Keynote Speaker Webcasts


2019 Symposium Keynote Speaker

David Gunkel Photo

David J. Gunkel is an award-winning educator and scholar, specializing in the philosophy of technology with a particular focus on information and communication technology. He is the author of over 70 scholarly articles published in journals of communication, philosophy, interdisciplinary humanities, and computer science. He has published nine books—Hacking Cyberspace (Westview Press, 2001), Thinking Otherwise: Philosophy, Communication, Technology (Purdue University Press, 2007), Transgression 2.0: Media, Culture and the Politics of a Digital Age (Continuum, 2011), The Machine Question: Critical Perspectives on AI, Robots, and Ethics (MIT Press, 2012), Heidegger and Media (Polity, 2014), Of Remixology: Ethics and Aesthetics After Remix (MIT Press, 2016), The Changing Face of Alterity: Communication, Technology and Other Subjects (Rowman & Littlefield, 2016), Gaming the System: Deconstructing Video Games, Game Studies and Virtual Worlds (Indiana University Press, 2018), and Robot Rights (MIT Press, 2018). He has lectured and delivered award-winning papers throughout North and South America and Europe and is the founding co-editor of the International Journal of Žižek Studiesand, the Indiana University Press book series Digital Game Studies. Dr. Gunkel currently holds the position of Presidential Teaching Professor in the Department of Communication at Northern Illinois University. His teaching has been recognized with numerous awards, including NIU’s Excellence in Undergraduate Teaching Award in 2006 and the Presidential Teaching Professorship in 2009.

Keynote Speakers for 2018

Photo of Dr. Rashawn Ray, 2018 STARS Symposium Kenote Speaker. Dr. Rashawn Ray, Associate Professor of Sociology at the University of Maryland, College Park. Ray obtained a Ph.D. in Sociology from Indiana University in 2010. From 2010-2012 he was a Robert Wood Johnson Foundation Health Policy Research Scholar at the University of California, Berkeley/UCSF. He is the author of Race and Ethnic Relations in the 21st Century: History, Theory, Institutions, and Policy. His work has appeared in journals including the Annual Review of Public Health, Journal of Urban Health, American Education Research Journal, Ethnic and Racial Studies, and the Journal of Contemporary Ethnography. Ray has a forthcoming book, Bordering Chaos: Family and Work in a Racially-Diverse America, with Dr. Pam Jackson. Previously, Ray served on the 50th Anniversary of the March on Washington Planning Committee. Ray is a frequent contributor to the New York Times and has also written for Huffington Post.

 Webcast of Dr. Rashawn Ray’s Address

Photo of Chen Chen, 2018 STARS Sumposium Keynote SpeakerChen Chen, author of When I Grow Up I Want to Be a List of Further Possibilities (BOA Editions), which won the Poulin, Jr. Poetry Prize and was longlisted for the 2017 National Book Award for poetry. A Kundiman and Lambda Literary Fellow, Chen has also authored two chapbooks. His work has appeared or is forthcoming in Poetry, The New York Times Magazine, Poem-a-Day, Best of the Net, The Best American Poetry, Bettering American Poetry, and The Best American Nonrequired Reading. He has been featured on the PBS Newshour and He helps edit Iron Horse and Gabby. He also works on a new journal called Underblong, which he co-founded with the poet Sam Herschel Wein. Chen received his MFA from Syracuse University and is currently pursuing a PhD in English and Creative Writing at Texas Tech University.

Webcast Unavailable

Keynote Speakers for 2017

Ross Gay
Photo Credit: Jim Krause

Ross Gay, author of three books: Against Which; Bringing the Shovel Down; and Catalog of Unabashed Gratitude, winner of the 2015 National Book Critics Circle Award and the 2016 Kingsley Tufts Poetry Award. Catalog of Unabashed Gratitude received the National Book Critics Circle Award for Poetry in 2016 and is currently a nominee for the Hurston-Wright Legacy Award. Catalog was also a finalist for the Ohioana Book Award, the Balcones Poetry Prize, and was nominated for an NAACP Image Award. He has received fellowships from Cave Canem, the Bread Loaf Writer’s Conference, and the Guggenheim Foundation. He teaches at Indiana University.


Webcast of Dr. Ross Gay’s Address

William CosgroveWilliam J. Cosgrove. B. Eng., M. Eng., Honorary D. Sc., McGill University. Currently Chair of the Board of the Water Economics, Policy and Governance Research Network (Canada), Bill is a former Vice President of the World Bank and was recently Senior Research Associate at the International Institute for Applied Systems Analysis. He was Content Coordinator for the 3rd edition (2009) and Senior Advisor for the 4th edition (2012) of the United Nations World Water Development Report. He was a member of the Gulbenkian Foundation Think Tank on Water and Humanity. Bill received the Medal of the World Water Council for contributions to the World Water Vision (2000) and the 2001 Cannes international prize for water economics. He is an Honorary Fellow of the UNESCO-IHE Training Institute.

Webcast of Bill Cosgrove’s Address

Keynote Speaker for 2016

Dr. Edem S. AgamahDr. Edem S. Agamah is an Associate Professor of Clinical Internal Medicine at the Southern Illinois University School of Medicine.  He is the 2014 award winner in volunteerism and Community Service for the American College of Physicians, Illinois Chapter. Dr. Agamah founded the International Health an Development Network (IHDN) in 1996. Since 1996, he has led over 280 volunteers, including 30 college and medical students, on 27 mission trips to Ghana, where they learned and provided care for tens of thousands of villagers in Southeastern Ghana.

Webcast of Dr. Agamah’s Address

Keynote Speakers for 2015

Jericho BrownJericho Brown’s first collection of poetry, Please, won the 2009 American Book Award. He is the recipient of a National Endowment for the Arts Fellowship, a Bunting Fellowship from Harvard University, a Whiting Writer’s Award, and his poems have appeared in The Nation, The New Yorker, The New Republic, A Public Space, The American Poetry Review, and The Best American Poetry. His 2014 collection of poetry, The New Testament, was recently published by Copper Canyon Press. Dr. Brown holds a Ph.D. from the University of Houston and an M.F.A. from the University of New Orleans. He is an Assistant Professor of Creative Writing at Emory University.  Additional Information about Dr. Brown.

Webcast of Dr. Brown’s Poetry Reading


Photo by Josh Blanchard

Sonja Lyubomirsky (Harvard, A.B., summa cum laude; Stanford, Ph.D.) is Professor of Psychology at the University of California, Riverside. Her teaching and mentoring have been recognized with the Faculty of the Year (twice) and Faculty Mentor of the Year Awards, and her research has been honored with a Templeton Positive Psychology Prize and grants from the Science of Generosity Initiative, Templeton Foundation, and NIMH. Lyubomirsky’s best-selling 2008 book, The How of Happiness, has been published in 23 countries, and the 2013, Myths of Happiness, in 20 countries. Her work has been featured in hundreds of magazine and newspaper articles, as well as TV shows (20/20, The Today Show, Good Morning America), radio shows (NPR), and feature documentaries across the globe. Additional information about Dr. Lyubomirsky.

Webcast of Dr. Lyubomirsky’s Address

Keynote Speakers for 2014

Dorothy Allison Dorothy Allison received mainstream recognition with her novel Bastard Out of Carolina (1992), a finalist for the 1992 National Book Award. The novel won the Ferro Grumley prize, an ALA Award for Lesbian and Gay Writing, and also became a bestseller and award-winning movie. Her short story collection, Trash (1988), won two Lambda Literary Awards and the American Library Association Prize for Lesbian and Gay Writing. Cavedweller (1998) became a national bestseller, NY Times Notable book of the year, finalist for the Lillian Smith prize, and an ALA prize winner. Adapted for the stage by Kate Moira Ryan, the play was directed by Michael Greif, and featured music by Hedwig composer, Steven Trask. In 2003, Lisa Cholendenko directed a movie version featuring Kyra Sedwick. The expanded edition of Trash (2002) included the prize winning short story, “Compassion” selected for both Best American Short Stories 2003 and Best New Stories from the South 2003. Additional information about Ms. Allison.

Webcast of Ms. Allison’s Presentation


Peter Karieva - SmallPeter Kareiva, Chief Scientist and a Vice President for The Nature Conservancy.  He is a recognized leader in the conservation community.  Prior to taking on his leadership role with The Nature Conservancy, he was Director of the Division of Conservation Biology at NOAA.  He has received a Guggenheim Fellowship and authored more than 100 articles.  He is co-author of the 2011 textbook, Conservation Science: Balancing the Needs of People and Nature.   His work is international in scope conducting research, consulting, and teaching in 20 countries.  In 2007, the American Academy of Arts and Sciences elected him as a fellow.  A 2012 profile of Kareiva in Greenwire was titled, “Myth-busting Scientist Pushes Greens Past Reliance on ‘Horror Stories.’”  Dr. Kareiva’s Profile – Nature Conservancy.

Webcast of Dr. Kareiva’s Presentation

Keynote Speakers for 2013


Photo of Mary Jo BangMary Jo Bang, author of six books of poems, including The Bride of E (2009) and Elegy (2007), which received the National Book Critics Circle Award. Her translation of Dante’s Inferno, with illustrations by Henrik Drescher, was published by Graywolf Press in 2012. She received an M.F.A. in creative writing from Columbia University. Ms. Bang is currently a Professor of English at Washington University in St. Louis.


Webcast of Ms. Bang’s Poetry Reading


Ryan EwingRyan Ewing, Assistant Professor of Geological Sciences at the University of Alabama. He is currently exploring the surface of Mars with the NASA Curiosity team. Dr. Ewing studies how wind shapes planetary surfaces and how the resulting geomorphic record is archived in ancient rocks. His research uses field work, remote sensing, and numerical modeling to unravel the paleoclimate and paleoenvironmental records locked within these wind-blown sediments and rocks across these worlds. Dr. Ewing’s presentation is titled, “Mars’ Past and Present Dynamic Environments.”


Webcast of Dr. Ewing’s Address

Keynote Speakers for 2012

bonniejocampbell_003Bonnie Jo Campbell, author of numerous books including, American Salvage, Q Road, and Once Upon a River. Her work has been awarded the Association of Writers and Writing Programs Prize for short fiction, the Pushcart Prize, and she was a finalist for the 2009 National Book Award in fiction. Ms. Campbell received her M.A. in Mathematics and her M.F.A. in Writing from Western Michigan University. She currently lives in Michigan and teaches writing in the low residency program at Pacific University in Oregon.


Webcast of Ms. Campbell’s Literature Reading

CyntiaFisher_002Dr. Cynthia Fisher,
Professor of Psychology with appointments in the Linguistics Department and the Beckman Institute Cognitive Science Group at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. Her field of professional interest is language acquisition; she studies the beginnings of sentence comprehension by infants and toddlers. Dr. Fisher is a Fellow of the Association for Psychological Science, and has been a Visiting Scholar at the Institute of Linguistics, Academia Sinica in Taiwan, and at the Max Planck Institute for Psycholinguistics in the Netherlands. Dr. Fisher’s presentation is titled, “Learning Words and Rules: The Early Developement of Sentence Comprehension.”