University of Illinois cancels scientist talk after backlash

URBANA, Ill. (AP) — The University of Illinois has cancelled plans to host a talk by Nobel Laureate James Watson after faculty raised concerns about his discredited views on race and intelligence. Carl Woese Institute for Genomic Biology director Gene Robinson tells The News-Gazette the center dropped plans to host the scientist before a date had even been set. Watson co-discovered the structure of DNA and has a history of racially insensitive comments. Robinson says Watson initially reached out to the institute to give a “narrowly focused scientific talk” about his cancer research in conjunction with a planned visit to a colleague’s lab. Robinson says he wasn’t surprised by faculty members’ reaction but that he had told them the institute doesn’t condone Watson’s past comments.