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Lead toxicity expert delivers public lecture

Feb. 11, 2009

KALAMAZOO--A leading scientist will be on campus next week to present a public lecture on lead poisoning, which affects more 300,000 children each year in the United States alone.

Dr. Hilary Godwin, professor and chair of environmental health sciences at the University of California, Los Angeles, will speak on "Molecular mechanism of lead poisoning" at 4 p.m. Monday, Feb. 16, in Room 1260 of the Chemistry Building. The free public talk will be technical in nature. A reception for Godwin will follow at 5 p.m.

While on campus, Godwin also will meet with students, and present a workshop for faculty and administrators called "Building Strong Academic Units through Diversity." The workshop will take place from 2 to 4 p.m. Tuesday, Feb. 17, in Room 2734 Wood Hall. Registration is required.

Godwin also serves as associate dean for academic programs in UCLA's School of Public Health and is a member of the California Nano Systems Institute. She is an expert in the molecular toxicology of heavy metals, environmental chemistry, public health and public policy. Her current research is at the interface of chemistry and biology, focusing on the toxic effects of lead as well as nanotechnology.

Molecular studies conducted by Godwin have shown how exposure to lead can produce cognitive deficits in children by disrupting the function of zinc proteins. In addition, her work on the metal offers compelling evidence that lead interferes with regulation of iron uptake, providing the first molecular explanation for the link observed between lead poisoning and iron deficiency in people.

A Howard Hughes Medical Institute Professor, Godwin has received such notable honors as the National Science Foundation CAREER Award, Camille Dreyfus Teacher-Scholar Award and Alfred P. Sloan Research Fellowship.

She earned a bachelor's degree in chemistry from the University of Chicago, a doctoral degree in physical chemistry from Stanford University and as a National Institutes of Health postdoctoral fellow, conducted research at the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine in the Department of Biophysics and Biophysical Chemistry.

The diversity workshop Godwin will present for WMU faculty and administrators is an offshoot of her membership on the Advisory Board of the Committee On the Advancement of Women in Chemistry, which works to eliminate inequities in science and engineering in academia. Seating is limited, so those interested in attending are encouraged to register without delay.

Godwin's visit is part of WMU's 2008-09 Visiting Scholars and Artists Program. It is being co-sponsored by the departments of Chemistry and Physics, the College of Engineering and Applied Sciences, the Graduate College, the Gender and Women's Study Program, and the Office of the Provost.

For more information, contact Dr. David L. Huffman, associate professor of chemistry, at david.huffman@wmich.edu or (269) 387-2865. To register for the diversity workshop, WMU faculty and administrators should contact Elke Schoffers at elke.schoffer@wmich.edu or (269) 387-2265.

Media contact: Jeanne Baron, (269) 387-8400, jeanne.baron@wmich.edu

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