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Westbrook Free Lectureship

Dr. Richard B. Westbrook, Trustee of the Institute from 1884 until his death in 1899, established the Westbrook Free Lectureship as a means to encourage open discourse on scientific subjects, especially "disputed questions in science and the theories of Evolution."  Since 1912 when the series began, Westbrook lecturers have included some of the most distinguished scientists and scholars of the past 100 years, among them John Dewey, George Gaylord Simpson, and Margaret Mead.


~2018 Westbrook Free Lectureship~

Tracing Neutrinos Through the Cosmos

Dr. Naoko Kurahashi Neilson, Drexel University

Saturday, November 10, 2018

Museum opens at 1:00
Lecture begins at 3:00 PM

Annual Member Reception follows the talk.

Reception free for members; $10 for guests.

Please register here for this free lecture.
To RSVP for the Member Reception, call

Alison Hansen-Decelles, Development Manager, at 215-763-6529 x11.

The IceCube lab under the stars at the South Pole in 2017. Image by Martin Wolf, IceCube/NSF.

The IceCube Lab under the stars in 2017. Image by Martin Wolf, IceCube/NSF.

The Universe has been studied using light since the dawn of astronomy, when starlight captured the human eye. However, a different kind of telescope located at the geographic South Pole observes the Universe in a unique way: in high-energy neutrinos. Naoko Kurahashi Neilson, assistant professor of physics at Drexel University, is part of the global IceCube experiment. In July 2018, IceCube made international news when scientists announced that they had traced a neutrino's likely origins for the first time--to a blazar almost 4 billion light-years away. This talk will explain what these extreme neutrinos are, the extreme astrophysics we study using them, at extreme energies, and why the IceCube lab is in such an extreme location. The Wagner’s museum will be open from 1 p.m. until the talk begins at 3 p.m. Our Annual Member Reception will take place after the talk. The reception is free for members, $10 for guests.

Naoko Kurahashi Neilson at the South Pole

Dr. Naoko Kurahashi Neilson is an assistant professor of physics at Drexel University. She has published over 100 peer-reviewed articles, including in Science, in the field of neutrino astroparticle physics. She currently works on the IceCube experiment, the world's largest neutrino detector buried deep in the glacial ice at the geographic South Pole. She has been interviewed by many media outlets such as NPR and BBC radio on her travel to the South Pole and on exciting science results announced by IceCube in recent years.




Past Westbrook Lectures (Partial List)

2017 - "Dire Predictions: Understanding Climate Change"

          Dr. Michael E. Mann, Pennsylvania State University

2016 - "Natural History Collections: The Newest Biological Frontier"

          Dr. Kristofer Helgen, Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History

2013 - "Sustainable Seas: Vision and Reality"

          Dr. Sylvia Earle, Mission Blue

2012 - "The Sky is Falling: White-Nose Syndrome in Bats"

          Dr. Hazel Barton, University of Akron

2011 - "Adventures Among Ants"

          Mark W. Moffett, Smithsonian Institution

2010 - "I Am One of You: The Secret Language of Bacteria"

          Dr. Bonnie Bassler, Princeton University

2009 - "BSI -- The Case of the Disappearing Bees"

          Dr. May R. Berenbaum, University of Illinois

2008 - "The Evolution of Human Skin Color"

          Dr. Nina G. Jablonski, Pennsylvania State University

2007 - "A New 'Design' for Darwin: What Today's Science Says

          About Biology's Most Controversial Theory"

          Dr. Kenneth R. Miller, Brown University

1953 - "Cultural Background for Human Invention"

          Dr. Margaret Mead, American Museum of Natural History

1950 - "Evolution and the History of Life"

          Dr. George Gaylord Simpson, American Museum of Natural History

1949 - "Earth's Resources and Man's Needs"

          Dr. Kirtley F. Mather, Harvard University

1947 - "The Glacial Ages"

          Dr. Richard Foster Flint, Yale University

1940 - "Atomic Nuclei and Atomic Transmutations"

          Dr. Kenneth T. Bainbridge, Harvard University

1932 - "Common Sense, Science and Philosophy"

          Dr. John Dewey, Columbia University

1931 - "The Problems of the Origin and Antiquity of the American Aborigines

          in Light of Recent Explorations"

          Dr. Aleš Hrdlicka, United States National Museum (Smithsonian)

1928 - "The Science of Musical Sounds"

          Dr. Dayton C. Miller, Case School of Applied Science

1923 - "The Philosophy of Sanitation"

          George C. Whipple, Harvard University

1917 - "Heredity and Evolution in the Simplest Organisms"

          Dr. H.S. Jennings, Johns Hopkins University

1914 - "The Theory of Evolution"

          Dr. William Berryman Scott, Princeton University

1913 - "Conservation of Natural Resources"

          Gifford Pinchot, National Conservation Association

          Marshall O. Leighton, U.S. Geological Survey

          Overton W. Price, National Conservation Association

          Joseph A. Holmes, Department of the Interior, Bureau of Mines

1912 - "Ancient Civilization of Babylonia and Assyria"

          Dr. Morris Jastrow, University of Pennsylvania