Dr. Christopher Barney of the Hope College biology faculty will present the address “Being Thirsty, Staying Thirsty” on Wednesday, April 16, at 8 p.m. in Winants Auditorium of Graves Hall through the “Last Lecture Series” organized by the college’s Alcor chapter of the national Mortar Board honorary society.

The public is invited.  Admission is free.

The metaphorical implications of the title connect with the literal through Barney’s research.  For the past 18 years, his lab has focused on heat stress and thirst.

Barney is the T. Elliott Weier Professor of Biology at Hope, where he has served as the director of the Department of Biology’s Research Experiences for Undergraduates program and as the director of one of the college’s Howard Hughes Medical Institute programs. In addition to teaching, since joining the faculty in 1980 he has conducted collaborative research with 118 Hope students.

He joined the Hope faculty as an assistant professor, and was promoted to associate professor in 1986 and full professor in 1992. He was appointed to his endowed chair in 2001.  He chaired the department of biology from 1996 to 2001. He served a term as the college’s Faculty Moderator, and from 1996 to 2000 was a faculty representative on Hope’s Board of Trustees. An active member of the Hope community, he has served on more than 50 Hope boards, committees and task forces, including the most recent Presidential Search Committee.

Barney has received more than 20 external grants in support of his research and education, including grants from the Beckman Foundation, the Merck-AAAS program, the Campbell Foundation, the National Institutes of Health and the National Science Foundation (NSF). He has written or co- authored more than 68 articles for professional journals, in addition to making numerous presentations at professional conferences.

He has served as a grant reviewer for NSF ILI, REU, CCLI, S-STEM and Graduate Fellowship programs, and an organizer of two NSF Biology REU Site Directors Meetings. He is also a manuscript reviewer for the “American Journal of Physiology,” “Physiology and Behavior,” and other journals. He has been an invited speaker at PKAL meetings and has served as a PKAL/Keck Consultant. He has also served as a member of the American Physiological Society’s Education Committee and Wellcome Professorships Selection Committee.  He received a Distinguished Alumni Award from the Alumni Association of Wright State University, his undergraduate alma mater, in 2002.

Following his undergraduate work, Barney obtained his Ph.D. in medical physiology from Indiana University in 1977 and then spent three years doing research at the University of Florida Medical School.

He and his wife, Julie, who retired in 2013 after working at the college’s Hope-Geneva Bookstore for 28 years, have two grown children, Jeremy and Kara, and one granddaughter.

The title of the lecture series, which the chapter initiated during the 2008-09 school year to feature members of the college’s faculty and staff, is rhetorical.  The lectures are not literally presented as the last that the speakers will deliver at Hope, but are meant to highlight the advice that they would most want to share if the event was indeed the final opportunity for them to address the college’s students.  The speakers are asked to reflect on their careers and lives, and to think deeply about what matters to them and about what wisdom they would like to impart.

The concept was inspired by the “Last Lecture” delivered at Carnegie Mellon University by Dr. Randy Pausch on Sept. 18, 2007.  Pausch, a member of the Carnegie Mellon faculty who had terminal pancreatic cancer--a fact known at the time that he spoke--presented “Really Achieving Your Childhood Dreams.”  He died on July 25, 2008, at age 47.

Mortar Board is a national honor society that recognizes college seniors for outstanding achievement in scholarship, leadership and service, and provides opportunities for continued leadership development, promotes service to college and universities, and encourages lifelong contributions to the global community.  Since its founding in 1918, the organization has grown from the four founding chapters to 230 collegiate chapters with nearly 250,000 initiated members across the nation.

The Alcor chapter has existed at Hope since the 1936-37 academic year, although it did not become part of the national Mortar Board organization until 1961.  The chapter has received multiple awards at the Mortar Board National Conference during each of the past several years, including being named the top chapter during the national conference in July 2010.  During the conference this past summer, the chapter received a “Golden Torch Award” and 19 “Project Excellence” awards, with long-time co-advisor Dr. Dianne Portfleet of the English faculty receiving one of only two top advising awards.

The chapter also sponsored a “last chance talk” during the 1960s.  The idea back then was to invite a faculty member to express his/her ideas under the hypothetical assumption that this would be the last opportunity to address the student body.  The late Dr. D. Ivan Dykstra, professor of philosophy, delivered the first “last chance talk” in the spring of 1962.

The first 150 attending will receive their choice of one of two books:  “Thirst,” which is a collection of poems by Mary Oliver, or “The Big Thirst: The Secret Life and Turbulent Future of Water,” by Charles Fishman.  The chapter will also distribute copies of the “Last Lecture” to audience members following the address.

There will also be a freewill donation box, with all gifts supporting Mortar Board’s many service projects.

Graves Hall is located at 263 College Ave., between 10th and 12th streets.