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Mills College

Department of Chemistry and Physics


The Chan-Norris Conversations in Science series

Fall 2016


Seminars held in room NSB 217 at noon.

Lunch provided!


Co-sponsored by the Environmental Sciences Program, Career Services and the Provost’s Office.


Advocating the Chan-Norris endowment goal of enhancing and expanding the Mills College Natural Science curriculum.


Come join us for fun and enlightening conversations with some of the Bay Area’s most interesting science-based professionals. In addition to talking about what they do and why, they are here to clue you in on some of the rewards and challenges of life after college in a science and tech-minded world.


Students in all majors invited. Not your typical seminar talk!


Sept. 27 (Tuesday)

Dr. Bruce Alberts

Chancellor's Leadership Chair in Biochemistry and Biophysics for Science and Education, 

University of California, San Francisco

Dr. Alberts, a prominent biochemist with a strong commitment to the improvement of science and mathematics education, was awarded the National Medal of Science by President Barack Obama in 2014.  Dr. Alberts served as Editor-in-Chief of Science (2009-2013) and as one of the first three United States Science Envoys (2009-2011). He is now the Chancellor's Ledership Chair in Biochemistry and Biophysics for Science and Education at the University of California, San Francisco, to which he returned after serving two six-year terms as president of the United States National Academy of Sciences (NAS).

During his tenure at the NAS, Dr. Alberts was instrumental in developing the landmark National Science Education standards that have been implemented in school systems nationawide. The type of "science as inquiry" teaching we need, says Dr. Alberts, emphasizes "logic, hands-on problem solving, and it insists on having evidence for claims that can be confirmed by others. It requires work in cooperative groups, where those with different types of talents can discover them - developing self confidence and an ability to communicate effectively with others."

Widely recognized for his work in the fields of biochemistry and molecular biology, Dr. Alberts has earned many honors and awards, including 16 honorary degrees. He currently serves on the advisory boards of more than 25 non-rpofit institutions, including the Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation.

Dr. Alberts is also noted as one of the original authors of The Molecular Biology of the Cell, a preeminent textbook in the field soon to be in its sixth edition. For the period 2000 to 2009, he served as the co-chair of the InterAcademy Council, a new organization in Amsterdam governed by the presidents of 15 national academies of science and established to provide scientific advice to the world. Dr. Alberts did his undergraduate and graduate work at Harvard University.

Text adapted from UCSF website.

Oct. 19 (Wednesday)

Dr. Harvey Fineberg

President, Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation

Dr. Harvey Fineberg is currently the President of the Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation and has had an incredibly interesting career path thus far. He counts professor, federal leader and academic provost and dean among his many previous roles. Briefly, he held the Presidential Chair for 2014-2015 as visiting professor at the University of California, San Francisco. Prior to that, he served as president of the Institute of Medicine from 2002 to 2014 and as provost of Harvard University from 1997 to 2001, following 13 years as dean of the Harvard School of Public Health.

Dr. Fineberg has devoted most of his career to the fields of health policy and medical decision-making. His past research has focused on the process of policy development and implementation, assessment of medical technology, evaluation and use of vaccines, and dissemination of medical innovations. 

Additionally, Dr. Fineberg chairs the board of the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace and serves on the boards of the William and Flora Hewlett Foundation and the China Medical Board. He helped found and served as president of the Society for Medical Decision Making and also served as consultant to the World Health Organization.

Dr. Fineberg is co-author of the books Clinical Decision AnalysisInnovators in Physician Education and The Epidemic that Never Was, an analysis of the controversial federal immunization program against swine flu in 1976. He has co-edited several books on such diverse topics as AIDS prevention, vaccine safety, understanding risk in society and global health. He has also authored numerous articles published in professional journals. Dr. Fineberg is the recipeint of several honorary degrees - the Frank A. Caldrone Prize in Public Health, the Henry G. Friesen International Prize in Health Research and the Harvard Medal, awarded by the alumni association of the university from which he earned his bachelor's and doctoral degrees.

Text adapted from the Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation website.


Questions? Contact Dr. Felisa Wolfe-Simon, Chan-Norris Visiting Professor,


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