2017 Provost's Lecture Series

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Earthstock 2017

April 20: Lyla June Johnston, Casey Neill and Cheryl Angel

lyla juneRoadshow of Resistance: Saving the Planet, Indigenous Rights and Standing Rock

Lyla June Johnston is a descendant of Diné (Navajo) and Tsétsêhéstâhese (Cheyenne) lineages. She is a musician, public speaker and internationally recognized performance poet. She is a co-founder of The Taos Peace and Reconciliation Council, which works to heal intergenerational trauma and ethnic division in the northern New Mexico. She is a walker within the Nihigaal Bee Iiná Movement, a 1,000-mile prayer walk through Diné Tah (the Navajo homeland) that is exposing the exploitation of Diné land and people by mining industries. She was the lead organizer of the Black Hills Unity Concert, to support protestors at Standing Rock. Casey Neill is a songwriter from Portland, Oregon performing high-energy indie folk. His songs are narratives of American life and anthems for social change. Cheryl Angel is a Lakota elder from the Sicangu tribe in South Dakota. Cheryl is a lifelong water protector helping to stop the Dakota Access and Keystone XL pipelines at Standing Rock.

Co-Sponsors: Earthstock, Department of Ecology and Evolution, Department of History, Humanities Institute, School of Marine and Atmospheric Sciences Sustainability Program

Abstract: The Roadshow of Resistance is a traveling revue of environmental activism advocating for the rights of Indigenous People. It features music by singer-songwriter Casey Neill and Diné/Cheyenne hip-hop artist Lyla June Johnston. It will also include speeches by Cheryl Angel, a Lakota elder fighting the Dakota Access and Keystone XL pipelines, and Brytnee Laurette with the Center for Biological Diversity. It is a powerful opportunity to join a growing movement of resistance to attacks on our environment from the threat of climate change, species extinction, and pipeline expansions. Join us for a fun and inspiring event!

Thursday, April 20, 3:00 pm, Sidney Gelber Auditorium, Student Activities Center


March 2: Claude M. Steele **

steeleStereotype and Identity Threat: Toward a Science of Diverse Community
Claude M. Steele is a social psychologist and a professor of psychology at UC Berkeley. He has also served in several major academic leadership positions: for the past two years as the Executive Vice Chancellor and Provost at UC Berkeley, the three years prior as the I. James Quillen Dean for the School of Education at Stanford University from 2011–2014, and before that as the 21st Provost of Columbia University. Steele has been elected to the National Academy of Sciences, the National Academy of Education, the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, and the American Philosophical Society. 

Steele is recognized as a leader in the field of social psychology and for his commitment to the systematic application of social science to problems of major societal significance. He is best known for his work on stereotype threat and its application to minority student academic performance. His earlier work dealt with research on the self (e.g., self-image, self-affirmation) as well as the role of self-regulation in addictive behaviors. In 2010, he released his book, Whistling Vivaldi and Other Clues to How Stereotypes Affect Us, summarizing years of research on stereotype threat and the underperformance of minority students in higher education.

Co-sponsor: Division of Undergraduate Education   

Abstract: The Why, What and How of Making Diverse Learning Communities Effective for All

Thursday, March 2, 10:30 am, Wang Center Theater 


February 10: Hopi Hoekstra **

hoekstraWhat Darwin Didn’t Know
Hopi Hoekstra is the Alexander Agassiz Professor of  Zoology and Curator of Mammals in the Museum of Comparative Zoology at Harvard University. She became a Howard Hughes Medical Institute Investigator in 2013, and in 2016, she was elected into the National Academy of Sciences. Hoekstra is an evolutionary geneticist who studies the molecular basis of adaptation in deer mice. Her research focuses on understanding how variation is generated and maintained in natural populations. In particular, she is interested in understanding both the proximate (molecular, genetic and developmental mechanisms) and ultimate (timing, strength and agent of selection) causes of evolutionary change. Thus, much of her research focuses on identifying and characterizing the molecular changes responsible for traits that affect fitness of organisms in the wild, in which ecological, developmental and genomic information can be combined to address questions about the evolution of morphological, behavioral and reproductive diversity.

Darwin Day is supported by the Department of Ecology and Evolution and the Living World Lecture Series of Science Open Nights.

Abstract: When Darwin articulated his grand theory of evolution by natural selection in 1859, he was still missing one crucial piece: while he recognized that offspring resembled their parents, he didn’t know how this information was transmitted from one generation to the next.  In the last 150 years, not only has DNA been discovered as the carrier of genetic information, but we are increasingly able to link specific genes to the traits that they encode. Now, we can study how traits evolve – as Darwin did – but also find evidence for evolution at a once unimaginable level: in DNA, genes and genomes. This presentation will explore Hoekstra's work studying evolution in action – by combining experiments in both the lab and the field – linking genes to traits and ultimately to survival.

Friday, February 10, 7:30 pm, Earth and Space Sciences Lecture Theater 001



22nd Annual Leadership Symposium: Challenges in Higher Education

March 23: Ajay Nair

nair Embracing Diversity & Inclusion: Individual Action for Change

Ajay Nair is the Senior Vice President and Dean of Campus Life at Emory University.  Dr. Nair is an accomplished scholar and student affairs leader whose interests include immigration, race, and ethnicity.  As Emory’s chief student advocate for nearly 13,000 undergraduate and graduate students, Dr. Nair shoulders a broad portfolio of responsibilities ranging from intercollegiate athletics and the Greek experience to student health services and residence life.  He also provides leadership and strategic direction in cultivating an ethically engaged community consistent with Emory’s vision. His research interests include quality assurance in educational systems, service learning and civic engagement, and second-generation Asian American identity. His co-edited book, Desi Rap: Hip-Hop in South Asian America, focuses on the complexities of second-generation South Asian American identity. His current book project explores the current state of multiculturalism in higher education.

Abstract: Stony Brook University is committed to creating a culture where we fully engage equity, inclusion, and diversity. Catering to a more holistic and broader definition of diversity with a focus on race, ethnicity, age, gender, religion, ability, veteran status, socioeconomic level and sexual orientation, this year's topic is focuses on creating an inclusive campus community by empowering individual action for change. 

Dean Nair will be joined by Cheryl Chambers, Associate Dean of Multicultural Affairs, and Robbye Kinkade, Project Director for the Responding to Equity, Diversity and Inclusion (R.E.D.I) Project and Clinical Assistant Professor in the School of Health Technology and Management as well as the School of Medicine. RSVP »

Thursday, March 23, 9:00 am, Wang Center Theater


March 30: Adrian Bejan
Life and Evolution as Physicssteele
Adrian Bejan is J.A. Jones Distinguished Professor of Mechanical Engineering at Duke University. His research covers engineering science and applied physics: thermodynamics, heat transfer, fluid mechanics, convection, and porous media. More recently, he developed the constructal law of organization and evolution in nature.  Professor Bejan was ranked in 2001 among the 100 most highly cited authors worldwide in engineering (all fields, all countries), by the Institute for Scientific Information. Professor Bejan has received 18 honorary doctorates from universities in 11 countries. He is the author of 30 books and over 600 peer-referred articles.

Co-Sponsors: College of Engineering and Applied Sciences and the Department of Mechanical Engineering

Abstract: What is evolution and why does it exist in the geophysical, biological, social and technological realms – in short, everywhere? Why is there a time direction – a time arrow – in the changes we know are happening every moment and everywhere? These are questions of physics, about everything. The physics answer is that nothing lives, flows, moves and morphs unless it is driven by power and has freedom to change. The power is destroyed by the flows, and the flow architectures evolve into configurations that provide progressively greater access for movement. The universal natural tendency to ‘evolve’ was placed in physics by the constructal law (1996). This lecture will show why this law is useful to us. We are the evolving “human & machine species.” Evolution can be put to use in our lifetime in technology, transportation, urban design, spreading and collecting, miniaturization, communications, science, government and the unstoppable march to freedom, access, wealth and knowledge.

Thursday, March 30, 4:00 pm, Simons Center Della Pietra Family Auditorium  

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