Past Keynote Speakers

Marlon West SSA 7, 2017

Marlon West is Head of Effects Animation at Walt Disney Animation Studios. He has had an extraordinary career in both 2D and computer graphics animation, including serving as Head of Effects Animation on Frozen, which received the Academy Award for Best Animated Feature, and Moana, which was nominated for the Academy Award for Best Animated Feature and won the award for "Outstanding Achievement, Animated Effects in an Animated Production" at the IFSA's 44th Annie Awards. West also worked on two Academy Award winning shorts, Feast, for which West served as Head of Effects Animation, and Paperman. Additional credits include Head of Effects on Atlantis: The Lost Empire and Home on the Range, Effects Animation Supervisor on The Princess and the Frog, Visual Effects Supervisor on Winnie the Pooh (2011) and Assistant Effects Supervisor on the "Rhapsody in Blue" sequence of Fantasia/2000. West started his career at Walt Disney Animation Studios in 1993 as an effects animator on The Lion King (his task was to add the dust cloud effects to the famous wildebeest stampede scene), and he went on to work on effects animation in numerous beloved features including Pocahontas, Hunchback of Notre Dame, Hercules, Mulan, Tarzan, and The Emperor's New Groove. On Pocahontas, among other things, West designed and animated the effects for Grandmother Willow, Pocahontas's aged advisor.

Rachel Herz, Ph.D. SSA 6, 2015

Rachel Herz, Ph.D. is a neuroscientist and leading world expert on the psychological science of smell. She has been conducting research on the sense of smell, emotion, perception, motivated behavior and cognition since 1990. Dr. Herz has published over 70 original research papers, received numerous awards and grants, co-authored several college textbooks, and is an adjunct professor at Brown University and part-time faculty at Boston College. She is also a professional consultant to various industries regarding smell, taste, food and flavor, and is frequently called upon as an expert witness in legal cases involving olfaction.

Dr. Richard Alley SSA 5, 2013

Dr. Richard Alley is the Evan Pugh Professor of Geosciences and an Associate of the Earth and Environmental Systems Institute at The Pennsylvania State University. Dr. Alley studies the world's great ice sheets and glaciers in Greenland, Antarctica, and Alaska to learn the history of Earth's climate and aid in prediction of future changes in climate and sea level. Dr. Alley has been honored many times for research, teaching, and service, including election to the US National Academy of Sciences, the Tyler Prize for Environmental Achievement, the American Geological Institute Award for Outstanding Contribution to Public Understanding of the Geosciences, and the Schneider Award for Science Communication.

Ann V. Klotz SSA 4, 2011

Ann V. Klotz, cum laude graduate of Yale, obtained her Master of Arts degree from New York University, where she majored in Individual Study of Drama. Klotz spent 20 years as an educator and administrator at The Chapin School in New York City, where she served as head of the Drama Department, coordinator of the Fine Arts Department and teacher of Upper School English. Klotz heads the Laurel School, a school that fosters confidence, creativity, critical thinking and compassion in its students. In 1984, Klotz established the Ensemble Theatre Community (ETC) School, a summer program for high schools students, that uses theater methods to teach students about life and living in the world as a fully engaged, concerned citizen.

Dr. Brian Nosek SSA 3, 2009

Dr. Brian Nosek, Associate Professor of Psychology at the University of Virginia, is Principal Investigator on an R-01 grant from National Institutes of Health for "A Virtual Laboratory in the Social and Behavioral Sciences" that serves as the primary funding for the academic research of Project Implicit (, a collaborative partnership with Anthony Greenwald and Mahzarin Banaji. Nosek received his B.S. in Psychology with minors in Computer Science and Women's Studies from California Polytechnic State University, San Luis Obispo, and his Ph.D. in Psychology from Yale University in 2002. His research suggests that people are more biased that they think because biases can exist outside of conscious awareness or conscious control.

Dr. Mario Livio SSA 2, 2007

Dr. Mario Livio is a Senior Astrophysicist at the Hubble Space Telescope Science Institute, and the previous head of the Institute's Science Division. He joined the Institute in 1991 as head of the Archive Branch. Prior to coming to the Institute, he completed his undergraduate studies (majoring in both physics and mathematics) at the Hebrew University in Jerusalem, his M.Sc. degree (in theoretical particle physics) at the Weizmann Institute, an his Ph.D. (in theoretical astrophysics) at Tel-Aviv University. He was a professor of physics in the physics department of the Technion-Israel Institute of Technology from 1981 until 1991.

Alan Lightman SSA 1, 2004

Alan Lightman is at once one of the most renowned theoretical physicists of our time, the publisher of numerous scientific books and essays, and author of several novels, the most famous of which is Einstein's Dreams - an international bestseller, translated into thirty languages, and runner up for the highly prestigious 1994 PEN New England/Boston Globe Winship Award. Lightman earned his undergraduate degree from Princeton, a Ph.D. in theoretical physics from California Institute of Technology, served as post-doctoral fellow in astrophysics at Cornell University, former Professor of Astronomy at Harvard, and research scientist at the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics.