Six new members presented their research and answered questions from the audience.

YouTube video


Origins of Drugs that Slow Neurodegeneration
Jeffery W. Kelly, Lita Annenberg Hazen Professor of Chemistry, The Scripps Research Institute
In 2010 there were no regulatory agency approved drugs that slowed neurodegeneration associated with human amyloid diseases. A year later our drug for slowing transthyretin amyloidosis was regulatory agency approved. There are now 10 regulatory agency approved medicines for slowing neurodegeneration, reflecting amazing progress. Kelly will discuss what causes neurodegenerative diseases and how these drugs work to slow the progression of dementia. Elected in 2023, Kelly represents Class I’s section on Chemistry.

The Evolution of Extreme Weapons: Lessons from Beetles and Other Animals
Douglas J. Emlen, Regents Professor of Biology, University of Montana
Every animal has a weapon of one sort or another, but the majority of weapons stay small. Yet, sprinkled through the tree of life are species where weapons evolve to extreme size. Emlen discusses the biology of nature’s most extravagant weapons, focusing initially on the horns of rhinoceros beetles. However, human manufactured weapons also evolve to extremes, and Emlen reveals that the same critical conditions trigger arms races in both cases. And, once started, both animal and military arms races proceed through the same sequence of stages. A journey that begins with biology becomes the story of all weapons, as Emlen discusses beetles and battleships, crabs and the Cold War. Elected in 2023, Emlen represents Class II’s section on Evolutionary Biology.

Becoming Prometheus (or Wolverine?): Rebuilding the Body One Tissue at a Time
Jennifer H. Elisseeff, Professor, Johns Hopkins University
Rebuilding tissues lost due to trauma, disease, or aging remains a dream. Tissue engineering brings together biomaterial scaffolds, biological cues, and cells to direct the formation of new tissues and organs. Elisseeff developed injectable hydrogel materials to stimulate new tissue formation and will describe how this research led to the discovery of T cell responses to biomaterials and their role in determining regenerative versus fibrosis outcomes. She will discuss how immune networks change with age and limit tissue repair as we get older and new solutions. Elected in 2023, Elisseeff represents Class III’s section on Engineering Sciences.

Inflammation and Cancer: From Basic Mechanisms to Therapeutic Targets
Lisa M. Coussens, Professor and Chair, Department of Cell, Developmental & Cancer Biology, and Co-Deputy Director, Knight Cancer Institute, Oregon Health & Science University
Cancer remains an unmet medical need for many patients whose incidence is growing as populations age. Initially characterized as homogeneous masses of abnormal cells with heightened proliferative and migratory capabilities, they are (surprisingly) tolerated by the organism. We now appreciate, however, that cancers are heterogeneous multi-cellular ecosystems whose growth, survival, and response to therapy depend on reciprocal interactions between genetically altered ‘initiated’ cells and dynamic microenvironments in which they live. Various programs that maintain tissue homeostasis (vascular, mesenchymal, extracellular matrix, and immune) are co-opted by solid tumors to evade cell death and immune-mediated eradication, which also aid malignant progression. Coussens’s research identified both pro- and anti-tumoral activities of immune cells within solid tumors, and she will discuss how states of chronic inflammation within cancers are being dissected to identify rate-limiting immune vulnerabilities amenable for therapeutic targeting. Elected in 2023, Coussens represents Class IV’s section on Medical Genetics, Hematology, and Oncology.

Archaeology and the Future of Our Ocean Planet
Torben C. Rick, Curator of North American Archaeology, National Museum of Natural History, Smithsonian Institution
For thousands of years, marine ecosystems and organisms played an important role in human evolution and ecology and continue to be a crucial source of food and wellbeing for people around the world. Despite some important signs of hope, decades or more of overfishing, climate change, habitat destruction, and numerous other processes have pushed many marine ecosystems today to a crisis point. Drawing on the archaeological record, Rick explores 10,000 years of human interactions with marine ecosystems to help understand the long-term relationships between people and the ocean. When integrated with modern environmental and biological perspectives, archaeology provides a framework for transcending contemporary environmental challenges and planning for a sustainable future. Elected in 2023, Rick represents Class V’s section on Anthropology.

P-Values and Cultural Values: Creating Symbiosis Among Indigenous and Western Knowledges for Ecological Restoration
Robin W. Kimmerer, SUNY Distinguished Teaching Professor, Department of Environmental Biology and Center for Native Peoples and the Environment, SUNY College of Environmental Science and Forestry
Ecological restoration is a powerful tool for repair of ecosystem structure and function but is not equipped to heal the broken relationship between land and industrial society, which continues to produce environmental degradation. Traditional ecological knowledge offers an alternative to the dominant exploitative worldview based in biocultural reciprocity. Kimmerer respectfully engages Indigenous ecological knowledge and cultural values to guide models of reciprocal restoration—the mutually reinforcing restoration of land and culture. Repair of ecosystems contributes to cultural revitalization and renewal of culture promotes restoration of ecological integrity. Elected in 2023, Kimmerer represents Class VI’s section on Human Environmental Sciences.

Event Date
April 27, 2024 / 2:30 pm - 5:00 pm


  • In-person
  • Virtual


  • Past

Event Type

  • Annual Meeting


Jeffery W. Kelly
The Scripps Research Institute
Douglas J. Emlen
University of Montana
Jennifer H. Elisseeff
Johns Hopkins University
Lisa M. Coussens
Oregon Health & Science University
Torben C. Rick
Smithsonian Institution
Robin W. Kimmerer
SUNY College of Environmental Science and Forestry