Patrusky Lecture video recordings

Photo of an engraved crystal prismThe Patrusky Lectures were launched in 2013 to honor Ben Patrusky, executive director of CASW for 25 years and director of the New Horizons in Science program for 30 years.

The CASW Board of Directors commemorated Ben Patrusky’s retirement that year by naming him Executive Director Emeritus and also by creating the Patrusky Fund and the annual lecture. It is to be delivered by a distinguished scientist at each year’s New Horizons briefings as the centerpiece of the program. The lecturer is presented an engraved crystal prism and a certificate commemorating the lecture.

The Tenth Patrusky Lecture | 2022

In “The New Universe,” presented at ScienceWriters2022 in Memphis, Tenn., on Oct. 23, Harvard astronomer Alyssa A. Goodman gave science writers a look forward to the potentially surprising discoveries that will emerge as astrophysics is reorganized around remarkable new methods that harness the power of visualization, computer simulation, large-scale collaboration, and powerful instruments such as the new James Webb Space Telescope and the European Space Agency’s Gaia mapping project. Goodman’s slides and other resources related to the lecture are available at her Harvard website.

The Ninth Patrusky Lecture | 2021

In her virtual talk, “Science in a Fact-Free World: Applying Lessons from the COVID Crisis to Climate Communication”, climate scientist Katharine Hayhoe shared her experiences communicating the importance of climate change across America’s political divide, arguing that by applying important lessons from social science, it is possible to move audiences toward positive action on climate change based on a foundation of shared values and concerns. A video recording is not available.

The Eighth Patrusky Lecture | 2020

Princeton sociologist Ruha Benjamin, whose work examines how science and technology reinforce racial inequality as they shape the social world, presented the eighth Patrusky Lecture on October 21, 2020. Benjamin’s presentation was one of the virtual events making up the ScienceWriters2020 virtual conference. Benjamin’s talk, “2020 Vision: Reimagining the Default Settings of Technology and Society,” elucidated the ways inequality and oppression are woven into technology and science is often tapped to provide the alibi for racial injustice.

The Seventh Patrusky Lecture | 2019

Steven W. Squyres, lead scientist for the long-lived Mars rovers Spirit and Opportunity, shared the science and engineering behind that historic mission in the seventh Patrusky Lecture on October 27, 2019, as part of CASW’s New Horizons in Science program at the ScienceWriters2019 conference, held in State College, Pa. Originally expected to end in 2004, the mission was finally shut down after 15 years, in February 2019. Squyres recently joined Blue Origin as chief scientist after decades on the physical sciences faculty at Cornell University. During the talk, he advocated human exploration of Mars but said the red planet would make a poor destination for space tourists.

The Sixth Patrusky Lecture | 2018

Shirley M. Tilghman, a mammalian developmental geneticist who served as the 19th president of Princeton University, presented the sixth Patrusky Lecture on Sunday, October 14, 2018, during CASW’s New Horizons in Science program at ScienceWriters2018 at George Washington University in Washington, D.C. Tilghman chose “Righting the Ship: Systemic Flaws in the Biomedical Research Enterprise” as the theme of her address to science writers. Her talk celebrated the promise of remarkable new methods in biomedical science while pointing to structural problems that may prevent society from reaping their benefits. She traced the roots of this dilemma to U.S. universities’ reliance on “soft money” from the National Institutes of Health for salary support, and overtraining and overbuilding that followed major increases in NIH support around the turn of the 21st century.

The Fifth Patrusky Lecture | 2017

Physician and scientist Susan Desmond-Hellmann delivered the fifth Patrusky Lecture, “In Defense of Science,” on October 27, 2017 during the 10th World Conference of Science Journalists in San Francisco, Calif. Desmond-Hellmann, chief executive officer of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, drew on her work as an oncologist who developed gene-targeted therapies for cancer and worked on HIV/AIDS and cancer treatment in Uganda. The current wave of anti-science sentiment around the world, she said, threatens lives as patients resist science-based treatment out of fear and suspicion. She suggested that scientists, in public conversations, should explain the consequences of their work, clearly explain the nature of the evidence behind medical and health recommendations, and resist the need to exaggerate. The credibility of science, she added, rests on scientists pursuing their objectives responsibly and carefully.

The Fourth Patrusky Lecture | 2016

Theoretical physicist Steven Weinberg, Jack S. Josey–Welch Foundation Chair in Science and Regental Professor at the University of Texas at Austin, delivered the fourth Patrusky Lecture during the New Horizons in Science briefings at ScienceWriters2016 in San Antonio, Texas October 30, 2016. Weinberg, who shared the 1979 Nobel Prize for his early work on the unification of the weak and electromagnetic forces, told his audience of science writers that there remain fundamental and unresolved issues with quantum mechanics, despite the theory’s remarkable successes in explaining fundamental aspects of nature and driving technological progress. Neither “instrumentalist” nor “realist” efforts to explain away these issues, he said, are satisfying, suggesting that there is significant work yet to be done.

The Third Patrusky Lecture | 2015

Microbiologist Jo Handelsman, a pioneer in metagenomics research and Associate Director for Science at the U.S. Office of Science and Technology Policy, delivered the third Patrusky Lecture during the New Horizons in Science briefings at ScienceWriters2015 at MIT October 11, 2015. Handelsman traced the evolution of thinking about microbiomes and metagenomics, a field she pioneered as a microbiologist at the University of Wisconsin and more recently at Yale. She said an interagency committee has been formed to accelerate federal support for research on microorganisms and microbiomes, the communities of microbes that inhabit the human body and other habitats.

The Second Patrusky Lecture | 2014

Paleoanthropologist Donald Johanson delivered the second Patrusky Lecture, “The Human Evolutionary Journey,” in Columbus, Ohio, on October 19, 2014, during the 52nd New Horizons in Science (pdf) briefings, hosted by The Ohio State University as part of ScienceWriters2014. In a presentation celebrating the 40th anniversary of the discovery of the fossil hominid Lucy, Johanson traced the continuing shifts in our understanding of human evolution that have come about with fossil discoverings and paleogenetic analysis in recent decades.

The Inaugural Patrusky Lecture | 2013

Harvard University chemist and inventor George M. Whitesides gave the first Patrusky Lecture, “Simplicity in Science,” on November 3, 2013 at the 51st New Horizons in Science Briefing, hosted by the University of Florida in Gainesville, Florida, as part of ScienceWriters2013. Whitesides advocated purpose-driven science with simplicity at its core. He described how his lab “stacks” simple concepts to produce useful technologies.