Institute of Arts and Sciences offers LASER talk on Oct. 28

danceroom spectroscopy image (courtesy of David Glowacki)
David Glowacki
Karen Tei Yamashita
Stacy Philpott
carolyn dean.jpg
Carolyn Dean

UC Santa Cruz’s Institute of the Arts and Sciences will present its first “LASER” talk of the 2014-15 academic year on Tuesday, October 28, at the Digital Arts Research Center.

The Leonardo Art/Science Evening Rendezvous (LASER) is a national program of evening gatherings that bring artists, scientists, and scholars together for informal presentations and conversations. 

The goal of the series is to feature compelling new developments in the arts and sciences, and to attract audiences that would not normally be found at the same gathering.

The October 28 event will include presentations by three UC Santa Cruz professors--Carolyn Dean ("Moving Stones: An Inka Perspective"), Stacy Philpott (“Urban Garden Insect Biodiversity: Fascinating and Functional"), and Karen Tei Yamashita (reading from her new book Anime Wong: Fictions of Performance)--plus scientist and artist David Glowacki from the University of Bristol (UK) and Stanford ("Modeling Humans as Energy Fields").

“As with previous LASER events, what we are looking for is depth and disciplinary range in our speakers, leading to an evening that takes your mind in a number of different directions,” said John Weber, founding director of UCSC’s Institute of the Arts and Sciences.  

LASERs are about serendipitous rather than planned connections,” Weber added, “and I'm sure this group of speakers will achieve that.”  

David Glowacki has an international reputation spanning both computational nano-physics and interactive digital art. He is the creator of danceroom spectroscopy, an interactive science-meets-art installation that has introduced the beauty and complexity of the atomic world to thousands of people across the UK and Europe.

A Royal Society Research Fellow, Glowacki currently holds joint appointments in both chemistry and computer science at Stanford University and the University of Bristol.

Stacy Philpott is interested in learning about basic ecological processes in agricultural systems and understanding how ecosystem services--such as pest control, pollination, and climate change adaptation and mitigation--are affected by changes in agricultural management.

An associate professor of environmental studies at UC Santa Cruz, Philpott has studied agroecosystems in Mexico, Indonesia, Nicaragua, Michigan, Ohio, and California.

Professor of Literature Karen Tei Yamashita received a 2011 California Book Award in the Fiction category for her novel I Hotel, and was a finalist for the National Book Award. Co-director of the Creative Writing Program at UC Santa Cruz, her intensely researched works reflect interests in communities whose stories often go untold.

Yamashita received the Chancellor’s Award for Diversity in 2009 and is currently the co-holder with Bettina Aptheker of the UC Presidential Chair for Feminist Critical Race and Ethnic Studies.              

History of Art & Visual Culture professor Carolyn Dean received the Arvey Prize for the “best scholarly book published on the art of Latin America” in 2011 for her book A Culture of Stone: Inka Perspectives on Rock.

A leading scholar in the field of Pre-Columbian visual studies, Dean has consulted for a National Geographic feature on the ceremonial role of Inka mummies titled The Genius of the Inca.

“LASER talks offer a chance for undergrads to get a look at a field they might not have considered yet, and for grad students to identify possible new mentors and connections,” noted Weber.

“For faculty, these evenings move them beyond their usual circles and provide a chance to find new colleagues, and we have had some of the strongest positive feedback from them,” Weber added.

“And finally, for the off-campus public, LASERs are just a fantastic way to sample the intellectual and aesthetic riches we have here at UC Santa Cruz.”  

Admission is free. The presentations begin at 7 p.m. in the Digital Arts Research Center building (DARC--Room 108).

For more information, contact the Institute of the Arts and Sciences at


The Institute of the Arts and Sciences is one of the priority initiatives of UC Santa Cruz’s comprehensive fundraising campaign announced in the fall of 2013.

The Campaign for UC Santa Cruz supports excellence across the university through increased private investment in the people and ideas shaping the future. It is bringing critical new resources to each academic division, and to signature initiatives in the Student Experience, Genomics and Health, Coastal Sustainability, the Institute of the Arts and Sciences, and Data Science Leadership.