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2013 Plenary Lectures

Plenary lectures provide an opportunity for meeting attendees to hear from world renowned speakers who have a passion for science and technology. Plenary lectures are free and open to the public; on-site registration is required.

Opening Ceremony
Thursday, 14 February
6:00 p.m.—7:30 p.m.
Ballroom BC
Opening Remarks by Co-Chairs Drew Gilpin Faust, President, Harvard University; and Henri A. Termeer, Retired Chairman, President, and CEO, Genzyme Corporation.

President's Address


William H. Press
AAAS President; Warren J. and Viola M. Raymer Professor in Computer Science and Integrative Biology, University of Texas at Austin

Dr. Press is a noted researcher in computer science, genomics, statistical methods, astrophysics, and international security. He is a member of the President’s Council of Advisors on Science and Technology. His current research focus is bioinformatics and whole-genome genetics. He previously served as deputy laboratory director for science and technology at the Los Alamos National Laboratory and as a professor of astronomy and physics at Harvard University. He is a member of the U.S. National Academy of Sciences, a fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, and a member of the Council on Foreign Relations.

Plenary Lectures

Friday, 15 February
5:00 p.m.—6:00 p.m.
Ballroom BC


Sherry Turkle
Abby Rockefeller Mauzé Professor of the Social Studies of Science and Technology in the Program in Science, Technology, and Society, MIT
The Robotic Moment: What Do We Forget When We Talk to Machines?

Dr. Turkle is founder and director of the MIT Initiative on Technology and Self. She received a joint doctorate in sociology and personality psychology from Harvard University and is a licensed clinical psychologist. Her research focuses on the psychology of human relationships with technology, especially in the realm of how people relate to computational objects. She is an expert on mobile technology, social networking, and sociable robotics and a regular media commentator on the social and psychological effects of technology. Her most recent book is Alone Together: Why We Expect More from Technology and Less from Each Other.


Saturday, 16 February
5:00 p.m.—6:00 p.m.
Ballroom BC


Nathan Myhrvold
Founder and Chief Executive Officer, Intellectual Ventures
Science in the Kitchen

Dr. Myhrvold founded Intellectual Ventures after retiring as chief strategist and chief technology officer of Microsoft Corporation. At Intellectual Ventures, he is focused on a variety of business interests relating to the funding, creation, and commercialization of inventions. During his tenure at Microsoft, he was responsible for founding Microsoft Research and technology groups that resulted in many successful products. He has extensive experience linking research to product development and commercialization and holds hundreds of patents. As a postdoctoral fellow in applied mathematics and theoretical physics at Cambridge University, he worked with Stephen Hawking on research in cosmology, quantum field theory in curved space time, and quantum theories of gravitation. He earned a doctorate in theoretical and mathematical physics and a master’s degree in mathematical economics from Princeton University. He also has a master’s degree in geophysics and space physics and a bachelor’s degree in mathematics from University of California, Los Angeles.


Sunday, 17 February
5:00 p.m.—6:00 p.m.
Ballroom BC


Robert Kirshner
Clowes Professor of Science, Harvard University

The Beauty of the Accelerating Universe

Dr. Kirshner is an astrophysicist studying the physics of supernovae and observational cosmology. He is a member of the High-z Supernova Search Team that used observations of extragalactic supernovae to discover the accelerating universe, which implied the existence of dark energy. Dr. Kirshner’s graduate students Brian Schmidt and Adam Riess shared the 2011 Nobel Prize in Physics with Saul Perlmutter for the discovery of cosmic acceleration. He teaches a popular course for Harvard undergraduates called “The Energetic Universe” and is author of the book The Extravagant Universe: Exploding Stars, Dark Energy, and the Accelerating Cosmos. He is a past president of the American Astronomical Society, a member of the National Academy of Sciences, and a 2012 Guggenheim Fellow.

Monday, 18 February
8:30 a.m.—9:30 a.m.
Ballroom BC


Cynthia Kenyon
American Cancer Society Professor and Director of the Hillblom Center for the Biology of Aging, University of California, San Francisco

Mechanisms for Life Extension in C. elegans

Dr. Kenyon is a molecular biologist whose discovery with colleagues that a single-gene mutation could double the lifespan of the worm C. elegans sparked an intensive study of the molecular biology of aging. Her findings have since led to the discovery that an evolutionarily conserved hormone signaling system controls aging in other organisms as well, including mammals. As a doctoral student at Massachusetts Institute of Technology, she was the first to look for genes on the basis of their expression profiles, discovering that DNA damaging agents activate a battery of DNA repair genes in E. coli. She is a member of the U.S. National Academy of Sciences and the Institute of Medicine, a fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, and a past president of the Genetics Society of America.