Joseph S. Calvaruso Keynote Speakers

Benjamin Jealous

Benjamin Jealous2016 Joseph S. Calvaruso Keynote Address

“The Secret to Unleashing Inner Greatness”

Thursday, April 21, 2016, 7 p.m.
Goodrich Chapel

Important update, April 18, 2016: Morris Dees, co-founder and chief trial attorney of the Southern Poverty Law Center, was originally scheduled to give the 2016 Joseph S. Calvaruso Keynote, but is unable to do so due to health concerns.

Benjamin Jealous is the former president and CEO of the NAACP. He is now a partner at the Silicon Valley venture capital firm Kapor Capital, where he invests in high-growth companies that have a positive social impact and continues his goal of increasing opportunities for minorities in the tech economy.

A Rhodes Scholar, Jealous was named by Fortune and Time magazines to their “Top 40 Under 40” lists and was named a Young Global Leader by the World Economic Forum. Jealous' new book, Reach: 40 Black Men Speak on Living, Leading, and Succeeding, features personal essays from prominent figures in the black community.

The youngest president in NAACP history, he began his career at age 18 opening mail at the NAACP Legal Defense Fund. Jealous has been a leader of successful state and local movements to ban the death penalty, outlaw racial profiling, defend voting rights, secure marriage equality and end mass incarceration.

Under his leadership from 2008 to 2013, the NAACP grew to be the largest civil rights organization online and on mobile, and became the largest community-based nonpartisan voter registration operation in the country. Jealous' leadership at the NAACP included bringing environmentalist organizations into the fight to protect voting rights, and convincing well-known conservatives to join the NAACP.

Prior to leading the NAACP, he spent 15 years as a journalist and community organizer. While at Mississippi's Jackson Advocate newspaper, his investigations were credited with exposing corruption at a state penitentiary and proving the innocence of a black farmer framed for arson. While at Amnesty International, he led successful efforts to outlaw prison rape, expose the increasing trend of children being sentenced to life without the possibility of parole, and draw attention to expanded racial profiling in the wake of the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks.

Nathan Wolfe

Nathan Wolfe 2015 Joseph S. Calvaruso Keynote Address

“Before It Strikes: Viral Forecasting for Pandemic Prevention”

April 23, 2015
7 p.m., Goodrich Chapel

The Indiana Jones of virus hunting, Nathan Wolfe travels the world to track, study, and eradicate the next pandemic before it strikes. One of Time's 100 Most Influential People in the World for 2011, this Viral Storm author draws on his breakthrough discoveries to tell us where viruses come from, why they spread, and how to stop them.

"Virus Hunter" Nathan Wolfe rethinks pandemic control for our globalized world. By concentrating on how epidemic diseases—such as HIV, SARS, and West Nile—all stem from human contact with infected animals, he is able to discover new threatening viruses where they first emerge. According to Wired magazine, "Wolfe's brand of globe-trotting echoes an almost Victorian scientific ethic, an expedition to catalog the unseen menagerie of the world." His debut book, The Viral Storm, is an "engrossing and fast-paced chronicle of medical exploration and discovery" (Publisher's Weekly) that takes readers from the jungles of Africa to Wolfe's state-of-the-art labs, shedding light on the often overlooked but ultimately critical field of microbiology. It was published in six languages and shortlisted for the Royal Society's Winton Prize.

Wolfe is the Lorry I. Lokey Business Wire Consulting Professor in Human Biology at Stanford University; the Founder and CEO of Metabiota, a company that specializes in microbiological research, products, and services; and the Chairman of Global Viral, a non-profit that promotes understanding, exploration, and stewardship of the microbial world. Wolfe was named a Rolling Stone "100 Agents of Change," a National Geographic Emerging Explorer, and a World Economic Forum Young Global Leader. He is also the winner of the NIH Director's Pioneer Award. Wolfe has received over $60 million in grants and contracts from Google, the National Institutes of Health, the National Science Foundation, the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, and the U.S. Department of Defense, among others—making him a man poised to eradicate pandemics before they even happen.

Greening of the Great Lakes

Nathan Wolfe spoke with Kirk Heinze, '70, on the April 12 edition of "Greening of the Great Lakes" (WJR-AM 760, Detroit).

Richard Alley

2014 Joseph S. Calvaruso Keynote AddressRichard Alley

“A Brighter Light at the End of the Tunnel: The Optimistic Future of Energy and Environment”

April 24, 2014
7 p.m., Goodrich Chapel

Teacher, researcher and author Richard Alley is Evan Pugh Professor of Geosciences and associate of the Earth and Environmental Systems Institute at The Pennsylvania State University. Alley has spent 14 field seasons on great ice sheets in Antarctica, Greenland and Alaska, gathering data on climate and sea-level change. His development of future climate-change models earned him a seat on the United Nations' Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, which was a co-recipient of the 2007 Nobel Peace Prize.

Alley is past chair of the National Research Council's Panel on Abrupt Climate Change, and has provided climate-change information to top federal officials including a U.S. vice president and members and committees of the U.S. Senate and House of Representatives. Committed to educating the general public as well, Alley was presenter for the PBS program Earth: The Operators' Manual. He wrote a companion book for the PBS series and a popular account of climate change and ice cores, The Two-Mile Time Machine, which was named Phi Beta Kappa's Science Book of the Year in 2001.

Alley is a member of the National Academy of Sciences and has earned numerous research awards, including the Tyler Prize for Environmental Achievement, the Heinz Prize, the Revelle Medal of the American Geophysical Union and the Seligman Crystal of the International Glaciological Society. He has won four teaching awards at Penn State, and his public service has been recognized with the American Association for the Advancement of Science Public Engagement with Science Award, the Public Service Award of the Geological Society of America and the American Geological Institute Award for Outstanding Contribution to Public Understanding of the Geosciences.

Alley will receive the National Academy of Sciences' triennial Arthur L. Day Prize and Lectureship on April 27, 2014.

Alexander McCall Smith

Alexander McCall Smith 2013 Joseph S. Calvaruso Keynote Address

“The Very Small Things of Life”

Thursday, April 18, 2013
7:00 p.m., Goodrich Chapel

Alexander McCall Smith has written and contributed to more than 100 books ranging from specialist academic titles to children’s literature. He is best known for his No. 1 Ladies’ Detective Agency series, which to date has been translated into 45 languages and sold over 20 million copies worldwide. The series, which was adapted for BBC Radio and HBO television, has inspired a cookbook and led McCall Smith to share the young Precious Ramotswe’s story in a series of children’s books.

While he has written many popular stand-alone novels and short stories, McCall Smith is a master of series fiction, including The Sunday Philosophy Club, Portuguese Irregular Verbs, and three children’s series. Fascinated with the challenge of writing to deadline, McCall Smith began two other series with novels written in installments. 44 Scotland Street was a cultural obsession when published in weekday installments in the Scotsman newspaper. Corduroy Mansions was likewise originally published and podcasted serially by the United Kingdom’s Daily Telegraph. McCall Smith is currently working on a book about W. H. Auden, scheduled for publication by Princeton University Press in 2014.

McCall Smith was born in what is now Zimbabwe and was educated there and in Scotland. He first returned to Africa to help establish a new law school at the University of Botswana. Now a professor emeritus of medical law at the University of Edinburgh, he also served as vice chairman of the Human Genetics Commission of the United Kingdom, chairman of the British Medical Journal Ethics Committee, and as a member of the International Bioethics Commission of UNESCO.

McCall Smith is the recipient of numerous awards, including the Crime Writers’ Association’s Dagger in the Library Award, the United Kingdom’s Author of the Year Award (2004), the Saga Award for Wit, and Sweden’s Martin Beck Award. In 2007 he was made a Commander of the British Empire for his services to literature. He holds honorary doctorates from 12 universities, and the Presidential Order of Merit given by the president of Botswana. He lives in Edinburgh.

More Articles ...