Science Soirees: Conversations on Science and Society Launched to Inspire Non-Scientists

The New York Public Library and Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory Partner for Free Series at the Library’s Science, Industry and Business Library

Topics Include the Future of Memory, Genetically Modified Foods, and the Origins of Language

The New York Public Library’s Science, Industry and Business Library (SIBL) and Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory (CSHL) are presenting a new public  series to help non-scientists better understand the scientific concepts fundamental to understanding health and the well-being of society. The monthly series, Science Soirees: Conversations on Science and Society, starts February 12. Leading scientists will discuss topics such as memory, genetically modified foods, and energy sources of the future. The free lectures will be held at SIBL at 188 Madison Avenue (at 34th Street).

The series will help inform citizens, expand science literacy and interest in the community, and provide a venue for non-academic discussion of scientific topics. “Science Soirees will further SIBL’s mission reaching a broad community with information about science and technology that is sometimes difficult for people to access on their own. The topics and speakers will inspire and inform the programs’ audiences,” said Kristin McDonough, Robert and Joyce Menschel Director of the Science, Industry and Business Library.

The general public is frequently exposed to science’s latest research advances, but there are often fewer opportunities to gain understanding of the underlying scientific contexts. “We would like to change that,” said CSHL researcher Partha Mitra, Crick-Clay Professor of Biomathematics at CSHL, moderator of the talks and discussions. “The idea is to expose non-scientists to fundamental scientific concepts that could affect their lives and provide them with a foundation for informed decisions and further exploration.”

Science Soirees is inspired in part by Britain’s famed Faraday Lecture series. Michael Faraday, an English chemist and physicist who contributed significantly to the fields of electromagnetism and electrochemistry, gave popular lectures on subjects such as the  chemistry and physics of a candle flame, to a general audience in the early part of the nineteenth century.

The first five Science Soirees feature prominent scientists speaking on timely topics in modern research and technology. The format for each program is a short talk, followed by a question and answer period, and concluding with a wine and cheese reception. Required reservations may be made by calling 212-592-7000, Monday to Saturday, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., or  e-mailing This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it two weeks in advance of each event date. Each program takes place at The New York Public Library’s Science, Industry and Business Library, located at 188 Madison (at 34th Street). 

Monday, February 12, 6:00 p.m. to  7:30 p.m.
“The Future of Memory: The Biochemistry of Memory and Its Future Enhancement”
Tim Tully, Professor, Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory

Monday, March 12, 6:00 p.m. to  7:30 p.m.
“Regaining Consciousness: Recovery from Severe Brain Injury”
Nicholas D. Schiff, Associate Professor and Associate Attending Neurologist,
Weill Medical College of Cornell University

Monday, April 9, 6:00 p.m. to  7:30 p.m.
“Genetically Modified Foods: Revolutions in Plant Science and the Controversies They Spur”
David Jackson, Professor, Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory

Monday, May 14, 6:00 p.m. to  7:30 p.m.
“Energy Sources of the Future: The Arctic National Wildlife Refuge, Global Warming, and National Security”
Robert L. Kleinberg, Senior Research Scientist and Scientific Advisor, Schlumberger Research

Monday, June 11, 6:00 p.m. to  7:30 p.m.
“Learning to Sing: Birdsong, Baby Talk, and the Origins of Language”
Presented by Partha Mitra, Professor, Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory

About Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory
Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory is a private, non-profit research institution with a strong educational mission. Under the leadership of President Bruce Stillman, Ph.D., a member of the National Academy of Sciences and a Fellow of the Royal Scoiety (London), and Chancellor James D. Watson, more than 330 scientists at the Laboratory conduct groundbreaking research in cancer, neurobiology, plant genetics, and bioinformatics. Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory is one of the top rated National Cancer Institute-designated research centers in the U.S.

About The New York Public Library

The New York Public Library was created in 1895 with the consolidation of the private libraries of John Jacob Astor and James Lenox with the Samuel Jones Tilden Trust. The Library provides free and open access to its physical and electronic collections and information, as well as to its services. It comprises four research centers – The Humanities and Social Sciences Library; The New York Public Library for the Performing Arts; the Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture; and the Science, Industry and Business Library – and 86 Branch Libraries in Manhattan, Staten Island, and the Bronx. Research and circulating collections combined total more than 50 million items. In addition, each year the Library presents thousands of exhibitions and public programs, which include classes in technology, literacy, and English as a second language. The New York Public Library serves over 15 million patrons who come through its doors annually and another 21 million users internationally, who access collections and services through its website, www.nypl.org.


For more information, visit www.cshl.edu.