Pioneer of the Concept of Dark Matter and its Role in the Universe Tapped for Keynote Address

Renowned American Physicist to Speak at Annual Grimes Lecture Series

BETHANY, W.Va. – Dr. Adrian Melott, Bethany Alumnus and Professor of Physics and Astronomy at the University of Kansas, will give a keynote lecture at Bethany College on Saturday, October 8, as part of the Larry E. Grimes Lecture Series. The presentation is part of the College’s Homecoming Weekend.

A 1968 graduate of Bethany with a degree in Physics, Dr. Melott will present his speech, “Blast in the Past: How Supernovae Affected Life on Earth,” at 10:30 a.m. in Weimer Lecture Hall. The event is free and open to the public. 

“We are thrilled Dr. Melott is returning to Bethany to share his groundbreaking insights with our students, faculty and staff,” said Dr. Tamara Rodenberg, President of the College. “The Grimes Lecture Series aims to ‘bring the world to Bethany,’ and this presentation not only achieves that, it sheds light on how our universe was created and its effect on our world.”

Melott’s speech will detail results that have strongly confirmed that multiple supernovae happened at distances 300 light years, consisting of two main events: one at 1.7 to 3.2 million years ago, and the other at 6.5 to 8.7 million years ago. These findings question whether such supernovae are expected to have had substantial effects on the terrestrial atmosphere and biota. Furthermore, Melott’s speech will detail what may be linked to changes in climate, as well as increased cancer and mutation rates and whether they are related to a minor mass extinction around the Pliocene-Pleistocene boundary.

In 1981, Melott received his Ph.D. from the University of Texas. He also has a Master’s Degree in Physics from the University of South Florida and a Master of Divinity from Starr King School for Religious Leadership in Berkeley. During his long-standing academic career, Melott has published over 150 scientific papers, as well as receiving a plethora of awards. Some of his highest achievements include being named a Fellow of the American Physical Society for “Groundbreaking studies of the origin and evolution of cosmic structure,” in 1996.

In 2007, he was elected a fellow for the American Association for the Advancement of Science for “Distinguished contributions to cosmological large-scale structure for organizing public support for teaching evolution and for interdisciplinary research on astrophysical impacts on the biosphere.”

Melott also co-authored a UU Sunday School curriculum titled, “Celebrating Our Origins in the Universe,” which introduces the idea of the “Big Bang” and the evolution of life to elementary children. In 2003, he received the Outstanding Educator Award from the Pi Delta Kappa Education Fraternity. He also the received the Barbara Schowen Undergraduate Research Mentor Award in 2013.

During his time at Bethany, Melott served as the Student Body President in 1967 and was a member of the Alpha Sigma Phi Fraternity. In 2002, Melott received Bethany’s Alumni Achievement Award, which recognizes those for their achievements and contributions in their profession.

The Larry E. Grimes Lecture Series, which was established by the Bethany College Alumni Council Board of Directors, honors Dr. Larry Grimes, a 1964 Bethany graduate, and his inspirational works as a Bethany professor for many years. The goal of the Series is to engage Bethany students and the community at a personal level, by featuring leaders, writers and thinkers, many of whom will be published authors who challenge the audience to consider new perspectives about their education and the world.

Bethany College is a small college of national distinction located on a picturesque and historic 1,300-acre campus in the Northern Panhandle of West Virginia. Founded in 1840, Bethany is the state’s oldest private college.