Tuesday, March 30, 7 p.m.
This will be a virtual lecture.

Presented by the College of Arts and Sciences

Gil Omenn, MD, PhDGrand Challenges and Great Opportunities in Science, Technology and Public Policy by
Gil Omenn, MD, PhD

Harold T. Shapiro Distinguished University Professor
Director, Center for Computational Medicine & Bioinformatics
Professor of Computational Medicine & Bioinformatics, Internal
Medicine, Human Genetics and Public Health
University of Michigan

Dr. Gilbert S. Omenn will discuss the concept of “grand challenges” and how it has proven to be a powerful tool to stimulate critical discoveries, create new technologies, and attract public attention to make policy decisions that enhance investment and accelerate innovation. Referencing the “23 Puzzles” given by David Hilbert at the 1900 lecture in Paris, Omenn will discuss the history of issuing challenges and the resulting ways that finding solutions can move society and policy forward.

Omenn will examine growth in the space program, astrophysics, computer sciences, life sciences, economic development, and multiple other fields and will call upon the audience to formulate bold challenge statements for their own fields of science, technology, and innovation.

The lecture is free and open to the public.
You may access the event via this link: https://ltu.zoom.us/j/91021585066

Registrations are encouraged - please complete the information below.


The Walker L. Cisler lecture series, which is free and open to the public, was founded at Lawrence Technological University with a generous gift from the Holley Foundation of Birmingham, Mich.

Known for his leadership of the Detroit Edison Company from 1954 to 1971, Walker L. Cisler enjoyed a career that spanned a lifetime of personal, professional, civic, and business accomplishments. As an international ambassador for the American electric utility industry, he worked closely with heads of state both here and abroad. As a tireless, dedicated humanitarian, he strived to improve the quality of life for people everywhere.

When Cisler’s life and the aims of the Holley Foundation were considered, it seemed the best way to honor his memory would be to focus the Holley resources on the improvement of science education, especially in the pre-college years. In addition to his membership on the Foundation Board, Cisler was also director of the Thomas Alva Edison Foundation, an organization dedicated to inspiring and rewarding an interest in science among youth.

The focus on pre-college science education fits particularly well at Lawrence Tech. LTU's Marburger STEM Center provides a variety of programs for K-12 students to spark their interest in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) and nurture the success in these fields. Among them are eXtreme Science Saturdays, which offers hands-on workshops in chemistry, biology, and computer science; annual summer technology camps for high school students; Robofest, an annual international youth robotics competition; and the Blue Devil Scholars Program in partnership with the Detroit Public Schools Community District and Southfield Public Schools.

The University is also a strong supporter of the Metropolitan Detroit Science Teachers Association and numerous other activities that support science education.

If you are interested in supporting future Walker L. Cisler lectures, contact Lawrence Tech’s Office of Development & Alumni Relations at 248.204.2300 or email advancement@ltu.edu.

“Science, engineering, technology, and, accordingly, the country, cannot prosper until we once again produce a truly scientifically literate populace.”
– Walker L. Cisler

About Lawrence Tech

Lawrence Technological University is a private, accredited university focused on providing superior education through cutting-edge technology, small class sizes, and innovative programs. Lawrence Tech offers more than 100 degrees through Colleges of Architecture and Design, Arts and Sciences, Engineering, and Management. Nearly 4,500 students are enrolled in undergraduate, master’s, and doctoral programs conveniently offered for full- or part-time students, with day, evening, and online courses. Lawrence Tech’s wireless laptop campus offers a complete range of academic, residential, and recreational facilities.



2021     Gil Omenn, MD, PhD

2019     Dr. Sara A. Pozzi

             Professor of Nuclear Engineering and Radiological Sciences, University of Michigan
             Professor of Physics, University of Michigan
             Consortium Director, Consortium for Verification Technology

2018     Dr. Peter Walter

             Distinguished Professor of Biochemistry and Biophysics, Univ. of California, San Francisco
             Investigator, Howard Hughes Medical Institute

2017     Dr. Mark Schlissel

              M.D., PhD.
              President, University of Michigan

2016     Dr. Eva Feldman

                Russell N. DeJong Professor of Neurology
                Director, A. Alfred Taubman Medical Research Institute
                Director, Program for Neurology Research and Discovery

2015     Dr. Trachette Jackson

               Professor of Mathematics, University of Michigan

2014    Dr. George Djorgovski

Professor of Astronomy,Co-Director, Center for Advanced Computing Research
California Institute of Technology 

2013    Dr. Leigh Hochberg

Associate Professor of Engineering, Brown University
Vascular and critical care neurologist, Massachusetts General Hospital, 
Brigham and Women's Hospital, and Spaulding Rehabilitation Hospital

2012    Dr. Garrison Cottrell
                Director, Computer Science and Engineering
                Director, Temporal Dynamics of Learning Center
                University of California, San Diego                

2011    Dr. Diandra Leslie-Pelecky
                 Professor of Physics, West Virginia University

2010    Dr. Tyrone Hayes 
                  Professor of Developmental Endocrinology, University of California, Berkeley
2009    Dr. Eric J. Heller 
                  Professor of Physics and Chemistry, Harvard University
2008    John Noble Wilford
                  Science News Reporter, New York Times
2007    Dr. Alan Dale Poling
                 Professor of Psychology, Western Michigan University
2006    Dr. L. Dennis Smith
                 Former President, University of Nebraska (1994-2004) 
2005    Dr. Robert Devaney
                 Professor of Mathematics, Boston University
2004    Dr. Ursula Goodenough
                 Professor of Biology, Washington University
2003    Dr. Isabel Hawkins
                 Director, Center for Science Education, University of California
                 Berkeley Space Sciences Laboratory
2002    Dr. Dudley R. Herschbach
                 Nobel Prize in Chemistry for 1986
                 Frank B. Baird, Jr., Professor of Science, Harvard University
2001    Dr. Francisco Ayala
                 Donald Bren Professor of Biological Sciences and Professor of
                 Philosophy, University of California, Irvine
1999    Dr. Rodger W. Bybee
                 Executive Director, Center for Science, Mathematics, and
                 Engineering Education, National Research Council
1997    Dr.  Lillian C. McDermott
                 Professor of Physics, University of Washington
1996     Dr. Uri Treisman
                 MacArthur Fellow
                 Director, Charles A. Dana Center, University of Texas at Austin
1995     Dr. Leon M. Lederman
                 Nobel Prize in Physics for 1988
                 Director Emeritus, Fermi National Accelerator Laboratory

Dr. Sara A. Pozzi

2019 - Dr. Sara A. Pozzi

Dr. Sara Pozzi discussed the challenges of nuclear proliferation and the recent advances in science and technology that contribute to stopping the spread of overt and covert nuclear weapons programs. Part of her timely lecture will include findings from the Consortium for Verification Technology, a consortium of 12 universities and nine national laboratories working together on these issues. She described the Consortium’s studies on the fundamental emissions from nuclear fission, and the development of new detection systems for nuclear materials detection, localization, and characterization. Using the recent nuclear test events in North Korea, Dr. Pozzi also explored the detection and characterization of nuclear explosions. Watch the 2019 lecture here.

Peter Walter

2018 - Peter Walter

Dr. Peter Walter discussed how disappointments in one’s research can lead to unexpected
outcomes of miraculous good fortune. Detailing one such journey, he summarized his and his
lab’s research on the Unfolded Protein Response and their discovery of the Integrated Stress
Response InhiBitor molecule. Their work has the potential to reverse some of the cognitive
deficits caused by traumatic brain injury and such diseases as Alzheimer’s and diabetes.

Dr. Walter has received many honors for his groundbreaking research, including the Eli Lilly
Award, Passano Award, Wiley Prize, Stein & Moore Award, Gairdner Award, E.B. Wilson
Medal, Otto Warburg Medal, Jung Prize, Ehrlich and Darmstaedter Prize, Shaw Prize, Lasker
Award, Vilcek Prize, and Breakthrough Prize in Life Sciences.

Mark Schlissel

2017 - Mark Schlissel

From the Discovery of DNA to the Modification of the Human Genome:
How Basic Science Fuels Disease Prevention, Diagnosis, and Treatment. 
As president of the University of Michigan and the first physician-scientist ever to lead the institution, Dr. Mark Schlissel has an accomplished career in teaching, medical research, and academic administration. His research has focused on the developmental biology of B lymphocytes, the cell type in the immune system that secretes antibodies.
His work has contributed to a detailed understanding of genetic factors involved in the production of antibodies and how mistakes in that process can lead to leukemia and lymphoma. Schlissel is the author or co-author of over 100 scientific papers.

 Dr. Eva Feldman

2016 - Eva Feldman

Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) is a devastating neurodegenerative disorder in which the loss of large nerve cells in the brain and spinal cord produces progressive weakness and eventually death. In the decades since the approval of riluzole, the only FDA approved medication to moderately slow progression of ALS by 2 months, no new therapies have arisen to alter the course of the disease. Stem cells have emerged as an attractive option in treating ALS. While various stem cell types are being evaluated in preclinical and early clinical applications, we have used spinal cord neural progenitor stem cells in two FDA approved clinical trials to treat ALS. In both the Phase I and II clinical trials, ALS subjects received direct transplantation of stem cells into different areas of their spinal cord. Although these trials were primarily conducted to evaluate the safety of this approach, clinical progression was monitored and we have preliminary insight into the beneficial therapeutic role of stem cell therapy in ALS disease progression. Overall, results demonstrate that intraspinal transplantation of stem cells in ALS patients is feasible and well-tolerated and the therapeutic signal warrants another larger FDA trial which will begin in 2016. This marks a new era for stem cell therapy and for our treatment of ALS.

Trachette Jackson

2015 - Trachette Jackson

Mathematical biology, the mathematical modeling of phenomena in the biomedical sciences, is one of the fastest growing areas in applied mathematics. In this introduction to the field, Trachette Jackson highlights its historical successes and showcases ways in which mathematics and high-powered computing are being used to tackle some of the biggest biological challenges facing our world today.

Jackson is an award-winning teacher scholar whose research in mathematical oncology has received international attention. In 2003, she became the second African American woman to receive the prestigious Alfred P. Sloan Research Award in Mathematics. The main focus of Dr. Jackson’s research is combining mathematical modeling, numerical simulation, and in vivo tumor vascularization experimentation to gain a deeper understanding of tumor growth and vascular structure at the molecular, cellular, and tissue levels.

George Djorgovski

2014 - George Djorgovski 

The growing capacity of computers to collect and store data has been transforming science, leading to a new era in which scientific databases are primary research tools. The virtualization of these databases gives any person who has a computer and Internet connection the opportunity to perform scientific research. This development, however, has come with a challenge: how do you analyze extremely large scientific databases and turn that data into knowledge and scientific discoveries?

S. George Djorgovski is at the forefront of this new data-intensive and computationally enabled paradigm of science. One of the founders of the Virtual Observatory concept and the emerging field of astroinformatics, he has served as chairman of the U.S. National Virtual Observatory’s science definition team. Djorgovski will discuss how big data and data virtualization are revolutionizing science and scholarship in the 21st century.


Leigh R. Hochberg

2013 - Leigh R. Hochberg

Sending emails, playing computer games, drinking coffee. These activities have been impossible for people who are “locked in” their bodies – awake and alert, but unable to move or communicate due to brainstem injuries, strokes, or illnesses like ALS. Until now. Leigh R. Hochberg and his fellow researchers are developing brain-machine interfaces that allow paralyzed people to accomplish these feats and much more.

Hochberg and his colleagues found that even though the pathways connecting the brain to the rest of the body, such as the spinal cord, have been broken, the brain can still send the signals that control movement. They developed BrainGate, a neural interface system that plugs into the brain, picks up those signals, and sends them to a computer that translates them into moving a cursor or controlling a computer keyboard or robot arm. Paralyzed people can literally move objects by thinking about them!

Garrison W. Cottrell

2012- Garrison W. Cottrell 

How does the activity in our brain create the mind? One way to understand the mind is to build computer models that “do the same things people do.” Garrison W. Cottrell investigates this question in the context of how we see: how do we recognize faces, facial expressions, and objects? This seems so simple – we look, we see! But it isn’t that simple, something you discover if you try to write a computer program that can automatically label faces and objects with their names. Prof. Cottrell will described his computer models of how we see, and how our brains can often fool us about what we see.   Cottrell, who has been working on neural network models of mental processes for over 30 years, describes the field of cognitive science and how building working models of mental processes can provide insights into how the mind works. His research group, Gary’s Unbelievable Research Unit (GURU), focuses on how the visual system might learn representations of the world, how our attention is drawn to different objects in our visual field, and how we use these processes to recognize objects.


Diandra Leslie-Pelecky 2011 - Dr. Diandra Leslie-Pelecky

A group of racecars piloted by the best drivers in NASCAR are turning a corner. Without warning, one of the cars suddenly hits the outside wall. There were no engine failures, no flat tires, and none of the cars touched …so what happened? Physics professor and author of The Physics of NASCAR, Diandra Leslie-Pelecky details what it takes to make racecars faster and safer, and why driving a stock car is much harder than you might think.

Tyrone Hayes 2010 - Tyrone Hayes

The nighttime symphony of croaking frogs and toads is becoming a thing of the past and Tyrone Hayes, an internationally recognized biologist, knows why. His research on atrazine, a widely used pesticide found in groundwater, local streams, and ponds, has revealed that the product is a potent endocrine disrupter that chemically castrates and feminizes exposed male amphibians. Atrazine also causes neural damage and hyperactivity and induces a hormonal stress response that leads to retarded growth and immune suppression, resulting in increased disease and mortality rates.

Dr. Eric J. Heller 2009 - Dr. Eric J. Heller

Heller has made groundbreaking theoretical contributions in quantum dynamics, spectroscopy, semiclassical approximations, and condensed matter physics.  He is perhaps best known for his seminal work on the time-domain wavepacket approach to molecular spectroscopy, and on the quantum mechanics of classically chaotic systems.  More recently Heller has used his deep understanding of quantum mechanics to explain fascinating coherence effects in quantum corrals and quantum dots, as well as the beautiful "branched and fringed electron flow" in semiconductor heterostructures, discovered experimentally by Bob Westervelt's group at Harvard.

John Noble Wilford

2008 - John Noble Wilford

Since joining the New York Times as a science news reporter in 1965, Wilford has committed to sharing this informed wonder with his readers. As a journalist, he has covered cutting-edge technology and scientific breakthroughs, including space exploration, but also has witnessed the tragic consequences of such endeavors, like the Challenger space shuttle explosion. Throughout his career, Wilford has gained not only an appreciation for science and technology, but a curiosity.

Dr. Alan Dale Poling

2007 - Dr. Alan Dale Poling

Dr. Poling is a member of the behavior analysis program and director of the behavioral pharmacology laboratory at Western Michigan University.  He has been a member of the WMU faculty in the Department of Psychology since 1977 and served as interim associate dean of the College of Arts and Sciences from February 2003-February 2004.  His primary research interests are psychopharmacology and behavior analysis, and his work has been supported by grants from the National Institutes of Health and the U.S. Department of Education.  He was named a WMU Distinguished Faculty Scholar in 1996.  Poling earned his bachelor's degree from Alderson-Broaddus College in 1972, his master's degree from West Virginia University in 1974 and his doctoral degree from the University of Minnesota in 1977.  Poling replaced Dr. Jay Wood, whose appointment as associate vice president for academic affairs was also approved by the board Feb. 27. 


 Dr. L. Dennis Smith

2006 - Dr. L. Dennis Smith

Dr. Smith served at Indiana University, Purdue University, Woods Hole Marine Biology Laboratory, Argonne National Laboratory, University of California at Irvine, and as president of the University of Nebraska (1994–2004).  Among his awards are a Guggenheim Fellowship (1987) and the American Association for the Advancement of Science Scientific Freedom and Responsibility Award (2002).  In a talk entitled, "The Science, Promise, and Politics of Embryonic Stem Cell Research," Dr. Smith shared his experiences as a very visible participant in public discussions about medical necessity, academic freedom, the ethics of using embryonic stem cells, public funding, and related issues.  He also talked about the necessity of finding formal ways to involve the larger society in developing guidelines for the ethical conduct of future biomedical research.


 Dr. Robert Devaney

2005 - Dr. Robert Devaney

Professor of mathematics at Boston University and an expert in dynamical systems theory, Dr. Devaney received the Award for Distinguished University Teaching from the Northeastern section of the Mathematical Association of America in 1994.  He produced the Mandelbrot Set Explorer, an online, interactive series of explorations designed to teach students at all levels about the mathematics behind the interesting images known as the Mandelbrot and Julia sets. In his lecture entitled "Chaos Games and Fractal Images" he described the beautiful images that arise from the “chaos game” and showed how the simple steps of this game produce the intricate images known as fractals.  He also touched on the applications of this technique used in data compression as well as in Hollywood.


 Dr. Ursula Goodenough

2004 - Dr. Ursula Goodenough

Dr. Ursula Goodenough is a renowned cell biologist, researcher and author who shared experiences of her travels in Tibet where she taught cell biology to exiled Tibetan monks that had no previous scientific education. Just prior to this, she had accepted an invitation to teach the Dalai Lama the principles of molecular evolution. She spoke of these experiences and how they resonated with her own deeply held beliefs about the relationship between spirituality and science. These experiences strengthened her conviction that the best way to teach science is through narrative - telling the science in story, a method she very effectively illustrated in this lecture.


 Dr. Isabel Hawkins

2003 - Dr. Isabel Hawkins

Dr. Isabel Hawkins, Director of the Center for Science Education at the University of California, Berkley, Space Sciences Laboratory (SSL).  Through examples of education and outreach programs with which she is actively involved, she shared her research experiences which ultimately led to a better understanding of the effects of the active sun, the sun-earth connection and "space weather".


 Dr. Dudley Herschbach

2002 - Dr. Dudley Herschbach

Dr. Herschbach’s lecture was modeled around his reflections in teaching and learning science. He was a charismatic speaker who emphasized the critical role that individual teachers played in his education. Dr. Herschbach is renowned for his studies on energy redistribution and its exchange in chemical reactions.


 Dr. Francisco J. Ayala

2001 - Dr. Francisco J. Ayala

Dr. Ayala, a world-renowned molecular geneticist and former priest, gave a fascinating talk to reveal how teachings in both evolution and religion can exist harmoniously.  He is extremely emphatic about promoting the philosophical compatibility of scientific knowledge and methods and religious faith and has been described as the Renaissance man of evolutionary biology.


 Dr. Rodger W. Bybee

1999 - Dr. Rodger W. Bybee

Dr. Bybee has been active in education for more than 30 years and has received awards for Leader of American Education and Outstanding Educator in America.  Previously he served as principal investigator for several National Science Foundation (NSF) programs implemented in elementary, middle and high schools.  His talk addressed how to effectively achieve scientific literacy and the challenges of content for the school curriculum.


 Dr. Lillian C. McDermott

1997 – Dr. Lillian C. McDermott

Dr. McDermott is a recipient of the American Association of Physics Teachers’ Robert A. Millikan Lecture Award for “notable and creative contributions to the teaching of physics.”  Under her direction, the Physics Education Group at the University of Washington conducted research on the learning and teaching of physics.  In her lecture, she used examples from this research to illustrate the frequent mismatch between how science is taught and how students learn.


 Dr. Uri Treisman

1996 - Dr. Uri Treisman

Dr. Treisman, a MacArthur Fellow and Dana Award winner gave a talk on how schools at all levels can create the conditions for mathematics and science excellence in diverse student populations.  His talk grew out of the highly successful programs he developed to improve minority achievement in mathematics and the sciences and described the special role that faculty members play in these programs.


 Dr. Leon Lederman

1995 - Dr. Leon Lederman

Dr. Leon Lederman was LTU's inaugural Walker Cisler lecturer in 1995.  Although he was awarded the 1988 Nobel Prize for his work in physics, his talk was based on his pioneering work in reforming science education in the Chicago schools.  He presented his vision of new ways to teach science to a rapt audience.


The annual Walker L. Cisler Science Lecture is generously supported by The Holley Foundation of Birmingham, Mich.

George M. Holley, was a pioneer in the automotive industry. The company he founded, The Holley Carburetor Company, is a world leader in the development of fuel and ignition control systems. He lived in and centered his company operations in the Detroit Metro area. He established the foundation in 1944. His expressed interest was "in helping young men and women who are 'up against it' to obtain an education."

The Holley Foundation's mission is to support educational and family initiatives for youth, mainly in Southeastern Michigan, through innovative, well-structured programs that demonstrate positive outcomes.

See the Holley Foundation's website for more information on its history and supported efforts.


The Walker L. Cisler lecture series, which is free and open to the public, was founded at Lawrence Technological University with a generous gift from the Holley Foundation of Birmingham, Mich.

Known for his leadership of the Detroit Edison Company from 1954 to 1971, Walker L. Cisler enjoyed a career that spanned a lifetime of personal, professional, civic, and business accomplishments. As an international ambassador for the American electric utility industry, he worked closely with heads of state both here and abroad. As a tireless, dedicated humanitarian, he strived to improve the quality of life for people everywhere.