Saturday, May 12th     10:00am – 5:30pm
1871 and MATTER Chicago at The Merchandise Mart, Chicago, IL, 60654
The Chicago Science Festival’s main “Science Expo” will feature a day full of exciting science talks and interactive demonstrations for curious people like you! Expo tickets get you access to ALL the talks by fascinating Chicago-area scientists — visit as many as you like.  In between talks you can visit an array of cool demonstrations, or test-drive an electric car!
10:00am – 11:00am

Joan Cook-Mills, Professor of Medicine, Allergy Division, Northwestern Medicine & Ruchi Gupta, MD, Associate Professor of Pediatrics & Medicine, Allergy Expert, Northwestern Medicine

Getting Beyond Scratching the Surface of Food Allergies

Food allergies are a big deal – affecting 1 in 13 US children. It’s an issue with many personal challenges and economic costs, even if you aren’t an allergy sufferer yourself. The cause of allergies, recent rise in their occurrence, and response, is a world filled with guesswork and rumor. But since we can’t conduct experiments on children, what’s to be done? Fortunately, scientists are making headway to replace speculation and anecdote with grounded research. Is the recent increase due to genetics or environment, or both? Is the link between skin reactions and eaten food? Why is it not distributed evenly across populations and how could race and income be a factor? Come hear from two closely related perspectives on this compelling topic — a basic researcher whose work with mice shows simple modifications in household practice and childcare may help, and a pediatrician at the forefront of treating patients with allergies who’s working to influence community response. This is a fascinating example of the interconnectedness of research and practice where clinical observations lead to research and research findings directly influence clinical practice.

Matthew Spenko, Associate Professor of Mechanical Engineering, IIT

Robots – What’s current, what’s coming, and what’s crazy

The almost daily reports of advances in robotics give the impression this technology will – (a) have disastrous consequences for us by destroying jobs and entire industries, (b) solve challenges currently impossible due to our limited human abilities, and/or (c) put us all in self-driving cars very soon eliminating car accidents. How is the average person to know which it is – what’s real in robotics and not just headline-grabbing claims?

Come hear from an expert researcher in robotics whose lab works on mobility challenges, navigation, and sensors for robots – work that’s critical to the success of autonomous vehicles. You’ll learn what areas of research are showing the most exciting prospects for near-term results and what still have a loooong way to go. Also, how such technology can and should be regulated. That is, what are robots currently doing, what might they tackle soon, and what will they never be able to do?

11:00am – 12:00noon

Peggy Mason, PhD, Professor of Neurobiology, The University of Chicago

The Neurobiology of Helping:  Are we naturally wired to help others, or not?

You probably think you’re a generally helpful person. Of course you are! But are you that way naturally or only because you were taught to be? We humans are known to be social creatures, but a classic philosophical questions is, “Is helping biological or cultural?” That’s now a scientific question that is being studied in rats. As it turns out, rats feel empathy and help each other out. These helpful rats can teach us about our own motivations to help or refrain from helping. Come hear the latest research on the bystander effect – diffusion of responsibility or astute assessment of the situation? You’ll walk away with a fresh perspective on rats….. and humans.

Dr. Mason is a contributor to the new book “Think Tank,” which will be available for purchase and signing at the event.

Lydia Hopper, Primate expert, Lincoln Park Zoo

Chimpanzees are copycats? A view into chimpanzee innovation and culture

Apes ape, and studying how they do it gives insight into the parallels and differences of how we learn from watching others. Social learning allows us to avoid reinventing the wheel and ultimately is the foundation for our diverse cultures and traditions. Chimpanzees also have behavioral traditions but their material culture is far less sophisticated than ours. Studying how they learn helps us understand why this is. Come learn from a Lincoln Park Zoo expert on nonhuman primates about creative ways the zoo uses touchscreens, eye trackers, and other problem-solving puzzles to study how primates learn. What makes a chimpanzee a good innovator? How faithfully can chimpanzees copy these innovators, and how do their social lives influence when and who they copy? This is a great opportunity to learn about our closest primate relatives!


Rachel Osofsky, Physicist, Fermi National Laboratory, PhD Candidate, University of Washington

The Muon g-2 Experiment at Fermilab: A Massive Experiment about Something Very Minuscule

We all likely remember learning about protons, neutrons, and electrons. But what do you know about some of the other subatomic particles – like the MUON – and why are physicists so unbelievably excited about the Muon g-2 experiment? It might be about the really big equipment required. Like the 17-ton, 50-foot wide circular electromagnet that was so important it was transported 3,200 miles down the east coast, then up the Mississippi River, and finally across closed highways to get to Fermilab. But it’s also because the experiment they’re working on could fundamentally change our understanding of particle interactions, which can open up a whole world of possibilities for physics! Come hear from a particle physicist how an experiment on this scale is done from the scientific side performing astoundingly precise measurements. And from the human side, how you have team meetings with over 200 physicists, and conference calls involving 8 countries? It’s guaranteed to be nothing at all like your current job, and therefore very fun to learn about!

1:00 – 2:00pm

Dr. Eimad Zakariya, MD, Board certified pathologist and Deputy Medical Examiner for Cook County

A Pathologist’s Perspective — Insights on Practice in the Cook County Medical Examiner’s Office

Have you ever wondered what happens in a medical examiner’s office? The morgue? Admit it, you probably have. Come hear from pathologist Dr. Eimad Zakariya, Cook County’s Deputy Medical Examiner. What’s the difference between a coroner and medical examiner? How has the role changed over the years? What actually happens in an autopsy procedure (not necessarily what you see on TV) and why? You’ll get insight into trends seen locally in homicides, drug deaths with things like heroin, fentanyl or similar drugs. You’ll also learn how risks of epidemics from contagious diseases are identified, and how unexpected deaths from things like heat waves are handled. This talk will be incredibly informative and filled with some surprising facts you’ll be eager to share.

Tesla Retail Energy Advisors

Tesla Tech Talk

Join us for a brief presentation on Tesla’s mission, which is to accelerate the world’s transition to sustainable energy. This is the perfect opportunity to learn exactly how to produce and store your own clean energy, day and night, and also how Tesla energy products can work together to power your home and charge an electric car.

2:00 – 3:00pm

Nina Kraus, PhD, Musician and Professor of Neurobiology & Physiology, Northwestern University

Healthy & Hurting Brains — What’s been learned about Music, Sound, and Concussion
Your brain is processing lots of sound right now as you read this and you don’t give it a second thought. It’s a complex and fascinating operation involving multiple parts of the brain that require attention, memory, identifying rhythms and patterns, and distinguishing what matters from the noise. How do we make sense of sound? How are our brains changed by a life in sound?

Turns out, music is a window into the brain. Research shows how musicians’ brains are different in several ways. Come learn how! Injury – concussions – can also give insight on the delicate, intricate job of hearing and processing sound. Since one can’t “fake” hearing specific sounds amid noise, focusing on sound could prove to be the much-needed test to identify concussions. Join us to hear important information and learn amid the noise of life.

Christine Rollinson, Forest Ecologist, Morton Arboretum

The looong past, present and future of trees – and us

We may appreciate trees because they are quiet, pretty, and undemanding; unlike so many things in our busy world. But, if we pay attention they can teach us extraordinary things – like telling us about the past and even predicting the future! Understanding trees over time shows what the Midwest landscape was before it was farmland. We can see how people and climate change have interacted, too. Trees give us insight into short- and long-term warming and cooling trends over time to understand the different impacts of climate change. Learn from a Forest Ecologist how a tree in your own yard connects to what’s happening in the whole region or country. Even if you live in an urban jungle, you’ll come away with a newfound appreciation for the wisdom of the trees!

3:00 – 4:00pm

Sadie Witkowski, PhD candidate, Sleep researcher, Northwestern University, Department of Brain, Behavior, and Cognition

Research on Sleep and the Lucid Dreaming Phenomenon

Did you watch Inception and leave the theater certain that dream control is a fun plot idea but not possible? What if we told you that you actually could control your dreams? Sadie Witkowski’s research focuses on the relation between sleep and memory, but she’s started researching lucid dreaming on the side (while awake). She’ll cover the history of scientific research on lucid dreaming, how lucid dreaming is studied today, and how it relates to sleep disorders and our understanding of consciousness. Plus, learn how to teach yourself to lucid dream!

Mark C. Serreze, Director of the National Snow and Ice Data Center, author of  “Brave New Arctic”

Brave New Arctic: The Untold Story of the Melting North

In the 1990s, researchers in the Arctic noticed that floating summer sea ice had begun receding. Scientists were left stumped by dramatic shifts in ocean circulation and unexpected changes in weather patterns around the world as the Arctic’s perennially frozen ground started warming, and treeless tundra began to be speckled with shrubs. What on earth was going on?

Mark Serreze, who has conducted extensive fieldwork in the Canadian Arctic on sea ice and icecaps, and on the Alaskan tundra, will provide a riveting insider account of how scientists from around the globe came together to find the answers. He will discuss Brave New Arctic: The Untold Story of the Melting North, his sweeping tale of discovery spanning three decades, describing how puzzlement turned to concern and astonishment as researchers came to understand that the Arctic of old was quickly disappearing – with potentially devastating implications for the entire planet.

Copies of “Brave New Arctic” will be available for purchase and signing at the event courtesy of Seminary Co-op Bookstore.

4:00 – 5:30pm

Clayton Brown & Monica Ross, Directors & Producers, 137 Films Company

Behind the scenes in documentary science filmmaking

Join us for a conversation — and lots of interesting film clips — with two filmmakers from the documentary world who’ve been telling compelling stories they find in the world of science for almost fifteen years.  Having backgrounds in fiction filmmaking and playwriting, Brown and Ross will discuss a number of their films, including “The Believers,” winner of Best Documentary at the Chicago International Film Festival 2012, “The Atom Smashers” about the search for the Higgs-Boson at Fermilab, as well as their upcoming film, “We Believe in Dinosaurs,” about the challenging battle in the U.S. between creationism and evolution. The floor will be open to your questions about doc science filmmaking, and free pizza and beer will be provided for this finale event of Science Expo.

Free pizza, beer and beverages for guests during this final Q&A of Science Expo day.



Protein-rich ‘future of food’ – Edible Insects by Michael Sherrillo

Virtual Reality experience of dance performance by

TeaBot creating custom self-serve teas from a robot by

Do-It-Yourself synthetic biology from

Prosthetic Limbs – Center for Bionic Medicine, Shirley Ryan AbilityLab

Augmented Reality Kinetic Sandbox from

X-Ray Fluorescence Spectrometry (test your metals & jewelry!) from

Chicago Area Clean Cities

Seminary Co-op Bookstore


SCIENCE FEST “Car Show  10am-4pm

IIT Formula Electric Race Car (view and talk to student designers/engineers)

UIC Formula and Baja Race Cars (view and talk to student designers/engineers)

UIUC Solar Electric Race Car (view and talk to student designers/engineers)

Nissan Electric LEAF – take a test drive! (licensed drivers only)

Hyundai Ioniq Hybrid – take a test drive! (licensed drivers only)

Hyundai Sonata Hybrid – take a test drive! (licensed drivers only)

Chevy Bolt – ride and learn from an owner!

Tesla Model S – take a test drive! (licensed drivers only)

Tesla Model X – take a test drive! (licensed drivers only)

Chicago Science Festival is not be possible without generous contributions from our sponsors:
 Fermilab Logo                Argonne Lab logo
        Feinberg Fntn logo        WBEZ 91.5 Chicago Horizontal
                        wecasa-logo-Smaller     ConlonDunn 3