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Indermohan Virk
Executive director, William T. Patten Foundation

Last modified: Monday, May 20, 2013

Patten Lectures to feature physicist, journalist and cognitive scientist

May 20, 2013

BLOOMINGTON, Ind. -- Physicist William Bialek, journalist and author David Finkel and cognitive scientist Gerd Gigerenzer will be featured speakers for the 2013-14 Patten Lecture Series at Indiana University Bloomington.

The William T. Patten Foundation, which presents the lectures under the auspices of the Office of the Vice Provost for Faculty and Academic Affairs, announced the lecture schedule.

William Bialek

Copyright: Roberto Barnaba, ICTP Photo Archives

William Bialek

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William Bialek, John Archibald Wheeler/Battelle Professor of Physics and member of the Lewis-Sigler Institute for Integrative Genomics, Princeton University, will lecture during the week of Oct. 28 to Nov. 1, 2013.

Bialek is a theoretical physicist who has spent his scientific career working on problems in areas of overlap between physics and the life sciences. He is best known for applications of ideas from statistical mechanics, information theory and Bayesian reasoning to the problems of neural coding and computation, embryonic development and intracellular signaling networks. Many of his publications, and much of his thinking, are informed by his close collaborations with experimentalists from fields as diverse as psychology, biology, chemistry and physics.

David Finkel of the Washington Post and Center for a New American Security will lecture during the week of Feb. 3 to 7, 2014.

Finkel is a Pulitzer Prize-winning writer and renowned war correspondent. For the past three decades, he has reported around the world, from the refugee camps of Kosovo to the death row cells of Florida. A visionary journalist and author, his work reveals the human toll of global strife.

Based on months of his immersion reporting in the midst of combat, Finkel's acclaimed nonfiction book "The Good Soldiers" chronicles an infantry battalion fighting for survival on the streets of Baghdad at the height of the surge.

Gerd Gigerenzer

Gerd Gigerenzer

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Gerd Gigerenzer, Center for Adaptive Behaviour and Cognition, Max Planck Institute for Human Development, will lecture during the week of March 24 to 28, 2014.

Gigerenzer is one of the leading scholars on the topic of decision-making, and his work has had a strong influence on how individuals and researchers think about making choices in domains such as health care, public policy, law and economics. He has constructed probabilistic models of human decision-making, exploring how we are able to make good decisions despite being immersed in uncertainty. Gigerenzer argues that simple heuristics can often do a very good job of steering people toward good decisions when used in appropriate settings.

Bialek's public lectures will take place from 7:30 to 9 p.m. Monday and Wednesday, Oct. 28 and 30. All other lectures will take place from 7:30 to 9 p.m. on Tuesdays and Thursdays.

The William T. Patten Foundation

The William T. Patten Foundation, endowed by a student of the Indiana University Class of 1893, provides generous funds to bring to the Bloomington campus for a week people of extraordinary national and international distinction in the sciences, the humanities and the arts. Past Patten Lecturers have included Oscar Arias, Wendell Berry, Jorge Luis Borges, Noam Chomsky, Umberto Eco, Nancy Fraser, Werner Herzog, Julian S. Huxley, Evelyn Fox Keller, Toni Morrison, Martha Nussbaum, Amos Oz, Jean Palutikof, Edward Said, Amartya Sen, Wole Soyinka and Lester Thurow.

All lectures are free and open to the public.

Questions about the Patten Foundation, the Patten Lecture Series and future nominations may be directed to