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Tainted Knowledge: Reconciling the Scientific Field’s Problematic Past

January 14 | 6:00 pm - 7:30 pm


Many of the people who have made fundamental advances in the sciences have problematic histories that can include racism, sexism, and other colonialist attitudes. How does one reconcile the significant advances made by these individuals with the problematic attitudes that they held or hold?

Join us for this important conversation between scientists as we mark the Chicago Academy of Sciences / Peggy Notebaert Nature Museum’s 164th birthday during our annual Founders Week celebration. We’ll delve into the problematic history of the scientific field and learn from the past, and from each other, in order to move the field forward.

We have gathered an excellent panel of scientists, thinkers, and movers to reflect on their experiences in their scientific fields and share their insights into how we can personally and collectively make change.

Moderated By:

Curt Meine is a conservation biologist, environmental historian, and writer based in Sauk County, Wisconsin. He serves as Senior Fellow with the Aldo Leopold Foundation and Center for Humans and Nature; as Research Associate with the International Crane Foundation; and as Adjunct Associate Professor at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. Meine has authored and edited several books, including the biography Aldo Leopold: His Life and Work (1988/2010) and The Driftless Reader (2017). In his home landscape, he is a founding member of the Sauk Prairie Conservation Alliance.

Panelists Include:

Dr. Sheila Colla is an Assistant Professor in the Faculty of Environmental and Urban Change at York University and holds the York Research Chair in Interdisciplinary Conservation Science. Her research has focused on understanding the ecology and conservation management of at-risk wild pollinators. Her research also incorporates human dimensions of conservation including community science, environmental policy, indigenous food sovereignty and stakeholder engagement.

Luis Alberto Herrera Gil graduated from the Facultad de Ciencias, Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México (UNAM), Carrera de Biología. He has over 40 years experience in academic and academic-administrative university work at Universidad Autónoma de Baja California Sur (UABCS). He is a teacher, researcher, and science advocate in the fields of Natural Sciences: Cosmology, Astronomy, Geology, Biology, Paleontology and Paleobiology.

Adam Kessel (Lakota/Italian/German) serves as a Program Coordinator with the Forest Preserves of Cook County. His team hosts educational and recreational events for the communities of southern Cook County. He was a member of the committee that wrote the Land Acknowledgement statement for the Forest Preserves of Cook County. He gained his passion for environmental education through his many years of teaching and learning in the Native American community of Chicago. As a community member, he has helped to develop culturally based science curricula to teach in community. Adam is also an author of books that create opportunities to find the magic of nature in places that one might overlook. Adam received his Master of Arts in Teaching from National-Louis University of Chicago. He holds a teaching certificate with the State of Illinois, an arborist certificate through the International Society of Arboriculture, and an Interpretive Guide certificate through National Association for Interpretation.

Taylor Rae Tate is an Herbalist and Herbal Educator who aims to create greater access to and knowledge of herbal medicine, especially in Black and Brown communities. She earned a Bachelors of Arts degree from Northwestern University in Environmental Science. During the course of her studies, she spent a considerable amount of time aiding research efforts in the areas of botany, conservation biology, and pollination biology. She went on to complete a two year clinical herbal apprenticeship from an AHG certified herbalist, a 4 month clinical herbal intensive, and is now apprenticing in a free clinic under an expert herbalist, botanist, and medic. Throughout her adult life, Taylor has also been passionate about education. She has more than six years of experience as an informal educator and mentor, working especially in the natural sciences and herbal medicine. One of these roles included Assistant Director of the Peggy Notebaert Nature Museum’s environmental education summer camp in 2017.