Matilda White Riley Lecture 2016 Introduction

Matilda White Riley Lecture 2016 Introduction


>>Bill Elwood: Well
then welcome. Buenos dias. Good morning. Bienvenido. Welcome to Real Life
Labs Research, our ninth observance of
Matilda White Riley, and the first day-long
celebration that OBSSR is presenting, to celebrate the
unique contributions of social and behavioral
research to human health and well-being. You know, unlike cells in
wet labs or model animals in cages and glass fixtures,
people are much more unruly and much more difficult to
engage in experiments. And people are not knockout
mice, and so they behave in many
more unexpected ways than many model animals. And that’s where our areas
of science come together, to bring those discoveries
to human health and well-being. And that’s part of the
reason we’ve titled, we given Real Life Labs
Research as the surtitle to today’s events. Here you can see some
of our rules. We have an extra-long
lunch today. That’s our only
official break, but we do have a place for
your to write your areas of interest, so when you do
break, you can know what to ask
your distinguished colleagues about. We will have spaces in
between the events with some video interludes. If you do need to pop out,
then that’s a great time to do it. We will have short
introductions because there are biographies in our very
nice booklet that we’ve put together for your enjoyment. So there’s no need to read
them again to you word for word. Some of you are familiar
with the life and work of Matilda White Riley. Some of you may not, and I
won’t read those biographies to you either. I’ll just point out some of
the highlights. We’ve named this day for
her, because at age 20, at a time when women were
expected to do many things, but not publish a book on
motor less flight, she did that, at age 20 in
1930. At age 68, when she was more
than tenured at Rutgers University, she took up an
NIH Director’s offer to come to Bethesda, Maryland, and
begin to integrate a program of behavioral and social
research into our agency. Her citations still inform
and inspire researchers today. Our distinguished scholar
Karen Lerman [phonetic sp.] cites her in her work. So does Sarah Mormon
[phonetic sp.]. So do countless
scholars today. A woman who left us at 88,
went to Bowdoin College to continue to participate in
teaching students and guiding dissertations up
until the day she died. Like other great women
like Eleanor Roosevelt, Matilda came from
some privilege, but she did not rest
on that privilege, and she used her position to
inspire and pave the way and mentor other human beings. Much like Vivian Pinn,
Yvonne Maddox, Ruth Kirschstein — I don’t
know if Matilda did it backwards and in high heels,
but given the time she lived in, I imagine she did it
every once in a while, on occasion. What’s not in any of the
biographies is where Matilda’s privilege came
from. Matilda’s grandfather was
Andy White, as in Andy White and Sons,
the great textile manufacturer. They wove thread, they made
sheeting fabric in the mills in Massachusetts. Matilda’s grandfather and
uncle died on the maiden voyage of the
Titanic, and Matilda, who was living with
her grandmother, watched her grandmother
scramble to figure out the estate and to run their
share of the family business from their home in Maine. I didn’t meet Matilda, but
her story inspires us, and her work
inspires many. My grandmother,
who raised me, raved about the White’s
thread. It was strong. It was supple. It worked well with the
bobbin — which I don’t understand how it works, but
there are two separate kinds of thread, and the Whites
made great thread for buttons that my mother sewed
on baby coats. Their thread was strong,
supple, and true. This diagram represents the
thread of Matilda’s life. This are the workers in the
nineteenth century. This small red dot is the
proportional number of college-educated women
in the workforce. This line, this thread, is
Matilda’s life-course trajectory. Born here a couple of years
before the Titanic sank and took away her family, out
into the twenty-first century. This is the number of
college-educated women in the workforce shaping social
behavioral sciences, health, and people’s lives in all
sorts of different ways. Matilda is the thread that
binds us all together, and inspires us to
contribute our own thoughts into the national
conversation to turn all kinds of discoveries into
better human health. So welcome. Enjoy our day, and let me
turn things over to OBSSR’s Director, and the agency’s
Associate Director for the Behavioral and Social
Sciences, Dr. Bill Riley.