Opening Reception: Science As Art

Thursday, May 18th at 5:30pm at Comcast’s XFINITY Studio

We welcome you to join us at the Chicago Science Festival’s opening reception, “Science as Art!”

Come and view award-winning science art from the National Science Foundation’s Visualization Challenge and Northwestern University’s Scientific Image Contest. Enjoy drinks and snacks and mingle with local scientists who will explain the science behind the art. The reception is free and open to the public but requires advance registration.

Chicago Science Festival

Saturday, May 20th at 10:00am to 5:00pm at 1871

Come for a day full of exciting science talks and interactive demonstrations aimed at people like you! The Fest will feature hourly talks by Chicago-area scientists. Between talks, you can visit any of our interactive demonstrations, where you can learn about solar panels, view the first-ever live demonstration of the Oleo Sponge, test-drive electric cars and eat edible bugs!

Here are some of the exciting speakers and demos we will be featuring:

Jack Gilbert, Ph.D.

Faculty Director, The Microbiome Center at the University of Chicago

Did you know your body contains about as many bacterial cells as it does human cells? Bacteria live all over your gut, in your saliva, and on your skin, and they do a lot more for us than we once thought. Is your reaction to that “Eeew!” or “Cool!”? Your microbiome aids your digestive system, prevents disease, and even affects your behavior! So what does that mean for our diets? Do our homes need to be more clean, or actually less?

Jack Gilbert, PhD, will take you into the world of the unseen to explore the hidden benefits of your microbiome. Dr. Gilbert studies how the bacteria in animals, plants, the soil, the oceans, and the air interact with each other to aid in human and plant health. He is releasing a new book June 6th, entitled “Dirt Is Good: The Advantage of Germs for Your Child’s Developing Immune System,” which you can pre-order here.

John Herrmann, D.V.M., M.P.H.

Professor, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign

Things sure have changed for marijuana’s reputation in recent years! Any experience with it used to disqualify candidates from office. Now, it’s legal for medical or recreational use in many states, but it still strictly regulated at the federal level. But what’s the actual

But what’s the actual science behind it? What’s an endocannabinoid and why is it important? Some claim marijuana, smoked or eaten, can alleviate or cure an extraordinary array of diseases, and yet the medical community isn’t its biggest proponents. How come? What science research has been done about its physiological effects and possible therapeutic benefits, and what’s just anecdote? How good is that research?

Prof. Jack Herrmann of the University of Illinois will address these issues as well as provide an overview of Illinois’ law in comparison with other states’ and federal regulations. Come get straight answers on a hot-button topic, and get your questions answered by an expert.

Todd Kuiken, M.D., Ph.D.

Director, Center for Bionic Medicine at the Shirley Ryan AbilityLab at the Rehabilitation Institute of Chicago

From Steve Austin in The Six Million Dollar Man to Luke Skywalker in Star Wars, we have seen countless examples of robotic prostheses that rival or exceed our own biological limbs; but, how close are we to making these devices a reality?

Join Dr. Todd Kuiken, MD, PhD, as he shares his team’s research on advanced prosthetic limbs. This research includes surgical techniques remapping severed nerves onto new muscles, sophisticated algorithms to control arm prostheses by detecting patterns in muscle signals and leg prostheses by predicting a user’s gait, and a prosthetic arm designed to fit smaller adults and even the average 12 year old child.

Bobby Kasthrui, M.D., Ph.D

Neuroscience researcher, Argonne National Laboratory and Assistant Professor, University of Chicago

Your brain contains about 37 billion neurons and which all come together to form about one quadrillion (billion billion) connections between them. What is neuroscientist Bobby Kasthrui’s mission? To map all of them. For many neuroscientists, this ‘map’ of all your connections – called the ‘connectome’ – is the blueprint of an individual’s memories, skills, fears, and hopes.

Dr. Kasthrui has developed new electron microscopy and x-ray technology to map the “connectome,” the entire group of connections in the brain. Join him has he shows his 3D models of the brain, which show all of the cells in your pristine detail. They are guaranteed to dazzle your mind. Recently, Wired Magazine challenged Dr. Kasthrui to explain the concept of the connectome to five individuals at five different grade levels. You can see the video here.

Sarah "Sadie" Witkowski

PhD Candidate, Northwestern University Psychology Department, Brain, Behavior & Cognition Lab, and host of the PhDrinking podcast.

How do you feel about your alarm clock? Hate it, or never need one? A large majority of people do not get enough recommended sleep. What difference does that make? Apparently, a lot. Scientists are learning that the brain doesn’t have a ‘sleep mode’ like our laptops. Instead, our minds are hard at work sorting and storing memories from the previous day. But how do scientists even study sleeping people, and isn’t it boring? Very carefully, and no! For something you spend a1/3 of your life doing, it’s worth understanding better. Come hear about research looking into how sleep affects memory formation.

Bryan Dickinson, Ph.D.

Assistant Professor of Chemistry at the University of Chicago and Director of the Dickinson Group.

Modern biomedical research has lead to remarkable breakthroughs, such as sequencing the entire human genome and pinpointing the molecular basis for disease. However, translating this knowledge into therapies has in general been a frustrating SLOW process. How can it be done better and faster? Bryan Dickinson, PhD, uses a technique called directed evolution.

Evolution occurs very slowly in nature, so Dr. Dickinson’s lab is developing ways to take proteins and other biomolecules from natural sources and evolve them – on a very fast scale in the laboratory — to have exciting new properties. The idea is to create proteins with functions we desire, such as diagnosing or treating complex diseases. Similar to the way humans have created more crispy apples and healthier rice using biotechnology, our approach has the potential to speed up evolution to generate smart therapies promising more effective and safer treatments for complex diseases such as cancer and aging. Do you think you understand evolution? Come hear about fascinating work and get a whole new perspective!

Brian Ingram, Ph.D.

Materials Scientist at Argonne National Laboratory

Description coming soon!

Celeste Napier, Ph.D.

Professor of Pharmacology and Director of the Center for Compulsive Behavior and Addiction at Rush University

Description coming soon!

Our demos will include:

Taste-Test Edible Bugs

Bugs are full of protein and they are much more sustainable than livestock. Taste-test some fried meal worms or cookies made with cricket flour and learn how bugs are the superfood of the future.

Ride & Drive Electric Cars

Come test drive the latest plug-in electric cars and learn about local efforts to make Chicago the EV capitol!  While there, check out the all-electric Formula Race Car brought to us by the University of Illinois’ Formula SAE Team! All on the front driveway of The Merchandise Mart.

Solar panels

Solar power is one of the most sustainable forms of energy, and solar panels are becoming cheaper by the day. Learn about how the sun can power your home and save you money.

The Oleo Sponge

The Oleo sponge was invented at Argonne National Laboratory. It is the only reusable sponge in the world that can selectively pick up oil from water and leave all the water behind. It is truly a sight to behold!

More Demos to Come!

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