Featuring Melina E. Hale

“I was taught that the human brain was the crowning glory of evolution so far, but I think it’s a very poor scheme for survival.”—Kurt Vonnegut, AM’71

The human brain is wired with nearly 100 billion nerve cells that make trillions of connections among them. These circuits generate our ideas, emotions, and behaviors and make us who we are. Damage to the brain’s circuits can be devastating.

Where did our big, complex, and fallible brains come from? Why do they work the way they do? Evolutionary neurobiologist and biomechanist Melina Hale, PhD’98, will explore how the human brain evolved and functions, explaining how it has been shaped and constrained through evolutionary history. She will discuss research in a range of animals—including fish, octopuses, and tiny organisms in ocean plankton—that is informing the brain’s evolution and the fundamental principles of its circuits.

Contact harperlectures@uchicago.edu or 773.702.7788.

Event Details

6:00 p.m.  Registration and networking
6:30 p.m.  Presentation and discussion
7:30 p.m.  Reception

$10/recent graduate (College alumni of the past 10 years and graduate alumni of the past five years)
Free for current academic year graduates and current students
Two complimentary registrations for members of the Chicago, Harper, Phoenix, and Medical and Biological Sciences Alumni Association philanthropic societies

Parking Information

Valet parking is available for $59.

Featured Faculty


Melina Hale, PhD’98, is the vice provost for academic initiatives and interim codirector of the Marine Biological Laboratory in Woods Hole, Massachusetts, where she is also an MBL Fellow. At the University of Chicago, she is the William Rainey Harper Professor in the College and the Department of Organismal Biology and Anatomy, as well as a member of the Committee on Neurobiology and the Committee on Computational Neuroscience. Hale was a Howard Hughes Medical Institute Education Fellow and has received a National Science Foundation CAREER award. She received her PhD from the University of Chicago in 1998.

Explore the renowned, University-affiliated Marine Biological Laboratory.