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  • 37th Asilomar Conference - Feb 16-19, 2024

Event details

37th Asilomar Conference - Feb 16-19, 2024

  • February 16, 2024
  • 4:00 PM
  • February 19, 2024
  • 12:00 PM
  • Asilomar, 800 Asilomar Ave, Pacific Grove, CA


  • You will be asked for your email - if it matches our records, you will be offered a reduced rate.
  • You will be asked for your email - if it is not our records, select "Apply for membership". Wait a few days for our records to update, once you are approved you can sign up at the reduced rate. Or log in now if you are a member.


To register, we prefer you pay online via the black "REGISTER" buttonBut you may mail the coupon and a check by snail mail

37th Annual Asilomar Conference - February 16 – 19, 2024

Sign up at  or select “Events”, then “Current Asilomar”

Do NOT make a reservation at Asilomar. Information for reserving full room + meals will be sent to registrants in October.  Please wait for this, rather than reserving directly, since we are committed to 45 such full reservations.

The goal of liberal education is to understand the world in all its complexities, to challenge us and yes…  to make us uncomfortable from time to time. – Fred Lawrence, General Secretary, PBK Society

Once again, the antidote to news of fires, floods, fights and criminality – a new season for the PBKNCA Asilomar Conference in the Spring! It is again time to reserve your space for a fresh weekend of learning, inspiration, fellowship and a breath of sanity, on the magnificent Monterey coast! Past participants describe the weekend as “the best aspects of college, without the exams” and “the greatest high of the year – without drugs!” 

If you have questions on this year’s program, please contact For registration or logistics matters, please contact Barry Haskell at Registration is $150 (member rate), which goes in part to scholarships.  Lodging cost will be similar to last year, about $640 per person, double occupancy, and includes all nine meals and parking. All registered participants will receive forms to reserve their Asilomar accommodations, including meals; please check your email. (Remember, to be part of the PBKNCA package, do not reserve directly with the facility.) 

Please join us once again for the annual Asilomar Conference, where we gather to learn, engage in discussions, and to listen to one another in new ways. Speakers are still being confirmed; a sneak peek at what’s planned for 2024: 

Friday night:  Brant Robertson, Ph.D., PBK James Webb Space Telescope

 In December 2021, NASA launched the James Webb Space Telescope (JWST), the most powerful telescope ever put into space. Prof. Brant Robertson of UC Santa Cruz has been a leader in efforts to use JWST to study the early cosmos with remarkable success, including the discovery of the most distant galaxy known in the universe. In this presentation – an update to last year’s introduction to the Webb -- Prof. Robertson will share the newest discoveries with JWST and reveal how scientists find and study the faintest and most objects in the sky. 

Dr. Brant Robertson PhD is a Professor of Astronomy and Astrophysics at University of California, Santa Cruz. He previously held the Maureen and John Hendricks Visiting Professorship at the Institute for Advanced Study in Princeton NJ, an Assistant Professorship in Astronomy at University of Arizona, and a Hubble Fellowship at Caltech. He studies theoretical astrophysics, , and works in the scientific areas of galaxy formation and evolution. His research has been featured in the television programs 60 Minutes and COSMOS and covered by news media including TIME Magazine, the Washington Post, FOX News, and the BBC.

Saturday afternoon:  Michael Dylan Foster, Ph.D., PBK (?)

“The Persistence of the Kappa and Other Creatures of Japanese Folklore”

This talk introduces a panoply of Japanese folkloric creatures, often called yōkai. I start with the  kappa, a river imp found in legends and folktales throughout the Japanese archipelago. Although there are references to kappa-like beings in texts from over a thousand years ago, today this water goblin is more common than ever, infesting popular culture formats such as anime and video games. The kappa survives because of its mutability, its ability to adapt itself to the concerns of the given historical moment

Folkloric creatures like these are often dismissed as trivial or childish, but their persistence in the cultural imagination suggests that they actually reveal a great deal about how humans grapple with a complex and changing world. 

Michael Dylan Foster is a professor in the Department of East Asian Languages and Cultures at the University of California, Davis, and the recipient of a PBKNCA Teaching Excellence Award (2022). He teaches classes on Japanese folklore, heritage, tourism, and popular culture and is the author of “The Book of Yōkai: Mysterious Creatures of Japanese Folklore” and “Pandemonium and Parade: Japanese Monsters and the Culture of Yōkai”, as well as articles and reviews. Since 2022, he has served as the “Yōkai Navigator” for a television series about Japanese folkloric creatures on NHK World.

Sunday afternoon:  Robert Shanklin, Ph.D., PBK, Santa Clara University, Philosophy

Robert is specializes in Chinese philosophy and American Pragmatism. He has promised to create a talk directly relevant to contemporary issues or concerns…. 


Sunday night:  Kaherine Magoulick, Ph.D. Candidate, PBK (UC Berkeley) Integrative Biology

Katherine's work examines the controls on mammalian migration during the Great American Biotic Interchange (GABI). She uses the fossil record to study past migrations--why did some species migrate while others did not? During the period under study (approximately 2.5 million years ago), there was a series of migrations across the isthmus of Panama between North and South America. Her dissertation research focuses on establishing the ecological drivers of the patterns of dispersal and thereby, it is hoped, increase our ability to make predictive models to conserve living biota and improve our ability to predict how animals will move across the landscape as the climate changes.

Her research uses ecological niche modeling (ENM) to determine the extent to which climatic factors alone can account for the migration patterns or whether other factors such as predation intensity are needed to explain these patterns.

The broader impacts of this work range from strengthening online repositories of paleontological data to enhancing our understanding of how species will respond to ongoing global change.

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