Jennifer Thompson and Ronald Cotton, co-authors of the New York Times best-selling book Picking Cotton, will be the keynote speakers for Illinois State University’s Science and Technology Week, April 6 to 10. Science and Technology Week events are sponsored by the College of Applied Science and Technology (CAST).

Events during the week will include a professional development dinner for students; a 5K run; the induction of new members into the CAST Academy of Achievement; and presentations on science and play, the work of child life specialists and the connections between perception and action. For complete event and registration information, visit the website.

Jennifer Thompson and Ronald Cotton will present the week’s keynote address at 7 p.m. Tuesday, April 7, in the Bone Student Center Prairie Room. The event is free and open to the public. A book signing will immediately follow the lecture at the Barnes and Noble Bookstore in the Bone Student Center.

In 1984, Thompson was a 22-year-old college student when a man broke into her apartment, put a knife to her throat and raped her. After a composite sketch, line-up identification and trial, Thompson’s testimony and memory led to a life sentence for Ronald Cotton. Years later, Thompson was asked to provide a DNA sample for further analysis of the case and a test revealed that Cotton was not her rapist. After spending 11 years in prison as an innocent man, Cotton was released.

Devastated that her actions led to the imprisonment of an innocent man, Thompson reached out to Cotton to apologize, and in an act of true generosity, he forgave her. Their unlikely friendship and bond became the basis for the New York Times best-selling book, Picking Cotton.