Betty Smocovitis

Two Faculty Named Phi Beta Kappa Visiting Scholars

May 15, 2007

GAINESVILLE, Fla.—The men’s basketball team isn’t the only program with back-to-back successes at the University of Florida. Professor of Zoology and History Betty Smocovitis (above) has been selected to serve as a prestigious Phi Beta Kappa Society visiting scholar, just one year after botanist Pam Soltis at the Florida Museum of Natural History became the first person to receive the honor at UF since 1970.

As the premier national honors organization dedicated to recognizing excellence in liberal arts and sciences, the Phi Beta Kappa Society organizes an annual visiting scholars program that contributes to the intellectual life of college campuses by sending 13-14 distinguished scholars to visit more than 100 institutions each year to give lectures and take part in classroom discussions. In the past 50 years, more than 4,450 visits have been made by 529 Phi Beta Kappa scholars.

As a 2008-2009 visiting scholar, Smocovitis will visit campuses throughout the U.S. to deliver lectures and seminars commemorating the bicentennial of Charles Darwin’s birth and the 150th anniversary of the publication of his “On the Origin of Species.”

“I am delighted to receive this rare honor,” Smocovitis said. “I simply could not pass up the opportunity to travel around the country spreading the word on evolution and Darwin's great achievement. I'm really excited by the prospect of meeting bright young people around the country on this celebratory occasion.”

Before Smocovitis hits the road in 2008, her UF colleague Pam Soltis—a curator for the Florida Museum of Natural History—will serve as a 2007-2008 visiting scholar. The botanist will lecture on the origin of the flower, floral diversity and the evolution of flowering plants.

For more information on Phi Beta Kappa and its visiting scholar program, visit



Betty Smocovitis, Professor of Zoology and History
(352) 392-1109,

Pamela Soltis, Curator of the Florida Museum of Natural History
(352) 392-1721, Ext. 217;

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