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Bill Nye, a scientist and comedian best known for his passion for science, will speak at UT on Thursday, October 29.


Nye will deliver the inaugural Ken and Blaire Mossman Distinguished Lecture at 7 p.m. in Thompson-Boling Arena. He will address students, faculty, and staff during the lecture, which is free and open to the public. The lecture is intended for an adult audience.

Free public parking is available in the G-10 garage next to the arena.

The new lecture series was established through an estate gift from the late Ken and Blaire Mossman, who were UT alumni. The couple, who met at UT in 1968, worked in science professions after earning their degrees from UT. Ken Mossman earned his master’s and doctoral degrees in health physics and radiation biology through the Institute of Radiation Biology, a joint program of UT and Oak Ridge National Laboratory, in 1970 and 1973. Blaire Mossman earned a bachelor’s degree in French from UT in 1971.

Widely known as “Bill Nye the Science Guy,” Nye is creator and host of the Emmy Award-winning children’s television show of the same name, which aired on PBS from 1992 to 1998.

A scientist, engineer, comedian, and inventor, Nye has authored five children’s books about science. His first book for a general audience, Undeniable—Evolution and the Science of Creation, focuses on the discoveries and principles of evolution.

Nye’s mission is to make science entertaining and accessible and to foster a scientifically literate society by helping people understand and appreciate the science that makes the world work. Nye also seeks to raise awareness about climate change and the value of critical thinking and reason.

He is CEO of the Planetary Society, the world’s largest space interest group. He also holds a few unusual patents, including an improved toe shoe for ballerinas, a device to help people learn to throw a baseball better, and a magnifier made of water.

Nye attended Cornell University and earned a degree in mechanical engineering in 1977. He worked for Boeing in Seattle. It was in Seattle that he began to combine his love of science with his flair for comedy, when he won a Steve Martin look-alike contest and developed dual careers as an engineer by day and a stand-up comic by night. In 1986, Nye quit his day job and made the transition to working as a comedy writer and performer on Seattle’s homegrown ensemble comedy show Almost Live, which is where “Bill Nye the Science Guy” was born.

Along with the new lecture series, the Mossman gift endows a scholarship in Romance languages and supports students involved in intercultural and multicultural initiatives.

UT’s new science and laboratory building, now under construction on Cumberland Avenue and Thirteenth Street, is named in the couple’s honor. A groundbreaking involving the couple’s family will be held the morning of the lecture.



Lola Alapo (865-974-3993,