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Life Sciences & Society Program


Helen Fisher

Dr. Helen Fisher

Professor, Center for Human Evolutionary Studies in the Department of Anthropology at Rutgers University; Senior Research Fellow at The Kinsey Institute
Fisher is a leading expert on the biology of love and attraction. In 2005, she was hired by to help build, which used her research and experience to create both hormone-based and personality-based matching systems. Fisher proposed that humanity has evolved three core brain systems for mating and reproduction: lust – the sex drive or libido; attraction – early stage intense romantic love; and attachment – deep feelings of union with a long term partner. Her more recent research has focused on fMRI and brain chemistry studies of in-love subjects.

Notable Publications:
Why We Love: The Nature and Chemistry of Romantic Love (2004); Anatomy of Love – a Natural History of Mating, Marriage, and Why We Stray (1993); The Sex Contract – the Evolution of Human Behavior (1983)


Dr. Larry Young

Professor of Psychiatry, Emory University School of Medicine, Center for Translational Social Neuroscience; Chief of the Yerkes Division of Behavioral Neuroscience and Psychiatric Disorders
The Young lab uses multidisciplinary approaches to understand the genetic, cellular and neurobiological mechanisms regulating complex social behavior, including social cognition and social bonding. Dr. Young’s research focuses heavily on the roles of the neuropeptides oxytocin and vasopressin in regulating the neural processing of social signals and social attachment. Dr. Young uses a comparative neuroethological approach to investigate the nature of social bonding in highly affiliative and socially monogamous prairie voles. This work has led to the development of neural model of social bonding which shares many features with addiction. Dr. Young also has a major translational focus that seeks to use knowledge of the fundamental mechanisms regulating social cognition to develop novel treatment strategies for psychiatric disorders with social impairments.

Notable Publications:
The Chemistry Between Us: Love, Sex, and the Science of Attraction (2012)


Dr. Brian Hare

Associate Professor of Evolutionary Anthropology, Duke University
Dr. Brian Hare is associate professor of evolutionary anthropology at Duke University in North Carolina and a core member of the Center for Cognitive Neuroscience. He received his Ph.D. from Harvard University, founded the Hominoid Psychology Research Group while at the Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology, and subsequently created the Duke Canine Cognition Center when arriving at Duke. He has co-authored three books and published over 100 scientific papers including in Science, Nature and PNAS. His work has featured on television including 60 minutes, NOVA, and Nature as well as the series Is your dog a genius that he hosted for National Geographic Wild. His book The Genius of Dogs written with his wife Vanessa Woods was a New York Times Bestseller and together they also founded the citizen science company Their new book “Survival of the Friendliest” is due out from Random House in 2018.


Dr. Kory Floyd

Professor, Dept. of Communication, University of Arizona
His work focuses on how communication and close relationships help moderate the effects of stress, pain, and physiological function. He has written 12 books and over 100 scientific papers and book chapters, and he is the current editor of Communication Monographs. His work has been recognized with both the Charles H. Woolbert award and the Bernard J. Brommel award from the National Communication Association, as well as the Early Career Achievement award from the International Association for Relationship Research. His newest book, The Loneliness Cure, examines the problem of affection deprivation and identifies strategies for increasing affection and intimacy.

Notable Publications:
The Loneliness Cure (2015); Interpersonal Communication (2012)


Dr. Chalandra Bryant

Professor of Child and Family Development at The University of Georgia

Program Director, National Science Foundation, Social Behavioral and Economic Sciences
Division of Behavioral and Cognitive Sciences
After earning her PhD at the University of Texas, she completed a two-year NIMH post-doctoral fellowship. She then served as a faculty member at Iowa State University (1998-2003) and The Pennsylvania State University (2003-2010). Her research focuses on close relationships and the ability to sustain close intimate ties. She is particularly interested in the manner in which social, familial, economic, occupational, and psychosocial factors are linked to marital and health outcomes. She is the principal investigator of a longitudinal project, A Study of African American Marriage and Health, funded by the National Institute of Child Health and Human Development. The International Association for Relationship Research presented her with the New Contributions Award (honoring significant contributions to personal relationships research) in 2002. In 2004 she received the National Council on Family Relation’s Reuben Hill Research and Theory Award (presented for an outstanding research article in a family journal). In 2005 she received the Outstanding Young Professional Award from the Texas Exes Alumni Association of the University of Texas.


Dr. Eli J. Finkel

Professor of Psychology, Northwestern University
Historical shifts in the institution of marriage in America have produced two major consequences. First, the quality of average marriages has weakened over time. Second, the quality of the best marriages has strengthened over time. In tandem, these two consequences have pushed marriage toward an all-or-nothing state. This presentation introduces a theoretical framework for understanding such temporal effects, along with science-based analysis of how individuals can strengthen their own marriages.

Eli Finkel is a professor at Northwestern University, where he has appointments in the psychology department and the Kellogg School of Management and holds the Martin J. and Patricia Koldyke Outstanding Teaching Professorship. In his role as director of Northwestern’s Relationships and Motivation Lab (RAMLAB), he has published 130+ scientific articles and is a regular contributor to the Op-Ed page of The New York Times. His research, which is supported by the National Science Foundation and the National Institutes of Health, has been honored with the Daniel M. Wegner Theoretical Innovation Prize. His new book The All-or-Nothing Marriage: How the Best Marriages Work is due out in September 2017.

Notable Publications:
Finkel, E. J., Eastwick, P. W., Karney, B. R., Reis, H. T., & Sprecher, S. (2012). Online dating: A critical analysis from the perspective of psychological science. Psychology Science in the Public Interest, 13, 3-66.

Jim Obergefell

Jim Obergefell is the named plaintiff in the 2015 Supreme Court case Obergefell v. Hodges.  His talk will focus on his 2016 book Love Wins: The Lovers and Lawyers Who Fought the Landmark Case for Marriage Equality, the “fascinating and very moving story of the lovers, lawyers, judges and activists behind the groundbreaking Supreme Court case that led to one of the most important, national civil rights victories in decades—the legalization of same-sex marriage.” The New York Times also made a short film about Mr. Obergefell and the Supreme Court case.

Notable Publications: Love Wins: The lovers and Lawyers who fought the landmark case for Marriage equality. Deckle Edge, June 2016.