Krauss named Humanist of the Year

December 4, 2014

Arizona State University professor Lawrence Krauss has been named the 2015 Humanist of the Year by the American Humanists Association.

The Humanist of the Year award was established in 1953 to recognize a person of national or international reputation who, through the application of humanist values, has made a significant contribution to the improvement of the human condition. portrait of ASU professor Lawrence Krauss Download Full Image

Previous honorees include astronomer Carl Sagan; Nobel laureates Steven Weinberg, Murray Gell-Mann, Andrei Sakharov and Linus Pauling; polio vaccine discoverer Jonas Salk; feminist Gloria Steinem; biologists Edward O. Wilson and Stephen Jay Gould; psychologist B.F. Skinner; designer Buckminster Fuller; birth control activist Margaret Sanger; and author Kurt Vonnegut.

“I was shocked when I received the news, and humbled when I read the list of previous awardees, many of whom are intellectual heroes of mine,” said Krauss. “To be listed along with that group in any context is an honor of the highest order.

“As it is, I feel privileged that my activities, which ASU has helped foster and which I am motivated to do both because I enjoy them and because I hope that they might have a positive impact, have now also been so generously recognized by this award,” he added.

Krauss is internationally known for his work in theoretical physics and cosmology, and is a well-known author, science communicator, activist and public intellectual. His research covers science from the beginning of the universe to the end of the universe, and includes the interface between elementary particle physics and cosmology, the nature of dark matter, general relativity and neutrino astrophysics.

In addition to being an ASU Foundation Professor, Krauss is the director of the Origins Project at ASU, which explores key questions about our origins, who we are and where we came from, and then holds open forums to encourage public participation.

Krauss is the only physicist to receive major awards from all three U.S. physics societies: the American Physical Society, the American Institute of Physics and the American Association of Physics Teachers.

In 2012 he was given the Public Service Award from the National Science Board for his efforts in communicating science to general audiences. Last year he was awarded the “Roma Award Urbs Universalis 2013” by the Mayor of Rome.

Krauss has authored more than 300 scientific publications and nine books, including his most recent best-seller, "A Universe from Nothing," which offers provocative, revelatory answers to the most basic philosophical questions of existence. It was on the New York Times best-seller list for nonfiction within a week of its release.

Krauss also wrote the international best-seller "The Physics of Star Trek," an entertaining and eye-opening tour of the Star Trek universe, and "Beyond Star Trek," which addressed recent exciting discoveries in physics and astronomy, and takes a look at how the laws of physics relate to notions from popular culture. A book on physicist Richard Feynman, "Quantum Man," was awarded the 2011 Book of the Year by Physics World magazine in the UK.

He has been a frequent commentator and columnist for newspapers such as the New York Times and the Wall Street Journal. He has written regular columns for New Scientist and Scientific American, and appears routinely on radio and television. He was featured with Richard Dawkins in a full-length film documentary, "The Unbelievers," which has been billed as a “rock-n-roll tour film about science and reason.”

Krauss also serves as a co-chair of the board of sponsors of the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists, on the board of directors of the Federation of American Scientists and is one of the founders of ScienceDebate2012.

Krauss will receive a bronze plate bearing an inscription during the American Humanists Association Annual Conference, May 7-10, 2015, in Denver.

Associate Director, Media Relations & Strategic Communications


ASU in Hollywood brings top executives to class

December 5, 2014

Aspiring stars of stage and screen have tried many things to get their shot at fame and fortune. But one Arizona State University alumnus who has made it to the top of Hollywood has simple advice: hard work and dedication can get you where you want to go.

“Find something that you love and stick to it,” said Michael Burns, the vice chairman of Lionsgate, speaking to an ASU film class this week in Santa Monica, California. “Devote time to it.” students watching live feed projection of person speaking ASU film and media students on the Tempe campus listen to Michael Burns, vice chairman of Lionsgate, speak during a live feed of a "Welcome to Hollywood" class at ASU's California Center in Santa Monica. Download Full Image

Burns shared his experiences, some life lessons and personal advice on how to make it in a notoriously competitive industry at the “Welcome to Hollywood” class taught at ASU’s California Center by film professor Adam Collis.

He argued that, along with dedication, the ambition to strive for big things is crucial to being able to achieve them.

“When looking for a job, you have to ask yourself, where would you be great?” he said. “And then dare to be great.”

Burns has close ties to ASU, where he studied political science and was the president of his fraternity. Now he is the leader of Lionsgate’s corporate management team, and has been involved in the acquisition and production of some of Lionsgate’s biggest box office hits.

The “Welcome to Hollywood” course is part of ASU in Hollywood, a collection of ad hoc classes, programs and internships run by Collis, a professor in the School of Film, Dance and Theatre in the Herberger Institute for Design and the Arts. The goals of "Welcome to Hollywood" include broadening ASU students’ exposure to leaders in the film and television industry. The program also aims to connect ASU to California’s biggest metropolitan area.

In fact, Burns’ speech was streamed live onto the Tempe campus, where 20 Arizona-based students had the opportunity to participate in and interact with the class.

Steven Wallace, an ASU grad who attended the lecture on the California side, said he learned details about budgeting and foreign affairs from Burns’s talk, in addition to getting to hear his words of wisdom.

“He was a very personable speaker, and I just liked his overall message,” Wallace said.

One of those messages was that new technologies can create openings for new opportunities in storytelling.

“You want to go where the puck is going,” Burns told students. “You don’t want to go where it’s been.”

Lionsgate was ahead of the media curve when it came to technology, Burns said, but around the globe technology continues to grow.

Burns is also a believer in social media and argues YouTube can be harnessed to increase someone’s profile: the perfect tool to broadcast uniqueness and get a name noticed.

While Burns touched on the technical and corporate side of the entertainment business, he said he shared his experiences to prove that people have to dig deep in order to survive in this industry.

“Everyone has something unique about themselves. Everyone has a hook. Make yourself stand out,” he said.

Written by Jillian Lopez