West Virginia Universitys 2004 Festival of Ideas lecture series will host a fascinating and diverse group of speakers, including NASA s chief science investigator for the Mars Rover project, the author of the critically acclaimed bookA Beautiful Mindand a high profile DNA evidence expert. The ninth annual lecture series will begin Tuesday, Feb. 24, and continue through Tuesday, April 20.

All presentations begin at 7:30 p.m. in the Mountainlair Ballrooms. Seating is limited on a first come, first served basis.

The Festival of Ideas lecture series is designed to expose students to a variety oftimely, thought provoking issues presented by speakers from todays headlines,explained WVU President David C. Hardesty Jr. Hardesty initiated the series in the 1960s as a student and brought the idea back to campus during his administration.

I believe the variety and diversity of the speakers and topics is impressive�€Im sure each lecture will prove to be valuable in its own, unique way,said Arts&Entertainment Student Director Meghan Fox. She adds,As WVU students we are especially fortunate to have NASA s Steve Squyres come to campus, right in the midst of all the excitement surrounding the Mars exploration mission.

Sylvia Nasar, the author ofA Beautiful Mindand former economics reporter for Fortune and The New York Times, will open the free, seven event series on Tuesday, Feb. 24.

She will be followed by civil rights pioneer and former Little Rock Nine member Minnijean Brown Trickey on Thursday, Feb. 26; Barry Scheck, DNA evidence expert, founder of the Innocence Project and defense attorney Monday, March 1; and essayist and author ofAmerican Skin: Big Business, Pop Culture and the End of White AmericaLeon Wynter on Monday, March 22.

Jon Meacham, Newsweek managing editor and author ofFranklin and Winston: An Intimate Portrait of an Epic Friendshipwill speak Tuesday, April 6, and Steve Squyres, lead NASA scientist for the Mars rover exploration project will speak Wednesday, April 7.

Ken Auletta, the premier media commentator and award winning author whose nine books have intimately profiled leading business and media moguls, will close the series Tuesday, April 20.

Nasar, who opens the series, will discussA Beautiful Mind: Genius, Madness, Reawakening.Her book of the same name was nominated for a Pulitzer Prize and won the National Book CriticsCircle Award in 1998. The book chronicles the journey of West Virginia native and Nobel Laureate John Nash, who for years was overlooked for the Nobel Prize because he suffered from the mental illness schizophrenia. The screen adaptation of her book, starring Russell Crowe, won four Golden Globes and four Academy Awards in 2002.

Prior to her work as a prize winning author, Nasar was a senior economics reporter for both The New York Times and Fortune. This Bavarian born author and columnist is the first to hold the Knight Chair in business journalism at the Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism. She has been a visiting scholar at Princeton University, Cambridge University and the Institute for Advanced Study. She is currently working on a book about twentieth century economic thinkers.

Festival of Ideas is produced by WVU Arts&Entertainment. For more information, call 293 SHOW or visit/www.events.wvu.edu.