Elkin R. Isaac Alumni Lecturers

Nick Whitney, ’00

Nick Whitney, ’082017 Elkin R. Isaac Alumni Lecture

“How to Be a Shark Scientist (or Anything Else)”

Wednesday, April 19, 2017, 7:30 p.m.
Towsley Lecture Hall/Norris 101

Nick Whitney is a senior scientist with the Anderson Cabot Center for Ocean Life at New England Aquarium and is currently in residence at Newport Aquarium in Newport, Kentucky.

Born in Jackson, Michigan, he grew up knowing one thing about sharks: they eat you. By the time he finished high school—and after reading a lot about sharks—Whitney was a bona fide shark nut and aspiring marine biologist. At Albion College, he learned the basics of field research, studying nurse sharks in the Florida Keys with Dr. Jeffrey Carrier. After graduating from Albion, Whitney pursued his master’s and doctoral degrees at the University of Hawaii at Manoa, where he learned that sharks actually can be dangerous if you grab their tails and refuse to let go, or if you swim directly into their open mouths.

Whitney has spent the past several years developing the use of accelerometers that can sense sharks’ fine-scale movements, measuring with great precision how they swim, tilt, roll, and dive. In the process, these tags are starting to shed light on a long-in-the-dark shark mystery: Although scientists have known where the animals go, they generally have had no idea what the sharks are actually doing when they go there. Whitney is using technology found in a wearable fitness tracker or smartphone to answer the “What are they doing?” question, and it turns out they are doing some surprising things.

The first to deploy accelerometers on wild sharks, Whitney has since used the tags on white sharks, sea turtles, Burmese pythons, and several other species. He has published numerous scientific papers, magazine articles, and encyclopedia articles, and has appeared on television on the History Channel, the Discovery Channel, and the National Geographic Channel.

Whitney received the “Top 10 in 10” Young Alumni Award from Albion College in 2010. He lives in Cincinnati, Ohio, with his wife of 16 years, Holli (Mezeske), ’99, and their three children.

Mallory Brown, ’08

Brown in Ethiopia for World Clothes Line
Brown in Ethiopia for World Clothes Line

2016 Elkin R. Isaac Alumni Lecture

“Lessons Learned from a Mud Hut: What Travel Has Taught Me”

Wednesday, April 20, 2016, 7:30 p.m.
Towsley Lecture Hall/Norris 101

On a post-college backpacking trip to Southeast Asia, Mallory Brown's eyes were opened to the needs of others and the realization that she had the resources and desire to address these needs in a profound and positive way.

In 2010, she founded World Clothes Line, an apparel company with a "Buy 1, Give 1" mission that matches every item sold with a new item for someone in need. Since its launch, Brown has personally delivered new clothing in 17 countries.

Six years later, Brown is a successful social entrepreneur, worldwide adventure traveler, and international humanitarian. She is the first brand ambassador for CrowdRise, the largest crowdfunding platform for good. As director of the CrowdRise 24-Hour Impact Project, Brown runs flash fundraisers on the ground for various causes around the globe. In 2015, she raised more than $80,000 with six 24-hour campaigns in six different countries for six different causes.

In 2016, Brown is extending her philanthropic reach with her personal brand, Travel Mal. As a consultancy, Travel Mal helps for-profit companies embrace innovative strategies for corporate giving. As a public speaker, Brown encourages the next generation to think globally and give back.

Most recently, Brown became a founding director of global non-profit Chefs4Kids. The company works with nationwide restaurants and food industry celebrities to organize and promote philanthropic events. As director of communications, Brown works with organization partners in Haiti, Honduras, and other developing countries.

Brown's efforts have been featured by NBC's Today show, The New York Times, Crain's Detroit Business, The Huffington Post, and Ambassador magazine. Her work has attracted corporate sponsorship from organizations such as Ford Motor Company, Moosejaw Mountaineering, Zappos, CreateMyTee, and Meijer. Brown shared her approach to philanthropy at TedxDetroit 2015 with a talk titled "How to Save the World Before You're 30."

Brown grew up in Farmington Hills, Michigan. At Albion, she was a double major in economics and management and French and was a member of the Carl A. Gerstacker Institute for Business and Management. In 2011, Brown received the College's Young Alumni Award.

Samata Singhi, ’05

2015 Elkin R. Isaac Alumni LectureSamata Singhi, Albion College Class of 2005

“Paradigm Shifts in Health and Science”

Wednesday, April 22, 2015; 7:30 p.m.
Towsley Lecture Hall/Norris 101

As a child, Samata Singhi listened to her grandfather's stories about taking medical care to remote villages in their native India. Accompanying her physician parents to their immunization drives in city slums, she saw children suffering from malnutrition and dehydration. These experiences eventually inspired her to pursue a career in medicine and public health. Today her interests stretch across the whole spectrum of healthcare—from grassroots access to bedside practice to governmental policymaking.

While an Albion student, Singhi was elected to the cabinet of Student Senate, and helped found the International Student Union. Through her medical externships and volunteer work in India and the United States, she developed a greater understanding of the disparities of access and outcomes in healthcare, and presented these in her honors thesis at Albion. For her work, she received the Maurice L. Branch Award for outstanding research and scholarship in economics. She was also elected to Phi Beta Kappa.

After graduating from Albion summa cum laude with majors in chemistry and economics, she headed to the London School of Economics and Political Science where she earned a master's in international health policy and health economics. She then returned to the United States to pursue her medical degree at Case Western Reserve University. As a medical student, she conducted research in pediatric neurology at the Kennedy Krieger Institute in Baltimore and at Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine, supported by fellowships from the Child Neurology Foundation and the Doris Duke Charitable Foundation.

Singhi is currently chief resident for the Child Neurology Program at Boston Children's Hospital/Harvard Medical School. On completing her residency in 2016, she plans to pursue a career in academic medicine and continue to advocate for projects that promote effective and efficient medical care for all members of society.

Hugh McDiarmid, ’84

2014 Elkin R. Isaac Alumni LectureHugh McDiarmid, Albion College Class of 1984

“Michigan’s Clean Energy Success and Why Not Everyone Is Thrilled”

April 23, 2014; 7:30 p.m.
Towsley Lecture Hall/Norris 101

As communications director with the Michigan Environmental Council (MEC), Hugh McDiarmid, Jr., '84, works with more than 60 environmental, public health, and faith-based groups across the state dedicated to positive change through the political process. Based in Lansing, MEC works on issues such as clean energy, forest management, children's health, environmental justice, transportation, climate change, and air pollution. Surrounded by the world's largest freshwater ecosystem, MEC is also heavily involved with issues affecting the health and preservation of the Great Lakes.

An English major at Albion, McDiarmid worked as a reporter and editor at the Roscommon Herald-News and the Grand Rapids-based Advance Newspapers before joining the Detroit Free Press in 1996. At the Free Press, McDiarmid won numerous state and national awards within news beats as varied as crime, politics, local government, and breaking news. He became the Free Press' environmental writer in 2003 where he broke news on issues including Great Lakes water pollution, lead poisoning in Michigan children, dioxin contamination downstream from Dow Chemical Co. in Midland, and efforts to protect public access to the Upper Peninsula's hardwood forests.

McDiarmid is a member of the East Michigan Environmental Action Council. He was a member of Albion's Delta Sigma Phi fraternity and active with Albion's club lacrosse team. McDiarmid lives in Farmington, where he keeps bees and plays goalie on a master's lacrosse team.

Read about McDiarmid's lecture

Michael Harrington, ’85

2013 Elkin R. Isaac LectureMichael Harrington, '85

Senior Vice President and General Counsel
Eli Lilly and Co.

“Reflections on the Globalization of American Business and Its Implications for Future Leaders”

Wednesday, April 17, 2013
7:30 p.m., Towsley Lecture Hall/Norris 101

For the past 22 years, Michael Harrington has worked for Eli Lilly and Company, currently serving as the firm’s senior vice president and general counsel and as a member of the company’s executive committee. Previously he was deputy general counsel of global pharmaceutical operations, overseeing legal matters for Lilly’s global business units in animal health, biomedicines, diabetes, emerging markets, and oncology. Among other positions he has held with Lilly, Harrington served as managing director of Eli Lilly New Zealand and as general counsel for Lilly’s operations in the Asia Pacific region. As a member of various leadership teams at Lilly, he enhanced the company’s internal and external diversity initiatives.

Along with serving as an Albion College trustee, Harrington currently serves on the boards and executive committees of the Indiana Chamber of Commerce, Lawyers for Civil Justice, the Indiana Repertory Theatre, and the International School of Indiana. He is a former director of the St. Francis Healthcare Foundation in Indianapolis and has been a board member of the American Tort Reform Association and the Indiana Legal Foundation. Harrington frequently shares his litigation expertise as a speaker, recently addressing the American Conference Institute and the International Association of Defense Counsel.

At Albion College, Harrington majored in English, and was a member of Delta Tau Delta and Omicron Delta Kappa. After graduating from Albion with Phi Beta Kappa honors, he earned a J.D. from Columbia University. He is married to Judy Small Harrington, ’86, and they and their family live in Zionsville, Indiana.

Lawrence Schook, ’72

Lawrence Schook, ’722012 Elkin R. Isaac Lecture

Vice President For Research And Senior Research Officer, University Of Illinois

“Individualizing Health and Wellness: Navigating Your Personal Journey”

Wednesday, April 18, 2012; 7:30 p.m.
Towsley Lecture Hall

In his role at the University of Illinois, Schook oversees an $800 million annual sponsored research portfolio covering the University’s three campuses. Additionally, he monitors the University’s research-related concerns including intellectual property, technology commercialization, and economic development.

Schook is also an active researcher, exploring comparative genomics and translational biomedical models. He is an Edward William and Jane Marr Gutgsell professor in biomedical sciences and holds faculty affiliations with the Institute for Genomic Biology, the Beckman Institute for Advanced Science and Technology, and the Micro and Nanotechnology Laboratory. He currently directs the international Swine Genome Sequencing Consortium and was principal investigator for a $25 million research project sponsored by the NIH, NSF and USDA.

Schook has launched two start-up companies focusing on molecular medicine and is a fellow at the Kaufman Academy for Entrepreneurial Leadership. He has served in key leadership roles at the National Research Council in animal genomics, chaired the executive steering committee of the Alliance for Animal Genome Research and was coauthor of both the cattle and pig NIH genome project white papers.

He has served on the boards of multiple biotechnology companies and the Biotechnology Industry Organization and was appointed by Illinois governor Pat Quinn to the Illinois Innovation Counsel. He is currently on the board of governors for the Argonne and Fermi National Laboratories.

Schook began his research career working with Albion College biology professor Ken Ballou, and went on to earn a doctorate from Wayne State School of Medicine, followed by postdoctoral training at the Institute for Clinical Immunology in Switzerland, and the University of Michigan. He has also held faculty positions at the Medical College of Virginia and the University of Minnesota, and was a visiting professor at the Ludwig Cancer Center of the University of Lausanne.

He is a recipient of NIH, Swiss National Fund and Pardee fellowships, received the Funk Award for Meritorious Achievements in Agriculture and the Pfizer Animal Health Research award, and is an elected fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science. In 2010, Schook was a Fulbright Distinguished Chair in human genomics at the University of Salzburg. He was recently selected as the ninth University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign Chancellor’s Center for Advanced Study Lecturer for his pioneering work on genomics and evolutionary biology. He has mentored 38 undergraduate students, 37 graduate and doctoral students, and 19 postdoctoral fellows; has written more than 200 published works; edited six books; and is founding editor of Animal Biotechnology. Schook was named an Albion College Distinguished Alumnus in 1996.

About the Elkin R. Isaac Endowment.

John Ferris, ’89

John Ferris, ’892011 Elkin R. Isaac Lecture

Product Planning Manager, Elec. Vehicles & Infrastructure, Energy and Environmental Policy & Commercialization, General Motors Company

“Recharging the Auto Industry: The Story of the Chevrolet Volt”

Wednesday, April 13, 2011; 7:30 p.m.
Towsley Lecture Hall/Norris 100

Mr. Ferris has more than 20 years of experience in the automotive industry, including multiyear assignments in corporate finance, corporate strategy, product planning, and advanced vehicle development. He has also traveled and worked overseas in Japan, South Korea, China, and the United Arab Emirates (UAB). Ferris was a member of the Chevrolet Volt Concept Team and was the program planning lead for the Chevy Volt production program. He is currently managing electric infrastructure development and home charging installation for the Volt and future General Motors Plug-in Electric Vehicle (PEV) programs. Ferris started his GM career at Saturn Corp. and has an MBA from the University of Chicago. In 1994, he was selected as one of eight MBA students nationally to participate in the 1994 Business Fellowships in Japan Program.

About the Elkin R. Isaac Endowment.

Kristen Verderame, ’90

Kristen Verderame, '902010 Elkin R. Isaac Lecture

CEO and Founder of Pondera International LLC

Wednesday, April 21, 2010; 7:30 p.m.
Towsley Lecture Hall/Norris 101

Kristen Verderame is CEO and Founder of Pondera International LLC, a consultancy formed to assist venture capital firms ensure and increase the value of their investments. Ms. Verderame has held a number of consultative and strategic business roles over the last several years.

Ms. Verderame spent the bulk of her professional career in a variety of roles within BT (British Telecom) Group plc. Her last role was Vice President and General Counsel for the company’s US operations, where she was a leading member of the management team. During her tenure, Ms. Verderame led the company’s Legal Department, and was also responsible for various operational areas such as Procurement, Security and BT Federal (BT’s US Government sales organization).

Ms. Verderame holds several advisory roles outside of her day-to-day professional responsibilities. She has been actively involved in the network of British-American organizations in the US and UK for years, and currently serves as the general counsel to the British American Business Council, the international umbrella organization that represents over 2,500 British and American businesses across 25 chapters in the US and the UK. She is also past president of the Washington, D.C. chapter. Ms. Verderame currently serves as the general counsel to the European-American Business Council, and as a Non-Executive Director for UK Trade & Investment. She holds membership in the Federal Communications Bar Association, the American Bar Association and the bars of the State of Illinois, the District of Columbia, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit, and the U.S. Court of International Trade. Ms. Verderame is an accomplished public speaker, and has presented in numerous fora on a variety of international telecommunications policy, security, trade, employment and business issues.

Ms. Verderame received her Juris Doctor from the University of Michigan Law School, and her Bachelors of Arts degree from Albion College, Summa Cum Laude, Phi Beta Kappa, with Honors.

James Gignac, ’01

James Gignac, ’012009 Elkin R. Isaac Alumni Lecture

Midwest director of the Sierra Club’s Beyond Coal Campaign

“New Energy for America: From ‘Liberal Arts at Work’ to Moving Beyond Coal”

Wednesday, April 22, 2009; 7:30 p.m.
Towsley Lecture Hall/Norris 101

James Gignac currently serves as Midwest director of the Sierra Club’s Beyond Coal Campaign. Based in Chicago, Gignac helps coordinate and manage the campaign’s legal, organizing, and communications activities across a fourteen-state region. His principal focus is on supporting the campaign’s goal to eliminate one-third of the nation’s global warming emissions that come from the use of coal to generate energy by opposing new coal plant proposals, accelerating the retirement of existing coal-fired power plants, and driving investment away from coal and into clean energy solutions like energy efficiency, solar power, and wind power. Gignac’s day-to-day work consists of a varied and interesting mix of strategic planning, legal coordination, messaging, organizing, and policy advocacy designed to help move America beyond coal and into the clean energy economy of the future.

After graduating from Albion with majors in history and political science, Gignac earned his law degree from Harvard Law School in 2004. While in law school, Gignac served as executive director of the Harvard Legal Aid Bureau, was elected president of the Harvard Environmental Law Society, and received a Dean’s Award for Community Leadership. After leaving Harvard, he spent a year serving as a judicial law clerk for the Alaska Supreme Court. Gignac then returned to the Midwest and worked as an associate in the environmental practice group with the law firm of Mayer Brown LLP in Chicago. He joined the Sierra Club in his current capacity in June 2008.

This will be Gignac’s second presentation at an Elkin R. Isaac Symposium. As an Albion College senior in spring 2001, he presented his thesis entitled “Citizen Environmental Activism: Three Case Studies in the Albion, Michigan Area.” The thesis consisted of an analysis of three different opportunities Gignac had during his time at Albion to work with and study citizen involvement in environmental issues as a member of the Environmental Institute’s interdisciplinary Rice Creek Project and Professor Wesley Dick’s Environmental History course. Gignac received a Jenkins Award for his thesis work and was also named the outstanding graduate in both American history and political science in 2001. In his current role with the Sierra Club, the nation’s oldest and largest grassroots environmental organization, Gignac continues to work with and for volunteer activists seeking to protect their local environment and address the critical challenge of climate change.

The Institute for the Study of the Environment is a co-sponsor of this lecture.

Jim Beck, ’97

 Jim Beck, '972008 Elkin R. Isaac Alumni Lecture

Program Analyst in the Office of Policy, Planning, and Evaluation (PPE)

“From Albion to Africa and Back Again: Reflections on Alternative Careers in Science”

Wednesday, April 23, 2008; 7:30 p.m.
Towsley Lecture Hall/Norris 101

Jim Beck is currently a program analyst in the Office of Policy, Planning, and Evaluation (PPE) in the Office of Oceanic and Atmospheric Research (OAR) of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA). He plays a technical support role or two high-level advisory bodies (NOAA’s Science Advisory Board and Research Council) that guide NOAA on research matters concerning climate modeling, weather forecasting, ecosystem management, ocean and coastal resource management, and related issues.

Over the last 10 years, Beck has focused on international natural resource management issues in Africa with a variety of leading science-based environmental organizations, initiatives, and government agencies. From 2003 to 2007, Beck worked on land-use planning and ecosystem management projects in central Africa, first for Global Forest Watch at the World Resources Institute (Washington, D.C.) and later for the Wildlife Conservation Society (Republic of Congo). He also worked at Cornell University, where he was a research assistant on a socio-economic study related to park management in Gabon for the World Wildlife Fund.

Following his graduation from Albion, Beck served as a Peace Corps volunteer in Gabon for two years, assisting with a rural aquaculture development project, and then spent a third year with the Peace Corps as a researcher collaborating with the World Wildlife Fund and the Gabonese Ministry of Forest and Water. He has also taught at the University of Maryland.

Beck’s career experiences also include management of “think tank” programs seeking to strategically influence environmental policy and practice, multi-stakeholder coalition building, and grassroots rural development.

He received a B.A. from Albion College, with a biology major and environmental science concentration, and a master’s in sustainable development and conservation biology from the University of Maryland at College Park. While an undergraduate, he had a special interest in marine biology, and conducted research with Albion biologist Jeffrey Carrier and at the Duke University Marine Laboratory in Beaufort, N.C. He participated in the Isaac Symposium in 1997 with a presentation on “Male Nurse Shark (Ginglymostoma cirratum) Movement in Relation to Mating Activities.”

Eileen Hebets, ’94

Eileen Hebets, '942007 Elkin R. Isaac Alumni Lecture

Assistant Professor in the School of Biological Sciences at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln

“Exploring life on eight legs: The journey from Albion to Arachnophilia”

Wednesday, April 25, 2007; 7:30 p.m.
Towsley Lecture Hall/Norris 101

Eileen Hebets is currently assistant professor in the School of Biological Sciences at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln, where she teaches zoology and behavioral ecology. From 2003 to 2005, she held appointments at the University of California, Berkeley as assistant professor in the Department of Environmental Science Policy and Management/Division of Insect Biology, curator of the Essig Museum, and member of the Helen Wills Neuroscience Institute. She held a National Institutes of Health post-doctoral research fellowship in the Department of Neurobiology and Behavior at Cornell University in 2002-03.

A specialist in the evolution of animal communication systems, Hebets is currently focusing her research on the development of complex signaling systems in various spider species. Supported by a Searle Scholars Program Fellowship and a National Science Foundation CAREER grant, her work includes both field-based experiments and observations and an array of laboratory techniques and methods drawn from molecular biology and neurophysiology. Hebets' field research has taken her to caves in Puerto Rico, rain forests in Costa Rica, and the sky islands in Arizona.

Her findings have been covered by national and international news organizations including The New York Times, USA Today, The Boston Globe, BBC Online, CNN, ABC News, and National Public Radio. She also served as a consultant for the movie Spiderman (2002). Hebets' scholarly publications include articles in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Science, Journal of Experimental Biology, Animal Behaviour, Behavioral Ecology, and the Journal of Insect Physiology, among others.

After graduating from Albion College in 1994, Hebets went on to earn a master's in biology at the University of Cincinnati (1996), and then a master's (1998) and Ph.D. (2002) in ecology and evolutionary biology at the University of Arizona.

This year's lecture marks the first time in the history of the Isaac Symposium that our Alumni Lecturer also participated in the symposium as an undergraduate. In 1994, Hebets gave a presentation entitled, "Habitat and Courtship Behavior of the Wolf Spider Schizocosa retrorsa." Named the outstanding senior biology major that year, she also received the Edmund and Kathleen Jenkins Research Award from Albion.

Joseph S. Calvaruso, ’78

Joseph S. Calvaruso, ’942006 Elkin R. Isaac Alumni Lecture

Senior Vice President and Director of Risk Management for Mercantile Bank

“Albion College - the Training Camp for the Nine Innings of Life”

Wednesday, April 26, 2006; 7:30 p.m.
Bobbitt Visual Arts Auditorium

Joseph Calvaruso currently serves as senior vice president and director of risk management for Mercantile Bank in Grand Rapids. He is also secretary and treasurer for the Board of Directors of Michigan Certified Development Corporation, which provides funding for business start-ups and expansions. As a member of the Michigan chapter of the Risk Management Association, he has held numerous leadership positions, including the presidency, and won many achievement awards. He has also served on the association's international Board of Directors and on numerous national committees.

Prior to joining Mercantile Bank, Calvaruso spent nearly 20 years as executive vice president of Chemical Bank Shoreline in Benton Harbor. He left that job in June 2004 to join Vice President Dick Cheney's reelection campaign as a member of the national advance team. Over the past six years, Calvaruso has also served as a coordinator for visits to Michigan and throughout the country by members of the Bush administration. Earlier in his career, Calvaruso held positions with City Bank in Jackson and Comerica Bank in Kalamazoo.

Calvaruso sits on the Gerald R. Ford Institute for Public Policy and Service Visiting Committee at Albion College and is a former member of the Michigan Work Force Investment Board. He is a past chairman of the Kalamazoo County Republican Party and is a current member of the Republican State Committee.

Earlier this year, Calvaruso and his wife, Donna, endowed the Joseph S. Calvaruso Keynote Address for this symposium. In keeping with Calvaruso's personal goal to "try different things in life," the keynote endowment ensures the symposium will continue to provide an exceptional variety of presenters from the arts, sciences, social sciences, and humanities. An Albion native and a product of the Albion Public Schools, Calvaruso graduated from Albion College in 1978 and holds an M.B.A. from Western Michigan University.

Elkin R. "Ike" Isaac, ’48

Elkin R. (Ike) Isaac, '482005 Elkin R. Isaac Alumni Lecture

Former Athletic Director at the University of the Pacific

“Exercise: Combating the Aging Process”

Wednesday, April 21, 2005; 4:00 p.m.
Bobbitt Visual Arts Auditorium

A member of the Albion College faculty from 1952 to 1975, Elkin R. "Ike" Isaac also served as head basketball coach (1953-1959), head track coach (1953-1962), and head cross country coach (1962-1969). He led his teams to one Michigan Intercollegiate Athletic Association (MIAA) basketball title, six consecutive league championships in track and three cross country championships. He also served as athletic director.

Upon leaving Albion in 1975, Isaac became athletic director at the University of the Pacific. He retired there in 1984.

As an Albion student, Isaac earned All-MIAA honors in 1943, 1946, and 1947 for his outstanding performance on the basketball court. He was captain and voted Most Valuable Player of the 1947 team. He also played football for three years. Isaac was inducted into the Albion College Athletic Hall of Fame in 1989 and received the Hall of Fame's Lifetime Achievement Award in 1999.

He interrupted his college career from 1943 to 1945 to serve in the U.S. Air Force as a pilot during World War II.

In honor of Isaac's long-time support of Albion College athletics, the College's outdoor track, rebuilt and resurfaced in 1997, was named in his honor. The Elkin Isaac Track Drive was co-chaired by Cedric and June Luke Dempsey, both ’54, with assistance from Thomas Schwaderer, '56.

The Elkin R. Isaac Endowed Lectureship was created in 1991 by Isaac's friends and former students. Today, this endowment has been expanded to fund the Elkin R. Isaac Student Research Symposium.

Ike and his wife, Edie, reside in Kalamazoo.

Dr. John Porter, ’53

Dr. John Porter, '532004 Elkin R. Isaac Alumni Lecture

Former CEO of the Urban Education Alliance, Inc., General Superintendent for the Detroit Public Schools, President of Eastern Michigan University

“Educational Leadership in the 21st Century”

Wednesday, April 14, 2004; 7:30 p.m.
Bobbitt Visual Arts Auditorium

From the classroom to the nation's capital, John Porter has spent the last 50 years as an advocate for Michigan students of all ages while serving both the state and federal governments as an education expert. After earning his Ph.D. at Michigan State University, he was named the state superintendent of public instruction in 1969, a position he held for 10 years. Porter left the Michigan Department of Education to take the presidency of Eastern Michigan University in 1979. After his successful 10-year tenure at Eastern, he became general superintendent for the Detroit Public Schools from 1989 to 1991. He then served as chief executive officer of the Urban Education Alliance, Inc. in Ypsilanti until his recent retirement.

Porter has been recognized at Albion with the Distinguished Alumni Award in 1970, an honorary degree in 1973, and with the Athletic Hall of Fame's Lifetime Achievement Award in 2003. He served on the College's Board of Trustees for 15 years and is now an honorary trustee. In recognition of his distinguished career in education, in 2002 the College announced the creation of the John W. Porter Endowed Professorship in the Fritz Shurmur Education Institute.

Dr. Denise Cortis Park, ’73

Dr. Denise Cortis Park, '732004 Elkin R. Isaac Alumni Lecture

Professor of Psychology at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign (UIUC) and a faculty member in UIUC's Beckman Biological Intelligence Group

“The Aging Mind”

Wednesday, April 23, 2003; 7:30 p.m.
Bobbitt Visual Arts Auditorium

Denise Park is currently a professor of psychology at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign (UIUC) and a faculty member in UIUC's Beckman Biological Intelligence Group. She is also director of a Roybal Center for Applied Cognitive Research on Aging. Park studies the cognitive neuroscience of aging; memory processes and aging; culture, cognition and aging; and the impact of neurobiological changes on cognition in everyday life.

Her primary research interest is in understanding the effects of age-related changes in memory function, on both the individual and the collective levels. She utilizes neuroimaging and behavioral studies to evaluate picture memory and imagery formation abilities in individuals. With these studies, Park is working to “map” the changing neural circuitry associated with the brain's encoding and retrieval processes. At the collective level, Park's research examines the implications of aging in society. Using cross-cultural research studies in Asian and Western cultures, she has focused on cultural differences in basic memory processes and how these processes are affected by aging.

Since 1981, Park has been the principal investigator for research initiatives funded by the National Institute on Aging, the Arthritis Foundation, the National Institute of Arthritis and Musculoskeletal Diseases, and the AARP Andrus Foundation. The author of numerous articles in professional journals, she has also been quoted widely in the media, including The New York Times, The Washington Post, USA Today, Time and AARP's Modern Maturity, and her research has been featured on PBS.

Before moving to UIUC in 2002, Park was a professor of psychology and senior research scientist at the University of Michigan. After earning her Ph.D. from the State University of New York at Albany in 1977, she had faculty appointments at the University of North Carolina at Charlotte and the University of Georgia until joining the University of Michigan faculty in 1995. Park has held numerous leadership positions in professional organizations, and among her many awards she received a 2002 American Psychological Association Distinguished Contribution Award to the Psychology of Aging and a 1997 Albion College Distinguished Alumni Award. She was recently named a fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science.

Dr. Joseph Serra, ’56

Dr. Joseph Serra, '562002 Elkin R. Isaac Lecture

Professor of Psychology at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign (UIUC) and a faculty member in UIUC's Beckman Biological Intelligence Group

“From Crawler to Walker to a Polio-Free World”

Wednesday, April 17, 2002; 7:30 p.m.
Bobbitt Visual Arts Auditorium

A Detroit native, Joseph Serra served in Korea from 1950 to 1951 as a Navy medical corpsman with the First Marine Division Air Wing. After graduating from Albion in 1956, he then earned his M.D. degree from Wayne State University Medical School. He interned at Los Angeles County Hospital and returned to Wayne State University for his residency in orthopedic surgery. In 1966, he and his wife, Dorothy McEvoy Serra, '59, moved to Stockton, Calif., where Joe entered private practice. He co-founded the Stockton Orthopedic Medical Group in 1970. His special interest has been sports medicine. He has served as orthopedic team physician for the University of the Pacific, the Milwaukee Brewer farm system, and the Stockton Ports baseball team.

A member of the Rotary Club of Stockton since 1977, he was president in 1990-91. He was governor of District 5220 in 1994-95 and has also been national advisor to the Permanent Fund Initiative. He is currently a member of the International Polio Plus Committee and the National Polio Plus Speaker's Bureau, as well as a zone coordinator for the Partnering Task Force. He served as an Rotary International training leader at the 1999 International Assembly in Anaheim.

Serra has served the Rotary Foundation as a volunteer orthopedic surgeon in Malawi, Africa, on four tours of duty, primarily performing surgery on polio victims called "crawlers." He received the Rotary Foundation Citation for Meritorious Service, the President's Citation, the Service Above Self Award, and the Foundation PolioPlus Pioneer Award. He and his wife represented Rotary International in Liberia, Africa, during the first National Immunization Days in January 1999.

In his home community, Serra has served on several boards, including Goodwill Industries and the University of the Pacific Athletic Foundation, and is a member of many medical societies and international organizations. He was named "Stocktonian of the Year" in 1987, which he attributes to Rotary's prominent identity in his community.

The Serras have two sons and two grandchildren. Joe's favorite activities include skiing, mountaineering, travel, photography, and giving slide presentations about Rotary's legacy to the world-the eradication of polio.

James E. Misner, ’66

James E. Misner, '66 2000 Elkin R. Isaac Lecture

“From Fat to Fit: Reflections on Exercise, Nutrition, and Weight Control”

Monday, April 17, 2000; 7:30 p.m.
Bobbitt Visual Arts Auditorium

Kinesiologist James E. Misner, '66, has been an educator and researcher in the areas of physical fitness and exercise for nearly 30 years. He is currently professor of kinesiology at the University of Illinois in Champaign. In addition to directing numerous research projects for the University of Illinois, Misner, has conducted research for the American Heart Association, the Illinois Association for Health, Physical Education and Recreaction, and the Champaign-Urbana Mass Transit District. Misner has worked as a consultant for some two dozen different government and business organizations, including the Illinois Association of Boards of Police and Fire Commissioners, the Civil Service Commissions of Champaign, Illinois and New York City, the civil service system for Illinois universities, and the University of Illinois Medical School. Misner has also served as an expert witness in four court cases.

Currently, Misner serves as a consulting editor of the Journal of the National Intramural-Recreational Sports Association and as editor of the Illinois Journal of Health, Physical Education, and Recreation. He has contributed more than 50 articles to these and many other professional journals in the U.S., Europe, and Australia. Misner has also contributed to dozens of research abstracts, reports, and manuals, co-authored a book and instructional software, and has given nearly 75 presentations to professional conferences. Since 1978, he has been recognized 14 times on the Chancellor's List of teachers ranked as excellent by their students.

Misner joined the faculty at the University of Illinois shortly after receiving his doctorate there in 1971. Misner holds a master's degree from the University of Arizona in Tucson. He is married to Marilyn Spitler Misner, '68, and they have two daughters, Kristin Misner, '96, and Anne.

John Vournakis, ’61

John Vournakis, '61 2001 Elkin R. Isaac Lecture

“Serendipity - Just Plain Old Luck”

Wednesday, April 18, 2001; 7:30 p.m.
Bobbitt Visual Arts Auditorium

A teacher and researcher of distinction, John Vournakis has published more than 150 research articles in the fields of biophysics, molecular biology, and biotechnology, and is an inventor on over 15 U.S. and foreign patents. After graduating from Albion, he continued his education at Cornell University, earning his M.S. and Ph.D. in biophysical chemistry in 1966 and 1968, respectively.

From 1970 to the present, Vournakis has held faculty appointments at several of the nation's most prestigious colleges and universities. After a year on the Amherst College faculty, he served at Syracuse University from 1973 to 1985 as assistant, associate, and full professor of biochemistry. From 1985 to 1988, he was professor of biology and director of the Molecular Genetics Center at Dartmouth College in Hanover, N.H. He left academia to become a senior executive in the biotechnology industry from 1988 to 1992 and returned to teach again at Dartmouth from 1992 to 1995. In 1995 he became a professor of medicine and associate director for the Hollings Cancer Center, Medical University of South Carolina (MUSC).

In 1992 Vournakis co-founded Marine Polymer Technologies, Inc., a start-up medical products company. He is the inventor of a polymer-based technology that has led to several FDA-approved products, including the SyvekPatch hemostat used for the rapid control of bleeding following medical procedures such as cardiac catheterization.

Vournakis was a predoctoral and postdoctoral Fellow of the National Institutes of Health, a National Academy of Sciences USA Fellow (1968), a European Molecular Biology Organization Fellow (1970), and received a National Science Foundation Senior Research Associate Award (1972-75). He currently holds six editorial positions, including editor of the Genetic Engineering News, and serves on the Hollings Cancer Center Board and the MUSC Foundation for Research Development. He is a member of the Tsintzina Society board and of the Greek Orthodox Church.

Vournakis received a Distinguished Alumni Award in 1996. He lives in Charleston, S.C., with his wife, Karen Munro Vournakis, '66. They have one son, Christopher.

Emilio DeGrazia, ’63

Emilio DeGrazia, '631999 Elkin R. Isaac Lecture

Professor of English at Winona State University

Wednesday, April 14, 1999; 7:30 p.m.
Bobbitt Visual Arts Auditorium

Emilio DeGrazia holds master”s and doctoral degrees in English from Ohio State University. He has lived in Minnesota since 1969, and is currently a professor of English at Winona State University.

DeGrazia says he began his career as an author “in the middle of [one] night in 1973.” That night produced a first draft of “The Enemy,” one of the stories included in Enemy Country, DeGrazia”s first published book. Enemy Country was selected by Anne Tyler for a Writer”s Choice Award and chosen as one of Library Journal”s “Best Small Press Books of 1984”; another collection of stories, Seventeen Grams of Soul, won a Minnesota Book Award. DeGrazia has also published more than 100 works of fiction, poetry, and essays in various anthologies and literary journals. He is the author of two published novels, Billy Brazil and A Canticle for Bread and Stones, has co-edited the anthology 26 Minnesota Writers, and is the founder of the literary journal Great River Review. A third short story collection, Born-Again Blues, is awaiting publication.

Of his craft, DeGrazia says: “I”m driven by fairly old-fashioned ideas about the writing life: That one becomes a writer by discovering that one has something to “say” that the result should be at once story, sermon, and song; that one should genuinely want to communicate, present a vision capable of evoking a passionate response; …and that good art has only one legitimate raison d'etre, the clarification of life for the purpose of enhancing it.”

Terrence Karpowicz, ’70

1998 Elkin R. Isaac Alumni LectureTerrence Karpowicz, Albion College Class of 1970

”Millwright’s Apprentice“

Monday, April 13, 1998
Bobbitt Visual Arts Center Auditorium

Terrence Karpowicz is a professional sculptor who lives and works in Chicago, IL. He has received two National Endowment for the Arts fellowships and five grants from the Illinois Arts Council in support of his work. He also received a Fulbright Hayes Grant to the United Kingdom. Karpowicz's work is now held in collections in the Tblisi Museum in the Republic of Georgia, the Steensland Museum of Art and Tweed Museum, both in Minnesota, and the Rockford Art Museum in Illinois, as well as at the University of Oklahoma at Norman, Governor's State Park, Park Forest, IL, and Tiffany's & Co. His works have been commissioned by Northeastern University in Chicago, Crain's Chicago Business, the University of Illinois Medical Center in Chicago, the City of Chicago’s Thurgood Marshall Memorial Library and the Illinois State University Life Science Building in Normal, IL. For the past three years, he has been executive director of the 3D Chicago/Pier Walk Exhibition at Navy Pier and has also participated as an exhibitor.

His solo exhibitions have been displayed at the Franz Bader Gallery in Washington, DC, the Zolla/Lieberman Gallery in Chicago and at other locations in the Midwest, and he has been a featured artist in group exhibitions at McCormick Gallery, DePaul University, the Ukrainian Art Museum, and the Evanston Art Center, all in the Greater Chicago area, as well as at the University of Notre Dame, Carnegie Mellon University and Albion College.

A 1970 graduate of Albion College, Karpowicz also participated in the New York Arts Program while at Albion. The recipient of an M.F.A. degree from the University of Illinois at Champaign-Urbana, he has served as a visiting artist at nine colleges and universities. Recently he has been commissioned to create two sculptures for Albion College, and the first, now installed near the entrance to the Dow Recreation and Wellness Center, was dedicated today (April 3, 1998).

Wilbur S. Hurst, ’61

Dr. Wilbur S. Hurst, '61 1997 Elkin R. Isaac Lecture

Physicist, National Institute of Standards and Technolog

“Supercritical Water: A Contrarious Fluid and its Application for the Destruction of Aqueous Wastes”

Tuesday, April 15, 1997
Olin 112