Stuart Firestein

Former Chair of Department of Biological Sciences, Columbia University

Stuart Firestein is the former Chair of Columbia University’s Department of Biological Sciences, where he studies the vertebrate olfactory system. Aside from its molecular detection capabilities, the olfactory system serves as a model for investigating general principles and mechanisms of signaling and perception in the brain. Dr. Firestein’s laboratory seeks to answer that fundamental human question: How do I smell? Recently he was awarded the 2011 Lenfest Distinguished Columbia Faculty Award for excellence in scholarship and teaching. In 2012 he was elected a Fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS). His book on the workings of science for a general audience, Ignorance, How it drives Science, was published in 2012. Dr. Firestein serves as an advisor for the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation’s program for the Public Understanding of Science.

Participant In:

Ignorance and Curiosity

Saturday, April 27th
2:30 - 4:30PM

Past Event

Physics Nobel laureate David Gross claims that the most important product of science is ignorance. Science is the quest not just for knowledge, but for better questions, and we’re generally more engaged by questions than by answers. Thus, ignorance drives science and curiosity is its engine. How do we know what we don’t know? Why… read more »

Human and Nonhuman Minds: Continuities and Discontinuities

Saturday, May 16, 2015
2:30-4:30 pm

Past Event

When Darwin wrote The Expression of the Emotions in Man and Animals, published in 1872, the scientific community was still pondering the question: Do other animals think?  The subsequent prodigious scientific study of animal cognition and behavior has answered this question with an emphatic “yes”! The question now has advanced to: To what degree do… read more »

Art and Science: The Two Cultures Converging

December 1-3, 2017

Past Event

Man tries to make for himself in the fashion that suits him best a simplified and intelligible picture of the world; he then tries to some extent to substitute this cosmos of his for the world of experience, and thus to overcome it. This is what the painter, the poet, the speculative philosopher, and the… read more »