The 50th Nobel Conference: “Where Does Science Go from Here?”

Posted on September 18th, 2014 by

Nobel 50 Square LogoLive stream the Nobel Conference here.

Gustavus Adolphus College will celebrate a half century of bringing breakthrough science to lay audiences in the upper Midwest when it hosts the 50th annual Nobel Conference on Oct. 7-8. This year’s Conference is titled “Where Does Science Go from Here?” and will feature 11 invited speakers who have all spoken at previous Nobel Conferences.

This year’s panel is headlined by three Nobel laureates including Steven Chu, the 1997 Nobel laureate in physics and President Obama’s former Secretary of Energy; Sir Harry Kroto, the 1996 Nobel laureate in chemistry and the co-discoverer of buckminsterfullerene, also known as “buckyballs”; and Steven Weinberg, the 1979 Nobel laureate in physics for his contributions to the theory of the unified weak and electromagnetic interaction between elementary particles.

“Our goal was to invite speakers from each of the major themes that the Nobel Conference has addressed through the years,” said Nobel Conference Director and Associate Professor of Chemistry Scott Bur. “With speakers from so many different disciplines, there is something for everyone to enjoy this year.”

The schedule for the two-day event is as follows:

Chu headshot

Dr. Steven Chu, Nobel laureate and former Secretary of Energy under President Obama, will deliver the opening lecture on Tuesday.

Tuesday, Oct. 7

  • 8:30 a.m. / Doors Open
  • 9:30 a.m. / Academic Procession and Opening Ceremony / Welcome from President Rebecca M. Bergman
  • 10:15 a.m. / Steven Chu, 1997 Nobel laureate in physics and former energy secretary under President Obama, “Energy and Climate Change”
  • 11 a.m. / Sir Harry Kroto, 1996 Nobel laureate in chemistry, “How to Survive”
  • 1:30 p.m. / Sean B. Carroll, evolutionary developmental biologist, “Evolution at the Molecular and Planetary Scale: A Tale of Two Biologies”
  • 2:15 p.m. / Svante Pääbo, evolutionary geneticist, “Of Neanderthals, Denisovans, and Modern Humans”
  • 3 p.m. / Gary Ernst, petrologist and geochemist, “Earth Resources, Global Equity, and Future Sustainability”
  • 6-8 p.m. / Art at the Nobel Conference, Hillstrom Museum of Art, Reception (no ticket required)
  • 6:30 p.m. / “Remembering 50 Years of the Nobel Conferences” presentation by Richard Q. Elvee and Tim Robinson, past Nobel Conference directors, Lund Center Arena (no ticket required)
  • 8 p.m. / The Nobel Concert, Christ Chapel (no ticket required) Link to Live Stream

 Wednesday, Oct. 8

    • 8:30 a.m. / Doors Open
    • 10:15 a.m. / Steven Weinberg, 1979 Nobel laureate in physics, “Glimpses of a Hidden World” via a live-stream presentation
    • 11 a.m. / Harry Gray, chemist, “Solar-Driven Water Splitting”
    • 1:30 p.m. / Jennifer L. West, biomedical engineer, “Nanotechnology and Biomedical Engineering”
    • 2:15 p.m. / António Damásio, cognitive neuroscientist, “The Consciousness Issue”
    • 3 p.m. / Patricia Smith Churchland, neurophilosopher, “The Brains Behind Morality”
    • 6:30 p.m. / Nobel Banquet, “Reflection and Reminiscence”, Evelyn Young Dining Room (Banquet ticket required)
    • 7:30 p.m. / Closing speaker, Freeman Dyson, theoretical physicist and mathematician, “Living through Four Scientific Revolutions”

Change in original schedule: Regrettably, Professor Dyson has had circumstances occur which prevent him from joining us, either in person or remotely. So rather than reflecting on scientific revolutions at the Nobel Banquet, we will have a round table discussion with our panelists focused on some of the topics and questions that emerge from the presentations.


Tickets for this year’s Nobel Conference are currently on sale. Individual reserved main floor tickets are available for $115, while general admission tickets are available for $70. Tickets may also be purchased for the Nobel Conference Banquet, which includes Dr. Freeman Dyson’s lecture, for $30. Tickets can be purchased by going online to or by calling the Gustavus Office of Marketing and Communication at 507-933-7520.

Live Streaming

For those unable to attend the Nobel Conference in person, all 11 lectures and the “Remembering 50 Years of the Nobel Conferences” event featuring retired Gustavus Chaplain Richard Elvee and Emeritus Professor Timothy Robinson will be live streamed at

Science Museum LogoTwin Cities Preview Event

Gustavus is hosting a Nobel Conference preview event on Sunday, Oct. 5 at the Science Museum of Minnesota in St. Paul as Sir Harry Kroto will take the stage for a presentation at 7:30 p.m. Kroto’s lecture is free and open to the public, though a reservation is required and can be made online at Questions about this event can be directed to Maggie Forster at

About The Nobel Conference

Following the dedication of the Alfred Nobel Hall of Science in 1963 at Gustavus, the Nobel Foundation granted approval for an annual science conference to be held at the College. For five decades, Gustavus has organized and hosted The Nobel Conference, which draws about 6,000 people to the college campus in St. Peter, Minn. The Conference links a general audience, including high school students and teachers, with the world’s foremost scholars and researchers in discussion centered on contemporary issues relating to the natural and social sciences. The Nobel Conference is the first ongoing educational conference of its kind in the United States. It is made possible through income generated by a Nobel Conference Endowment and the support of annual conference contributors.


Media Contact: Director of Media Relations and Internal Communication JJ Akin


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