2013-2014 Speaker Series: "Wonder and Imagination"

 

CUSP speakers, exemplars of enacted responsibility, share their personal histories of determination, encounters with adversity, insatiable intellectual curiosity, and eventual achievement. Collectively, they represent a tapestry of individual successes grounded in interdisciplinary collaboration, a passion for social justice, and group effort.

CUSP is opening its March and April Speaker Series programs to all undergraduate students. As limited spaces are available,  please fill out the CUSP Speaker Series Application for a chance to join.

For additional information or questions, please contact Lavinia Lorch at lel52@columbia.edu

Andrew Delbanco, “Do You Wonder What College is For?”
Thursday, September 19, 2013 (6pm-8pm), Earl Hall Auditorium
 

A Conversation with Andrew Delbanco and Frederick Wiseman, Moderated by Joshua Siegel
Tuesday, October 1, 2013(6pm-8pm), Teatro, Casa Italiana
This evening, sponsored by the Center for American Studies in collaboration with CUSP,
is open to the public –seating is limited.

Seth Anziska, “Repairing a Historical Rupture, or, The Unexpected Tale of an Israeli Pilot, a Lebanese Artist and the Unthinkable Encounters We Live For”
Wednesday, October 9, 2013, (6pm-8pm), Rennert Hall

Eve Andrée Laramée, “The Wondrous Glow of Radioactive Materials: Tracking our Invisible Nuclear Legacy through Environmental Art”
Monday, October 14, 2013, (6pm-8pm), Earl Hall Auditorium

Jesse Prinz, “Wonder: The Emotion Behind Human Uniqueness”
Monday, October 28, 2013, (6pm-8pm), Earl Hall Auditorium

Jeffrey Kluger and Marsha Ivins, “The Wondrous Madness of Space Flight”
Thursday, November 14, 2013, (6pm-8pm), Rennert Hall

Panel on Nuclear Disarmament, in collaboration with the Columbia Science Review and the K1 Project
Tuesday, November 19, 2013, (5pm-6:30pm), Roone Arledge Cinema

Roosevelt Montás, “Freedom from the Known: Reflections on Truth and Creativity”
Thursday, January 30, 2014, (6pm-8pm), Rennert Hall

Alessandro Piol, "An Unlikely Alliance: Entrepreneurship, Innovation and New York City"
Thursday, February 6, 2014, (6pm-8pm), Rennert Hall

Across the seas and under the ice: Polar marine science, in collaboration with the Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory
Thursday, February 13, (6pm-8pm), 401 Lerner Hall

Nicholas Dames, “Two Millennia of the Book: The Slow History of Textual Imagination”
Monday, February 17, 2014, (6pm-8pm), Earl Hall Auditorium

Sean Higgins, “Re-Imagining and Imaging of the Deep Sea: Voyages of Discovery”
Thursday, March 6, 2014, (6pm-8pm), Rennert Hall

Changing earth: Exploring the science of ice, rock and magma across the world, in collaboration with the Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory
Tuesday, March 11, 2014, (6pm-8pm), 401 Lerner

Moshe Sluhovsky, “Wonder in Early Modern Europe: the Marvelous, the Miraculous, and the Strange”
Thursday, March 27, 2014, (6pm-8pm), Rennert Hall

Elizabeth Hillman, "I Wonder What My Brain is Doing Right Now?"
CUSP CEAA Forum Speaker
Wednesday, April 2, 2014, (6pm-8pm), 401 Lerner Hall

James Schamus, “Why Do You Like Fake Things So Much?"
Tuesday, April 8, 2014, (6pm-8pm), Rennert Hall

Thursday, April 24, (6pm-7pm), Faculty Room Low Library

 

 

 

Program Details

Andrew Delbanco, “Do You Wonder What College is For?”

Thursday, September 19, 2013 (6pm-8pm), Earl Hall Auditorium

 Shouldn't College be about intellectual adventure, risk-taking, and sheer contemplation of the beauty and complexity of the world.  Yet from admission to graduation, college today is more and more focused on measurable performance on tests and is measured by the "metric" of grades. 

How can these enlarging experiences be sustained at a time when every college, including Columbia, faces challenges old and new-- soaring tuition; student anxiety about post-college job prospects; faculty caught between specialized research and college teaching-- and many more. 

 Andrew Delbanco is Mendelson Family Chair of American Studies and Julian Clarence Levi Professor in the Humanities at Columbia University.  His many books include, most recently, College: What it Was, Is, and Should Be (Princeton University Press, 2012), which is being translated into Chinese and Korean, and Melville: His World and Work (2005), which has been translated into German and Spanish.

Andrew Delbanco’s essays appear regularly in The New York Review of Books, The New Republic, and other journals, on topics ranging from American literary and religious history to contemporary issues in higher education.

In 2012, Professor Delbanco was awarded the National Medal in the Humanities from President Barack Obama “for his writing that spans the literature of Melville and Emerson to contemporary issues in higher education.”

 

Conversation with Andrew Delbanco and Frederick Wiseman, Moderated by Joshua Siegel
Tuesday, October 1, 2013 (6pm-8pm), Teatro, Casa Italiana
This evening, sponsored by the Center for American Studies in collaboration with CUSP,
is open to the public –seating is limited.

 Frederick Wiseman is an independent documentary filmmaker. Since 1967 he has directed 40 films, 38 of them documentaries—dramatic, narrative films that seek to portray ordinary human experience in a wide variety of contemporary social institutions. His subjects have included a state hospital for the criminally insane, a high school, a welfare center, juvenile court, a boxing gym, ballet companies in New York and Paris, Central Park, a racetrack, and a Parisian cabaret theater. New York Times film critic Manohla Dargis writes: “Taken together, this is work that presents a sweeping, continuing portrait of modern America, its institutions, social relations, administrative and bureaucratic controls and of course—right at the center of this filmmaker’s unyielding frame—its people.”

Mr. Wiseman has directed two fiction features, Seraphita’s Diary (1982) and The Last Letter (2002). He also works in the theater. In Paris he directed “The Belle of Amherst,” the play by William Luce about the life of Emily Dickinson, and two plays at La Comédie Française—Samuel Beckett’s “Oh Les Beaux Jours,” and “La Dernière Lettre,” based on a chapter of Vasily Grossman’s novel, Life and Fate. He also directed “The Last Letter” (the English version of “La Dernière Lettre”) at the Theater for a New Audience in New York. The French publisher, Gallimard, and the Museum of Modern Art, New York, jointly published the book, Frederick Wiseman, which offers a comprehensive overview of his work through a series of original essays by distinguished critics and artists.

Mr. Wiseman received his BA from Williams College in 1951 and his LLB from Yale Law School in 1954. He has received honorary doctorates from Bowdoin College, Princeton University, and Williams College, among others. He is a MacArthur Fellow, a Fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, the recipient of a Guggenheim Fellowship, and an Honorary Member of the American Academy of Arts and Letters. He has won numerous awards, including four Emmys. He is also the recipient of the Career Achievement Award from the Los Angeles Film Society (2013); the George Polk Career Award (2006); and the American Society of Cinematographers Distinguished Achievement Award (2006), among many others.

In addition, Frederick Wiseman is a member of multiple artistic associations, including: Theater for a New Audience; The Artistic Council and Board of Directors, Festival Committee, Human Rights Watch International Film Festival; Honorary Member, Les Amis du Cinéma du Réel Association; and a member of the Academy of Motion Pictures Arts and Sciences.

Andrew Delbanco is Mendelson Family Chair of American Studies and Julian Clarence Levi Professor in the Humanities at Columbia University.  His many books include, most recently, College: What it Was, Is, and Should Be (Princeton University Press, 2012), which is being translated into Chinese and Korean, and Melville: His World and Work (2005), which has been translated into German and Spanish.Andrew Delbanco’s essays appear regularly in The New York Review of Books, The New Republic, and other journals, on topics ranging from American literary and religious history to contemporary issues in higher education. In 2012, Professor Delbanco was awarded the National Medal in the Humanities from President Barack Obama “for his writing that spans the literature of Melville and Emerson to contemporary issues in higher education.”

Joshua Siegel, an associate film curator at The Museum of Modern Art, has organized or co-organized more than 90 exhibitions including The Rolling Stones: 50 Years on Film (2012); The New India (2009 and 2007); the film retrospective, gallery exhibition, and award-winning concert series Jazz Score (2008); the gallery installation Projects 84: Josiah McElheny (2007), which traveled to the Moderna Museet in Stockholm and was subsequently acquired for its permanent collection; and The Lodz Film School of Poland: 50 Years (1999), for which the Polish government awarded him an amicus poloniae. His monographic exhibitions include Werner Schroeter (2012); Dziga Vertov (2011); Henri-Georges Clouzot (2011); Frederick Wiseman (2010); Spike Jonze (2009); Peter Hutton (2008); Michael Haneke (2007); Gregory La Cava (2005); Olivier Assayas (2003); Jean Painlevé (2000); Errol Morris (1999); Marguerite Duras (1996); and Jeanne Moreau (1994). In 2002, Mr. Siegel co-founded and co-organized To Save and Project: The MoMA International Festival of Film Preservation. Now celebrating its tenth year, To Save and Project has featured the New York or international premieres of more than 1,000 new film restorations from archives, studios, and distributors around the world. Mr. Siegel also serves on the selection committee for New Directors/New Films, the annual festival co-presented by MoMA and The Film Society of Lincoln Center.

Mr. Siegel is co-editor of the 2011 publication Frederick Wiseman (MoMA/Gallimard), which features original essays by Christopher Ricks, Errol Morris, William T. Vollmann, Wiseman and others. With Kirk Varnedoe and Paola Antonelli, he organized Open Ends, the major reinstallation of The Museum of Modern Art, as part of MoMA2000, and edited the accompanying catalogue, Modern Contemporary: Art Since 1980 at MoMA. He has been a jury member of many international film festivals, including BAFICI (Buenos Aires), Torino, Miami, and Vancouver; has lectured widely and performed studio crits at such institutions as Yale, Columbia, Cranbrook, USC, and the University of Warsaw; and has served on numerous multidisciplinary grant panels, including the National Endowment for the Arts, the Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Study Fellowship at Harvard University, and the Alpert Award in the Arts/CalArts. He also serves on the executive board of Cinema Tropical, a non-profit organization devoted to Latin American cinema in the United States, and on the Creative Time Reports Advisory Committee.

 

Seth Anziska, “Repairing a Historical Rupture, or, The Unexpected Tale of an Israeli Pilot, a Lebanese Artist and the Unthinkable Encounters We Live For”

Wednesday, October 9, 2013, (6pm-8pm), Rennert Hall 

From a chance conversation in a local bookstore in Tel Aviv to the archives of the Arab Image Foundation in Beirut, a historian-in-training shares the unlikely story that resulted in Lebanon’s Pavilion at the 2013 Venice Biennale. Bringing together a leading contemporary artist, Akram Zaatari, and a former Israeli pilot, Hagai Tamir, “Letter to a Refusing Pilot” revisits an urban myth of wartime refusal that was born in the 1982 Israeli invasion of Lebanon. Both an act of historical restoration and a meditation on postwar memory, the creation of the pavilion forces us to consider individual actions that defy the collective will. Despite the persistence of stilted debates that can paralyze imagination in the contemporary Middle East, here is a moment of convergence that might offer us a promising way out.

Seth Anziska is a Ph.D. candidate in International and Global History at Columbia University, with interests in the Middle East, US foreign relations and modern Jewish history. His dissertation explores the relationship between Israel, the Palestinians, and the United States from the Camp David Accords through the war in Lebanon and the first Intifada. He received his BA in History from Columbia and his M. Phil. in Modern Middle Eastern Studies from St. Antony’s College, Oxford. A recipient of the Boren, FLAS and Wexner Fellowships, Seth has written for the New York Times, Foreign Policy, and Ha’aretz.

 

Eve Andrée Laramée, “The Wondrous Glow of Radioactive Materials: Tracking our Invisible Nuclear Legacy through Environmental Art”

Monday, October 14, 2013, (6pm-8pm), Earl Hall Auditorium 

Has the wondrous glow of radioactive materials and their powerful energy seduced us into leaving behind an invisible, yet toxic, environmental legacy? Interdisciplinary artist, Eve Andrée Laramée will discuss the aesthetics and ethics of the "Atomic Age" through artists’ and scientists’ responses to the impact of these materials on ecological systems, global issues, energy policies and ourselves.  Possibilities for art-and-science collaborations will be discussed and participants will be encouraged to "think through the issues" rather than "think about the issues.”  Can this engagement generate new energy models and paradigms for peace that are sustainable with the life forms and resources of our planet?

The role of the artist is to creatively and artistically touch hearts and minds simultaneously, making complex issues accessible to the general public.  The experientiality of art can harness matter into a means of societal or public address.  Laramée’s creative work and research began in the 1980’s with a passion for the history of science, and its relation to artistic production and innovation. Her installation “Apparatus for the Distillation of Vague Intuitions” is a well-known work addressing the poetry, subjectivity and metaphor in art and science, bringing to the fore the beauty and wonder in both fields of practice.  

Eve Andrée Laramée is the Chair of Art and Art History at Pace University.   She is the founder and director of ART/MEDIA for a Nuclear Free Future, and is the U.S. Coordinator for the International Uranium Film Festival.

Laramée was born in Los Angeles, and divides her time between Brooklyn, NY, and Santa Fe, NM.  Her art has been exhibited throughout the United States, Europe, Asia and the Middle East.  She has participated in exhibitions at the Venice Biennale, Mass MOCA, the Museum of Contemporary Art, Chicago; the New Museum of Contemporary Art, New York; the High Museum of Art, Atlanta; the Contemporary Arts Museum, Houston; among other institutions.   Her work is included in the collections of the MacArthur Foundation, the Museum of Modern Art, New York, the Museum of Contemporary Art, Chicago, The Fogg Art Museum of Harvard University, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, the UCLA Armand Hammer Museum, and in numerous other public and private collections.   Laramée has received two grants from the Pollock-Krasner Foundation, an Andy Warhol Foundation Grant, two fellowships from the New York Foundation for Arts and grants from the Mid-Atlantic States Arts Foundation, National Endowment for the Arts, and the Guggenheim Museum Sculptor-in-Residence Program.

 

Jesse Prinz, “Wonder: The Emotion Behind Human Uniqueness”

Monday, October 28, 2013, (6pm-8pm), Earl Hall Auditorium 

Wonder has been a neglected emotion, but it may play an important role in explaining what makes us so unique as a species.  Humans differ from other animals in many ways, but there are three institutions that set us apart most fundamentally and exemplify our highest achievements as a cultural species: art, religion, and science.  At first, these three might seem very different--even antithetical.  But they are all motivated by wonder, and they all instill wonder.   This common emotional bond helps us see what our most human institutions share in common, and why wonder is vitally important to being human. 

Jesse Prinz is a Distinguished Professor of Philosophy and the Director of Interdisciplinary Science Studies at the City University of  New York, Graduate Center.  He has published five books and over a hundred articles about the human mind, covering topics such as the nature of emotions, the origins of morality, the neural basis of consciousness, and cross-cultural differences in psychology.  His forthcoming book, Works of Wonder, explores the role of wonder in the experience, evaluation, and evolution of art.

 

Jeffrey Kluger and Marsha Ivins, “The Wondrous Madness of Space Flight”

Thursday, November 14, 2013, (6pm-8pm), Rennert Hall 

There are far safer ways to spend a day than climbing on top of 30 or 40 stories of explosive machine, lighting its fuse and hurling yourself into the void at up to 25,000 mph. Yet over the past 50 years, hundreds of people have done it, millions have dreamed of it, and a tragic handful have died on the way. Space travel has been part of our genetic imperative  since long before we had the brain power to imagine it. The next tree, the next cave, the next hill, the next planet have always had an irresistible pull on us. There are equal parts insanity and poetry in that—and we should never wish we were any other way.

Jeffrey Kluger is the science editor for Time magazine and Time.com, principally covering science and social issues. His newest nonfiction book is The Sibling Effect: What the Bonds Among Brothers and Sisters Reveal About Us, published in 2011. His newest novel is Freedom Stone, a young tale set on a South Carolina plantation in 1863, also published in 2011. He is the author of six other books, including Apollo 13, coauthored with Jim Lovell, which served as the basis of the 1995 movie.  He is currently writing a book about narcissism in American and global culture.

In his time at Time, Kluger has written hundreds of stories, including 36 cover stories. Among them are 2003’s coverage of the loss of the shuttle Columbia, 2005’s cover on Hurricanes Katrina and Rita, and a 2001 cover on global warming, which won the Overseas Press Club Award for best environmental reporting of the year. 

Before coming to Time, Kluger worked for Discover magazine, where he was a senior editor and humor columnist. Prior to that, he was health editor at Family Circle magazine, a story editor at The New York Times Business World Magazine, and Associate Editor at Science Digest magazine. His features and columns have appeared in dozens of publications, including The New York Times Magazine, Gentlemen's Quarterly, The Wall Street Journal, Cosmopolitan, Omni, McCall's, New York Magazine, The New York Post, Newsday, and, of course, Time. He has worked as an adjunct instructor in the graduate journalism program at New York University; is a licensed—though non-practicing—attorney; and is a graduate of the University of Maryland and the University of Baltimore School of Law. He lives in New York City with his wife and daughters. 

Marsha S. Ivins, former NASA Astronaut, was employed at the Lyndon B. Johnson Space Center beginning July 1974, working as an engineer for orbiter displays and controls and man machine engineering, and development of the Orbiter Heads-Up Display (HUD).  In 1980, she was assigned as a flight engineer on the Shuttle Training Aircraft (Aircraft Operations) and a co-pilot in the NASA administrative aircraft    (Gulfstream-1).  Ms. Ivins was selected in the NASA Astronaut Class of 1984 as a mission specialist. 

Ms. Ivins holds a multi-engine Airline Transport Pilot License with Gulfstream-1 type rating, single engine airplane, land, sea, and glider commercial licenses, and airplane, instrument, and glider flight instructor ratings.  She has logged over 7000 hours in civilian and NASA aircraft.  A veteran of five space flights, (STS-32 in 1990, STS-46 in 1992, STS-62 in 1994, STS-81 in 1997, and STS-98 in 2001), Ms. Ivins has logged over 1,318 hours in space.  Ms. Ivins was assigned to the Astronaut Office supporting the Space Shuttle, Space Station and Constellation Branches.  She departed NASA on December 31, 2010.

 

Panel on Nuclear Disarmament, in collaboration with the Columbia Science Review and the K1 Project

Tuesday, November 19, 2013, (5pm-6:30pm), Roone Arledge Cinema

Ever since the atomic bomb proved itself of unprecedented destruction, it seems that we have been trying to turn back the clocks on nuclear weapons. Within a year of the first use of the atom bomb, the UN adopted a resolution that sought to control and even eliminate these weapons. In the more than half a century since then, the call for disarmament has grown. But let’s imagine for a moment, that we could wake up tomorrow and find the goal of disarmament achieved—not a single nuclear weapon left on earth. What would that world be like? Is a world without nuclear weapons anything more than a dream? In this panel, we bring together some of the brightest and most creative minds in diverse fields to discuss these questions.

Richard Garwin received his Ph.D. in Physics in 1949 with Enrico Fermi at the University of Chicago. He has done important experiments in fundamental particle physics and condensed matter physics. He has contributed significantly to military and civil technology ranging from touch screens to laser printers to GPS navigation systems. His work in military and intelligence systems include the design of the first thermonuclear weapon test-- the Mike device detonated November 1, 1952 with 11 megaton yield; innovations in offensive nuclear-armed missiles and defensive systems; improvements is submarine and anti-submarine warfare systems. He has contributed substantially to arms control agreements and to the technology and procedures for monitoring and verification, including nuclear explosion test bans, the Biological Weapons Convention, the ABM Treaty of 1972, and the limitations on offensive weapons. He chaired the State Department's Arms Control and Nonproliferation Advisory Board-- ACNAB-- for the eight years of the administration of President Bill Clinton. From December 1952 to June 1993 he was a staff member and from 1966 an IBM Fellow in the IBM Research Division. He has been Professor of Public Policy at Harvard and Adjunct Professor of Physics at Columbia University.

Zach Weinersmith is a cartoonist and writer. In addition to a daily comic website, he has published 3 compilations of comics, 2 gamebook novels, 1 graphic novel, and 1 book of nerd insults, such as the somewhat relevant "You’re so scientifically illiterate... You think a nucleophile is someone who sleeps with bombs." He also created The Festival of Bad Ad hoc Hypotheses. He has a BA in Literature and 3/8ths of a BS in physics, which averages out to 68.75% of a degree in sociology. He lives wherever his parasitologist wife, Kelly, has lately dragged him.

Randy Rydell is Senior Political Affairs Officer in the Office of Ms. Angela Kane, the High Representative for Disarmament Affairs at the United Nations. He joined the UN secretariat in 1998 and has served as Senior Counselor and Report Director of the Weapons of Mass Destruction Commission (Blix Commission) and Senior Fellow at the Arms Control Association in Washington, D.C. He has also served as Secretary of the Secretary-General’s Advisory Board on Disarmament Matters and as a Visiting Lecturer at Princeton University’s Woodrow Wilson School. Prior to joining the UN, he worked for Senator John Glenn and assisted in the drafting and subsequent enactment of the Nuclear Proliferation Prevention Act of 1994 and other legislation. He was an international political analyst at the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory and a post-doctoral fellow at the Center for Science and International Affairs at the John F. Kennedy School of Government at Harvard University. He received a B.A. in Government and Foreign Affairs from the University of Virginia (1973), a M.Sc. in International Relations at the London School of Economics and Political Science (1974), an M.A. in Political Science from Princeton University (1977), and a Ph. D. in Political Science from Princeton (1980). He is the recipient of the “Unsung Heroes” award, Center for Non-Proliferation Studies, Monterey Institute for International Studies, 2009.

Ivana Nikolic Hughes is a K1 Project faculty member. She is a Lecturer in Discipline in the Department of Chemistry at Columbia and serves as the Associate Director for Frontiers of Science, a science course required of all Columbia College freshmen. Ivana graduated from Caltech in 1999 with a B.S. in Chemical Engineering (with Honors) and earned her PhD from Stanford University in 2005, working in the Department of Biochemistry as an American Heart Association Fellow. In her work through K1, Ivana combines an interest in global issues with her deep commitment to teaching and mentoring undergraduate students from different academic backgrounds on topics related to science.

The K1 Project was founded in 2011 by Professor Emlyn Hughes of the Columbia Physics Department with the mission of engaging students in the ongoing debate surrounding issues of nuclear technologies, such as weapons proliferation and energy production. Over the course of the last three summers, K1 has brought together multinational, interdisciplinary teams of Columbia University and NYU students, which have collectively created two documentaries and an upcoming feature-length film. These, as well as articles, short videos, and other original material, can be found at K1Project.org.

 

Roosevelt Montás, “Freedom from the Known: Reflections on Truth and Creativity”

Thursday, January 30, 2014, (6pm-8pm) Rennert Hall

The sublime, the transcendent, the aesthetic, the mystical, the ineffable all point to a realm of human experience and perception that escapes conceptualization and analysis.  Can we learn anything about this sphere?  Can it be in any way translatable to our highly structured forms of knowing and acting?  Do these concepts have any relevance to our contemporary paradigm of knowledge?  This talk will examine some classic approaches to these questions and suggest that attention to this category of experience can have profound implications for some of our most intractable contemporary problems.

Roosevelt Montás is Director of the Center for the Core Curriculum and Associate Dean of Academic Affairs at Columbia College.  His academic specialty is in Antebellum American literature and culture, with a particular interest in questions of national identity.  His dissertation, Rethinking America, won Columbia University’s 2004 Bancroft Award.  In 2000, he received the Presidential Award for Outstanding Teaching by a Graduate Student.  He has taught Literature Humanities and regularly teaches Introduction to Contemporary Civilization as well as a seminar in American Studies entitled Freedom and Citizenship in the United States.  As Director of the Core Curriculum, Roosevelt also lectures widely on the history, place, and future of the humanities in the higher education.

 

Alessandro Piol, "An unlikely alliance: Entrepreneurship, Innovation and New York City"

Thursday, February 6, 2014, (6pm-8pm), Rennert Hall 

New York is recognized in the United States and the world as a "big business" center: financial companies, ad agencies, media, fashion, business services. Is it possible that in just a few years it has also become one of the biggest centers of entrepreneurship and startups? Let's explore how it has happened, what's going on and why young people from all over the world are coming to New York to start companies.

Alessandro Piol is a co-founder of Vedanta Capital and AlphaPrime Ventures and has over 30 years of experience in the technology industry.  A graduate of Columbia University SEAS, he has been making venture capital investments for over 20 years.   He also co-founded a start-up out of AT&T Bell Labs and worked in software development for a small software firm.   He was one of the founders of AT&T Ventures, the venture capital arm of AT&T, and a partner of Chancellor Capital Management (Invesco) where he focused on technology investments.   Alessandro is President of the New York chapter of TiE, a global organization fostering entrepreneurship; he serves on the Entrepreneurial Advisory Board and the Board of Visitors of Columbia's Fu Foundation School of Engineering and he is a mentor, advisor or board member of various private companies.  In addition, Alessandro has co-authored, with Maria Teresa Cometto, Tech and the City: The Making of New York’s Startup Community, about New York’s entrepreneurial ecosystem.   He received a BS and MS in Computer Science from Columbia University and an MBA from the Harvard Business School. Twitter: @ilmago

 

Across the seas and under the ice: Polar marine science, in collaboration with the Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory

Thursday, February 14, 2104 (6pm-8pm), 401 Lerner Hall

Join Craig Aumack and Julius Busecke, scientists at Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory studying the ecosystems of the Arctic and Antarctic. We will explore what it is like to do field work in some of the planet’s harshest climates and most remote locations. Come join us for an evening of marine discovery!

Lamont’s mission: Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory seeks fundamental knowledge about the origin, evolution and future of the natural world. Its scientists study the planet from its deepest interior to the outer reaches of its atmosphere, on every continent and in every ocean, providing a rational basis for the difficult choices facing humanity.

Craig Aumack is a post-doctoral researcher at Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory, Columbia University. His long-term research interests focus on the physiological, biochemical, and ecological adaptations of macro and microalgae to polar environments as well as their influences on overall community structure. Currently, he is focused on Arctic sea-ice algae populations and how those communities respond to environmental changes. He is also interested in learning what contributions Arctic sea ice algae have in Arctic ecosystems, and how those may vary in a changing Arctic environment.

Julius Busecke was born in Hamburg, Germany and did his BSc at the University of Kiel/Geomar. He is a PhD candidate with the Department of Earth and Environmental Sciences at Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory. He studies physical oceanography and is a frequent participant on research cruises in Antarctica. His recent work has focused on the Botton Water formation processes in the Ross Sea as well as salinity and freshwater variability in the subtropical north Atlantic.

 

Nicholas Dames, “Two Millennia of the Book: The Slow History of Textual Imagination”

Monday, February 17, 2014, (6pm-8pm), Earl Hall Auditorium 

We are currently witnesses to a long transition in culture and technology: the end of the dominance of the codex.  The codex, more commonly if less precisely known as the “book,” has been the dominant container for textual material in the West since at least the 5th century CE.  At a moment when the codex might be yielding its cultural centrality to the screen, it is important to take stock of how the shape of the book has helped structure our conceptions of the self.  This talk will discuss some ways in which the visual and tactile qualities of the book, particularly the long history of forms in which text is laid out and segmented on the page, has shaped both how stories are told and how we think about ourselves, our lives, our pasts.  Examples from the earliest Biblical codices to Renaissance humanist editions of the classical tradition and modern novels will furnish us with clues to how experiences of reading can become experiences of living: to the kinds of thinking and imagining engendered by one specific, durable technology.

Nicholas Dames is the Theodore Kahan Professor of Humanities and Chair of the Department of English and Comparative Literature at Columbia University, where he teaches nineteenth-century fiction, the history and theory of the novel, the history of reading, and the aesthetics of prose fiction from the eighteenth century to the present.  His interests center on the long history of novelistic form in Britain and Western Europe.

He is the author of Amnesiac Selves: Nostalgia, Forgetting, and British Fiction, 1810-1870 (2001), and The Physiology of the Novel: Reading, Neural Science, and the Form of Victorian Fiction (2007).  He has written on contemporary fiction and on the humanities for n+1 and Public Books, and his scholarly articles have appeared in venues like Representations, Novel, Nineteenth-Century Literature, and Victorian Studies.  He has been a recipient of Columbia’s Presidential Teaching Award (2005), a Charles Ryskamp Fellowship from the American Council of Learned Societies (2005-6), the Lenfest Distinguished Faculty Award (2008), and the Mark Van Doren Award for Teaching (2013).  In 2009-2010 he was chair of the MLA’s Division on Prose Fiction Executive Committee, and he is a founding member and on the executive board of the Society for Novel Studies (SNS). 

Dames is currently at work on a book, The History of the Chapter in the West, which traces the development of the chapter from an editorial and scribal practice of late antiquity and early Christianity to a compositional practice of the European novel.

 

Sean Higgins, “Re-Imagining and Imaging of the Deep Sea:  Voyages of Discovery”

Thursday, March 6, 2014, (6pm-8pm), Rennert Hall 

The ocean is the defining feature of our planet and is the last and largest unexplored place on Earth.  It has inspired fear, awe, wonder, and fed man's imagination and curiosity for centuries.   However, up until the last century, fundamental questions like how deep is the ocean, what is  the ocean floor made of, is there life in the deep sea -- and the list goes on--  had not been answered.  For more than 60 years, these questions have driven scientists at Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory at Columbia University who have pioneered studies of the world’s oceans from our renowned research vessels. It was only in 2011 that programs like Google Earth unveiled the ability to view and explore what we know of the surface of the ocean floor from the comfort of our own computers.  Scientists have traveled (and continue to travel) literally millions of miles in pursuit of new knowledge about our planet throughout our rich seagoing history.

Sean Higgins is Director, Office of Marine Operations and Senior Research Scientist, Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory (LDEO) of Columbia University.  His own journey of discovery started on land where his research focused on history of glaciers ranging from the midwestern US to the Himalayas to Antarctica.  During his Ph.D. here at Columbia, his research focus moved to studying records of earth's history recovered from sediments in the deep sea.  His research on the deep sea has continued and led him into working for the Integrated Ocean Drilling Program (IODP) from 2004-2010. This internationally sponsored program began in 1968 and has its roots in LDEO as well.  Sean worked for IODP as both a scientist but also as Associate Director of the US Drilling Program from 2007-2010 in Washington DC.  He returned to LDEO in 2010 to take over managing operations of the research vessel, the Marcus G. Langseth, at LDEO. This vessel is part of the US academic fleet and specializes in mapping not only the seafloor but what lies deep below.

 

Changing earth: Exploring the science of ice, rock, and magma across the world, in collaboration with the Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory

Tuesday, March 11, 2014, (6pm-8pm), 401 Lerner

Scientists Christine McCarthy and Einat Lev have traveled the world exploring how two very different materials — chilly ice and sizzling magma — change the surface of our planet and beyond. Join their journey in the field, in the lab and on super computers, as they study both volcanoes and glaciers.

Christine McCarthy is an experimental scientist who measures the mechanical properties of geologic materials. After first pursuing careers in unrelated fields, she returned to school and earned her PhD in geophysics from Brown University. For her thesis she ran experiments to understand how tidal forces on icy satellites like Europa could generate enough heat to sustain a liquid ocean. She then took a two-year postdoctoral appointment in Tokyo, where she was living during the Tohoku earthquake. She is now a postdoc at Lamont Doherty, where she and her colleagues in the Rock Mechanics Lab are designing and building a new apparatus to measure the friction of ice as it slides against rock. She hopes to understand the mechanisms by which tides modulate flow rates and affect stability of tidewater glaciers in Antarctica and Greenland.

Einat Lev is a physical volcanologist and a geodynamicist, studying the physical processes that control the dynamics of the Earth, and volcanoes in particular. She grew up in Israel, and in college did a double major of geophysics and computer science. After two years in the software industry, she went back to school, and got a PhD in geophysics from MIT. She followed that with a postdoctoral fellowship at Lamont-Doherty, which allowed her to design her own project independently. She subsequently decided to focus on lava and volcanoes and has recently been promoted to an Assistant Research Professor position. She lives in upper Manhattan with her husband and 1 year old daughter.

 

Moshe Sluhovsky, “Wonder in Early Modern Europe: the Marvelous, the Miraculous, and the Strange”

Thursday, March 27, 2014, (6pm-8pm), Rennert Hall 

Wonder is a cognitive state, recognition of the singularity or beauty of a thing encountered. It is also this thing itself ("It is a wonder . . ."). Wonder ignites desires: desire to get passionate (emotionally, aesthetically) about the marvelous thing, but also a desire to comprehend, to possess, to de-wonder it.  Wonder is always historical: what causes wonder at one time to one group of people is not likely to also cause wonder to other people at other times. I will discuss the place of wonder in early modern Europe, the period between 1400 and 1800: the discovery of new continents and civilizations, the wide distribution of stories of marvelous, miraculous, and strange events and things due to the printing press, the alleged unparalleled increase in the number of witches who harmed people and of demons who possessed them, and the invention of the telescope and the microscope created new wonders, fascinations, and fears. At the same time, a scientific effort to make sense of wonders, to explain them away by understanding how they fit into a rational and natural philosophy of nature, was diminishing the realm of the wonderful.

I will talk about this dialectical movement that characterized early modern Europeans' approach to wonder: their growing fascination with the wonderful and their contradictory desire to demystify it.  

Moshe Sluhovsky is the holder of the Vigevani Chair of European Studies at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem.  He is the author of, most recently, Believe Not Every Spirit: Possession, Mysticism, and Discernment in Early Modern Catholicism, and his major field of scholarship is early modern religious history.  He has taught at Princeton and Brown Universities, UCLA, and the California Institute of Technology, and has held fellowships from the NEH, Mellon Foundation, National Humanities Center, and Princeton University. This year he is a Distinguished Visiting Fellow at the Advance Research Collaboration Project at the Graduate Center.

Elizabeth Hillman, "I Wonder What My Brain is Doing Right Now?"

CUSP CEAA Forum Speaker

Wednesday, April 2, 2014, (6pm-8pm), 401 Lerner Hall

 Dr Hillman’s research focuses on the development and application of novel imaging and microscopy techniques for investigating the living brain. She will describe her quest to find new ways to reimagine in-vivo brain imaging, and describe her explorations of the wondrous world of the working brain.

Elizabeth Hillman joined the department of Biomedical Engineering in 2006, and also holds an appointment in the department of Radiology. Always eager to figure out ‘how things work’ Dr Hillman studied Physics as an undergraduate at University College London, moving into Medical Physics and Bioengineering for her PhD. “I always loved neuroscience and medicine, but I knew I would make a terrible clinician. Medical Physics and Biomedical engineering were the perfect disciplines for me!”, she says.  Following time as a post-doctoral fellow and junior faculty at Massachusetts General Hospital, Harvard Medical School, Dr Hillman joined Columbia to establish her the ‘Laboratory for Functional Optical Imaging’. Now with over 15 members, her large lab tackles myriad technical challenges to observe the living brain in action. Composed of physicist, engineers, neurosicentists and MD/PhDs, the lab’s cross section mirror’s Dr Hillman’s broad interests in figuring out how things work, from the microscopes that she builds, to the brains that they image.

 Dr Hillman’s work has been recognized by a number of awards, including an NSF CAREER award, and most recently the Optical Society of America ‘Adolph Lomb Medal’ for contributions to the field of optics under age 35.

 

James Schamus, “Why Do You Like Fake Things So Much?"

Tuesday, April 8, 2014, (6pm-8pm), Rennert Hall 

The title of the talk says it all: Professor Schamus will be asking you why you like fake things (such as movies and novels) so much and will be interested to hear your answers, even if, probably, he will not be satisfied by them.

 James Schamus is an award-winning screenwriter (The Ice Storm) and producer (Brokeback Mountain), and is CEO of Focus Features, the motion picture production, financing, and worldwide distribution company whose films have included Moonrise Kingdom, Milk, Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind, The Pianist, Coraline, and The Place Beyond the Pines.  He is also Professor of Professional Practice in Columbia University's School of the Arts, where he teaches film history and theory.  He is the author of Carl Theodor Dreyer's Gertrud: The Moving Word, published by the University of Washington Press. He earned his BA, MA, and Ph.D. in English from U.C. Berkeley.

 

     

 

 

 

 

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