February 28, 2007

Astronomy expert Chris Impey

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LEWISBURG, Pa. — Astronomy expert Chris Impey will visit Bucknell University March 6 and 7 as a Phi Beta Scholar. He will give three talks Tuesday, March 6, all of which are free to the public.

Impey will discuss "Teaching with Electrons" at 8:15 a.m. in the Teaching and Learning Center in Bertrand Library. Focusing on the problem of engaging students in large enrollment classes, he will discuss how to use technology to reach every student in the class. Because of space limitations, please email tlc@bucknell.edu to reserve a seat.

Impey will give the talk, "The End of the World: Astronomy Meets Eschatology," at 4 p.m. in Olin 268. Impey will examine the 'ultimate in disaster' from an astronomer's perspective and consider the myriad ways our universe might end. "The End of the World has been discussed in various contexts ranging from the Biblical to science fiction," said Ned Ladd, associate professor of physics and astronomy at Bucknell. "Despite the rather depressing nature of the subject matter, this talk is really engaging. It addresses some of the remarkable aspects regarding the structure and evolution of our universe."

Impey will give the talk, "Cosmic Evolution: From Big Bang to Biology," at 7:30 p.m. in Olin 268. This talk will cover how the evolving universe led to the chemical ingredients of life and the planetary sites for life, and will present an estimate of the number of habitable planets in the galaxy. "The entire sweep of evolution is covered, from big bang to brains, with some amazing facts about the universe thrown in along the way," said Ladd.

A University Distinguished Professor in the department of astronomy at the University of Arizona, Impey is the recipient of 11 teaching awards . In 2002 he was named the National Science Foundation Distinguished Teaching Scholar as well as the Arizona Teacher of the Year by the Carnegie Foundation, and in 2005 he was selected a Galileo Circle Scholar, the College of Science's highest honor. 

Impey created the Astronomica Web site, which provides students with interactive tools and instructional technology, and has been instrumental in curriculum development in astrobiology. His research interests are in observational cosmology, gravitational lensing, and the evolution and structure of galaxies. 

The co-author of two textbooks, The Cosmic Journey and Universe Revealed, Impey serves as vice-president of the American Astronomical Society and is a member of its astronomy education board and the editorial board of Astronomy Education Review. He has been a Harlow Shapley visiting lecturer for the AAS, and in 1998 received the Slipher Award from the National Academy of Sciences.

Phi Beta Kappa is one of the nation's oldest and most prestigious undergraduate honor societies. Five students at the College of William & Mary founded Phi Beta Kappa in 1776, during the American Revolution. For over two and a quarter centuries, the Society has embraced the principles of freedom of inquiry and liberty of thought and expression. Today, the organization has more than 600,000 members in 276 chapters at the nation's premier universities.

Posted Feb. 28, 2007

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