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Best of LASER (Leonardo Art & Science Evening Rendezvous) at the MAH

Image credit: Rita Mehta
Tuesday, March 13, 2018 - 7:00pm
Museum of Art and History (MAH) 705 Front Street, Santa Cruz
Presented by: 
Institute of the Arts and Sciences

Leonardo Art & Science Evening Rendezvous (LASER) is an international program of evening gatherings that bring artists, scientists, and scholars together for informal presentations and conversations.

On March 13, 2018, the Institute of the Arts and Sciences is pleased to present:

Best of LASER
Celebrating 5 Years of Leonardo Art & Science Evening Rendezvous at UC Santa Cruz

For this Best of LASER, the IAS has invited back crowd favorites from the last five years of events and will feature presentations by evolutionary (paleo) biologist Beth Shapiro, glaciologist Slawek Tulaczyk,  director and filmmaker Jennifer Maytorena Taylor, and evolutionary marine biologist Rita Mehta.

March 13, 2018
6:30 p.m. Wine reception
7 p.m. Program

This event is presented as part of the international LASER series initiated by the Leonardo International Society for Art, Science, and Technology.


Beth Shapiro is an evolutionary biologist whose work has been centered on an anaylsis of ancient DNA and the genetics of ice age animals and plants. Shapiro is an Associate Professor of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology at UC Santa Cruz. She was awarded a MacArthur “genius” fellowship in 2009 and a Royal Society University Research Fellowship in 2006.

Slawek Tulaczyk is Professor of Earth Sciences at the University of California, Santa Cruz and a Fellow of the Geological Society of America since 2010. He has authored and co-authored over 100 peer-reviewed publications focused ice sheet and glacier dynamics, permafrost properties, and polar microbial habitats. His research has been funded by NSF, NASA, and DoE. He co-led the multidisciplinary research project WISSARD, which returned the first water and sediment samples from a pristine subglacial lake trapped beneath the Antarctic ice sheet. Cumulatively, Slawek spent nearly 3 years doing field work in Antarctica, Iceland, Greenland, Alaska, and Arctic Canada. In 2006 the Advisory Committee on Antarctic Names named after him a mountain glacier on the highest mountain in Antarctica, the Vinson Massif. 

Jennifer Maytorena Taylor is Assistant Professor in Film and Digital Media at UC Santa Cruz and an award-winning documentary producer and director of character-based social issue feature films and community journalism projects. Her commentary films have been shown widely, including on PBS, the Sundance Channel, V Polska in Poland, NDTV in India, NTR in The Netherlands, and NHK in Japan. She is a recipient of the James D. Phelan Art Award for her body of work, two Emmys, and multiple festival awards.  Her work has been supported by the Ford Foundation, Nathan Cummings Foundation, National Endowment for the Arts, Latino Public Broadcasting, the Sundance Documentary Fund, and other leading national funders.

Rita Mehta is Associate Professor in Ecology and Evolutionary Biology at UC Santa Cruz. Her research explores morphological, physiological, and behavioral evolution. Mehta focuses on the mechanisms guiding diversification in vertebrate clades whose members have evolved an elongate and limb-reduced (or complete loss) body plan such as snakes, anguilliform fishes, and other eel-like vertebrates. Mehta has received honors, awards and grants from the National Science Foundation, the Division of Comparative Biomechanics of the Society for the Study of Integrative and Comparative Biology, and the Association for the Study of American University Women.