Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Natural History Museum announces First Fridays 2010





MEDIA CONTACTS: Kristin Friedrich (213) 763-3532 kfriedri@nhm.org

Lauren Clark (213) 763-3580 lclark@nhm.org


FOR IMMEDIATE RLEASE: December 15, 2009









LOS ANGELESFirst Fridays has brought plenty of international science stars to the Museum in the past, but in 2010, we’re focusing on home. Six top local scientists are the stars this season: Dr. Cheryl Y. Hayashi, Dr. Nathan S. Lewis, Dr. David J. Anderson, Dr. Tanya Atwater, Dr. David A. Caron, and Dr. Andrea Ghez. These thinkers’ work may surprise you: from earthquakes to emotions, energy to ecosystems, and new evidence that suggests a massive black hole in our galaxy (not necessarily bad news, it turns out).


“After a season of looking closely at Darwin and the long lasting influence of his work, we are delving into the dynamic and fascinating research happening in our own backyard, Southern California,” says Su Oh, Director of Programs, Education and Exhibits Division. “First Fridays has become the stage where the public can count on topics of current relevance for our future as Californians with the opportunity to ask critical questions. The sell-out discussions have made us aware that the public is hungry for knowledge and welcomes our work in presenting topics that help redefine our lives in the context of science.”


Each of the Friday evenings begin with a guided tour of  a different focus of the Natural History Museum’s  renowned collections. Following the tours, guests can take part in engaging forums filled with our invited scientists, moderated by neuroscientist and Executive Vice Dean of USC, Dr. Michael Quick, who has helped organize the series.


In addition to the world of science, First Fridays features taste-making live performances by musicians, bands and deejays.  The Natural History Museum (NHM) has again partnered with Silver Lake’s Spaceland Productions to curate the series’ concerts. (At this time, only January and February bands have been announced.) New for the 2010 season is resident DJ Them Jeans (aka Jason Stewart).


Advanced tickets for First Fridays will be sold via Ticketweb.com. Admission is free for Museum members. Tickets are $9 for adults, $6.50 for children. Curator-led tours, discussions and performances are available on a first-come, first-serve basis and early purchase is recommended. For more information, the public may visit the NHM’s website at www.nhm.org/firstfridays or call (213) 763-DINO.

First Fridays 2010 Events

SPIDEY SENSE: Friday, January 8, 2010 (extended Museum hours to 10:00 pm)


Guided Tour (5:30 pm):     Meet the Silk Makers, an arachnid tour with Brent “The Buy Guy” Karner, NHM’s Associate Manager of Invertebrate Living Collections


Discussion (6:30 pm):         Spiders: The Miracle Engineers with UC Riverside biology professor and MacArthur Fellow, Dr. Cheryl Y. Hayashi

Their medium is silk; their mission is to spin. Spiders are the unparalleled architects and engineers of the natural world, and in this talk, Hayashi introduces the basic biology of spider silk, and shares recent research on its genetics and biomechanics. Despite their gossamer appearance, spider silks have incredible mechanical properties, ranking among the strongest and toughest materials on the planet. Hayashi is revealing key information about their miracle silk, from which biomaterials including biodegradable fishing lines, medical sutures, and protective armor cloth are currently being developed.


Biography: UC Riverside biology professor Cheryl Hayashi was born and raised in Hawaii. She received a B.S. from Yale University and a Ph.D. in Biology through a joint program with Yale University and the American Museum of Natural History. She was a postdoctoral fellow at the University of Wyoming, and in 2001 joined the UCR faculty. In 2007, Hayashi was named a MacArthur Fellow.


Performances (8:00 pm): In the diorama halls are Tune-Yards and Atlas Sound


The Tune-Yards’ electronic folk nucleus is Merrill Garbus, who started as a one-woman show with ukulele, and a human beat box of a voice. Atlas Sound is the solo project of Bradford Cox, the striking and eccentric vocalist for experimental indie rocker act Deerhunter.


DJ (throughout the night):               Resident DJ, Them Jeans (a.k.a. Jason Stewart) and headliner, DJ Spider



NEW ENERGY: Friday, February 5, 2010 (extended Museum hours to 10:00 pm)


Guided Tour (5:30 pm):     To be announced

Discussion (6:30 pm):         Where in the World Will Our Energy Come From" with Dr. Nathan S. Lewis

What would it take for the world to get away from fossil fuels and convert to renewable energy? Nathan Lewis thinks the dirty secret is: more than a Prius in the garage and solar panels on the roof. If we want to use wind, solar thermal and electric, biomass, hydroelectric and geothermal energy, it will take planning and willingness on the part of governments and industry. It will take R&D investment, a favorable price per unit of energy to get anyone to produce alternative energy, and plenty of resources. Nathan Lewis will discuss these and other hurdles — technical, political, and economic that must be overcome before the widespread adoption of renewable energy technologies.

Biography: Lewis has been on the faculty at the Caltech since 1988 and has served as a professor since 1991. From 1981 to 1988, he was on the faculty at Stanford. Lewis received his Ph.D. in Chemistry from the MIT. He is currently the Editor-in-Chief of Energy & Environmental Science. He has published over 300 papers and has supervised approximately 60 graduate students and postdoctoral associates. His research interests include artificial photosynthesis and electronic noses.                   


Performances (8:00 pm): Yeasayer (headliner) and WarPaint


Yeasayer are Brooklyn psychedelic rockers with a taste for gospel vocals, dancey drum beats, and trippy visuals. After an opening slot with MGMT, they’re embarking on their own tour in support of their latest album, Odd Blood, due out this February.



The quartet Warpaint’s hypnotic, layered, bass-driven music with ethereal vocals and hazy guitar — call it literate psychedelia.


DJ (throughout the night):               Resident DJ Them Jeans (Jason Stewart) and headliner Ana Calderon



FLY WITH US: Friday, March 5, 2010 (extended Museum hours to 10:00 p.m.)


Guided Tour (5:30 pm):     Flies: They’re Everything You Think They’re Not, a tour of the Entomology Collection with Dr. Brian Brown, Curator of Entomology


Discussion (6:30 pm):         Emotion Circuits in Model Organisms, or Do Flies Have Feelings? with Dr. David J.  Anderson

 David Anderson is using molecular genetic techniques to map and probe neural circuits that underlie innate behaviors in fruit flies. Why the fly fascination? Because their behavioral responses, and associated internal states (such as arousal), form the evolutionary underpinnings of emotional behavior in higher organisms.

In recent years, he has turned his attention to deciphering the neural circuits that underlie fear, anxiety, pain, and other instinctive behaviors. Disruptions in neural circuits are known to underlie psychiatric disorders like anxiety and depression. As he puts it, "Elucidating these neural circuits is an important first step to understanding how genes, drugs, and experience act on and modify these circuits, in both normal behavior and in disorders such as anxiety and depression. Our hope is that this work will eventually improve the diagnosis of these conditions and lead to new, improved treatments."


Biography: Caltech biology professor David Anderson graduated from Harvard and received his Ph.D. at Rockefeller University, where he trained with Nobelist Günter Blobel. He also performed postdoctoral studies at Columbia with Nobelist Richard Axel. Elected to the National Academy of Sciences in 2007, Anderson has received numerous awards. Anderson has also been an advisor to the Allen Institute for Brain Science since its founding in 2002 and was instrumental in focusing the Institute's efforts on the Allen Brain Atlas.

Performances (8:00 pm): To be announced


DJ (throughout the night): Resident DJ Them Jeans (Jason Stewart). Headline DJ to be announced



SHAKE IT UP: Friday, April 2, 2010 (extended Museum hours to 10:00 pm)


Guided Tour (5:30 pm):     Coping With Earthquakes in California , an interactive presentation with the NHM’s Lindsey T. Groves, Collections Manager of Malacology and Alyssa Morgan, Collections Manager of Mineral Sciences


Discussion (6:30 pm):         Living in the Plate Boundary: Our Torn, Twisted (and Shaky) Landscapes with Dr. Tanya Atwater


With photos, maps, and computer animations, Tanya Atwater will describe the peculiar patterns of Southern California’s mountains, valleys, and coastlines. Then she’ll show how these were formed — one earthquake at a time — by the grinding between the huge North American and Pacific plates. Atwater's research in tectonics has taken her to the bottoms of the oceans and to mountains on many continents. She is especially well known for her works on the plate tectonic evolution of western North America and the San Andreas Fault system.


Biography: Tanya Atwater joined the faculty at the UC Santa Barbara in 1980, becoming Emeritus in 2007. She was educated at MIT, UC Berkeley, and Scripps Institute of Oceanography, earning her Ph.D. in 1972. She was also a professor at MIT.  Elected to the prestigious National Academy of Sciences in 1997, Atwater’s other honors include a National Science Foundation Director’s Award for Distinguished Teaching Scholars, the Gold Medal of the Society of Woman Geographers, and the Leopold von Buch Medal for "outstanding career contributions in the geosciences."


Performances (8:00 pm): To be announced


DJ (throughout the night):               Resident DJ Them Jeans (Jason Stewart). Headline DJ to be announced



DIVE IN: Friday, May 7, 2010 (extended Museum hours to 10:00 pm)


Guided Tour (5:30 pm):     Marine Biology Collections as Touchstones for Ecosystems, a tour with Dr. Regina                                                                 Wetzer, NHM Director of the Marine Biodiversity Center


Discussion (6:30 pm):         Toxic Algal Blooms along the Southern Californian Coast: Causes, Challenges and Solutions with Dr. David A. Caron


Coastal waters have witnessed an increase in the frequency and severity of “red tides” — toxic and noxious algal blooms — as human populations have encroached on coastlines worldwide during the past century. California has been no exception to the trend: Outbreaks of toxic algae have threatened human health, killed thousands of marine animals, garnered public attention, and resulted in the loss of untold millions in revenue.


Because urbanized regions of the world have been particularly hard hit, Southern California has served as somewhat of a sentinel of change for the planet. This region could hold the key to understanding the causes of harmful algal blooms, and potential solutions.


Biography:  David Caron is a professor in the Marine Environmental Biology section of the Department of Biological Sciences at USC. He has degrees in microbiology (B.S.) and oceanography (M.S.) from the University of Rhode Island, and in Biological Oceanography (Ph.D.) conferred jointly by MIT and Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution.  He has authored or co-authored approximately 160 scientific articles and book chapters.


 Performances (8:00 pm):                 To be announced


DJ (throughout the night):               Resident DJ Them Jeans (Jason Stewart). Headline DJ to be announced



STARRY NIGHTS: Friday, June 4, 2010 (extended Museum hours to 10:00 pm)


Guided Tour (5:30 pm):     A Brief Look at our Solar System, a tour with Alyssa Morgan, NHM Collections Manager of Mineral Sciences


Discussion (6:30 pm):         Now Introducing: The Massive Black Hole at the Center of our Galaxy with Dr. Andrea Ghez


More than a quarter century ago, it was suggested that galaxies such as our very own Milky Way may harbor massive, though possibly dormant, central black holes. Definitive proof for or against their existence lies in the assessment of the distribution of matter in the center of the galaxy. Based on 10 years of high resolution imaging, Andrea Ghez's team has moved the case for a supermassive black hole from possibility to certainty. This not only provides us with the best evidence yet that these exotic objects really do exist — it also provides us with a wonderful opportunity to study what role this black hole has played on the formation and evolution of our galaxy.

Biography:  Now a professor of physics and astronomy at UCLA, Andrea Ghez dates her interest in astronomy back to the first moon landings. Though she imagined herself pursuing a variety of careers when she was a girl (including ballet dancer), she always enjoyed science, because it seemed like puzzle. "I liked the process of solving things." She earned her B.S. in physics from MIT in 1987, and her Ph.D. from Caltech in 1992. She is the recipient of numerous honors and awards including the Sloan Fellowship, the National Science Foundation's Young Investigator award, and teaching awards from Caltech and UCLA, where she has been a faculty member since 1994. Elected to both the National Academy of Sciences and the American Academy of Arts & Sciences, she was selected as a MacArthur Fellow in 2008.


Performances (8:00 pm): To be announced

DJ (throughout the night): Resident DJ Them Jeans (Jason Stewart). Headline DJ to be announced




About the Natural History Museum

The Natural History Museum of Los Angeles County is located at 900 Exposition Blvd., Los Angeles. It is open weekdays, 9:30 am to 5 pm; and weekends and holidays from 10 am to 5 pm. The Museum was the first dedicated museum building in Los Angeles, opening its doors in 1913. It has amassed one of the world’s most extensive and valuable collections of natural and cultural history — with more than 35 million objects, some as old as 4.5 billion years. The Natural History Family of Museums includes the NHM, the Page Museum at the La Brea Tar Pits (Hancock Park/Mid-Wilshire), and the William S. Hart Park and Museum (Newhall, California). The Family of Museums serves more than one million families and visitors annually, and is a national leader in research, exhibitions and education.


NHM Next

Last year’s completed renovation of the Beaux-Arts 1913 Building, the original component of the NHM, has set the stage for the rollout of a series of new exhibits leading up to the Museum’s centennial in 2013: Age of Mammals and the Haaga Family Rotunda galleries open in Summer 2010; Dinosaur Mysteries and programmatic gardens in Summer 2011, and Under the Sun, an exhibition focusing on the Southern California environmental history, in Spring 2012.









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Lauren Clark

Marketing & Communications

Natural History Museum of Los Angeles County

900 Exposition Blvd., Los Angeles CA 90007


tel. 213.763.3580

fax. 213.743.4843

e. lclark@nhm.org


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