Environmental activist famed for revealing chemical-cancer links is 2010 Otis Lecturer

Sandra Steingraber, a biologist who published the first book linking data on toxic releases with data from U.S. cancer registries, visits Bates College to deliver the 14th annual Otis Lecture at 7:30 p.m. Monday, Oct. 4, in the Olin Arts Center Concert Hall, 75 Russell St.

Sponsored by the Philip J. Otis Endowment at Bates, the event is open to the public at no cost. A reception and book signing follow the lecture. For more information, please contact 207-786-6135 or this olinarts@bates.edu.

Steingraber’s lecture is titled Living Downstream: A Scientist’s Personal Investigation of Cancer and the Environment. A poet, survivor of cancer and biologist, she has brought all three perspectives to bear on a critical health and human rights issue: the growing body of evidence linking cancer and environmental contamination.

She presented the disease as a human rights issue in her internationally acclaimed book Living Downstream: An Ecologist’s Personal Investigation of Cancer and the Environment (Vintage), which correlated toxic release data with U.S. cancer registry data. Originally published in 1997, the book was released in a second edition this year and has been adapted for the screen as a documentary featuring the author.

Steingraber’s next book, Having Faith: An Ecologist’s Journey to Motherhood (Berkley Trade, 2003), revealed the extent to which environmental hazards threaten each stage of infant development.

Likened to pioneering environmentalist Rachel Carson by the Sierra Club, Steingraber has been much honored for her science writing. She was named a Ms. Magazine Woman of the Year, and received the first annual Altman Award and a Hero Award from the Breast Cancer Fund.

She has testified before numerous national and international governmental bodies and is recognized as an effective two-way translator between scientists and activists.

A columnist for Orion magazine, she is a scholar in residence at Ithaca College. She lives with her beloved family in a 1,000-square-foot house with a push mower, a clothesline and a vegetable garden.

The annual Otis Lecture at Bates is funded by the Philip J. Otis Endowment, established in 1996 by a gift from Margaret V.B. and C. Angus Wurtele in memory of their son, Philip, a member of the class of 1995 who died attempting to rescue injured climbers on Mount Rainier.

In recognition of Otis’ appreciation for nature, the endowment helps support Bates programs with an environmental focus, in particular those exploring the spiritual and moral dimensions of humanity’s relationship with the environment.

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