Andy Thompson – AAA 2013 National Convention

J. Anderson Thomson, Jr., MD (Andy), is a Trustee of the Richard Dawkins Foundation for Reason and Science and a staff psychiatrist for Counseling and Psychological Services at the University of Virginia Student Health Center, as well as the University of Virginia’s Institute for Law, Psychiatry and Public Policy. Thomson also has his own private practice, and is a forensic psychiatrist for Region Ten Community Services. Thomson acquired his B.A. from Duke University in 1970, he acquired his M.D. from the University of Virginia in 1974, and he did his adult psychiatry training at the University of Virginia from 1974 to 1977.

Thomson has published papers on a variety of issues, including racism, narcissistic personality disorder, forensic psychiatry, depression and PTSD, and has written psychobiographical essays on Lee Harvey Oswald and Robert E. Lee. He is most noted for his work on evolutionary psychology, as well as for his exploration of the cognitive and evolutionary basis of religious belief, as presented in his latest book entitled Why We Believe in God(s): A Concise Guide to the Science of Faith. Dr. Thomson has been a featured speaker at several atheist conferences including American Atheists 2009 and Atheist Alliance International 2009 for which he spoke about his theories on the cognitive origins of religious belief. In an interview with the Austin American-Statesman, Thomson stated, “There is a massive, irreconcilable conflict between science and religion. Religion was humanity’s original cosmology, biology and anthropology. It provided explanations for the origin of the world, life and humans. Science now gives us increasingly complete explanations for those big three.”

Paula Apsell – AAA 2013 National Convention

Paula Apsell is arguably the most influential person in the area of science education when it comes to the country’s general public. In addition to overseeing the production of NOVA documentaries and miniseries for television, she has directed the series’ diversification into other media-most notably online, where NOVA is the most-visited site on NOVA can also be found in classrooms nationwide, where it is the most widely used video resource among high school science teachers.

In January 2005, Apsell introduced a NOVA spinoff in NOVA scienceNOW, a critically acclaimed science newsmagazine hosted formerly by Dr. Neil deGrasse Tyson and now by New York Times technology columnist David Pogue. Other recent signature NOVA and Science Unit productions include “The Elegant Universe,” “Origins,” “Einstein’s Big Idea,” “Judgment Day: Intelligent Design on Trial,” “Making Stuff,” and the large-format feature “Shackleton’s Antarctic Adventure.”

Today, NOVA is the most popular science series on American television and online. Under Apsell’s leadership, NOVA has won every major broadcasting award, some many times over, including the Emmy, the Peabody, the AAAS Science Journalism Award, and the Gold Baton duPont-Columbia, as well as an Academy Award® nomination for “Special Effects.” In 1998, the National Science Board of the National Science Foundation awarded NOVA its first-ever Public Service Award.

Steven Pinker – AAA 2013 National Convention

Presentation of the Richard Dawkins Award.

Dr. Steven Pinker is an experimental psychologist and one of the world’s foremost writers on language, mind, and human nature. Currently Harvard College Professor and Johnstone Family Professor of Psychology at Harvard University, Pinker has also taught at Stanford and MIT. His research on visual cognition and the psychology of language has won prizes from the National Academy of Sciences, the Royal Institution of Great Britain, the Cognitive Neuroscience Society, and the American Psychological Association. He has also received seven honorary doctorates, several teaching awards at MIT and Harvard, and numerous prizes for his books The Language Instinct, How the Mind Works, and The Blank Slate. He is Chair of the Usage Panel of the American Heritage Dictionary, and often writes for The New York Times, Time, and The New Republic. He has been named Humanist of the Year, Prospect magazine’s “The World’s Top 100 Public Intellectuals,” Foreign Policy’s “100 Global Thinkers,” and Time magazine’s “The 100 Most Influential People in the World Today.”

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