Annual Bovay Lecture Archive

Past Bovay Lectures

We are grateful for the many esteemed lecturers who have participated in this series. 

2019 Bovay Lecture

Friday, May 3, 2019 · 5 PM · Phillips 101
Gideon Lewis-Kraus
Notes from inside Google Brain and the DNA labs of Archaeology: Disrupting the Humanities with Engineering

Lewis-Kraus is the author of No Exit: One Silicon Valley Startup Struggles to Survive a Modern Gold Rush and his essays, reportage, and critiques have been published in Harper’s Magazine, McSweeney’s, The Believer and The New York Times Magazine.


2018 Bovay Lecture

Wednesday, April 18, 4:45 PM Phillips Hall 101
Dr. Gretchen Goldman ’06
Scientists, Advocates, and Politicians: The State of Scientific Integrity in the Federal Government

Goldman is the research director for the Center for Science and Democracy at the Union of Concerned Scientists. In her role, Dr. Goldman leads research efforts on the role of science in public policy, focusing on topics ranging from scientific integrity in government decision-making, to political interference in science-based standards on hydraulic fracturing, climate change, and chemicals. Dr. Goldman came to UCS from the Georgia Institute of Technology, where she was a postdoctoral research fellow working on statistical modeling of urban air pollution for use in epidemiologic studies of acute human health effects. She holds a Ph.D. and M.S. in environmental engineering from the Georgia Institute of Technology, and a B.S. in atmospheric science from Cornell University. Dr. Goldman has appeared on VICE News Tonight, National Public Radio, MarketPlace, WBUR, WAMU, KEXP, and KQED. Her words have appeared in Science, Nature, The New York Times, The Washington Post, CNN, Bloomberg and Politico. She currently serves as the chair of the Air and Climate Public Advisory Committee for the Metropolitan Washington Council of Governments and sits on the advisory board of InfluenceMap.


2017 Bovay Lecture

March 29, 4:30 PM, Phillips 203
Dr. Erik Conway, Historian, Jet Propulsion Laboratory
Simulating your way to Mars: A brief history of engineering simulation in Mars exploration


2016 Bovay Lecture

April 19, 4:30 PM, Phillips 101
Prof. Amy Slaton, Department of History and Politics, Drexel University
Race, Gender, and Disability in American Engineering Education: Why STEM Diversity Must and Cannot Work


2015 Bovay Lecture

March 11, 4:30, Phillips 101
Prof. Bernard Carlson, Department of Engineering and Society, University of Virginia
The Ethics of Innovation Hype: Reflections on Nikola Tesla’s Career


2012 Bovay Lecture

April 25, 4:30, Phillips 101
Allan McDonald
Inside the Space Shuttle Challenger Disaster: A Personal Account


2011 Bovay Lecture

Tuesday April 12, 4:30, Phillips 219
Ezra Heitowit  Ph.D. ’71, Applied and Engineering Physics; Member of the House Science Committee; Vice President of the Universities Research Association
The Professional Scientist and Engineer: Ethics and Advocacy in Science Policy

The general issue of policy advocacy in the scientific and engineering community is a timely one. Questions of whether and how to spend research money in a time of overall budget cutting amid such issues as energy use and climate change that are seen to have high stakes for the near and far future have led to ongoing considerations of the role of both the individual researcher and professional societies in such fora as Physics Today.  While professional advocacy is unavoidable, perhaps quite desirable, there are questions about the respective roles of the individual and that of professional societies.  The talk draws upon my experiences on the Congressional Science Committee and as Vice President of the Universities Research Association.


2009 Bovay Lecture

Tuesday, April 7
Dr. Robert Metcalfe
Enernet: What Energy Can Learn from the History of the Internet
Dr. Robert M.Metcalfe’s career is technological innovation, where he is best known for inventing Ethernet (1973), founding 3Com (1979), and writing eight years of Internet columns in InfoWorld, collected in his book, INTERNET COLLAPSES (2000), still available down the long tail at In 2005, President George W. Bush invited Bob to the White House with his parents to receive the National Medal of Technology, for “leadership in the invention, standardization, and commercialization of Ethernet.”

Dr. Metcalfe is a venture capitalist, since 2001 with Polaris Venture Partners in Waltham, MA. He is a director of Polaris-backed technology start-ups including 1366, Ember (chairman and past CEO), GreenFuel (chairman and past CEO), Infinite Power Solutions, Mintera, SiCortex (past chairman), SiOnyx, and an energy storage start-up currently spinning out of MIT. Bob is also advisor/director/trustee to Avistar, National Academy of Engineering, St. Mark’s School, USC Stevens, Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT ’68, Life Trustee), and MIT’s Technology Review Magazine, McGovern Institute for Brain Research, Energy Initiative, Department of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science, Dean of Engineering, and Dean of Science.

The talk engaged undergraduate, M.Eng., and graduate students from majors across the college, including the business school, as well faculty members. Dr. Metcalfe’s ‘deliberately provocative’ speaking style challenged and inspired the audience to take on the issue of cheap, clean energy – one of the most pressing engineering and social issues of today (and the future!).