Past Speakers
  • David Pogue


    Capital University welcomed David Pogue as the featured speaker for the 18th annual Symposium on Undergraduate Scholarship in 2014. Pogue is the anchor columnist for Yahoo Tech, a columnist for Scientific American, a host on PBS’s NOVA, and one of the world's bestselling how-to authors. He wrote or co-wrote seven books in the "for Dummies" series (including Macs, Magic, Opera and Classical Music); in 1999, he launched his own series of complete, funny computer books called the Missing Manual series, which now includes 120 titles. 

    Prior to his career as a journalist and author, Pogue graduated Yale with distinction in music and spent a decade conducting and arranging Broadway musicals in New York. 

    Pogue discussed 
    Why America’s Failing Science & How We Can Turn it Around, at his keynote presentation and book signing. 


    Dr. Marion Nestle  

    Capital University hosted Dr. Marion Nestle (312 K PDF), acclaimed professor at New York University and the author of Food Politics and What to Eat, will be the keynote speaker for the 17th annual Symposium on Undergraduate Scholarship in 2013. Dr. Nestle discussed how science and politics impact our food system and nutritional choices and met directly with students in the Honors House to discuss her Food Politics: How the Food Industry Influences Nutrition and Health  



    Dr. Barbara Ehrenreich

    Capital University welcomed New York Times bestselling author, activist and journalist Barbara Ehrenreich as the keynote speaker for its 16th annual Symposium on Undergraduate Scholarship in 2012.

    In her keynote address, Ehrenreich discussed issues she raised in Nickel and Dimed: On (Not) Getting By in America, a book in which she chronicles her experience living as one of millions of Americans who work for poverty-level wages. In Florida, Maine and Minnesota, Ehrenreich worked as a waitress, hotel maid, house cleaner, nursing-home aide, and Wal-Mart salesperson while investigating the call for welfare reform and discovering the tenacity, generosity and survival savvy of low-wage America.

    Ehrenreich also met directly with students in the Honors House to discuss her latest book, Bright-sided: How Positive Thinking is Undermining America, in which she takes a critical look at the power of positive thinking and reveals the downside of America’s unfailing optimism — dismissing consideration of negative outcomes.  



    Joan Halifax Roshi

    Joan Halifax Roshi (2011 Keynote) is a Buddhist teacher, anthropologist, author and social activist. She has done fieldwork among the Dogon of Mali (1969-1970) and the Huichols of Mexico (1975-1985), among others.

    For the past 25 years, she has lectured on the subject of death and dying at many academic institutions, including Harvard Divinity School and Harvard Medical School, Georgetown Medical School, University of Virginia Medical School, Duke University Medical School and University of Connecticut Medical School.

    Her books include: “The Human Encounter with Death” (with Stanislav Grof); “Shamanic Voices”; “Shaman: The Wounded Healer”; “The Fruitful Darkness”; “Simplicity in the Complex: A Buddhist Life in America”; “Being with Dying”; “Wisdom Beyond Wisdom” (with Kazuaki Tanahashi); and “Being with Dying: Cultivating Compassion and Fearlessness in the Presence of Death.”

    Roshi has practiced Buddhism since 1965 and received Refuge Vows in 1976 by Zen Master Seung Sahn. In 1980, she was ordained as a teacher in the Kwan Um Zen School. In 1990, she received the Lamp Transmission from Zen Master Thich Nhat Hanh. In 1997, she was ordained as a soto priest by Bernard Glassman Roshi. She is a founding teacher in the Peacemaker Community and Zen Peacemaker Order. In 1999, she received Dharma Transmission and Inka from Glassman Roshi. She also has studied with renowned Vajrayana teachers including His Holiness the Dalai Lama, Venerable Khyentse Rinpoche, Venerable Chakdud Rinpoche and others.

    Dr. Michael Shermer

    Dr. Shermer is the Founding Publisher of Skeptic magazine, the Executive Director of the Skeptics Society, a monthly columnist for Scientific American, and Adjunct Professor of Economics at Claremont Graduate University.

    Dr. Shermer’s latest book is The Mind of the Market, on evolutionary economics. His last book was Why Darwin Matters: Evolution and the Case Against Intelligent Design, and he is the author of Science Friction: Where the Known Meets the Unknown, about how the mind works and how thinking goes wrong. His book The Science of Good and Evil: Why People Cheat, Gossip, Share Care, and Follow the Golden Rule, is on the evolutionary origins of morality and how to be good without God. He wrote a biography, In Darwin’s Shadow, about the life and science of the co-discoverer of natural selection, Alfred Russel Wallace. He also wrote The Borderlands of Science, about the fuzzy land between science and pseudoscience, and Denying History, on Holocaust denial and other forms of pseudohistory. His book How We Believe: Science, Skepticism, and the Search for God, presents his theory on the origins of religion and why people believe in God. He is also the author of Why People Believe Weird Things on pseudoscience, superstitions, and other confusions of our time.

    Dr. Shermer received his B.A. in psychology from Pepperdine University, M.A. in experimental psychology from California State University, Fullerton, and his Ph.D. in the history of science from Claremont Graduate University (1991). He has appeared on The Colbert Report, 20/20, Dateline, Charlie Rose, Larry King Live, Tom Snyder, Donahue, Oprah, Lezza, Unsolved Mysteries (but, proudly, never Jerry Springer!), and other shows as a skeptic of weird and extraordinary claims, as well as interviews in countless documentaries aired on PBS, A&E, Discovery, The History Channel, The Science Channel, and The Learning Channel. Shermer was the co-host and co-producer of the 13-hour Family Channel television series, Exploring the Unknown.


    Mr. Ed Sarath

    Ed Sarath (2009 Keynote) is a leading visionary in the fields of music, creativity, consciousness studies, and educational reform. He divides his time between performing, composing, teaching, and writing about the aesthetic, cognitive, and transpersonal aspects of the creative process. He is currently Professor of Music and Chair of the Department of Jazz and Contemporary Improvisation Studies at the University of Michigan where he also directs the Program in Creativity and Consciousness Studies. He has recorded with top luminaries in the jazz world including David Liebman, Joanne Brackeen, Billy Hart, Cecil McBee, Karl Berger, Marvin Smitty Smith, and Harvie Swartz. His most recent CD release is New Beginnings, featuring the London Jazz Orchestra performing his large-ensemble compositions. Ed Sarath’s theoretical writings on improvisation, creativity, and consciousness are found in Innovative Higher Education, Journal of Music Theory, and the Handbook for Research on Music Education.

    Dr. Joseph R. Ferrari

    Dr. Joseph R. Ferrari (2008 keynote), Professor of Psychology and "Vincent DePaul Distinguished Professor" at DePaul University, Chicago, IL. It is reported that both men and women have similar rates of frequent, habitual, ‘chronic’ procrastination – with rates as high as 70% among college students and 20% among non-clinical, average adults. In fact, recent research by the presenter indicates that about 20% of adults from the United Kingdom, Australia, Peru, Spain, and Turkey report the same high tendency. WHY is this tendency so common, so socially accepted? What are the causes and consequences of this frequent tendency of procrastination?

    The author of over 40 scholarly research articles and 3 professional texts on this topic alone, Dr. Joseph Ferrari is considered an international researcher on the study of chronic procrastination and a popular public speaker on the topic by colleges and corporations. In this presentation, he discusses three categories of task delays investigated in the literature: arousal procrastination, where a person delays tasks because of a last minute “thrill” expected from working close to a deadline; and, avoidant procrastination, where an individual delays tasks because of fears and personal, psychological motives. Dr. Ferrari will discuss topics including the developmental origins, excuse-making tendencies, impression management motives, and self-sabotaging tendencies of chronic procrastination.

    Dr. Jack A. Rall

    Dr. Rall from the Ohio State University (2007 keynote) discussed performance enhancing drugs. The presentation increased awareness and understanding of performance enhancing drugs and procedures currently utilized in sports such as stimulants, steroids and blood doping.

    Dr. Sheldon Solomon

    Sheldon Solomon (2006 keynote) is Professor of Psychology and Steven and Courtney Ross Professor of Interdisciplinary Studies at Skidmore College. As an experimental social psychologist, his interests include the nature of self, consciousness, and social behavior. His work exploring the effects of the uniquely human awareness of death on individual and social behavior has been supported by the National Science Foundation and Ernest Becker Foundation and was recently featured in the award winning documentary film Flight from Death: The Quest for Immortality; he is co-author In the Wake of 9/11: The Psychology of Terror (2003, American Psychological Association Books) and co-founder of The World Leaders Project.

    Mr. Rafe Brown

     Rafe Brown, a Ph.D. Candidate at the University of Texas, spoke to Capital's undergraduate researchers at the 2004 symposium. Rafe's research interests include evolution and diversity of mate recognition systems of amphibians. Character evolution, comparative methods, and phylogenetic systematics. Biodiversity, biogeography, and systematics of amphibians and reptiles of SE Asia (especially the Philippines).

    Dr. Ronald Dotterer

    Dr. Dotterer, is the Dean and Professor of English at the Fulton School of Liberal Arts at Salisbury University. He is also on the Board of Governors for the National Conference on Undergraduate Research (NCUR). Dr. Dotterer spoke to Capital's undergraduate researchers in 2003.

    Dr. James Gentile

    Dr. Gentile, is Dean for Natural Sciences and The Kenneth Herrick Professor of Biology at Hope College, Executive Committee of PKAL. He is a member of NRC-CUSE (National Research Council-Committee on Undergraduate Research). Dr. Gentile presented the keynote address to our 2002 symposium.

    Ms. Jeanne Narum

    Jeanne Narum, Director of Project Kaleidoscope (PKAL). Jeanne opened our 2001 symposium. PKAL is a national advocacy organization dedicated to exploring and defining what works in undergraduate science, mathematics, engineering, and technology.