10/11/17 – HUBweek

Two Lenses: Communicating Science
October 11, 2017, 6-7pm

Broad Institute of MIT and Harvard, Auditorium 
451 Main Street
Cambridge, MA 02142

As part of HUBweek 2017 Catalyst Conversations is partnering with Broad Institute of MIT and Harvard for the third time to present a public conversation with artist Maria Peñil and microbiologist Mehmet Berkmen of Bacterial Art, and photographer Felice Frankel. The conversation will focus on communicating science, visually and otherwise. Join us after the program for a reception and an engaging hands-on experience. The Broad Institute has generously offered to be the host venue for what promises to be a fascinating evening.

Pier Gustafson, a renowned Somerville artist, will be featured in a participatory Twitter and drawing project in response to Two Lenses: Communicating Science.

Audience members will be encouraged to tweet during the conversation using our hashtag – words or short phrases inspired by the speakers. The artist will not be experiencing the talk directly, but will be reading the tweets. Pier will “respond” to tweets by sketching in real time, and create short drawing movies from his sketches as a way of illustrating the ideas. The resulting movies will be projected on a loop during the reception, for the delight and edification of all!

Science photographer Felice Frankel is a research scientist in the Center for Materials Science and Engineering at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology with additional support from Chemical Engineering, Materials Science and Engineering, and Mechanical Engineering. She is a fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science,  a Guggenheim Fellow, and was a Senior Research Fellow in Harvard University’s Faculty of Arts and Sciences and a Visiting Scholar at Harvard Medical School’s Department of  Systems Biology. She most recently developed and instructed the first online MOOC addressing science and engineering photography. 

Mehmet Berkmen is a Turkish born scientist with an international background and a deep passion for both the microbial sciences and the visual arts. Dr. Berkmen received his undergraduate education and master’s degree in the UK at Imperial College, London and Reading University, respectively. He received his Ph.D. from at the University of Vienna, completing much of the research on protein secretion at the University of Houston, Texas. He conducted his post-doctoral studies on disulfide bond formation at Harvard Medical School in the laboratory of Jon Beckwith. Berkmen then joined New England Biolabs where he leads his own research group developing novel bacterial strains for protein expression. Dr. Berkmen’s passion for microbial science is paralleled by his love for the visual arts. He was developing techniques for capturing the innate beauty of microbes using standard laboratory techniques when he met mixed-media artist Maria Peñil. Together they embarked on an artistic microbial adventure. Their collaboration has produced work that won the inaugural Agar Art competition hosted by American Society of Microbiology (ASM) in 2015, and the BioArt competition hosted by Federation of American Societies for Experimental Biology (FASEB).

Maria Peñil Cobo is a mixed media artist born in Santander, Spain. Peñil studied fine arts in Madrid, and has taught and exhibited her work there at Cultural Center Isabel de Farmesio, La Parra museum, Siboney Gallery and Cultural Center Galileo. Encompassing sculpture, engraving and photography, Peñil’s work has retained a relationship to organic themes through shape, medium, texture and nature. Her work is an investigation of metamorphosis, evolution, the idea of latency and immediate change. Her art is an abstract interpretation of things she sees in nature and human nature. Since her move to Massachusetts she has been actively involved in the arts community in Boston and its surrounding areas. Her work has been featured at the Boston Green Arts Festival, Salem and Beverly Arts Festivals, the Cox gallery among others. In 2011 she began her fruitful and award-winning collaboration with the scientist Mehmet Berkmen, developing a BioArt project using scientific processes. She began to manipulate and paint with colorful bacteria, creating art from living organisms.