Dr. Patricia Limerick to speak at ESA annual meeting

July 19, 2004

Author and historian, Dr. Patricia Limerick, will deliver the Public Plenary Address of the Ecological Society of America's 89th Annual Meeting, held this year in Portland, Oregon August 1 - 6, 2004. Her illustrated talk, "Naturalists, National Mission, and the Wonders of the West: The Lewis and Clark Expedition as a Parable," will launch the Society's meeting, the theme of which focuses on ecological lessons that can be learned from the two explorers. The ESA Public Plenary is free and open to the public.

Born and raised in Banning, California, Patricia Nelson Limerick is a Western American historian, with particular interests in ethnic and environmental history. She has published a wide variety of books, articles, and reviews, including The Legacy of Conquest, and Something in the Soil: Field-Testing the New Western History. She is currently at work on an anthology of poems and essays called The Nature of Justice: Racial Equity and Environmental Well-Being.

Limerick contends that two hundred years after the Lewis and Clark expedition, the political and cultural role of "scientific exploration" has become considerably more complicated, with scientists-especially ecologists- often serving as agents of caution and second thoughts, in weighing the legacy of the nation's westward expansion and taking part in projects for remediation and restoration. And yet, over these two centuries, the role of naturalists and scientists in awakening their fellow citizens to a sense of wonder and appreciation of Western landscapes and creatures has only gained in importance and consequence. Limerick believes that the Lewis and Clark Bicentennial presents a prime opportunity for ecologists to enhance the voice and role of scientific findings in today's decision-making.

A MacArthur Fellow, Limerick holds a Ph.D. in American Studies from Yale University. As a Professor of History and Environmental Studies, she teaches courses on the American West, including a team-taught course comparing the history of colonialism and imperialism in the American West, Africa, and the Middle East, as well as a course, also team-taught, on the biological components of Western American history. Dr. Limerick is the Chair of the Board and Faculty Director of the Center of the American West at the University of Colorado.

The program of every ESA Annual Meeting since the 1999 gathering in Spokane, Washington has included a Public Plenary featuring a noted speaker in the sciences, politics, or literature. The inspiration of the ESA Public Affairs Committee, the Public Plenary offers an opportunity for the local public to participate in the annual science conference.

Pacific Northwest Writers and Poets Evening
Another free event open to the public will feature an opportunity to hear noted authors and poets Robin Cody, Robert Michael Pyle, Kathleen Dean Moore, and Liz Woody who are inspired by and write about the natural environment in the Pacific Northwest. The event will be held on Tuesday, August 3, 7:30 PM - 10 PM at the OCC.

For more information about these events, and other ESA Annual Meeting activities, visit the ESA meeting homepage at: http://www.esa.org/portland. The theme for the meeting is "Lessons of Lewis and Clark: Ecological Exploration of Inhabited Landscapes." Close to 4,000 scientists are expected to attend the five-and-a-half day meeting.

Ecological Society of America

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