Eco IQ's, Violas, Mammoths, and Genes that "Seek and Destroy": A PopTech Salon

Last night at the House of Sweden in Washington, DC, PopTech brought together four speakers, a performer, and a lively and engaged audience for a PopTech Salon on Science, Living Systems, and the Edge of Change.

Sound Check Salon
Behind the scenes at the House of Sweden before the Science, Living Systems & The Edge of Change salon in Washington, DC. Photography by Kris Krug

Right now our nation and our planet face unprecedented challenges, and the sciences have a more important role to play in society than ever before. As a result PopTech has made a commitment to the sciences through a variety of new programs, including last night’s science salon.

Each of the speakers in attendance is involved in work that has profound implications for positive social change in areas ranging from conservation to medicine; social networking to environmental cleanup, and each had big, actionable ideas to present.

Beth Shapiro is a geneticist who is shedding new light on how species respond to environmental change. She suggested that climate change is key to understanding species extinction, but also concluded that humans themselves share responsibility for much of the most recent extinctions. Beth gathers DNA from mammoth bones to do her research

Beth Shapiro
Beth Shapiro. Photography by Kris Krug

Justin Gallivan is a biochemist who “reprograms” genes to “seek and destroy” toxic herbicides. Justin’s work has huge implications for controlling gene expression.

Justin Gallivan
Justin Gallivan. Photography by Kris Krug

H. Sebastian Seung is a neuroscientist who is helping computers see the connections between the brain’s neurons. Sebastian introduced the concept of connectomes— the mapping of all neurons in the human brain— as the core to understanding what it means to be human. As he put it, there are millions of miles of wires inside your brain— “plenty of opportunity for mistakes.”

H. Sebastian Seung
H. Sebastian Seung. Photography by Kris Krug

Yasser Ansari uses mobile technology for wildlife exploration, and is bringing citizen science to the masses through Project Noah. Project Noah is designed to “boost our ecoIQs” and our knowledge of the wildlife that surrounds us.

Yasser Ansari
Yasser Ansari. Photography by Kris Krug

Christen Lien, is a “viola artist” whose music has been described as "ethereal and otherworldly; a bridge to the divine. “It’s not a violin; it’s a viola!” Christen opened and closed the PopTech Salon with two beautiful dreamlike pieces. Sublime.

Christen Lien
Christen Lien. Photography by Kris Krug

Both audience and speakers alike enjoyed conversing and relaxing together.

Question DC

Q and A

Photography by Kris Krug

During the day, PopTech videotaped several speakers and participants. (Huge thanks for NSF for providing us with our amazing crew, Cliff Braverman and Steve McNally)

NSF Filming in DC
Photography by Kris Krug

Look for more about last night’s salon over the upcoming days. Thanks to to the speakers and participants who participated in this extraordinary night! Special thanks to Intel and the NSF for their sponsorship of this event.

For more images of the salon by Kris Krug visit our Science, Living Systems & The Edge of Change set on flickr. If you have any of your own images, share them in the PopTech flickr pool.

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