Mason Offers ‘Visions’ in Yearlong Lecture Series

Posted: July 10, 2006 at 1:00 am, Last Updated: November 30, -0001 at 12:00 am

Vision series lecturers
The new Vision lecture series features eight distinguished faculty members. Top row, from left: Rainald Löhner, June Tangney, David S. Anderson. Middle row: Richard Florida, Rick Davis. Bottom row: George Donohue, Lisa Pawloski, Giorgio Ascoli.
Creative Services images/collage

By Rey C. Banks

What does the architectural structure of the brain look like? And how does it relate to cognitive function? Why is guilt good? How is U.S. government policy sabotaging efficient air transportation? What is the newest global epidemic? How does an old play become a new opera?

In a yearlong lecture series beginning this fall, eight distinguished Mason faculty members will share their answers to these and many other interesting questions gleaned from their research and current work.

The brainchild of Provost Peter Stearns, “The Vision Series” will showcase the talents of Mason experts in health, public policy, psychology, neuroscience, systems engineering, computational sciences and theater.

“George Mason University is home to a good many world-class academicians,” says Stearns. “This series gives us the opportunity to focus more intently on the seminal work of specific faculty members and timely issues. I see this series as another way of enhancing a sense of community within the university as well as connecting us with the wider region.”

The series, free and open to the public, is sponsored by United Bank. The eight lectures will be held on Mondays at 8 p.m. in the Center for the Arts Concert Hall on the Fairfax Campus. A reception with the speaker will follow each lecture.

The schedule follows:

Sept. 25, Richard Florida, Omer L. and Nancy Hirst Professor of Public Policy

Florida has gained renown for his research into the rise of creativity in American lives and the impact it has on work, communities and leisure pursuits. He will discuss “The Flight of the Creative Class,” a follow-up to his popular book, “The Rise of the Creative Class.” That book sparked an international movement to transform urban living standards to embrace the values and attitudes of workers who create for a living, including artists, engineers, writers and entertainers.

Oct. 23, Giorgio Ascoli, professor of psychology

Ascoli, who is affiliated with Mason’s Krasnow Institute for Advanced Study, will discuss “Toward Virtual Brains.” Ascoli is an expert on computational neuroscience, computational neuroanatomy, human consciousness and the relationship between brains and computers. He has developed algorithms to build “anatomically correct” virtual neurons instead of the traditional computer models that focus entirely on the activity of neurons.

Nov. 6, June Tangney, professor of psychology

Tangney’s topic is “Shame and Guilt: The Good, the Bad and the Ugly.” Tangney will discuss how shame and guilt are frequently mentioned in the same breath as moral emotions that inhibit destructive, socially unacceptable behaviors. Tangney’s research focuses on moral emotions and moral cognitions among incarcerated offenders.

Dec. 4, Rainald Löhner, distinguished professor of fluid dynamics

Löhner’s lecture, “Computational Sciences: The Third Pillar of the Empirical Sciences,” will discuss how computational sciences have had a major impact in the way we gather and produce knowledge in all the realms of the empirical sciences, from astrophysics to particle physics, from macro-scale engineering projects to micro-analysis of manufacturing processes.

Jan. 29, 2007, George Donohue, professor of systems engineering and operations research and director of Mason’s Air Transport Systems Research Center

Donohue will explain why current U.S. governmental policies are creating problems and what citizens can do about it in his lecture, “Air Transportation: A Tale of Prisoners, Sheep and Sociopaths.” Donohue is an expert on airline delays, airline safety issues, air transportation policy and limitations of air transportation system. He frequently comments on airline security issues and the need for policy reform related to terrorist attacks.

Feb. 26, 2007, Lisa Pawloski, associate professor of global and community health

Pawloski will present a lecture titled “Childhood Obesity: Our Newest Global Epidemic?” Pawloski’s talk will highlight her research conducted in Mali, Nicaragua and Thailand and how researchers are now finding childhood obesity rates soaring in nations still plagued with hunger and poverty.

March 19, 2007, Rick Davis, professor of theater and associate dean of the College of Visual and Performing Arts

Davis’ presentation, “Words into Music: How an Old Play Becomes a New Opera,” will feature a company of actors and musicians demonstrating how he and composer Kim D. Sherman have approached their new operatic adaptation of “Love’s Comedy,” a little-known early work by the famous Norwegian playwright Henrik Ibsen.

April 30, 2007, David S. Anderson, associate professor of education and director of the Center for the Advancement of Public Health

Anderson’s lecture, “Legacy of Life: Creating Healthy Futures,” highlights seven prescriptions for healthier living, incorporating practical strategies for individual and collective action. Participants will be challenged and inspired to move beyond policy and awareness strategies to emphasize root causes of behaviors of concern.

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