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Science Under Siege' topic of U of M event with national environmental policy expert Thomas A. Burke Tuesday, March 27

March 21, 2012

The perils of mixing politics with science is the subject of "Science under Siege: Balancing Science and Politics in Managing Chemical Risks," featuring nationally known environmental policy expert Thomas A. Burke, at 3 p.m. Tuesday, March 27 at the University of Minnesota Humphrey School's Cowles Auditorium, 301 19th Ave. S., Minneapolis.

Burke’s talk will focus on the 2009 landmark National Academy of Science (NAS) report "Science and Decisions: Advancing Risk Assessment"—commonly known as the 'Silver Book' report—which examines some of the greatest challenges to the country’s assessment, management and communication of environmental risks.

Burke is associate dean for public health practice and training at Johns Hopkins University and director of the school’s Risk Sciences and Public Policy Institute. He is chair of the NAS Committee on Improving Risk Analysis, a fellow of the Society for Risk Analysis and a lifetime national associate of the National Academies. His research interests include environmental epidemiology and surveillance, evaluation of population exposures to environmental pollutants, assessment and communication of environmental risks, and application of epidemiology and health risk assessment to public policy. He has been awarded the Johns Hopkins Golden Apple Award for excellence in teaching four times.

"In today’s anti-regulatory political climate, the science behind risk assessment and evaluation is under unprecedented scrutiny," said Deborah Swackhamer, the Humphrey School’s Charles M. Denny Jr. Chair of Science, Technology and Public Policy. "We need to make the risk assessment process more efficient, and use science to reduce uncertainties. I think both business and government want to see better risk assessment procedures and better use of science in decision making, and that's what Tom Burke and the NAS report recommend."

The event is hosted by the university’s Center for Science, Technology & Public Policy and School of Public Health in partnership with the university’s Consortium on Law and Values and the Environmental Initiative, Minnesota Pollution Control Agency and Minnesota Department of Health.

The event is free and open to the public. For reservations, visit

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