News in brief for the week of Tuesday, May 9

The magic of Harry Potter comes to UCR on May 15  

By: Cydney Contreras, SSW

For a limited time, visitors can learn about the world of Harry Potter at the Rivera Library. From Monday, May 15 to Saturday, June 23, the exhibit titled “Harry Potter’s World: Renaissance Science, Magic, and Medicine” will explore the inspiration behind the magic, potions and beasts featured in the book series written by J.K. Rowling.

Curated by Elizabeth J. Bland for the National Library of Medicine at the National Institutes of Health, Bland created an exhibit that travels through time to show the parallels between the wizarding world and the real world that the featured scientists lived in. Focusing on the time between the 16th and 19th centuries, the exhibit “explores Harry Potter’s world, its roots in Renaissance science and the ethical questions that affected not only the wizards of Harry Potter, but also the historical thinkers featured in the series,” per the exhibit’s description.

Included in the exhibition are illustrations from UCR’s collection “related to magic, witchcraft, herbal medicine, magical creatures, and ‘fantastic beasts.’” The Director of Distinctive Collections for the UCR Library Cherry Williams told UCR Today, “These early illustrated printed materials are crucial in their ability to transmit a wide body of knowledge about science and medicine over a broad geographical expanse.” She further explained, “For example, one of the works on display will be Gerard’s Herbal, printed in London in 1597. It’s the first work to record and describe American plants, and it also includes early printed images and descriptions of deadly Nightshade and Mandrake, both of which figure prominently in the Potter novels.”

The exhibit is open to the public and can be viewed Monday through Friday from 10 a.m. – 5 p.m.

UCR genetics professor inducted into one of the most prestigious science societies in the United Kingdom

By: Evan Ismail, SSW

UCR Professor of Genetics Susan Wessler was named a foreign member of the Royal Society on May 5, one of the most prestigious science academies in the United Kingdom. It is believed that Wessler is the only member of the UCR faculty to become a member in the Royal Society.

UCR Chancellor Kim A. Wilcox praised the induction as “an honor to have a member of UCR’s faculty be named among the preeminent scientists in the world,” according to the publication UCR Today.

In a press release, President of the Royal Society Venki Ramakrishnan said, “Science is a great triumph of human achievement and has contributed hugely to the prosperity and health of our world … The new Fellows of the Royal Society have already contributed much to science and it gives me great pleasure to welcome them into our ranks.”

13 of the fellows, or 26 percent, are women as well as the only two female Foreign Members, Wessler and U.S. geophysicist Marcia McNutt.

Wessler’s current research is focused on transposons, a form of mobile DNA, that are a major component of plant biology and evolution. Wessler has a bachelor’s degree in biology from State University of New York at Stony Brook and a doctoral degree from Cornell University. She has been a professor at UC Riverside since 2010.


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