Harvard Professor to Visit YSU

Mara Prentiss, a professor of physics at Harvard University, will visit Youngstown State University later this week to share her love of science and vouch for the value of a science education.

“I was honored to be invited [to speak at YSU], and I believe that all scientists have an obligation to try to communicate what we do and why we do it,” Prentiss said. “Also, I very much enjoy the opportunity to share the joy that I find in doing scientific research.”

During her time at YSU, Prentiss will give two lectures — one on April 25 for the Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics Lecture Series and the other on April 26 for the Edward W. Powers Women in Science and Engineering Career Workshop.

At the STEM lecture, Prentiss expects to explain her research on chromosome structure and function.

“I will talk about one of the most important general questions in science and technology: How do living things correctly assemble?” Prentiss said. “This is important for understanding basic biology, but it also has important implications for healthcare and nanotechnology.”

Later, Prentiss will speak at the Women in Science and Engineering Career Workshop — an event designed to introduce young women in grades 6 through 12 to prominent women in the science field.

Diana Fagan, a professor of biology and cofounder and director of the career workshop, positively commented on this year’s guest speaker, indicating that middle, high school and college students can benefit from Prentiss’ presence.

“[The career day] provides an opportunity for girls from sixth through twelfth grade to meet women who work in science and engineering careers,” Fagan said. “Having a prestigious speaker here encourages the public to be interested in what’s going on here at YSU. In addition, it is an excellent opportunity for our students — both undergraduate and graduate — to learn about research that’s being done elsewhere.”

Prentiss is just one of over thirty female speakers who will contribute to the career day. She said she expects to introduce young women to the concept of authentic scientific research at this year’s career workshop.

“Most people have no idea what scientists do. People go to science classes in school, but science classrooms rarely capture what scientists actually do. Research is very different from classroom study. There are many more opportunities for creativity, improvisation and imagination,” Prentiss said.

Prentiss concluded that she looks forward to her trip to YSU and said she hopes her lectures will resonate with her audience.

“I am excited about [my lectures], and I hope that people will find the lectures interesting and enjoyable,” she said.