DATE: Friday, May 30, 2008
TIME: 4:00 PM-5:30 PM
VENUE: NYU Kimmel Center, Eisner & Lubin Auditorium
PARTICIPANTS: Christopher McKay, Peter Diaczuk, Ellen Prager, Laurie Santos, Ben Schwegler

Imagine building a roller coaster or solving a heinous crime.

Imagine exploring the surface of Mars or the bottom of the ocean.

This multi-media event for curious minds of all ages invited our audience to meet scientists with some of the coolest jobs in the world — from crime scene investigator and space explorer to oceanographer and Disney Imagineer.

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Executive Producer, Writer and TV host

Bill Weir is the executive producer, writer and host of The Wonder List with Bill Weir an acclaimed CNN original series in search of people and places, cultures and creatures on the brink of seismic change. Debuting in March 2015, the first season took viewers from Venice to Vanuatu, from the Alps to the Everglades, telling unforgettable stories shot in lush, cinematic style by London filmmaker Philip Bloom. Weir joined CNN in November 2013 as anchor and reporter after a decade of distinctive broadcast journalism at ABC News. After helping to launch the weekend edition of Good Morning America in 2004, Weir became co-anchor of Nightline in 2010 while his reporting was featured on World News with Diane Sawyer, Good Morning America, 20/20 and his own Yahoo! News digital series, This Could Be Big. In his network career, Weir journeyed to more than 50 nations and all 50 states, covering breaking news and uncovering global trends. He was among the first reporters into the floodwaters of New Orleans after Hurricane Katrina and Japan’s tsunami zone during the nuclear crisis of 2011. He dodged Taliban bullets in Afghanistan, led network coverage from Iraq and was the first American to broadcast live from Tibet. In 2012, he anchored ABC’s Summer Olympics coverage from London and brought unprecedented reporting from inside Apple’s Chinese factories. His live shots have come from atop the Golden Gate Bridge and below the waters of the Great Barrier Reef while his signature adventure reporting includes jumps from hot air balloons, hikes deep into the Amazon, and one fun night spent lashed to the side of Yosemite’s El Capitan. Before joining ABC News, Weir wrote and hosted projects for the FX and USA Networks and was an anchor/reporter in Los Angeles, Chicago, Green Bay and Austin, MN. He lives in New York with his wife, daughter and a four-pound dog named Burt. He sincerely believes he could escape from prison if the need ever arose.


Christopher McKay

Chris McKay is a research scientist with the NASA Ames Research Center. His current research focuses on the evolution of the solar system and the origin of life. He is also actively involved in planning for future Mars missions including human exploration. McKay has been involved in research in Mars-like environments on Earth, traveling to the Antarctic dry valleys, Siberia, the Canadian Arctic, and the Atacama, Namib, and Sahara deserts to study life in these Mars-like environments. He was a co-investigator on the Huygens probe to Saturn’s moon Titan in 2005, the Mars Phoenix lander mission in 2008, and the Mars Science Laboratory mission in 2012.

Forensic Scientist

Peter Diaczuk is a leading authority in forensics and an expert witness on firearms, trace evidence, and crime scene reconstruction. He has performed research on topics as diverse as underwater fingerprints, blood spatter patterns from gunshot wounds, and bullets ricochetting from different surfaces. He is Director of Forensic Science Training at the John Jay College of Criminal Justice.

Marine biologist

Ellen Prager is a marine biologist, author and chief scientist at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s Aquarius Undersea Laboratory in Key Largo, Florida. She is the Chairman of the Ocean Research and Resources Advisory Panel for the federal government and an author of the U.S. Commission on Ocean Policy’s 2004 report to Congress and the President.

Cognitive Psychologist

Laurie Santos is a cognitive psychologist who studies monkeys’ capacity for learning and the evolution of the human mind. She is an Associate Professor of Psychology and director of the Comparative Cognition Laboratory at Yale University, and was named one of Popular Science magazine’s “Brilliant 10” for 2007.

Ben Schwegler

Ben Schwegler is Walt Disney Imagineering R&D’s chief scientist, and is particularly interested in the development of sustainable engineering techniques. He was instrumental in the creation of the most energy efficient theme park ever built as well as a new generation of environmentally friendly fireworks.