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Wallace J. Nichols and Laura Lopez will be the featured guests at the fourth annual Alumni Legends event, hosted by the Barrington 220 Educational Foundation.
They will participate in a moderated dialogue at 6:30 p.m. Oct. 1 at Barrington High School, 616 W. Main St.
Nichols and Lopez also will attend a private reception afterward from 8-9:30 p.m. at the Barrington White House, 145 W. Main St.
A 2000 BHS graduate, Lopez is an astrophysicist and she soon will be an assistant professor of astronomy at The Ohio State University.
She earned a bachelor's degree in physics from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in 2004, and a doctorate's in astronomy and astrophysics from the University of California, Santa Cruz in 2011. She said her doctoral thesis was titled "The Tumultuous Lives and Deaths of Stars."
Lopez said her interest in science began in fifth grade at Hough Elementary School in Barrington.
"Our teacher took us star gazing, which got me started in astronomy," said Lopez, who lived in North Barrington.
"I was excited and wanted to understand how things worked in space — the how and the whys. That's my job today."
At MIT, Lopez said she "immediately" started research into astronomy and especially studying the black holes of space. Lopez said she returns to Barrington two or three times a year to visit her mother, who recently retired from running the Suzuki Music School in the village.
For his part, Nichols said teachers in District 220 also influenced his interest in science, leading to his career.
"I had excellent teachers at Barrington High School who made learning really fun with lots of hands on learning, both inside and outside the classrooms," said Nichols, a 1985 graduate.
He was later a senior scientist at the Washington, D.C.-based nonprofit Ocean Conservancy, and he earned a bachelor's degree from DePauw University in biology and Spanish.
He also went to University of Arizona for a doctorate's degree in wildlife ecology and evolutionary biology. Before that, he earned a master's degree at Duke University.
Nichols also credited his high school English teachers in helping him "to think expansively and write about it."
He authored "Blue Mind," which appeared on the best-seller list of The New York Times.
Nichols said when his father landed a job in Chicago, he looked an area map and "saw all kinds of blue, Lake Michigan and small lakes and rivers in the Barrington area." He grew up in Lake Barrington.
"A more diverse blue movement means all the scientists, organizations, city mayors and educators working to make sure we have access to healthy waterways," he said.
Both Alumni Legends events are open to the public and tickets are available at www.220foundation.org.
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