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Bright Horizons 10 Speakers

Eastern Mediterranean & Black Sea • October 1st – 13th, 2011



Dr. Mark Bailey, the Director of Armagh Observatory, is an Honorary Professor at Queen’s University Belfast and a former Vice-President of the Royal Astronomical Society. He obtained his first degree in Physics at the University of Cambridge, and a Ph.D. at the University of Edinburgh in 1978 with a thesis on the evolution of active galactic nuclei. In recent years his research has focused on areas closer to home: the dynamical evolution of comets, asteroids, and meteoroid streams; solar-system — terrestrial interrelationships; and aspects of the comet and asteroid impact hazard. He has published nearly 100 scientific papers and several books, notably The Origin of Comets (co-authored with Clube and Napier) and Border Heritage, describing the work of the Armagh Observatory and the heritage of the City of Armagh and Monaghan County. Highlights of this work include the first paper to describe a new method to detect small solar-system objects at large heliocentric distances; early work on the inflow of stellar mass loss in elliptical galaxies and the bulges of spiral galaxies ultimately to fuel nuclear activity; and calculations of the velocity dispersion profiles of galaxies and clusters of galaxies in which the visible and dark matter have different assumed density distributions. The asteroid (4050), discovered in 1976 by C.I. Lagerkvist, was named “Mebailey” in 1990 for his work on the dynamics and origin of comets. He was awarded an MBE for services to astronomy in 2007 and elected a Member of the Royal Irish Academy in 2010.


Mike Benton is Professor of Palaeontology at the University of Bristol, where he has been on the staff since 1989. He was Chairman of the Department for seven years. His research interests focus on the diversification of life, mass extinctions, and dinosaur evolution, and he has written over 200 scientific papers. He has led field expeditions to collect dinosaurs and other fossil reptiles to Romania, Tunisia, Russia, and China. He also has a strong commitment to public engagement, and has written over 50 books, mainly for children, as well as the two standard textbooks in the field. He has been honored by numerous awards, including the lyell Medal of the Geological Society of London and Fellowship of the Royal Society of Edinburgh, and he is currently President of the International Paleontological Association.


Dr. James Gillies is head of communication at CERN, the European Organization for Nuclear Research. He holds a Doctorate in physics from the University of Oxford, and began his research career working at CERN in the mid-1980s. His thesis covered the internal structure of the proton, and was carried out in a multi-national collaboration of mainly European universities. As a post doctoral researcher, he moved on to the OPAL experiment at CERN’s flagship research facility, the Large Electron Positron collider (LEP), which ran from 1989 to 2000.

In 1993, he left research to become Head of Science with the British Council in Paris. After managing the Council’s bilateral programme of scientific visits, exchanges, bursaries and cultural events for two years, he returned to CERN in 1995 as a science writer. His work at the British Council ranged from negotiating student exchange programmes for top French and UK Universities, to organizing a drawing competition for school children in conjunction with the BBC’s youth magazine programme, Blue Peter, and the French magazine Science et Vie Junior.

He has been Head of the Organization’s communication group since 2003, a period in which CERN has celebrated its 50th anniversary and launched its latest research facility, the Large Hadron Collider. The 2008 LHC first-beam media campaign run by his team made CERN and the LHC household names around the world, and with an estimated global audience of a billion viewers, the LHC start-up was possibly the most visible scientific event in history.

He is co-author of the Oxford University Press title, How the Web was Born, a history of the Internet published in 2000 and described by the London Times as being among the year’s ten best book for inquisitive minds.


Lawrence Krauss is Foundation Professor, Director, Origins Initiative, and Co-Director, Cosmology Initiative of the School of Earth and Space Exploration, Beyond Center, and Department of Physics, Arizona State University.

Dr. Krauss was born in New York City and shortly afterward moved to Toronto, spending his childhood in Canada. He received undergraduate degrees in Mathematics and Physics from Carleton University in 1977, and his Ph.D. from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in 1982. He became an assistant professor at Yale University in 1985. He was named the Ambrose Swasey Professor of Physics, Professor of Astronomy, and was Chairman of the Department of Physics at Case Western Reserve University from 1993 to 2005.

His research has been based on an attempt to explore how phenomena at various extremes of scale can be used to probe fundamental physics. Dr. Krauss has become increasingly interested in utilizing the Universe as a laboratory to study fundamental physics. He has been active in the emerging field of particle astrophysics, in which both the cosmological implications of ideas concerning fundamental interactions, and astrophysical and cosmological constraints on particle physics are explored.

Among the areas in which Krauss’ research has focused are: neutrino physics and astrophysics, big bang nucleosynthesis, gravitational lensing, dark matter theory and detection, particle physics phenomenology beyond the Standard Model, axions and the strong CP problem, symmetry breaking in the Standard Model and the cosmology and physics of the electroweak phase transition, ultra-sensitive laboratory probes of new physics at high energy scales, stellar evolution, general relativity and gravitation, early universe physics, gravitational waves, and the physics of black holes and quantum gravity. Krauss is a critic of string theory.

Among Dr. Krauss’ honors are the highest awards of all three major U.S. Physics Societies: the American Physical Society, the American Association of Physics Teachers, and the American Institute of Physics. Krauss received the Gravity Research Foundation First prize award in 1984, the Presidential Investigator Award in 1986, the American Association for the Advancement of Science’s Award for the Public Understanding of Science and Technology in 2000, the Julius Edgar Lilienfeld Prize and Andrew Gemant Award in 2001, the American Institute of Physics Science Writing Award in 2002, the Oersted Medal in 2003, and the American Physical Society Joseph P. Burton Forum Award in 2005.

Dr. Krauss believes that science is in part a vital cultural activity and so regularly appears in national media for public outreach in science and has written many editorials for The New York Times. In 2009–10 he wrote a monthly column for Scientific American. He has been particularly active in issues of science and society, leading the effort by scientists to defend the teaching of science in public schools and is is co-chair of the Board of Sponsors of the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists, and on the Board of Directors of the Federation of American Scientists.

Dr. Krauss has written non-academic books, among them:

SciAm podcasts with, and articles by, Dr. Krauss:

small bullet The End of Cosmology

small bullet Fade to Black: The Night Sky of the Future

small bullet Science Talk: Stars of Cosmology
      Part 1
      Part 2

small bullet 60-Second Science Podcast: Future Cosmologists Doomed to Err

Please visit Dr. Krauss’ website for a complete list of publications and activities.


Dr. Mohamed A.F. Noor, Professor and Associate Chair of the Duke University Department of Biology, tells us that one of the greatest unsolved questions in biology is how continuous processes of evolutionary change produce the discontinuous groups known as species. In addition to the obvious historical perspective this question seeks, with the continued loss of species worldwide from human activities work arising from this question will become increasingly important in identifying the processes that generate and maintain biodiversity on the planet.

Dr. Noor has focused on understanding the processes that cause the evolution of barriers to gene exchange between diverging species, particularly hybrid sterility and species mating discrimination. The proposed work has strong evolutionary and medical implications. Understanding the nature of genetic interactions causing sterility gives direct insights into what makes one species different from another, and hence, can explain the process of the origin of new species. In addition, insights on genetic interactions causing sterility can help identify other genes whose disruptions in humans may cause infertility.

Dr. Noor earned a B.S. in Biology from the College of William and Mary, 1992 and a Ph.D. in Ecology & Evolution from the University of Chicago in 1996. He was a postdoctoral resident in Genetics & Development at Cornell University from 1996–1998. He served on the faculty at Louisiana State University from 1998 to 2005 and received a College of Basic Sciences Research Award, an LSU Phi Kappa Phi Untenured Faculty Award in Natural and Physical Sciences, and a Louisiana State University, College of Basic Sciences Undergraduate Teaching Award. Dr. Noor won the 2007 Gordon G. Hammes Faculty Teaching Award and a 2010 Dean’s Award for Excellence in Mentoring from Duke University, and in 2008, he was one of 13 evolutionary biologists to be honored with the Darwin Wallace Medal — an award given by the Linnean Society of London only once every 50 years!

Dr. Noor is currently on the editorial boards of PLoS Biology, the Proceedings of the Royal Society of London Series B, and BMC Evolutionary Biology. He serves as chair of the Genetic Variation and Evolution grant review panel at the National Institutes of Health and is an elected Council member for both the Society for the Study of Evolution and the American Genetics Association. Noor was editor of Evolution 2006–2007 and associate editor of Evolution 2001–2005.

Among other endeavors, Dr. Noor and his Noor Lab team are now examining the fine details of the genetic architecture of the chromosomal rearrangements that occur when one animal species becomes two. In the few minutes per week he doesn't find himself working, Noor relaxes by running, spending time with his family, or watching movies, particularly science fiction.


John Steele is Associate Professor of the Exact Science in Antiquity in the Department of Egyptology and Ancient Western Asian Studies at Brown University. He is a specialist in the history of ancient astronomy, in particular the astronomy of the ancient Babylonians. His books include Observations and Predictions of Eclipse Times by Early Astronomers (2000) and A Brief Introduction to Astronomy in the Middle East (2008), and he has published research papers in journals including Nature, the Journal for the History of Astronomy, Annals of Science, and the Journal of Cuneiform Studies.

Steele received his B.Sc. in Physics and a Ph.D. in History of Astronomy from the University of Durham and has held research and teaching positions at the University of Durham, the University of Toronto, and the Dibner Institute for the History of Science and Technology at MIT. In 2008, Steele was recruited by Brown University to continue their long record of research into the history of ancient mathematics and astronomy.

Steele’s research has included the reconstruction of Babylonian methods of predicting eclipses of the sun and moon, the discovery of Babylonian theories for modeling the latitude of the planets, and he has worked with members of the Antikythera Mechanism Research Project on the ancient Greek geered-computer known as the Antikythera Mechanism.


Michael Wysession is an Associate Professor of Geophysics in the Department of Earth and Planetary Science at Washington University, St. Louis, who has established himself as a world leader in the area of seismology and geophysical education. He has developed several means of using the seismic waves from earthquakes to “see” into the Earth and create three-dimensional pictures of Earth’s interior. Wysession is lead scientist author of Pearson Prentice Hall’s new national K-8 science textbook program and lead author of Prentice Hall’s 9th grade physical science book, Physical Science: Concepts in Action, and has supervised, in the role of primary book writer, several other secondary education textbooks such as Prentice Hall’s 9th grade text Earth Science, and their 6th grade-level texts Earth’s Interior, Earth’s Changing Surface, and Earth’s Waters. Wysession is the creator and lecturer of an acclaimed 48-lecture video course with The Teaching Company entitled How the Earth Works. He is coauthor of Introduction to Seismology, Earthquakes, and Earth Structure, a leading graduate-level textbook used in geophysics classes around the world. Wysession constructed the first computer-generated animation of how seismic waves propagate within the Earth from an earthquake, creating a 20-minute movie that is used in many high school and college classrooms. He is also the designer and instructor of an intensive 3-day course, Earth, Moon, and Mars, which he regularly teaches to NASA engineers at the different NASA centers.

Wysession was recently Chair, for four years, of the Education and Outreach program of the Incorporated Research Institutions for Seismology (IRIS), and is Chair the NSF-sponsored Earth Science Literacy Initiative, where he led the creation of a single document of big ideas and supporting concepts that every citizen should know about Earth science ( The National Academy of Science is currently revising the 15-year-old National Science Education Standards, and Wysession is Earth and Space Science Team Leader for the standards framework.

Wysession’s research and educational efforts have been recognized through several fellowships and awards. He has received a Science and Engineering Fellowship from the David and Lucille Packard Foundation, and a National Science Foundation Presidential Faculty Fellowship, awarded by President Clinton (both awarded to only 20 American scientists across all disciplines for the year). Wysession has also received two Distinguished Lectureships: from the Seismological Society of America and Incorporated Research Institutions of Seismology in 2005, and from the National Association of Geoscience Teachers in 2009. Wysession has also been given the Innovation Award of the St. Louis Science Academy and the Distinguished Faculty Award of Washington University.

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