Discovery Park to mark 10 years of innovation with 4 Discovery Lectures in April

March 26, 2012

WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. - Purdue will celebrate Discovery Park's contributions to the university's interdisciplinary research efforts with a series of co-sponsored lectures in April focused on entrepreneurship, conservation and addressing challenging global problems through innovation.

The four talks, offered as part of the university's Discovery Lecture Series, reflect interdisciplinary partnerships with several colleges at Purdue to highlight the 10-year celebration of Discovery Park.

"We're excited to be celebrating Purdue's achievements through Discovery Park and the many strong interdisciplinary Purdue programs with these fascinating lectures that are open to the community," said Alan Rebar, executive director of Discovery Park and senior associate vice president for research at Purdue.

The Discovery Lectures, which are free and open to the public, are at:

Elinor Ostrom

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      * 3:30 p.m. Monday, April 16. Stewart Center's Fowler Hall. Confronting Challenging Collective Action Problems. Lecture by Nobel laureate Elinor Ostrom, a political economist and distinguished professor at Indiana University.

This lecture is part of a workshop, Informal Institutions and Intractable Global Problems, on April 16-17 on campus. For more information, go online to Sponsors for the Discovery Lecture and workshop are the College of Liberal Arts, Purdue Global Policy Research Institute, Global Sustainability Initiative, Purdue Climate Change Research Center, Discovery Park and the Lilly Endowment.

Frans Johansson

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      * 3:30 p.m. Friday, April 20. Stewart Center's Loeb Playhouse. Medici Effect: Groundbreaking Innovation at the Intersection of Disciplines & Cultures. Lecture by best-selling author, thought leader and entrepreneur Frans Johansson. Discovery Park and Lilly Endowment are sponsoring Johansson's talk.

John Robinson

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      * 7 p.m. Monday, April 23. Stewart Center, Room 214 ABCD. Conservation and Sustainability in a Human-Dominated World. Lecture by John Robinson, executive vice president of the Wildlife Conservation Society.

The lecture is part of the workshop, Linking Biodiversity and Sustainability Across Natural and Managed Landscape, on April 23-24 in Discovery Park's Mann Hall and the Burton D. Morgan Center for Entrepreneurship. For more information about the workshop, go online to . Sponsors for the lecture and workshop are the Center for the Environment, Discovery Park and the Lilly Endowment.

Laurie Marker

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      * 12:30 p.m. Friday, April 27. Lynn Hall. A Race to the Future to Save the Wild Cheetah. Lecture by Laurie Marker, founder and executive director of the Cheetah Conservation Fund. Sponsors are the Purdue College of Veterinary Medicine, Discovery Park and the Lilly Endowment.

Discovery Park, now consisting of eight interdisciplinary core centers housed in five facilities on the west edge of campus, has sparked a revolution in Purdue's approach to research that addresses today's global challenges.

Since its launch a decade ago, Discovery Park through its state-of-the-art facilities, laboratories and instrumentation has generated $500 million in sponsored program funding and more than $250 million in gifts from donors and foundations and other supporters.

"While Discovery Park didn't invent the role that collaboration can play in addressing the major problems of the world, it has helped to create more integrated research at Purdue," Rebar said. "Not only is Discovery Park changing how research is conducted - it's changing how Purdue collaborates regionally, nationally and globally with industry, agencies, foundations and other universities - all with the goal to make the world a better place."

A look at the four Discovery Lectures and details about the keynote speakers:

Confronting Challenging Collective Action Problems

Ostrom, an American political economist and distinguished professor at Indiana University, is the 2009 Nobel Prize winner in Economic Sciences, which she shared with Oliver E. Williamson, for "her analysis of economic governance, especially the commons." To date, she is the first woman to win the prize in this category. Her work is associated with the new institutional economics and the resurgence of political economy.

Ostrom is the Arthur F. Bentley Professor of Political Science and co-director of the Workshop in Political Theory and Policy Analysis at IU in Bloomington. She also is founding director of the Center for the Study of Institutional Diversity at Arizona State University in Tempe.

In her talk, Ostrom will outline how informal institutions can provide innovative perspectives on three intractable problems that have confounded policymakers for years: climate change, food security and women's rights. 
Medici Effect

Johansson is the author of "The Medici Effect: Breakthrough Insights at the Intersection of Ideas, Concepts and Cultures." What do goat milk, spiders, and fishing lines have in common? Music records and airlines? Ant behavior and telecommunications routing? Most of us would assume nothing, Johansson says. But out of each of these seemingly random combinations have come radical innovations that have created whole new fields.

Johansson, who was raised in Sweden by his African-American-Cherokee mother and Swedish father, earned a bachelor's degree in environmental science from Brown University and an MBA at Harvard Business School. He founded a Boston-based software company and a medical device company operating out of Baltimore and Stockholm.

In this talk, Johansson will highlight the fascinating journey to the "Intersection," a place where ideas from different fields and cultures meet and collide, ultimately igniting an explosion of extraordinary new innovations. Translated into 18 languages, "The Medici Effect" was named one of the top 10 best business books by in 2004.

Conservation and Sustainability in a Human-Dominated World

Robinson oversees the Wildlife Conservation Society's conservation programs in the Americas, Africa and Asia. Focusing on primate behavior and ecology, Robinson received his doctorate in zoology from the University of North Carolina in 1977.

His postdoctoral studies were with the Smithsonian Institution. In 1980, he joined the University of Florida faculty, establishing the Program for Studies in Tropical Conservation, which trains students from tropical countries. He joined WCS in 1990.

His talk will focus on human influences on natural ecosystems and the challenges posed in the areas of biodiversity conservation, the maintenance of cultural and social diversity, the alleviation of poverty, and the generation of economic benefits.

Race to Save the Wild Cheetah

As founder and executive director of the Cheetah Conservation Fund since 1990, Marker pioneered new ideas in cheetah conservation and has formed cooperative alliances on behalf of the cheetah that had never before been possible.

In 2000, Marker was recognized as one of "Time" magazine's Heroes for the Planet. In 2008, she received the Gold Medal Award from the Society of Women Geographers and the Conservation Medal of Lifetime Achievement Award from the Zoological Society of San Diego. She won the 2010 Tyler Prize for Environmental Achievement and twice was a finalist for the Indianapolis Prize. 

In Marker's lecture, she will discuss her groundbreaking research in reintroducing captive born cheetahs into the wild, an effort that began in 1977 in Namibia, Africa. She also will highlight her collaborations with the Smithsonian Institution and National Cancer Institute, which resulted in identifying the extremely limited genetic makeup of the cheetah. 
Through a $1 million gift to Discovery Park from the Indianapolis-based Lilly Endowment, Purdue launched the Discovery Lecture Series in 2006 for bringing prominent speakers to campus.

Writer:  Phillip Fiorini, 765-496-3133,

Sources:  Alan Rebar, 765-496-6625,
                   Candiss Vibbert, 765-494-9404,

Note to Journalists:  Reporters who want to interview any of the Discovery Lecture Series keynote speakers in advance of their visit to campus should contact Phillip Fiorini, senior writer for Discovery Park and Purdue External Relations, at 765-496-3133,