USAO News Bureau

Nobel prize winner to keynote upcoming liberal arts symposium

Thursday, February 20, 2014

Dr. Eric Kandel was awarded the Nobel Prize for Physiology or Medicine in 2000 for his groundbreaking work in discovering the physical mechanism for the storage of memories in neurons.

His latest book, Age of Insight, looks at memories through a different lens as Kandel explores Vienna, the city of his birth, and the profound impact that it had on the cultural landscape of the Twentieth Century.

Kandel is slated to deliver the keynote address for the eighth annual Emerson-Wier Liberal Arts Symposium beginning at 7:30 p.m. on March 13 in Te Ata Memorial Auditorium at the University of Science and Arts of Oklahoma in Chickasha.

The event is free and open to the public.

Kandel is a university professor of biochemistry and biophysics and Kavli Professor of brain science at the College of Physicians and Surgeons at Columbia University. He is also the director of the Kavli Institute for Brain Science.

Kandel also works as a senior investigator for the Howard Hughes Medical Institute.

He is the author of many books including Memory: From Mind to Molecules, In Search of Memory: The Emergence of a New Science of Mind and, most recently, The Age of Insight: The Quest to Understand the Unconscious in Art, Mind, and Brain, from Vienna 1900 to the Present.

Kandel’s keynote address will focus on his research from The Age of Insight.

In a book that brings his love of history, science and psychology under one umbrella, Kandel explores the intellectual interplay between the artists and scientists of Vienna that laid the foundation for modern era.

Dr. James Vaughn, assistant professor of psychology and a member of USAO’s symposia committee, hopes that attendees will be inspired by Kandel’s relentless pursuit to better understand the world, even when it pulled him across multiple disciplines.

“Kandel is a curious person,” Vaughn said. “That’s what drives him. I hope that they appreciate what he has to say about art, what he has to say about his research, but I hope they appreciate his drive to understand.”

In Age of Insight, Kandel examines Vienna’s cultural legacy through the work of five men: Sigmund Freud, painters Gustav Klimt and Egon Schiele, novelist Arthur Schnitzler and artist, poet and playwright Oskar Kokoschka.

True to his background, Kandel’s research underscores how rapidly evolving attitudes about the mind brought the humanities and sciences in closer proximity than ever before.

Kandel is also scheduled to participate in a panel discussion examining the intersection between science and the humanities that begins earlier in the day at 2 p.m. in Ballroom.

Guest panelists include Dr. Elizabeth Hellmuth Margulis, University of Arkansas, Fayetteville, Dr. Shannon Spaulding, Oklahoma State University and Dr. Sarah W. Tracy, University of Oklahoma.

Dr. Shelley Rees, associate professor of English, will moderate the panel.

USAO’s Emerson-Wier Liberal Arts Symposium series is sponsored annually by the USAO Foundation and was inspired by endowment funds created by Oklahoma College for Women alumni Gladys Anderson Emerson and Nance Foules Wier.

More information can be obtained by calling (405) 574-1362 or visiting the symposium webpage online at