Next Scientia colloquium set for Nov. 13

Four speakers from across campus will explore “The Power of Ideas” at the next Scientia colloquium 4 p.m. Nov. 13.

ScientiaThe lectures will be in the Brochstein Pavilion Garden and are free and open to the public. In case of rain, the colloquium will be held in Herring Hall, Room 100. A reception will be held after the talks.

The speakers will be:

Thomas Killian, professor of physics and astronomy, who will discuss “The Pursuit for Total Control.” Much of the history of atomic physics over the last century can be described as the pursuit for total control over atoms and light, Killian wrote in an abstract of his talk. “I will describe how this simple preoccupation led to technological advances like MRI, the laser and incredibly precise atomic clocks, and how it drives us to explore the bizarre laws of quantum mechanics and create the coldest stuff in the universe.”

Elaine Howard Ecklund, associate professor of sociology and director of the Religion and Public Policy Program at Rice’s Kinder Institute for Urban Research. In her presentation on “Mentoring,” she will explore several questions:  what it means in the academy to be a good mentor in an environment that rewards personal scholarly success; in the sciences, whether female scholars are more likely to spend time mentoring because of its connection with care work; whether mentoring hurts their careers; and how people can become better mentors and teach students how to be better mentors.

Paula Sanders, vice provost for academic affairs, dean of graduate and postdoctoral studies and professor of history, who will present “Thinking With History.” “A chance encounter with an Egyptian architect in a library in Cairo caused me to reframe a project on the historiography of a medieval Egyptian dynasty as a project on historic preservation of medieval Cairo,” she wrote. “Reading and re-reading Carl Schorske’s beautiful book, ‘Thinking With History,’ gave me the vocabulary I needed to re-imagine that new project as a critique of the very idea of historic cities.”

Mark Embree, professor of computational and applied mathematics and director of the Rice Center for Engineering Leadership, who will discuss “Numerate Citizenship.” “When I was 7, my dad brought home an Atari 400 computer and suggested that I learn to program it. Ever since, I’ve been entirely hooked and now believe that algorithmic thinking and allied mathematical arts are important not only to science and engineering, but also to responsible citizenship,” he wrote.

Scientia is an institute of Rice University faculty founded in 1981 by the mathematician and historian of science Salomon Bochner. The lecture series provides an opportunity for scholarly discussion across disciplinary boundaries; its members and fellows come from a wide range of academic disciplines. For more information on Scientia, visit



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