Author Rebecca Skloot's Lecture Rescheduled for May 2

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

As part of the Celebration of Ideas Lecture Series and as the culmination of the Common Reading Project for 2010-2011, author Rebecca Skloot will speak on campus about her book, “The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks.” Skloot will speak at 7 p.m. Monday, May 2, in Colebank Hall. This lecture was originally scheduled for April 18, but was rescheduled by the author. Admission is free and open to the public. No tickets are required.

With the help of many recommendations from faculty and staff, Rebecca Skloot’s “The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks” was selected as the 2010-2011 common book. The Common Reading Project was intended to involve faculty, staff, students and community members in discussion of the subject matter and issues raised by the book.

“The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks” chronicles the life of a poor, Black woman whose cancer in the 1950s provided a line of cells used to develop polio vaccine and is still used in medical research today. Skloot goes further, exploring not only this little-known woman’s life but also ethical issues regarding informed consent, racism in health care and the legacy of poverty in a land of plenty.

Copies of the book are available in the FSU and Pierpont Community & Technical College Bookstore for purchase or to borrow in the Ruth Ann Musick Library. For more information about the book and the author, visit:

Rebecca Skloot is a science writer whose work has appeared in The New York Times Magazine; O, The Oprah Magazine; Discover; and many other publications. She specializes in narrative science writing and has explored a wide range of topics, including goldfish surgery, tissue ownership rights, race and medicine, food politics and packs of wild dogs in Manhattan. She is the guest editor of The Best American Science Writing 2011, a contributing editor at Popular Science magazine and has worked as a correspondent for WNYC’s Radiolab and PBS’s Nova ScienceNOW.

“The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks,” her debut book, took more than a decade to research and write, and instantly became a New York Times best-seller. She has been featured on numerous television shows, including “CBS Sunday Morning,” “The Colbert Report,” “Fox Business News” and others. Her book was named a Barnes and Noble Discover Great New Writers Pick for Spring 2010 and received widespread critical acclaim, with reviews appearing in The New Yorker, Washington Post, Science, Entertainment Weekly, People and many others.

Skloot served for eight years on the Board of Directors of the National Book Critics Circle, where she was a vice president and judge for their yearly book awards. She has a B.S. in biological sciences and an MFA in creative nonfiction. She financed her degrees by working in emergency rooms, neurology labs, veterinary morgues and martini bars. She has taught in the creative writing programs at the University of Memphis and the University of Pittsburgh; she’s also taught science journalism in NYU’s graduate Science, Health and Environmental Reporting Program. She currently teaches writing workshops and gives talks on subjects ranging from bioethics to book proposals at conferences and universities nationwide. She blogs at Culture Dish, hosted by Seed Magazine.

Skloot lives in Memphis. She regularly abandons city life to write in the hills of West Virginia, where she tends to find stray animals and bring them home.

“Year of Wonders” by Geraldine Brooks has been selected as the Common Reading Book Project for 2011-2012. The book describes the 17th-century plague that is carried from London to a small Derbyshire village by an itinerant tailor.

The Celebration of Ideas Lecture Series at Fairmont State University and Pierpont Community & Technical College brings nationally prominent speakers of diverse viewpoints to campus each fall and spring.

Sign Language Interpreting and other accommodations for people with disabilities are available by request. Please contact Andrea Pammer, at least two weeks prior to each event in the Lecture Series, by phone at (304) 367-4686 or e-mail at