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Discover Science Lecture Series

The Discover Science Lecture Series

The Discover Science Lecture Series, hosted by the College of Science, brings the top names in the scientific community to the campus of Clemson University to share their expertise with faculty, staff and students. Many events are also open to the general public. Discover Science seminars will be posted here as they are scheduled.


‘The Secrets of Mental Math’

  • Arthur Benjamin
  • 11:15 a.m. – 12:15 p.m. March 13, 2020
  • Watt Family Innovation Center auditorium

In his entertaining and fast-paced performance, mathematician and magician Arthur Benjamin will perform high-speed mental calculations, Art Benjamin headshotmemorization tricks and other astounding math stunts. Come see why the Los Angeles Times described Benjamin this way: “He talks like a performer, acts like a magician and multiplies faster than a calculator.”

Benjamin is the Smallwood Family Professor of Mathematics at Harvey Mudd College and he is a professional magician. He has combined these two loves to create a dynamic presentation where he demonstrates and explains his secrets for performing rapid mental calculations faster than a calculator. He is an inaugural Fellow of the American Mathematical Society and was listed by Princeton Review as one of America's Top 300 Professors. Benjamin has appeared on the “Today” show, CNN, and “The Colbert Report,” and he has been profiled in The New York Times, Los Angeles Times, USA Today, Scientific American, Wired, and Reader’s Digest. One of his three TED Talks has been viewed more than 5 million times. He has a Ph.D. in mathematical sciences from Johns Hopkins University.

‘Darwin and the Origins of Holistic Science’

  • William Kimler
  • 1:30 p.m. Feb. 12, 2020
  • 100 Hardin Hall

William Kimler is an associate professor of history at NC State University. His seminar will discuss how Charles Darwin was an innovator and instigator of what might be called “holistic” sciences. The free event is open to faculty, staff, students and the general public.Headshot of William Kimler

The sciences of geology, biogeography, ecology, climatology, evolution and astrophysics share a property of requiring extensive, comparative data, both across space and over time. They are also sciences that explain phenomena by the connections and interactions within complex, and often very large-scale, systems. The talk will focus on the global, natural history fields that were emerging in the mid-1800s.

Originally educated as a biologist, Kimler worked as a field ecologist in industry before earning his doctorate in evolutionary biology from Cornell University in 1983. Today, he is an associate professor of history at NC State University, where he is director of the Jefferson Scholars program and the recipient of the 2001 Outstanding Teacher of the Year award and 2006 Alumni Distinguished Undergraduate Professor award. He is a member of the NC State Academy of Outstanding Teachers.

‘How to Build a Dog in 2,392,715,236 Simple Steps’

  • Elaine Ostrander
  • 2:30 p.m. Jan. 31, 2020
  • Freeman Hall Room 078
Headshot of Elaine Ostrander

Dr. Elaine Ostrander is chief of the Cancer Genetics and  Comparative Genomics Branch at the National Human Genome Research Institute of NIH and a member of the National Academy of Sciences.

Dr. Ostrander focuses on expanding our understanding of the genetic basis of human disease. However, her team does not just study humans. Dr. Ostrander works with dog owners, breeders and veterinarians to study our canine companions and understand which genes control the variations seen across dog breeds. She specifically focuses on genes that control growth and genes associated with cancer susceptibility in an effort to understand why changes in these particular genes can cause illness in humans.

‘Fossils, Genomes and Our African origins’

  • John Hawks, Ph.D.
  • 3:30 p.m. Sept. 27, 2019
  • Freeman Hall auditorium

Hawks is the Vilas-Borghesi Distinguished Achievement Professor at the University of Wisconsin at Madison. The free event is open to faculty, staff, students and the general public.

John Hawks headshotNew discoveries of the last five years have transformed the scientific understanding of our species’ origins in Africa. Better sampling of the genetics of living and ancient Africans show the roots of modern human populations are older and more diverse than once believed. At the same time, unexpected fossils and new dates show that modern humans were not alone. Other lineages in Africa, including the mysterious Homo naledi, coexisted with the ancestors of modern people. This talk will go to the field and into the genome to examine the newest evidence.

Hawks is an internationally recognized expert on human evolution and genetics. He has investigated the rapid evolution of modern humans within the past 40,000 years; and has explored the contribution of ancient Neanderthals to the ancestry of people living today. He is a core member of the team that discovered the new species Homo naledi, from the Rising Star cave of South Africa. He has appeared in documentary films from PBS, National Geographic, the Discovery Channel and the History Channel.

‘Science and the Citizen’

  • Rush D. Holt, Ph.D.
  • 3 p.m. Sept. 10, 2019
  • Madren Conference Center Ballroom

The College of Science will present a seminar titled “Science and the Citizen” with Rush D. Holt, Ph.D., scientist and politician, this fall. Holt’s talk, which is free, will be followed by a reception, and the event is open to faculty, staff and students.

Holt became the chief executive officer of the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) and executive publisher of the Science family of journals in February 2015. In this role, Holt led the world's largest multi-disciplinary scientific and engineering membership organization. Holt retired from this position in July 2019. Rush Holt headshot

Over his career, Holt has held positions as a teacher, scientist, administrator and policymaker. From 1989–1998, he was assistant director of the Princeton Plasma Physics Laboratory (PPPL), a Department of Energy national lab, which is the largest research facility of Princeton University and one of the largest alternative energy research facilities in the country. At PPPL, Holt helped establish the lab's nationally renowned science education program. From 1980 to 1988, he was on the faculty of Swarthmore College, where he taught courses in physics and public policy. In 1982, he took leave from Swarthmore to serve as an AAAS/American Physical Society Science and Technology Policy Fellow on Capitol Hill.

Before coming to AAAS, Holt served for 16 years as a member of the U.S. House of Representatives, representing New Jersey’s 12th Congressional District. In Congress, Holt served as a member of the Committee on Natural Resources and the Committee on Education and the Workforce. On Capitol Hill, he established a long track record of advocacy for federal investment in research and development, science education and innovation. He served on the National Commission on the Teaching of Mathematics and Science (known as the Glenn Commission), founded the Congressional Research and Development Caucus, and served as a co-chair of the Biomedical Research Caucus. His legislative work earned him numerous accolades, including being named one of Scientific American magazine's “50 National Visionaries Contributing to a Brighter Technological Future” and a “Champion of Science” by the Science Coalition.

Holt is married to Margaret Lancefield, a physician, and they have three children and seven grandchildren.

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