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Woods Lectures
J. James Woods Lecture Series

Previous Series


Daniel Wilson

Sci-fi Destroys the Future…Science Builds It

Tuesday, October 22, 2019, 7:30 PM, Reilly Room, Atherton Union

Daniel H. Wilson is a Cherokee citizen and author of the New York Times bestselling Robopocalypse and its sequel Robogenesis, as well as many other books, including How to Survive a Robot UprisingThe Clockwork Dynasty, and Amped. His latest novel (to be released November 12, 2019) is an authorized stand-alone sequel to Michael Crichton’s classic The Andromeda Strain, called The Andromeda Evolution.

Wilson offers an entertaining look at “killer robots,” while offering insights into robotics, artificial intelligence, and cyber security. He earned a PhD in Robotics from Carnegie Mellon University and lives in Portland, Oregon.

Cheryl Hayashi 

Secrets of Spider Webs 

Thursday, November 14, 2019, 7:30 PM,Reilly Room, Atherton Union

Spiders are the superstars of the natural world when it comes to spinning silk. Capable of remarkable feats, spiders and their web spinning abilities have been the inspiration for ancient legends, beloved children’s books, comics, and movies. But what is really known about spider silk? Dr. Hayashi studies the functional genomics of adaptive molecules, with particular emphasis on the evolution and biomimetic potential of remarkable molecules produced by spiders. She is widely recognized as a pioneer in the study of silks, and her integrative research has been supported by the National Science Foundation, Army Research Office, US Department of Energy, and Air Force Office of Scientific Research, among others.

Cheryl Hayashi is Curator, Professor and Leon Hess Director of Comparative Biology Research, and Director of the Sackler Institute for Comparative Genomics at the American Museum of Natural History. She was a recipient of a MacArthur Fellowship from the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation. Dr. Hayashi received her PhD degree through a joint program with Yale University and the American Museum of Natural History.

Indre Viskontas

How Music Can Make You Better

Tuesday, December 10, 2019, 7:30 PM, Shelton Auditorium, Butler South Campus

Indre Viskontas is a sought-after science communicator across all mediums including hosting the popular science podcast Inquiring Minds, which boasts more than 7 million downloads. Combining a passion for music with scientific curiosity, she is affectionately known as Dr. Dre by her students at the San Francisco Conservatory of Music, where she is pioneering the application of neuroscience to musical training, and at the University of San Francisco, where she is an Assistant Professor of Psychology. As a scientist, Dr. Viskontas has published more than 50 original papers and chapters related to the neural basis of memory and creativity, including several seminal articles in top scientific journals.

She received a BSc in Psychology and French Literature from the University of Toronto, an MM degree in Vocal Performance at the San Francisco Conservatory of Music, and a PhD in Cognitive Neuroscience at UCLA. 

Marc Edwards

Truth Seeking in an Age of Tribalism

Wednesday, January 22, 2020, 7:30 PM, Reilly Room, Atherton Union

Marc Edwards is a University Distinguished Professor of Civil Engineering at Virginia Tech, where he teaches courses in environmental engineering, applied aquatic chemistry, and engineering ethics. His research group conducted the investigative science uncovering the 2001–2004 D.C. Lead Crisis, the 2014–2016 Flint Water Disaster, and illegal pesticide dosing to water of Denmark SC 2008–2018. In 2016 he was named among TIME Magazine’s 100 Most Influential people in the World, the World’s 50 Greatest Leaders by Fortune Magazine, Politico Magazine’s Top 50 Visionaries who have transformed American politics, Foreign Policy Magazine’s 100 World’s Greatest Thinkers, and was short-listed among Flint whistleblowers as Time person(s) of the year.

He was co-recipient of the inaugural 2017 MIT Disobedience Award and received the AAAS Scientific Freedom and Responsibility Award (2018) and the Hoover Humanitarian Medal (2019). 

Janna Levin

Black Hole Blues and Other Songs from Outer Space

Thursday, February 20, 2020, 7:30 PM, Reilly Room, Atherton Union

Janna Levin is the Director of Sciences and Chair of the Science Studios at Pioneer Works. She is also the Claire Tow Professor of Physics and Astronomy at Barnard College of Columbia University. A Guggenheim Fellow, Janna has contributed to an understanding of black holes, the cosmology of extra dimensions, and gravitational waves in the shape of spacetime. She is the presenter of the NOVA feature Black Hole Apocalypse, aired on PBS—the first female presenter for NOVA in 35 years. Her previous books include How the Universe Got Its Spots and a novel, A Madman Dreams of Turing Machines, which won the PEN/Bingham Prize. Her latest book, Black Hole Blues and Other Songs from Outer Space, is the inside story on the discovery of the century: the sound of spacetime ringing from the collision of two black holes over a billion years ago.


Russ Mittermeier

Biodiversity Conservation: A Global Priority

Monday, October 1, 7:30 PM, Schrott Center for the Arts, Butler Arts Center

Biodiversity is the sum total of life on Earth, a living legacy to future generations. A biologist and lifelong conservationist with more than 45 years in the field, his quest to save biodiversity hotspots has taken him across 169 countries, leading him to discover more than 20 species new to science. Dr. Russell A. Mittermeier is the Chief Conservation Officer for the Global Wildlife Conservation, and Chair of the ICN/SSC Primate Specialist Group.

In this presentation, Dr. Mittermeier discusses why we should be concerned about other life forms with which we share our planet, how we set priorities for conservation action, and where we have succeeded in achieving our objectives.

Penelope Boston

The Astrobiology of the Subsurface: Caves from Earth to Mars and Beyond

Thursday, November 1, 7:30 PM, Reilly Room, Atherton Union

The subsurface of Earth as visible in caves and mines, is home to a vast array of extremely unusual microorganisms. It is one of the many extreme environments on Earth that Penelope Boston and other astrobiologists are studying both to understand them in the context of fundamental biology and also to use them as templates for what we might find as lifeforms on other planets and moons. Some organisms “eat” rock and produce mineral traces of their presence, some live in very extreme temperatures, gas environments that are very poisonous to us but not to the creatures who live there. Some microbes can hide out in geological materials for long periods of time. Putting all these pieces together help us to prepare for the hunt for life on other planets in the Solar System, and on exoplanets around other stars.

Dr. Penelope Boston is Director of the NASA Astrobiology Institute at NASA Ames Research Center in California and holds a PhD from the University of Colorado, Boulder in Microbiology and Atmospheric Chemistry.

Reed Timmer

The Science of Storm Chasing

Tuesday, December 4, 7:30 PM, Reilly Room, Atherton Union

A storm chasing veteran of over 20 years, Dr. Reed Timmer takes his audience directly inside the tornado with videos and scientific data collected from the tank-like Dominator intercept vehicles, as featured on Discovery Channel's Storm Chasers series in 2008-2012. From launching rockets and drones into tornadoes from the roof of the Dominator 3 to the role of storm chasers in the severe weather warning process and disaster response, this presentation covers all topics related to chasing. While up-close, intense storm chasing videos including Dominator tornado intercepts are found throughout the presentation, the science of tornadoes and how to stay safe around severe weather are emphasized. The record-breaking 2017 hurricane season is also discussed from a chasing and climatology perspective, including the wind/pressure data recorded in the intense eye wall of Hurricane Harvey from the top of a bridge in Rockport, Texas, and Hurricane Irma from the Lower Florida Keys. Reed also provides advice for those interested in pursuing storm chasing and meteorology as a hobby or career. Timmer has a Ph.D. in Meteorology from the University of Oklahoma and is a meteorologist for AccuWeather.

Sebastian Wernicke

In data we trust... but should we?

Thursday, January 31, 7:30 PM, Reilly Room, Atherton Union

Our lives are driven by data. Based on the choices made in the past - and millions of choices of other people - algorithms are guiding how we live. Corporations and public service institutions, similarly, are crunching enormous amounts of information to make better decisions. The underlying assumption is simple: A lot of relevant data combined with clear goals will lead to optimum decisions. But is this true? As data continues to permeate our lives, it turns out that things might not be that simple and indeed, bad decisions tend to happen to good data (and good intentions). Why does this happen and what can we do about it? 

Dr. Sebastian Wernicke serves as the Chief Data Scientist of ONE LOGIC, a boutique provider of Advanced Data Analytics, Machine Learning, and Artificial Intelligence that supports clients across industries to gain tangible value from data. Previously, he worked several years as a strategy consultant (BCG, Oliver Wyman, Solon) and served as Managing Director for Seven Bridges, an analytics provider for computational genetics. Dr. Wernicke originally studied bioinformatics and holds a PhD in theoretical computer science.

Tom Griffiths

Algorithms to Live By

Tuesday, March 5, 7:30 PM, Atherton Union, Reilly Room

All our lives are constrained by limited space and time, limits that give rise to a particular set of problems. What should we do, or leave undone, in a day or a lifetime? How much messiness should we accept? What balance of new activities and familiar favorites is the most fulfilling? These may seem like uniquely human quandaries, but they are not: computers, too, face the same constraints, so computer scientists have been grappling with their versions of such problems for decades. And the solutions they've found have much to teach us. In this talk, I will discuss three problems that arise in the lives of both humans and computers—the explore/exploit tradeoff, caching, and predicting the future. Looking at the ways that computers solve these problems offers insights relevant to our day-to-day lives, and a different way of thinking about how we should make decisions, use our memories, and structure our environments.

Tom Griffiths is the Henry R. Luce Professor of Information Technology, Consciousness, and Culture at Princeton University. His research explores connections between human and machine learning, using ideas from statistics and artificial intelligence to understand how people solve the challenging computational problems they encounter in everyday life. In 2016, Tom and his friend and collaborator Brian Christian published "Algorithms to live by", introducing ideas from computer science and cognitive science to a general audience and illustrating how they can be applied to human decision-making. The book was named as one of the “Best Science Books of 2016,” the Forbes “Must-read brain books of 2016,” and the MIT Technology Review “Best books of 2016.”

Kristina Killgrove

Reading Past Lives: How Archaeologists Understand the Stories Written in Bone. 

Tuesday, April 2, 7:30 PM, Atherton Union, Reilly Room

Human skeletons are fascinating to most people. As products of biological processes like growth and development as well as culturally informed practices like dining, migrating, and working, bones and teeth are inscribed with a wealth of information about a person's life. The scientists who are trained to 'read' the life stories from past people's skeletons are bioarchaeologists. Working all over the world, these researchers use a combination of techniques from biology, anatomy, chemistry, history, and anthropology to bring back to life individuals and their collective culture from their skeletal remains. This public lecture illustrates with case studies the information that bioarchaeologists like Dr. Killgrove are learning about the global human past and how that information is being communicated to the world at large.

Dr. Kristina Killgrove is an award-winning science writer and archaeologist based in Chapel Hill, NC. Her research focuses on the analysis of human skeletal remains from Imperial-era Italy, and her ongoing project at Oplontis near Naples involves the excavation, osteological analysis, and biochemical analysis of people killed in the catastrophic eruption of Mt. Vesuvius in 79 AD. Killgrove writes a regular column about archaeology for Forbes, and her popular science book on Roman bioarchaeology will debut in late 2019.


Christie Wilcox
Nature's Deadliest Biochemists: A Love Story

Tuesday, October 3, 7:30 PM, Schrott Center for the Arts, Butler Arts Center 

Venomous animals and the potent chemical cocktails they wield have fascinated our species since the dawn of human history, and perhaps even longer. They are nature's most feared creatures, and yet, these notorious animals hold the keys to a deeper understanding of evolution, physiology, and medicine.

In this lecture, Christie Wilcox—author of Venomous: How Earth's Deadliest Creatures Mastered Biochemistry—will show how the animals we love to loathe have actually helped us all along. From teaching us how our bodies work at the molecular level to providing targeted therapeutics for our most devastating diseases, and perhaps even driving the evolution of our big brains, venomous animals have been our species' allies, not enemies. And with modern technology finally able to decipher the biochemical knowledge contained in their genomes, venomous creatures will only continue to help humanity tackle our biggest challenges over the coming centuries. 

Wilcox is an award-winning science writer based in the Seattle area. She pens the Science Sushi blog for Discover Magazine, and her bylines include The Washington Post, Popular Science, and Quanta. Her debut book, Venomous, explores the fascinating science behind the deadliest chemical cocktails on the planet made by some of the world's most notorious species.

Margaret D. Lowman
Life in the Treetops—Exploration of Tropical Rain Forest Canopies

Thursday, November 9, 7:30 PM, Atherton Union, Reilly Room 

“CanopyMeg” will speak about her discoveries of biodiversity in forest canopies, sharing her first climb in Australian rain forests in 1979 with a home-made slingshot and harness that provides a beginning for her subsequent chronology of canopy discoveries using different tools. She will take the audience on a global tour to some of the forest canopy hotspots where she conducts long-term research and education programs.

Her most recent efforts, to conserve the last 5 percent of forests in northern Ethiopia, illustrate the essential services that trees provide for human health. She will also provide an update on the state of global forests, and share some exciting solutions to global forest management.  

Over the past three decades, Lowman has earned an international reputation as one of the world’s first arbornauts, pioneering the field of forest canopy science. National Geographic dubbed her “the Real Life Lorax” and The Wall Street Journal labeled her as “the Einstein of the treetops.” She has devised innovative methods—including walkways, construction cranes and hot air balloons—to explore this “eighth continent,” home to about half of life on earth.

Equipped with degrees in biology, ecology, executive management, and a doctorate in botany, Lowman transformed her childhood passion of trees and building tree forts into mapping canopy biodiversity worldwide and spearheading the construction of North America’s first canopy walkway. She has authored over 125 scientific publications and seven books, of which Life in the Treetops earned a cover review by The New York Times Sunday Book Review.

Jordan Ellenberg
How Not to Be Wrong: The Power of Mathematical Thinking

Tuesday, December 5, 7:30 PM,  Schrott Center for the Arts, Butler Arts Center

The math we learn in school can seem like a dull set of rules, laid down by the ancients and not to be questioned. In this talk, Jordan Ellenberg shows us how wrong this view is: Math touches everything we do, allowing us to see the hidden structures beneath the messy and chaotic surface of our daily lives. It’s a science of not being wrong, worked out through centuries of hard work and argument.

Drawing from history as well as the latest theoretical developments, Ellenberg demonstrates that profound mathematical ideas are present whenever we reason, from the commonplace to the cosmic. And, he shows how to use this knowledge in our lives, whether you’re a business looking to discover the power of big data, a corporate audience out to improve logic and understanding within your organization, or a college crowd with an appetite for the latest research by one of America’s rising scholarly stars. 

The Vilas Distinguished Achievement Professor of Mathematics at the University of Wisconsin at Madison, Ellenberg is the author of two books: How Not to Be Wrong: The Power of Mathematical Thinking, and The Grasshopper King, which was a finalist for the New York Public Library Young Lions Fiction Award. Recently, he served as a consultant (and actor, briefly!) for the film Gifted. Ellenberg has held an NSF-CAREER grant and an Alfred P. Sloan Fellowship, and in 2013 he was named one of the inaugural class of Fellows of the American Mathematical Society.

Daniel Willingham
]Digital Technology and the Future of Education

Wednesday, February 28, 7:30 PM, Schrott Center for the Arts, Butler Arts Center

Digital technologies have changed many aspects of our lives, especially the way we work, entertain ourselves, and communicate. How have digital technologies changed schooling, and what changes are in store for us in the future?

Willingham earned his BA from Duke University in 1983 and his doctorate in Cognitive Psychology from Harvard University in 1990. He is currently Professor of Psychology at the University of Virginia, where he has taught since 1992. His research concerns the application of cognitive psychology to K-16 education.

Rhiju Das
Biomolecule Design Rules From an Internet-Scale Videogame with Experiments

Wednesday, March 21, 7:30 PM, Atherton Union, Reilly Room 

Rhiju Das strives to make the computer modeling of life as agile and engaging as the design of software. His lab at Stanford focuses on medically relevant RNA molecules, developing computational and high-throughput chemical tools for the rapid modeling and design of these molecules.

Das trained in particle physics and cosmology at Harvard and Cambridge before switching to molecular biophysics during his doctorate at Stanford and postdoctoral work at the University of Washington. He is currently an associate professor in the departments of Biochemistry and Physics at Stanford University.

He leads the Eterna massive open laboratory, which couples a 100,000-player videogame to the lab’s massively parallel experimental tools and deep learning, the first such platform in citizen science. He mentors students from the biochemistry, biophysics, biomedical informatics, and learning sciences PhD programs.


Nina Jablonski
Why Skin Color Matters

Thursday, September 22, 7:30 PM, Atherton Union, Reilly Room 

Variation in human skin color has fascinated and perplexed people for centuries. As the most visible aspect of human variation, skin pigmentation has been used in the past as a basis for classifying people into races. Studies conducted in the past 25 years have shown that skin pigmentation is a biological adaptation that regulates the penetration of ultraviolet radiation (UVR) into the skin, and that it represents an evolutionary compromise between the conflicting demands of protection of the skin against UVR and of production of vitamin D by UVR. This compromise represents one of the best examples of evolution by natural selection acting on the human body. In the history of our species, Homo sapiens, skin pigmentation has been a highly changeable trait. Genetic evidence indicates that similar skin colors have evolved independently numerous times in response to similar environmental conditions and, because of this, skin color is an inappropriate trait for grouping people according to shared ancestry. This lecture will discuss the evolution of the "human rainbow", how skin pigmentation influences our health, and how skin color has influenced societies and social well-being through color-based race concepts. 

Carl Jones
Lessons from the Dodo- saving species and rebuilding ecosystems in Mauritius

Monday, October 17, 7:30 PM, Schrott Center for the Arts, Butler Arts Center

Conservation pioneer, leader and hero, Professor Carl Jones will stop at nothing to save species on the brink of extinction. Jones’ four decades of legendary work have directly revitalized multiple endangered animal populations and habitats, perhaps most famously, the Mauritius kestrel. With only four birds left on Earth, Jones’ innovative techniques not only changed the fate of those individuals, but ensured a thriving population now nearing 400. His lasting legacy and inspiring victories earned him the 2016 Indianapolis Prize. 

In this presentation, Jones offers insights on restoring a number of species, including birds, reptiles and mammals, in addition to the ecosystems of Mauritius. He will highlight his journey to save the Rodrigues fruit bat, pink pigeon, echo parakeet and more from disappearing forever.  Discover his innovative approach to rebuilding Mauritian habitat using ecological replacements for extinct animals, and what it means for the future.  Jones' vision, action and determination prove that saving a threatened species is possible.

Beth Shapiro
How to Clone a Mammoth

Wednesday, November 30, 7:30 PM, Atherton Union, Reilly Room

Could extinct species, like mammoths and passenger pigeons, be brought back to life? Is it possible to clone extinct species using the same or similar technologies that created Dolly the sheep in the 1990s? What are the chances that the science fiction of “Jurassic Park” will someday become science fact? In this lecture, Beth Shapiro, ancient DNA scientist and author of “How to Clone a Mammoth,” will discuss the real science behind the emerging idea known as “de-extinction.” From deciding which species should be restored, to sequencing and editing their genomes, to anticipating how revived populations might be overseen in the wild, she will walk through the process of resurrecting extinct species, considering the technical, ethical and ecological challenges of de-extinction as well as its potential benefits. While she argues that it may never be possible to bring back an identical copy of a species that has gone extinct, de-extinction technology is likely to provide a new solutions to revitalize and stabilize contemporary ecosystems, with benefits to the preservation of existing biodiversity.

Luke Lavis
The Chemistry of Color

Wednesday, February 8th, 7:30 PM, Atherton Union, Reilly Room

Synthetic colors are everywhere: in our homes, clothing, and food. Discovered by accident in the 19th century, the first synthetic dyes laid the foundation for the modern chemical industry. In this lecture, Lavis will discuss how scientists are revisiting the chemistry of color to transform old dyes into new imaging agents to illuminate complex biological systems.

Robert Sapolsky
The Biology of Good and Evil

Tuesday, March 21, 7:30 PM, Atherton Union, Reilly Room 

Ultimately, we humans are just another primate, the collectivity of our neurons.  Given that, how do we make sense of our best and worst behaviors?  This talk considers a range of topics -- what is the role of the most defining part of the human brain, the frontal cortex, in these behaviors?  What do genes and testosterone have to do with aggression?  Does the "love" hormone, oxytocin, really makes us more empathic?  Are we the only species that shows the rudiments of altruism and a sense of justice?  How could numerous species have evolved to cooperate, when there's no incentive to be the first one to take that step?  And most importantly, how do we understand the biology of the context-dependency of all of this -- how can it be that the identical behavior is appalling in one setting and magnificent in another?

Sean Carroll
The Origin of the Universe and the Arrow of Time

Wednesday, April 19, 7:30 PM, Atherton Union, Reilly Room

One of the most obvious facts about the universe is that the past is different from the future.  We can remember yesterday, but not tomorrow; we can turn an egg into an omelet, but can't turn an omelet into an egg.  That's the arrow of time, which is consistent throughout the observable universe.  The arrow can be explained by assuming that the very early universe was extremely orderly, and disorder has been increasing ever since.  But why did the universe start out so orderly?  Carroll will talk about the nature of time, the origin of entropy, and how what happened before the Big Bang may be responsible for the arrow of time we observe today.


Lucianne Walkowicz
Look up for a Change

Wednesday, September 16, 2015 - 7:30 p.m., Reilly Room

TED Fellow Lucianne Walkowicz asks: How often do you see the true beauty of the night sky? In this talk, she shows how light pollution is ruining the extraordinary -- and often ignored -- experience of seeing directly into space, and why it's such a dangerous new phenomenon. With humour and grace, Walkowicz urges her audience to get outside, and look up: it's not just scientists who discover new stars in the sky, or appreciate the beauty of the vastness of our universe. Anyone willing to leave the city temporarily in search of darker pastures, or those that crane their necks in search of one or two twinkling lights, need to know what they can do to keep keep clear . "Like any natural resource, if we don't protect it, if we don't preserve it and treasure it, it will slip away from us and be gone."

Michael Mann
The Hockey Stick and the Climate Wars

Tuesday, October 27, 2015 - 7:30 p.m., Reilly Room

The ongoing assault on climate science in the United States has never been more aggressive, more blatant, or more widely publicized than in the case of the Hockey Stick graph--a clear and compelling visual presentation of scientific data, put together by Michael E. Mann and his colleagues, demonstrating that global temperatures have risen in conjunction with the increase in industrialization and the use of fossil fuels. Here was an easy-to-understand graph that, in a glance, posed a threat to major corporate energy interests and those who do their political bidding. The stakes were simply too high to ignore the Hockey Stick--and so began a relentless attack on a body of science and on the investigators whose work formed its scientific basis.

Nina Jablonski
Why Skin Color Matters
**Due to unforeseen circumstances, this lecture was been canceled.**

Wednesday, Dec. 2, 2015 - 7:30 p.m., Reilly Room

Variation in human skin color has fascinated and perplexed people for centuries. As the most visible aspect of human variation, skin pigmentation has been used in the past as a basis for classifying people into races. Studies conducted in the past 25 years have shown that skin pigmentation is a biological adaptation that regulates the penetration of ultraviolet radiation (UVR) into the skin, and that it represents an evolutionary compromise between the conflicting demands of protection of the skin against UVR and of production of vitamin D by UVR. This compromise represents one of the best examples of evolution by natural selection acting on the human body. In the history of our species, Homo sapiens, skin pigmentation has been a highly changeable trait. Genetic evidence indicates that similar skin colors have evolved independently numerous times in response to similar environmental conditions and, because of this, skin color is an inappropriate trait for grouping people according to shared ancestry. This lecture will discuss the evolution of the "human rainbow", how skin pigmentation influences our health, and how skin color has influenced societies and social well-being through color-based race concepts.  

Mario Livio
Human Curiosity

Tuesday, February 2, 2016- 7:30 p.m., Reilly Room

What is it that makes us curious? And is curiosity an innate characteristic or do we learn to be curious? Dr. Livio will discuss the latest findings and results from both psychology and neuroscience. He will also emphasize the role that curiosity plays in science, education, economics, and story-telling (be it in literature, film, conversation),and its importance in the modern world. This speech is an expansion of Dr. Livio's TED talks.

Tom Jones
When Rocks Attack - Defending Planet Earth

Tuesday, February 23, 2016 - 7:30 p.m., Reilly Room

Planetary scientist and astronaut Tom Jones describes the threat to Earth from rogue asteroids and what we can do to prevent a cosmic catastrophe. He'll also show how exploring these ancient objects can spark a growing space economy, turning asteroids into stepping stones to Mars.

Alexandra Horowitz
Discovering What the Dog Knows

Thursday, April 14, 2016 - 7:30 p.m., Reilly Room

While dogs have accompanied humans for at least the last ten to fourteen thousand years, science has only recently turned their gaze to dogs. In this talk Alexandra Horowitz will review the highlights from the new field of "dog cognition", and discuss research from her lab -- into such topics as testing of emotional attributions we make to dogs, olfactory perception, and the elements of dog-human play.


Patricia C. Wright

Saving Lemurs from Extinction: The Challenges

Monday, Sept. 29, 2014 - 7:30 PM, Reilly Room

The 2014 Indianapolis Prize Winner, Patricia Chapple Wright, presents the challenges, cooperation, and triumphs in her efforts to save some of the most critically endangered species on Earth. Wright gives new meaning to the phrase, "It takes a village." You will see how a team effort between the Malagasy government, villagers, and Wright is making life better not only for the people, but also the lemurs. Wright and the lemurs were featured in a 3-D IMAX documentary released nationwide in April 2014, titled "Island of Lemurs: Madagascar." The film, narrated by Morgan Freeman, aimed to inspire a mainstream audience to advance the conservation efforts for lemurs,primates that have been around since the time of the dinosaurs.

John Dupre

From the Mendelian Gene to the Dynamic Genome

Monday, Nov. 10, 2014 - 7:30 PM, Reilly Room

Dupré will briefly sketch the history of the gene concept from the heyday of Mendelian genetics in the early 20th century through the landmark discovery of the structure of DNA by Watson and Crick in 1953 and the Human Genome Project to the contemporary concept of the genome. He will explain how current understanding of genomes has displaced or marginalized traditional and still widely held interpretations of genes as the causes of particular features of organisms. Dupré will also discuss how increasingly dynamic understandings of the genome are undermining and supplanting popular ideas of the genome as a blueprint or a program.

William Dunham

Your humble Servant, Is. Newton

Tuesday, Dec. 2, 2014 - 7:30 PM, Reilly Room

Almost 50 years ago, Cambridge University Press published the correspondence of Isaac Newton, a seven-volume, 3000-page collection of letters that provide insight into this great, if difficult, genius. In this talk, Dunham shares his favorite examples of Newton as correspondent. From his earliest known letter in 1661 (where he scolded a friend for being drunk); through exchanges with Leibniz, Locke, and others; to documents from his days at the Mint in London, these writings give glimpses of Newton at his best … and his worst. 

George Reisch

Paradigms and the Cold War "Struggle for Men's Minds"

Thursday, Jan. 22, 2015- 7:30 PM, Reilly Room

This lecture will explore Thomas Kuhn's famous theory of scientific paradigms and how it was inspired and shaped by the anticommunism of cold war America. Sketching his new theory of scientific revolutions at Harvard in the 1950s, Kuhn thought about science in an age of dramatic political conversions, McCarthyism, brainwashing, and the specter of totalitarian mind control.

These anxieties shaped his new theory of science as well as his life and career. They also helped prepare the United States for a revolution of its own, as the 1950s gave way to the psychedelic 60s-and Kuhn's The Structure of Scientific Revolutions became the most important and widely read book about science in America.

Skylar Tibbits

A 4D Future

Wednesday, Feb. 18, 2015 - 7:30 PM, Reilly Room

3D printing has grown in sophistication since the late 1970s. TED Fellow Skylar Tibbits is shaping the next development, which he calls 4D printing: where the fourth dimension is time. This emerging technology will allow us to print objects that then reshape themselves or self-assemble over time. Think: a printed cube that folds before your eyes, or a printed pipe able to sense the need to expand or contract.

In this keynote, Tibbits explains how we are now able to program nearly everything-from bits of DNA, proteins, cells, and proto-cells; to products, architecture, and infrastructure. Programmability and computing are becoming ubiquitous across scales and disciplines. Tibbits shows us how soon these small-scale technologies will translate into solutions for large-scale applications-and what it means for your industry.

Jessica Green

Cities Unseen: How Microbes Can Make Public Spaces, Buildings, and Human Beings Healthier

Tuesday, April 14, 2015 - 7:30 PM, Reilly Room

How can a deeper understanding of microbes help us create sustainable cities, healthier buildings (including our hospitals and homes), and more robust green spaces? Green explains how in this visually stunning talk, while ultimately touching on even deeper questions about humanity: What does it mean to be an individual? Where does your identity begin, and where does it end?

Every person has a unique and unseen universe of microorganisms living in, on, and around them. These trillions of tiny creatures define who we are. Yet we are only just beginning to understand how our microbes interact with the people around us, our buildings, and the natural environment. How do microbes make us healthier, more resilient, and more vibrant? How do microbes influence our moods, our public spaces, our relationships with everything we touch? Green, a scientist and TED Fellow, explores the microbial cities living in our gut, on our skin, and in our homes.


Nina Tandon

Body 3.0

Tuesday, Sept. 24, 2013 - 7:30 PM, Reilly Room

Nina Tandon believes that the era of engineered tissues--like, for example, a replacement kidney grown in the lab--is just beginning. In this talk, Tandon shows us how we (and our bodies) have lived through most of history (Body 1.0), and then how we evolved into "cyborgs" with implants (such as pacemakers and artificial joints, Body 2.0).

Now, Body 3.0 is all about growing our OWN body parts. For her doctoral thesis, Tandon drew cardiac cells that beat like tiny hearts. In this thrilling and eye-opening talk, she explains the process of growing tissue and transplants, and the future of medical sciences. With the help of manufacturing and information technology, we are on the verge of being able to grow human tissue--and Tandon is here to walk us through this unbelievably exciting era.

Tandon studies electrical signaling in the context of tissue engineering, with the goal of creating "spare parts" for human implantation and/or disease models. She is an electrical and biomedical engineer at Columbia University's Laboratory for Stem Cells and Tissue Engineering, and adjunct professor of Electrical engineering at the Cooper Union, teaching a "Bioelectricity" class. Fast Company named her one of their 100 most creative people in business.

After receiving a bachelor's degree in electrical engineering from Cooper Union, Tandon spent her early career in telecom (Avaya Labs) and transitioned into biomedical engineering via her Fulbright scholarship in Italy, where she worked on an electronic nose used to "smell" lung cancer. Tandon studied electrical stimulation for cardiac tissue engineering at MIT and Columbia, and now continues her research on electrical stimulation for broader tissue-engineering applications.

National Geographic Society Explorer-in-Residence - Sylvia Earle

The Quest for Sustainable Seas

Tuesday, Oct. 15, 2013 - 7:30 PM, Reilly Room

Sylvia A. Earle is an explorer-in-residence at the National Geographic Society, founder of the Mission Blue Foundation, chair of the Advisory Council for the Harte Research Institute and the Marine Science and Technology Foundation, and former Chief Scientist of NOAA. She was named Time Magazine's first Hero for the Planet, a Living Legend by the Library of Congress, and a 2009 winner of the TED Prize. Earle has pioneered research on marine ecosystems and has led more than 100 expeditions totaling more than 7,000 hours underwater.

Earle is author of more than 175 scientific and popular publications, including "The World Is Blue: How Our Fate and the Ocean's Are One" (2009) and "Ocean: An Illustrated Atlas" (2008). Her research places special emphasis on marine plants and ecosystems, and the development of technology for access and research in the deep sea.

She played a key role in bringing about increased support for U.S. National Marine Sanctuaries during the Clinton administration in 1999, and later helped inspire George W. Bush to designate vast tracts of American-controlled Pacific Ocean islands, reefs, surface waters, and sea floor as marine national monuments, limiting fishing, mining, and oil exploration. Today, she is leading a global effort to develop networks of protected areas in the sea--"Hope Spots"--large enough to protect the blue heart of the planet.

Earle has a bachelor's degree from Florida State University and a master's degree and doctorate from Duke University as well as numerous honorary doctorate degrees. She lives in Oakland, Calif.

Carl Pomerance

"What we still don't know about addition and multiplication"

Tuesday, Dec. 3, 2013 - 7:30 PM, Reilly Room

How could there be something we don't know about arithmetic? It would seem that subject was sewn up in third grade. But here's a problem we don't know: What is the most efficient method for multiplication? Another: How many different numbers appear in a large multiplication table? Come hear about many more of these types of problems, plus some recent progress.

Pomerance received his BA from Brown University in 1966 and his doctorate from Harvard University in 1972 under the direction of John Tate. During the period 1972-1999, he was professor at the University of Georgia, with visiting positions at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, the University of Limoges, Bell Communications Research, and the Institute for Advanced Study. From 1999-2003, he was a member of the technical staff at Bell Laboratories.

Currently he is the John G. Kemeny Parents Professor of Mathematics at Dartmouth College and Research Professor Emeritus at the University of Georgia.

A number theorist, Pomerance specializes in analytic, combinatorial, and computational number theory, with applications in the field of cryptology. He considers the late Paul Erdos as his greatest influence.

Pomerance was an invited speaker at the 1994 International Congress of Mathematicians, the Mathematical Association of America (MAA) Polya Lecturer for 1993-95, and the MAA Hedrick Lecturer in 1999. More recently he was the Rademacher Lecturer at the University of Pennsylvania in 2010. He has won the Chauvenet Prize (1985), the Haimo Award for Distinguished Teaching (1997), and the Conant Prize (2001). He is a Fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) and of the American Mathematical Society.

He is president of the Number Theory Foundation, a past president of the MAA and past chair of the Mathematics Section of the AAAS. He is the author of nearly 200 published papers and several books.

Daniel Levitin

"This is Your Brain on Music"

Tuesday, Jan. 28, 2014 - 7:30 PM, Schrott Center for the Arts

Daniel J. Levitin, the James McGill Professor of Psychology and Neuroscience at McGill University, is the author of the book This is Your Brain on Music: The Science of a Human Obsession (Dutton/Penguin, 2006) which stayed on The New York Times and The (Toronto) Globe and Mail bestseller lists for more than 16 months. Two award-winning documentaries base on "This is Your Brain on Music" have been broadcast internationally: The Music Instinct co-starred Levitin and Bobby McFerrin, and The Musical Brain co-starred Levitin and Sting.

As a musician (tenor saxophone, guitar, and bass), he has performed with Mel Tormé, Nancy Wilson, David Byrne, Roseanne Cash, Sting, Bobby McFerrin, Rodney Crowell, Victor Wooten, Blue Öyster Cult, members of the Steve Miller Band, and Santana.

Levitin earned his doctorate in cognitive psychology from the University of Oregon. He has been a visiting professor at Stanford University, where he taught courses in the psychology, computer science, human biology, music, and anthropology departments, and the School of Education. He has also been a visiting professor in psychology at US Berkeley and Dartmouth.

Joe Ritter and John Broere

The Solar Car Challenge: Designing for the Future (The Secrets of the Principia Solar Car Project)

Wednesday, Feb. 26, 2014 - 7:30 PM, Reilly Room

The Principia Solar Car Project began in 1991 with a handful of highly motivated liberal arts students. For the past 12 years, the project has consistently met its goals through active learning and application of engineering principles. The team has consistently place in the top seven in the numerous cross-country races, a record particularly remarkable given that Principia College is a small liberal arts school in Elsah, Ill., competing against top engineering universities, multinational corporations, and engineering firms.

Joe Ritter joined the faculty in 1995 as an assistant professor of chemistry, attaining the rank of professor a decade later. He has served as chair of the Chemistry Department, director of the Engineering Science Program, and faculty advisor to the Principia College Solar Car Project. A longtime faculty mentor with invaluable experience and irrepressible enthusiasm for project-based learning, he assumed the post of assistant dean of academics in 2008.

John Broere is an instructor of computer science at Principia. He has been a faculty advisor to the Principia Solar Car Team since 2007, and was a member of the team as an undergraduate student from 1998-2002. During his time with the team, he has had the opportunity to participate in numerous major races and events both nationally and internationally. He also was instrumental in erecting a wind test tower on Principia's campus to investigate the viability of using wind power to supplement the College's energy supply.

Olcay Ünver

Wednesday, Apr. 9, 2014 - 7:30 PM, Reilly Room

Olcay Ünver is the coordinator of the United Nations World Water Assessment Programme of the UN-Water and the director of the UNESCO Programme Office on Global Water Assessment in Perugia, Italy

Prior to joining UNESCO in 2007, he was with Kent State University, where he was a distinguished professor of water resources since 2004. During his time at Kent State, he founded the Euphrates-Tigris Initiative for Cooperation (ETIC), a track-two program that aims to support and strengthen the track-one efforts in the Euphrates-Tigris basin

Ünver holds a doctorate in civil engineering from The University of Texas at Austin.


Gregory Pence

"Ethics of Stem Cell Research"

Thursday, Sept. 6, 2012 - 7:30 PM, Reilly Room

Gregory Pence is known as one of the founders of bioethics and an aggressive defender of all cloning research. One of the pioneering bioethicists in America, Pence has a unique point of view since he has seen many past prophecies of doom fail and is optimistic about biotechnology.

In a phrase: Pence believes his opponents are creating a new Age of Darkness.

He is nationally and internationally famous for defending cloning and genetically modified food against bio-Luddites and Nay-Sayers, who oppose research on stem cells and cloning. And because of his views, his talks have been picketed by Greenpeace and anti-cloning zealots.

His book Who's Afraid of Human Cloning? rigorously attacks opponents of cloning.

His second book on cloning, Cloning After Dolly: Who's Still Afraid?, argues for the legalization of artificial wombs and trans-species hybrids. Pence notes that most people's perception of cloning is based more on science fiction than science, and that anti-cloners draw false or irrelevant distinctions based on questions of human dignity and a religious view of the embryo as a human life. He argues that cloning is actually a biological imperative: we must develop cloning technology in order to survive the next plague.

Indianapolis Zoo Prize Winner - Steven Amstrup

"Polar Bears and Global Warming: Reliable Predictions and Hope in an Uncertain World"

Monday, Oct. 1, 2012 - 7:30 PM, Reilly Room

In 2007, Dr. Amstrup's research team at the U.S. Geological Survey projected that we could lose two-thirds of the world's polar bears by mid century and may lose all of them by the end of this century. More recently, he and his colleagues showed that preventing the extinction of polar bears is largely a matter of controlling greenhouse gas rise. The good news is that prompt action to arrest greenhouse gas rise will preserve sustainable polar bear populations over much of their current range. Even more importantly, acting in time to save polar bears will benefit the rest of life on earth-including humans.

Read more about the Indianapolis Zoo Prize.

Ronald Mallett

"Time Traveler: A Scientist's Personal Mission to Make Time Travel a Reality"

Thursday, Nov. 1, 2012 - 7:30 PM, Reilly Room

In his popular lectures, attended by his peers and interested onlookers, Ronald Mallett explains his theories, which are derived from the work of Einstein and Gödel and from his own experiments over 30 years (much of which has been published in journals). But behind the science - which is delivered in clear, captivating language with inspired metaphors (a spoon stirring a glass of water)-lies Mallett's personal story. He touches on the death of his father when he was a boy (which set him on his current path to invent a time machine) and tells us how he overcame poverty and racism to become one of the few African-American PhDs in theoretical physics.

John Marzluff

Paving paradise: the response of birds to urbanization

Tuesday, Feb. 5, 2013 - 7:30 PM, Reilly Room

John Marzluff is Professor of Wildlife Science at the University of Washington. His graduate (Northern Arizona University) and initial post-doctoral (University of Vermont) research focused on the social behavior and ecology of jays and ravens. With his wife, Collen, he has just published Dog Days, Raven Nights (2011), which combines reflection with biology and the recreational pursuit of dog sledding to show how a life in science blooms. Gifts of the Crow (2012) applies a neurobiological perspective to understand the amazing feats of Corvids. He has led studies on the effects of military training on falcons and eagles in southwestern Idaho, the effects of timber harvest, recreation, and forest fragmentation on goshawks and marbled murrelets in western Washington and Oregon, conservation strategies for Pacific Island crows, and the effects of urbanization on songbirds in the Seattle area. He is currently leader of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service's Recovery Team for the critically endangered Mariana Crow, a member of the Washington Biodiversity Council, and a Fellow of the American Ornithologist's Union.

Frances Champagne

Epigenetics and early life experiences

Wednesday, Mar. 6, 2013 - 7:30 PM, Reilly Room

Frances A. Champagne Ph.D. completed graduate training in 2004 at McGill University, obtaining a M.Sc. in Psychiatry and a Ph.D in Neuroscience followed by a post-doctoral fellowship at the University of Cambridge, UK and is currently an Associate Professor in the Department of Psychology at Columbia University and a Sackler Scientist with the Sackler Institute for Developmental Psychobiology at Columbia University. Dr. Champagne's current and ongoing research explores the implications of these influences for the transmission of behavior across generations and the molecular mechanisms through which these effects are achieved. The interplay between genes and the environment is critical during the process of development and exploring the role of epigenetic mechanisms in linking experiences with developmental outcomes is an evolving field of study. Dr. Champagne uses rodent models to study epigenetics, neurobiology, and behavior and also collaborates with clinical researchers who would like to apply the study of epigenetics to better understand origins of variation in human behavior. In addition to investigating the modulating effects of mother-infant interactions, Dr. Champagne is currently exploring a broad array of social influences and environmental exposures.

Keith Devlin

The Symbol Barrier: Using Video Games to Overcome the Greatest Obstacle to Good Mathematics Learning

Tuesday, Apr. 2nd, 2013 - 7:30 PM, Reilly Room

Dr. Keith Devlin is a mathematician at Stanford University in California, a co-founder and Executive Director of the university's H-STAR institute, a co-founder of the Stanford Media X research network, and a Senior Researcher at CSLI. He is a World Economic Forum Fellow and a Fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science. His current research is focused on the use of different media to teach and communicate mathematics to diverse audiences. He also works on the design of information/reasoning systems for intelligence analysis. Other research interests include: theory of information, models of reasoning and communication, and mathematical cognition. He has written 31 books and over 80 published research articles. Recipient of the Peano Prize, the Pythagoras Prize, the Carl Sagan Award, and the Communications Award of the Joint Policy Board for Mathematics. In 2003, he was recognized by the California State Assembly for his "innovative work and longtime service in the field of mathematics and its relation to logic and linguistics." And he is "the Math Guy" on National Public Radio.


Technology Panel: With James Gee, Craig Watkins and Craig Anderson

September 29, 2011, 7:30 PM, Atherton Union, Reilly Room

Join us as we welcome James Gee, Craig Watkins and Craig Anderson to discuss technology, cognition and youth. The evening will begin with each guest presenting on a topic of their choice related to technology and cognition. This will be followed by a moderated discussion and conclude with questions from the audience.

James Gee is a member of the National Academy of Education. His book Sociolinguistics and Literacies (1990, Third Edition 2007) was one of the founding documents in the formation of the "New Literacy Studies", an interdisciplinary field devoted to studying language, learning, and literacy in an integrated way in the full range of their cognitive, social, and cultural contexts. His book An Introduction to Discourse Analysis (1999, Second Edition 2005) brings together his work on a methodology for studying communication in its cultural settings, an approach that has been widely influential over the last two decades.

Professor Gee's most recent books deal with video games, language, and learning. What Video Games Have to Teach Us About Learning and Literacy (2003, Second Edition 2007) argues that good video games are designed to enhance learning through effective learning principles supported by research in the Learning Sciences. Situated Language and Learning (2004) places video games within an overall theory of learning and literacy and shows how they can help us in thinking about the reform of schools. His most recent book is Good Video Games and Good Learning: Collected Essays (2007). Professor Gee has published widely in journals in linguistics, psychology, the social sciences, and education.

Craig Watkins studies young people's social and digital media behaviors. He teaches at the University of Texas, Austin, in the departments of Radio-Television-Film, Sociology, and the Center for African and African American Studies. Watkins addresses issues that range from the social impacts of young people's participation in digital media culture to educational implications. He has engaged a dynamic mix of communities including the National Institutes of Health and the National Institute of Drug Addiction, IBM Center for Social Software, SXSW Interactive, the National School Boards Association, Smart Mixed-Signal Connectivity, the Austin Forum on Science and Technology for Society, iCivics, MacArthur Foundation, and the Cooper-Hewitt, National Design Museum (NYC).

His book, The Young and the Digital: What the Migration to Social Network Sites, Games, and Anytime, Anywhere Media Means for Our Future (Beacon 2009), is based on survey research, in-depth interviews, and fieldwork with teens, young twenty-somethings, teachers, parents, and technology advocates. The Young and the Digital explores young people's dynamic engagement with social media, games, mobile phones, and communities like Facebook.

Craig Anderson is a Distinguished Professor of Liberal Arts and Sciences in the Department of Psychology at Iowa State University. He currently is Director of Iowa State University's Center for the Study of Violence, and President of the International Society for Research on Aggression. Anderson's 150+ publications span a wide range of areas, including judgment and decision making; depression, loneliness, and shyness; personality theory and measurement; and attribution theory. In recent years, his work has focused on the development of a General Aggression Model designed to integrate insights from cognitive, developmental, personality, and social psychology. His pioneering work on video-game violence has led to consultations with educators, government officials, child advocates, and news organizations worldwide. He is the author of Violent Video Game Effects on Children and Adolescents, which describes the effects of playing violent video games, explains how these effects occur, and explores possible actions that parents, educators, and public policy creators can take to deal with this important social issue.

Steven Strogatz: Synchronicity in Nature

October 11, 2011, 7:30 PM, Reilly Room

Steven Strogatz is the Jacob Gould Schurman Professor of Applied Mathematics at Cornell University, and is currently Director of the Center for Applied Mathematics. He holds a joint appointment in the College of Arts and Sciences (Mathematics) and the College of Engineering (Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering). In 2009 he was elected a Fellow of the Society for Industrial and Applied Mathematics for his "investigations of small-world networks and coupled oscillators and for outstanding science communication."

Strogatz has been a frequent guest on National Public Radio's RadioLab. In the spring of 2010 he wrote a weekly blog about mathematics for the New York Times; the Harvard Business Review described these columns as "must reads for entrepreneurs and executives" and "a model for how mathematics needs to be popularized." Strogatz has also filmed a series of 24 lectures on Chaos for the Teaching Company's Great Courses series, available on DVD. He is the author of Nonlinear Dynamics and Chaos (1994) and Sync (2003). His most recent book, The Calculus of Friendship, was published in August 2009.

Sue Savage-Rumbaugh: Bonobos, Language and Culture

November 2, 2011, 7:30 PM, Atherton Union, Reilly Room

Dr. Sue Savage-Rumbaugh is a scientist with special standing at Great Ape Trust - a world-class research center dedicated to studying the behavior and intelligence of great apes. The first and only scientist to conduct language research with Bonobos, Savage-Rumbaugh joined Great Ape Trust in 2005 following a 30-year association with Georgia State University's Language Research Center (LRC). Information developed at the LRC regarding the abilities of non-human primates to acquire symbols, comprehend spoken words, decode simple syntactical structures, learn concepts of number and quantity, and perform complex perceptual-motor tasks has helped change the way humans view other members of the primate order. Dr. Savage-Rumbaugh's work with Kanzi, the first ape to learn language in the same manner as children, was detailed in Language Comprehension in Ape and Child published in Monographs of the Society for Research in Child Development (1993). It was selected by the "Millennium Project" as one of the top 100 most influential works in cognitive science in the 20th century by the University of Minnesota Center for Cognitive Sciences in 1991.

Bruce Miller: The Mind and Aging

This is a Spirit and Place event! The Woods Lecture Series is pleased to partner with the UI Center for Aging and Community.

November 9, 2011, 7:30 PM, Atherton Union, Reilly Room

The Woods Lecture Series is proud to partner with the University of Indianapolis Center for Aging & Community as part of the Spirit and Place festival to present Dr. Bruce Miller. Our bodies and minds are inextricably linked. The neurological connections in our bodies interpret our environment, create our experiences and ultimately define our lives. As we age, these connections may begin to slow and change, and the definition of our daily lives changes. Understanding dementia and the physical and chemical changes in our bodies that cause it is a fascinating component of the human condition. Dementia can be caused by a number of different conditions; it is a symptom of neurodegenerative diseases like Alzheimer's, frontotemporal dementia or corticobasal degeneration.

Dr. Miller is Professor of Neurology at the University of California, San Francisco (UCSF) where he holds the A.W. & Mary Margaret Clausen Distinguished Chair. Dr. Miller is the clinical director of the Memory and Aging Center (MAC) at UCSF, which is funded through the State of California, the National Institutes of Health (NIH), and the Larry L. Hillblom Foundation, amongst others. Dr. Miller will be speaking about his research and work at the Memory and Aging Center (MAC) at UC San Francisco. At the MAC, Dr. Miller links comprehensive patient evaluations to basic research in neuropsychology, neuropsychiatry, neuroimaging and genetics. At the conclusion of the lecture, the audience is invited to take part in a question and answer session with Dr. Miller.

As part of the J. James Woods Lecture Series Butler University will be welcoming Dr. Bruce Miller, a behavioral neurologist with a special interest in brain and behavior relationships and has focused his work in the area of dementia. Dr. Miller's lecture will focus on the brain and aging, with a specific focus on dementia. Dementia is the general term for progressive brain disorders that gradually destroys a person's ability to carry out daily activities.

Our bodies and minds are inextricably linked. The neurological connections in our bodies interprets our environment, creates our experiences and ultimately defines our lives. As we age, these connections may begin to slow and change, and the definition of our daily lives changes. Understanding dementia and the physical and chemical changes in our bodies that cause it is a fascinating component of the human condition. Dementia can be caused by a number of different conditions; it is a symptom of neurodegenerative diseases like Alzheimer's, frontotemporal dementia or corticobasal degeneration.

Dr. Miller will be speaking about his research and work at the Memory and Aging Center (MAC) at UC San Francisco. At the MAC, Dr. Miller links comprehensive patient evaluations to basic research in neuropsychology, neuropsychiatry, neuroimaging and genetics. At the conclusion of the lecture, the audience is invited to take part in a question and answer session with Dr. Miller.

Dan Ferber: Impacts of Climate Change on Global Health

January 25, 2012, 7:30 PM, Atherton Union, Reilly Room

Much of the public debate about "global warming" has focused on air temperatures, melting glaciers and slowly rising sea levels, but climate change is already harming the health of people around the world. Award-winning journalist Dan Ferber specializes in putting a human face on groundbreaking stories on science, technology, health and the environment. As a correspondent for Science and contributor to national magazines such as Reader's Digest, Popular Science and Audubon, he's covered topics from malaria to cancer, from dam removal to factory farms, from high-tech crops to engineered tissues. In Changing Planet, Changing Health, he worked with Paul Epstein, MD, associate director of the Center for Health and Global Environment at Harvard Medical School, to reveal the surprising links between climate change and cholera, malaria, Lyme disease, asthma, and other public health concerns. Ferber holds a bachelor's degree in zoology from Duke, a Ph.D. in biology from Johns Hopkins University and a masters in journalism from the University of Illinois. For more information, see

Grace Wolf-Chase: Stars, religion and science

February 22, 2012, 7:30 PM, Atherton Union, Reilly Room

Grace Wolf-Chase has held a joint position between the Adler Planetarium and the University of Chicago Department of Astronomy & Astrophysics since 1998. She holds a Bachelor's degree in Physics from Cornell University and a Ph.D. in Astronomy from the University of Arizona. Grace was awarded a National Research Council postdoctoral fellowship to study the early stages of star formation at NASA/Ames Research Center in Moffett Field, CA (1994-1996), and a University of California President's postdoctoral fellowship to continue these studies at U.C. Riverside (1996-1998). Her primary research efforts focus on the earliest stages of star formation, from the formation of low-mass stars similar to our Sun, to the formation of massive stars in rich clusters. She has made important contributions to understanding the scope and effects of outflows generated by forming stars.

Grace is a member of the science team for the "Milky Way Project", one of a large suite of citizen science initiatives in the "Zooniverse". She is active in exhibit development, sky show production, mentoring student and postdoctoral research projects, and working with diverse audiences to help bring the excitement of scientific research to public audiences. Grace served on a task force to develop a Social Statement on Education for the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America. The statement was adopted at the Church-wide Assembly in Chicago in August 2007. She and her spouse, Dennis Chase, live in Naperville with their three teenaged children.

Wes Jackson: Consulting the Genius of the Place

March 29, 2012, 7:30 PM, Atherton Union, Reilly Room

Wes Jackson, President of The Land Institute, was born in 1936 on a farm near Topeka, Kansas. After attending Kansas Wesleyan, he studied botany (MA University of Kansas, 1960) and genetics (PhD North Carolina State University, 1967). He was a professor of biology at Kansas Wesleyan and later established the Environmental Studies department at California State University, Sacramento, where he became a tenured full professor. He resigned that position in 1976 and returned to Kansas to found The Land Institute. Dr. Jackson's writings include both papers and books. His most recent work, Consulting the Genius of the Place: An Ecological Approach to a New Agriculture, was published by Counterpoint Press in 2010. The work of The Land Institute has been featured extensively in the popular media including The Atlantic Monthly, Audubon, National Geographic, Time Magazine,The MacNeil-Lehrer News Hour, and National Public Radio's "All Things Considered." Life magazine named Wes Jackson as one of 18 individuals they predict will be among the 100 "important Americans of the 20th century." In the November 2005 issue, Smithsonian named him one of "35 Who Made a Difference" and in March, 2009 Wes was included in Rolling Stone's"100 Agents of Change. "In addition to lecturing nationwide and abroad, Dr. Jackson is involved outside The Land Institute with a variety of projects including being a Post Carbon Institute Fellow, a Councillor with the World Future Council and a member of the Green Lands Blue Waters Steering Committee.


Indianapolis Prize Winner Iain Douglas-Hamilton

Monday, September 27, 2010, 7:30 PM, Atherton Union, Reilly Room

Four decades ago, Iain Douglas-Hamilton pioneered the first in-depth scientific study of elephant social behavior that has set the standard for every study to follow. Douglas-Hamilton founded 'Save the Elephants' in 1983 and led emergency anti-poaching efforts in Uganda to bring the elephant population there from the very brink of extinction. He has testified before Congress on behalf of his beloved elephants multiple times, leading to the African elephant bill, to date the most successful funding program for the species.

His pioneering Global Positioning System (GPS) elephant tracking, widely emulated in Africa and Asia, has become a model survey technique. He recently partnered with Google Earth to show elephant movement in real time via satellite images. For more than forty years Iain Douglas-Hamilton has devoted himself to the study and protection of African Elephants.

Because of his relentless, lifelong devotion to the elephants' survival, Iain Douglas-Hamilton, Ph.D., has been named the 2010 recipient of the Indianapolis Prize, the world's leading award for animal conservation. The Indianapolis Prize is given to an individual animal conservationist who has made significant achievements in advancing the sustainability of an animal species or group of species. The $100,000 biennial award brings the world's attention to the cause of animal conservation and the brave, talented and dedicated men and women who spend their lives saving the world's endangered species. It represents the largest individual monetary award for animal conservation in the world and is given as an unrestricted gift to the chosen recipient.

An Evening with Visionaries: Energy, Design, and the Future of Indianapolis

Presented by the Center for Urban Ecology and the J. James Woods Lecture Series, Supported by Major Sponsor Energy Solutions

Thursday, October 21, 7:00 PM, Clowes Memorial Hall

Free of charge; ticket required Tickets available at the Clowes Hall Box Office and Ticketmaster, ticketmaster fees apply

Spend the evening with two visionaries discussing the future of ecological design in a post-carbon economy.

Bob Berkebile is a principal at BNIM Architects in Kansas City, MO. He is a founding member of the US Green Building Council (USGBC) and helped develop the Leadership in

Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) Rating system.

David Orr is the Paul Sears Distinguished Professor of Environmental Studies and Politics at Oberlin College. He is best known for his pioneering work on environmental literacy in higher education and his recent work in ecological design. He is the author of six books including his most recent, "Down to the Wire: Confronting Climate Collapse". Following the presentation, we will hold a panel discussion that considers innovative, sustainable design opportunities as they relate to the City of Indianapolis.

Chymistry and Alchemy

Monday, November 8, 7:30 PM, Pharmacy and Health Services Building, Room 150

Bill Newman's research interests focus on early modern "chymistry", the combination of alchemy and early chemistry. Newman's chymistry experiments replicate the works of Isaac Newton, Robert Boyle, Daniel Sennert, and the first famous American scientist, George Starkey. Newman is also the general editor of "The Chymistry of Isaac Newton", an integrated project that combines new research on Newton's chymistry with an online edition of his manuscripts in both diplomatic and normalized texts. His presentation will include demonstrations of these historical experiments.

As a professor in the Department of History and Philosophy of Science at IU Bloomington, Newman teaches courses on the history of matter-theory and the history of early chemical technology. He has been awarded fellowships, grants, and prizes from a wide variety of foundations, including the John Simon Guggenheim Memorial Foundation, the Institute for Advanced Study, the Dibner Institute for the History of Science and Technology, and the National Science Foundation. Newman was recently featured in the July-August 2010 issue of Discover Magazine as well as on NOVA: Newton's Dark Secrets.

The Virus Hunter - Nathan Wolfe

Tuesday, February 22, 7:30 PM, Atherton Union, Reilly Room

Nathan Wolfe rethinks pandemic control for our globalized world. By concentrating on how epidemic diseases--such as HIV, SARS, and West Nile--all stem from human contact with infected animals, he is able to discover new threatening viruses where they first emerge. In 2009, Rolling Stone named him one of their "100 Agents of Change", and Google and the Skoll foundation have given him over $11 million in funding - making Wolfe, a Stanford University professor, one of the leading minds in epidemiology and virology, a man poised to eradicate pandemics before they even happen.

As the founder and director of the Global Viral Forecasting Initiative--an acclaimed research institute monitoring outbreaks in Africa and Asia--Wolfe is fueled by unwavering curiosity. "We have the potential to explore a completely new biological world and go out and really find new things all the time." A dynamic field-oriented virologist, he has spoken, accessibly and entertainingly, for the likes of TED and the National Institute for Health. A Fulbright Fellow, Wolfe is the recipient of the National Geographic Emerging Explorers Award.

Conservation, African Elephants and American Land Trusts

Presented by the Central Indiana Land Trust and the J. James Woods Lecture Series

Monday, March 7, 7:30 PM, Atherton Union, Reilly Room

Katy Payne started her career listening to the songs of the humpback whale. That changed in 1984 after an encounter with two Asian elephants at the Washington Park Zoo. She was intrigued by the infrasonic calls made by the elephants that were separated by their enclosures. Studies soon followed that showed elephants use these low-frequency calls to coordinate their social behavior over long distances. In 1999 the Elephant Listening Project (ELP) was founded to further the use of acoustic methods to study and aid in the conservation of forest elephants in Central Africa.

Katy retired from the ELP in 2006, but is still involved with its activities and projects. Her current interests include global and local conservation efforts and the role of land trusts in conservation. Payne will talk about her work with elephants and the important role land trusts play in conservation. She is the author of "Silent Thunder: In the Presence of Elephants".

In Search of The Shape of The Universe

Tuesday, March 29, 7:30 pm, Atherton Union, Reilly Room

In 2003 Grigoriy Perelman, a reclusive Russian mathematician, announced that he had solved the Poincaré Conjecture. This conjecture is one of the most famous problems in mathematics and was considered to be virtually unsolvable. Donal O'shea, the Dean of Faculty and Vice President for Academic Affairs and Elizabeth T. Kennan Professor of Mathematics and Statistics at Mount Holyoke College will be speaking about the amazing story of this 100 year old theorem. The conjecture was presented in 1904 by mathematician Henri Poincaré. O'Shea explores the history of the conjecture and the lives of Poincaré, his predecessors, contemporaries, and successors. O'Shea is also the author of " The Poincaré Conjecture: In Search of the Shape of the Universe".


The Philosophical Baby: What children's minds tell us about truth, love and the meaning of life

Monday, October 5, 7:30 PM, Atherton Union, Reilly Room

Alison Gopnik, professor of psychology and affiliate professor of philosophy at the University of California at Berkeley, is an internationally recognized leader in the study of children's learning and development and was the first to argue that children's minds could help us understand deep philosophical questions. She was one of the founders of the study of "theory of mind", illuminating how children come to understand the minds of others, and she formulated the "theory theory", the idea that children learn in the same way that scientists do. Professor Gopnik is the author of over one hundred articles and several books, including the best-selling The Scientist in the Crib. She will speak on the topic of her new book.

Bringing Nature Home

Tuesday, November 3, 7:30 PM, Clowes Memorial Hall

Doug Tallamy, Professor and Chair, Department of Entomology and Wildlife Ecology, University of Delaware, Doug Tallamy wants us to garden as though life depends on it. His simple but powerful message is this: gardeners can foster biodiversity simply by choosing to plant more natives. In his eye-opening book, Bringing Nature Home: How Native Plants Sustain Wildlife in Our Gardens , Tallamy shows how life does depend on what we plant in our backyards. It's a book that makes us look at our gardens - and think of our role as gardeners - in a new, more meaningful way. Doors will open at 6:30 for refreshments from local sources and displays by local conservation and gardening organizations.

Living Downstream: An Ecologist Looks at Cancer and the Environment

Monday, November 16th, 7:30 pm, Atherton Union, Reilly Room

Sandra Steingraber, ecologist, author, and cancer survivor, Sandra Steingraber, Ph.D. is an internationally recognized expert on the environmental links to cancer and human health. Steingraber's highly acclaimed book, Living Downstream: An Ecologist Looks at Cancer and the Environment presents cancer as a human rights issue. It was the first to bring together data on toxic releases with newly released data from U.S. cancer registries. Steingraber's new work, Having Faith: An Ecologist's Journey to Motherhood, explores the intimate ecology of motherhood. Both a memoir of her own pregnancy and an investigation of fetal toxicology, Having Faith reveals the alarming extent to which environmental hazards now threaten each crucial stage of infant development. Heralded by the Sierra Club as "the new Rachel Carson," Dr. Steingraber's work bridges the gap between environmental science and activism.

Lawrence Krauss, Author

Wednesday, February 24, 7:30 PM, Atherton Union, Reilly Room

Lawrence Krauss, is professor of physics and director of the Origins Initiative at Arizona State University. A renowned theoretical physicist, Krauss is also a best-selling author. His seven popular books - including The Physics of Star Trek, Quintessence and Hiding in the Mirror - help make key theories and questions in modern physics accessible to lay readers. Krauss frequently writes for magazines and newspapers, including the New York Times and the Wall Street Journal.

Climate Change and Indiana's Future

Thursday, March 4, 7:30 PM, Atherton Union, Reilly Room

Dr. Katharine Hayhoe, Texas Tech University atmospheric scientist, assesses regional impacts of climate change across a range of sectors including water resources, human health, agriculture and natural ecosystems. She leads the climate impact assessments for the U.S. Midwest and the Eastern Mediterranean and serves as a lead author for the U.S. Climate Science Program's upcoming report, "Global Climate Change Impacts in the United States."

Robert H. Frank, Professor

Thursday, March 25th, 7:30 pm, Clowes Memorial Hall
Free of Charge; Ticket Required

Robert H. Frank, an internationally renowned behavioral economist and New York Times columnist, Robert H. Frank studies the ways in which social and psychological forces affect market behavior and the ways markets and economics affect human behavior. He is an expert on the causes and consequences of social inequality, and the ways that public policy can enhance market efficiency and improve the well being of middle-income.


Mistakes were Made (but not by me)

Thursday, September 18, 7:30 PM, Atherton Union, Reilly Room

Elliot Aronson, named one of the 100 most eminent psychologists of the 20th century, Elliot Aronson is Professor Emeritus of Psychology at the University of California, Santa Cruz. He is best known for his work on cognitive dissonance and cooperative learning. His books include Nobody Left to Hate: Teaching Compassion after Columbine and The Jigsaw Classroom: Building Cooperation in the Classroom. His latest book, Mistakes Were Made (but not by me): Why we Justify Foolish Beliefs, Bad Decisions, and Hurtful Acts, will be the focus of his talk.

A Naturalist and Other Beasts

Tuesday, September 30, 7:30 PM, Atherton Union, Reilly Room

George B. Schaller, relentless in his efforts to save endangered species across the globe since 1952, the renowned field biologist George B. Schaller has been named the 2008 recipient of the Indianapolis Prize, the world's leading award for animal conservation. Schaller will share his experiences traveling back to the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge after 50 years, his current research in the Tibetan Plateau, and his groundbreaking research in Rwanda with mountain gorillas. Schaller is Senior Conservationist for the Wildlife Conservation Society and has written more than 220 popular and scientific articles and 16 books. His lecture is cosponsored by the Indianapolis Zoo.

Ancient Fossil Hunters: The Griffin and the Monster of Troy

Wednesday, December 3, 7:30 PM, Atherton Union, Reilly Room

Adrienne Mayor, a folklorist and historian of ancient science, investigates natural knowledge embedded in ancient mythology. Her books include The First Fossil Hunters: Paleontology in Greek and Roman Times, Fossil Legends of the First Americans, and Greek Fire, Poison Arrows & Scorpion Bombs. Mayor's work has been featured on the History and Discovery channels. Her lecture will discuss how the discovery of ancient fossils influenced the myths of Greek and Roman antiquity.

Secret Lights in the Sea

Wednesday, March 4, 7:30 PM, Atherton Union, Reilly Room

Biologist and deep-sea explorer Edith Widder combines her expertise in research and technological innovation with a commitment to reversing the worldwide trend of degradation in our marine environment. Widder, a recent MacArthur Fellow, is president of the Ocean Research & Conservation Association. A key effort of the Association is the development of state-of-the-art sensors and technological systems for evaluating water quality and ecosystem health. While translating complex scientific issues into workable solutions, Dr. Widder is fostering greater understanding of ocean life as a means to better, more informed ocean stewardship. A specialist in bioluminescence, she has been a leader in helping to design and invent new for the observation of deep-sea environments.

Search for the Chimera

Monday, April 6, 7:30 PM, Atherton Union, Reilly Room

James Randi is an acclaimed magician, escape artist, and 1986 MacArthur Fellow who has devoted his life to debunking claims of pseudo-science and the paranormal. Perhaps best known for his debunking of Uri Geller's claims of psychic powers, Randi has turned his skeptical eye toward everything from UFOs to faith healers. In his lecture, Randi will discuss examples of pseudo-scientific claims (from UFOs to the Bermuda triangle), and will show how ordinary people and even many scientists have been fooled. Mr. Randi is founder of the James Randi Educational Foundation, an institution that seeks to educate the public about claims of the supernatural and paranormal.


The Making of the Fittest: DNA and the Ultimate Forensic Record for Evolution

Tuesday, October 2, 7:30 PM, Atherton Union, Reilly Room

Sean Carroll - Professor of Molecular Biology and Genetics at the University of Wisconsin, Carroll is the foremost interpreter of Darwin in light of the latest findings of molecular biology. He will speak about the genetics of evolution and about DNA as a record of evolution. He is also author of Endless Forms Most Beautiful: The New Science of Evo Devo and From DNA to Diversity.

Treating AIDs and Poverty in Africa

Tuesday, October 23, 7:30 PM, Atherton Union, Reilly Room

Joseph Mamlin, After Mamlin, Professor Emeritus of Medicine, Indiana University School of Medicine, retired in 2000, he founded the AMPATH program in Kenya. AMPATH, a partnership between IU School of Medicine and Moi University School of Medicine in Kenya, is one of sub-Saharan Africa's largest and most comprehensive HIV control programs, and has been nominated for a Nobel Prize. Dr. Mamlin will speak about his medical work in Africa. 

Bodies, Commodities and Biotechnologies

Wednesday, November 7, 7:30 PM, Atherton Union, Reilly Room

Lesley Sharp, is Professor of Anthropology at Barnard College and Senior Research Scientist at Mailman School of Public Health, Columbia University. Well known medical anthropologist and ethnographer of Madagascar, Professor Sharp has most recently published two major volumes on the culture and ethics of organ transplants: Bodies, Commodities, and Biotechnologies: Death, Mourning, and Scientific Desire in the Realm of Human Organ Transfer and Strange Harvest: Organ Transplants, Denatured Bodies, and the Transformed Self. She will speak about artificial forms of body replacement and how physicians and patients think about them.

Melting Mountains, Burning Fields: Global Warming, Science and Religion

Monday, November 12, 7:30 PM, Atherton Union, Reilly Room

Professor of Christian Ethics at Boston University School of Theology and the author of four books, including Sacramental Commons: Christian Ecological Ethics, Professor Hart has lectured widely on environmental ethics and on the relationship between science and religion. He will speak on scientific and religious perspectives on global warming. This lecture is cosponsored by Butler University's Center for Faith and Vocation.

What Makes Cows Mad?

Wednesday, February 13, noon, Robertson Hall, Johnson Room

Laura Manuelidis is a longtime investigator of Transmissible Spongiform Encephalopathy (diseases like Mad Cow), Dr. Manuelidis of the Yale School of Medicine will discuss recent work that conflicts with what has become the reigning causal theory of these diseases. She will argue that the prion hypothesis has yet to be definitively established and discuss her recently published evidence of virions that cause the brain pathology in Mad Cow and related diseases.

The Omnivore's Dilemma

Monday, February 25, 7:30 PM, Atherton Union, Reilly Room

What do you know about the food that you eat? Named one of the ten best books of 2006 by the New York Times and the Washington Post, The Omnivore's Dilemma: A Natural History of Four Meals by Michael Pollan, Knight Professor of Science and Environmental Journalism at the University of California, Berkeley, is about deciding what to eat when faced with the modern industrial food system.

The Extravagant Universe: Exploding Stars, Dark Energy, and the Accelerating Cosmos

Monday, April 14, 7:30 PM, Atherton Union, Reilly Room

Dr. Kirshner is Clowes Professor of Science at Harvard University. His book chronicles the research that led to an extraordinary cosmological discovery: the expansion of the universe is accelerating under the influence of a dark energy that makes space itself expand. He will speak about the implications of this discovery for the future of the universe.


Why We Love: The Nature and Chemistry of Romantic Love

Wednesday, September 27, 7:30 PM, Reilly Room

Dr. Fisher, Research Professor, is a member of the Center for Human Evolutionary Studies in the Department of Anthropology at Rutgers University. Helen Fisher has conducted extensive research on the evolution and future of human sex, love and marriage, and gender differences in the brain and behavior. She will speak about her most recent book: Why We Love: The Nature and Chemistry of Romantic Love

Monkeyluv and Other Essays on Our Lives as Animals

Thursday, November 16, 7:30 PM, Reilly Room

Robert Sapolsky is Professor of Biological Sciences and Professor of Neurology and Neurological Sciences at Stanford University. Dr. Sapolsky has lived and worked with a troop of baboons in Africa, studied neurobiology in the lab, and received a MacArthur "Genius" fellowship. He will speak about his latest book: Monkeyluv and Other Essays on Our Lives as Animals

Warped Passages: Unraveling the Mysteries of the Universe's Hidden Dimensions

Wednesday, March 7, 7:30 PM, Reilly Room

Lisa Randall is a Professor of Physics at Harvard University. Dr. Randall will speak about her book, Warped Passages: Unraveling the Mysteries of the Universe's Hidden Dimensions. The book takes up the topics of particle physics, string theory, brane worlds, and extra dimensions in a way that is accessible and entertaining for a general audience.

Can we define, let alone solve, global warming?

Wednesday, April 18, 7:30 PM, Reilly Room

Stephen Schneider is Professor for Interdisciplinary Environmental Studies and Professor of Biological Sciences at Stanford University. Dr. Schneider has written extensively on climate change, both science and policy, and will be addressing the question: Can we define, let alone solve, global warming?


A Revolution in Evolution: Rewriting Evolutionary History

Monday, September 26, 7:30 PM, Reilly Room

Peter Brown is an Associate Professor of Archeology and Paleoanthropology, at the University of New England, Australia. Dr. Brown led a team that discovered Homo floresiensis, a small, human-like species that lived 18,000 years ago on a remote Indonesian island. His talk will focus on how our understanding of human evolution changes as new discoveries are made.

Animals in Translation: Using the Mysteries of Autism to Decode Animal Behavior

Wednesday, October 19, 7:30 PM, Reilly Room

Temple Grandin is an Associate Professor of Animal Science, at Colorado State University. Dr. Grandin has used her experiences as an autistic person to understand the behavior of domestic animals, claiming that autistic people can often think the way animals think. She will talk about her latest book.

The Cosmic Perspective

Wednesday, February 8, 7:30 PM, Clowes Hall (free tickets required)

Neil DeGrasse Tyson is the Director of the Hayden Planetarium at the American Museum of Natural History. An astrophysicist who writes a monthly column for Natural History magazine, Dr. Tyson is well-known for his ability to explain the universe in terms that most Earthlings can understand.

The Blank Slate

Monday, April 10, 7:30 PM, Reilly Room

Steven Pinker is a Professor of Psychology at Harvard University. Dr. Pinker writes about human nature and the development of the human mind, trying to understand the roles of genetics and environment in making us who we are. He will talk about his latest book, which was a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize.


The Physicist as Novelist

Tuesday, September 14, 2004

Alan Lightman is a novelist and physicist who teaches in the writing program at MIT. Lightman has written four novels, including Einstein's Dreams and The Diagnosis, as well as essays and books on physics and its history.

Genes, Genomes and Disease

Tuesday, November 9, 2004

Chris Ponting is Professor of Bioinformatics at the University of Oxford and programme leader in the MRC Functional Genetics Unit. In 2000-01 Ponting was part of the Human Genome Project Consortium. He has used computers to study the DNA of mice, rats, chimps and chickens.

Chance, Risk, Probability and Gambling

Thursday, February 3, 2005

Simon Singh is an author and journalist specializing in mathematics and physics. Singh, who holds a Ph.D. in particle physics, is the author of Fermat's Enigma and The Code Book.

The Science of Magic and the Magic of Science

Wednesday, March 30, 2005

Bob Friedhoffer is a professional magician and science educator who has lectured and performed at schools and colleges across the country. Friedhoffer is the author of books on physics and magic as well as science books for children.

The Science of Good and Evil

Tuesday, April 5, 2005

Michael Shermer is a historian of science and director of the Skeptics Society. A leading authority on the relationship between science, pseudo-science and superstition, his books include Why People Believe Wierd Things and How We Believe: Science, Skepticism and the Search for God.


Dr. Tartar's talk is titled "SETI: Science Fact, Not Fiction"

Wednesday, October 15, 2003

Jill Tartar, Ph.D
Physicist and Director of the SETI Institute

Jill Tartar is one of the leaders of the scientific effort to discover intelligent life in the universe beyond our planet. As director of the SETI (Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence) Institute, Dr. Tartar leads a team of scientists who develop and utilize observational and analytical methods to search the universe for signals indicative of intelligent life.

Dr. Tartar received her Ph.D. in Astronomy from the University of California at Berkeley. She began SETI research with U.C.'s project SERENDIP as a graduate student. After a post-doctoral appointment with NASA Ames' Space Sciences Office, Dr. Tarter continued research in SETI and was named Project Scientist for NASA's High Resolution Microwave Survey. After the loss of NASA funding for SETI, Dr. Tarter was named Director of the Institute's Project Phoenix, a position which she continues to hold.

An active hands-on SETI observer, Dr. Tarter has achieved many distinctions in her career. She holds the Lifetime Achievement Award from Women in Aerospace for her contributions to the fields of Exobiology and SETI. Dr. Tarter's distinctions include election as member of the International Academy of Astronautics, Fellow of the Committee for the Scientific Investigation of Claims of the Paranormal, President (1994-1997) of International Astronomical Union Commission 51, Chair of the International Academy of Astronautics SETI Committee, and numerous appointments to senior scientific advisory panels. She was also named 1997 "Person of the Year" by Chabot Science Center and is the recipient of two Public Service Medals from the National Aeronautics and Space Administration.

Professor of Psychiatry at Johns Hopkins University

Tuesday, December 2, 2003

Kay Redfield Jamison
Psychiatry Professor and Mental Health Advocate

An international authority and researcher on mood disorders, and a 2001 recipient of the prestigious MacArthur Fellowship, Kay Redfield Jamison has unique insight into the world of mental illness, having been there herself.

In 1995, as Professor of Psychiatry at Johns Hopkins University, she shocked her colleagues by going public with her own struggle with manic-depressiveness in a Washington Post article and subsequent book, An Unquiet Mind. The book became a New York Times bestseller and was cited by several major publications as one of the best of the year.

Jamison completed her undergraduate and graduate work at UCLA, where she was a National Science Foundation Research Fellow, a John F. Kennedy Scholar, and UCLA Graduate Woman of the Year. She became Director of the UCLA Affective Disorders Clinic, was selected as one of five individuals for the PBS-TV series Great Minds of Medicine and was chosen by Time as a "Hero of Medicine." Her books for general audiences include Touched with Fire (1993), a study of the connection between manic-depression and creativity, Night Falls Fast: Understanding Suicide (1999), and Exuberance: The Vital Emotion (2003).

Dr. Jamison has published over 100 articles in academic journals. She is co-author of the standard medical textbook on manic-depression, which was chosen in 1990 as the most outstanding book in Biomedical Sciences by the American Association of Publishers.

Professor of Anthropology at New York University

Thursday, February 12, 2004

Emily Martin is Professor of Anthropology at New York University. Her research interests include the anthropology of science and medicine, gender, money and other measures of value, the anthropology of work, and China.

Martin began her career with field work in China and Taiwan, and has published extensively on Chinese ritual and politics. However it was her 1987 book The Woman in the Body: a Cultural Analysis of Reproduction (Boston: Beacon Press), an innovative analysis of American understandings of reproduction, that brought her international recognition. Subsequent research has been into local knowledge about immune systems (published in her 1994 book "Flexible Bodies: Tracking Immunity in American Culture from the Days of Polio to the Age of Aids," Beacon Press) and, most recently, about mental illness.

Dr. Martin will present an historical and ethnographic analysis of the ways moods have been graphed and charted, from the early 20th century to the present. Changes in the techniques of recording moods will be discussed in relation to their impact on subjectivities, regimes of regulation and control, and the cultural value placed on hyper states such as mania.

PhD in zoology from Oxford University

Tuesday, March 16, 2004

After receiving a PhD in zoology from Oxford University, Matt Ridley became a journalist. From 1983 to 1992 he served as the senior editor for The Economist. From 1993 to 2000, he was a columnist for the Sunday Telegraph and Daily Telegraph. He has written articles and book reviews for major publications including The Times, Guardian, Times Literary Supplement, New Statesman, TIME, Newsweek, New York Times, Wall Street Journal, Atlantic Monthly, Discover, and Natural History. His books include The Red Queen: Sex and the Evolution of Human Nature (1993), The Origins of Virtue: Human Instincts and the Evolution of Cooperation (1996), Genome: The Autobiography of a Species in 23 Chapters (1999), and Nature via Nurture: Genes, Experience and What Makes Us Human (2003). In Nature via Nurture he describes the dependent relationship between the genes and their environment, examines this synergistic relationship in human development, and discusses the human condition of being simultaneously free-willed and motivated by instinct and culture.

In a recent interview about the human genome project, Ridley said: "For the first time in four billion years, a species on this planet has read its own recipe, or is in the process of reading its own recipe. That seems to me to be an epochal moment, because we're going to get depths of insight into the nature of human nature that we never could have imagined, and that will dwarf anything that philosophers and indeed scientists have managed to produce in the last two millennia."

Dr. Ridley is currently chairman of the International Centre for Life, an education project and visitor center that is highly regarded for its serious research in genetics and located in Newcastle upon Tyne.


Brian Green, Physicist, Columbia University

Thursday, September 19, 2002

Robert Bakker, Dinosaur Paleontologist

Wednesday, October 2, 2002

Director of the Center for Brain and Cognition

Wednesday, February 12, 2003

Dr. V.S. Ramachandran is a pioneer in the field of experimental neurology. His work has explored a diverse set of phenomena, including phantom limbs, the neurological basis of visual illusions, and the perception of art. In his critically acclaimed book Phantoms in the Brain, Dr. Ramachandran describes many of the simple yet telling experiments that he has developed to help us understand the neurological basis of some of the most puzzling of cognitive and perceptual phenomena. His work has been featured on the PBS series Nova. Dr. Ramachandran's lecture at Butler will be based upon his book.

Dr. Ramachandran is Director of the Center for Brain and Cognition and a professor with the Psychology Department and the Neurosciences Program at the University of California, San Diego, and Adjunct Professor of Biology at the Salk Institute. He received his MD from Stanley Medical College and his PhD from Trinity College at the University of Cambridge.

Chemistry's Essential Tension: The Same and Not The Same

Tuesday, April 8, 2003

Chemist and Nobel Prize Winner, Cornell University

Chemistry, poised between the physical and biological universes, doesn't deal with the infinitely small or large. It is very much on the human scale, and from that derives its great interest and its problems. In this generously illustrated lecture several views of chemistry will be presented: First of all, chemistry is, as it has always been, the art, craft, business of substances and their transformations. It is now also the science of molecules, both simple and complex -- chemists always think simultaneously of macroscopic substances and microscopic molecules changing. One must also look at people's perception of chemistry, in terms of its benefits, yes, but also in terms of its risks. Indeed, there is no way that a human activity so closely tied to change can be viewed without passion by people. This deeply democratizing science is full of tensions, which will be explored in this lecture. As will the strong element of creation or synthesis in chemistry, which brings chemistry close to the arts.

Roald Hoffmann was born in 1937 in Zloczow, Poland. Having survived the war, he came to the U. S. in 1949, and studied chemistry at Columbia University and Harvard University (Ph.D. 1962). Since 1965 he is at Cornell University, now as the Frank H. T. Rhodes Professor of Humane Letters. He has received many of the honors of his profession, including the 1981 Nobel Prize in Chemistry (shared with Kenichi Fukui).

"Applied theoretical chemistry" is the way Roald Hoffmann likes to characterize the particular blend of computations stimulated by experiment and the construction of generalized models, of frameworks for understanding, that is his contribution to chemistry.

Dr. Hoffmann also writes essays and poems. Two of his poetry collections, "The Metamict State" (1987) and "Gaps and Verges" (1990), have been published by the University Presses of Florida.

In 1993 the Smithsonian Institution Press published "Chemistry Imagined". A unique art/science/literature collaboration of Roald Hoffmann with artist Vivian Torrence, "Chemistry Imagined" reveals the creative and humanistic f sparks of the molecular science. In 1995, Columbia University Press published "The Same and Not the Same", a thoughtful account of the dualities that lie under the surface of chemistry. There will be German, Spanish, Korean, Chinese, and Japanese editions of this book. In 1997 W.H. Freeman published Old Wine, New Flasks; Reflections on Science and Jewish Tradition, by Roald Hoffmann and Shira Leibowitz Schmidt, a book of the intertwined voices of science and religion. Dr. Hoffmann is also is the presenter of a television course, "The World of Chemistry", now aired on many PBS stations and abroad.

This brief biography is taken from the Jewish Studies web site at Cornell University. For a fuller biography as well as access to Dr. Hoffman's Nobel lecture, visit the Nobel Foundation's e-museum.