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SCI Talks Tackle Empathy, Exoplanets and Robotics

SCI Talks Tackle Empathy, Exoplanets and Robotics

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One of the most anticipated featured events of the annual Flagstaff Festival of Science is the Suddenlink Presents: SCI Talks (Science, Communication, Innovation), a series of four TEDx-inspired, 15-minute talks about science and technology. This year, four well-known local figures are presenting on a variety of fascinating topics, from exoplanets to robotics to empathy.

Astronomer Joe Llama

Finding Other Worlds

We are closer than ever to finding a planet like Earth outside our solar system. In this talk, Joe Llama will take you on a journey though the last twenty years of exoplanet science, from the discovery of the most extreme planets to our quest to find Earth 2.0.

Llama joined Lowell Observatory in 2014 as a postdoctoral scholar. In 2016, he started a tenure track position there, where he conducts research into stellar and exoplanetary magnetism. He grew up in Pembrokeshire, South Wales, and attended the University of St. Andrews in Scotland, where he earned an undergraduate degree in Mathematics and Theoretical Physics and a Ph.D. in Astronomy.

Science Educator Christine Sapio

The True Story of the "CocoNuts" Robotics Team and the Power of Robots to Change Lives

The CocoNuts are famous in Flagstaff for their bright red shirts, robots and success on the international FIRST Robotics stage. Now learn the story of how the team came to be, and how the passion and drive of these dedicated young people is helping fuel a movement in STEM education.

Christine Sapio, physics teacher at Coconino High School, is one of the coaches of the CocoNuts FIRST Robotics Team and FIRST Tech Challenge Program Delivery Partner for Arizona. She has been honored with a number of teaching awards, including Arizona High School Science Teacher of the Year, 2014 Arizona Teacher of the Year Finalist, and the 2018 Viola Award for Excellence in Science Teaching. She earned both a B.S. in Physical Science and Secondary Education and an M.A. in Science Teaching from Northern Arizona University.

Shakespearean Actor Dawn Tucker

Elevating Empathy: How Theatre Increases Our Capacity for Empathy

Theatre increases empathy in both participants and audience members. How? In this talk, Flagstaff Shakespeare Festival founder and executive director Dawn Tucker will walk you through the critical role of mirror neurons in emotional development, how storytelling plays into increasing empathy and how empathy ensures our survival as a species. With specific examples from life in the theatre and a bit of literal brain science, Tucker will illuminate the vital role of performance art in the development of our most impressive ability as humans, our ability to empathize.

Tucker is the founder and executive director of the Flagstaff Shakespeare Festival. Having grown up in Flagstaff, Tucker’s lifelong dream has been to bring her passion for Shakespeare to her beautiful hometown. Tucker has a B.F.A. in Theatre Performance from the University of Wisconsin and an M.A. in Shakespeare in Performance from the American Shakespeare Center in partnership with Mary Baldwin University. She worked for five years as an actor and the director of education for Southwest Shakespeare Company in Mesa, Ariz.

Social Neuroscientist Chad Woodruff

Empathy: It’s Not About Me

Empathy is the ability to take another’s perspective without confusing their perspective with your own. Known as self-other discrimination, it is key to the ability to empathize. In this talk, social neuroscientist Chad Woodruff will address the science and promotion of empathy in society.

Woodruff is an associate professor in Northern Arizona University’s Department of Psychological Sciences. As a social neuroscientist, his research aims to elucidate the brain mechanisms underlying empathy, sympathy and compassion as well as religious belief. He uses electroencephalography (EEG) to measure various brain signals, investigating how these signals relate to social neuroscience topics. Woodruff maintains a vibrant lab, typically employing 10-15 students who participate in all facets of the research process. Woodruff earned a B.F.A. from the University of Oklahoma and both an M.S. and Ph.D. from the University of New Mexico.

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