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Avian Einsteins

Saturday, June 13, 2009
2:00 pm - 3:30 pm EST

How do we learn to speak? What is the connection between language and movement? Join a broad and distinguished panel of biologists, psychologists, neuroscientists, philosophers, musicians and writers, including leading bird scientists Erich Jarvis and Irene Pepperberg, on an exploration of how striking parallels between bird and human brains are providing sharp new insights into how we acquire language and links between hearing and movement. Featuring a special appearance of Snowball, the dancing cockatoo of YouTube fame.


Faith SalieAuthor, Journalist, Comedian

Faith Salie is a three-time Emmy-winning contributor to CBS Sunday Morning and a regular on NPR’s Wait Wait…Don’t Tell Me! She’s hosted five seasons of PBS’s Science Goes to the Movies and is a storyteller for The Moth. She hosts the new podcast “One Plus One,” from Wondery.

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Erich JarvisNeurobiologist

At Duke University, neurobiologist Erich Jarvis leads a team that studies the abilities of songbirds, parrots and hummingbirds to learn new sounds and pass along a vocal repertoire in to the next generation.

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Irene PepperbergEthologist, Author

Irene Pepperberg is Adjunct Associate Professor at Brandeis University and Research Associate and Lecturer at Harvard. She has studied the cognitive and communicative ability of Grey parrots for over two decades.

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Jonathan RosenAuthor, Editor

Jonathan Rosen has written about the ivory-billed woodpecker, a bird long thought to be extinct. His most recent books are The Life of the Skies: Birding at the End of Nature and The Talmud and the Internet. His writings have also appeared in the New York Times, the New Yorker magazine, the American Scholar and numerous anthologies.

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David RothenbergPhilosopher, Musician, Author

Musician and philosopher, David Rothenberg, is the author of Survival of the Beautiful: Art, Science, and Evolution, Bug Music, and a CD of the same name featuring music made out of encounters with the entomological world.

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Irena SchulzBiologist

Irena Schulz is the founder and president of Bird Lovers Only Rescue Service, Inc., but is perhaps best known for her cockatoo, Snowball, the famous dancing bird on You Tube. Irena worked as a molecular biologist studying Parkinson’s Disease and Alzheimer’s Disease, but has dedicated her entire life to owning, studying, and caring for parrots.

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Ofer TchernichovskiNeuroscientist

Ofer Tchernichovski is an Associate Professor and Head of the Laboratory of Animal Behavior at City University of New York’s City College. His work involves mapping the mechanisms of song learning by studying the behavior and dynamics of the sound production of song birds.

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