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2021 Past Speakers

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Margaret J. M. Ezell

Margaret J. M. Ezell is distinguished professor of English and Sara and John Lindsey Chair of Liberal Arts at Texas A&M University. She has received numerous awards and honors, including a Guggenheim Fellowship, two American Council of Learned Societies Fellowships and multiple National Endowment for the Humanities grants.

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Lia Purpura

Lia Purpura is the author of three collections of poems (King Baby, Stone Sky Lifting, and The Brighter the Veil), three collections of essays (Rough Likeness, On Looking, Increase), and one collection of translations, (Poems of Grzegorz Musial: Berliner Tagebuch and Taste of Ash).

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Rochel Gelman

Rochel Gelman has developed ways to study the ease with which very young children acquire intuitive understandings of natural numbers and arithmetic, that different sources of energy support the movement and change over time of separately movable animate and inanimate objects, that outcomes have causes, and the learning of words and conversationally appropriate ways of talking.

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Charles Randy Gallistel

Charles Randy Gallistel is professor of psychology and former co-director of the Rutgers Center for Cognitive Science at Rutgers, The State University of New Jersey.

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John Toussaint

Dr. John Toussaint is the founding chair of the Wisconsin Collaborative for Healthcare Quality and the Wisconsin Health Information Organization, CEO at ThedaCare Center for Healthcare Value and the non-executive leader of the Partnership for Healthcare Payment Reform in Wisconsin.

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Jon Kaas

Dr. Kaas is a Centennial Professor of Psychology, professor of cell biology and Kennedy Center investigator. He has studied the brain for some 35 years, most of them at Vanderbilt University.

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Stephanie Coontz

Stephanie Coontz teaches history and family studies at The Evergreen State College in Olympia, Wash., and is director of research and public education for the Council on Contemporary Families.

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John Geyman

John Geyman, M.D. is professor emeritus of family medicine at the University of Washington School of Medicine in Seattle, where he served as chairman of the Department of Family Medicine from 1976 to 1990. As a family physician with more than 25 years in academic medicine, he has also practiced in rural communities for 13 years.

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Hedrick Smith

Hedrick Smith, Pulitzer Prize-winning former New York Times reporter and editor and Emmy award-winning producer/correspondent, has established himself during the past 50 years of his career as one of America’s most distinguished journalists.

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Doug Rees

Doug Rees is a central figure in the determination of membrane protein structure by x-ray crystallography, notably transport proteins and mechanosensitive channels. He is a member of the National Academy of Sciences and the American Academy of Arts & Sciences.

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Randolph Phillip

Randy Philipp is an international leader in scholarship of the preparation and development of mathematics teachers, with a particular focus on professional noticing and attention to children’s thinking.

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Byron Hurt

Byron Hurt is an award-winning documentary filmmaker, a published writer and an anti-sexism activist.

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Kirby Dick

Kirby Dick is an Academy Award- and Emmy Award-nominated documentary director. He has been directing documentaries since 1986 and, beyond his Academy Award nominations for Twist of Faith (2005) and The Invisible War (2012), he has been recognized by the Sundance Film Festival, the National Academy of Television Arts and Sciences and the Broadcast Film Critics Association.

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David Weisbach

David Weisbach serves as the Walter J. Blum Professor of Law at the University of Chicago Law School. He has published more than 50 articles and book chapters on issues relating to federal income taxation and climate change.

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Brian Coats

Brian Coats has established a successful career in regional and off-Broadway theater that includes work on some of the most prestigious stages in the country: The Lincoln Center, People’s Light and Theater Company, The Public Theatre, New York Shakespeare in The Park.

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Mark Majesky

Dr. Mark Majesky began his research training at the University of Washington and is now a professor with the Seattle Children’s Research Institute. He is director of the Myocardial Regeneration Initiative for the Center for Tissue and Cell Sciences.

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Charles Rice

Dr. Charles Rice is the Maurice R. and Corinne P. Greenberg Chair in Virology and serves as head of the Laboratory of Virology and Infectious Disease at The Rockefeller University. He is one of the world’s most accomplished virologists and a prominent figure in research on members of the Flaviviridae including hepatitis C virus (HCV).

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Ferid Murad

Ferid Murad M.D., Ph.D., is a world-renowned pioneer in biochemistry and a recipient of the Nobel Prize in Medicine and Physiology.

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Nancy Morejon

Nancy Morejón, a celebrated essayist, critic, editor, journalist and translator, is renowned principally as one of the most distinguished women poets of Cuba and the first Afro-Cuban recipient of Cuba’s National Prize for Literature.

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Ruth Behar

Ruth Behar was the keynote speaker at the MU conference Cultural Bricolage: Artist Books of Cuba’s Ediciones Vigía in November 2012. Born in Havana, Cuba and raised in New York, Behar shares her experiences of crossing cultural borders through her work as a writer, editor, ethnographer and documentary filmmaker.

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Joseph Henrich

Joseph Henrich is a Canadian research chair in culture, cognition and evolution in the departments of psychology and economics at the University of British Columbia.

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Mina J. Bissell

Mina J. Bissell, Ph.D., is an Iranian-American biologist and a world-recognized leader in the area of the role of extracellular matrix and microenvironment in regulation of tissue-specific function, with special emphasis on breast cancer.

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Robert Picard

Professor Robert G. Picard is a world-leading specialist on media economics and government media policies. He was formerly based in the Media Management and Transformation Center at Jönköping International Business School in Sweden where he was director of the center and Hamrin Professor of Media Economics.

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Bernard Lo

Bernard Lo, M.D., is president of the Greenwall Foundation, which supports bioethics research and young researchers in bioethics. He is professor emeritus of medicine and director emeritus of the program in medical ethics at the University of California, San Francisco.

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Tim Page

Tim Page won the Pulitzer Prize for criticism in 1997 for his writings about music in The Washington Post, where he has held the position of chief classical music critic since 1995.

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Allan Gibbard

Professor Allan Gibbard’s two books, Wise Choices, Apt Feelings (1990) and Thinking How to Live (2003) develop a general theory of moral judgments and judgments of rationality.

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Patricia Brennan

Dr. Brennan is a nationally recognized health care professional, having been elected to the Institute of Medicine in 2002 and the New York Academy of Medicine in 2009.

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Steven Stucky

Steven Stucky, born in 1949, has an extensive catalogue of compositions ranging from large-scale orchestral works to a cappella miniatures for chorus. He is also active as a conductor, writer, lecturer and teacher, and for 21 years he enjoyed a close partnership with the Los Angeles Philharmonic

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Michael Zgurovsky

Michael Zgurovsky is a well-known scientist in the field of mathematics and system analysis. He is the author of more than 350 scientific publications, including 35 books which were published in different countries, and the author/creator of 50 inventions.

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John Boyer

Professor John Boyer was raised on a small beef cattle farm that he and his brother operated for six years and where he remains active. Because the farm is subject to severe drought on average every three years, he devoted his career to understanding how plants perform in these conditions and whether their performance can be improved.

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John Mackey

John Mackey holds a master’s degree from The Juilliard School and a bachelor’s degree from the Cleveland Institute of Music, where he studied with John Corigliano and Donald Erb, respectively. Mackey particularly enjoys writing music for dance and for symphonic winds, and he has focused on those mediums for the past few years.

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John Terborgh

For the past 35 years, John Terborgh has been actively involved in tropical ecology and conservation issues. An authority on avian and mammalian ecology in neotropical forests, Terborgh has published numerous articles and books on conservation themes.

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Toi Derricotte

Toi Derricotte is the author of five books of poetry, the latest of which, The Undertaker’s Daughter (University of Pittsburgh Press, 2011), was hailed by Terrance Hayes as “her most stirring and innovative work yet.” Her other volumes are Tender, winner of the 1998 Paterson Poetry Prize; Captivity; Natural Birth; and The Empress of the Death House.

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Bill Davies

Bill Davies has been recognized for his fundamental research on root-to-shoot signaling in plants that has led directly to the development of water-saving irrigation management systems now widely adopted on several continents. He is a distinguished professor at Lancaster University in the U.K.

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Barry Bozeman

Barry Bozeman’s research focuses on public management, organization theory and science and technology policy. He is the author or editor of 16 books, including Rules and Red Tape: A Prism for Public Administration Theory Development (Sharpe Publishing, 2011) and Public Values and Public Interest (Georgetown University Press, 2007).

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Valerie Boyd

Valerie Boyd is the author of Wrapped in Rainbows: The Life of Zora Neale Hurston and Spirits in the Dark: The Untold Story of Black Women in Hollywood. She is an associate professor and the Charlayne Hunter-Gault Distinguished Writer in Residence at the Grady College of Journalism at the University of Georgia, where she teaches magazine writing, arts reviewing and narrative nonfiction.

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David Wellbery

David Wellbery is the author of two studies considered classics in the field of German literary history: Lessing’s Laocoön: Semiotics and Aesthetics in the Age of Reason (Cambridge University Press, 1984) and The Specular Moment: Goethe’s Early Lyric and the Beginnings of Romanticism (Stanford University Press, 1996). He is the LeRoy T. and Margaret Deffenbaugh Carlson University Professor at the University of Chicago.

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William Brock

William Brock is Vilas Research Professor at the University of Wisconsin—Madison. He earned a doctorate in mathematics from the University of California, Berkeley in 1969.His dissertation and early work were on optimal growth theory. His proof of the existence of a growth program that is maximal with respect to the catching-up criterion was an especially notable contribution.

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James Skinner

James Skinner’s research interests are in the theoretical chemistry of condensed phases. A graduate of Harvard University with a doctorate in chemical physics, Skinner has coauthored more than 180 scientific publications and has given more than 280 invited lectures. He has received numerous awards for both scholarship and teaching.

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Joanna Fowler

Dr. Joanna Fowler has had a distinguished career in the development of radiotracers for positron emission tomography (PET) using organic synthesis and radiochemistry with applications for studying health and disease in human beings.

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Gene Likens

Gene E. Likens is president and director of the Institute of Ecosystem Studies in Millbrook, N.Y. Dr. Likens’ research focuses on the ecology and biogeochemistry of forest and aquatic ecosystems, primarily through long-term studies at the Hubbard Brook Experimental Forest in the White Mountains of New Hampshire.

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Rick Sordelet

Rick Sordelet is a physical action director who has choreographed 52 Broadway shows including Beauty and the Beast, Lion King, Tarzan, Aida, The Scottsboro Boys and That Championship Season. His work in film as a stunt coordinator includes: The Game Plan, Dan in Real Life and Hamlet.

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Sally Stapleton

Sally Stapleton is the former deputy executive photo editor of The Associated Press. During her tenure as the international editor, Stapleton led a team of photographers, based in Africa, to two Pulitzer Prizes in photography.

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Donald Lindberg

Dr. Donald Lindberg, director of the National Library of Medicine, has been a pioneer in the application of computer technology to health care beginning in 1960 at the University of Missouri. In addition to an eminent career in pathology, Dr. Lindberg has made notable contributions to information and computer activities in medical diagnosis, artificial intelligence and educational programs.

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Joyce Mitchell

Dr. Joyce A. Mitchell obtained her doctorate in population genetics from the University of Wisconsin with postdoctoral training in clinical genetics. She is certified as a medical geneticist by the American Board of Medical Genetics and the American College of Medical Genetics.

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Thomas Kemper

Thomas L. Kemper, M.D., received his medical degree from the University of Illinois School of Medicine with residency training in internal medicine at the Rush-Presbyterian Hospital in Chicago. Kemper’s main interests are in brain development, the neuropathology of aging in the monkey brain and in the anatomy of infantile autism.

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Ron Phillips

Dr. Ronald L. Phillips is Regents Professor and McKnight Presidential Chair in Genomics, University of Minnesota. Phillips has coupled the techniques of plant genetics and molecular biology to enhance our understanding of basic biology of cereal crops and to improve these species by innovative methods.

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Terry McElwain

Dr. Terry McElwain was instrumental in establishing the National Animal Health Laboratory Network, for which he received the 2006 USDA Administrator’s Award. He has also played a key role in the development of the Paul G. Allen School for Global Animal Health at WSU.

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Roger Reynolds

Roger Reynolds’ singular exploration of sound spatialization has helped him create site-responsive works for distinctive architecture (Isozaki’s, Kahn’s, Wright’s and Gehry’s). He has collaborated with John Ashbery (“Whispers Out of Time,” a string orchestra work arising out of an Ashbery poem, garnered him the 1989 Pulitzer Prize.) as well as inventor-philosopher Buckminster Fuller.

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Michel Georges

Dr. Michel Georges is known for his research in the field of animal genetics and genomics and in the development of tools and strategies for increasing the efficiency of genome analysis for livestock improvement.

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John Mattick

John Mattick is professor of molecular biology and Australian Research Council Federation fellow at the Institute for Molecular Bioscience at the University of Queensland. His research interest is RNA regulation and noncoding DNA in complex organisms.

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Mario Biagioli

Mario Biagioli is a distinguished professor of law and science and technology studies at the University of California, Davis. He is also and director of the Center for Innovation Studies. A former Guggenheim Fellow, he is a founding member of the International Society for the Theory and History of Intellectual Property.

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Donald Detmer

Don E. Detmer, M.D., is an Institute of Medicine member, medical director of the Division of Advocacy and Health Policy at the American College of Surgeons, past president and CEO of American Medical Informatics Association and professor emeritus and professor of medical education at the University of Virginia.

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William Brock

William Brock is Vilas Research Professor at the University of Wisconsin—Madison. He earned a doctorate in mathematics from the University of California, Berkeley in 1969.His dissertation and early work were on optimal growth theory. His proof of the existence of a growth program that is maximal with respect to the catching-up criterion was an especially notable contribution.

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Richard Luthy

Dr. Richard Luthy is the Silas H. Palmer Professor and former chair of the Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering and senior fellow in the Woods Institute for the Environment at Stanford University. His area of teaching and research is environmental engineering and water quality.

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Elizabeth Ashley

Elizabeth Ashley is an Emmy- and Tony Award-nominated actress, best known for her stage roles in Barefoot in the Park (1963) and Cat on a Hot Tin Roof (1973) and for her role on the television series Evening Shade (1990-1994).

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Steven Pinker

Dr. Steven Pinker is Johnstone Family Professor in the Department of Psychology at Harvard University. He is also is the chair of the usage panel of The American Heritage Dictionary and has served as editor or adviser for numerous scientific, scholarly, media and humanist organizations. He has won many prizes for his books, his research and his graduate and undergraduate teaching.

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Edward Albee

The celebrated playwright Edward Albee has been redefining American theater since the 1950s. In addition to his most renowned piece, Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf, Albee’s body of work includes three Pulitzer Prize-winning plays: A Delicate Balance (1966), Seascape (1975) and Three Tall Women (1994).

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Steven Block

Dr. Steven Block is a fellow of the National Academy of Sciences, the American Academy of Arts & Sciences, the American Association for the Advancement of Science and the Biophysical Society. He is a recipient of the Max Delbrück Prize in Biological Physics from the American Physical Society, the Young Investigator Prize and the Outstanding Investigator in Single Molecule Biophysics Award from the Biophysical Society.

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Sudhir Venkatesh

Sudhir Venkatesh is William B. Ransford Professor of Sociology at Columbia University in New York. He is a researcher and writer on urban neighborhoods in the U.S. His most recent book, is Gang Leader for a Day (Penguin Press), received a Best Book award from The Economist.

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Roger Tsien

Dr. Roger Tsien was the recipient of the 2008 Nobel Prize in Chemistry for the discovery and development of the green fluorescent protein, GFP. His numerous other awards include the Burks Prize for Outstanding Research in Pharmacology from the Western Pharmacological Society, the Distinguished Scientist Award from the National Heart Association, and the Spiers Memorial Award from the Royal Society of Chemistry, Great Britain.

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Robert Darnton

Robert Darnton is Carl H. Pforzheimer University Professor at Harvard University and director of the Harvard University Library. He has written and edited two dozen books.

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William Ferris

William R. Ferris is the senior associate director of the Center for the Study of the American South, Joel R. Williamson Eminent Professor of history and an adjunct professor in the curriculum in folklore at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. Ferris has written more than 100 publications in fields of folklore, American literature, fiction and photography.

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Stephen Henderson

Stephen Henderson shares his experiences as an award-winning actor and renowned acting teacher. Henderson is considered one of the foremost interpreters of the August Wilson canon, and he received a Tony nomination and the Richard Seff Award from Actor’s Equity for his performance as Jim Bono in the Broadway revival of Fences, starring Denzel Washington.

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Judy Irola

Judy Irola’s awards include the Women’s International Film & Television Showcase International Visionary Award (2009), the Sundance Film Festival Best Cinematography Award (1993, An Ambush of Ghosts) and the Cannes Film Festival Camera d’Or Prize (1979, Northern Lights).

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Richard Askey

Dr. Richard Askey is professor emeritus in the department of mathematics at the University of Wisconsin—Madison. He is a member of the National Academy of Sciences and has been a Guggenheim Fellow as well as an Honorary Fellow of the Indian Academy of Arts and Sciences, Bangalore.

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Terry Collins

A champion in the field of green chemistry, Terry Collins has been recognized internationally for his work in creating a new class of oxidation catalysts with the potential for enormous, positive impact on the environment. Experts worldwide believe that Collins’ systems can be used to effectively replace chlorine-based oxidants in large global technologies.

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Michael Clegg

Dr. Michael Clegg is the Donald Bren Professor of biological sciences, ecology & evolutionary biology in the School of Biological Sciences at University of California, Irvine.

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Michael Lynch

Michael Lynch is a member of the National Academy of Sciences and a fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences. His research looks at population-level evolutionary processes, focusing on mechanisms of evolution at the gene, genomic, cellular, and phenotypic levels, with special attention being given to the roles of mutation, random genetic drift and recombination.

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Jeff Bennetzen

Dr. Jeff Bennetzen is chair and professor of genetics at the University of Georgia. He is well known for his research on the intricacies of the plant genomes and has studied corn, wheat, barley, rice and sorghum.