PULLMAN – “Common Reading Tuesdays” – the newest addition to the popular Common Reading program at Washington State University —  starts this week, bringing some of the most compelling research on campus directly to the students.

Dr. Brian Kemp, molecular anthropologist and ancient DNA specialist, will meet with freshmen and others at 7 p.m. Tuesday in room 203 Smith Center for Undergraduate Education (CUE).  His presentation, “Old Genes (Sometimes) Never Wear Out,” will explore the topic of DNA.  Kemp, who had a Top 100 story in Discover magazine in 2007, examined the DNA in a 10,000-year-old man’s tooth found in an Alaskan cave and found evidence to shed new light onto when humans came to the Americas.  He’s also used DNA to determine that most of the infants buried under an Aztec temple were males, giving new answers and raising new questions about that ancient society.

Second in the Common Reading Tuesdays lineup will be Dr. Bethany Marshal, forensic ecologist, who on Sept. 9 at 7 p.m. in Smith CUE 203 will discuss “Putting a Timeline on Death” by using her specialty.  Much like popular television scientist Gil Grissom, of CSI: Crime Scene Investigation, Marshall uses insects, plants, soil, and pollen samples to determine how long a body has been dead.  She trains law enforcement officials in forensic ecology, consults on cases, and testifies in court.

“Common Reading Tuesdays are a fun and interesting way to combine lessons from this fall’s common reading book with the extensive research expertise here on our own campus,” says Susan Poch, associate vice president, Office of Student Achievement.
“There will be lectures, panels, and plenty of opportunities for our newest students to meet and hear in person some of our outstanding researchers,” says Karen Weathermon, director of Learning Communities and Freshman Focus.
 
“The community is also welcome to attend and all of the Common Reading Tuesdays events.”
 
The common reading is a book chosen to be read by 3,400 freshmen and used in dozens of first-year classes.  In 2008, it is “Stiff: The Curious Lives of Human Cadavers,” by San Francisco writer Mary Roach.
Roach, in fact, will be the third speaker of the Common Reading Tuesdays series, presenting “May I Show You Our Whale Tapeworm? (Why I Love Research and You Should Too)” at 7 p.m. Sept. 16 in Beasley Auditorium.
 
For upcoming presentations and events, visit the Web site at commonreading.wsu.edu.