2014 Honors Institute Speakers

Patrick Lee as Captain William Clark

General Session 1, Monday Evening

Themes 1, 4 and 9

Patrick Lee is a professional speaker, actor and writer. Since 1990, he has inspired, entertained and educated audiences from Maine to Hawaii with his authentic, first person keynote presentations as Thomas Jefferson, Daniel Boone and William Clark, of Lewis and Clark fame. He also appears as himself, The Hopeful Humorist™, with a program of motivational humor, patriotism and inspiration.

As a writer, he authored a series of 21 articles about the Lewis and Clark Expedition. They were published quarterly from 2001 to 2006 by both the Missouri Society of Professional Surveyors and the Wisconsin Society of Land Surveyors. Those articles have been expanded and incorporated into a book, Mosquitoes, Gnats & Prickly Pear Cactus: The Lewis & Clark Review.
Academically, Lee holds a Bachelor of Science degree from the University of Missouri, earned way too many years ago.

Home is a farmhouse on 30 acres in central Missouri, shared with his wife of 37 years, twin foster sons, the fond memories of four adult daughters who have moved on, a strictly outdoor cat named Tipper and a deaf Labrador/Rottweiler mix named Bingo (or Bing or Ding or Dingo or Dingo Dog. Take your pick or supply one of your own. Since she’s deaf, she answers equally well to all names.)

Patrick’s business name is Jefferson Leadership. His web site is www.JeffersonLeadership.com.

Nina Tandon

General Session 2, Tuesday Morning

Theme 7

Tissue engineer, MBA and Senior TED Fellow Nina Tandon is growing artificial hearts and bones. To do that, she needs new ways of caring for artificially grown cells—techniques she’s developed by the simple but powerful method of copying their natural environments.

Nina studies electrical signaling in the context of tissue engineering, with the goal of creating “spare parts” for human implantation and/or disease models. She is an electrical and biomedical engineer at Columbia University’s Laboratory for Stem Cells and Tissue Engineering, and adjunct professor of Electrical Engineering at the Cooper Union, teaching a “Bioelectricity” class. She’s published in Nature and Lab on a Chip, and Fast Company named her one of their 100 most creative people in business.

After receiving a bachelor’s degree in electrical engineering from Cooper Union, Nina spent her early career in telecom (Avaya Labs) and transitioned into biomedical engineering via her Fulbright scholarship in Italy, where she worked on an electronic nose used to “smell” lung cancer. Nina’s studied electrical stimulation for cardiac tissue engineering at MIT and Columbia, has consulted at McKinsey and Company, and now continues her research on electrical stimulation for broader tissue-engineering applications.

Dr. Ray Arvidson

General Session 3, Tuesday Evening

Theme 5

Raymond Arvidson received a Ph.D. from Brown University in 1974. He is presently James S. McDonnell Distinguished University Professor and Chair of the Department of Earth and Planetary Sciences at Washington University in St. Louis, where he has been employed since 1974. He is a fellow of the McDonnell Center for the Space Sciences and directs the Pathfinder Program in Environmental Sustainability. 

He was the Team Leader of the Viking Lander Imaging Team from 1977-1982, Associate Editor of the Journal of Geophysical Research from 1982-1984, Co-Editor of Geology from 1988-1990, and has served on numerous NASA and National Academy of Sciences Committees. He has served as the Planetary Geology Division Chairman of the Geological Society of America and President of the Planetology Section of the American Geophysical Union.

In addition to teaching, Arvidson was the science coordinator for Washington University's mission operations for two global balloon flight attempts made by Steve Fossett. He was an Interdisciplinary Scientist on the Mars Global Surveyor Mission and is currently a member of the Project Science Group of Mars 2001 Odyssey Orbiter Mission.

As head of NASA's Planetary Data System Geosciences Node since 1989, Arvidson has been instrumental in the formatting and archiving of planetary data. He has been Director of NASA's Regional Planetary Image Center at Washington University since 1980. Currently he is the Deputy Principal Investigator for the Athena Payload on the highly successful Mars Exploration Rover Mission which launched in 2003. He is a science team member for the OMEGA hyper-spectral imager on Mars Express, Co-Investigator on the CRISM hyper-spectral imager on the 2005 Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter, and the Co-Investigator of the Robotic Arm on the 2007 Mars Scout Mission, Phoenix.



He has published over 100 articles and books dealing with remote sensing of Earth, Mars, and Venus.

Ken Ramirez

General Session 5, Wednesday Evening

Themes 1 and 4

Ken Ramirez, the executive vice-president of animal care and animal training, develops and supervises animal care programs, staff training and development as well as public presentation programs for the entire animal collection at Chicago’s Shedd Aquarium. He joined Shedd Aquarium in 1989.

A 35+ year veteran of animal care and training, Ramirez is a biologist and animal behaviorist who served nine years at Marineworld of Texas. He also was a trainer and coordinator at Ocean Safari in South Padre Island, Texas, as well as acting as a consultant to many zoo and aquarium programs throughout the world. He began his training career working with guide dogs for the visually impaired and has maintained a close affiliation to pet training throughout his career. He hosted two successful seasons of the pet training television series Talk to the Animals that compared pet training to the important work done with training and caring for animals in zoological facilities. He has also recently worked closely with several search and rescue dog organizations, service dog groups, as well as with bomb and narcotic dogs.

Ramirez has been active in several professional organizations, including the International Marine Animal Trainer’s Association (IMATA), of which he is a past president. Ken has been actively involved in the creation of a certification process for animal trainers in zoological settings. He has been on the faculty of Karen Pryor’s Clicker Expos since 2005.

Ramirez has written for numerous scientific publications and popular articles and has authored the book ANIMAL TRAINING: Successful Animal Management through Positive Reinforcement, published in 1999. He also teaches a graduate course on animal training at Western Illinois University.

Dr. Sylvia Earle

General Session 6, Friday Morning

Theme 1 and 4

National Geographic Society Explorer-in-Residence Dr. Sylvia A. Earle, called "Her Deepness" by the New Yorker and the New York Times, "Living Legend" by the Library of Congress, and first "Hero for the Planet" by Time magazine, is an oceanographer, explorer, author, lecturer and Phi Theta Kappa alumna.

She has experience as a field research scientist, government official and director for corporate and nonprofit organizations, including the Dresser Industries, the Aspen Institute, Duke University Marine Laboratory, Rutgers Institute for Marine Science, the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution, National Marine Sanctuary Foundation, and Ocean Futures.

Formerly chief scientist of NOAA, Earle is the founder of Deep Ocean Exploration and Research, Inc., founder of Mission Blue and SEAlliance, and chair of the Advisory Councils of the Harte Research Institute and the Ocean in Google Earth. She has a B.S. degree from Florida State University and an M.S. and Ph.D. from Duke University. She has authored more than 190 scientific, technical and popular publications; lectured in more than 80 countries; and appeared in hundreds of radio and television productions.

Earle has led more than 100 expeditions and logged more than 7,000 hours underwater, including leading the first team of women aquanauts during the Tektite Project in 1970; participating in ten saturation dives, most recently in July 2012; and setting a record for solo diving in 1,000-meter depth. Her research concerns marine ecosystems with special reference to exploration, conservation and the development and use of new technologies for access and effective operations in the deep sea and other remote environments.

Her special focus is on developing a global network of areas on the land and in the ocean to safeguard the living systems that provide the underpinnings of global processes, from maintaining biodiversity and yielding basic life support services to providing stability and resiliency in response to accelerating climate change.

Pokey LaFarge

General Session 7, Friday Evening

Theme 3

Pokey LaFarge is a musician, songwriter, bandleader, entertainer, innovator and preservationist, whose well-rounded arsenal of talents has placed him at the forefront of American music. Over the last decade, Pokey has won the hearts of music lovers across the globe with his creative mix of early jazz, string ragtime, country blues and western swing, all while writing songs that ring true and fine in both spirit and sound. His music transcends the confines of genre, continually challenging the notion that tradition-bearers fail to push musical boundaries. Cleverly striding between numerous forms of traditional American music, Pokey has crafted a genre all his own, marked in its accessible ingenuity.

In the past year alone, he signed with Jack White’s Third Man Records, was honored with a second consecutive Best Americana Album win by the Independent Music Awards for Middle of Everywhere and recorded alongside Jack White on his album Blunderbuss. Pokey has quickly made his way into major film and television productions; he joined Vince Giordano and the Nighthawks for a track featured on an episode and subsequent soundtrack (Vol. 2) of HBO’s Boardwalk Empire, appeared in Disney’s The Lone Ranger and performed on The Late Show with David Letterman.

At only 30 years old, Pokey’s career has not slowed in momentum since it began with his first release Marmalade (2007). Shortly followed by Beat, Move and Shake (2008) and Riverboat Soul (2010), Pokey quickly graduated from breakthrough artist to leading musical figure, receiving an Independent Music Award for Riverboat Soul and continued praise from NPR Music and Billboard Magazine, among other reputable critics. His latest full-length album, co-produced with Ketch Secor of Old Crow Medicine Show, was released June 4 under Third Man Records. Pokey LaFarge is on a mission, encouraging audiences worldwide to think differently about what it means to celebrate musical traditions. Simply put, Pokey explains, “It’s not retro music. It’s American music that never died.”