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Research lecture series kicks off

Sep. 18, 2009 @ 12:00 AM

Department of Defense Programs director is first of four speakers

HUNTINGTON -- How science and research will play a part in the challenges facing the human race was the topic of discussion at the first of four lectures this year as part of the Marshall Institute for Interdisciplinary Research's Stephen J. Kopp Lectureship.

Terry Hawkins, the senior fellow and director of Department of Defense Programs at Los Alamos National Laboratory, gave a speech to the dozens who were in attendance Thursday evening at the new St. Mary's Center for Education on 5th Avenue. But the wily retired Air Force colonel also spoke seriously about the role science and technology will play as humanity addresses current and future security challenges.

"We're talking about shared problems being faced by humanity," Hawkins said before his talk. "And how science and technology can deal with them. What you need is the best people you can get to work out the problems."

Hawkins said that doesn't mean only Yale or Harvard. It can also happen at Marshall. He said it's a matter of bringing together talents from all areas of study to solve those common problems.

"MIIR is one such organization with that philosophy," Hawkins said.

His concerns are the devaluation of human life,

But Hawkins' talk wasn't just intended for the eyes and ears of lead researchers and top-notch scientists. Eric Kmiec, director of MIIR, said the evening lecture series is for the community and its leaders. Part of the reason behind doing it is getting people to buy into and support what the Institute is doing for Marshall, Huntington and beyond.

"Be interactive with the community and business professionals at large," he said. "We felt the best way to do that was a lecture series on intellectual topics."

Before Hawkins got started, though, Kmiec called Marshall President Stephen Kopp up to announce that the lecture series was being named for him.

"Only a short time ago, this institution was only a vision fostered by Dr. Kopp," Kmiec said.

Kopp said he was deeply touched and almost shocked by the gesture. But he said the vision that opened MIIR's doors earlier this year is the only way positive change can be brought to fruition.

"I do the things I do with great passion because I want to see change," he said. "This institute is an experiment, a well laid out, well though out experiment. It's something that will continue to evolve over time."

The lecture series on Culture, Technology and Society continues Dec. 3, with guest speaker Dr. Anthony Davies, vice president of Geron Corporation. The Marshall Institute for Interdisciplinary Research is Marshall's piece of the state's "Bucks for Brains" program.

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