Skip to main content Skip to navigation
Department of Sociology Previous WJW Honorees
Nalini Nadkarni, 2015 keynote speaker,WJ Wilson Symposium2015: Nalini Nadkarni

Nalini Nadkarni is known as “the Queen of the Forest Canopy.” She is a professor of biology at the University of Utah and a forest ecologist who studies rainforest canopy organisms and their interactions in tropical rainforests. She is a passionate communicator about nature and science to people in all walks of life. She has innovated science engagement and conservation programs that bring lectures, experiential learning, and conservation projects to non-traditional public audiences, such as faith-based groups, urban youth, artists, modern dancers, rap singers, legislators, and incarcerated men and women.

Nadkarni has written more than 110 scientific articles and three scholarly books, including “Between Earth and Sky: Our Intimate Connections to Trees,” published by University of California Press. Her recent awards include the National Science Foundation Public Service Award, the American Association for the Advancement of Science Award for Public Engagement, and the Archie Carr Medal for Conservation. Her work is supported by the National Science Foundation and the National Geographic Society.

More information at nalininadkarni.com

Robert Sampson is the Harvard University Henry Ford II Professor of the Social Sciences; Director of the Social Sciences Program at the Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Study and the author of the new book, "Great American City." He was photographed in Inman Square. Rose Lincoln/ Harvard Staff Photographer2013: Robert J. Sampson

In recognition of significant contributions to social policy, promotion of social inclusiveness and diversity, and reduction of joblessness.

Renowned sociologist and criminologist Robert J. Sampson studies crime, urban inequality, the life course, neighborhood effects, civic engagement, and the social structure of the contemporary city. The paperback edition of his most recent book—Great American City: Chicago and the Enduring Neighborhood Effect—was published in June 2013 by the University of Chicago Press.

Sampson is the Henry Ford II Professor of the Social Sciences at Harvard University. Former President of the American Society of Criminology, he is a member of the National Academy of Sciences and a fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences and the American Philosophical Society. He received the Stockholm Prize in Criminology in 2011.

David Simon2011: David Simon

David Simon is a Baltimore-based journalist, author, and television producer. Born in Washington, he came to Baltimore in 1983 to work as a crime reporter at The Baltimore Sun. While at the paper, he reported and wrote two works of narrative non-fiction, Homicide: A Year On The Killing Streets and The Corner: A Year in the Life of an Inner-City Neighborhood, the former an account of a year spent with the city homicide squad and the latter about a year spent on a West Baltimore drug corner.

Homicide became the basis for the NBC drama Homicide: Life on the Street, which aired from 1993 to 1999 and for which Simon worked as a writer and producer after leaving The Sun in 1995. The Corner became an HBO miniseries and won three Emmy Awards in 2000. The Wire, a subsequent HBO drama, aired from 2002 to 2008 and depicted a dystopic American city contending with a fraudulent drug war, the loss of its industrial base, political and educational systems incapable of reform, and a media culture oblivious to all of the above.

Also in 2008, Simon served as a writer and executive producer of HBO’s Generation Kill, a miniseries depicting U.S. Marines in the early days of the Iraq conflict. He is currently at work on the third season of an HBO drama about post-Katrina New Orleans entitled Treme. Simon writes prose for The New Yorker, Esquire, and The Washington Post, among other publications.

Learn more about David Simon »

William Julius Wilson2009: William Julius Wilson

William Julius Wilson is currently the Lewis P. and Linda L. Geyser University Professor at Harvard University. He is the author of numerous publications, including The Declining Significance of Race, winner of the American Sociological Association Sydney Spivack Award, and The Truly Disadvantaged, which was selected by the editors of the New York Times Book Review as one of the 16 best books of 1987 and received the Washington Monthly Annual Book Award and the Society for the Study of Social Problems C. Wright Mills Award.

When Work Disappears: The World of the New Urban Poor, was chosen as one of the notable books of 1996 by the editors of the New York Times Book Review and received the Sidney Hillman Foundation Award. Other significant works include The Bridge over the Racial Divide: Rising Inequality and Coalition Politics and More Than Just Race: Being Black and Poor in the Inner City.

Wilson is also co-author of There Goes the Neighborhood: Racial, Ethnic, and Class Tensions in Four Chicago Neighborhoods and Their Meaning for America and Good Kids in Bad Neighborhoods: Successful Development in Social Context.

Named one of Time magazine’s 25 Most Influential People of 1996, Wilson also has received the Seidman Award in Political Economy (the first and only non-economist to receive the award), Golden Plate Achievement Award, Washington State University Distinguished Alumnus Award, American Sociological Association Dubois, Johnson, Frazier Award (for significant scholarship in the field of inter-group relations), American Sociological Association Award for Public Understanding of Sociology, and Martin Luther King Jr. National Award (granted by the Southern Christian Leadership Conference, Los Angeles).

Learn more about William Julius Wilson »