Thomas B. Rauchfuss, a professor of chemistry at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, will return to his alma mater to give the 2004 Carl M. Stevens lecture at 7:30 p.m. Monday (March 1) in Room 16 of Webster Hall. Rauchfuss, who earned his doctoral degree from Washington State University, will speak on “Small Molecules and Big Energy: An Organometallic Perspective.” A primary focus of Rauchfuss’ research is clean fuels. He and his fellow researchers are examining nature’s methods for making hydrogen, which could provide a vital future energy source at a time of rising energy prices, declining fossil fuel reserves and global warming. For more, see http://wsunews.wsu.edu/detail.asp?StoryID=4399

Jimmy Santiago Baca, a poet whose awards include the Wallace Stevens Chair at Yale, the National Endowment Poetry Award and the Pushcart Prize, will be the keynote speaker for Semana de la Raza 2004, Chicana/o Latina/o Awareness Week. Baca will speak at 7 p.m. on March 2 in the Samuel H. Smith Center for Undergraduate Education, Room 203. Baca’s address will be just one event in the week to celebrate Hispanic culture, art, history and scholarship. For more on Baca’s speech, see http://wsunews.wsu.edu/detail.asp?StoryID=4396. For more on the week’s events, click on http://wsunews.wsu.edu/detail.asp?StoryID=4395

In the news

Saving endangered vultures: Lindsay Oaks, a microbiologist with the WSU College of Veterinary Medicine, has returned from international summit meetings in Kathmandu, Nepal and Chandigarh, India, regarding the catastrophic population decline of three species of Asian vultures. The research team headed by Oaks traced the vultures’ deaths to the veterinary use of an anti-inflammatory drug called diclofenac. The team’s findings received international coverage and were published in the journal “Nature.” The summit’s initiated action plans for controlling the use of veterinary diclofenac in Southern Asia include include initiating education campaigns targeted to all stakeholders and establishing captive flocks of vultures for safekeeping and possible captive breeding and restoration programs if necessary. Oaks is available at 509.335.6044 or loaks@vetmed.wsu.edu. The following is a link to the original news release: http://wsunews.wsu.edu/detail.asp?StoryID=4333. Additional information can be obtained at www.peregrinefund.org.

The child obesity epidemic: Last week’s report from the Kaiser Family Foundation on the growing problem of childhood obesity has again raised the issue of government regulation of food advertising targeted at young children. But WSU Kitsap County Extension nutritionist Gayle Alleman says parents can do a great deal to start addressing the problem at home. Alleman, author of the book “Save Your Child from the Fat Epidemic,” suggests that parents start by making their kids more media literate. One of the tips from her book is for parents to watch TV with their children and to help them understand the differences between the programs and the commercials. To learn about other tips for parents, contact Alleman at 360.337.7157 or at dgalleman@wsu.edu.

Same-sex marriage: President George W. Bush’s support of a constitutional amendment banning same-sex marriage guarantees that this will be a prominent issue during the 2004 campaign season. Cornell Clayton, a professor in political science at Washington State University, researches American political institutions, law and courts and is the author of several books including “The Supreme Court in American Politics (1999). Clayton said that the value of this as a “wedge issue” is difficult to predict. A gay marriage amendment will motivate the GOP’s conservative base but is also likely to repel large numbers of moderate voters and women (who are more likely than men to see such an amendment as an intrusion on private moral choice).  Clayton said the issue is likely to further cement the “cultural divide” that already exists between “red” or “blue” states on the electoral map. However it could prove important in a few key swing states such as Florida and Ohio, where voters tend to be more socially conservative. Clayton is available at 208.667.1414 or cornell@mail.wsu.edu.