Top science authors mingled with attendees for coffee and conversation throughout the day.
Rick Karr’s been reporting for NPR’s news magazines for more than 20 years and for various PBS shows for more than a decade. Much of his work examines the intersection of technology, culture, and law. He was nominated for an award for his 2006 PBS documentary Net @ Risk, which made the case that the U.S. is falling far behind other nations in the race to the wired future. He teaches at the Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism and studied at Purdue University and the London School of Economics. Karr is a member of the songwriters’ collective Box Set Authentic and lives in Brooklyn, NY.
Scott Barry Kaufman is scientific director of the Imagination Institute in the Positive Psychology Center at the University of Pennsylvania. He conducts research on the measurement and development of imagination, creativity, and play, and teaches the popular undergraduate course Introduction to Positive Psychology. Kaufman is author of Ungifted: Intelligence Redefined and coauthor of the upcoming book Wired to Create: Unraveling the Mysteries of the Creative Mind (with Carolyn Gregoire). He is also host of The Psychology Podcast, cofounder of The Creativity Post, and he writes the blog “Beautiful Minds” for Scientific American. Kaufman completed his doctorate in cognitive psychology at Yale University in 2009 and received his master’s degree in experimental psychology in 2005 from Cambridge University, where he was a Gates Cambridge Scholar.
Alfred Mele is the William H. and Lucyle T. Werkmeister Professor of Philosophy at Florida State University. He is the author of 10 books, including Free Will and Luck, Effective Intentions, A Dialogue on Free Will and Science, and Free: Why Science Hasn’t Disproved Free Will. Mele is also the author of over 200 articles and the editor or co-editor of six books. He previously worked as the director of the Big Questions in Free Will project and he’s the current director of the Philosophy and Science of Self-Control project—multimillion-dollar projects featuring collaborative research by scientists and philosophers.
Leonard Mlodinow is a theoretical physicist. He received his Ph.D. from the University of California at Berkeley and taught at the California Institute of Technology. He is a popular international speaker and the author of numerous academic papers in physics and eight popular science books, including four best sellers. His most recent book is The Upright Thinkers: The Human Journey from Living in Trees to Understanding the Universe. His book Subliminal: How Our Unconscious Mind Rules Our Behavior, won the 2013 PEN/Wilson Award as “best literary science book.” His book The Drunkard’s Walk: How Randomness Rules Our Lives, was a New York Times editor’s choice and a New York Times notable book of the year, was short listed for the Royal Society book award, and won the Robert P. Balles Prize in critical thinking, and the Liber Press (Spain) Award for the “Popularization of Science.” The Grand Design, coauthored with Stephen Hawking, was a #1 best seller and was made into a three-part documentary on the Discovery Channel. Mlodinow has also written for The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, Scientific American, Nature, Newsweek, Wired, The New York Review of Books, and other mass market publications. Leonard Mlodinow has created several award-winning video games, including one in conjunction with Steven Spielberg starring Robin Williams, and has written for network television, including the series MacGyver, Star Trek: The Next Generation, and the comedy Night Court.
Steven Pinker is an experimental psychologist and one of the world’s foremost writers on language, mind, and human nature. Currently Johnstone Family Professor of Psychology at Harvard University, Pinker has also taught at Stanford and MIT. His research has won prizes from the National Academy of Sciences, the Royal Institution of Great Britain, the Cognitive Neuroscience Society, and the APA. He has received eight honorary doctorates, multiple teaching awards, and numerous prizes for his books The Language Instinct, How the Mind Works, The Blank Slate, and The Better Angels of Our Nature. He is chair of the American Heritage Dictionary Usage Panel and writes for The New York Times, TIME, and The New Republic. He has been named Humanist of the Year, Prospect magazine’s “The World’s Top 100 Public Intellectuals,” Foreign Policy’s “100 Global Thinkers,” and TIME’s “The 100 Most Influential People in the World Today.”
Bob Reiss is a best-selling author of 20 books, as well as a journalist, a former Chicago Tribune reporter, and former correspondent for Outside Magazine. His work has been published in The Washington Post, Smithsonian, Parade, Rolling Stone, and other national publications. From 2012 to 2013, he worked as a consultant on Arctic issues for 60 Minutes on CBS. In 2010, Reiss co-produced his first investigative segment for national television, for PBS’s Need to Know. Reiss’s nonfiction books include The Eskimo and The Oil Man, The Coming Storm, and The Road to Extrema. He has published 15 novels including The Washington Post best-seller The Last Spy and the European best seller Black Monday. His new series of science-based thriller novels launched earlier this year with the publication of White Plague, about a US submarine trapped in the Arctic. Protocol Zero will follow. This series will be published under the pseudonym of James Abel.
John Rennie is an award-winning science writer, editor, and lecturer based in New York City. Viewers of the Weather Channel know him as the host of the original series Hacking the Planet and cohost of the hit special The Truth About Twisters. He is also the editorial director of McGraw-Hill Education’s AccessScience, the highly respected online reference that carries on the tradition of the McGraw-Hill Encyclopedia of Science & Technology. Rennie served as editor in chief of Scientific American between 1994 and 2009. During his tenure, the magazine twice won National Magazine Awards with the single-topic issues “What You Need to Know About Cancer” (1996) and “A Matter of Time” (2002). His 2002 article “15 Answers to Creationist Nonsense” is one of the most read and downloaded articles in the history of ScientificAmerican.com.
Laura J. Snyder is a historian, philosopher, and science writer. Oliver Sacks has called her “both a masterly scholar and a powerful storyteller.” Snyder is the author of Eye of the Beholder: Johannes Vermeer, Antoni Van Leeuwenhoek and the Reinvention of Seeing, as well as The Philosophical Breakfast Club: Four Remarkable Friends Who Transformed Science and Changed the World, which was an official selection of the TED Book Club, a Scientific American Notable Book, and winner of the Royal Institution of Australia’s 2011 poll for “Best Science Book.” She is also the author of Reforming Philosophy: A Victorian Debate on Science and Society. She writes for The Wall Street Journal and other publications and is a professor at St. John’s University. Snyder’s TED Talk on the Philosophical Breakfast Club has been viewed over one million times.
Wendy Suzuki is a Professor of Neural Science and Psychology at New York University. At NYU she studies the brain areas important for long-term memory, as well as the effects of physical exercise on learning, memory, and attention in people. She runs an active research lab, teaches extensively at the undergraduate and graduate levels, and is involved in leadership training for women and new scientists. Wendy Suzuki is also a new author and her first book, Healthy Brain Happy Life, will be published by HarperCollins in 2015.