Previous Lunch Seminar Speakers

Check out our previous Lunch Seminar Speakers:

Lunch Seminar Gelsdorf 10-9-17 - Copy

As Director of Global Humanitarian Policy, Kirsten brings 19 years of experience working in the humanitarian sector; most recently serving as the Chief of the Policy Analysis and Innovation section at the United Nations Office of Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs.

Her career includes long-term field postings and operational deployments to numerous emergencies including the international responses to Hurricane Mitch in Honduras, the Ethiopian Famine, the South African Regional Food Crisis, the Liberian War, the Tsunami in Indonesia, Hurricane Katrina, the Pakistan Earthquake, the Timor-Leste Security Crisis, the Global Food Crisis and the Haiti Earthquake. She also served as a humanitarian advisor to President Clinton in his role as the UN Special Envoy for Haiti and as a policy advisor to UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon on the global food crisis in 2008.

She holds a Bachelor’s degree from Dartmouth College and a Master degree from the Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy.

Learn more about Kirsten Gelsdorf here.

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What drives scientists to get involved in policy? What are the motivations and moralities that drive scientists toward greater advocacy and engagement? What are some of the barriers they encounter, and how do differing orientations toward the role of science in the world drive them to overcome these? And what can the experiences of individual scientists tell us about the changing landscape of science advocacy in a world of post-factual politics? Hear from Andrew Pericak and Alexandra Sutton Lawrence, science topic leads within the Duke SciPol program (, about their experiences in the world of science policy—both as advocates and as researchers. Plus, learn more about SciPol’s efforts in tracking federal science policy across government and communicating developments to the public.

Andrew Pericak, MEM – Research Associate, Duke University Initiative for Science & Society

  • Andrew contributes to and edits content for SciPol. He received the Master of Environmental Management degree from Duke’s Nicholas School of the Environment in 2016, at which he specialized in Environmental Economics and Policy. Before that, he received the Bachelor of Arts in Environmental Studies and Geography from the University of Richmond. Andrew also has extensive experience with geographic information systems (GIS) and has produced open spatial data currently used in academic research and public advocacy.

Alexandra Sutton Lawrence, MSc – Research Associate, Duke University Initiative for Science & Society and Duke Energy Initiative

  • As SciPol’s Lead Editor for Energy, Alexandra holds a joint appointment with the Energy Initiative. She is a doctoral candidate of the Nicholas School of the Environment at Duke, where she works with Professor Stuart Pimm to study best practices in biodiversity conservation. Her dissertation, Conservation in the Human Landscape, comprises case studies of leadership, management, and finance in global environmental initiatives. She has held previous policy positions at The Wildlife Society and the Consortium for Ocean Leadership, and her research has been supported by The Explorers’ Club; National Geographic’s Big Cats Initiative; and Sigma Xi. She is also the founder of Kedge Conservation, a social innovation startup that works to promote financial literacy, access, and equity in East & Southern Africa.


Dr. Rider W. Foley is an assistant professor in the science, technology & society program in the Department of Engineering and Society at the University of Virginia. He is the principal investigator at University of Virginia on the ‘4C Project’ on Cultivating Cultures of Ethical STEM education with colleagues from Notre Dame, Xavier University and St. Mary’s College. He is also the co-leader of the ‘Nano and the City’ thematic research cluster for the Center for Nanotechnology in Society at Arizona State University. Rider is a Research Collaborator with the Sustainability Science Education program at the Biodesign Institute. His research focuses on wicked problems that arise at the intersection of society and technology. Rider holds a Ph.D. in Sustainability from Arizona State University, and a Master’s degree in Environmental Management from Harvard University and a Bachelor’s degree in Environmental Science from University of New Hampshire. Before earning his doctorate, he has worked for a decade in consulting and emergency response for Triumvirate Environmental Inc.