APPLETON, WIS. — Author and researcher Robert Sapolsky, who has been called “the world’s funniest neuroscientist” for the humor and humanity he brings to the complexities of human and animal life, shares his insights on stress and its impact on human health in a Lawrence University convocation.
Sapolsky presents “Why Zebras Don’t Get Ulcers: Stress, Disease, and Coping — Stress and Where Stress-Related Diseases Come From” Tuesday, Nov. 7 at 11:10 p.m. in the Lawrence Memorial Chapel. He also will conduct a question-and-answer session at 2 p.m. in Riverview Lounge of the Lawrence Memorial Union. Both events are free and open to the public.
Known for his wry and witty style, Sapolsky, 49, is the John A. and Cynthia Fry Gunn Professor of Biological Sciences and Professor of Neurology and Neurological Sciences at Stanford University. As a researcher, he has been credited with the use of innovative techniques in the field of neuroendocrinology and his Stanford laboratory was among the first to document that sustained stress can damage the hippocampus, the region of the brain associated with learning and memory.
A 1987 recipient of a $500,000 MacArthur Foundation “genius” grant, Sapolsky’s career as a scientist has been divided between the laboratory, where he focuses on stress and neurological disease, and the field, studying primate physiology and social behavior. For more than 20 years, he has made annual trips to East Africa to live with a population of wild baboons and study the relationship between personality and patterns of stress-related disease in the animals. He chronicled his experiences as a field biologist living in the Serengeti in the 2002 book “A Primate’s Memoir,” which was a Natural World Book Prize finalist.
His book “Why Zebras Don’t Get Ulcers: A Guide to Stress, Stress-Related Diseases and Coping,” which was first published in 1994 and then revised, updated and rereleased in 1998, was twice named a Los Angeles Times Book Award finalist. Sapolsky also is the author of “The Trouble With Testosterone and Other Essays on the Biology of the Human Predicament,” “Monkeyluv and Other Essays on our Lives as Animals” and “Stress, the Aging Brain and the Mechanisms of Neuron Death.”
A frequent contributor to Discover and Science magazines, Sapolsky has been recognized by the National Science Foundation with its Presidential Young Investigator Award and its Dean’s Award for teaching.
He joined the faculty at Sanford in 1987 and also serves as a research associate with the Institute of Primate Research at the National Museum of Kenya. He earned a bachelor’s degree from Harvard University and his Ph.D. from New York City’s The Rockefeller University.