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University Relations

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September 28, 2005
Contact: Jack Bricke, KU philosophy department, (785) 864-3976

KU honors program to honor 2005 Whitcomb Essay winner Sept. 30

LAWRENCE -- The winner of the Philip W. Whitcomb Memorial Essay Prize, Rebecca Evanhoe, Derby senior, will be honored at a reception at 6:30 p.m. Friday, Sept. 30, in Nunemaker Center at the University of Kansas. KU's Honors Program is sponsoring the reception.

Evanhoe won the annual contest in May with her essay examining genetic reproductive technology, titled "Science + Hope <-> Technology + Fear: Suffering, the EVANHOE PROCESS, and Genetic Reproductive Technology in American Family Culture." Genetic reproductive technologies may be used to examine DNA in fertilized eggs to evaluate the chances of a potential child having a genetic condition or disease.

In her essay, Evanhoe examines the relationship of knowledge, thought and action in public affairs and public policy as they pertain to genetic reproductive technologies and families.

" The essay discusses the imperfect nature of the family dynamic using my own family as an example," Evanhoe said. "It explores the dichotomy between the hope that families have for genetic reproductive technologies to end suffering and improve the lives of their children, versus the fears associated with using science to manipulate the genome."

Jack Bricke, KU professor of philosophy and on the selection committee for the essay contest noted: "The committee thought the essay to be a well-informed, highly complex examination of a great many issues - epistemological and ethical issues, and matters of scientific and of social policy - prompted by developments in … genetic reproductive technology. The essay's focus on the impact of such developments on … American families is of particular interest. In her writing the author combines clarity and acuity with an exceptional energy: she has a singular, and striking, way with words."

Evanhoe is majoring in chemistry and journalism with an emphasis in news and information. She is the daughter of Barbara Evanhoe and Gary Kroeker of Towanda and Charles and Deborah Evanhoe of Derby and is a graduate of Derby High School.

Evanhoe's career goals include working as a science writer for a national publication. This summer, she completed an internship with the Mote Marine Laboratory in Sarasota, Fla., and wrote for Mote Magazine. She is among the students selected for the KU Women of Distinction calendar for 2005-06.

A National Merit Scholar, Evanhoe also won an honorable mention award in the 2005 national competition for a Udall Scholarship to encourage careers related to the environment and for Native American and Alaska natives, related to health care or tribal policy. She has also worked as an undergraduate research assistant with Val Smith, professor of biological sciences. Evanhoe researched the phosphorus content of water samples with a J. Michael Young Undergraduate Research Award grant for her chemistry honors project and presented her research at the regional meeting of the American Chemical Society, KU's undergraduate research symposium and the KU chemistry department's Research in Progress symposium. She has recorded plant data at KU's Nelson Environmental Study Area and, through KU's Alternative Winter Break program, planted bald cypress saplings in Louisiana.

The contest honors Philip W. Whitcomb (1891-1986), who earned a doctorate in philosophy at age 89 at KU in 1981. A journalist by trade, Whitcomb received a bachelor's degree in 1910 from Washburn University and was a Rhodes scholar at Oxford University from 1911 to 1914. His career as a European journalist spanned 64 years and 17 countries. As an Associated Press correspondent, he covered the first and second world wars. He also was a correspondent for the Christian Science Monitor, Baltimore Sun, New York Tribune and Boston Evening Transcript. Upon his retirement from the Christian Science Monitor in 1978, he entered KU's Graduate School.

Whitcomb's dissertation was titled "Essence and Existence in the Thought of Thomas Aquinas, Giles of Rome and Francisco Suarez." For part of his time at KU, he was graduate teaching assistant in Western civilization. He died in Paris in 1986 at age 94.

The Philip W. Whitcomb Memorial Essay Contest has taken place annually since 1988. It is open to any undergraduate at KU, and past winners have come from engineering, English, philosophy, architectural engineering, anthropology, mathematics and other subject areas. Essays are limited to 3,000 words and should address "the relationship of knowledge, thought and action in public affairs and public policy."


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