Category: Speakers (page 1 of 21)

Speaker programs at Wednesday SMA Meetings

Frank Sparks, M.D.:“How the Great Pyramid Was Really Built (It’s Not Like You Think)”, December 19, 2018

Frank Sparks, M.D., will speak on “How the Great Pyramid Was Really Built (It’s Not Like You Think).” His talk will debunk the popularly held belief promoted by egyptologists that the Great Pyramid was made from perfectly quarried 2.5-ton limestone blocks that were then lifted to the top of the pyramid and became the tallest building in the world upon its completion 4,800 years ago. In the past 30 years, electron microscopy has shown that the pyramid “stones” are manmade blocks of limestone in the form of a polymer that contain chemicals not found in any of the limestone in the world. What actually happened was that the Nile-flooded limestone was easily raked apart; it was carried up to the pyramid in baskets where chemicals were added; and the contents were dumped into molds that then set within 24 hours. Professor Hobbs of MIT says this has been repeated worldwide, making this approach a fact, not a theory. Dr. Sparks is a resident of New Canaan, where he lives in retirement with his wife Michelle. They have six daughters and 10 grandchildren. He received a B.S. and M.D. from Northwestern University and an M.B.A. in finance from the University of Connecticut. He was a surgeon at the National Cancer Institute and also at NYU, UCLA and UConn, where he was both a surgeon and professor and chairman of the Department of Surgery. He has authored 79 peer-reviewed papers and more than 100 abstracts and has received $1.6 million in research grants. His background in chemistry and physics led to his interest in how the Great Pyramid was built.

Arranged by Sunil Saksena

Aleksandr Troyb: “Myths about immigration rules”, December 12, 2018

Aleksandr Troyb will discuss the commonly held myths regarding immigration rules as they exist today. His talk will draw on his experience as a practicing immigration attorney advising individuals, as well as corporations, with their immigration issues. He also will discuss aspects of the “Gang of 8”immigration bill, which passed the Senate on a bipartisan basis a few years ago but never was taken up by the House, as well as the outlines of the immigration proposals being discussed by the Trump administration. Alex is an attorney practicing with the law firm of Benjamin, Gold & Troyb, P.C. in Stamford, where he advises clients on various aspects of immigration law and regulations. He is licensed to practice in Connecticut and New York courts, as well as the Federal District Court for the District of Connecticut. Alex serves as a committee co-chair of the Connecticut Chapter of the American Immigration Lawyers Association, where he previously served as the chapter chair and member of the National Board of Governors. In addition, Alex serves as treasurer on the Executive Committee of the Fairfield County Bar Association, where he also serves as a committee co-chair.

Arranged by Sunil Saksena

David McKillop:“Ten Pillars of Programming”, December 5, 2018

David McKillop will talk about “Ten Pillars of Programming.” It’s a personal look as to how nonfiction TV shows, such as reality series and documentaries, are developed inside a network. It includes insights into how to develop, nurture and grow creative teams within a traditional corporate environment. David is a seasoned American producer who has developed and delivered popular cable hits on three networks: A&E, History and Discovery. David most recently served as chief creative officer and partner of Propagate, a multiplatform production company funded by A&E Network. Prior to this, he was general manager of A&E Network, where he was instrumental in the development and production of the Oscar-nominated and Emmy-winning feature documentary “Cartel Land,” cable’s most-watched nonfiction series of all time “Duck Dynasty” and the record-breaking hit series “Storage Wars.” Earlier in his career, he was vice president of production for Discovery Channel and then senior vice president at the History channel. His credits include the Emmy award-winning documentaries “Gettysburg” and “102 Minutes that Changed America.”

Arranged by Sunil Saksena

James von Klemperer: “Building One Vanderbilt Place:, Wednesday, November 28, 2018

James von Klemperer will focus on architectural design and other factors associated with the creation and construction of super tall buildings, including the 435-meter skyscraper currently being erected at One Vanderbilt Place next door to Grand Central Station. James serves as the president and design principal of Kohn Pedersen Fox Associates, PC. He has been responsible for the design of major commissions throughout North America, Europe and Asia. James has lectured at Harvard University, Columbia University, Miami University, Smith College and Ecole Speciale d’Architecture in Paris, as well as at congresses in Jakarta, Seoul and Mexico. He served on the Zoning Board of Appeals in Darien from 1996 to 2003. He is an active member of ULI, as well as the Institute for Urban Design. His work abroad includes the U.S. ambassador’s residence in Nicosia; Dongbu Financial Center, winner of an Honor Award from the AIA New York City Chapter; and 30 Hill Street in Singapore on the site of the former U.S. embassy. James is working on New Songdo City, a 1,500-acre free trade zone in Korea. His work in the United States includes the Daniel Patrick Moynihan U.S. Courthouse in New York City, which was the recipient of the 1996 General Services Administration Design Award; the Institute for International Economics in Washington, D.C., winner of an Honor Award from the Washington, D.C., Chapter of the AIA; 640 Fifth Avenue, winner of a New York construction newsletter: “Best of 2004 Renovation Award of Merit”; and the award-winning Mohegan Sun Resort hotel, casino and arena in northern Connecticut. James received a B.A. from Harvard University, a master of architecture from Trinity College, Cambridge and a master of architecture from Princeton University.

Arranged by Tom Haack

Jeff Brameier: “The Importance of Athletics in High School”, November 14, 2018

Jeff Brameier’s talk is entitled “The Importance of Athletics in High School.” Athletics have been a mainstay of the high school scene for decades. Today, the field has vastly expanded, giving an ever greater variety of competitive options to both male and female students. While students get involved in high school athletics for the sheer love of the game, there are significant benefits from these extracurricular activities. The discussion will focus on the experiences Jeff has drawn on from his 40+ years of coaching at Darien High School. He was raised in Darien. He heads into his 36th season at the helm of Darien High School boys lacrosse program, where he has guided his teams to a win-loss record of 594-133 (.818), winning 17 FCIAC League Championships, 13 State Championships, including six in a row from 2005-2010. His team was ranked #1 public school in the country in 2014 and 2017. He has coached 91 high school All-Americans, 175 High School All-State players, 14 Connecticut Players of the Year and has been named Connecticut Lacrosse Coach of the Year five times. He was National Coach of the Year in 2014 and was inducted into the Connecticut Lacrosse Hall of Fame in 2011. He has been president of the Connecticut High School Lacrosse Coaches Association for the last 31 years. In the past, he also has coached the Darien High School football and swim teams.

Arranged by Sunil Saksena

Richard Frisch: “From Grunts to Tweets, the History of Human Communication” , Nov 7, 2018

Richard Frisch will speak on “From Grunts to Tweets, the History of Human Communication.” He will discuss why speech arose and why Homo sapiens is the only species to develop language. His talk will focus on four topics: development of spoken language, development of written language, electric/electronic communication, and neural communication in the present and future. Richard has been entertaining and informing groups about technology topics for over a decade. Recent presentations have been “Is Privacy Dead?” “The History of Recorded Sound,” and “How Big Data, Neuroscience and Psychology Are Used to Manipulate Us.” Richard runs RHFtech, providing technology guidance and support to small businesses. He was an executive in the financial services sector for 30 years. He has a B.S. in physical anthropology from Duke University and an M.B.A. from Harvard University. He and his wife Marianne and have lived in Weston for more than three decades. They have one daughter, an attorney who works for the Department of Justice.

Arranged by Andre Guilbert


Book Discussion:The Spy and the Traitor : the Greatest Espionage Story of the Cold War by Ben Macintyre, Dec 12, 2018

Oleg Gordievsky was a spy like no other. The product of a KGB family and the best Soviet institutions, the savvy Russian eventually saw the lies and terrors of the regime for what they were, a realization that turned him irretrievably toward the West. His career eventually brought him to the highest post in the KGB’s London station-but throughout that time he was secretly working for MI6, the British intelligence service”-

Richard E. Hyman
Journeys With Cousteau and the Crew of Calypso, Oct 10, 2018

Richard Hyman will be sharing stories and photographs about his time working for the famed Captain Jacques-Yves Cousteau.
Richard was a professional diver and photographer for Cousteau. He worked his way up the ladder, first driving a supply truck from L.A. to the Canadian wilderness and there building a cabin with Cree Indians for the Cousteau team to winter in and film Beavers of the North Country. A year later, as a deck hand aboard Calypso, they filmed The Incredible Migration of the Spiny Lobsters in Mexico, before sailing south to Belize, where they filmed the spawning of thousands of grouper, The Fish that Swallowed Jonah. Singer songwriter John Denver paid a visit and performed a televised concert on Calypso’s foredeck. On Richard’s final expedition he graduated to diver and photographer, where en route to Venezuela, he experienced treacherous deep dives on the wreck of the USS Monitor off North Carolina, skeletons inside wrecks off Martinique, and the death of Jacques Cousteau’s son, Philippe.
Richard is a PADI-certified Aquanaut, a member of the Marine Biology Hall of Fame, and a Trustee of the Fabien Cousteau Ocean Learning Center.

Stories about life aboard Calypso and Cousteau, once one of the most recognized names in the world, should interest most everybody, particularly adventurers, Denver fans, divers, environmentalists, photographers, travel buffs, and videographers.
Mobile 203-456-4271





As a kid, I spent as much time as possible under water. Cousteau was my hero.  Here is a video that is sure to be an earworm as you enjoy this talk. Gary

Aye Calypso the places you’ve been to
The things that you’ve shown us
The stories you tell
Aye Calypso, I sing to your spirit
The men who have served you so long and so well

(We’ll avoid the yodeling part.)

Leigh Shemitz, Ph.D., president of SoundWaters, October 31, 2018

Wednesday, October 31, 2018 

Leigh Shemitz, Ph.D., president of SoundWaters, will discuss its mission to educate children and adults about Long Island Sound and the human impact on the environment. Under her leadership, SoundWaters has expanded its outreach and been the recipient of numerous awards for its work in protecting Long Island Sound through education.  She also serves on the board of directors of the Stamford Environmental Protection Board and is on the board of directors of the Bartlett Arboretum & Gardens. Dr. Shemitz is an emeritus board member of the Urban Resources Initiative in New Haven. In 2005-2006, concurrent with her position at SoundWaters, she served as a research affiliate at the Yale School of Forestry & Environmental Studies. Before joining SoundWaters, Dr. Shemitz was a lecturer at Yale, researching the connection between the environment and human well-being. She was in the Peace Corps as a forester in the Republic of Mali, West Africa. Dr. Shemitz earned a bachelor of arts degree in history and literature from Harvard University and a master’s degree in forest science and a Ph.D. in environmental health from Yale University. She studied nonprofit management at Harvard Business School’s Executive Education program.

Arranged by Robin Hogen

Sandhya Dhruvakumar, M.D., Atrial Fibrillations, October 24, 2018

Wednesday, October 24, 2018

Sandhya Dhruvakumar, M.D., will talk about atrial fibrillations, their incidence in the senior population and the various treatment options. She is director of electrophysiology at Stamford Hospital and is fellowship trained in electrophysiology with expertise in device implantation and cardiac ablations. Dr. Dhruvakumar received her bachelor’s degree in biochemistry with honors from Brown University and her M.D. from the University of Massachusetts Medical College. She completed her residency at Beth Israel Medical Center. Her cardiology fellowship was completed at New York-Presbyterian Hospital and her electrophysiology fellowship at University of Pennsylvania Hospital.


Dr. D’s Presentation slides



Arranged by Sunil Saksena

Nelson Tebbe, Ph.D., The First Amendment,October 17, 2018

Wednesday, October 17, 2018 

Nelson Tebbe, Ph.D., will speak about the current state of First Amendment law covering freedom of religion and freedom of speech. He will focus on Justice Kennedy’s final opinions and discuss how the Supreme Court’s doctrine may change with Judge Kavanaugh on the court. Dr. Tebbe is professor of law at Cornell Law School. His research focuses on constitutional law, political theory and the academic study of religion – in particular, the relationship between religious traditions and democratic governments. Dr. Tebbe is the author of Religious Freedom in an Egalitarian Age, where he examines the contemporary conflict between free exercise and equality law. He argues for a way forward that vigorously protects civil rights while safeguarding the ability of religious traditionalists to dissent. He also is co-author of an upcoming case book, Religious Liberty and Secular Government: Cases and Materials. As a media commentator, he has published opinion pieces in Slate, The New York Times, SCOTUSblog, Balkinization, and the Daily News. Before teaching, Dr. Tebbe clerked for Judge John M. Walker, Jr., of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit and practiced law at the American Civil Liberties Union and at Davis Polk & Wardwell. A graduate of Brown University and Yale Law School, he holds a Ph.D. with distinction in the academic study of religion from the University of Chicago Divinity School. After college, he was a Fulbright Scholar studying at the University of Cape Town in South Africa.

Arranged by Roger Renz

Joel Blatt: The Misunderstood Treaty of Versailles, Oct 3, 2018

Wednesday, October 3, 2018 

Professor Joel Blatt, Ph.D., will speak on “The Misunderstood Treaty of Versailles.” He will focus on the Rhineland compromise, as well as the reparations settlements of the treaty. He believes the view of the treaty as being unfairly hard on Germany is inaccurate. The talk will assert that the Versailles Treaty is one of the most misunderstood major events of the 20th century. Dr. Blatt has taught European history at the University of Connecticut, in both Storrs and Stamford, for more than 40 years. He is a six-time recipient of the UConn-Stamford Outstanding Teacher Award. He also teaches a course on the Holocaust, modern western traditions, and personality and power in the 20th century. Dr. Blatt received a B.A. from Cornell and a Ph.D. in history from the University of Rochester.


Arranged by Sunil Saksena


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