Reach Week, Student Research Conference & great speakers Sarah Vowell and Dr. Paul Simmons, March 18-23



This is a great opportunity to present your CE/T or other research/creative project! The deadline to submit a proposal is this Friday!

REACH Week is dedicated to students who have engaged in research, creative endeavors, and other scholarly activities at WKU. The spring semester event is scheduled for March 18-23, 2013. Events include a public address by a keynote speaker, showcases of scholarly activity by colleges and other campus programs, and a student conference. More information about REACH Week 2013 activities is forthcoming.


Sarah Vowell is Keynote Speaker for REACH Week 2013

Video Clips

Author, humorist, and Public Radio contributor Sarah Vowell will deliver the keynote presentation for REACH Week on Wednesday, March 20, 2013 at 7:00 pm in Van Meter Hall Auditorium. She will present a book reading followed by a question-and-answer session with the audience. The event is free and open to the public. It will be followed by a book signing in the foyer of Van Meter Hall.

On March 20 Sarah Vowell will meet informally with WKU students for a question-and-answer session about her work. Students interested in attending this session at 4:00 pm in the Kentucky Room of the Kentucky Building should email Dr. Darlene Applegate, Student Research Council Chair, to make a reservation. Space is limited.

Sarah Vowell is the New York Times’ bestselling author of six nonfiction books on American history and culture.  By examining the connections between the American past and present, she offers personal, often humorous accounts of everything from presidents and their assassins to colonial religious fanatics, as well as thoughts on American Indians, utopian dreamers, pop music and the odd cranky cartographer.

Vowell’s most recent book, Unfamiliar Fishes (2011) is the intriguing history of our 50th state, Hawaii, annexed in 1898.  Replete with a cast of beguiling and often tragic characters, including an overthrown Hawaiian queen, whalers, missionaries, sugar barons, Teddy Roosevelt and assorted con men, Unfamiliar Fishes is another  history lesson in Americana as only Vowell can tell it – with brainy wit and droll humor.

The Wordy Shipmates examines the New England Puritans and their journey to and impact on America. She studies John Winthrop’s 1630 sermon “A Model of Christian Charity” and the bloody story that resulted from American excep-tionalism. And she also traces the relationship of Winthrop, Massachusetts’ first governor, and Roger Williams, the Calvinist minister who founded Rhode Island – an unlikely friendship that was emblematic of the polar extremes of the American foundation. Throughout she reveals how American history can show up in the most unexpected places in our modern culture, often in poignant ways.

Her book Assassination Vacation (2005) is a haunting and surprisingly hilarious road trip to tourist sites devoted to the murders of presidents Lincoln, Garfield and McKinley. Vowell examines what these acts of political violence reveal about our national character and our contemporary society.

She is also the author of two essay collections, The Partly Cloudy Patriot (2002) and Take the Cannoli (2000). Her first book Radio On (1997), is her year-long diary of listening to the radio in 1995.

Vowell was a contributing editor for Public Radio International’s This American Life from 1996-2008, where she produced numerous commentaries and documentaries and toured the country in many of the program’s live shows.  She was one of the original contributors to McSweeney’s, also participating in many of the quarterly’s readings and shows. She has been a columnist for, Time and San Francisco Weekly and continues to write occasional essays for the opinion page of the New York Times.

Vowell has made numerous appearances on the Late Show with David Letterman, Late Night with Conan O’Brien and the Daily Show with Jon Stewart. She is the voice of teen superhero Violet Parr in Brad Bird’s Academy Award-winning The Incredibles, a Pixar Animation Studios film.

Vowell is the president of the board of 826NYC, a nonprofit tutoring and writing center for students aged 6-18 in Brooklyn.


The Student Research Council and the WKU Chapter of Sigma Xi are pleased to announce the featured Sigma Xi speaker for the 43rd Annual WKU Student Research Conference in March 2013.

Dr. Paul Simmons is a clinical professor in the School of Medicine at the University of Louisville. He is a medical ethicist who has training in theology and philosophy, doing post-doctoral work at Cambridge and Princeton Universities. He is involved in the national and international debates through speaking and writing on topics such as abortion, genetics, in-vitro fertilization, stem-cell research, elective death, and health care. His special interest is in the relation of religion, science, and public policy. He brings theological insights into conversation with scientific and legal dimensions of each issue.

On Friday, March 22, 2013, Dr. Simmons will meet with WKU students for an informal discussion of a wide range of topics, according to student interest. Possible topics include biomedical ethics, stem cell research, neuroscience and the existence of God, and teaching religion in the public schools. This meet-and-greet event is free and open to WKU students of all disciplines.
It will be held in the Kentucky Room of the Kentucky Building from 11:30 am to 12:30 pm. Refreshments will be served.

On Saturday, March 23, 2013, Dr. Simmons will present the distinguished Sigma Xi lecture at the annual WKU Student Research Conference. The event will be in Gary Ransdell Hall Room 1074 in the late afternoon (the exact time will be announced soon). The title of his presentation is “Intelligent Design: Is This the End of Evolution?” Intelligent Design claims to rival or displace the theory of evolution but Simmons argues it is both bad theology and bad science. It has no credible standing as science and appeals to terribly problematic notions such as “irreducible complexity.” It also appeals to religious piety as believing the unprovable and improbable. Simmons believes there are major deficits in Intelligent Design that make it incredible that it would ever be taught in a classroom for science. Dr. Simmons’ presentation is free and open to the public.

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