Scientia lecture series returns Sept. 10

The Scientia lecture series returns Sept. 10 with “The Power of Ideas, Part II,” a continuation of the popular format begun last year.

ScientiaEach of this year’s Scientia colloquia will feature a set of five-minute talks by faculty on the ideas that have most powerfully influenced or engaged them in their careers and intellectual lives.

The colloquium, which is free and open to the public, will be at 4 p.m. in Ray Courtyard, Rice Memorial Center, with a reception afterward. In case of rain, the colloquium will be held in Duncan Hall’s McMurtry Auditorium.

The speakers and their topics are:

Caleb Kemere, assistant professor of electrical and computer engineering, on “Interacting With Memories.” “Over the last decade, neuroscientists investigating memory have uncovered patterns in the activity of individual neurons that seem to correspond to memories being formed and recalled,” he wrote in his abstract. “Real-time neural signal processing systems can allow us to move these studies from correlation to causation, providing the foundations for new ways to understand the mechanisms that underlie learning and memory.”

Rachel Kimbro, associate professor of sociology, on “The Social Determinants of Health.” “Health researchers are increasingly focusing on social factors as fundamental causes of disease,” she wrote. “How does social stratification get ‘under our skin’? And what implications does this have for designing interventions to improve population health?”

Daniel Wagner, associate professor of biochemistry and cell biology, on “Constant Change.” The beauty and challenge of studying embryonic development is captured in Heraclitus’ observation that ‘everything flows; nothing stands still,’ Wagner wrote. “Cells in the embryo divide, grow and change shape under the control of genes that have themselves divided and changed over a much longer timescale. Describing and interpreting this constant change has always been a challenge of developmental biologists.”

Neyran Turan, assistant professor of architecture, on “Superform.” She wrote, “Superform considers the potentials of very large project sites and building forms in the contemporary city and draws upon the capacity of architectural aesthetics to engage the city, the environment and geography.”

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


About Jennifer Evans

Jennifer Evans is a senior editor in the Rice's Office of Public Affairs.