The Commonwealth Professor of English at the University of Virginia, Rita Dove is one of the most important literary voices of our time. Her work includes ten books of poetry, a novel, a play, and a song series, as well as collections of short stories and essays. She is the youngest ever winner of the Pulitzer Prize for Poetry (Thomas and Beulah,1986) and the first African American to hold the title of Poet Laureate of the United States. She has held numerous other positions of distinction, including the Chancellor of the American Academy of Poets and the Poet Laureate of Virginia. Her many honors include the National Humanities Medal from President Bill Clinton (1996), the Commonwealth Award of Distinguished Service (2006), the National Medal of Arts from President Barak Obama (2011) and the NAACP Image Award (2016).
Steve Squyres is the James A. Weeks Professor of Physical Sciences at Cornell, and his research focuses on planetary science. He has been a main participant in many of NASA’s planetary explorations, including voyages to Jupiter and Saturn, and is now the lead for the Mars Exploration Rover Mission (the one we hear about on TV all the time). His book, Roving Mars, was turned into a Disney IMAX film. He’s also served as one of NASA’s “aquanauts” for undersea explorations. He was named “Person of the Week” by ABC News for that exploration. He’s won countless awards, including the Carl Sagan Memorial Award, and has been a featured guest on a number of national television programs like 60 Minutes and The Colbert Report.
Thomas Frank is the author of six popular and critically acclaimed books, including the New York Times bestseller What’s the Matter with Kansas? (2004) and The Wrecking Crew: How Conservatives Rule (2009). He recently published the critically acclaimed Listen Liberal: Or, Whatever Happened to the Party of the People? (2016), which The National Book Review calls “an important book” that offers “an engaging and skeptical analysis of where the Democratic Party’s politics and policies have been headed for some time." Frank is also a noted journalist and political commentator. He co-founded The Baffler, has written regular columns for Harper’s Magazine and The New York Times, and has been a featured guest on such nationally syndicated programs as Bill Moyers, The Colbert Report and The Rachel Maddow Show.
Dr. Lang is one of the pioneers of the cross-disciplinary marriage of origami with mathematics; he has been one of the few Western columnists for Origami Tanteidan Magazine, the journal of the Japan Origami Academic Society, and has presented refereed and invited technical papers on origami-math at mathematical and computer science professional meetings. He has consulted on applications of origami to engineering problems ranging from air-bag design to expandable space telescopes. He is the author or co-author of thirteen books and numerous articles on origami art and design and in 2011 was elected an Honorary Member of the British Origami Society.
Allegra Goodman is the author of many novels, including her latest, The Cookbook Collector, published in 2010. Allegra Goodman' work has appeared in the New Yorker, Good Housekeeping, Slate, and the American Scholar. Named by the New Yorker as one of the twenty best writers under forty, she is also the recipient of a Whiting Award and the Salon magazine award for fiction. She lives with her family in Cambridge, Massachusetts.
Nobel Prize winner Eric Wieschaus presented the inaugural Bender Scholar in Residence lecture at Indiana University South Bend on Saturday, October 5 . in the lecture hall of the Education and Arts Building on campus.
Wieschaus is a professor of Molecular Biology at Princeton University and won the Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine in 1995, along with co-recipients Edward B. Lewis and Christiane Nusslein-Volhard. They were awarded the prestigious prize for their work revealing the genetic control of embryonic development.
Wieschaus was born in South Bend, graduated from the University of Notre Dame, and had a personal connection to Eileen and Harvey Bender, two well-known local professors who have since passed away.