Science journalist Michelle Nijhuis to give V.N. Bhatia Lecture March 30

Closeup of Michelle Nijhuis
Michelle Nijhuis

Award-winning author, science journalist, and reporter Michelle Nijhuis will discuss her 2021 book on conservation of endangered species at a 6 p.m. event Wednesday, March 30, in the Honors Hall Lounge at Washington State University. The free, public event is co-hosted by the WSU Honors College with the support of the Department of English and its Visiting Writers Series (VWS).

Nijhuis’s presentation is also Honors’ prestigious V.N. Bhatia Lecture.

Presentation on ‘Beloved Beasts’

The self-described “lapsed biologist” will discuss her latest book, “Beloved Beasts: Fighting for Life in an Age of Extinction,” which was published in March 2021 by W.W. Norton & Co. 

It traces the modern conservation movement from the late nineteenth century to modern times through the lives and ideas of the people who built it. Its topics range from battles to save the American bison and bald eagle to the role of scientists and activists such as Aldo Leopold and Rachel Carson, and from the origins of the Audubon Society and the World Wildlife Fund to efforts to protect the whooping crane and black rhinoceros. It further explores conservation efforts as impacted by racism and colonialism.

“Beloved Beasts” won the Sierra Club’s 2021 Rachel Carson Award, and it was selected by the Chicago Tribune as one of the 10 Best Books of 2021 and named a Top Ten Best Science Book of 2021 by both Booklist and Smithsonian Magazine.

Bhatia and VWS event

“The Bhatia Lecture was created many years ago to bring speakers to campus to discuss compelling subjects and share great ideas,” said M. Grant Norton, Honors dean. “Welcoming Ms. Nijhuis to WSU will introduce our students to historical as well as modern perspectives on some very fascinating topics.”

“We’re pleased that the author is coming to WSU Pullman to meet students, visit classes, and engage in conversations with the community,” said Peter Chilson, English professor and VWS supporter. “Throughout her career she has blended science with writing, and we look forward to hearing firsthand her insights into building that kind of career.”

Nijhuis lives in White Salmon, Wash. She is a contributing editor at High Country News, project editor at The Atlantic Monthly, and coeditor of “The Science Writers’ Handbook.” Her work has been published in National Geographic and the New York Times Magazine. She also authored “The Science Writers’ Essay handbook: How to Craft Compelling True Stories in Any Medium.”

Honors’  V.N. Bhatia Lecture is named for V.N. ”Vic” Bhatia, the visionary head of the then WSU Honors Program for several decades starting in the 1960s. Past lectures have been delivered by a U.S. ambassador, academicians, politicians, a poet, an artist, authors, and heads of organizations. Honors celebrated its 60th anniversary in 2020.

The VWS is part of the WSU Department of English in the College of Arts and Sciences. For 40 years the series has brought hundreds of noted poets and writers of fiction and nonfiction to campus for creative readings, class visits, workshops, and collaborative exchanges across intellectual and artistic disciplines.

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