Our program is subject to change. Speakers have confirmed their intent to participate; however, scheduling conflicts may arise.


Eric Ledet, Ph.D.

Stephen Ressler, Ph.D.

Robert Sapolsky, Ph.D.

Seth Shostak, Ph.D.

Eric H. Ledet, Ph.D. is a biomedical engineer and innovator. He is a pioneer in the development of “smart” orthopaedic implants. His award winning research in implantable sensors is an enabling technology that can foster personalized care for millions of individuals who suffer from pain or disability resulting from diseases of the bones, joints, or spine. Dr. Ledet has expertise in orthopaedic biomechanics and medical device design. Over the 25 years of his career, he has conducted leading-edge research in new medical devices, surgical techniques, and technologies for diagnosing and treating degenerative diseases of the musculoskeletal system. He holds multiple patents for orthopaedic implants and implantable sensors. Dr. Ledet is a professor in the Department of Biomedical Engineering at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, a Research Scientist at the Stratton VA Medical Center, and Adjunct Professor of Orthopaedic Surgery at the Albany Medical College. He is also an entrepreneur and co-founder of three medical device companies. Dr. Ledet’s lectures will focus on the health, disease, and state-of-the-art techniques for repair of bones, joints, and the spine.

Dr. Stephen Ressler is Professor Emeritus at the United States Military Academy at West Point and a Distinguished Member of the American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE). A registered Professional Engineer in Virginia, he earned a B.S. from West Point, M.S. and Ph.D. degrees in Civil Engineering from Lehigh University, and a Master of Strategic Studies from the U.S. Army War College. He served for 34 years as a commissioned officer in the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and retired at the rank of Brigadier General in 2013. While on active duty, he served in a variety of military engineering assignments around the world. In 2007, he deployed to Afghanistan to create a civil engineering program for the newly created National Military Academy of Afghanistan in Kabul.

Dr. Ressler is passionate about communicating the joys of engineering to inquiring minds of all ages. His three video lecture series — Understanding the World’s Greatest Structures, Understanding Greek and Roman Technology, and Everyday Engineering — are among the most highly-rated offerings in The Great Courses’ 600-course catalog. He served as an on-screen expert for the Discovery Channel documentary Superweapons of the Ancient World: The Ram and Blink Films’ The Real Trojan Horse, which aired on PBS in 2015. His award-winning Bridge Designer software has been used by over two million middle-school and high-school students worldwide. He is also a developer and principal instructor for the ASCE Excellence in Civil Engineering Education Teaching Workshop, which has provided teacher training to more than 500 civil engineering faculty members from over 200 colleges and universities.

Dr. Ressler has received numerous national-level awards from the ASCE and the American Society for Engineering Education (ASEE), including the 2011 ASCE Outstanding Projects and Leaders Award — the society’s highest honor.

Dr. Robert Sapolsky is the John A. and Cynthia Fry Gun Professor of biology, neurology, and neurosurgery at Stanford University as well as a research associate at the National Museums of Kenya. For more than 30 years, he has divided his time between life in the laboratory as a neurobiologist studying the effects of stress on the brain and the development of gene therapy strategies to protect the brain from stress, and as a primatologist, studying individual differences in stress, behavior, and health among wild baboons living in a national park in East Africa. He frequently writes about the brain and behavior for the general public, including in the Los Angeles Times, the Wall Street Journal (where he has had a regular column), and The New Yorker. His most recent book is Behave: The Biology of Humans at Our Best and Worst (Penguin, 2017); earlier books include Why Zebras Don’t Get Ulcers; A Primate’s Memoir; and Monkeyluv and Other Essays on our Lives as Animals.

Dr. Seth Shostak is the Senior Astronomer at the SETI Institute, in Mountain View, California. He has an undergraduate degree in physics from Princeton University, and a doctorate in astronomy from the California Institute of Technology. For much of his career, Seth conducted radio astronomy research on galaxies, and has published approximately 60 papers in professional journals. For more than a decade, he worked at the Kapteyn Astronomical Institute, in Groningen, The Netherlands, using the Westerbork Radio Synthesis Telescope. He also founded and ran a company producing computer animation for TV.

Seth has written more than 400 popular magazine and web articles on various topics in astronomy, technology, film and television. He lectures on astronomy and other subjects at various academic venues, and gives approximately 60 talks annually at both educational and corporate institutions. Seth has been a Distinquished Speaker for the American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics. He is also Chair of the International Academy of Astronautics’ SETI Permanent Committee.

Frequently interviewed for radio and TV, Seth has recently been seen and/or heard on Discovery Channel, Learning Channel, History Channel, the BBC, Nightline, The O’Reilly Factor, Good Morning America, Larry King Live, Coast to Coast AM, NPR, CNN News, and National Geographic Television. He is the host of a one-hour weekly radio program on astrobiology entitled Big Picture Science.

Seth has edited and contributed to nearly a dozen books. His first popular tome, Sharing the Universe: Perspectives on Extraterrestrial Life (Berkeley Hills Books) appeared in March, 1998, followed by Cosmic Company in 2002 (Cambridge Univ. Press). He has also co-authored an astrobiology text, Life in the Universe (Addison-Wesley), and his latest is book is Confessions of an Alien Hunter (National Geographic). In 2004, he won the Klumpke-Roberts Prize for the popularization of astronomy.