Featured Experts

Garland Allen

An American historian of science and biographer at Washington University in St. Louis, Garland Allen focuses his present research on the history of genetics and its relationship to eugenics and agriculture in the United States between 1900 and 1950. In addition to an interest in Mendelian genetics, agriculturists and eugenicists also believed that the principles of animal and plant breeding could be applied to managing human evolution. Allen is exploring the funding and institutional base for eugenics: who paid for it, what were their motives, and what was the sort of scientific (genetic) basis for eugenic arguments. The major goal of this work is to place eugenics in its historical context, and to explore its implications for society today. His works include Matter, Energy, and Life (4 Editions), Life Sciences in the 20th Century (1975), Thomas Hunt Morgan: The Man and his Science (1978), and Biology: Scientific Process and Social Issues (2002). He is a fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science (2011), trustee and chairman of the history committee at the Marine Biological Laboratory, and president of the International Society for the History, Philosophy and Social Studies of Biology.

Ignacio Chapela

Associate professor of Microbial Ecology at UC, Berkeley, Ignacio Chapela is also a senior researcher at GenØk, the National Center for Biosafety, Norway. Chapela has worked as a biologist at various levels of commitment with a large range of institutions including: indigenous communities in Latin America, public education and public research institutions (in Mexico, Wales, the US, Norway, Costa Rica, and Venezuela), private industry (in Switzerland), public policy national and multinational bodies (UNDP, Panamerican Health Organization, World Bank), and multiple foundations and think-tanks. He is best known for a 2001 paper in Nature on the flow of transgenes into wild maize populations, and as an outspoken critic of the University of California’s ties to the biotechnology industry. Chapela founded The Mycological Facility in Oaxaca state in Mexico, a facility dealing with questions of natural resources and indigenous rights, and collaborates with indigenous communities in Mexico, Costa Rica, and Ecuador on issues of rights to genetic resources. He is also an advisory board member for The Sunshine Project, an organization promoting citizens’ concerns with biosafety and biowarfare. He has appeared in several films on genetically modified organism and food systems issues including The World According to Monsanto and The Future of Food. Chapela is a member of the San Francisco Bay Area group Retort collective.

Barry Commoner

Barry Commoner was a cellular biologist who helped initiate the modern environmental movement. In the early 1950s, Commoner—then a professor at Washington University in St. Louis— spearheaded the formation of the St. Louis Committee for Nuclear Information (CNI), which found that, in contrast to the official government position, radioactive buildup in children’s baby teeth demonstrated that nuclear testing posed a threat to human health—a finding that was one of the factors leading to the 1963 nuclear test-ban treaty. Commoner later studied issues such as pollution and ozone-layer depletion and advocated the use of solar and other types of renewable energy. In 1970, a Time magazine cover story dubbed him “the Paul Revere of Ecology” for his early leadership in the field. Commoner received his degree in zoology with honors from Columbia in 1937 and earned his doctorate from Harvard in 1941. In 1966, he established at Washington University the Center for the Biology of Natural Systems to study man’s relationship with the environment. In 1981 the center moved to Queens College of the City University of New York, and Commoner served as a senior scientist and director emeritus. In 1980, he ran for president of the United States under the banner of the Citizens’ Party. He wrote nine books, including The Closing Circle (1971), one of the first books to point out the high environmental costs associated with American technological development, The Poverty of Power (1976) and Making Peace with the Planet (1990). Commoner died in 2012.

Troy Duster

Troy Duster is a sociologist with research interests in the sociology of science, public policy, race and ethnicity and deviance. He is Chancellor’s Professor of sociology at UC Berkeley and professor of sociology and director of the Institute for the History of the Production of Knowledge at NYU. In his book, Backdoor to Eugenics, he talks about the social and political implications of genetic technologies. He contributed to White-Washing Race: The Myth of a Color-blind Society. He is the grandson of civil rights activist Ida B. Wells-Barnett. In 1970, he published “The Legislation of Morality,” in which he showed how the moral indignation regarding addiction at the time of the Harrison Narcotic Law of 1914 pointed fingers not at the middle- and upper-class users of drugs but at the lower classes of Americans.

Troy Duster

Fidelma Fitzpatrick

Medical attorney Fidelma Fitzpatrick represents people and communities in toxic tort and environmental matters, including property damage and personal injury claims. She was co-lead trial counsel in the billion-dollar lead paint pigment case, The People of California v. Atlantic Richfield Company et al., which led to a court ruling that three lead paint pigment companies had created a public nuisance by concealing the dangers of lead when they campaigned against its regulation and actively promoted lead for use in homes despite knowing that it was highly toxic. She played a central role in the state of Rhode Island’s trial against former corporate manufacturers of lead paint pigment. Fitzpatrick continues to manage cases seeking to hold the lead paint pigment industry accountable for the childhood lead poisoning crisis and provide restitution and compensation to affected children and families. As a result of her work for lead poisoning victims, the Wisconsin State Supreme Court became the first to recognize the legal rights of poisoned children to sue lead paint pigment manufacturers. She has also litigated cases involving groundwater pollution and radioactive contamination on behalf of affected communities. She serves on the Board of Regents at Canisius College and frequently speaks on environmental and mass tort topics at conferences for federal and state court judges, attorneys, academic professionals and law students.

Agustín Fuentes

Agustín Fuentes is currently a professor of anthropology at the University of Notre Dame. His current foci include cooperation and bonding in human evolution, ethnoprimatology and multispecies anthropology, evolutionary theory, and public perceptions of, and interdisciplinary approaches to, human nature(s). Fuentes’ recent books include Race, Monogamy, and Other Lies They Told You: Busting Myths About Human Nature, Evolution of Human Behavior Centralizing Fieldwork: Critical Perspectives from Primatology, Biological and Social Anthropology, Biological Anthropology: Concepts and Connections, Monkeys on the Edge: Ecology and Management of Long-Tailed Macaques and Their Interface with Humans. Key recent articles include “Naturecultural Encounters in Bali: Monkeys, Temples, Tourists, and Ethnoprimatology” in Cultural Anthropology and “The New Biological Anthropology: Bringing Washburn’s New Physical Anthropology Into 2010 and Beyond” in the Yearbook of Physical Anthropology. Current research projects include the ethnoprimatology of Singapore, interdisciplinary approaches to understanding human nature(s), and an evaluation of the roles of cooperation, community, and niche construction in human evolution.

Ruth Hubbard

Biologist Hubbard was born in Austria and escaped Nazism as a teenager. From the 1940’s to the 1960’s, she made important contributions to the understanding of the biochemistry and photochemistry of vertebrates and invertebrates. In 1967, she won the Paul Karrer Medal with her husband, George Wald, for their work in this area. Hubbard was the first woman to be awarded a tenured biology professorship at Harvard University. She is best known for her brilliant and courageous challenges to colleagues who promote sociobiology. Distinguished geneticist Richard Lewontin has said, “No one has been a more influential critic of the biological theory of women’s inequality than Ruth Hubbard.” Hubbard wrote several books and articles for scholarly journals and popular magazines on these issues, including: The Politics of Women’s Biology (1990), Exploding the Gene Myth: How Genetic Information Is Produced and Manipulated by Scientists, Physicians, Employers, Insurance Companies, Educators, and Law Enforcers (with Elijah Wald) (1993), and Profitable Promises: Essays on Women, Science & Health, Common Courage Press (1995). She encouraged other scientists to question the validity of their profession’s paradigms regarding gender issues and encouraged female peers to move ahead in their careers while inspiring laywomen to become scientifically literate. Hubbard died in 2016.

Oliver James

Oliver James is a chartered psychologist, registered with the British Psychological Society. He is registered as a psychotherapist with the John Bowlby Centre and works as a psychodynamic psychotherapist in London and on Skype. Since 1988, he has worked as a writer, journalist (with columns in most of the national newspapers over the years). He writes primarily for the Guardian and Observer. He has had a career as a broadcaster and television documentary producer and presenter. He is the author of several books, including: They F*** You Up (2002), Affluenza (2007), Contented Dementia (2009), Love Bombing – Reset Your Child’s Emotional Thermostat (2012), and Office Politics: How to Thrive in a World of Lying, Backstabbing and Dirty Tricks (2013). His recent Not In Your Genes (2016), argues that no genes have been found which significantly explain our individual psychology, such as intelligence or mental health. His latest book is Upping Your Ziggy – How David Bowie Faced His Childhood Demons and How You Can Face Yours (2016), which explores the environmental causes of schizophrenia.

Van Jones

Van Jones is a CNN political contributor who regularly appears across the network’s programming and special political coverage. A Yale-educated attorney, he is the author of two New York Times best-selling books, The Green Collar Economy (2008) and Rebuild the Dream (2012). Jones was the main advocate for the Green Jobs Act signed into law by George W. Bush in 2007. In 2009, Jones worked as the green jobs advisor to President Barack Obama, helping to lead the inter-agency process that oversaw a multi-billion-dollar investment in skills training and jobs development. In 2014, Jones launched two brand new initiatives: #cut50, a bipartisan communications campaign to cut the prison population in half in 10 years; and #YesWeCode, a national initiative of DreamCorps Unlimited, aiming to train 100,000 low-opportunity youth to become high-level computer programmers. Jones has founded and led four other not-for-profit organizations engaged in social and environmental justice including, Rebuild the Dream, promoting innovative U.S. economic policy solutions; the Ella Baker Center for Human Rights focusing on economic empowerment and skills training in California; Color of Change, offering training and guidance on issues related to racial equality and fairness on behalf of communities of color; and Green for All, dedicated to jobs training in the green sector with the goal to help lift people out of poverty. Jones is a senior fellow with the Center for American Progress, and he has been honored with numerous awards and spotlighted on several lists of high achievers, including: World Economic Forum’s “Young Global Leader” designation; Rolling Stone’s 2012 “12 Leaders Who Get Things Done”; Time’s 2009 “100 Most Influential People in The World”; and the Root’s 2014 “The Root 100.”

Jay Joseph

Jay Joseph, PsyD, is a licensed psychologist practicing in the San Francisco Bay Area. Since 1998, he has published many peer-reviewed articles and book chapters critically examining genetic theories and research in psychiatry and psychology. His is the author of The Gene Illusion: Genetic Research in Psychiatry and Psychology Under the Microscope (2004) and The Missing Gene: Psychiatry, Heredity, and the Fruitless Search for Genes (2006). His latest book is The Trouble with Twin Studies: A Reassessment of Twin Research in the Social and Behavioral Sciences (2015).

Evelyn Fox Keller

Evelyn Fox Keller is a physicist and author. She is currently professor emerita of history and philosophy of science. Before her position at MIT, she was professor in the Departments of Rhetoric, History, and Women’s Studies at UC Berkeley. Previously she taught at Northeastern University, SUNY Purchase, and NYU. She has been awarded numerous academic and professional honors, including most recently the Blaise Pascal Research Chair by the Préfecture de la Région D’Ile-de-France for 2005-07, which she spent in Paris, and was elected to membership in the American Philosophical Society and the American Academy of Arts and Science. Keller serves on the editorial boards of various journals including the Journal of the History of Biology and Biology and Philosophy. Keller’s research focuses on the history and philosophy of modern biology and on gender and science. She is the author of several books, including A Feeling for the Organism: The Life and Work of Barbara McClintock (1983), Reflections on Gender and Science (1985), The Century of the Gene (2000), Making Sense of Life: Explaining Biological Development with Models, Metaphors and Machines (2002), and The Mirage of a Space Between Nature and Nurture (2010).

Andrew Kimbrell

Andrew Kimbrell is an internationally recognized public interest attorney, public speaker, and author. Founder and executive director of the Center for Food Safety (CFS), he is also director of the Center for Technology Assessment, co-founder of Foundation Earth, and president of the Board of Humane Farm Animal Care. Kimbrell has successfully challenged federal agencies in several historic court cases including the case that resulted in a U.S. Supreme Court victory forcing, for the first time, EPA regulation of greenhouse gases and their impact on climate change. He also pioneered the legal strategy that led to the Supreme Court ruling that DNA is not patentable. Through his leadership at CFS, Kimbrell has been at the forefront of legal challenges to genetically engineered crops and lawsuits forcing the FDA to adopt new food safety regulations. Kimbrell is also executive producer and writer of A DANGEROUS IDEA.

James LeFanu

A general practitioner and author, James LeFanu has combined working as a doctor with contributing a weekly column to Britain’s Sunday and Daily Telegraph. He has contributed articles and reviews to The New Statesman, Spectator, GQ, The British Medical Journal and Journal of the Royal Society of Medicine. He has written several books including The Rise and Fall of Modern Medicine, which won the Los Angeles Prize Book Award in 2001 and Why Us?: How Science Rediscovered the Mystery of Ourselves that was published in Britain and the United States in February 2009. He has made original contributions to current controversies over the value of experiments in human embryos, environmentalism, dietary causes of disease and the misdiagnosis of “non-accidental injury” in children. After growing up in Scotland, East Africa, Yugoslavia, and Cyprus, he studied humanities at Ampleforth College before switching to medicine, graduating from Cambridge University and the Royal London Hospital in 1974. He subsequently worked in the Renal Transplant Unit and Cardiology Departments of the Royal Free and St Mary’s Hospital in London.

Joseph J. Levin

Co-founder of the Southern Poverty Law Center in 1971 and SPLC’s legal director from 1971 to 1976, Levin worked on more than 50 major civil rights cases. He argued the landmark sex discrimination case Frontiero vs. Richardson, in which the U.S. Supreme Court struck down a federal law giving preferences to men in the military, and the private segregated school case of Gilmore v. City of Montgomery. In 1976, Levin joined the Carter administration, supervising the Department of Justice’s transition team before serving as special assistant to the attorney general and then as chief counsel for the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. In 1979, he entered private practice in Washington, D.C., but continued his association with the SPLC by serving as its board chairman until 2003. Levin was also president of the SPLC from 1996 to 2003, when he became general counsel. He served as a board member from 1971 until 2009.

Joseph Levin

Richard Lewontin

Richard Lewontin is the Alexander Agassiz Research Professor at Harvard University. Lewontin was a key figure in forming the “Modern Synthesis” which was the merging of evolutionary theory with techniques from molecular biology to bring evolutionary biology into the realm of modern quantitative sciences. His research has specifically focused on developing a mathematical basis for the study of population genetics. He has also been a leading critic, along with the late Stephen J. Gould, of the “adaptationist program,” authoring many articles and books warning of its oversimplification of the description of evolved behaviors through adaptation and natural selection. Lewontin has won many prestigious awards and fellowships including the Fulbright Fellowship (1961), the National Science Foundation’s Postdoctoral Fellowship (1961), the Sewel Wright Award from the American Society of Naturalists (1994), and the Crafoord Prize from the Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences (2015). He is a former member of the National Academy of Sciences.

Robert Pollack

Robert Pollack is an American biologist who studies the intersections between science and religion. He currently works at Columbia University, where he serves as the director of the University’s Center for the Study of Science and Religion and lectures for its Center for Psychoanalytic Training and Research. Additionally, he is a professor of religion at the Union Theological Seminary. From 1982 to 1989 he served as dean of Columbia College. In addition to teaching, Pollack has authored more than one hundred reviews, articles, and opinion pieces on molecular biology, medical ethics and science education. He is the author of Signs of Life: The Language and Meanings of DNA (1994), which won the Lionel Trilling Award and has been translated into six languages, The Faith of Biology and the Biology of Faith: Order, Meaning and Free Will in Modern Science (2000), and The Missing Moment: How the Unconscious Shapes Modern Science (2001).

Robert Pollack

Robert Reich

Robert B. Reich is chancellor’s professor of public policy at the UC Berkeley and senior fellow at the Blum Center for Developing Economies. He served in the administrations of Presidents Gerald Ford and Jimmy Carter and as secretary of labor in the Clinton administration from 1983-87, for which Time magazine named him one of the ten most effective cabinet secretaries of the 20th century. Reich is a political commentator on programs including Hardball with Chris Matthews, This Week with George Stephanopoulos, CNBC’s Kudlow & Company, and APM’s Marketplace. He has written 14 books, including the best sellers Aftershock, The Work of Nations, and Beyond Outrage, and, his most recent, Saving Capitalism. He is also a founding editor of the American Prospect magazine, chairman of Common Cause, a member of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, and co-creator of the award-winning documentary, Inequality for All.

Robert Reich

William H. Tucker

Professor of psychology at Rutgers University and author of several books critical of race science, William H. Tucker joined the faculty at Rutgers University in 1970 and has been there since. Tucker was a Psychometric Fellow for three years at Princeton, a position subsidized by Educational Testing Service. The majority of Tucker’s scholarship has been about psychometrics, not in it. He currently sits on the advisory board of the Institute for the Study of Academic Racism. He has written critical commentaries on several hereditarian psychologists known for their controversial work on race and intelligence. He has received awards for his research on Cyril Burt and the Pioneer Fund. His research interests concern the use—or more properly the misuse—of social science to support oppressive social policies, especially in the area of race. His books include: The Science and Politics of Racial Research (1994), The Funding of Scientific Racism: Wickliffe Draper and the Pioneer Fund (2002), The Intelligence Controversy: A Guide to the Debates (2005), The Cattell Controversy: Race, Science, and Ideology (2009), and Princeton Radicals of the 1960s, Then and Now (2015).