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Released March 14, 2003


HATTIESBURG - Dr. Peter Butko, a chemistry professor at The University of Southern Mississippi, will discuss breakthroughs in biotechnology and how they apply to the public as part of the university's 2003 Science and Lecture Series March 19.

Butko, a native of Slovakia who earned degrees in physics and biophysics, will present "Misconceptions in Science and Biotechnology" at 7 p.m. at Reuben Auditorium in the Walker Science Building on the Southern Miss campus.

Much of Butko's lecture has grown out of his research into Bt toxin and soil bacteria, which is now used in commercial preparations against mosquitoes and blackflies.

Butko said many people ask questions like: "‘Do we really want to kill pests on a large scale?' or ‘Is it safe to put genes for insecticidal toxins into agricultural plants?' or ‘Is gene therapy good?'"

He added, "These are not easy answers."

An advocate of educating the public about science "irrespective of vocation," Butko said the difficult scientific questions are usually the most interesting ones.

"One needs to realize that although science is fairly good at providing some answers, the point of science might rather be teaching us how to ask better questions," he said.

Butko has worked as a researcher at several institutions in North America, including the National Research Council of Canada and the Harvard Medical School. His research has been funded by the National Institutes of Health, the National Science Foundation, the Department of Agriculture and the Department of Defense.

Other scheduled presentations in the series during the spring semester include

– Dr. Shelby Thames, "From Polymer Scientist to President," April 2.

– Dr. Adel Ali, "Supercomputing and High Performance Visualization," April 16.

All lectures in the series will be held at 7 p.m. in Walker Science Building's Reuben Auditorium. The presentations are free and open to the public.



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July 16, 2003 9:36 AM