PRISMS Speaker Series

Each year we invite bold, successful and inspiring individuals from all fields of interests to speak with our school community in an intimate setting where conversation and questions are encouraged.


November, 2019, Dr. Amber Strunk – LIGO

PRISMS students and faculty had the unique opportunity to speak with Mrs. Strunk from the LIGO Hanford Observatory this Wednesday (11/20) from 3-4PM in the Ballroom.

The Laser Interferometer Gravitational-Wave Observatory (LIGO) was designed to open the field of gravitational-wave astrophysics through the direct detection of gravitational waves predicted by Einstein’s General Theory of Relativity. LIGO’s multi-kilometer-scale gravitational wave detectors use laser interferometry to measure the minute ripples in space-time caused by passing gravitational waves from cataclysmic cosmic events such as colliding neutron stars or black holes, or by supernovae. LIGO consists of two widely-separated interferometers within the United States—one in Hanford, Washington and the other in Livingston, Louisiana—operated in unison to detect gravitational waves. We will be hearing about the Hanford site and I highly recommend you take a minute to learn more about this incredible observatory. Follow the link below for more information, videos, and fancy pictures: More info about LIGO

September, 2019, Dr. Steven Goldfarb – CERN (Switzerland)

In his third time addressing the PRISMS community, Dr. Goldfarb will Skype in from CERN on September 25 to teach us about the ATLAS Experiment and all things CERN.

Dr. Goldfarb is a physicist from the University of Melbourne, working on the ATLAS Experiment at CERN. He is webmaster for the ATLAS public web pages, chair of the International Particle Physics Outreach Group, on-site coordinator of the REU Summer Student and Research Semester Abroad programs for American undergraduates at CERN, and advisory board member for Quarknet. In his spare time, Steve fronts the Canettes Blues Band, the group behind the ATLAS Boogie.


March, 2019. Dr. Sabine Kastner – Princeton University

Dr. Kastner is a Professor of Neuroscience and Psychology in the Princeton Neuroscience Institute and Department of Psychology. She also serves as the Scientific Director of Princeton’s neuroimaging facility and heads the Neuroscience of Attention and Perception Laboratory.

November, 2018. Dr. Erika Milam – Princeton University

Dr. Milam is a historian of science at Princeton University and Director of the Graduate Studies program in science history.

October, 2018. Professor Donald Sadoway – MIT

Prof. Sadoway is a professor in the Department of Material Science and Engineering at MIT and is one of their most popular teachers. He is a co-founder of Ambri, Inc (formerly Liquid Metal Battery Corporation), which is commercializing the liquid metal battery technology for grid-scale energy storage, and a co-founder of Boston Metal (formerly Boston Electrometallurgical Corp.), which is commercializing molten oxide electrolysis for the production of metals. Both the liquid metal battery and molten oxide electrolysis were discovered by GroupSadoway at MIT. Prof. Sadoway owns more than 25 patents. He spent the day at PRISMS doing small lectures, working with the research mentors, advising the Entrepreneurship Club and offering a lecture to the community about the future of energy.

September, 2018. Richard Rusczyk - AOPS

Richard Rusczyk is the founder of the Art of Problem Solving website and co-writer with Sandor Lehoczky of the original Art of Problem Solving books. He is also a co-founder with Sandor Lehoczky and Sam Vandervelde of the Mandlebrot Competition, and is a past Director of the USA Mathematical Talent Search. He was a participant in National MATHCOUNTS, a three-time participant in the Math Olympiad Summer Program, and a USA Mathematical Olympiad winner (1989). He received the World Federation of National Mathematics Competitions Paul Erdös Award in 2014, and founded the Art of Problem Solving Initiative, a non-profit that runs the Bridge to Enter Advanced Mathematics program for high-potential students from underserved communities in New York City and Los Angeles. He graduated from Princeton University in 1993, and worked as a bond trader for D.E. Shaw & Company for four years.

September, 2018. Dr. Steven Goldfarb – CERN (Switzerland)

In his second time addressing the PRISMS community, Dr. Goldfarb skyped in from CERN to teach us about the ATLAS Experiment and all things CERN.

Dr. Goldfarb is a physicist from the University of Melbourne, working on the ATLAS Experiment at CERN. He is webmaster for the ATLAS public web pages, chair of the International Particle Physics Outreach Group, on-site coordinator of the REU Summer Student and Research Semester Abroad programs for American undergraduates at CERN, and advisory board member for Quarknet. In his spare time, Steve fronts the Canettes Blues Band, the group behind the ATLAS Boogie.


April, 2018. Paul Muldoon – Pulitzer Prize for Poetry

Paul Muldoon is one of Ireland’s leading contemporary poets. He offered a class at PRISMS and did a reading of some of his works.

December 13, 2017. Dr. Zahn (Rutgers University)

Dr. Zahn presented an interdisciplinary field of microfluidics appealing to students across science and engineering disciplines. Dr. Zahn completed his Chemical Engineering training at MIT, then his Bioengineering PhD jointly at University of California, San Francisco and Berkley, and Post Graduate training in Electrical and Computer Engineering and Carnegie Mellon. He is now a professor at Rutgers University.

December 6, 2017. Dr. Goldfarb (CERN): Teleconference

The European Organization for Nuclear Research known as CERN (derived from the French name, Conseil Europeen pour la Recherche Nucleaire), based in Geneva, uses the world’s largest and most complex scientific instruments to study the basic constituents of matter. Dr. Goldfarb, a scientist from ATLAS experiment at CERN, presented the work going on at CERN. The teleconference recording can be found on CERN website

December 1, 2017. Dr. Lettow Vorbeck Materials

Dr. Lettow shared his entrepreneurial story about building Vorbeck Materials - a company focused on the development of Graphene products and devices. Students learned about inner-workings of commercialization and industry application of the hard sciences.

November 15, 2017. Dr. Zhou Qiangjun

After receiving his PhD in Biochemistry and Molecular Biology from the University of Chinese Academy of Sciences, China, Dr. Zhou spent 4 years as a Postdoctoral Fellow at the Howard Hughes Medical Institute. He shared with students at PRISMS his work on SNARE-synaptotagmin-1 complex.


December: Dr. Christopher Kemp - Kempbio, Inc

Chris Kemp has more than 25 years of hands-on experience in the scale-up of recombinant protein expression systems including baculovirus, mammalian, and BacMam expression platforms. He holds a PhD in Microbiology from The George Washington University and gained experience in cell culture and protein expression at NIH and, later, at BioWhittaker. Chris founded and managed Kemp Biotechnologies, Inc. in 1992 and the molecular biology product company, GeneChoice, in 2000. Following the sale of both companies in 2006, he founded Kempbio, Inc. in 2008.

December: Dr. Hadley Wickham: Data Science with R

Dr. Hadley Wickham is the Chief Scientist at RStudio, and an Adjunct Professor of Statistics at the University of Auckland, Stanford University, and Rice University, one of the leading experts in Data Science. Teleconference.

November: Florence Tan: Mars Rover

Florence Tan is a NASA Engineer involved in the Mars Rover project at Goddard Space Flight Center. Ms. Tan is the lead of the Electrical team working on the SAM (Sample Analysis at Mars) instrumentation, on the Rover Curiosity. Teleconference.

October: Dr. Christopher Janetopoulos: Cell Motility

Dr. Janetopoulos, from the University of the Sciences in Philadelphia, is an expert on cell motility whose work has been published in many of the top journals in his field, including Science.

September: Dr. Larry Bacow: Life

Dr. Bacow is one of the most experienced and highly respected educators in the US, having served as Chancellor at MIT, President at Tufts University, Fellow and then Leader-In- Residence at Harvard University’s Kennedy School of Government. He has served on Presidential Committees through the White House and sits on many Boards. Dr. Bacow received a BS in economics at MIT, a law degree at Harvard Law School, a MPP and a PhD at the Kennedy School of Government.

April: Dr. Anne Jaskot: Astrophysics

Dr. Jaskot is a post-doctoral researcher at Smith College where she studies the formation of stars.

TBD: Dr. Susan Schneider: Artificial Intelligence and Consciousness

Dr. Schneider is Associate Professor of Philosophy at University of Connecticut, specializing in cognitive science. She did a TEDx Cambridge talk on AI consciousness called “Can a Robot Feel?”


May: Agatha Ruiz de la Prada: Fashion Design

Ms. Ruiz de la Prada is a Spanish noble and world famous fashion designer with stores in Madrid, Barcelona, Paris, Milan, New York, Mallorca, and exhibits in Tokyo, Paris, New York, Moscow and Bucharest. She has a well-known line of women’s, men’s and children’s fashions as well as home goods and perfumes.

April: Dejan Atanackovic: Art

Mr. Atanackovic is an artist who teaches in Florence and Siena and has exhibited his work in Italy, Serbia, US, Bosnia, Canada, Albania, Slovenia, Germany, Switzerland and Mexico.

April: Dr. Raquel Marta e Silva: Human Rights

Dr. Marta e Silva is currently an assistant professor at the College of Staten Island where her research interests are in creativity, human rights, environmental sustainability, human development, and ethics. She has been the Vice Coordinator at the European Anti-Poverty Network in Lisbon, Portugal.

March: Dr. Vladimir Shiltsev: Physics

“Five Mysteries: Unsolved Puzzles of Big Science”

Dr. Shiltsev is the Director of the Accelerated Physics Center at Fermi National Laboratory where his research focuses on beam-beam effects and their compensation.

March: Valery Ray and Evan Slow: Scanning Electron Microscopy

Mr. Ray is a focused ion beam and particle beam systems technologist from the Advanced Imaging and Microscopy Lab of the University of Maryland at College Park Nanocenter and MEO Engineering Co, Inc. Mr. Slow works for Angstrom Scientific, Inc. They did a demonstration of a scanning electron microscope.

February: Dr. Andi Shehu: Physics

Dr. A Shehu obtained Ph.D. degree from the City University of New York and has worked to optimize information extraction from quantum states and find new solutions to quantum cloning. He spoke about ways to go around a "non-cloning theorem".

January: Jennifer Khan: Science Writing

Ms. Kahn is a highly regarded science writer, contributing to the New York Times Magazine and a feature writer for Wired, the New Yorker, National Geographic and Outside magazine. She teaches at the UC Berkeley School of Journalism and Stanford University. Her work has been selected for the Best American Science Writing series four times and she’s also featured in the Best American Sports Writing series.

November: Dr. Bruce Lipton: Epigenetics

Dr. Lipton is a world famous cell biologist from University of Virginia, University of Wisconsin and Stanford University. His seminal research revealed that the environment surrounding the cell, operating through the cell membrane, controls the behavior and physiology of the cell and turns genes on and off. This finding was in opposition to the established scientific view at that time that life is controlled by the genes. It laid the groundwork for the field of epigenetics. Dr. Lipton speaks around the world and is the NYT best selling author of “The Biology of Belief”.