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Award-Winning Science Writer to Deliver Oppenheimer Ethics Symposium Keynote

University of Idaho

MOSCOW — Carl Zimmer, award-winning science writer, and columnist for the New York Times will be the keynote speaker for the University of Idaho’s annual media ethics symposium at 7 p.m. Wednesday, April 13, in the International Ballroom of the Bruce M. Pitman Center in Moscow.

Zimmer’s presentation, “Writing the Pandemic: Journalism in the Age of COVID-19,” is free and open to the public and will also be live-streamed at  

“When the coronavirus began sweeping the world, science journalists knew we faced the biggest reporting challenge in our careers,” said Zimmer. “Two years later, we’re still filing stories every day on COVID-19. But we’ve had time to learn some lessons, from both our successes and our failures.”

Zimmer is a three-time winner of the American Association for the Advancement of Science’s Journalism Award, twice for his work for the New York Times and once for The Loom, a blog published by Discover Magazine and National Geographic. His latest book, “Life’s Edge: The Search for What It Means to Be Alive,” was named a Notable Book of 2021 by the New York Times. His earlier books include “A Planet of Viruses,” originally published in 2011 and republished in 2021 with a new chapter about COVID-19.

“Carl Zimmer explores and explains the frontiers of science,” said Kenton Bird, a faculty member in the School of Journalism and Mass Media and symposium coordinator. “He has a rare gift for making complex concepts understandable to readers without scientific expertise.”

In response to Zimmer’s keynote talk, a panel of regional journalists will discuss media coverage of the COVID-19 pandemic in Idaho and Washington. The Zoom webinar will begin at 3:30 p.m. Thursday, April 14.  Participants may join the webinar at

The Oppenheimer Ethics Symposium, founded in 2011, is sponsored by the School of Journalism and Mass Media. Its goal is to promote professional responsibility and ethical behavior by journalists and other media professionals, as well as to expose U of I students to nationally known journalists and media critics. The symposium is sponsored by U of I graduates Doug and Arthur “Skip” Oppenheimer of Boise.