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Two-partseries explores 'Voyage of the Scientist'


Jan Swoope



The "Voyage of the Scientist" will be the focus of two Hazard Lecture Series presentations, Oct. 18 and Oct. 25.  


The free public events designed to stimulate thought and broaden horizons will feature Kami Davis of the U.S. Space and Rocket Center Oct. 18, and Austin Shepherd of the Columbus Forensic Laboratory Oct. 25. Both events will be at 7 p.m. in the Heritage Academy Student Activities Building, 625 Magnolia Lane, in Columbus. 




Rocket science 


Davis'' topic will center on "Voyage of the Scientist: Living and Working in Space." As director of sales at the U.S. Space and Rocket Center in Huntsville, Ala., her responsibilities include marketing and selling Space Camp and Aviation Challenge programs internationally, with a primary focus within the Southeast.  


The Hamilton, Ala., native and University of North Alabama graduate travels nationwide to increase awareness of the center''s programs and keep customers informed on the latest program curriculum. She attends numerous conferences and events, performs school outreach and offers frequent public lectures. 


"Whether you''re 7 or 77, everyone wants to know about how astronauts live and work in space," she said, pointing out that scientists in space, doing normal things in an abnormal environment, have impacted life on Earth by learning how to do everything "smaller, lighter and better." 


"One example is the advancement in the treatment of diabetes; in space they figured out how to miniaturize everything and developed the insulin pump so people don''t have to stop their daily activities."  


Before joining the Space Center team as an account executive, Davis worked several seasons as a counselor at both Aviation Challenge and Space Camp, challenging students in math, science and team-building. She also served proudly as a specialist in the 489th Civil Affairs Battalion, U.S. Army, receiving an honorable discharge in 2004.  


"Growing up, I spent many weekends in Columbus visiting my grandmother, so this will be, in a way, like coming home," said Davis, who still has family living in the city. 




Forensically speaking 


On Monday, Oct. 25, Austin Shepherd will focus on "Voyage of the Scientist: Modern Forensic Science vs. Jack the Ripper." 


The director of Forensic Services with the Columbus Forensic Laboratory supervises crime scene investigation and conducts fingerprint analysis. He is a Certified Crime Scene Investigator through the International Association of Identification and is an expert in friction ridge analysis and comparison. 


"I''ve found that people really like to look at a highly-publicized case, like the Ripper murders, and look at them in light of modern forensic science," said the Columbus native and former investigator with the state crime lab on the Gulf Coast. 


"We''ll compare them a little bit to very active serial killers, present and past, and look at what law enforcement personnel at the time of the Ripper murders did, and what we would do now." 


Shepherd holds a degree in anthropology from Mississippi State University and is currently completing his thesis to gain his master''s degree in forensic science. He has taught classes for the International Forensic Science Academy, the University of Southern Mississippi and the Mississippi Police Academy. He is an adjunct professor at MSU in the Chemistry Department. 


The investigator has testified as an expert witness in a court of law many times throughout the state. 


"With this presentation, people should understand, No. 1, more what we do on a day to day basis, and, No. 2, have a better understanding of the Ripper murders, fact versus popular media," Shepherd said. 


All students and members of the public are encouraged to attend the free Hazard Lecture Series events. For additional information, contact Beth Lucas at 662-327-1556.


Jan Swoope is the Lifestyles Editor for The Commercial Dispatch.


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