Two at UMass Amherst Named Distinguished Lecturers by Scientific Research Society

AMHERST, Mass. - Two members of the University of Massachusetts community have been named Distinguished Lecturers by Sigma Xi, the national scientific research society. The society recently named Cora B. Marrett, vice chancellor for academic affairs and provost, and Susan Landau, research associate professor in the computer science department, Distinguished Lecturers for 1999-2000.

The announcement was made in the Nov./Dec. issue of American Scientist, the society’s journal. Marrett and Landau are among 27 scientists from throughout the nation to receive the honor, which will take them on speaking engagements across the country next year. Lecturers chosen are "outstanding individuals who are on the leading edge of science," who can "communicate their insights and excitement to a broad range of scholars and to the community at large," according to the journal.

Marrett will offer talks on "Knowledge of Societal Progress: A Social Science Excursion," "The Shaping of Research Priorities in the United States," and "Research and Higher Education in South Africa." Before joining the University in 1997, Marrett spent four years as the first assistant director for Social, Behavioral, and Economic Sciences at the National Science Foundation. A sociologist, she has had extensive involvement in science, engineering, and public policy, including serving on several high-profile committees. She has been a member of the faculty at the University of Wisconsin at Madison, the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, and Western Michigan University. Marrett earned her Ph.D. from the University of Wisconsin-Madison.

Landau, a research associate professor in the computer science department, will speak on "Cryptology, Technology, and Politics," "Primes, Codes, and the NSA," and "Elegant Algorithms; Factoring and Radical Simplification." An expert in privacy and encryption policies, she received her Ph.D. from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and recently co-authored the book, "Privacy on the Line: The Politics of Wiretapping and Encryption." She was a faculty member at Wesleyan University before joining the UMass faculty.

Founded in 1886, Sigma Xi is a non-profit society of more than 80,000 scientists and engineers who were elected to the organization because of their research achievements or potential. Sigma Xi has more than 500 chapters at universities and colleges, government laboratories, and industry research centers.