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The Cloister is Expanding

We are adding 63 rooms, a pool and a junior ballroom on the outer edges of the Cloister property.

Creativity Conference


Ecologist Dr. Mark Moffett and his wife and frequent expedition partner, Melissa Wells, will serve as conference hosts. “Sea Island is a gorgeous spot surrounded by nature (golden marsh lands, protected oyster beds, and sea turtles), with amenities for a rejuvenating and stimulating weekend. We were impressed with our experience at Sea Island and jumped at the chance to help create a conference of like-minded creatives.”

An Intimate Dinner with Creativity Conference Speakers

Friday,February 13, 2015
7-9 p.m.
Cloister Clubroom

Get to know the speakers personally during this four course dinner with four stories, where the conversation and ideas multiply! Reservations required.

Individual reservations are required for each lecture day and the dinner.

2015 Conference Schedule

  • Mark W. Moffett, Ph.D

    Mark W. Moffett, a.k.a. "Doctor Bugs," has discovered new species and behaviors from the tops of the world's tallest trees to sink holes a quarter-mile deep. He has writing and photography credits for more than 30 articles for National Geographic and is the recipient of the highest honor in exploration, the Lowell Thomas Award from the Explorers Club.

    An entomologist at the Smithsonian Institution, he created a solo exhibition, “Farmers, Warriors, Builders: The Hidden Life of Ants.” He is a 2008 Yale Poynter Journalism Fellow with three books, The High Frontier: Exploring the Tropical Rain Forest Canopy, Face to Face with Frogs, and Adventures Among Ants, which The New York Times said was written “with an entertainer’s instinct for hooking a restless audience.” He is the recipient of the highest honor in exploration, the Lowell Thomas Award from the Explorers Club.

  • Melissa Wells

    Melissa Wells is an expert at managing healthcare systems in the US and abroad. When on expeditions with fellow explorer Moffett, she also captures the work and inspiration of scientific researchers through photography and film.

    • Paul Bloom

      Paul Bloom is a professor of psychology and cognitive science at Yale University and author of Just Babies and How Pleasure Works. His research explores how children and adults understand the physical and social world, with special focus on morality, religion, fiction, and art.

      He has won numerous awards for his research and teaching. He is past-president of the Society for Philosophy and Psychology, and co-editor of Behavioral and Brain Sciences, one of the major journals in the field.

      Dr. Bloom has written for scientific journals such as Nature and Science, and for popular outlets such as The New York Times, The Guardian, The New Yorker, and The Atlantic Monthly. He is the author or editor of six books, including Just Babies: The Origins of Good and Evil.

    • Rita Dove

      Rita Dove, U.S. Poet Laureate from 1993 to 1995, is the author of nine collections of poetry, including Thomas and Beulah, winner of the 1987 Pulitzer Prize, and most recently, Sonata Mulattica, a poetic treatise on the life of 19th-century violinist George Polgreen Bridgetower.

      Other book publications include short stories, essays, the novel Through the Ivory Gate, the drama The Darker Face of the Earth and, as its sole editor, The Penguin Anthology of 20th-Century American Poetry. Among Ms. Dove’s numerous honors are the National Humanities Medal from President Clinton and the National Medal of Arts from President Obama, making her the only poet with both presidential medals to her credit. She has also received the 2009 Fulbright Lifetime Achievement Medal and the 2014 Lifetime Achievement Award from the Furious Flower Poetry Center at James Madison University. Rita Dove is Commonwealth Professor of English at the University of Virginia.

    • Scott Parazynski

      Scott Parazynski is a physician who has served as an astronaut on five Space Shuttle flights, and is currently University Explorer and Professor of Practice at Arizona State University.

      The longest of his seven spacewalks was to repair a solar array, one of the most challenging tasks ever performed outside a spacecraft. He has climbed Everest and has traveled to Antarctica in his previous role as director of Polar Medical Operations.

    • Meenakshi Wadhwa

      Meenakshi ("Mini") Wadhwa studies the origin and evolution of the solar system and planets as the director of the Center for Meteorite Studies at Arizona State University.

      She has participated in long-duration field expeditions to collect meteorites in Antarctica and has been a science team member for the NASA Genesis and Mars Science Laboratory missions.

    • Dr. Rodney Brooks

      Rodney Brooks, is professor emeritus of robotics at MIT, is the founder, chairman, and CTO of Rethink Robotics, a company that is deploying low cost, safe, and easy- to- train, interactive humanoid robots in manufacturing; he also founded iRobot, where the Roomba was invented.

      He was also cofounder, CTO, and board member of iRobot Corporation (nasdaq: IRBT) and is the emeritus Panasonic Professor of Robotics at MIT, where he was director of the MIT Computer Science and Artificial Intelligence Laboratory (CSAIL) until 2007. Earlier he was on the faculty at Stanford University and a member of research staff at both Carnegie Mellon and MIT. He received his PhD in Computer Science from Stanford in 1981, after earning degrees in mathematics at the Flinders University of South Australia. He is a member of both the US National Academy of Engineering and of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, and also a Fellow of the IEEE, ACM, AAAI, and AAAS.

    • Brian Greene

      Brian Greene is a professor of physics and mathematics at Columbia University, and is widely recognized for a number of groundbreaking discoveries in superstring theory, including the co-discoveries of mirror symmetry and topology change. Green is the author of The Hidden Reality.

      His first book for general audiences, The Elegant Universe was a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize, and has sold more than a million copies worldwide. His more recent books, The Fabric of the Cosmos and The Hidden Reality, were both New York Times bestsellers, and inspired the Washington Post to call him “the single best explainer of abstruse concepts in the world today.” Greene’s latest project, World Science U, brings science education online with innovative digital courses available to anyone with an interest in science.

      Greene makes frequent media appearances on programs such as Charlie Rose, The Colbert Report and David Letterman. He has hosted two NOVA specials, based on The Elegant Universe and The Fabric of the Cosmos, which were nominated for four Emmy Awards and won a George Foster Peabody Award. Professor Greene is co-director of Columbia’s Institute for Strings, Cosmology, and Astroparticle Physics, and with producer Tracy Day, he is co-founder of the World Science Festival.

    • Irene Pepperberg

      Irene Pepperberg, author of Alex & Me and research associate at Harvard University, studies language and cognition in African grey parrots, first and most famously Alex. She has found the birds can learn to count and can remember 100 words for categories such as size and color.

      Pepperberg received her SB from MIT (1969) and MA (1971) and Ph.D. (1976) from Harvard. She is currently a Research Associate and Lecturer in the Department of Psychology at Harvard.

      She has been an Adjunct Associate Professor at Brandeis University's Psychology Department, and a visiting associate professor at MIT's Media Lab, later accepting a research scientist position there, leaving a tenured professorship at the University of Arizona. She has also taught at Northwestern and Purdue Universities. She has been a Fellow at the Radcliffe Institute of Advanced Study, won a John Simon Guggenheim Foundation Fellowship, was an alternate for the Cattell Award for Psychology, won the 2000 Selby Fellowship (Australian Academy of Sciences), won the 2005 Frank Beach Award for best paper in comparative psychology, was nominated for the 2000 Weizmann, L'Oreal, and Grawemeyer Awards, the 2001 Quest Award (Animal Behavior Society) and was renominated for the 2001 L'Oreal Award. She has also received fellowships from the Harry Frank Guggenheim and Whitehall Foundations, and numerous grants from the National Science Foundation. Her book, The Alex Studies, describing over 20 years of peer-reviewed experiments on Grey parrots, received favorable mention from publications as diverse as the New York Times and Science. Her memoir, Alex & Me, was a New York Times bestseller. She has presented her findings nationally and internationally at universities and scientific congresses, often as a keynote or plenary speaker, and has published numerous journal articles, reviews, and book chapters. She is a fellow of the Animal Behavior Society, the American Psychological Association, the American Psychological Society, the American Ornithologists' Union, AAAS, the Eastern and Midwest Psychological Associations, and presently serves as consulting editor for three journals and as associate editor for The Journal of Comparative Psychology. She is president of The Alex Foundation, has been a board member of Thinking Animals and currently serves as a board member of the Eastern Psychological Association.

    • Karen Wynn

      Karen Wynn, the director of the Infant Cognition Center at Yale University, studies the development of morality by preverbal infants, how they grasp older humans and other objects, and their understanding of counting. Her work was the subject of a 2012 story on the CBS series 60 minutes

      Karen Wynn has received numerous awards and honors, including a Troland Research Award from the National Academy of Sciences, and a Distinguished Scientific Award for Early Career Contribution to Psychology from the American Psychological Association for her pioneering research documenting addition and subtraction abilities in 5-month-old human infants. She has also received a James McKeen Cattell Foundation Sabbatical Award. She is a Fellow of the Association for Psychological Science.

      Karen Wynn received her Ph.D in Cognitive Science in 1990 from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, and her B.A. in Psychology in 1985 from McGill University. She has been a Visiting Scholar at The Central European University (Budapest), University College London (London), Korea University (Seoul), and the SAGE Center for the Study of Mind at UCSB (Santa Barbara).

    • Roz Chast

      Cartoonist Roz Chast is a brilliant interpreter of the everyday. Her cartoons depict neuroses, hilarity, angst, and domesticity and are loaded with words, objects and patterns. More than 1000 of them have been printed in The New Yorker since 1978.

      Since then, nine collections have been published of Chast's work, most recently, Theories of Everything, a twenty-five year retrospective. Roz Chast is known for her cast of recurring characters - generally hapless but relatively cheerful "everyfolk." In her cartoons, she addresses the issues of our time: guilt, anxiety, aging, families, friends, money, real estate, and as she would say, "much, much more!" The editor of The New Yorker, David Remnick, has called her "the magazine's only certifiable genius." She recently collaborated with Steve Martin on the children's book The Alphabet from A to Y with Bonus Letter Z! published by Random House. Her children's book, Too Busy Marco, was published by Simon & Schuster and released in the Fall of 2010. The sequel, Marco Goes to School was released in 2012. Her most recent book for adults, What I Hate: From A – Z was published by Bloomsbury in October 2011. She has illustrated a book with songwriter Stephen Merritt called 101 Two-Letter Words to be published in Fall 2014. Her newest book is Can’t We Talk about Something More Pleasant?, a book that chronicles her relationship with her aging parents as they shift from independence to dependence. Using handwritten text, drawings, photographs, and her keen eye for the foibles that make us human, Chast addresses the realities of what it is to get old in America today – and what it is to have aging parents today -- with tenderness and candor, and a good dose of her characteristic wit. Can't We Talk about Something More Pleasant is a New York Times bestseller, 2014 National Book Award Finalist, and winner of the 2014 Kirkus Prize.

      Chast grew up in Brooklyn. She received a BFA in 1977 from Rhode Island School of Design with studies in graphic design and painting, but returned to the cartooning which she had begun in high school. Less than two years out of college, she was added to the forty or so artists under contract to The New Yorker which has continually published her work for 33 years, from black and white cartoons to color spreads, back pages and covers. In addition she has provided cartoons and editorial illustrations for almost fifty magazines and journals from Mother Jones to Town & Country. She has illustrated several children's books and contributed to many humor collections, lectured widely and received several prestigious awards including honorary degrees from Pratt Institute and the Art Institute of Boston. In 2013 she was inducted as a member of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences. Roz Chast lives in Connecticut with her family and several parrots.

    • Jim Meskimen

      Jim Meskimen is a voice actor and impersonator extraordinaire who has voiced numerous characters, and created some of them as a cartoonist. Jim has also appeared in movies such as the Ron Howard films Apollo 13, The Grinch, and Frost/Nixon.

    • Robert Sabuda

      Called "the reigning prince of pop-up books" by the Wall Street Journal, and described as an "eye-popping...storyteller meets architect" by the New York Times, Robert Sabuda turns ordinary paper into 3-D masterpieces that he threads together into stories that dance, twist, and twirl.