MU Life Sciences and Society Program
Joy of Discovery in the Christopher S. Bond Life Sciences Center
Life Sciences and Society Program
105h Bond Life Sciences Center
University of Missouri
Columbia, MO 65211

Phone: (573) 884-6883


LSSP Director, Mary K. Shenk

The Life Sciences & Society Program welcomes Mary K. Shenk as program Director starting July 2014. She is assisted by an advisory board.

Dr. Shenk is excited to continue the tradition of hosting the annual LSSP Symposium that brings scholars of international renown to campus centered around a theme at the intersection of the life sciences and society. She is also committed to facilitating the LSSP working groups, promoting interdisciplinary research, coordinating graduate and undergraduate courses, and promoting dialogue between researchers and the public.

Shenk is an Associate Professor of Anthropology whose research combines evolutionary, economic, and demographic approaches to the study of marriage, family, inheritance, and kinship. Key themes in her work include the economics of marriage, the causes of the demographic transition to smaller families, the functions of human kinship systems, and the foundations of social inequality. She has conducted extensive fieldwork in India and Bangladesh, and her research has been funded by the National Science Foundation, the National Institutes of Health, and the National Evolutionary Synthesis Center.

LSSP Leadership History

Stefani Engelstein led the LSSP from Fall 2009 to Spring 2014. While Director of the LSSP, Stefani Engelstein built the program into a vibrant center for investigations of the impact and influence of science on society and society on science, and encouraged an exchange of questions and methodologies across disciplines, schools, and colleges. She facilitated the creation of flexible research groups in accordance with the needs of researchers.  By expanding the scope of the annual symposium and choosing topics of wide interest to the public, Engelstein developed an annual event that generated intellectual excitement on and off campus year-round and cemented creative working relationships.

Professors Phil Peters and Leonie Marks directed the LSSP over the 2000-06 period, followed by Nicholas Kalaitzandonakes from 2006-07. An active steering committee of fourteen people from six schools and twelve departments was instrumental to the establishment of the program.