Northern Illinois University

NIU Office of Public Affairs



Leon Lederman
Leon Lederman

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News Release

Contact: Tom Parisi, NIU Office of Public Affairs
(815) 753-3635

March 14, 2007

Nobel Laureate Leon Lederman to lecture
at NIU on future of science education

DeKalb, Ill. — Nobel Laureate Leon Lederman, director emeritus of Fermi National Accelerator Laboratory, will visit Northern Illinois University to deliver a public lecture from 3:30 to 4:30 p.m. Friday, March 23, in the Altgeld Hall Auditorium.

The lecture, titled “Sputnik, Frogs and the Future of Science Education,” is free and open to the public. It will be followed by a reception from 4:30 to 5:30 p.m. in the Altgeld Auditorium Foyer.

Free parking for this event is available in the lot south of the Art and Music buildings.

“This is a talk on the problem of science education—or lack thereof—in our great nation,” Lederman wrote in an e-mail. “The poor showing of U.S. students (in pre-kindergarten through high school) compared to other nations and the growing disinterest of U.S. students in math and science is reaching alarming proportions.”

Lederman noted that the crisis has resulted in substantial corporate outsourcing and has caught the attention of Congress. U.S. citizens also are beginning to worry, and “our traditional technological superiority is by no means assured.” His talk will analyze the problem and suggest solutions.

Won Nobel Prize in 1988

Lederman holds an appointment as Pritzker Professor of Science at the Illinois Institute of Technology. He served as chairman of the State of Illinois Governor’s Science Advisory Committee and is a founder of and the inaugural resident scholar at the Illinois Mathematics and Science Academy, a three-year residential public high school for the gifted.

“We’re thrilled that Leon Lederman is coming to visit campus,” NIU President John Peters said. “He is internationally renowned, both as a Nobel Prize-winning high-energy physicist and as an educator. Of the many great scientific leaders in the Chicago region, Dr. Lederman is among the most respected and likely is the most well-known.”

In 1988, the Nobel Prize in Physics was awarded jointly to Lederman, Melvin Schwartz and Jack Steinberger for their pioneering work on subatomic particles. Other awards over Lederman’s distinguished career have included the National Medal of Science (1965), the Elliot Cresson Medal of the Franklin Institute (1976), the Wolf Prize in Physics (1982) and the Enrico Fermi Prize given by President Clinton in 1993.

Decade at Fermilab

Lederman served as director of Fermilab from 1979 to 1989. He is a founder and chairman emeritus of the Teachers Academy for Mathematics and Science, which was active in the professional development of primary school teachers in Chicago from 1990 to 2003.

Lederman has served as president and chairman of the American Association for the Advancement of Science, the largest U.S. scientific organization. He serves on more than a dozen boards, including the Board of the Chicago Museum of Science and Industry, the Union of Concerned Scientists Advisory Board, the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists, the Council of American Science Writers and the Universities Research Association Board.

He has been the recipient of numerous honorary degrees, including an honorary doctoral degree from NIU in 1983, and has held academic appointments at institutions worldwide. His visit to NIU is hosted by the President’s Office, the Provost’s Office and the Department of Physics.

“We’re very fortunate to have him visit campus,” NIU Presidential Science Adviser Gerald Blazey said. “Dr. Lederman is a world-renowned physicist and educator. What’s more, his talks are always entertaining and intriguing.”

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