Wednesday, June 19, 2024

THIS ORDINARY STARDUST: A Scientist's Path from Grief to Wonder By: Alan Townsend, PhD



THIS ORDINARY STARDUST: A Scientist's Path from Grief to Wonder
By: Alan Townsend, PhD


A compassionate exploration of scientific wonder that offers “a fresh perspective on life, death, and the bittersweet consequences of impermanence,” (Jon Krakauer) as illuminated through the tragic dual cancer diagnoses of author Dr. Alan Townsend’s wife and daughter.


"A remarkable account of a shifting consciousness that’s likely to shift the reader’s own..”

―Publisher's Weekly, starred review


“An insightful exploration of loss and the role of intellectual curiosity and spiritual openness in addressing it..”

—Kirkus Reviews


A decade ago, Dr. Alan Townsend’s family received two unthinkable, catastrophic diagnoses: his 4-year-old daughter and his brilliant scientist wife developed unrelated, life-threatening forms of brain cancer. As he witnessed his young daughter fight during the courageous final months of her mother’s life, Townsend – a lifelong scientist – was indelibly altered. He began to see scientific inquiry as more than a source of answers to a given problem, but also as a lifeboat: a lens on the world that could help him find peace with the painful realities he could not change. Through scientific wonder, he found ways to bring meaning to his darkest period.

At a time when society’s relationship with science is increasingly polarized while threats to human life on earth continue to rise, Townsend offers a balanced, moving perspective on the common ground between science and religion through the spiritual fulfillment he found in his work. Awash in Townsend's electrifying and breathtaking prose, THIS ORDINARY STARDUST offers hope that life can carry on even in the face of near-certain annihilation.

About the Author
Dr. Alan R. Townsend is a scientist, author, speaker, and Dean of the University of Montana’s W.A. Franke College of Forestry and Conservation. His childhood in Hawaii and Montana led him to a career devoted to understanding our changing planet, and what we can do to find a more sustainable relationship between human progress and the environments on which we all depend. 

 He is a highly cited author of more than 140 scientific articles, and has served in multiple prominent leadership roles, including Dean of the Nicholas School of the Environment at Duke University, Provost of Colorado College, Director of the University of Colorado’s Environmental Studies Program and its Institute of Arctic and Alpine Research, Director of the National Science Foundation’s Division of Environmental Biology, and Co-Director of the Aldo Leopold Leadership Program.

He is an Aldo Leopold Leadership Fellow, a Google Science Communication Fellow and a board member of the Earth Leadership Program and Future Earth of North America. Alan was one of six internationally known scientists chosen to be in the Let Science Speak documentary film series, which premiered at Tribeca in September of 2018.


ADVANCED PRAISE:


“Wondrous.”

—Jon Krakauer


“Extraordinary, powerful..”

—David Quammen, author of The Heartbeat of the Wild and Breathless



“Beautiful.”

—Robert Sapolsky, New York Times bestselling author of Behave


“A towering achievement..”

—Jayson Greene, author of Once More We Saw Stars


“Shows us how scientists are first and foremost people, with hearts both delicate and resilient..”

—Hope Jahren, author of National Book Critic’s Circle Award-winning Lab Girl



Trade Media

"A remarkable account of a shifting consciousness that’s likely to shift the reader’s own..”

―Publisher's Weekly, starred review


“An insightful exploration of loss and the role of intellectual curiosity and spiritual openness in addressing it..”

—Kirkus Reviews



Visit Grand Central Publishing Online

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Book is also available in downloadable (9781668641897) and e-book formats (9781538741207)




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