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Thirty years ago, NAU Regents' Professor Tom Whitham (Department of Biological Sciences) and students began an experiment that merges different disciplines, such as ecology and genetics, to demonstrate that the world is bound together in more ways than most people thought possible. Their findings could help solve global problems from responding to climate change to guiding restoration of damaged ecosystems and even gauging the effects of new technologies on the environment.

A new one-hour documentary, produced by NAU's IDEA Lab, tells the story of their scientific journey. "A Thousand Invisible Cords: From Genes to Ecosystems" features a team of internationally recognized scientists, post-graduate students and graduate students from NAU and other universities across the U.S. and abroad who are members of the Cottonwood Ecology Group. They discuss their contributions to the new field of community and ecosystem genetics.

The film, whose title "A Thousand Invisible Cords" is inspired by a quote from 19th century naturalist, writer and environmental activist John Muir, will premiere at 7 p.m. Wednesday in NAU's Cline Library Assembly Hall. Wednesday's screening is free and open to the public.

It will then air on PBS stations and be showcased around the country. Following the screening, there will be a panel discussion featuring specialists who will address key topics raised in the film and answer questions from the audience.

Award-winning journalist to speak at NAU Wednesday

Longtime Southwest writer Charles Bowden will be speaking at the Associated Press/Eunson Award Ceremony Wednesday at the NAU Native American Cultural Center. The reception will begin at 5:30 p.m., followed by talks from 6:30 to 8:30 p.m.

Bowden is a journalist and essayist, former writer for the Tucson Citizen and contributing editor of GQ and Mother Jones magazine. He's written for several magazines and wrote many books, including "Juarez: The Laboratory of our Future," (1998), "Some of the Dead are Still Breathing: Living in the Future" (2009), "Murder City: Ciudad Juarez and the Global Economy's New Killing Fields" (2010), and "Dreamland: The Way Out of Juarez" (2010). He was awarded the 1996 Lannan Literary Award for Nonfiction.

NAU alumnus Todd Bensman, two-time National Press Club Award winner, will also speak. Bensman has worked domestically and abroad as an investigative newspaper, television and magazine journalist for more than 20 years.

This event is free and open to the public.

Send Around the Town news to Abbie Gripman at or call her at 556-2241.


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