technological civilizations that may exist in our galaxy.  White said they are very excited to have Ira Flatow as the first recipient of this lectureship.

“As far as our requirements for the Frank Drake Lectureship he really hits hard,” she said, “he’s a veteran science correspondent so he’s been doing this for over 40 years bringing science to people all over.   So we thought he was a great selection for this type of award.”

Ira Flatow – photo courtesy of the CUNY studio

Ira Flatow hosts Science Friday, a program heard on many National Public Radio stations each week.  He is also a speaker, author and has hosted or been involved with numerous scientific radio and television programs and even appeared on the CBS hit show The Big Bang Theory.  He’s also the founder of the Science Friday Initiative, a 501c3 non-profit dedicated to increasing the public’s access to science and scientific information.  Here’s a short sample from one of his Science Friday podcasts.

[Ira Flatow – Science Friday podcast] “Why would a spider try to imitate an ant? I mean, contort its body, slouch down, do it’s best to be something that it’s not? Well that’s what certain types of jumping spiders do.  Here to answer that question…..”

Want to hear more? The Frank Drake Lectureship featuring award recipient Ira Flatow will be Tuesday, March 19th at the Green Bank Observatory science center at 7pm.   A short reception will follow the lecture.

Story By

Heather Niday

Heather is our Program Director and Traffic Manager. She started with Allegheny Mountain Radio as a volunteer deejay. She then joined the AMR staff in February of 2007. Heather grew up in the Richmond, Virginia, area and now lives in Arbovale, West Virginia with her husband Chuck. Heather is a wonderful flute player, and choir director for Arbovale UMC. You can hear Heather along with Chuck on Tuesday nights from 6 to 8pm as they host two hours of jazz on Something Different.

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