John A. Lynch Lecture Series


Sylvester James Gates Jr., Ph.D.

Former Science and Technology Advisor to  President Barack Obama and Director of Brown University's Theoretical Physics Center

"An Evening with Professor Gates"

Thursday, October 1, 2020
7:30 - 8:45 p.m.


Join Professor Gates in a conversation about life in academia, national security, and the future of science and engineering. In order to attend this virtual event, you will need to register; information coming shortly. After registering you will receive a confirmation email and a link to use to be connected to the webinar. 

Sponsored by the College of Engineering, the College of Science's Lynch Lecture Series, Multicultural Student Programs and Services' Building Bridges Lecture Series, Multicultural Pre-Health Society, National Society of Black Engineers, and Wabruda.

Hongzhe Li, Ph.D.

Professor of Biostatistics and Statistics, Vice Chair of Integrative Research, University of Pennsylvania

"Interrogating the Gut Microbiome: Estimation of Growth Dynamics and Prediction of Biosynthetic Gene Clusters"

Monday, March 2, 2020
4:15 p.m.
105 Jordan Hall of Science

The gut microbiome plays an important role in maintenance of human health. High-throughput shotgun metagenomic sequencing of a large set of samples provides an important tool to interrogate the gut microbiome. Besides providing footprints of taxonomic community composition and genes, these data can be further explored to study the bacterial growth dynamics and metabolic potentials via generation of small molecules and secondary metabolites. In this talk, I will present several computational and statistical methods for estimating the bacterial growth dynamics and for predicting Biosynthetic Gene Clusters (BGCs) based on shotgun metagenomic data, including optimal permutation recovery based on low-rank projection and deep learning methods to improve prediction of BGCs. I will demonstrate the application of these methods using several ongoing microbiome studies of inflammatory bowel disease at the University of Pennsylvania.

Douglas Nychka, Ph.D.

Professor of Applied Mathematics and Statistics, Data Science Masters Program, Colorado School of Mines

Senior Scientist Emeritus, National Center for Atmospheric ResearchColorado School of Mines

"The Earth's Climate, a Computer Model, and a Data Scientist"

Tuesday, February 25, 2020
4:15 p.m.
105 Jordan Hall of Science

How hot will summers be in South Bend 50 years from now? Will there be enough rainfall for agriculture? Will the Arctic be navigable for shipping? These are questions about climate in our future. For more than 60 years the geosciences have developed a complex understanding of how the Earth's climate works at a global scale and how it is connected to human activities. Much of this knowledge is encoded into computer simulation models, known as Earth system models. These models, comprising millions of lines of code and running for months on supercomputers, have become the primary tools to create future projections of climate and determine how climate it is influenced by human behavior. And in the process of running these models climate scientists produce large amounts of data! This talk will describe these fascinating creations called Earth system models, explain how statistical science has a role to play in their interpretation, and discuss what they tell us about future climate for South Bend.


Alberto Cairo, Ph.D.

Knight Chair in Visual Journalism, School of Communication, University of Miami

"How visualization can mislead us — and what we can do about it"

Friday, September 27, 2019
2:30 p.m.
Carey Auditorium, Hesburgh Library

Scientists, designers, and journalists who create data visualizations often believe that "a picture is worth a thousand words," that we should “show, don't tell,” and that data should speak for itself. They also believe that visualizations are intuitive and useful to simplify information. This talk explains why these myths — if taken at face value — are wrong and dangerous, and what we can do to become better readers and designers of data visualizations.

Xiao Qiang, Ph.D.

Director of Counter-Power Lab, University of California at Berkeley, and founder and editor-in-chief, China Digital Times

"The Rise of a Brave New China: 30 Years after Tiananmen"

Thursday, May 2, 2019
3 p.m. 
1030 Jenkins Nanovic Halls

Xiao Qiang will talk about how, five year after the Chinese Communist Party opened fire on peaceful protesters demanding democracy, the internet arrived in China. This was twenty five years ago, and it empowered citizens to speak their minds, share information, and even organize protests. But since 2012m the Chinese Party-State has intensified a crackdown on digital activism and online speech. At the same time, a new generation of technology is greatly enhancing and amplifying the state's capacity to monitor and control the country's 1.4 billion people.

Paul Bressloff, Ph.D.

Professor of Mathematics, University of Utah

"Spontaneous brain dynamics: geometric visual hallucinations, ambiguous perception, and stochastic attractor networks"

Monday, March 25
4 p.m.
105 Jordan Hall of Science

Advances in experimental techniques, including fMRI, optical imaging, multi-electrode recordings, and optogenetics, combined with sophisticated data analytic tools, are shedding light on the intricate functional architecture of specific brain regions. In this talk, Professor Bressloff will present a neural field theory of geometric visual hallucinations, and will describe a neural field theory of binocular rivalry waves. He will also discuss how stochastic neural fields can be used to investigate the stimulus-dependent suppression of neural variability in multiple-attractor networks.

Leonard Petrucelli, Ph.D. 

Chair, Department of Neuroscience at Mayor Clinic in Florida

"Mechanistic and Therapeutic Insights into Repeated Disorders"

Wednesday, February 13
4 p.m.
125 DeBartolo Hall

Leonard Petrucelli and his research team are leaders in researching the cellular mechanisms behind neurodegeneration in Alzheimer’s disease, amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), and frontotemporal dementia (FTD). Petrucelli’s lab seeks to develop therapies for the treatment of diseases characterized by abnormal protein aggregation.

Henry Kennedy, Ph.D.

Director of the French National Consortium of Excellence at LabEx CORTEX

"The Spatially-Embedded Brain, to learn about his research that centers around the development and neurobiology of the cortex.

Tuesday, January 29
2:30 p.m.
117 Hayes-Healy Hall

Focusing on both the adult and the developing brain, and using brain-wide retrograde tracing experiments in macaques and mice, his team has generated a consistent database of cortical area connections, projection densities, and distances that can be used to learn about structure-function relationships in the cortex. Analysis of these relationships suggests evolutionary optimization of areal shape, location and cortical folding, and points to the need to consider the brain in space when considering the statistics of the inter-areal cortical network. His work shows that this approach also allows comparing connectomes — “maps” of connections within an organism’s nervous system — which will possibly lead to predictions about how the human brain works.

Kennedy is also co-director of Inserm Unity 1208, Stem Cell and Brain Research Institute in Lyon, France, and founding director, Anatomy Platform, Institute of Neuroscience, State Key Laboratory of Neuroscience, Chinese Academy of Sciences.

Malú Gámez Tansey, Ph.D.

Professor of physiology, Emory University

"The Role of Inflammation and Immune Responses in Age-Related Neurodenerative Disease"

Tuesday, March 5
2:30 p.m.
217 DeBartolo Hall

Tansey researches the role and regulation of inflammation and immune system responses in brain health and disease. She will discuss the molecular mechanisms that are involved in the development of neurodegenerative diseases like Alzheimer’s and Parkinson disease. Though researchers know inflammation plays a role in development of these diseases, they seek to better understand the specific inflammatory pathways involved in order to develop novel therapeutics. Learn about research into how tumor necrosis factor (TNF) could play a role in development of these age-related neurodegenerative diseases, as well as how gastrointestinal inflammation, gut microbiome changes, and lifestyle and environmental factors either protect or predispose people from developing them.


Jeremiah P. Ostriker, Ph.D.

Charles A. Young Professor Emeritus, Department of Astrophysical Sciences, Princeton University

"Heart of Darkness"

100 Jordan Hall of Science - 7 p.m.
October 9, 2018

Ostriker, a member and former treasurer of the National Academy of Sciences, is a leading researcher in theoretical astrophysics and numerical cosmology. He has won several of the field's most prestigious awards, including the Gruber Cosmology Prize, the James Craig Watson Medal, the Catherine Wolfe Bruce Gold Medal, the Royal Astronomical Society Gold Medal, and the United States National Medal of Science. He is also the author of Heart of Darkness: Unraveling the Mysteries of the Invisible Universe.

Dark matter is all around us; it fills the universe and yet we cannot see it, touch it or even determine what it is. Astronomers the world over are still trying to explain this elusive presence in the universe–a presence with nothing except its weight to prove its existence. Learn about past and recent advancements in our understanding of dark matter and dark energy, and how these mysterious components contribute to the expansion of the universe.

Vania Apkarian, Ph.D.

Professor of physiology, anesthesia, and physical medicine and rehabilitation, Northwestern University

"Causes and Consequences of Chronic Pain"

Jordan Hall Reading Room - 2 p.m.
April 20, 2018

Vania Apkarian, Ph.D., professor of physiology, anesthesia, and physical medicine and rehabilitation at Northwestern University, focuses on unraveling brain mechanisms that underlie acute and chronic pain, and more broadly, studies how the brain processes information that gives rise to perception.

His team is focused on disentangling brain circuitry shared between chronic pain and addiction, which can transform research into clinical treatment and prevention of chronic pain.

David Dunson, Ph.D.

Arts and Sciences Distinguished Professor, Duke University

"Machine Learning in Science: Making sense of increasingly complex data"

Jordan Hall 105 - 4:00 p.m.
April 18, 2018

David Dunson, Ph.D., Arts and Sciences Distinguished Professor at Duke University, will discuss machine-learning algorithms for advancements such as voice recognition and self-driving vehicles. Dunson will share where machine-learning algorithms work well and where they fail, requiring a human approach that takes our brain structure and human traits into consideration.

Dunson specializes in Bayesian statistical and data science methods. His work involves interdisciplinary thinking at the intersection of statistics, mathematics, and computer science, and can be applied to everything from epidemiology to fine arts.

Robert M. Wald, Ph.D.

Charles H. Swift Distinguished Service Professor in the Department of Physics at Enrico Fermi Institute and the University of Chicago

"Black Holes, Thermodynamics, and Information Loss"Charles H. Swift Distinguished Service Professor in the Department of Physics,

118 Nieuwland Hall - 4:00 p.m.
April 11, 2018

Robert M. Wald, Ph.D., the Charles H. Swift Distinguished Service Professor in the Department of Physics at Enrico Fermi Institute and the University of Chicago, will review black hole thermodynamics and the status of information loss as a black hole loses mass and evaporates completely in a finite time.

Wald is a physicist who specializes in general relativity and the thermodynamics of black holes. He has published more than 100 research papers on general relativity and quantum theory in curved spacetimes. 

William Bialek, Ph.D.

John Archibald Wheeler/Battelle Professor in Physics, Princeton University

"More perfect than we imagined: A physicist’s view of life"

Jordan Hall 101 – 7:00 p.m.
March 28, 2018

Sitting in a quiet room, we can hear sounds that cause our eardrums to vibrate by less than the diameter of an atom. When bacteria have to decide if they are swimming in the right direction to find more food, they count every single molecule that arrives at their surface. In these examples, and many more, evolution has selected for mechanisms that operate near the limits of what is allowed by the laws of physics. This lecture will give a tour of these beautiful phenomena, from microscopic events inside a developing embryo to our own perception and decision making. While there are many ways to build a biological system that might work, there are many fewer ways to build one that can approach the physical limits. Perhaps, out of its complexity, life emerges as simpler, and more perfect, than we imagined.


John Carlson, Ph.D.

Higgins Professor of Molecular, Cellular & Developmental Biology, Yale University

"Chemoreception in Drosophila" (abstract to come in mid-Janaury)

Jordan Hall 101 – 4:00 pm
February 7, 2017

The Carlson lab at Yale studies insect chemosensation using the model organism Drosophila. Significant contributions to the field include a study that identified ligands for most of the Drosophila Olfactory Receptor (Or) repertoire and a similar study that characterized the Or repertoire of the Anopheles gambiae mosquito. Carlson lab research has also been featured in Scientific American. Carlson earned his AB at Harvard University in 1977 and his Ph.D. from Stanford University in 1982. Carlson is a member of the National Academy of Sciences, and the American Academy of Arts and Sciences. Carlson was awarded the 2011 Genetics Society of America Medal. He is also a John Simon Guggenheim Memorial Foundation Fellow.


Ruedi Aebersold, Ph.D.

Department Head of Biology at the Institute of Molecular Systems Biology
Seattle, Washington

"Genotypic Variability and the Quantitative Proteotype"

141 DeBartolo Hall – 1:00 pm
April 8, 2016

Aebersold is a native of Switzerland and earned his Ph.D. in Cellular Biology at the Biocenter of the University of Basel in 1983. He was a faculty member at the University of Washington and the University of British Columbia until 2000 when he co-founded the Institute for Systems Biology in Seattle. In 2004, he accepted a position as full professor at the Institute of Biotechnology at the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology (ETH) in Zurich, where in 2005 his research group became the first integral part of the newly founded Institute of Molecular Systems Biology. He serves on numerous scientific advisory committees and is a member of several editorial boards in the fields of protein science, genomics, and proteomics.

Michael Dennin, Ph.D.

Professor of Physics and Astronomy
University of California Irvine

"The Intersection of Science and Faith: A physicist's reflections on creation, free will and miracles" (190 KB PDF)

105 Jordan Hall – 7:00pm
February 17, 2016

Michael Dennin is professor of physics and astronomy at University of alifornia, Irvine. He earned his A.B. from Princeton University, and his M.A. and Ph.D. (1995) from the University of California, Santa Barbara. He held a postdoctoral position at the University of California, Los Angeles. He is an Alfred P. Sloan Research Fellow and a Research Corporation Cottrell Scholar. Professor Dennin is well-known for popularizing science for the public. He has taught many online courses on the nature of science, including team teaching a MOOC based on the television program The Walking Dead. He has appeared on a number of television programs, including Spiderman Tech, Batman Tech, Star Wars Tech and Ancient Aliens


Alexander S. Raikhel, Ph.D.

Mir S. Mulla Chair in Entomology
University of California Riverside

"Regulatory Cascades Controlling Mosquito Reproduction" (897kb PDF)

283 Galvin Life Sciences  4:00 p.m.
December 7, 2015

Mosquitoes rely on blood for nutrition, putting them in position to transmit some of the world’s deadliest diseases, like malaria and Dengue fever. Alexander S. Raikhel, elected to the National Academy of Sciences in 2009, believes that preventing the mosquito from carrying the pathogen in the first place is the key to vector control. Raikhel has been studying the connection between blood meals and egg production in Aedes aegypti in hopes of co-opting egg production signals to activate the mosquito’s immune system against incoming pathogens. In his Inaugural Article, Raikhel, a distinguished professor at the University of California, Riverside continues an investigative strategy that has served him well throughout his career: using the latest research in established model organisms to hammer out methods for the mosquito, this time looking for microRNAs active in the egg production cycle.

Hans Clevers, Ph.D.

Professor of Molecular Genetics
Hubrecht Institute, Utrecht, Netherlands

"WNT Signaling LGR5 Stem Cells, Organoids and Cancer" (1MB PDF)

105 Jordan Hall  4:00 p.m.
November 23, 2015

Hans Clevers obtained his MD degree in 1984 and his PhD degree in 1985 from the University Utrecht, the Netherlands. He worked as a postdoc (1986-1989) with Cox Terhorst at the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute of the Harvard University. 

From 1991-2002, he was a Professor in Immunology at the University Utrecht and a Professor in Molecular Genetics since 2002. From 2002-2012, he was the Director of the Hubrecht Institute. From 2012-2015, he was the President of the Royal Netherlands Academy of Arts and Sciences (KNAW). Professor Clevers began serving as the Director of Research of the Princess Maxima Center for Pediatric Oncology in June, 2015. He is the recipient of several prestigious scientific awards, as well as earning Chevalier de la Legion d’Honneur (2005) and Knight in the Order of the Netherlands Lion (2012). He is also a member of both the Royal Netherlands Academy of Arts and Sciences and the National Academy of Sciences of the USA. 

Dr. Clevers’ research is focused on healthy and diseased intestines. He discovered and delineated some of the most fundamental molecular signaling processes that drive normal development of the gut and linked these to diseases, such as cancer. In recent years, he was the first, and foremost, discoverer of the intestinal stem cell niche. He also succeeded in growing “mini intestines” in cell culture. Professor Clevers’ scientific contributions can be counted among the most important in biomedicine of his generation and have a fundamental impact on both regenerative medicine and cancer treatment.

Trudy F. C. Mackay, Ph.D.

Program in Genetics, Department of Biological Sciences
W.M. Keck Center for Behavioral Biology
North Carolina State University

"The Nature of Quantitative Genetic Variation: Lessons from Drosophila" (205kb PDF)

101 DeBartolo Hall  4:00 p.m.
October 14, 2015

Quantitative traits are affected by multiple interacting loci with individually small and environmentally sensitive effects. Knowledge of the detailed genetic architecture of quantitative traits is important from the perspectives of evolutionary biology, human health, and plant and animal breeding. Understanding the genetic architecture of quantitative traits begins with identifying the genes regulating these traits, mapping the subset of genetically varying quantitative trait loci (QTLs) in natural populations, and pinpointing the molecular polymorphisms defining QTL alleles. Drosophila brings an impressive toolkit to the challenge of genetically dissecting quantitative traits.

In this talk, Mackay will discuss insights into the complex genetic architecture of organismal and gene expression quantitative traits obtained from analyses of new mutations and genome wide association mapping in the Drosophila melanogaster Genetic Reference Panel (DGRP), which consists of 205 sequenced inbred lines derived from the Raleigh, USA population. These studies indicate that epistatic gene action is common, and additivity can be an emergent property of underlying genetic interaction networks. Epistasis causes hidden quantitative genetic variation in natural populations, the potential for rapid speciation, and negatively impacts the predictive ability of additive models. These observations offer valuable lessons for understanding the genetic basis of variation for quantitative traits in other organisms.

David J. Wineland, Ph.D.

National Institute of Standards and Technology
Boulder, Colo.

"Quantum computers and raising Schrödinger’s cat" (437kb PDF)

Carey Auditorium, Hesburgh Library  4:00 p.m.
March 18, 2015

David J. Wineland is a Nobel-laureate physicist at the National Institute of Standards and Technology, Time and Frequency Division in Boulder, Colo. He was awarded the Nobel Prize in Physics with Sergi Haroche for “groundbreaking experimental methods that enable measuring and manipulation of individual quantum systems.” He is a fellow of the American Physical Society, the American Optical Society, and was elected to the National Academy of Sciences in 1992. A highly decorated scientist, Wineland earned the National Medal of Science in the engineering sciences in 2007.


Roel Nusse, Ph.D.

Professor of Developmental Biology,  Virginia and Daniel K. Ludwig Professor of Cancer Research
Investigator, Howard Hughes Medical Institute,  Stanford University

"Wnt Signaling and Stem Cell Control" (408kb PDF)

101 Jordan Hall of Science  12:30 p.m.
October 31, 2014

Roel Nusse’s laboratory is interested in the growth, development and integrity of animal tissues. They study different organs to identify common principles, which they extend to understand processes underlying cancer and injury repair. In most organs, stem cells generate the specialized cell types, but they also self-renew to maintain the tissue. An optimal balance between the number of stem and differentiated cells is essential for proper organ function. Locally acting signals from stem cell niches are important to maintain this balance in a spatially organized manner, and these signals are key to understanding the regulation of growth.

A major focus of the Nusse lab is Wnt signaling, which is essential for regulating stem cells. How this is achieved is far from clear and is the subject of studies in the lab, both in vivo and in cell culture. The types of questions that the Nusse lab investigates are: What role do Wnt-responsive cells play in tissue maintenance and regeneration? How is the expression of Wnt signals regulated, in normal and injured tissues? Does oriented Wnt signaling polarize asymmetrically dividing stem cells, which plays a central role in tissue homeostasis and regeneration.

Scott Hultgren, Ph.D.

Helen L. Stoever Professor of Molecular Microbiology
Director of the Center for Women's Infectious Disease Research
Washington University School of Medicine

"Molecular Blueprint of Uropathogenic E. coli Pathogenesis and Targeted Therapies" (483kb PDF)

283 Galvin Life Sciences Center  4:00 p.m.
March 18, 2014

Hultgren’s research utilizes genetic, molecular, biochemical, and structural biology to understand the molecular mechanisms behind bacterial pathogenesis.


Juan Maldacena, Ph.D.

Professor, Institute for Advanced Study, Princeton

"Strings, gauge theories and gravity" (1.2MB PDF)

127 Nieuwland Science Hall  4:00 p.m.
November 6, 2013

Gauge theories, such as the one describing strong interactions, contain string-like excitations.

String theory is a theory describing the quantum dynamics of strings. The simplest versions of string theory live in a ten-dimensional space time. Maldacena will explain how these strings are intimately connected to the strings that appear in four-dimensional gauge theories.

The four dimensional gauge theory gives rise to a string-like excitation that lives in ten dimensions. The ten-dimensional space is curved in such a way that its quantum dynamics is equivalent to that of a four-dimensional quantum field theory. This relation is useful to understand strongly interacting gauge theories. It can also be used to explain some quantum aspects of black holes.

Maldacena's research focuses on quantum gravity, string theory, and quantum field theory. He has proposed a relationship between quantum gravity and quantum field theories that elucidates various aspects of both theories. He is studying this relationship further in order to understand the deep connection between black holes and quantum field theories, and he is also exploring the connection between string theory and cosmology.

Richard Connell, Ph.D

Vice President of External Research Solutions, Global Research and Development
Pfizer, Inc.

"Inventing Kinase Inhibitors: A Success Story from the Past (Xeljanz®); A New Discovery Model for the Future (?)" (281kb PDF)

127 Nieuwland Science Hall – 4:00 p.m.
September 27, 2013

Dr. Connell is honored for his achievements in pharmaceutical research and development as well as his accomplishments as a leader at two of the world’s largest pharmaceutical companies: Bayer and Pfizer.

Advised by Prof. Paul Helquist, Dr. Connell received his Ph.D. in organic chemistry from Notre Dame in 1989—also the year in which he won the Notre Dame Outstanding Graduate Student Award. He then began a two-year National Institutes of Health postdoctoral fellowship at Harvard University under Professor E.J. Corey.

In 1990, Dr. Connell joined the new Bayer Pharmaceutical Research Center in West Haven, Connecticut, where he spent nine years and rose to the position of director of Diabetes and Obesity Chemistry.

Dr. Connell joined Pfizer in 1999 as Director of Cancer Chemistry. He was an inventor on one of the two key patents for the drug now known as Tarceva®, which is has been shown to improve overall survival in advanced non-small cell lung cancer and advanced pancreatic cancer. He then became Pfizer’s Executive Director of Research operations and, next, the Vice President of External Research Solutions Center of Excellence (ERS). In 2011, Dr. Connell moved to Shanghai for a one- year assignment to help Pfizer establish the Anti-infective Research Unit. He returned to the States in early 2012 and continues to lead ERS and manage Pfizer’s network of research partners around the globe.

Serap Aksoy, Ph.D.

Yale University

Keynote Speaker for the 7th annual Arthropod Genomics Symposium and Vector Base Workshop (194kb PDF).

June 12, 2013

The conference is designed for scientists interested in genomic studies of arthropods, both model organisms and those of agricultural or health relevance. The symposium and workshop are hosted by the Eck Institute for Global Health.

S. James Gates, Jr., Ph.D.

University System of Maryland Regents Professor, John S. Toll Professor of Physics, and Center for String & Particle Theory Director
2011 National Medal of Science Recipient

"The ABEGHHK'tH Revolution" (575kb PDF)

101 Jordan Hall of Science  7:00 p.m.
April 29, 2013

The observation by CERN, the European Organization for Nuclear Research, of the Higgs boson was hailed as one of the most significant scientific events of recent times. What is the Higgs boson, why is it so important, and what does the observation of this particle mean for our understanding of the universe? These questions and more will be addressed in this lecture.

Midwest Ecology and Evolution Conference

March 23-24, 2013

Mike Vanni
Miami University of Ohio

Mike Vanni is a professor at Miami University of Ohio in the department of Zoology and in the Graduate Program in Ecology, Evolution and Environmental Biology. He uses a variety of techniques from whole ecosystem studies to laboratory experiments to simulation modeling to examine questions in aquatic ecology relating to food webs, nutrient and carbon cycling, and watershed-lake interactions. His current research focuses on the role of animals in nutrient cycling, including variation among species using ecological stoichiometry and metabolic ecology as conceptual frameworks; how the importance of animal-mediated nutrient cycling varies among biomes; and how animals can function as nutrient sources or sinks. Another aspect of this research examines how the role of fish in nutrient cycling varies over temporal scales and among lakes with contrasting watershed land use.

Rowan Barrett
Harvard University

Rowan Barrett is an NSERC Banting fellow at the Department of Organismic and Evolutionary Biology at Harvard University. His work is motivated by a desire to understand the genetic basis of adaptation to changing environments. His research bridges theoretical and empirical approaches in population genetics, evolutionary ecology, and molecular biology to ask questions about the reciprocal interactions between ecological and evolutionary processes. He has pursued this research program with a variety of key study systems, including stickleback fish, deer mice, and microbes.

Visit the MEEC website for more information.

William Kamkwamba

Inventor, author, and student

"The Boy Who Harnessed the Wind: Creating Currents of Electricity and Hope"

Notre Dame Conference Center, McKenna Hall  7:00 p.m.
March 18, 2013

William Kamkwamba is a Malawian inventor, author and student. After being forced to drop out of school because his family could not afford tuition, he regularly visited his village's library. There, he found the book Using Energy and discovered a picture and explanation of windmills. He gained fame in his country when he built a windmill to power a few electrical appliances in his family's house using parts collected in a local scrap yard in 2002. Since then, he has built a solar-powered water pump that supplies the first drinking water in his village.

His story is told in The Boy Who Harnessed the Wind: Creating Currents of Electricity and Hope and was published in 2009.  Kamkwamba is one of four recipients of the 2010 GO Ingenuity Award, a prize awarded to inventors, artists, and makers to promote the sharing of their innovations and skills with marginalized youth in developing nations.

Currently, he is a student at Dartmouth College, Class of 2014.

A book signing and reception will follow the presentation. This event is free and open to the public.

This lecture is also sponsored by the Energy Lecture Series, College of Engineering Edison Lecture Series, cSENDCenter for Social ConcernsReilly Center, College of Arts and Letters and Office of Sustainability.

This event is organized in partnership with Malawi Matters.


Thomas Franklin O'Meara, O.P.

William K. Warren Emeritus Professor of Theology

"An Astonishing Wonder. Albert the Great (1200-1280). Scientist and Theologian" (650kb PDF)

105 Jordan Hall of Science – 5:30 p.m.
November 15, 2012

Albert the Great, teacher of Thomas Aquinas, was an important thinker in both science and theology in the Middle Ages.  He introduced a new realism (Aristotle) into Western intellectual life.  He worked to correct political violence and ecclesiastical corruption.  In his decades of teaching and writing, he drew on the writings of Jewish and Muslim philosophers as well as on Greek Christian theologians.  He described the natural sciences and theological reflection on Christian faith as independent academic fields and yet capable of dialogue with each other.

A past president of the Catholic Theological Society of America, Thomas F. O’Meara, O.P. continues to teach part-time at Notre Dame, Loyola University (Chicago), and the Catholic Theological Union (Chicago). He has been a visiting professor at Wartburg Lutheran Seminary, St. Joseph’s Theological Institute (Cedara, South Africa), the University of San Diego, and Boston College.

Among his fifteen books are: Theology of Ministry; Thomas Aquinas, Theologian; God in the World: A Guide to Karl Rahner’s Theology. And just published in 2012, Vast Universe. Extraterrestrials and Christian Revelation.

Brian Schmidt, Ph.D.

2011 Nobel Prize Winner in Physics for the discovery of the accelerating expansion of the universe through observations of distant supernovae

"Accelerating the Universe"

February 27, 2012

In 1998, two teams traced back the expansion of the universe over billions of years and discovered that it was accelerating, a startling discovery that suggests that more than 70% of the cosmos is contained in a previously unknown form of matter, called Dark Energy. His work on the accelerating universe was awarded the 2011 Nobel Prize in Physics, jointly with Adam Riess and Saul Perlmutter. Schmidt, who led the High-Redshift Supernova Search Team, will describe this discovery and explain how astronomers have used observations to trace our universe’s history back more than 13 billion years, leading them to ponder the ultimate fate of the cosmos.


Jack Dixon, Ph.D.

Vice President and Chief Scientific Officer of the Howard Hughes Medical Institute.

“Protein Thyrosine Phosphates: Their Roles in Health and Disease”

September 29, 2011

Patrice Courvalin, M.D.

Professor at the Institu Pasteur in Paris, France. Director of the French National Reference Center for Antibiotics and is the Head of the Antibacterial Agents Unit.

"Evolution and Dissemination of Vancomycin Resistance"

Radiation Lab Auditorium – 2:00 p.m.
September 21, 2011

Patrice Courvalin, M.D., is a professor at the Institut Pasteur where he directs the French National Reference Center for Antibiotics and is the Head of the Antibacterial Agents Unit. He is an expert in the genetics and biochemistry of antibiotic resistance in bacteria. In particular, he and his collaborators first described and then elucidated vancomycin resistance in Enterococcus. His research has led to a revision of the dogma describing natural dissemination of antibiotic-resistance genes. He and his colleagues demonstrated that a wide variety of pathogenic bacteria can promiscuously exchange the genetic material conferring antibiotic resistance, proved that conjugation could account for dissemination of resistance determinants between phylogenetically remote bacteria, elucidated the transposition mechanism of conjugative transposons from Gram-positive cocci, and most recently, has obtained direct gene transfer from bacteria to mammalian cells. His work is reported in more than 290 publications in international scientific journals.

Laurent Lafforgue, Ph.D.

2002 Fields Medal recipient and profeseur permanent at the  Institut des Hautes Éstudes Scientifiques in Buressur-Yvette, France.

"Does Basic Research Have Meaning?"

101 Jordan Hall of Science – 4:00 p.m.
May 20, 2011

Laurent Lafforgue is professeur permanent at the Institut des Hautes Études Scientifiques in Bures-sur-Yvette, France. He is a Member of the French Academy of Sciences and a Chevalier de la Légion d’Honneur. In 2002, he was awarded a Fields Medal at the International Congress of Mathematicians in Beijing for his work related to the Langlands program in number theory. He is the recipient of numerous awards, including the Clay Research Prize and the Grand Prix Jacques Herbrand de l’Académie des Sciences.

Chris Quigg, Ph.D.

2011 Sakurai Prize of the American Physical Society and member of the Theoretical Physics Department at the Fermi National Accelerator Laboratory in Batavia, Illinois.

"The Coming Revolutions in Particle Physics. The Large Hadron Collider is here… Physics will never be the same."

101 DeBartolo Hall – 7:00 p.m.
May 6, 2011

Chris Quigg is co-winner of the 2011 Sakurai Prize of the American Physical Society. His work ranges over many topics in particle physics, from electro-weak symmetry breaking and super collider physics to heavy quarks and the strong interaction among them to ultrahigh-energy neutrino interactions. The essential interplay between theory and experiment is a guiding theme. Because we cannot hope to advance without new instruments, he has devoted much energy to helping to define the future of particle physics—and the new accelerators that will take us there.

Richard R Ernst, Ph.D.

1991 Nobel Prize Winner in Chemistry for his contribution of Fourier Transform nuclear magnetic resonance spectroscopy and the subsequent development of multi-dimensional NMR techniques.

"NMR and its Nobel Glory"

McKenna Hall – 10:00 a.m.
April 7, 2011

NMR has gone through quite a remarkable development. Starting from a curious physics experiment, of apparently little practical usage, it became one of the most powerful analytical tools of science with applications that proved to be indispensable in chemistry, biology, and medicine. Indeed, its growing importance is well recognized by the Nobel Committees in Stockholm. Already eight Nobel Prizes were awarded for achievements in NMR. Additional Nobel Prizes have been given to scientists for work that proved to be seminal for NMR. Several Nobel Laureates who significantly contributed to NMR received their prizes for innovations in other fields. This lecture traces the various contributions of those who have been honored by a Nobel Prize, as well as mentioning some of those who have equally deserved receiving this honor.

Jaques Arnould, Ph.D.

Ethics advisor to the French Space Agency Center National d’Études Spatiales (CNES).

"Catholicism and Evolution"

101 Jordan Hall of Science
March 2, 2011

Jacques Arnould is the French Space Agency (CNES) expert in charge of ethical, social and cultural aspect of space activities. His research fields are life and its evolution, space and its conquest. He has written 14 books on life and evolution. The Académie Française has awarded him the 2004 La Bruyére Prize, in the Literature & Philosophy category, for his book "The Devil's Whiskers" published by Editions du Cerf in 2003. He has a Ph.D. in history of science as well as a PhD in theology. His publications include: Les Avatars du géne (en collaboration avec Pierre–Henri Gouyon et Jean–Pierre Henry), Belin, 1997; La Théologie aprés Darwin, Cerf, 1998; Pierre Teilhard de Chardin, Perrin, 2005; Dieu versus Darwin. Les créationnistes vont–ils triompher de la science?, Albin Michel, 2007.


Richard M. Caprioli, Ph.D.

Stanley Cohen Professor of Biochemistry and the Director of the Mass Spectrometry Research Center at Vanderbilt University School of Medicine and Professor in the Departments of Chemistry, Medicine and Pharmacology at Vanderbilt University.

Advances in Biomolecular Discovery through Mass Spectrometry
September 2, 2010

Imaging Mass Spectrometry – Looking Beyond Classical Histology
September 3, 2010

Richard M. Caprioli is the Stanley Cohen Professor of Biochemistry and Director of the Mass Spectrometry Research Center at Vanderbilt University School of Medicine. He is also currently Professor in the Departments of Chemistry, Medicine and Pharmacology at Vanderbilt University. Dr. Caprioli received his B.S. in 1965 from Columbia University in New York, N.Y., his Ph.D. in 1969 in Biochemistry, also at Columbia University with Professor David Rittenberg. He did a one-year postdoctoral fellowship at Purdue University with Professor John H. Beynon. In 1970, he was appointed as Assistant Professor of Biochemistry at Purdue. In 1975, Dr. Caprioli moved to the University of Texas Medical School in Houston where he was Professor of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology and Director of the Analytical Chemistry Center until his move to Nashville in early 1998.


Mario Capecchi, Ph.D.

2007 co-winner of the Nobel Prize in Physiology & Medicine for discovering a method to create mice in which a specific gene is turned off.

Modeling Human Cancer in the Mouse
101 Jordan Hall of Science – 4:00 p.m.

The Making of a Scientist: An Unlikely Journey
101 Jordan Hall of Science – 7:00 p.m.

April 7, 2009

Dr. Capecchi has conducted pioneering work in both genetics and cancer research. He is best known for the development of "knockout mice" technology, a gene-targeting technique that has revolutionized the study of mammalian biology and allowed the creation of animal models for hundreds of human diseases, including the modeling of cancers in the mouse. In recognition of his research, Dr. Capecchi was awarded the Nobel Prize in Physiology & Medicine in 2007.

John Mather, Ph.D.

2006 co-winner of the Nobel Prize in Physics for the discovery of the blackbody form and anisotrophy of the cosmic microwave background radiation.

From the Big Bang to the Nobel Prize and on to the James Webb Space Telescope

101 Jordan Hall of Science – 7:00 p.m.
April 22, 2009

The history of the Universe in a nutshell, from the Big Bang to now, and on to the future – John Mather will tell the story of how we got here, how the Universe began with a Big Bang, how it could have produced an Earth where sentient beings can live, and how those beings are discovering their history.

Mather was Project Scientist for NASA’s Cosmic Background Explorer (COBE) satellite, which measured the spectrum (the color) of the heat radiation from the Big Bang, discovered hot and cold spots in that radiation, and hunted for the first objects that formed after the great explosion. He will explain Einstein’s biggest mistake, show how Edwin Hubble discovered the expansion of the Universe, how the COBE mission was built, and how the COBE data support the Big Bang theory.

He will also show NASA’s plans for the next great telescope in space, the James Webb Space Telescope. It will look even farther back in time than the Hubble Space Telescope, and will look inside the dusty cocoons where stars and planets are being born today. Planned for launch in 2013, it may lead to another Nobel Prize for some lucky observer.

Mather is a Senior Astrophysicist in the Observational Cosmology Laboratory at NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center. His research centers on infrared astronomy and cosmology. Mather graduated with a Ph.D. in Physics from the University of California at Berkeley in 1974 with a 4.0 GPA. Mather and George F. Smoot share the 2006 Nobel Prize in Physics for their discovery of the blackbody form and anisotropy of the cosmic microwave background radiation.