2016-2017 Programs


Our 2016-2017 programs are scheduled for next season. If you have not yet joined or renewed your membership, please send your check of $35* made out to “Vassar Brothers Institute” to:

Vassar Brothers Institute

P.O. Box 3342

Poughkeepsie, NY 12603

$35 membership* includes admission for two to all 10 Programs

*($140 value at single admission rate of $7 per person)

For Membership information and questions please call: (845) 462-7308

Travel & Adventure Programs at

Poughkeepsie High School Auditorium

7:30pm (Doors open at 6:45pm)

November 2, 2016

John Holod

Natural Wonders of the Southeast Coast

Explore the many wonders of our Southeast Coast – from Virginia Beach to Key West; and yes, with John’s famous humor to boot! See where the Wright Brothers first took flight in the Outer Banks, discover the diverse wild life of the Georgian salt marshes, and scuba dive with the sharks in the Keys!

November 9, 2016

Ryan Pyle

Tough Rides – Brazil with Ryan Pyle

Get ready for an amazing ride! Renowned producer, director and adventurer Ryan Pyle takes us for a ride on his cross-country motorcycle across Brazil and back. Venture deep into the Amazon, hang glide from the tallest ledge, inspect a coffee plantation, fish for piranha, climb to the mountain top, all while encountering many friendly Brazilians.

Patricia Keith

November 16, 2016

Patricia Keith

Not a Day Goes By: Remembering Hells Canyon

Join Patricia Keith as she makes her way through America’s deepest gorge, meeting the ranchers who still eke out a living in this well-named canyon. Patricia weaves her own canyon travels with vintage stock shot by earlier explorers who also traveled through this most remote part of our great northwest.

November 30, 2016

Steve McCurdy

Scenes from an Italian Journey

Experience Steve’s passion for Italy through the many scenes he puts before us: the glorious art of Rome, the pastry chefs near Florence, the fresh cheese of shepherds in Sardegna, and the Good Friday procession of Sicily. All this coupled with Steve’s deeply-felt, marvelously-descriptive commentary. Remarkable!

December 7, 2016

Sandy Mortimer

Jordan & Israel: More Stories from the Holy Lands

Experience Steve’s passion for Italy through the many scenes he puts before us: the glorious art of Rome, the pastry chefs near Florence, the fresh cheese of shepherds in Sardegna, and the Good Friday procession of Sicily. All this coupled with Steve’s deeply-felt, marvelously-descriptive commentary. Remarkable!


January 18, January 25, February 8

7:30 p.m. to 9:15 p.m.

(Doors open at 7:00 p.m.)

The 2017 series will be at 7:30 p.m. on January 18, January 25 and February 8. As in the past, each program will consist of an understandable talk by a scientist involved in research on the topic, and an opportunity for questions from the audience. Brochures giving speakers, and subjects and the location will be distributed in January. The purpose of these lectures is to bring together the general public and scientists to explore topics of interest and importance to everyone. Admission is free.

7:30 p.m. to 9:15 p.m.

(Doors open at 7:00 p.m.)

Our Lady of Lourdes High School

131 Boardman Road

Poughkeepsie, NY 12603

January 18, 2017

7:30 PM “MUSIC BY ARLINGTON HIGH SCHOOL PHILHARMONIA(a 45 student string orchestra conducted by Jonathan Handman).


Speaker: Dr. Ana Luz Porzecanski

The American Museum of Natural History (AMNH) New York, NY

The AMNH is presenting a new bilingual exhibition about Cuba’s rich biodiversity and culture from 11/21/2016 through 08/13/2017. Dr. Porzecanski co-curated this exhibition with Dr. Chris Raxworthy of AMNH and in collaboration with colleagues at the Cuban National Museum of Natural History.The exhibition explores the extraordinary biodiversity across the island’s remote forests, deep caves, expansive wetlands and dazzling reefs. It also highlights Cuba’s culture and life- including art, music, spiritual traditions, food and farming. The talk will present highlights of co-curating this exhibition.

Dr. Porzecanski is the Director of the Center for Biodiversity and Conservation at AMNH. She obtained her undergraduate degree in biological sciences from the Universidad de la Republica, Uruguay and her Ph.D. degree from Columbia University. She has over a decade of experience coordinating and leading conservation capacity development projects, designing teaching materials for university professors and conservation professionals and leading professional development for diverse educator audiences in Latin America, Africa and United States.

January 25, 2017


(Conducted by Rich Guillen)


Speaker: Dr. Lee Dugatkin

University of Louisville,

Louisville, KY

We humans display acts of kindness and generosity. As it turns out, nonhumans are also good to one another, sacrificing to help those around them. But why? Why do both humans and animals show such altruistic, self-sacrificial behavior? Scientists and philosophers have long pondered these questions. In a fast moving, action packed talk, I will bring us up to date on what we know and what we don’t know about the roots of goodness by focusing on both the fascinating history of the subject, which includes true stories that are the stuff of movies, and the latest, cutting edge research in the field of evolution and behavior, including my own work on altruism.

Dr. Lee Dugatkin is a Professor of Biology and holds the rank of University Scholar at the University of Louisville. His two main areas of research are evolutionary biology and history of science. He is the author of ten books and over 150 papers. He has spoken about his research and his books at over 125 universities around the world including in England, Denmark, Sweden, Hungary, Taiwan, Russia, New Zealand, Australia, Romania, Mongolia, Norway and Turkey.

February 8, 2017


(30 person string orchestra conducted by Jonathan Handman)


Speaker: Dr. James Green

NASA Headquarters, Washington, DC

About 4.5 billion years ago a supernova exploded causing a nearby interstellar cloud to collapse creating our solar system. What emerged first was our sun blowing the lighter gases outward, allowing the heavier elements to remain in the inner solar system forming our terrestrial planets. We are so lucky to have Venus and Mars, two terrestrial planets that are similar to earth. Comparative planetology tells as that terrestrial planetary atmospheres have been in the process of continual change based on the extent of their sources and sinks. We are finding startling parallels in which both Venus and Mars had environments that would have been habitable for life, as we know it, in their distant past. The results of these studies can also tell us about the evolution of our earth’s atmosphere and what we should be looking for to determine if some of the newly discovered terrestrial` planets orbiting distant stars could also be habitable.

Dr. James Green became the Director of Planetary Science Division at NASA Headquarters in 2006. He received his Ph.D. degree in Physics from the University of Iowa. He has written over 115 scientific articles.

Travel & Adventure Programs at

Poughkeepsie High School Auditorium

70 Forbus Street, Poughkeepsie, NY

7:30pm (Doors open at 6:45pm)

February 15, 2017

Marlin Darrah

Hawaii & the South Pacific

Become energized by our visit to the islands of Hawaii. You’ll sense the fresh, floral air and warm, tranquil waters, as you gaze upon the breathtaking natural beauty. From Hawaii we’ll visit the islands of French Polynesia: the mystique of legendary Tahiti and the eye-rubbing beauty of Moorea. But we’ll also meet some of the modern-day, friendly inhabitants of this remote paradise.

Dennis Burkhardt

February 22, 2017

Dennis Burkhardt

Our National Parks: Sunrise to Sunset

Where America’s wilderness comes alive. Havens for animals and for people. These parks have changed people’s lives. Join Dennis as he explores the Great Smokeys, Voyageurs, the Grand Tetons, Yellowstone, Crater Lake, Mount Rainier, Yosemite, Olympic, Glacier, Death Valley, the Grand Canyon and more. Come away refreshed by the timeless beauty of these unique corners of our country.

March 1, 2017

Marlin Darrah

Secrets of Ancient Egypt

Trace the steps of Jesus and his family in Egypt, during the missing years in the Bible. Visit the Coptic churches and the teeming back streets of Cairo. And visit the ancient world of the Pharaohs: the Great Pyramids, the great step-pyramid of Sakkara, the Temples of Luxor and Karnak, and much more.

March 8, 2017

Joe Medeiros

Mona Lisa is Missing!

Did you know the Mona Lisa was stolen? And that she was missing for nearly 2 ½ years? Joe will give us the how and why in his fascinating film about the unbelievable 1911 theft of Leonardo da Vinci’s most famous masterpiece. Follow this story from Paris to Italy, where we uncover the truth behind the “greatest art heist in history”.

Friday, March 31, 2017

Classic Films Night at the Bardavon

Around the World In 80 Days

You and your membership partner are invited to attend for free! Just show your VBI membership cards. Park in the municipal lot behind the Bardavon. Trustees will be on hand to assist. In addition, you and any others in your party may attend any other classic movies at the Bardavon or Ulster Performing Arts Center for $1 off the regular price of $6 each. Again, just show your VBI membership card.

2016-2017 Officers

Maung S. Htoo, President, Ph.D.

Edwin E. Fitchett, Vice-President

Edmund Lynch III, Secretary

Arne C. Christensen, Treasurer

Board of Trustees

John H. Bickford

Robert Brickner

Arne C. Christensen

Edwin E. Fitchett

Cliff Foley

Stephen Friedland, M.D.

James Holmgren

Margaret A. Horton

Maung S. Htoo, Ph.D.

Steven C. Johnson

Edmund Lynch III

Arthur B. McComb

Paolo Nigis

Lorne E. Richards

Mary Louise VanWinkle, Ph.D.

Judy Walters