National Geographic Live! Speakers at McKendree's Hett Center

NASA Engineer, Wildlife Photographer, Egyptologist

(LEBANON, Ill., August 9, 2018) — Unravel the mysteries of the Red Planet, view wildlife through a photographer’s lens, and explore the realms of powerful ancient queens. McKendree University’s Hettenhausen Center for the Arts is proud to host three compelling speakers from National Geographic Live! in 2018-2019. Reserved seats are $50 for a three-program package or, individually, $20 adults ($18 seniors, $10 students and children). Call the Hett box office at 618-537-6863 or visit for tickets. All programs start at 7:30 p.m.

Sept. 14: “Exploring Mars.” Engineer Kobie Boykins of NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory is on the front line of Mars exploration. As supervisor of the mobility and remote sensing teams for the rover Curiosity, he has monitored headline-making studies, including proof of the former presence of water on Mars. He will recount the challenges and triumphs of the Mars exploration rover missions, sharing images and discoveries that continue to come from the Red Planet.

Boykins designed the solar arrays that power the exploration rovers Spirit and Opportunity. Landing on Mars in 2004, Opportunity was designed to survive a mission lasting approximately 90 days. Remarkably, it continues to traverse the surface of Mars, sending back valuable scientific data. Boykins also was responsible for the design of actuators on Curiosity, the Mars Science Laboratory, which landed safely in 2012.

Oct. 17: “On the Trail of Big Cats.” Wildlife photographer Steve Winter has spent more than 20 years leading photographic expeditions to remote locations around the world. He has produced stories for GEO, Time, Newsweek, Natural History, BusinessWeek and Scientific American, and published more than 30 articles and two books with National Geographic, including his 2013 photography book, “Tigers Forever: Saving the World’s Most Endangered Cat.” Winter is known for his photography and conservation efforts involving jaguars, cougars, leopards, snow leopards, and—the most critically endangered of all—tigers. His dedication has made him a cornerstone of the National Geographic Big Cats Initiative, a long-term commitment to stop poaching, preserve habitats, and support education to halt extinction.

Jan. 23, 2019:When Women Ruled the World.” Dr. Kara Cooney, professor of Egyptian art and architecture at UCLA, examines a time in ancient history when women ruled the world. Often neglected in the history books, they were exceptions to the rule, political pawns in a patriarchal society, yet their power and influence is undeniable. Cleopatra used her sexuality and her money to build alliances with warlords of the Roman Empire. Neferusobek was the first woman to take definitively the title of king. Nefertiti is known more for her beauty than for bringing a fractured Egypt together.

Specializing in craft production, coffin studies, and economies in the ancient world, Cooney received a doctorate in Egyptology from Johns Hopkins University. In 2005 she co-curated “Tutankhamun and the Golden Age of the Pharoahs” at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art.


Kobie Boykins

NASA Engineer Kobie Boykins, who supervises the mobility and remote sensing teams for the Mars rover Curiosity, will speak at McKendree University’s Hett Center on Sept. 14.