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March 5: Award-Winning Author, Scientist To Receive Carnegie Mellon's Dickson Prize


Jonathan Potts

Award-Winning Author, Scientist Jared Diamond
To Receive Carnegie Mellon's Dickson Prize

Diamond Will Give Dickson Prize Lecture March 26

PITTSBURGH—Carnegie Mellon University will award its annual Dickson Prize in Science to Jared Diamond, scientist and best-selling author of "Collapse: How Societies Choose To Fail or Succeed." Diamond will give the Dickson Prize Lecture at 4:30 p.m., Monday, March 26 in McConomy Auditorium in the University Center on the Carnegie Mellon campus.     

Diamond's lecture, titled "Collapse," will be based on his latest book, which probes the decline and fall of once-prosperous civilizations, such as the Maya and the prehistoric Polynesian society of Easter Island. Diamond pinpoints environmental factors that are common to these catastrophes and provide valuable lessons.    

Jared Diamond"Most societies in the past we can learn something from, either because they succeeded or failed," Diamond said.

A physiologist by training, Diamond is a professor of geography at the University of California, Los Angeles. He has also studied ecology and evolutionary biology. His 1997 Pulitzer Prize-winning book, "Guns, Germs and Steel: The Fate of Human Societies," explores the geographic, environmental and epidemiological factors that enabled some societies to progress rapidly while others remained primitive. His numerous honors include a MacArthur Foundation Fellowship, which is also known as a "Genius Award."  

Just prior to his lecture, Diamond is scheduled to hold a book signing from 3:30 to 4 p.m. in the University Center's McKenna Room.    

"Dr. Diamond is a cross-disciplinary scholar of distinction. He is both a very serious scholar and someone who can explain what is important in lay language," said Carnegie Mellon Statistics Professor Jay Kadane, who nominated Diamond for the Dickson Prize.    

The late Pittsburgh physician Joseph Z. Dickson and his wife, Agnes Fisher Dickson, established the Dickson Prize in Science in 1969. Carnegie Mellon awards it annually to individuals in the United States who make outstanding contributions to science. The Dickson Prize includes $50,000 and a medal.    

"I'm very pleased about receiving the Dickson Prize. I've not visited Carnegie Mellon and I look forward to meeting people who share my interest," Diamond said.