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September 19, 2019
On Campus

Prospects For Unseen Planets Beyond Neptune

Planetary Scientist Renu Malhotra to Present the IBM Endowed Lecture in the Sciences as the Wittenberg Series Continues

The 2019-2020 Wittenberg Series continues with the IBM Endowed Lecture in the Sciences featuring Renu Malhotra, planetary scientist, as the keynote speaker at 7:30 p.m. Thursday, Sept. 26, in Bayley Auditorium at the Barbara Deer Kuss Science Center. Her address is titled “Prospects for Unseen Planets Beyond Neptune.”

An award-winning scientist and national speaker, Malhotra is the Louise Foucar Marshall Science Research Professor and Regents’ Professor of Planetary Sciences at the University of Arizona. She has gained national attention for her research on the outer edges of the solar system, particularly her work that suggests the existence of a new planet.

In a 2017 research study published in the Astronomical Journal, Malhotra and Kathryn Volk, Wittenberg class of 2006 and a post-doctoral student of Malhotra’s at the time, presented evidence for a mysterious mass that appears to be controlling the orbital planes of objects in the Kuiper Belt. The Los Angeles Times, Newsweek, and New Scientist magazine were among the national news publications that covered their research.

Malhotra has earned numerous honors for her work, which includes more than 80 peer-reviewed publications and more than 120 invited professional presentations. She was a 2009 nominee for the Kavli Prize, is an elected member of the National Academy of Sciences and the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, and has been recognized as a Distinguished Alumna of the Indian Institute of Technology. In 1997, the International Astronomical Union named an asteroid after her.

She has presented around the country, including the Lecar Prize Lecture at the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics and the Thomas Gold Lecture at Cornell University. Her 2017 TEDxPortland Talk has been viewed nearly 740,000 times.

Malhotra is vice chair and a member of the board of trustees of the Universities Space Research Association Council of Institutions and has served on various committees of the American Astronomical Society – Division for Planetary Sciences.

Prior to teaching at the University of Arizona, she was a staff scientist at the Lunar and Planetary Institute in Houston, Texas, and she conducted post-doctoral research at Cornell University and Caltech.

Malhotra, who was born in New Delhi and grew up in Hyderabad, India, earned an M.S. in physics from the Indian Institute of Technology in Delhi, India, and a doctorate in physics from Cornell University. She resides in Tucson, Arizona, with her husband, David Frenkel, and two daughters.

While on Wittenberg's campus, Malhotra will participate in a colloquium at 4:30 p.m. at Bayley Auditorium.

Now in its 37th year, the Wittenberg Series brings distinguished lecturers and performing artists of national and international prominence to the Wittenberg campus and Springfield community. To make special arrangements, request a Series poster, or become a friend of the Wittenberg Series, contact Lisa Watson at All Wittenberg Series events are free and open to the public. Doors open 30 minutes prior to the beginning of each lecture or performance. Below are further details related to this year’s Series.

2019-2020 Wittenberg Series Events:

  • Friday, Oct. 4: Kenneth H. Sauer Luther Symposium, 7:30 p.m., Bayley Auditorium, featuring Gilbert Meilaender, author and senior research professor of theology at Valparaiso University. Q&A, 3:30 p.m., Weaver Chapel.
  • Monday, Oct. 21: Dance concert featuring Step Afrika!, 7:30 p.m., Pam Evans Smith Arena in the Health, Wellness, and Athletics Complex.
  • Sunday, Oct. 27: Festival Choral Eucharist for Reformation Service, 7:30 p.m. in Weaver Chapel (music begins at 7 p.m.), featuring The Rev. Dr. William O. Gafkjen, Bishop of the Indiana-Kentucky Synod of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America.
  • Friday, Dec. 6: Lessons and Carols for Advent and Christmas, 7:30 p.m. (pre-service music begins at 7 p.m.), Weaver Chapel.
  • Monday, Jan. 20, 2020: Martin Luther King Jr. Convocation, 11:15 a.m., Weaver Chapel, featuring Freeman A. Hrabowski III, educator, advocate, mathematician, and president of the University of Maryland, Baltimore County. Q & A, 2:45 p.m., 105 Joseph C. Shouvlin Center for Lifelong Learning.
  • Thursday, Feb. 13, 2020: Comedy and improv show featuring The Second City, 7:30 p.m., John Legend Theater at The Dome, 700 South Limestone Street. For mature audiences.
  • Thursday, Feb. 27, 2020: Allen J. Koppenhaver Literary Lecture, 7:30 p.m., Weaver Chapel, featuring Charles M. Blow, journalist, commentator, and New York Times op-ed columnist. Q & A, 4:30 p.m., Bayley Auditorium.
  • Monday, March 30, 2020: William A. Kinnison Endowed Lecture in History, 7:30 p.m., Bayley Auditorium, featuring Eric H. Cline, author, historian, and professor of classics, history, and anthropology at George Washington University.

For more information on the Wittenberg Series, click here. To watch the lecture via Facebook Live, click here.

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Wittenberg's curriculum has centered on the liberal arts as an education that develops the individual's capacity to think, read, and communicate with precision, understanding, and imagination. We are dedicated to active, engaged learning in the core disciplines of the arts and sciences and in pre-professional education grounded in the liberal arts. Known for the quality of our faculty and their teaching, Wittenberg has more Ohio Professors of the Year than any four-year institution in the state. The university has also been recognized nationally for excellence in community service, sustainability, and intercollegiate athletics. Located among the beautiful rolling hills and hollows of Springfield, Ohio, Wittenberg offers more than 100 majors, minors and special programs, enviable student-faculty research opportunities, a unique student success center, service and study options close to home and abroad, a stellar athletics tradition, and successful career preparation.

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