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Professor lends unique perspective to Science Friday

June 18, 2014

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Greta Binford, associate professor of biology and renowned researcher of venomous spiders, recently appeared on a special Portland edition of Science Friday. The Public Radio International program—heard weekly by more than a million listeners—first featured Binford’s arachnid expertise in 2007.

Throughout the past decade, Binford and her spider studies have frequently attracted media attention. In 2007, the New Yorker documented her challenging pursuit of a deadly South American species in the basement of a Los Angeles Goodwill store. Then came an array of appearances on public television and radio, including one on Boston’s National Public Radio station, which caught the ear of best-selling author Kathryn Lasky. The result is a children’s book—Silk and Venom: Searching for a Dangerous Spider—that follows Binford around the Dominican Republic as she searches for spiders of the lethal Loxosceles genus.

Perhaps the greatest indicator of Binford’s prominence is the Austrarchaea binfordae. Discovered in 2011, the subtropical Australian species pays homage to her groundbreaking research of spider biodiversity.

Binford’s research is not the only reason for her fame—since arriving at Lewis & Clark in 2003, she has consistently been recognized as an excellent educator. The National Science Foundation has repeatedly funded Binford’s collaborative work with students in the Binford Spider Lab and at various sites around the world. In 2011, the Council for Advancement and Support of Education (CASE) and the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching named her the Oregon Professor of the Year.

Science Friday’s sold-out visit to Portland was taped in front of a live audience and addressed topics including green transportation, beer brewing, and nuclear reactors. Binford’s segment aired live on OPB Radio on Wednesday, June 18, and on the Friday, June 20, broadcast of Science Friday.

Katrina Staaf ’16 contributed to this story.

Science Friday Biology Department