The Kristine Bonnevie lectures 2017: Meave Leakey and Alan Alda

We welcome you to two open lectures! Meave Leakey on "Milestones in the story of us – why and when did we come to be?", and Alan Alda on "Getting beyond a blind date with science". This event is part of the University’s annual celebration.


10.15-10.25: Opening remarks 
Per Morten Sandset, Vice-rector  University of Oslo

10.25-11.10: Milestones in the story of us – why and when did we come to be?
Meave Leakey, Stony Brook University and Turkana Basin Instutute

11.10-11.40: Getting beyond a blind date with science
Alan Alda, Alan Alda Center for Communicating Science 

11.40-12.00: Debate and closing remarks
Nils Chr. Stenseth, Chair of CEES

Meave Leakey 

Research Professor, Stony Brook University, New York and Director, Turkana Basin Institute, Nairobi, Kenya

Meave Leakey
Meave Leakey

Lecture title: Milestones in the story of us – why and when did we come to be?

Abstract: The question of our own identity – “who are we and why did we evolve the skills that we have?” is a fundamental one. Over the past 50 years, research in Africa, and in particular in Kenya, Tanzania and Ethiopia, has led to many advances in our understanding of our past. We can now identify key milestones in our evolutionary history, and when and why these occurred, making an intriguing story. Much of this story has been filled out through discoveries in the Turkana Basin northern Kenya, where Meave Leakey has carried out field research annually since 1969. The history of this research, the excitement and the challenges is the subject of her talk.

Biography: Meave Leakey

Meave Leakey is currently a Research Professor at the University of Stony Brook in New York and is in charge of Plio-Pleistocene research for the Turkana Basin Institute. Her work is concentrated on early hominid evolution from sites between 8 and 3 million years old. Under Meave's direction, she and her team have 
discovered Australopithecus anamensis which provide secure evidence of bipedality at 4.2 mya. In March 2001, Meave and her colleagues announced the discovery of a new genus and species of human ancestor, Kenyanthropus platyops, which shows that Australopithecus afarensis (best known from the skeleton dubbed “Lucy”), is not the only contender for human ancestry.  

Alan Alda

Alan Alda

Chief Executive Officer, Alan Alda Center for Communicating Science

Lecture title: Getting beyond a blind date with science

Abstract: The public’s relationship with science is all too much like that of someone on a blind date. "Can this person be trusted? Is there a hidden agenda?”  Worse, in some areas, science is actually under attack. The question is how to move past this wariness, fear and mistrust to a comfortable, beneficial relationship with science. This kind of relationship is essential for science to be supported by the public, by funders and by policy makers. In addition, more and more breakthroughs are occurring through collaboration between scientists in diverse fields. It seems clear that collaboration and teamwork improve as communication improves. In his talk, Alda will outline some innovative methods that have been used to train over 8,000 scientists and medical professionals over the past eight years.

Biography: Alan Alda

Alan Alda is an Emmy Award-winner, actor, director and author. He is the founder of Alan Alda Center for Communicating Science at Stony Brook University, New York. In 2016 he was awarded the Public Welfare Medal from the National Academy of Sciences for "extraordinary application of the skills honed as an actor to communicating science on television and stage, and by teaching scientists innovative techniques that allow them to tell their stories to the public."

Published May 8, 2017 2:49 PM - Last modified Mar. 9, 2021 9:18 AM