Duo explores ‘Storytelling, Cancer and Compassion’


    LOUISVILLE, Ky. — A novelist and a scientist will combine their expertise for “Storytelling, Cancer and Compassion: A Duet Talk and Conversation” at the University of Louisville Oct. 9.

    The free, public event at 11 a.m. in Chao Auditorium, Ekstrom Library, will feature Cornell University couple Helena Viramontes, English professor and award-winning author, and Eloy Rodriguez, James Perkins endowed professor of environmental studies.

    They will discuss how storytelling is universal among cultures and over time as well as being the conduit across generations for scientific and medicinal information. Viramontes refers to curative, medicinal plants helping characters in her short story “The Moths” and novel “Under the Feet of Jesus”; as a scientist, Rodriguez found that most of those references, common in Chicano culture, extend from Aztec plant knowledge and continue to be medically viable.

    The event kicks off a discussion series that inaugurates the chemistry department’s Targeting Excellence: Hispanic-Latino Student Initiative to support opportunities for students. The chemistry and English departments are sponsoring campus visits by prominent Hispanic-Latino scientists and writers, supported by UofL’s Brown & Williamson endowment for distinguished speakers.

    Viramontes won the 1995 John Dos Passos Prize for Literature and numerous fellowships from groups including the National Endowment for the Arts. She is former coordinator of the Los Angeles Latino Writers Association and a founder of the Southern California Latino Writers and Filmmakers.

    Rodriguez has been director of the National Chicano Council for Higher Education’s science fellowship program and founder of the organization Kids Investigating and Discovering Science. His research interests include plant biology, chemical ecology, medicinal chemistry and environmental toxicology.

    Judy Hughes
    Judy Hughes is a senior communications and marketing coordinator for UofL’s Office of Communications and Marketing and associate editor of UofL Magazine. She previously worked in news as a writer and editor for a daily newspaper and The Associated Press.