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Fall 2012 Speaker Biographies


Mark E. Neely, Jr.

The McCabe Greer Professor in the American Civil War Era at Penn State University, Mark E. Neely, Jr. is a U.S. political and constitutional historian, specializing in the period from 1787-1877.  He received his Ph.D. from Yale Univeristy and directed the Lincoln museum at Fort Wayne, IN for nearly 20 years, until 1992.  He has written several books, focusing on the Civil War era and on Abraham Lincoln.

His The Fate of Liberty: Abraham Lincoln and Civil Liberties received the Pulitzer Prize for History. Others of his books include The Abraham Lincoln Encyclopedia (1982), The Lincoln Image: Abraham Lincoln and the Popular Print (1984), The Confederate Image: Prints of the Lost Cause (1987), Mine Eyes Have Seen the Glory: the Civil War in Art (1993), Southern Rights: Political Prisoners and the Myth of Confederate Constitutionalism (1999), The Union Divided: Party Conflict in the Civil War North (2002), and Terror and War in North America, 1864-1865 (2005).


Ellen Gustafson

Ellen Gustafson is a sustainable food system activist and social entrepreneur. She is the Founder and Executive Director of the 30 Project, a new way to connect global hunger and obesity and envision long-term food system change.

She is also the Co-Founder of FEED Projects, LLC, a charitable company that creates good products that help FEED the world, and Co-Founder and former Executive Director of FEED’s non-profit partner, the FEED Foundation. Under Ellen’s leadership FEED provided over 65 million school meals to children around the world. (See CBS Evening News piece about FEED.)

Previously, Ellen was a US Spokesperson for the UN World Food Program, a terrorism research reporter in the ABC News Investigative Unit and a research associate for the Military Fellows at the Council on Foreign Relation. She has a BA in International Politics from Columbia University and is currently pursuing a Master’s Degree in Food Studies at New York University.  

She has been featured as one of Fortune Magazine’s 2009 Most Powerful Women Entrepreneurs,Inc Magazine’s 2010 30 Under 30, and has spoken at theFortune Most Powerful Women’s Conference, the ISFIT International Student Festival, guest lectured at Harvard Business School, NYU, London School of Economics, Columbia University, Lehigh University and the US Naval Academy and given a TED talk.

She serves on the Columbia University Alumni Board of Directors and the founding Board of Directors for Bronx Success Academy 1, a charter school within the Success Charter Network.


Richard A. Muller

Richard A. Muller received his A. B. degree from Columbia University, and his Ph.D. at Berkeley working under Luis Alvarez. He has been on the faculty at Berkeley since 1978. He is a fellow of the APS and of the AAAS, and his awards include the Texas Instruments Founders Prize, the NSF Alan T. Waterman Award, and a MacArthur Foundation Prize Fellowship.

Amir Levine

Dr. Amir Levine, who grew up in Israel and Canada, has always had a fascination with biology and the brain. His mother, a popular science editor who valued creativity and self-motivation, allowed Amir to stay home from school whenever he wanted and study what interested him. Although this freedom sometimes got him into trouble, during high school he wrote his first large-scale work, about birds of prey in the Bible and in ancient Assyria and Babylon. His thesis examined the evolution of symbolism from a culture of multiple deities to one of monotheism. After high school Amir served as a press liaison in the Israeli army. He worked with renowned journalists such as Thomas Friedman, Glenn Frankel, Ted Koppel and others, and was awarded a citation of excellence for his service.

After his compulsory army service, having developed a passion for working with people as well as a love for science, Amir enrolled in medical school at Hebrew University in Jerusalem, where he received numerous awards. During medical school he organized student meetings with Dr. Eiferman, a psychoanalyst, to discuss how doctors can preserve their sensitivity to the hospitalized patient’s needs while negotiating a complex hospital hierarchy. He was awarded the faculty prize for his graduation thesis, Human Sexuality Viewed from the Perspective of Childhood Gender Nonconformity, which was later adapted for a university seminar.

Amir’s interest in human behavior led him to a residency in adult psychiatry at New York Presbyterian Hospital/Columbia University/New York State Psychiatric Institute, where he was ranked first in his class for three consecutive years. He received several awards, including an American Psychoanalytic Fellowship, which gave him a rare opportunity to work with a world-renowned psychoanalyst, the late Jabob Arlow. Amir then specialized in child and adolescent psychiatry. While working in a therapeutic nursery with mothers with Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder and their toddlers, Amir witnessed the power of attachment to heal and realized the importance of attachment principles in the daily lives of adults as well as children. During the last year of his 3-year child fellowship, Amir joined the lab of the late James (Jimmy) Schwartz, a renowned neuroscientist.

Currently at Columbia University, Amir is a Principle Investigator, together with Nobel Prize Laureate Dr. Eric Kandel and distinguished researcher Dr. Denise Kandel, on a National Institute of Health sponsored research project. He also has a private practice in Manhattan.

Amir is board certified in adult psychiatry and is a member of the American Psychiatric Association, the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry, and the Society for Neuroscience.

He lives in New York City and Southampton, New York.


Melissa Stockwell

Melissa Stockwell graduated in 2002 from the University of Colorado, where she participated in the ROTC program during her last three years. In May 2002, she was commissioned as a  2nd Lieutenant into the United States Army. Soon after her commission, she attended Transportation Officer Basic Corps in Ft. Eustis, Va., before getting her permanent assignment in the 1st Cavalry division at Ft. Hood, Texas. In March 2004, the 1st CAV division was deployed to Iraq.

On April 13, 2004, she was on a routine convoy through Baghdad and her HUMVEE was hit by a roadside bomb. The blast took off her left leg, and today she stands as an above- the-knee amputee. She spent  a year at Walter Reed Army Medical Center undergoing multiple surgeries and rehabilitation. One year, one week and one leg later,  she was medically retired from the Army with a purple heart and a bronze star.

Soon after she moved to MN to pursue her new career in the field of prosthetics. She had been introduced to swimming through physical therapy at Walter Reed and after learning of the Paralympic Games she set her sights on the 2008 Paralymipcs in Beijing.

She became competitive with club teams in MN and spent her days in school and at the pool. When her prosthetics schooling was finished she moved to IL to start her prothetics   residency. In early 2008 she put her career on hold and moved out to the Olympic Training Center in Colorado Springs to dedicate her time to making the team.

The move paid off and at the U.S. Paralympic Team Swimming Trials in April 2008 she posted times fast enough to land a spot on the 2008 Paralympic Team. It was a dream come true and a moment she will re- live for years to come. . In Beijing she swam the 100 fly, 100 free and the 400 free. Unfortunately, she failed to qualify for finals in any of her events and came home with only a participation medal. As disappointed as she was, she couldn’t have been prouder to be a part of team USA, representing this great country once again. She had the honor of being chosen to carry the American flag into the Bird’s nest during closing ceremonies and realized that sometimes the journey to get somewhere is more important than the destination and the number of medals you win. Once back in the states, the Olympic and Paralympic teams went to the White house where she had the privilege of meeting President Bush.

Melissa is now back in Chicago and recently finished her prosthetic residency at Scheck and Siress Prosthetics and even more recently passed her board exams and is a certified Prosthetist! She has become a swimmer turned triathlete and loves the variety of the sport. She’s been competitive  and won her division at the 2010 Paratriathlon World Championships in Budapest. She is the current 2011 Paratriathlon national champion and defended her title in Beijing becoming a two time World Champion. She was also named the 2010 and 2011 female Paratriathlete of the year.

Along with work and training Melissa stays busy as a board member for the Wounded Warrior Project and a motivational speaker. She is also a level I certified triathlon coach and a co-founder of the Chicago based dare2tri Paratrathlon ( club and an organizer of the Blade Runner running club. (

As cheesy as it sounds, she loves her life and feels so lucky to have family and friends and live in the great U.S. of A.  


L. Henry Dowell

L. Henry Dowell is an actor, director and playwright, originally from the central Kentucky area. He received his BA in Theatre from Morehead State University and attended The American Musical and Dramatic Academy in New York. While there, he worked with numerous Broadway Theatre professionals.

He is the founding Director of The Gusto Theatre Company, where he directs a full time Children's Theatre program. Mr. Dowell is the author of over 35 published plays including Snow White and the Seven Dwarves of the Old Republic, The Long John Cafe, Cinderella and the Quest for the Crystal Pump, So, Who Was That Masked Guy Anyway?, Wanted: Santa Claus, Jacklyn Sparrow and the Lady Pirates of the Caribbean, Humbug!, Frankenstein Rocks!, The Dracula Spectacula, Dear John, Elvis Meets Nixon, Even Adam, Batguy, The Many Hats of Theodore Roosevelt, Otherwise Known as Anthony Roberts and The Four Presidents.

Mr. Dowell can be seen as Colonel Harland Sanders in his one man production of "Finger Lickin' Good!", currently touring as part of The Kentucky Humanities Council's Chautauqua Program.


Sarah H. Parcak

Sarah Parcak is from Bangor, Maine, where she was raised.  She had a 1950s childhood, where kids could leave home in the morning on their bikes and be gone all day with friends.  Sarah went to Bangor High School, where she played soccer (3-time All-State, 2-time All New England), ran track and field (high jump and long jump, two-time State Champion), and was very active in local and state politics.  She wanted a career in politics after meeting President Clinton at Girls Nation.

When it came time to choose a university, she was drawn to Yale for the academics as well as soccer.  Her first year, she was lucky to work for a world-famous Egyptologist, Professor William Kelly Simpson, as a researcher.  After taking classes in history, political science, and Egyptology, there was no looking back.  At Yale, Sarah worked for Professor Simpson as well as in the Yale University Art Gallery, and attended her first excavation in Egypt at Mendes, led by Professor Donald Redford of Penn State University.  Sara double-majored in Near Eastern Languages and Civilizations (Egyptology) and Archaeological Studies.  Her Senior year, Sarah took a class that changed her life: Observing the Earth from Space (an introductory class in interpreting satellite imagery), thanks to her grandfather, a forestry professor at the Univeristy of Maine who pioneered the use of aerial photography in forestry.

After receiving a Henry Fellowship from Yale, Sarah decided to attend Cambridge University to study under renowned Egyptology Professor Barry Kemp for her M.Phil (2002) and PhD (2005).  Her PhD dealt with using satellite imagery and ground survey to map landscapes in the Egyptian Delta and Middle Egypt.  Sarah played varsity football (aka "soccer") for Cambridge, winning her varsity blue and leading Cambridge to a 4-0 defeat of Oxford in the Varsity Match in 2005 with 2 goals and 2 assists.

After completing her PhD, Sarah married her longtime sweetheart, Egyptologist Greg Mumford, in 2005, and spent a year teaching Egyptology at the University of Wales-Swansea.  They moved back to the USA in 2006, where Sarah got a tenure-track post in the Dept. of Anthropology at the University of Alabama at Birmingham.  Sarah and Greg work together on the Surveys and Excavation Projects in Egypt (  In 2007, Sarah started the Laboratory for Global Observation, which has close ties to NASA.  Her book, Staellite Remote Sensing for Archaeology, was published by Routledge in 2009.  Sarah's work has been featured in numerous print and online media outlets, and she has appeared in two Documentaries:  Why Ancient Egypt Fell for the Discovery Channel, and Egypt's Lost Cities for BBC1/Discovery Channel.

Sara enjoys traveling, hiking, biking, camping, gardening, and bluegrass guitar.


Charles Bracelen Flood

Charles Bracelen Flood was born in Manhattan, and graduated from Harvard, where he was a member of Archibald MacLeish’s noted creative writing seminar, English S, and was on the literary board of the Harvard Lampoon. (In 2001, Flood was honored with the Lampoon’s Clem Wood Award; past recipients have included George Plimpton, John Updike, and Conan O’Brien.)

Love is a Bridge, Flood’s first novel, received nationwide critical attention, and was on the New York Times Bestseller list for 26 weeks.  It won the Houghton Mifflin Literary Fellowship Award.  The twelve books he has written include the novels A Distant Drum and More Lives Than One. Praising Flood’s  The War of the Innocents, his account of his year spent in Vietnam as a correspondent, John Updike said of him, “This brave and compassionate  reporter’s account of a year spent with our armed forces in Vietnam tells more of the physical actualities and moral complexities of the American involvement than any other book I have read.”  Flood’s Rise, and Fight Again won the American Revolution Round Table Annual Award for 1976, the Bicentennial Year, and his Hitler - The Path to Power, a History Book Club selection, was among the successful studies in history and biography that followed.  All his books have also appeared in paperback.

Flood’s  first venture into the Civil War era was Lee - The Last Years, which was a Book-of-the-Month Club selection and won the Colonial Dames of America Annual Book Award.  Lee was followed by Grant and Sherman - The Friendship That Won the Civil War, a work that the Washington Post described as “beautifully defined and explored…a powerful and illuminating study of the military collaboration that won the war for the Union.” named it as one of the ”Top 12 Civil War Books Ever Written.”  Of his 1864: Lincoln at the Gates of History, published in 2009, Lincoln’s Bicentennial Year, Kent Masterson Brown, author of Retreat from Gettysburg, said, “Lincoln walks off the pages as in no other book,” and in the New York Times Janet Maslin wrote, “Mr. Floods versatility is impressive …1864 compresses the multiple demands upon Lincoln into a tight time frame and thus captures a dizzying, visceral sense of why this single year took such a heavy toll.”

This writer’s short pieces have appeared in The New Yorker, The Atlantic, Esquire, and other magazines, and a number of his books have been translated into foreign languages.  Flood’s journalistic experiences have taken him to many countries, including being a reporter for the Associated Press at the Olympics held in Melbourne, Rome, Tokyo and Mexico City.  He has been a Senior Fulbright Scholar in Taiwan, and taught World Literature for two years at Sophia University in Tokyo.

Charles Bracelen Flood is a past president of the American Center of PEN, the international writers’ organization, and has served on the governing bodies of the Authors League and Authors Guild.  He and his wife Katherine Burnam Flood live in Richmond, Kentucky, in that state’s Bluegrass region.


R. Carlos Nakai

Of Navajo-Ute heritage, R. Carlos Nakai is the world’s premier performer of the Native American flute.  He began his musical studies on the trumpet, but a car accident ruined his embouchure.  His musical interests took a turn when he was given a traditional cedar flute as a gift and challenged to master it.  As an artist, he is an adventurer and risk taker, always giving his musical imagination free rein.  Nakai is also an iconoclastic traditionalist who views his cultural heritage not only as a source and inspiration, but also a dynamic continuum of natural change, growth, and adaptation subject to the artist’s expressive needs. 

 Nakai’s first album, Changes, was released by Canyon Records in 1983, and since then he has released over thirty-five albums with Canyon plus additional albums and guest appearances on other labels.  In addition to his educational workshops and residencies, Nakai has appeared as a soloist throughout the United States, Europe, and Japan, and has worked with Grammy® winner flutist Paul Horn, guitarist/luthier William Eaton, composer James DeMars among many others. The famed American choreographer Martha Graham used Nakai's second album, Cycles, in her last work Night Chant.  Nakai contributed music to the major motion pictures New World (New Line) and Geronimo (Columbia).
Nakai, while cognizant of the traditional use of the flute as a solo instrument, began finding new settings for it, especially in the genres of jazz and classical.  He founded the ethnic jazz ensemble,  the R. Carlos Nakai Quartet, to explore the intersection of ethnic and jazz idioms.
Nakai brought the flute into the concert hall, performing with over fifteen symphony and chamber orchestras. He was a featured soloist on the Philip Glass composition, Piano Concerto No. 2: After Lewis & Clark, premiered by the Omaha Symphony.  Nakai also works with producer and arranger Billy Williams, a two-time Grammy® winner, in composing for and performing the traditional flute in orchestral works of a lighter vein. 

In a cross-cultural foray, Nakai performed extensively with the Wind Travelin’ Band, a traditional Japanese ensemble from Kyoto which resulted in an album, Island of Bows.  Additional recordings with ethnic artists include In A Distant Place with Tibetan flutist and chanter Nawang Khechog, and Our Beloved Land with famed Hawaiian slack key guitarist and singer Keola Beamer.  Recently, Nakai released Voyagers with Philadelphia Orchestra cellist Udi Bar-David which blends Native American melodies with Jewish and Arabic songs.

Nakai has received two gold records (500,000 units sold) for Canyon Trilogy and Earth Spirit which are the first (and only) Native American recordings to earn this recognition.  He has sold over four million albums in the course of his career.  His Grammy® nominations include:

  • Ancestral Voices (1994 Best Traditional Folk Album)
  • Inner Voices and Inside Monument Valley (both for 2000 Best New Age Album)
  • In A Distant Place (2001 Best New Age Album)
  • Fourth World (2002 Best New Age Album)
  • Sanctuary (2003 Best Native American Album)
  • People of Peace (2004 Best New Age Album)
  • Reconnections (2008 Best Native American Album)
  • Dancing Into Silence (2010 Best New Age Album)

A Navy veteran, Nakai earned a Master’s Degree in American Indian Studies from the University of Arizona.  He was awarded the Arizona Governor’s Arts Award in 1992, and an honorary doctorate from Northern Arizona University in 1994.  In 2005 Nakai was inducted into the Arizona Music & Entertainment Hall of Fame.  Nakai has also authored a book with composer James DeMars, The Art of the Native American Flute, which is a guide to performing the traditional cedar flute.




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