University Professor; Fletcher Professor of Philosophy; Co-Director of the Center for Cognitive Studies
Daniel Dennett’s research centers on human consciousness, how it evolved and is evolving, and how the two great philosophical topics of free will and meaning relate to it. A sketch of his unified theory is found in From Bacteria to Bach and Back: The Evolution of Minds (2017).
Daniel C. Dennett is a world-renowned philosopher, author, and scholar in the field of cognitive studies. Dennett holds the University Professorship, Tufts’ most distinguished faculty title.
Dennett is the author, co-author, and editor of more than a dozen books, including, most recently, The Four Horsemen: The Discussion That Sparked an Atheist Revolution with Richard Dawkins, Sam Harris, and Christopher Hitchens (2019) and From Bacteria to Bach and Back: The Evolution of Minds (2017). His works also include the 1991 best-seller Consciousness Explained as well as his first book, Content and Consciousness (1969), which he followed with Brainstorms (1978), Elbow Room (1984), The Intentional Stance (1987), Darwin’s Dangerous Idea (1995), Kinds of Minds (1996), Brainchildren: A Collection of Essays 1984–1996 (1998), and Sweet Dreams: Philosophical Obstacles to a Science of Consciousness (2005). In addition, Dennett has authored more than 400 scholarly articles on various aspects of the mind in journals as diverse as Artificial Intelligence, Behavioral and Brain Sciences, Poetics Today, and The Journal of Aesthetics and Art Criticism.
Dennett is the recipient of numerous awards and honors including two Guggenheim Fellowships, a Fulbright Fellowship, and a fellowship at the Center for Advanced Studies in Behavioral Science. In 1987 he was elected to the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, and in 2012 he was awarded the Erasmus Prize, the highest award in the Netherlands. Dennett has lectured at institutions in the U.S. and abroad, including the John Locke Lectures at Oxford in 1983, the Gavin David Young Lecture at the University of Adelaide (Australia) in 1985, and the Tanner Lecture at the University of Michigan in 1986. He has also received honorary degrees from academic institutions around the globe.
Dennett has taught at Tufts since 1971, and during that time he has held visiting professorships at Harvard University, the University of Pittsburgh, Oxford University, the École Normale Supérieure in Paris, the London School of Economics, and the American University of Beirut. Beyond his positions at Tufts, he is currently a member of the external faculty of the Santa Fe Institute, in New Mexico, and New College of the Humanities, in London.
Dennett was the co-founder (in 1985) and co-director of the Curricular Software Studio at Tufts and has helped to design museum exhibits on computers for the Smithsonian Institution, the Museum of Science in Boston, and the Computer Museum in Boston.
He lives with his wife in North Andover, Massachusetts, and has a daughter, a son, and five grandchildren. He was born in Boston in 1942, the son of a historian by the same name, and he received his BA in philosophy from Harvard in 1963. He then went to Oxford to work with Gilbert Ryle, under whose supervision he completed the DPhil in philosophy in 1965. Before coming to Tufts, Dennett taught at the University of California, Irvine, from 1965 to 1971.
Founding Partner of Bryant Stibel and Stibel & Company, Tufts University Class of 1995
Jeff Stibel is a founding partner of Bryant Stibel and Stibel & Co. He has been a board member of a number of nonprofit, private, and public companies, and has served as chairman of the board of BrainGate, LegalZoom, and The Search Agency. Stibel was previously president and CEO of Web.com Inc. and the Dun & Bradstreet Credibility Corporation, and he later served as Dun & Bradstreet’s vice chairman. Stibel is also a USA Today columnist and author of the New York Times best-seller Breakpoint: Why the Web Will Implode, Search Will Be Obsolete, and Everything Else You Need to Know about Technology Is In Your Brain (2013) and Wired for Thought (2009). Stibel received his undergraduate degree in psychology, philosophy, and cognitive science from Tufts University, and his PhD from Brown University, where he was the recipient of a Brain and Behavior Fellowship. Stibel also spent time as a visiting fellow at MIT and received an honorary doctorate from Pepperdine University.
Founder and CEO of EMOTIV
Tan Le, an inventor, explorer, and entrepreneur, is the founder and CEO of EMOTIV, a San Francisco–headquartered neuroinformatics company. EMOTIV leverages large-scale brain data to build machine-learning models that advance understanding of the human brain and that augment and enhance human performance.
Born in South Vietnam, Tan Le migrated to Australia as a refugee with her family in 1981. At 16, she began university studies and earned degrees in law and commerce. In 1998, Tan was named Young Australian of the Year for her community work, catapulting her into a prominent role as a social activist and public speaker. Tan has been honored by the World Economic Forum (WEF) as a Young Global Leader since 2009, and she currently serves on the WEF’s Global Future Council on Neurotechnologies. Tan was featured in Fast Company’s “Most Influential Women in Technology” list in 2010 and Forbes’ “50 Names You Need to Know” list in 2011, and she was named a National Geographic Emerging Explorer in 2013. Tan received the 2018 Industrial Research Institute Achievement Award for “outstanding accomplishment in individual creativity and innovation that contributes broadly to the development of industry and to the benefit of society.” In 2018, a portrait of Tan was added to the permanent collection of the National Portrait Gallery of Australia—an honor bestowed on prominent Australians whose life sets them apart as an individual of long-term public interest.
Michael Levin, PhD
Distinguished Professor; Vannevar Bush Professor; Director of the Allen Discovery Center at Tufts; and Director of the Tufts Center for Regenerative and Developmental Biology; Tufts University Class of 1992
Michael Levin studies the molecular mechanisms cells use to communicate with one another. His work is directed toward understanding the mechanisms of signaling between cells and tissues that allow a biological system to reliably generate and maintain a complex morphology. Advances in regenerative medicine depend on understanding electrical anatomical memory, which is like memory in the brain. Brain computer interfaces such as BrainGate could offer key insights into how cells communicate to signal growth, adaptation to trauma, or even the storage of memories.
Michael Levin, Distinguished Professor in the Department of Biology and Vannevar Bush Professor, serves as director of both the Allen Discovery Center at Tufts University and the Tufts Center for Regenerative and Developmental Biology. Recent honors include the Scientist of Vision Award and the Distinguished Scholar Award. His group’s focus is on understanding the biophysical mechanisms that implement decision-making during complex pattern regulation, and harnessing endogenous bioelectric dynamics toward rational control of growth and form. The lab currently has three main directions:
Understanding how somatic cells form bioelectrical networks for storing and recalling pattern memories that guide morphogenesis
Creating next-generation AI tools for helping scientists understand top-down control of pattern regulation (a new bioinformatics of shape)
Using these insights to enable new capabilities in regenerative medicine and engineering
Prior to college, Michael Levin worked as a software engineer and independent contractor in the field of scientific computing. He attended Tufts University, interested in artificial intelligence and unconventional computation. To explore the algorithms by which the biological world implemented complex adaptive behavior, he earned dual BS degrees, in computer science and in biology, and then completed a PhD at Harvard University. Levin undertook postdoctoral training at Harvard Medical School (1996¬–2000), where he began to uncover a new bioelectric language by which cells coordinate their activity during embryogenesis. His independent laboratory (2000–2007 at the Forsyth Institute, Harvard; 2008–present at Tufts University) develops new molecular-genetic and conceptual tools to probe large-scale information processing in regeneration, embryogenesis, and cancer suppression.
Stephanie Badde, PhD
Stibel Family Assistant Professor of Brain and Cognitive Science, Department of Psychology
Stephanie Badde is the inaugural holder of the Stibel Family Assistant Professorship of Brain and Cognitive Science in the Department of Psychology. The professorship recognizes an outstanding junior faculty member in the field of cognitive and brain sciences. Badde has a background in psychology and mathematics, and her research focuses on tactile and proprioceptive localization, optimal integration of multisensory information, cross-modal recalibration, and Bayesian models of perception.
Stephanie Badde is the inaugural holder of the Stibel Family Assistant Professorship of Brain and Cognitive Science in the Department of Psychology. The professorship recognizes an outstanding junior faculty member in the field of cognitive and brain sciences. Badde came to Tufts in 2020 from a postdoctoral research appointment in the Department of Psychology and the Center for Neural Science at New York University. She has a background in psychology and mathematics, and she completed her PhD at the University of Hamburg in Germany.
Badde’s research focuses on tactile and proprioceptive localization, optimal integration of multisensory information, cross-modal recalibration, and Bayesian models of perception. She has received several awards for her research achievements, including the biannual Best Dissertation Award from the German Psychological Society and the Lucien Levy Best Research Article Award from the American Journal of Neuroradiology. She is an active scholar and has published her research in journals such as Current Biology, eLife, and Nature Communications. Badde has also received multiple research and travel grants.
Robert Cook, PhD
Dean, Graduate School of Arts and Sciences; Professor in the Department of Psychology
Robert Cook has studied animal cognition and behavior for more than 25 years. His National Institutes of Health–supported comparative research has focused extensively on stimulus control, discrimination learning, and memory in animals. His lab currently studies pigeons, starlings, and humans. Cook is currently serving as dean of the Graduate School of Arts and Sciences.
Robert Cook has studied animal cognition and behavior for more than 25 years. His National Institutes of Health–supported comparative research has focused extensively on stimulus control, discrimination learning, and memory in animals. His Comparative Cognition Lab currently studies, pigeons, starlings, and humans. He received his BS in psychology from the Ohio State University and his PhD in biopsychology from the University of California, Berkeley. He was also an NRSA Postdoctoral Fellow at the University of Texas Health Science Center, Houston, before taking his position at Tufts. He currently serves as dean of the Graduate School of Arts and Sciences. He is also the publisher of Comparative Cognition & Behavior Reviews, and he has been on the editorial board of the top journals in animal cognition. He has also been active in broadening the impact and public visibility of the area’s scientific work by use of the Internet with the publication of the multimedia cyberbooks Avian Visual Cognition and Animal Spatial Cognition.
Cook’s research is in the general area of comparative animal cognition. In particular, he has been interested in the mechanisms of visual and auditory perception and discrimination learning in pigeons, starlings, and humans. Birds generally behave as if they perceive, learn, and act upon an object-filled visual world. The ultimate goal of his research is to understand how these small autonomous systems form accurate perceptions of the world and to then use this information to learn about and predict relations among real-world objects and events. His projects have looked at action recognition, same-different concept learning, the integration of temporal information, equivalence class formation, object perception, picture perception, motion perception, texture perception, the serial organization of behavior, and the neural mechanisms underlying these behaviors.
Gina Kuperberg, MD, PhD
Dennett Stibel Professor of Cognitive Science, Department of Psychology
Gina Kuperberg’s lab investigates the neural mechanisms underlying language processing in healthy adults using multimodal neuroimaging techniques (including MRI, MEG, and ERP) and multiple different approaches (including neuropsychological testing and computational modeling). Her lab also investigates how these mechanisms break down in individuals with neuropsychiatric disorders such as schizophrenia.
Gina R. Kuperberg, MD, PhD, is the Dennett Stibel Professor of Cognitive Science at Tufts University. She is also a board-certified psychiatrist and principal investigator in the Psychiatry Neuroscience Program at Massachusetts General Hospital. Her laboratory is using multimodal neuroimaging techniques (fMRI, MEG, and EEG-evoked responses, oscillatory activity, and representational similarity analysis), neuropsychological testing, and computational modeling to understand when, where, and how the human brain builds meaning from language, and how these mechanisms break down in neuropsychiatric disorders such as schizophrenia. This research program is funded by grants from the National Institute of Mental Health, the National Institute of Child Health and Human Development, and the Sidney R. Baer Jr. Foundation.
In addition to our speakers, we will hear from:
Anthony P. Monaco, MD, PhD, President
James M. Glaser, PhD, Dean of the School of Arts and
Sciences, Professor of Political Science