Logo for Stony Brook University
directions to stony brook

Guidelines for Provost Lectures »

July 28: David Kingsley

david kingsleyFishing for the Secrets of Stickleback and Human Evolution
David Kingsley is Professor of Developmental Biology at the Stanford University School of Medicine and an investigator of the Howard Hughes Medical Institute. His genetic studies of classic mouse skeletal mutations have identified key signaling molecules and membrane transporters used by vertebrates to control skeletal patterning and susceptibility to arthritis. In 1998, he and postdoc Katie Peichel began using genetic mapping strategies to analyze the molecular basis of evolutionary change in natural populations of threespine sticklebacks. This work has subsequently revealed detailed genomic mechanisms that underlie evolution of new traits not only in fish, but also in many other organisms, including humans. Dr. Kingsley has received many awards for his research, including election to the American Academy of Arts and Sciences in 2005, the Conklin Medal for distinguished research in Developmental Biology in 2009, and election to the National Academy of Sciences in 2011.

Co-sponsors: Eighth International Conference on Stickleback Behavior and Evolution
Department of Ecology and Evolution
College of Arts and Sciences
School of Marine and Atmospheric Sciences
Howard Hughes Medical Institute

Abstract: The genetic and molecular mechanisms that underlie the amazing diversity of living species have been uncertain and contentious.  We have been using stickleback fish as a model system to reveal how new traits evolve in natural populations. These fish have undergone widespread and repeated evolution in postglacial lakes and streams in the Northern Hemisphere. Dramatically different morphological forms can still be crossed, making it possible to map the specific genes and DNA changes that underlie recurrent adaptation to new environments. Our studies show that new traits can evolve in natural populations through changes in the expression of key developmental control genes. Although the same control genes are essential for normal viability, regulatory changes make it possible for natural fish populations to evolve dramatic new phenotypes while preserving overall fitness. This principle also applies more generally.  We have found that remarkably similar genetic mechanisms underlie the evolution of new forms of sticklebacks, changes in hair color in human populations, and increased brain size in the human lineage. With the advent of large-scale DNA sequencing, specific mutations controlling evolutionary change can now be identified and recreated in model systems, providing new insights into evolution of many different organisms, including ourselves.

Tuesday, July 28, 4:30 pm, Wang Center Theater

Darwin Day Lecture
February 13: Mark Pagel

futuymaThe Evolution of Languages: An Evolutionary Biologist’s Perspective
Mark Pagel, professor of evolutionary biology at Reading University, UK, and Fellow of the Royal Society, is one of the world’s most distinguished evolutionary biologists. He has contributed significantly to our understanding of how to construct evolutionary trees and has applied these accomplishments to understanding the evolution of our written language. His book Wired for Culture: Origins of the Human Social Mind (WW Norton) was named one of the best science books of 2012 by The Guardian.

Co-sponsors: Department of Ecology and Evolution, Department of Linguistics, Department of Anthropology.

Abstract: Human beings speak approximately 7,000 mutually unintelligible languages around the world, giving our species the curious distinction that most of us cannot understand what most other people are saying. This talk will explore the origins of our unique language capability, ask whether any other species could speak, and highlight the remarkable features of language that allow it to evolve and adapt much like genes do, meaning we can trace its evolution back thousands of years into our past.

Friday, February 13, 7:30 pm, Earth and Space Sciences 001

 20th Annual Leadership Symposium   
March 12: Jennifer R. Keup

Jennifer R. KeupChallenges in Higher Education:
High Impact Practices and the Success of First Generation and Low Income Students

Jennifer R. Keup, PhD, is Director of the National Resource Center for The First-Year Experience and Students in Transition at the University of South Carolina. Among the numerous roles of public higher education is to ensure access to opportunities with the potential to improve individuals’ lives and the quality of our communities. To that end, enhancing the success of those who are the first in their family to go to college and of those from low income families, is a priority consistent with and representative of public universities’ mission. Jennifer Keup provides leadership for all operational, strategic, and scholarly activities of the Center in pursuit of its mission "to support and advance efforts to improve student learning and transitions into and through higher education." In particular, Dr. Keup has developed significant expertise in high-impact practices and institutional interventions. As such, she is well qualified to inform our efforts to improve upon our successes with first generation and low income students, in the context of our overall commitment to improving four-year graduation rates. Joining Dr. Keup for this, our 20th Annual Leadership Symposium, will be Dr. Sacha Kopp, Dean of the College of Arts & Sciences, and Dr. Timothy Ecklund, Assistant Vice President for Student Affairs and Dean of Students. Drs. Kopp and Ecklund will each respond to Dr. Keup’s presentation, after which the presenters will address questions from the Symposium audience.

Co-sponsors: Office of the Vice President for Student Affairs, School of Social Welfare
This year’s Leadership Symposium is also part of the Division for Student Affairs Professional Development Series.

Thursday, March 12, 9:00 am, Charles B. Wang Center Theater

April 13: Simon LeVay

simon levayMy Brain Made Me Gay: Scientific Perspectives on Sexual Orientation
British-born neuroscientist Simon LeVay has served on the faculties of Harvard Medical School and the Salk Institute for Biological Studies. He achieved international fame with a 1991 Science paper that reported on a difference in the structure of the hypothalamus between gay and straight men. This study helped trigger an avalanche of new biological research into sexual orientation—research that has influenced popular views on the nature of homosexuality. Since retiring from laboratory science LeVay has authored or co-authored 12 books, including Gay, Straight, and the Reason Why, the textbook Discovering Human Sexuality, and the historical novel The Donation of Constantine. He has appeared on numerous TV and radio shows, including The Daily Show with Jon Stewart.

Co-Sponsors: Stony Brook University Graduate Queer Alliance,  Neurosciences Institute

Abstract: The now-dominant biological theory of sexual orientation proposes that our sexual attraction to males, females, or both sexes emerges from prenatal interactions between genes, sex hormones, and the developing brain. LeVay presents some of the evidence supporting this theory. He also asks whether the biological perspective has—or should have—any bearing on the moral status of homosexuality or on how gay people should be treated by society.

Monday, April 13, 4:00 pm, Wang Center Theater

April 16: Georgiy Kasianov

kasianovUkraine between "The East" and "The West:" The Final Cut?
Georgiy Kasianov is Head of the Department of Contemporary Politics and History at the Institute of the History of Ukraine, Kyiv, Ukraine.  He is the author, editor and co-author of more than a dozen books and collected volumes on the modern history of Ukraine, Ukrainian nationalism, and the politics of history, including A Laboratory of Transnational History: Ukraine and Recent Ukrainian Historiography and Danse Macabre: The Great Famine of 1932-1933 in Politics, Mass Consciousness and History Writing, 1980s - 2000s. His scholarly interests are the modern history of Europe, methodology of history, intellectual history (Europe, US), history of Ukraine, education policy, and teaching/learning methods.

Co-sponsors: The Post-Socialism Research Institute; Department of History; Department of European Languages, Literatures and Cultures; Humanities Institute

Abstract: The most conventional vision of Ukraine holds that this country is historically locked in an ambivalent position between "the West" (or Europe) and "the East" (as a rule equated to Russia). Additionally, Ukraine has its own internal East-West division determined by different political, cultural, historical legacies. The recent Maidan revolt started as a protest against halting the pro-European, pro-Western drive of Ukraine. In fact, contemporary events in Ukraine: the Revolution of Dignity, the war in the east of the country, attempts of broad societal reforms aimed at future accession to the European Union manifest the most decisive attempt to overcome the East-Wes' ambivalence in favor of "the West" and "Western civilization." 

Thursday, April 16, 5:00 pm, Humanities 1006

May 5: Steve Koonin

kooninAdventures in Urban Informatics
Steve Koonin is the founding Director of NYU’s Center for Urban Science and Progress, a consortium of academic, corporate, and government partners that pursue research and education activities to develop and demonstrate informatics technologies for urban problems in the “living laboratory” of New York City. Prior to his NYU appointment, Dr. Koonin served as the second Under Secretary for Science at the US Department of Energy and on the staff at the Institute for Defense Analyses. Dr. Koonin was Professor of Theoretical Physics at California Institute of Technology from 1975-2006 and was the Institute’s Provost for almost a decade. He is a member of the US National Academy of Sciences and the JASON advisory group.

Co-sponsors: Advanced Energy Research and Technology Center, Center of Excellence in Wireless and Information Technology, Brookhaven National Laboratory, and Turkana Basin Institute

Abstract: For the first time in history, more than half of the world’s population lives in urban areas; in just a few more decades, the world's population will exceed 9 billion, 70 percent of whom will live in cities. Enabling those cities to deliver services effectively, efficiently, and sustainably while keeping their citizens safe, healthy, prosperous, and well-informed will be among the most important undertakings in this century. This talk will review how we are establishing a center for urban science and focus on bringing informatics to the study and operation of urban systems. It will touch on the rational, the structure, and the substance of the Center’s work and the ways in which it will enrich NYC and contribute to global issues. Taxis, lights, sewers, phones, and buildings will all enter into the discussion in novel ways.

Tuesday, May 5, 4:00 pm, Simons Center Auditorium, Room 103

May 28: Shu Chien

shu chienMechanotransduction in Endothelial Cells in Health and Disease
Dr. Shu Chien is University Professor of Bioengineering and Medicine, Director of the Institute of Engineering in Medicine at the University of California, San Diego, and Director of Bioengineering at the Institute of California for the UC System. He is a world leader in molecular, cellular and integrative studies on bioengineering and physiology in health and disease, with research focuses on mechanotransduction, mechanism of regulation of gene expression, and stem cell bioengineering. Dr. Chien has published more than 500 papers in peer-reviewed journals and edited twelve books. He has received outstanding teacher awards at Columbia University and UCSD. Several research awards and student classes have been named after him.

Abstract: Vascular endothelial cells (ECs) play significant roles in regulating circulatory homeostasis in physiological and pathophysiological states. The shear stress resulting from circulatory flow modulates EC functions by activating mechano-sensors, signaling pathways, and gene and protein expressions. Sustained shear stress with a clear direction (e.g., the pulsatile shear stress, PS, in the straight part of the arterial tree) down-regulates the molecular signaling of pro-inflammatory and proliferative pathways.  In contrast, shear stress without a definitive direction (e.g., the disturbed or oscillatory flow, OS, at branch points and other regions of complex geometry) causes sustained molecular signaling of pro-inflammatory and proliferative pathways. The EC responses to directed mechanical stimuli involve the remodeling of EC structure to minimize alterations in intracellular stress/strain and elicit adaptive changes in EC signaling in the face of sustained stimuli; these cellular events constitute a feedback control mechanism to maintain vascular homeostasis and are athero-protective. Such a feedback mechanism does not operate effectively in regions of complex geometry, where the mechanical stimuli do not have clear directions, thus placing these areas at risk for atherogenesis.

Thursday, May 28, 11:00 am, Wang Center Theater

For more information, contact the Provost's Office at 632-7211.

Stony Brook University is an affirmative action/equal opportunity educator and employer.
If you need a disability-related accommodation, please call (631) 632-7000.


Stony Brook University News