January 12, 2016

Franklin Institute tackles vaccines, GMOs, colonizing Mars in new speaker series

Internationally renowned scientists debate hot topics

Events Museums
Franklin Institute J. Fusco/Visit Philadelphia™

Internationally renowned artist Ned Kahn used 12,500 clear anodized aluminum squares to make up The Franklin Institute’s Shimmer Wall, which changes in response to the wind.

The high-profile speaker series that The Franklin Institute teased back in October has finally arrived - and it will have internationally recognized scientists debating the hot topics of the day. 

It all kicks off Wednesday, Jan. 20, with "Food for Thought: GMOs" at 7 p.m, a discussion moderated by The Franklin Institute’s Chief Bioscientist Dr. Jayatri Das. Dr. Pamela Ronald, whose research on stress-tolerant rice has been supported by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation; Raoul Adamchak, an organic farmer seeking solutions for poor farmers; and Dr. William Hallman of Rutgers University, who researches public perception of GMOs, will discuss the future of food. (In an interesting twist, Ronald and Adamchak, working on opposite sides of the same coin, are actually married!)

Monday, Feb. 15, the Institute will host "Vaccines: To Mandate or Not," a conversation about vaccine safety and the "anti-vax" movement. Internationally recognized virology and immunology expert Dr. Paul Offit will explain the science behind vaccines. Co-founder of Voices for Vaccines Karen Ernst will discuss vaccine chatter, and David Ropeik, a specialist in risk perception, will discuss herd immunity. 

Tuesday, March 22, "Life on Mars" will tackle an age-old question: Is colonizing another planet possible? NASA researcher and self-described “space settler” Dr. John Cumbers; energy, space, aviation and risk-management expert Gregg Maryniak; and Franklin Institute Chief Astronomer Derrick Pitts will dive into the possibilities.

With all these hot topics and experts in tow, The Franklin Institute's new series is sure to be a popular addition to its adult-leaning nighttime programming. The series is free and open to the public, but advance registration is required (call 215-448-1200 to register).