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Past Lectures 2012-2013


A University Lecture

Mae Jemison, M.D.
Exploring the Frontiers of Science and Human Potential

On June 4, 1987, Mae Jemison, M.D., became the first African American woman admitted into the astronaut training program. After more than a year of training, she became an astronaut with the title of science mission specialist, a job which would make her responsible for conducting crew related scientific experiments on the space shuttle. On September 12, 1992, Dr. Jemison flew into space with six other astronauts aboard the Space Shuttle Endeavour on mission STS47, becoming the first African American woman to travel in space. Altogether, she spent over 190 hours in space before returning to Earth on September 20.

Dr. Mae Jemison earned a BS in Chemical Engineering from Stanford University, while also fulfilling the requirements for a BA in African-American Studies. After earning these degrees in 1977, she attended Cornell University and received a Doctor of Medicine degree in 1981. During medical school she traveled to Cuba, Kenya and Thailand, providing primary medical care to people living there.

Dr. Mae Jemison served in the Peace Corps, from January 1983 to June 1985. She shared her abilities in Sierra Leone and Liberia, West Africa as the area Peace Corps medical officer. Among her duties, she supervised the pharmacy, laboratory, medical staff as well as provided medical care, wrote self-care manuals, developed and implemented guidelines for health and safety issues. Working in conjunction with the Center for Disease Control, she helped with research for various vaccines.

In recognition of her accomplishments, Dr. Jemison has received nine honorary doctorates in science, engineering, letters, and the humanities. Jemison is a member of the American Medical Association, the American Chemical Society, the American Association for the Advancement of Science, and served on the Board of Directors of the World Sickle Cell Foundation from 1990 to 1992.

After leaving the astronaut corps in March 1993, Jemison accepted a teaching fellowship at Dartmouth. She also established the Jemison Group, a company that seeks to research, develop, and market advanced technologies.


The Premier Lecture

Louise Leakey, PhD
Secrets in the Sand: Revelations Into How We Became Humans

Louise Leakey is the third generation of her family to dig for humanity's past in East Africa. In 2001, Leakey and her mother, Meave, found a previously unknown hominid, the 3.5-million-year-old Kenyanthropus platyops, at Lake Turkana — the same region where her father, Richard, discovered the "Turkana Boy" fossil, and near Tanzania's Olduvai Gorge, where her grandparents, Louise and Mary Leakey, discovered the bones of Homo habilis.

Leakey completed her Ph.D. at London University. She has a position as a research assistant professor in the Department of Anthropology at Stony Brook University, serves as the director of Public Education and Outreach at the Turkana Basin Institute, and is a National Geographic Society Explorer in Residence. In addition to her long-term field research projects in Kenya's Turkana Basin, Leakey is helping to develop the Turkana Basin Institute, a major multi-disciplinary scientific research center best known for its human origins research. Leakey is currently working to transform the Koobi Fora Research Camp into a year-round research station on the shores of Lake Turkana.

Like her parents, Richard and Meave Leakey, and her grandparents, the pre-eminent Louis and Mary Leakey, Louise focuses her study on the evolution of early human ancestors. Particularly interesting to her is the period between 2 million years ago and 1.5 million years ago. In August 2007 Louise and Meave, both National Geographic Explorers-in-Residence, dug up new H. habilis bones that have contributed to a rewriting of humanity's evolutionary timeline. The Leakeys' find suggests that different species of pre-humans actually lived side by side at the same time for almost half a million years.

Through a rigorous process of searching, excavation, paleoecological and geological analysis, and a little bit of paleoanthropological intuition, Louise, along with Meave, has precisely pinpointed regions within the 1200 square kilometer area of East Turkana that will most likely produce the answers to questions raised about this critical period in human evolution.


The Space Lecture

Colonel Eileen M. Collins
Leadership Lessons from Apollo to Discovery

Eileen M. Collins is a retired American astronaut and a retired U. S. Air Force Colonel. A former military instructor and test pilot, Collins was the first female pilot and first female commander of a Space Shuttle. She has been awarded several medals honoring her accomplishments in space. Collins has logged 38 days, 8 hours, and 10 minutes in outer space.

Collins was selected to be an astronaut in 1992. She first flew the Space Shuttle as pilot in 1995 aboard STS-63, which involved a rendezvous between Discovery and the Russian space station Mir. In recognition of her achievement as the first female Shuttle Pilot, she received the Harmon Trophy. She was also the pilot for STS-84 in 1997.

Collins became the first female commander of a U.S. Spacecraft with Shuttle mission STS-93, launched in July 1999, which deployed the Chandra X-Ray Observatory. In July 2005, Collins commanded STS-114, NASA's "return to flight" mission to test safety improvements and resupply the International Space Station (ISS). The “Return to Flight” mission was NASA’s first manned flight following the February 2003 loss of the Shuttle Columbia. The flight was launched on July 26, 2005, and returned on August 9, 2005. During STS-114, Collins became the first astronaut to fly the space shuttle through a complete 360-degree pitch maneuver. This was necessary so astronauts aboard the ISS could take photographs of the shuttle's belly, to ensure there was no threat from debris-related damage to the shuttle upon reentry.

On May 1, 2006, Collins announced that she would leave NASA to spend more time with her family and pursue other interests. Since retirement from NASA, she has been seen as a Space Shuttle analyst generally covering Shuttle launches and landings for CNN.


The Jarvis Lecture on Christianity & Culture

Dr. Amy-Jill Levine
Strange Bedfellows: The Bible, American Politics, and Homosexuality

Dr. Amy-Jill Levine is University Professor of New Testament and Jewish Studies, E. Rhodes and Leona B. Carpenter Professor of New Testament Studies, and Professor of Jewish Studies at Vanderbilt University Divinity School and College of Arts and Sciences. Holding the BA from Smith College, the MA and PhD from Duke University, and numerous honorary doctorates, Dr. Professor Levine has been awarded grants from the Mellon Foundation, the National Endowment for the Humanities, and the American Council of Learned Societies and has held office in the Society of Biblical Literature, the Catholic Bible Association, and the Association for Jewish Studies. In 2011, she became Affiliated Professor at the Woolf Institute: Centre for the Study of Jewish-Christian Relations at Cambridge, UK.

Among her over two dozen books are The Misunderstood Jew: The Church and the Scandal of the Jewish Jesus, a Publishers' Weekly Best Books of 2007 listing; an edited collection, The Historical Jesus in Context; and a fourteen-volume edited series, Feminist Companions to the New Testament and Early Christian Writings. Her most recent publications are The Jewish Annotated New Testament (co-edited with Marc Z. Brettler) and The Meaning of the Bible: What the Jewish Scriptures and the Christian Old Testament Can Teach Us (co-authored with Douglas Knight). Dr. Levine's scholarly output includes nearly a hundred essays and critical articles. She has also made presentations and participated in symposia around the globe, in Spain, South Africa, the Philippines, New Zealand, Australia, Belgium, England, Scotland, and Canada.

A dedicated professional, Dr. Levine serves on dozens of boards of editors and advisory boards, is active in academic governance, and is an engaging television, radio, webcast, and video personality here and abroad.


Thomas Harriot Lecture

Dr. Daniel Richter
The Tuscarora War: Trade, Land, and Power

Daniel K. Richter is Roy F. and Jeannette P. Nichols Professor of American History and the Richard S. Dunn Director of the McNeil Center for Early American Studies. His research and teaching focus on Colonial North America and on Native American history before 1800. He holds a Ph.D. from Columbia University and taught previously at Dickinson College and the University of East Anglia.

His most recent publication is Before the Revolution: America's Ancient Pasts (Harvard University Press, 2011). His first book, The Ordeal of the Longhouse: The Peoples of the Iroquois League in the Era of European Colonization (University of North Carolina Press, 1992), won the 1993 Frederick Jackson Turner Award, Organization of American Historians and the 1993 Ray Allen Billington Prize, Organization of American Historians, and was selected a 1994 Choice Outstanding Academic Book. His Facing East from Indian Country: A Native History of Early America (Harvard University Press 2001) won the 2001-02 Louis Gottschalk Prize in Eighteenth-Century History and was a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize. Richter is also co-editor (with James Merrell) of Beyond the Covenant Chain: The Iroquois and their Neighbors in Indian North America, 1600-1800 (Penn State University Press, 2003) and (with William Pencak) Friends and Enemies in Penn's Woods: Indians, Colonists, and the Racial Construction of Pennsylvania (Penn State University Press, 2004).

Nooherooka 300 Commemoration

Wright Auditorium


Jeffrey S. Johnson,
Ph.D., Director
Harriot Voyages of
Discovery Lecture Series
2147 Bate Building
East Carolina University