SHSU Distinguished Lecturer Series Features A Scientist For The Layperson


James Trefil

Physicist and author James Trefil, known in academic circles for his passion for teaching science to non-scientists, will be the featured speaker for Sam Houston State University’s Distinguished Lecturer Series.

He will present his lecture, “Achieving Scientific Literacy: A Story in Three Heresies,” on Thursday, April 30, at 2 p.m. in the Lowman Student Center Theatre on campus.

Trefil compares taking a course to enhance scientific literacy to taking a course in music appreciation.

“I will never compose music or be a concert pianist,” he said. “But learning how to listen to and appreciate classical music has enriched my life overall.

“I’m not trying to convince anyone to become a scientist,” he explained, “just to build a foundation from which they can make their own moral calculations.”

Trefil received the American Institute of Physics’ Andrew W. Gemant Award in 2000 for outstanding and sustained contributions in bridging the gap between science and society. He has also received awards for his writing and his contributions in advancing the scientific community.

He has developed a course and textbook series that is now being used in approximately 200 college and universities throughout the country to strengthen scientific literacy among college graduates.

His numerous books and articles include works written for the general public. Among his publications are: Why Science?, 101 Things You Don’t Know About Science and No One Else Does, Science Matters: Achieving Scientific Literacy, A Scientist in the City, A Scientist at the Seashore, 1001 Things Everyone Should Know About Science, and Are We Unique?: A Scientist Explores the Complexity of the Human Brain.

Trefil, who serves as a Clarence J. Robinson Professor at George Mason University, is a regular contributor to Smithsonian magazine.

He is a frequent keynote speaker at educational conferences and lectures to members of the federal and state judiciaries on the connection between science and the law.

The SHSU Faculty Distinguished Lecturer Series has included such noteworthy figures as former president George Bush, Larry McMurtry, Liz Carpenter, Lech Walesa, Charlie Wilson, and many others.

The lecture on Thursday is open to the public and there is no admission charge.



- END -

SHSU Media Contacts: Julia May
April 24, 2009
Please send comments, corrections, news tips to




This page maintained by SHSU's Communications Office
Director: Bruce Erickson
Assistant Director: Julia May
Writer: Jennifer Gauntt
Located in the 115 Administration Building
Telephone: 936.294.1836; Fax: 936.294.1834

Please send comments, corrections, news tips to



SHSU 'In the News'


Brian Domitrovic, assistant professor of history, appeared on Book TV (C-SPAN) May 1-2, speaking about his recent book "Econoclasts: The Rebels Sparked the Supply Side Revolution and Restored American Prosperity" (


Houston Chronicle education writer Jeannie Kever recently turned to Regents Professor of English Paul Ruffin for his views on university presses moving toward "digital books" as opposed to traditional ink-on-paper."We're fulfilling the ancient role of the university press, and that is to produce books," said Paul Ruffin, the Texas poet laureate for 2009 and director of the Texas Review Press at Sam Houston State University. "I don't want to give up the book because it is an art."


Faculty/Staff Birthdays


Monday, May 3

Debbie Birdwell


Tuesday, May 4

Rhonda Callaway

David Gaines

James Walker


Staff Council Spotlights


Jennifer Davis

Sonya Ramirez

Molly Doughtie

Sam Houston State University Sam Houston State UniversityA Member of The Texas State University System

"The measure of a Life is its Service."