Hilldale Lecture Series – Current Lectures

Achille Mbembe
Professor for History and Politics
Wits Institute for Social and Economy Research at the University of the Witwatersrand in Johannesburg, South Africa

Time and location TBD


Jeanine Cavender-Bares
Distinguished McKnight University Professor in the Department of Ecology, Evolution and Behavior
University of Minnesota, and
Director of the NSF Biology Integration Institute ASCEND (Advancing Spectral biology in Changing ENvironments to understand Diversity)

Plant Diversity, spectral biology and giving back to a planet in crisis
Wednesday, October 5, 5:00 PM
145 Birge Hall
Reception to follow lecture (6 PM)

Advances in technology in recent decades have expanded biological understanding in many dimensions, enabling humans to see the diversity of ecosystems from space, assemble the tree of life, and edit whole genomes. These advances coincide with a fragmentation of the biological sciences into increasingly specialized disciplines. Technological shifts in society more broadly have increased human standards of living yet coincide with the loss of biodiversity and massive global changes on unprecedented time scales. Harnessing technological advances in spectral biology to integrate the biological sciences and detect changes in biodiversity across scales is an important step in the application of ecological principles to rehabilitate ecosystem functions. These efforts combined with ethical frameworks that acknowledge that humans are part of nature can contribute to reciprocity with our living planet.


Molly Przeworski (postponed from 2020-2021 to 2022-2023)
American population geneticist and Professor of Biological Sciences and Systems Biology at Columbia University

Why Do Germline Mutation Rates Depend on Sex and Age?
October 14, 3:30-4:30 PM
Reception to follow lecture (5-6 PM)
School of Education Building
Wisconsin Idea Room
1000 Bascom Mall

Germline mutation is the source of all heritable differences and therefore of fundamental
importance. In mammals, it has long been appreciated that mutation rates are higher in fathers,
particularly older fathers. The textbook view is that these patterns reflect replication errors that
accrue during spermatogenesis. I will present multiple lines of evidence that call this view into
question. I will argue instead that current data are best explained by a much larger role of DNA
damage in the genesis of germline mutations than previously appreciated, and draw implications for
why mutation rates depend on sex and age and how they evolve over time.

Laure Saint-Raymond (postponed from 2020-2021)
Professor at the Ecole Normale Superieure de Lyon, and
Fellow of the Institut Universitaire de France

Time and location TBD

Olivia Mitchell, PhD
International Foundation of Employee Benefit Plans Professor
Professor of Insurance & Risk Mgmt. and Business Economics & Public Policy

New Developments in Retirement Risk Management 
September 28, 2022, 4:30 PM
Reception to follow lecture
Discovery Building-De Luca Forum
330 N Orchard Street, Madison, WI 

As the world confronts unprecedented global aging, academics and policymakers are growing increasingly aware of the need for better risk management tools to manage the demographic transition. It is thus critical to identify innovative insurance and financial market products that can enrich the range of options for households, employers, and governments facing the challenges of an aging population. After outlining thoughts on how rising longevity is shaping financial markets, we discuss opportunities for better responses that can enhance efforts to better manage retirement risk.


Raj Chetty (postponed from 2020-2021 to 2022-2023)
William A. Ackman Professor of Economics, Harvard University

Time and location TBD