Get inspired by the Spring Named Lecture Series

Mark your calendars! This spring, departments across Arts & Sciences are bringing in big speakers for their named lecture series.

Memorial and distinguished lectureships allow us to broaden the conversation and research at the university by interjecting new ideas into our halls and classrooms. However, it can sometimes be hard to keep them all straight. Here’s a brief overview of some of the distinguished and memorial lecture series in Arts & Sciences coming this spring.


Carol B. and Jerome T. Loeb Colloquium

January 17: Federico Ardila “Using geometry to move robots quickly”
Hosted by the mathematics department, this series was established by Carol B. and Jerome T. Loeb as a general interest lecture for mathematicians in 2001. Carol, a mathematician and advocate of math and science in the St. Louis community, serves on the School of Medicine’s National Council and is a Life Member of the Washington University Danforth Circle Dean’s Level. Jerome Loeb, former chairman of the May Department Stores Co., died in 2004. The series includes two lectures, The Undergraduate Loeb Lecture in Mathematics and The Loeb Research Lecture in Mathematics. 
Past Speakers: Persi Diaconis, 2018; Erica Flapan, 2017; Robert DeVaney, 2016; Francis Su, 2015


McDonnell Distinguished Lecture Series

March 6—Public Lecture: Richard Alley “Finding the Good News on Energy and Environment”
March 7—Colloquium: Richard Alley “Falling Dominoes: Ice Sheets and Sea Level”
The McDonnell Center for the Space Sciences sponsors the lecture series in memory of James Smith McDonnell, whose generous endowment led to the creation of the center in 1974.
Past Speakers: George Philander, 2018; Bill McKinnon, 2017; John P. Grotzinger, 2016; Roger J. Phillips, 2015


Thomas S. Hall Lecture in Biology

March 19: Helen Longino
The Hall Lecture Series was inaugurated in 1978 to honor Thomas Steele Hall, a member of the biology department from 1945 until his retirement in 1978; and Distinguished University Professor until his death in 1990. From 1949 to 1961 he served as dean of the College of Arts and Sciences. Although trained as an experimental embryologist at Yale in the late 1930s, Hall devoted most of his academic career to the history and philosophy of science. In keeping with the broad range of interests and leadership provided by Tom Hall during his academic career, this lecture series offers a forum for exchange of ideas on the broad historical and cultural relationships between science (including medicine), philosophy, the arts and society.
Past Speakers: Jack Kloppenburg, 2017; Gregory Radick, 2016; Oren Harman, 2016; Elisabeth Lloyd, 2015; Brian Hall, 2013


Weltin Lecture

March 21: Amy-Jill Levine "Jesus the Jewish Storyteller: Of Pearls and Prodigals"
Professor E. G. Weltin retired from full-time teaching after a long distinguished career as professor of Greek and Roman history and director of the program in religious studies. Upon his retirement, this lectureship in early Christian history was established in his honor by gifts from his students in 2000.
Past Speakers: Elaine Pagels, 2018; Caroline Schroeder, 2017; Elizabeth Digeser, 2016; J. Albert Harrill, 2015


John and Penelope Biggs Residency in the Classics

March 25: Susan Rotroff “A Scorpion and Smile: Two Vases in the Kemper Museum of Art”
March 27: Susan Rotroff “The Crossroads Enclosure: An Archaeological Puzzle in the Heart of Ancient Athens”
March 28: Susan Rotroff “In Their Cups: Drinking in the Age of Alexander the Great”

Each spring, a prominent classics scholar visits the campus for a week as the John and Penelope Biggs Resident. The Resident offers lectures and interacts with students and faculty over the course of the week. Established in 1990, the Biggs Residency in the Classics is the gift of John and Penelope Biggs, alumni of Washington University. This year, fifteen former Biggs Residents in Classics will return for three days of scholarship and fellowship.
Past Speakers: Robert Wallace, 2017; Daniel Mendelsohn, 2016; David Sedley, 2015


The Paul and Silvia Rava Memorial Lecture in Italian Studies

April 4: Graziella Parati
Founded in 1997, the series was made possible through a generous endowment from Silvia Rava in the memory of her husband Paul. Paul Rava was born in Venice in 1911 and graduated in 1933 from the law school of the University of Padua. In 1940, he fled Mussolini’s racial laws and landed in the United States. Within a few years, he graduated from WashU’s law school, having received one ear of transfer credit for his Italian degree and teaching experience.
Past Speakers: Deanna Shemek, 2018; Ellen Nerenberg, 2017; Alexander Stille, 2016


The Kennedy Lecture Series

April 4 & 5: Thomas Mallouk
The lecture is given in memory and honor of the late Professor Joseph W. Kennedy, who served as chairman of the WashU Department of Chemistry from 1946 - 1956. Born in Nacogdoches, Texas in 1917, Kennedy made history with the discovery of the element plutonium along with his colleagues Arthur C. Wahl, and Glenn T. Seaborg. He was awarded the Medal for Merit by the President of the United States in 1946. Under his leadership, the department of Chemistry gained a new orientation, and it is now recognized not only for its commitment to high quality undergraduate education, but also to strong research programs and to education at the graduate level.
Past Speakers: Frank Stillinger, 2018; Jon Clardy, 2017; Ernest J Moniz, 2013; Moungi G. Bawendi, 2011


Viktor Hamburger Lecture in Biology

April 8: Mike Levine
Born in Germany, Viktor Hamburger attended the Universities of Breslau, Heidelberg, Munich, and Freiburg. He earned his doctorate in zoology (experimental embryology) in 1925 from the University of Freiburg, where he studied with the renowned biologist and Nobel Laureate, Hans Spemann. As the recipient of a Rockefeller Fellowship in 1932, Dr. Hamburger came to the US, and in 1935 he joined Washington University. Known for his pioneering work in experimental embryology, neuroembryology, and the study of programmed cell death, as well as his work on NGF with Rita Levi-Montalcine and Stanley Cohen, Dr. Hamburger served as chairman of the Department of Zoology at WashU from 1941-1966. Though he retired in 1969, he continued his research until the mid-1980s. He passed away in 2001, just short of his 101st birthday.
Past Speakers: Eve Marder, 2018; Olivier Pourquié, 2017; Martyn Goulding, 2016; Barbara Meyer, 2015


William Catron Jones Lecture

April 8: Kirsten Sellars “The Tokyo Tribunal: China, the USSR, and the ‘crimes against peace’ charge”
This series is hosted by East Asian Studies and co-sponsored with the Washington University Law School's Harris Institute for Global Legal Studies. The lecture honors the late Professor Jones for his contributions to Chinese legal studies.
Past Speakers: Marie Seong-Hak Kim, 2018; H.E. Judge Liu Daqun, 2017; Wen-Chen Chang, 2016; Curtis Milhaupt, 2015


Varner Lecture

April 15: Peter Quail
Joseph Varner joined the biology department of Washington University in 1973. He started with a small research group, and soon after arriving, he convinced then-chancellor William Danforth that he could build a first-rate plant biology program if the department were given additional faculty positions. Varner clearly saw that plant biology was nearing a new takeoff point, and he wanted WashU to be part of it. He attracted a number of first-rate junior plant biologists to the department, including Roger Beachy, Mary Dell Chilton, William Outlaw, and Virginia Walbot. The lecture series was established to honor and thank Varner.
Past Speakers: Anja Greitmann, 2018; June Nasrallah, 2017; Elliot Meyerowitz, 2016; John Ralph, 2015; Natasha Raikhel, 2014; Olivier Hamant, 2013


Stanley Spector Memorial Lecture on East Asian History and Civilization

April 19: Eugene Park “Eurasian Genealogies and Periodizing Korean History”
This series was founded in 1994 to honor Dr. Stanley Spector for his tremendous contributions to the creation and development of Asian Studies at WashU. Born in New York City in 1924, Spector earned a doctorate in East Asian history in 1954 from the University of Washington in Seattle. In 1955, he came to WashU, and he served as chair of the Department of Chinese and Japanese (now East Asian Languages and Cultures) from its inception in 1963 until 1973. He also served as chair of the Committee on Asian Studies and as director of International Studies from 1971 to 1989. He was granted emeritus status in 1989.
Past Speakers: Peter K. Bol, 2018; Akiko Takenaka, 2017; Charles Armstrong, 2016; Valerie Hansen, 2015