MODERATOR: Cara Santa Maria
PARTICIPANTS: John Cooley, Helen Fisher, Marlene Zuk
PROGRAM DATE: Friday, May 31, 2013

Join a unique night of cocktails, courtship, and conversation with leading experts about how insects and humans attract their mates. The fun begins aboard the Staten Island Ferry as we cruise through New York Harbor at sunset, and continues when we arrive at the Staten Island Museum for insect-inspired cocktails and an after-hours talk and tour of the museum’s cicada collection, the largest in North America. Explore the strange and innovative mating strategies of the insect world—from flashy displays to arresting scents to symphonies of sound—along with some surprising parallels to human behavior. Outside, a DJ spins and insects swarm around Brandon Ballengee’s new light sculpture and insect observatory, “Love Motel For Insects.”

21 and over only

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Science Journalist

Cara Santa Maria has dedicated her life to improving science literacy by communicating scientific principles across media platforms. A North Texas native, she currently lives in Los Angeles. Prior to moving to the west coast, Santa Maria taught biology and psychology courses to university undergraduates and high school students in Texas and New York. Her published research has spanned various topics, including clinical psychological assessment, the neuropsychology of blindness, neuronal cell culture techniques, and computational neurophysiology.

Santa Maria previously worked as the senior science correspondent for The Huffington Post, where she wrote, produced, and hosted a weekly video series called Talk Nerdy To Me. She also co-stars in Hacking The Planet and The Truth About Twisters on The Weather Channel.


Environmental Scientist

John Cooley grew up fascinated by the natural world in general and cicadas in particular. He spent a number of years studying flies in high alpine meadows of Colorado and exploring the mountains of the Front Range. As a doctoral student, Cooley was the co-discoverer of a previously unknown female signal in periodical cicadas, and that discovery also helped lead Cooley and his colleagues to find a previously unknown cryptic periodical cicada species. Cooley has traveled extensively in North America, New Zealand, and Australia, and he has taught at Yale University, Ohio State University, University of Connecticut, and University of Rhode Island. Cooley is currently teaching and conducting research at University of Connecticut, where he leads a project to use data from citizen scientists to guide species distribution mapping efforts. Because several degrees is never enough, Cooley is also an M.B.A. candidate working to bridge scientific and economic discussions of resource use and sustainability.

helen fisher_192
Anthropologist, Author

Helen Fisher is a biological anthropologist at Rutgers University. She studies the evolution, brain systems (fMRI) and biological patterns of romantic love, mate choice, marriage, gender differences, personality, and the biology of leadership styles. She has written five internationally best selling books, including Why Him? Why Her?, Why We Love, and Anatomy of Love. She is currently the chief scientific advisor to and subsidiary,, where she designed the questionnaire now taken by 13 million people in 40 countries. She lectures worldwide, including lectures at the World Economic Forum (Davos), 2012 international meeting of the G-20, National Academy of Sciences, The Economist, TED, United Nations, Smithsonian Institution, Salk Institute and Harvard Medical School. She publishes widely in academic journals and appears regularly on TV, radio, and print media.

Author, Biologist, Professor

Marlene Zuk is a biologist and writer who is interested in sex, evolution, and behavior. She is especially interested in the ways that parasites and disease influence those issues. Her current research focuses on rapid evolution and mating behavior in field crickets that live in Hawaii, though most of the work, alas, takes place in the laboratory. More generally, she is interested in the ways that people use animal behavior to think about human behavior, and vice versa. This means that she gets asked a lot of interesting questions from the general public, ranging from whether adultery or homosexuality are natural, to why people’s pets do the things they do. Her quick answer is “Yes, although it also depends on what you mean by ‘natural,’ and I have no idea.”