Michael Pollan writes books and articles about the places where the human and natural worlds intersect: food, agriculture, gardens, drugs and architecture. He is the author of the bestsellers In Defense of Food: An Eater's Manifesto, The Omnivore’s Dilemma: A Natural History of Four Meals, The Botany of Desire: A Plant’s-Eye View of the World, Food Rules: An Eater’s Manual and Cooked: A Natural History of Transformation. A contributing writer to the New York Times Magazine since 1987, his writing has received numerous awards, including the James Beard Award for best magazine series. In 2009, he was named one of the top 10 New Thought Leaders by Newsweek and in 2010 he was chosen for the Time 100 in the Thinkers category. He is the John S. and James L. Knight Professor of Journalism at UC Berkeley’s Graduate School of Journalism and director of the Knight Program in Science and Environmental Journalism. He was educated at Bennington College, Oxford University and Columbia University. His wife is the renowned painter Judith Belzer.
As an experienced aviator and retired U.S. Navy Captain, Mark Kelly began his career as an astronaut in 1996. During his NASA career, he spent more than 50 days in space and commanded both the Space Shuttle Endeavour, including its final flight in May 2011, and Space Shuttle Discovery. He is one of only two individuals who have visited the International Space Station on four different occasions. Over the past year, he partnered with his identical twin brother, Scott, to participate in a NASA study on how space affects the human body. He is Space and Aviation Contributor for NBC News and MSNBC. With his wife, Gabby Giffords, he wrote the New York Times best seller Gabby: A Story of Love, Courage and Resilience.
On March 1, Scott Kelly returned from a record-breaking full year on the International Space Station, a historic expedition laying the groundwork for the future of space travel and exploration. His achievements over an illustrious 20-year career with NASA earned him the coveted position as America’s first year-round astronaut. With Russian cosmonaut Mikhail Kornienko, he conducted experiments, reconfigured station modules and captivated the world with live interviews and sharing never-seen-before photos on Twitter. He partnered with his identical twin brother Mark, the retired astronaut, in a study to understand how space affects the human body. Prior to his career with NASA, he served 25 years in the U.S. Navy, retiring as an experienced aviator and decorated Captain.
Amal Clooney is a British human rights lawyer practicing at Doughty Street Chambers in London, where she specializes in international law and human rights. Her clients range from political prisoners and ousted heads of state to WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange and the Republic of Armenia. She has appeared before the International Court of Justice, the International Criminal Court, the European Court of Human Rights and various courts in the United Kingdom and the United States. The Oxford and New York University-educated lawyer is a frequent adviser to governments on international law. She has held a number of posts within the United Nations, including senior adviser to Kofi Annan when he served as the UN Envoy on Syria, legal counsel to the UN commission investigating the terror attacks that killed Lebanon's Prime Minister and counsel to the UN inquiry on drones. She is a visiting professor at Columbia Law School. She is the author of the forthcoming book, The Right to a Fair Trial in International Law. Since 2014 she has been married to actor George Clooney.
Neil deGrasse Tyson
Neil deGrasse Tyson is the Frederick P. Rose Director of the world-renowned Hayden Planetarium in New York City He is host of the radio show and podcast “StarTalk,” and in 2014, he was executive editor, host and narrator for “Cosmos: A SpaceTime Odyssey” on FOX and the National Geographic channels. In February 2012, he released his 10th book, Space Chronicles: Facing the Ultimate Frontier, containing his thoughts on the past, present and future of space exploration. He earned his B.A. in physics from Harvard University and his Ph.D. in astrophysics from Columbia University. His professional research interests include star formation, exploding stars, dwarf galaxies and the structure of the Milky Way galaxy. In October 2000, he spoke for Guilford College as part of the dedication activities for the Frank Family Science Center on campus.
Bryan Stevenson is founder and executive director of the Equal Justice Initiative and one of the most acclaimed and respected lawyers in the nation. His memoir, Just Mercy, is a New York Times best seller. Nobel Peace Laureate and former Bryan Series speaker Desmond Tutu has called him “America’s young Nelson Mandela.” His work on individual cases has generated national attention and his efforts have reversed death penalties for dozens of condemned prisoners. After graduating from Harvard Law School in 1985, he moved to the South, and on a shoestring budget he started the Equal Justice Initiative, a law practice dedicated to defending some of America’s most rejected and marginalized people. The cases he took on would change his life and transform his understanding of justice and mercy forever. He is the recipient of numerous awards, including the MacArthur Foundation “Genius” Grant, and was named one of TIME’s 100 Most Influential People for 2015. He is a tenured law professor at New York University School of Law.
Alan Alda has been an actor, writer, science advocate and director in a career spanning six decades in which he has won seven Emmys, six Golden Globes and three DGA awards for directing. One of TV Guide’s 50 Greatest Television Stars of All Time, he is best known for portraying Hawkeye Pierce on M*A*S*H, which earned him five Emmys for acting, writing, and directing, the only actor in history to win in each category for a single series. He received an Oscar nomination for his performance in “The Aviator.” In addition to garnering accolades for his roles in front of and behind the camera, he spent 11 years hosting Scientific American Frontiers on PBS. He is a visiting professor at and founding member of Stony Brook University’s Alan Alda Center for Communicating Science and is on the Board of Directors of the World Science Festival. He is the author of New York Times best sellers Never Have Your Dog Stuffed—And Other Things I've Learned and Things I Overheard While Talking to Myself.