DATE: Thursday, May 31, 2012
TIME: 7:00 PM-8:30 PM
VENUE: American Museum of Natural History
MODERATOR: Bill Ritter
PARTICIPANTS: Lynette Wallworth, Anya Salih, Nancy Knowlton

The stunning underwater realm of fluorescent coral reefs and exotic sea creatures will overwhelm your senses, as the Hayden Planetarium’s dome is transformed by the renowned video installation artist Lynette Wallworth into an immersive view of ocean life few have ever witnessed. This unique event, presented in partnership with the American Museum of Natural History, takes audience members on a journey through the teeming community of coral reefs, an environment responsible for the health of the biosphere. Leading researchers share their insights on coral reefs prior to the world premiere of Wallworth’s film, Coral: ReKindling Venus, and set the stage for a remarkable evening of art and science. Tickets include cocktails and an optional after-hours tour of the museum’s “Bioluminescence” exhibit with Wallworth and the scientists.

Presented in collaboration with the American Museum of Natural History.

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Bill Ritter
Journalist, TV Anchor, News Correspondent

Bill Ritter is a television news anchor and journalist. He began his journalism career as a newspaper reporter, for the Los Angeles Times and others, before moving into television. His work in local and national television has taken him to political conventions for almost 20 years. He has also anchored all election coverage for New York’s WABC and moderated candidate debates for New York Governor and Senator and New York City Mayor. For over 15 years, Ritter has co-anchored WABC-TV’s 11 p.m. newscast, in addition to working as a correspondent for ABC News’ 20/20. He added anchor duties for the 6 p.m. newscast in 2001. Before joining the local ABC station, Ritter worked at ABC News as co-anchor of the Sunday edition of Good Morning America. As a correspondent for 20/20, he covered the Columbine High shootings and he investigated the phenomenon of patients waking up during surgery, among other stories.


Lynette Wallworth_200px
Filmmaker, Multimedia Artist

Lynette Wallworth is an acclaimed Australian artist and director whose immersive installations and films reflect connections between people and the natural world, as well as explore fragile human states of grace. Wallworth has previously exhibited her works—interactive installation Evolution of Fearlessness, a moving portrait of 11 women who lived beyond the state of fear, and the fulldome feature Coral: Rekindling Venus, which has an accompanying augmented‐reality poster collection—at the Sundance Film Festival, New Frontier. Wallworth’s film Tender went on to win the Australian Academy of Cinema and Television Arts Awards for best televised documentary and was nominated for a Grierson Award in the UK. Wallworth’s work has shown at the World Economic Forum, Davos, Lincoln Center for the Performing Arts, the World Science Festival, the American Museum of Natural History, New York, Australian Centre for Contemporary Art, the Smithsonian, Royal Observatory Greenwich for the London 2012 Cultural Olympiad; Auckland Triennial; and the Vienna Festival among many others, as well as various film festivals.

Marine Biologist

Anya Salih studies the glow-in-the-dark fluorescent proteins that light up coral reefs in a kaleidoscope of colors. She has investigated the diverse biological roles these proteins play, including regulating how much light the corals take in and helping them reduce the stresses associated with climate change, and her work has helped establish the science of fluorescent protein biology as a rapidly growing new discipline.

A researcher at the School of Science and Health at the University of Western Sydney in Australia, Salih received her Ph.D. at the University of Sydney, where she worked and studied for over 15 years at the Australian Center for Microscopy and Microanalysis. Since coral proteins are often used as fluorescent tags to study genes and proteins in living cells under a microscope, Salih began to look for new types of the glowing proteins in corals in the Great Barrier Reef. At the University of Western Sydney, she leads a bio-imaging facility where coral fluorescent proteins are used to study the activity of proteins in healthy and cancerous cells.

Salih has collaborated with the artist Lynette Wallworth for over a decade, most recently collecting and helping to image some or the corals used in Wallworth’s work.

Marine Biologist

Nancy Knowlton researches the ecology, evolution, and conservation of coral reef organisms as the Sant Chair in Marine Science at the Smithsonian’s National Museum of Natural History. Her book Citizens of the Sea reveals the strange and wondrous creatures that inspired her and thousands of other scientists to carry out the Census of Marine Life, a 10-year international effort to map out the diversity, distribution, and abundance of ocean organisms.

Knowlton received her undergraduate degree at Harvard University and her Ph.D. at the University of California at Berkeley. She was a professor at Yale University prior to moving to the Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute in Panama, where she worked for 14 years. She then joined the Scripps Institution of Oceanography at the University of California at San Diego, where she was the founding Director of the Center for Marine Biodiversity and Conservation. She is an elected fellow and former member of the Board of Directors of the American Association for the Advancement of Science and an Aldo Leopold Leadership Fellow. In 2009 she received the Peter Benchley Award for science in the service of marine conservation, and in 2011 she received the Heinz Award for leadership in the field of the environment.

Photo by Christian Ziegler