Dartmouth to Hold 27th Annual Wetterhahn Science Symposium

The symposium will be held Wednesday, May 23, at the Class of 1978 Life Sciences Center.

The 27th Annual Karen E. Wetterhahn Science Symposium will be held Wednesday, May 23, from 4:30 to 7 p.m., with the kickoff event taking place in the Oopik Auditorium at the Class of 1978 Life Sciences Center.

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Professor Juliette Madan with premature infants
Professor Juliette Madan, keynote speaker at the symposium, is studying the relationship between bacteria and the health of premature infants. (Photo by Jon Gilbert Fox)

The symposium will start with a keynote address by Juliette Madan, an associate professor of epidemiology and pediatrics at the Geisel School of Medicine. Madan, who studies the microbiology of newborn babies, will discuss her research on the development of the microbiome—the microbial communities that live in and on our bodies. She calls it “the blank slate that is the newborn baby.” 

Madan will talk about how the microbiome becomes colonized with specific types of bacteria based on environmental exposures that include food, water, and toxic contaminants such as arsenic. She studies how such exposure affects the development of the microbiome, particularly during the first three years of life—when it is responsible for training the body’s immune system—and how those things relate to health outcomes, including the risk of disease. 

She will also speak about her career and how research questions about breast milk and probiotics developed into an interest in the microbiome just when microbial sequencing came about; the roles played by her mentors and collaborators; and her multidisciplinary approach.

At 5:30 p.m., undergraduates from first-year to senior will present their scientific research in spaces throughout the Class of 1978 Life Sciences building. These students have participated in a wide variety of programs, including the Women in Science Project, First Year Research Experience in Engineering, Sophomore Science Scholar, Junior Scholar, Presidential Scholar, and Senior Honors Thesis. Students have faculty mentors from a wide range of scientific disciplines. Posters will be on display in various classrooms and in the main corridors of both the first and second floors of the Class of 1978 Life Sciences Center. Students presenting senior honors thesis research can participate in the Christopher G. Reed Science Competition, sponsored by Sigma Xi (a scientific research society). 

Poster session entrants may also compete in the Library Research Award for the Sciences, sponsored by the Dartmouth College Library and the Friends of the Dartmouth College Library.

The winners of the competition will be announced at the symposium, immediately following the keynote address. A certificate recognizing the award winners, along with their posters, will be displayed in Kresge Physical Sciences Library. The winners also receive cash awards.

Named in honor of the late Karen E. Wetterhahn, a professor of chemistry and co-founder of the Women In Science Project (WISP) at Dartmouth, the event is free and open to the public. 

Partners for the 2018 Symposium include: 

Joseph Blumberg can be reached at [email protected].