Different: Primatologist Frans de Waal in Conversation with Isabella Rossellini

Eminent primatologist Frans de Waal might liken a power struggle among chimpanzees, replete with schmoozing and scheming, to an episode of Succession. de Waal has drawn parallels between primate behaviors at times to hilarious effect, like when a capuchin monkey pelts a lab assistant with a cucumber, and at times to terrible effect, like when a bonobo orphan suffers the unmistakable pain of emotional trauma.

Though our similarities abound, so do our differences. Isabella Rossellini–a student of animal behavior and the creator of the natural sciences video series Green Porno–will join Frans de Waal to discuss his most recent book, Different. With humor, clarity, and compassion, de Waal argues that biology must not be used to justify existing gender inequalities and prejudices in human society as he pushes against decades of outdated extrapolations that have proven hard to dislodge from public discourse.

Please join us in the garden for stargazing, if weather permits, with the Amateur Astronomers Association and delicious eats provided by Makina Cafe.

About the Guest

Frans de Waal is a Dutch/American biologist and primatologist, whose scientific work has been published in hundreds of technical articles in prominent journals. He also has published over a dozen popular books — translated into twenty languages — which have made him one of the world's most visible primatologists. His latest books are Are We Smart Enough to Know How Smart Animals Are? (2016), Mama's Last Hug (2019), and most recently Different: Gender Through the Eyes of a Primatologist (2022). De Waal is C. H. Candler Professor Emeritus at Emory University, in Atlanta, and Distinguished Professor Emeritus at Utrecht University, in the Netherlands. He has been elected to the (US) National Academy of Sciences, the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, and the Royal Dutch Academy of Sciences. In 2007, he was selected by Time as one of The Worlds' 100 Most Influential People Today. Being editor-in-chief of the journal Behaviour, de Waal has stepped in the footsteps of Niko Tinbergen, one of the founders of ethology.

About the Host

Isabella Rossellini started her career as a model. She graced the cover of over 500 magazines, including 24 covers of Vogue, and has modeled for the cosmetic company Lancôme for over 40 years. Isabella made her cinematic debut as an actress in 1979 in the Taviani brothers’ film Il Prato (The Meadow.) Since that time she has worked with a wide-range of directors including Robert Zemeckis, David O. Russell, Robert Wilson, Taylor Hackford, Marjane Satrapi, Peter Weir, David Lynch and Guy Maddin. Her best known films are Blue Velvet, Wild at Heart, White Nights, Rodger Dodger, Cousins, Death Becomes Her, Fearless, The Saddest Music in the World, Big Night, and Joy.

Recently Isabella has a recurring role in the HBO-MAX series Julia, she is currently touring her theatrical monologue she has written Darwin’s Smile directed by Muriel Mayette and has completed shooting for the film Conclave directed by Edward Berger and Chimera directed by Alice Rohrwacher. Both films are expected to be released in 2023. She also lent her voice to several animations including this year's Academy Award Nomination Marcel the Shell, Disney- Pixar’s The Incredibles, and Julio Torres Problemista.

Isabella has a master’s degree in Animal Behavior and Conservation and has received a PhD Honoris Causa from the Science Faculty at UQAM (University of Quebec at Montreal). She won several Webby awards for the short film series she wrote and directed Green Porno, Seduce Me, and Mammas that offer comical and scientifically insightful studies of animal behavior. She toured extensively in US, Canada, Europe and Australia with her theatrical monologues that include, beside Darwin’s Smile,Green Porno and Link Link Circus. Isabella grew up in Paris and Rome. She is the daughter of actress Ingrid Bergman and director Roberto Rossellini. She resides in Brookhaven NY at her farm Mama Farm. She is a mother of two and a grandmother.

This event is supported by Science Sandbox, a Simons Foundation initiative dedicated to engaging everyone with the process of science.