The Phi Beta Kappa Arts & Sciences City of Distinction award showcases metropolitan areas with exceptional artistic vitality, cultural vibrancy and scientific engagement. Portland became the second recipient of this recognition on October 19, 2016.  

Phi Beta Kappa hosted an awards reception recognizing the innovative efforts of the Regional Arts & Culture Council, led by Eloise Damrosch, and four exemplary local organizations that build creative exchanges with new and diverse audiences in the arts, humanities, social sciences, natural sciences or mathematics. These organizations include: 

The Regional Arts & Cultural Council’s Right Brain Initiative is a sustainable arts education partnership of public schools, government, foundations, businesses and the cultural community bringing creativity to all 110,000 K-8 students in the Portland metro region.

Literary Arts is a nonprofit literary center that builds community around literature by engaging more than 13,500 writers, readers, teachers, and students across Oregon each year.

Lewis & Clark College's Community Engagement and Leadership in Science strengthens pathways into math and science education for students from underrepresented backgrounds while preparing Lewis & Clark College of Arts & Sciences students to pursue careers as future educators in a diverse and changing society. 

Portland State University and the Oregon Heritage Commission’s Archaeology Roadshow brings together community partners including universities, tribes, agencies, companies, historical societies, and students to introduce the public to the science of archaeology and instill a sense of stewardship for cultural resources.


The society hosted (En)Lightning Talks Portland - a series of electrifying five-minute public talks by local experts in the arts and sciences.  Dave Miller, the host of Oregon Public Broadcasting's daily talk show, Think Out Loud, hosted the event.                                                                             

 “Roots, Reality, and Rhyme”
Turiya Autry is a poet, playwright, university lecturer, youth engagement specialist, and public speaker. A former Portland Grandslam poetry champion, she hosts Poetic License, a radio show that highlights the work of artists she meets along her travels. She is also the author of a poetry collection,  Roots, Reality, and Rhyme

 “Along Came a Spider: The Value of a Single Arachnid” 
Greta Binford is a professor of biology at Lewis & Clark College. Professor Binford has traveled across the world collecting venomous spider specimens to reveal how species diversify over eons of time. She served as a consultant on the Spiderman movie series, and is even the subject of a children’s book. 

 "Democracy and Its Discontents: Why Ancient Athens Matters Today"
Ellen Millender is a professor of classics and humanities at Reed College. She has published articles and contributed to several books on Spartan society. She also has arguably the coolest office at Reed, which showcases her collection of student-made replicas of ancient armor and weapons.

 “Why do We Have Police?” 
Anoop Mirpuri is Assistant Professor of English and affiliate faculty in Black Studies at Portland State University. His research focuses on the relation between American capitalism and representations of crime and prison in U.S. narrative culture.

 "Coral Reef Decline in the Age of the Anthropocene"
Rebecca Vega Thurber is a marine biologist at Oregon State University who investigates the microbial and viral ecology of threatened marine species and habitats. She has authored several important papers on the dynamic roles of viruses and bacteria in marine systems with an emphasis of coral reef disease. 


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