What is Science (as) Culture?

Science (as) Culture is a discussion series geared towards evolving how we think, learn, and talk about science, art, and culture. We invite discussion seeders with different perspectives, ranging from the history of science, genetics, or psychology to the arts and linguistics, to embed conversations around a topic, while inviting the audience to join in as peers--because oftentimes some of the best knowledge in the room is with the audience. 

We think its a unique way of connecting science to the community. As a progressively global community, we need the flexibility to think and exist between multiple frames of reference. To get there, we all need a seat at the table.


The Long Table Format

After the intro, seeders and audience members discuss and build off each other’s contributions. Conversations are emergent. There are no moderators or facilitators to limit the range and scope of the evening.

We welcome anyone to participate and incubate new ways of thinking about science, the arts, and community. Questions and the unquantifiable are equally important as answers and metrics. We encourage the audience to find ways to break through thought barriers, build connections, share stories, share challenges and insights, and find new meanings.

Get Back to Us!

We love feedback. We encourage submission of proposals for future S(a)C events. Email us at info@ligoproject.org.




Redefining Sex - Spring 2016

Throughout history, cultural expectations around gender identity have largely been influenced by one’s reproductive organs and the appearance of being ‘male’ or ‘female’. The discovery of the XX/XY chromosomes commonly known as ‘sex genes’, in mammals in 1959 further cemented a binary view of sex as the societal ‘norm’. Fast forward to today, with advancements in DNA sequencing and cellular biology, scientists have uncovered genetic underpinnings that point to sex not as binary but existing on a spectrum. The conflicting view of gender and sexual identity as either binary or a spectrum has become a central political and cultural debate and yet these new scientific insights have had little influence in these debates compared to those that contributed to the binary view.

In this three-part series, we aim to discuss a wide range of intersecting topics that add to the complex societal hurdles around gender identity including the history of religious and cultural perspectives around sex, the role of science in shaping views on gender identity, and the intersection of psychology, religion, and social pressures. Ultimately, we conduct this discussion, looking back and to the present, with open curiosity regarding the role of science in leveraging cultural change.

Societal Perspectives on Sex and Gender and the Role of Science in Shaping hem, March 1, 2017

  • Dr. Deborah Tolman has been doing qualitative research on gender and adolescent sexuality for over twenty years. She has studied adolescent girls’ experiences of sexual desire (aged 15-17), primarily using narratives elicited through individual interviews and analyses of those narratives to understand how girls experience themselves, their bodies, their identities and how they navigate heterosexual and same-sex sexual encounters and relationships. Her first book, Dilemmas of Desire: Teenage Girls Talk about Sexuality, provided researchers, practitioners, teachers, parents and girls a new way of approaching the discussion and study of adolescent girls’ sexuality. She revisited the original questions from Dilemmas in a new study, to include the development of social media, new technologies, and current representations of diverse girls’ sexuality as part of what girls have to navigate. She is currently writing a new book about girls' sexuality, Catching Feelings: Teenage Girls Talk about Desire, Sex and Relationships, a psychological study of how girls are navigating their sexual feelings in the landscape of today. 
  • Lisa Jean Moore is a medical sociologist and Professor of Sociology and Gender Studies at Purchase College, State University of New York. Her scholarship is located at the intersections of sociology of health and medicine, science and technology studies, feminist studies, animal studies and body studies. She is the author of Sperm Counts: Overcome by Man’s Most Precious Fluid and the co-author of Gendered Bodies: Feminist Perspectives and Missing Bodies: The Politics of Visibility and numerous articles in journals such as Ethnography, Social Text and Body and Society. Additionally she has co-edited a collection The Body Reader and is the co-founder of a successful book series at NYU Press entitled Biopolitics: Medicine, Technoscience, and Health in the 21st Century. With Mary Kosut, she has released Buzz: Urban Beekeeping and the Power of the Bee. Her forthcoming book, The Body: Social and Cultural Dissections co-written with Monica J. Casper, will be published by Routledge in late 2014. She is now engaged in a new research project that explores the intraspecies relationships between humans and Limulus (Atlantic Horseshoe Crabs).
  • Mark Addison Smith’s design specialization is typographic storytelling: allowing illustrative text to convey a visual narrative through printed matter, artist’s books, and site installations. His artwork is included in the permanent collections of MoMA Franklin Furnace, Tate Library, Getty Research Institute, Kinsey Institute, Watson Library at The Met, Frances Mulhall Achilles Library at the Whitney, and Leslie-Lohman Museum of Gay and Lesbian Art in New York City. He has spoken about linguistics and letterforms—specifically as they relate to queer dynamics within bathroom graffiti—at the Centre for Translation Studies at the University of Vienna, Manchester Metropolitan University, UK, American University, DC, and Rhode Island School of Design, among others. With his on-going, text-based archive, You Look Like The Right Type, he has been illustrating fragments of overheard conversations every day since 2008 and exhibiting them as larger-scale conversations in galleries from Brooklyn to Budapest and online at YouLookLikeTheRightType.com. Chapter contributions include Diversity and Design: Understanding Hidden Consequences (Routledge, 2016) and Queering Translation, Translating the Queer (forthcoming: Routledge, 2018). In upcoming exhibition news: images from his Fagget Fucker (sic) Gay Alphabet typographic series will be on display in Expanded Visions: Fifty Years of Collecting, opening March 10, 2017 at the Leslie-Lohman Museum of Gay and Lesbian Art in Manhattan. He holds a Master of Fine Arts from the School of the Art Institute of Chicago (SAIC) and teaches in the Art Department at The City College of New York (CUNY) in New York City.


In this series, we focus on the collection of microorganisms – troublesome invaders, benign guests, and essential collaborators – that live in and on all of us. We explore how this realignment of friend and foe changes the way we think about the world.

We Are Cultured, October 10, 2016

  • Danya Glabau received a PhD in Science and Technology Studies (STS) and a B.A. in Biological Sciences from Cornell University and is now Faculty at the Brooklyn Institute for Social Research. Her work blends STS and medical anthropology to investigate the meaning of "good" health care and how morality, political economy, and patient experience influence such judgments. Her work to date has examined the politics of food allergy in the United States, and she is now pursuing new projects on the financialization of medical research and how feminist theory can shape the development of virtual reality technologies.
  • Regina Flores Mir is an artist, designer and programmer interested in creative coding, bio design and data visualization. She's a collaborator on Holobiont Urbanism, at once, a research endeavor and art and design proposition that sets out to study, map, and visualize the microbiome of New York City, which invites participants to reimagine the city they live in as more than a vast metropolis, but rather as a complex and adaptive biological superstructure.
  • Robert Desalle is a curator and Molecular Systematics & Principal Investigator at SICG Genomics Lab American Museum of Natural History. His interests include molecular systematics, microbial evolution, and genomics. His current research focuses on the development of bioinformatic tools to handle large-scale genomics problems using phylogenetic systematic approaches, asking tree-of-life questions concerning microbial life using whole genome information.
  • Zachary Schulman is the founder and organizer of the annual fermentation gathering Ferment! Ferment! Through the event, his blog, and co-facilitation of the NYC Ferments Meetup group, he inspires individuals to start fermenting, encourages seasoned fermenters to hone and expand their craft, and builds a community of people who make and share homemade fermented food and drink. Zachary's excitement and experience extends beyond the kitchen and into the garden, where he has worked organizing and supporting community garden groups for the past 14 years. As a Master Composter, he applies his skills to the symbiotic relationships between food waste and the microbes and other critters that feast on it and make it their home.
  • Cheryl Paswater is a certified fermentationist , educator, and health coach, who after a near-death experience, turned to holistic medicine for help. After radical diet and lifestyle changes, she started teaching on fermentation, old world food preservation, healthy eating, sustainable food, and holistic health. Cheryl runs a popular fermentation project and CSA called Contraband Ferments.

Microbiome in the City, November 11, 2016

  • Christine Marizzi is an award-winning scientist and educator and currently Urban Barcode Project Manager at Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory's DNA Learning Center in New York (www.dnalc.org). With more than a decade in national and international science education, she dedicates her time, energy and intellect to help students realize their greatest potential in STEM fields and provides traditionally under-represented students with multiple entry points to academic and professional careers in STEM disciplines. You can find Christine on Twitter @cmarizzi.
  • Amber Benezra is a sociocultural anthropologist developing an "anthropology of microbes" with human microbial ecologists to explore how the life and social sciences might jointly engage pressing global health problems. She researches the biological/social imperatives emerging from human gut microbiome research in the United States and Bangladesh and is a Visiting Scholar at NYU.
  • Joana Ricou works in the intersection of art and science as an artist and educator. She collaborates with galleries, schools and museums internationally, having worked with the Andy Warhol Museum, Harvard University, the Carnegie Science Center, Pittsburgh Zoo & PPG Aquarium, the Children's Museum of Pittsburgh and Ponce Museo de Arte (Puerto Rico) among others. In 2012, Joana received a fellowship from the STUDIO for Creative Inquiry at Carnegie Mellon University and a Spark award from the Sprout Fund. She worked for 8+ years as creative director of Regenerative Medicine Partnership in Education, developing innovative experiences for science education across media. She also dayjobs as a Product Manager at Knewton LLC and is an associated member of the Center for Philosophy of Sciences of the University of Lisbon. Recently, Joana has been exploring the microbiome as subject matter and artistic medium. Other self portraits is a series of portraits created using the actual microbiome of the subject as an art medium. Other self portraits can be experienced online, as an installation and as a participatory performance that invites viewers to consider their other selves, the parts of their body which are not human, and reflect upon the connection they form between all of us. Joana received commissions from from the Eden Project and the Wellcome Trust (2015 and from the North Carolina Museum of Natural Sciences (2016) to support this work.
  • Elizabeth Hénaff was born of French/American parents in Austin in 1981, grew up in France, and has since lived in the US, Japan and Spain. She received a BS in Computer Science, an MS in Plant Biology (both from UT Austin) and a PhD in Bioinformatics from the University of Barcelona. The impetus behind her research is a fascination with the way living beings interact with their environment. She has made contributions to understanding how plants respond to the force of gravity, how plant genome structure changes in response to stress, and most recently has turned her attention to the ubiquitous and invisible microbial component of our environment. She has consistently made the tools - software, wetware, hardware - needed to answer her research questions, and enjoys both this process and the goal equally. Her interests in biological interactions and data visualization have inspired her to create interactive installations, and she has collaborated with artists and musicians in Barcelona, Paris and New York designing custom interactive visuals for their events. She currently works as a postdoc at the Weill Cornell Medical College in New York City.

The 1000 Year View of the Microbiome & How to Get There, December 7, 2016

  • Jennifer Wolkin, PhD is an NYC-based licensed clinical health psychologist, neuropsychologist, mindfulness-meditation practitioner, writer, speaker, and adjunct professor. Dr. Wolkin recently founded a bespoke private practice with an appreciation that our mind, body, brain, and spirit are intimately intertwined - and impacted upon - by one another. She draws heavily from such tools as cognitive behavioral therapy and mindfulness-based techniques. Her passion for connecting through thoughts, words, and ideas inspired her to create a blog and online community space called BrainCurves®, where she offers accurate and accessible information about mind-body-brain wellness.
  • Rosamond Rhodes, Ph.D., is Professor of Medical Education and Director of Bioethics Education at Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai, Professor of Philosophy at The Graduate Center, CUNY, and Professor of Bioethics and Associate Director of the Clarkson-Mount Sinai Bioethics Program. Dr. Rhodes is PI on an NIH/Fogarty International grant, “Research Ethics Education in the Balkans and Black Sea Countries,” she collaborates on a variety studies, and was PI on an NIH, National Human Genome Research Institute (NHGRI) study, “Human Microbiome and the Social Fabric.” Dr. Rhodes writes on a broad array of issues in bioethics, and outside of bioethics, she has done work on Aristotle, Kant, Rawls, and most of all, Thomas Hobbes. She currently serves as Sovereign of the International Hobbes Association and on the editorial boards of several international journals, including, Cambridge Quarterly of Healthcare Ethicsand Hobbes Studies. She has published over 200 articles and chapters and co-edited five volumes of original papers: The Human Microbiome: Ethical, Legal and Social Concerns (Oxford University Press, 2013), The Blackwell Guide to Medical Ethics(Blackwell, 2007), Medicine and Social Justice: Essays on the Distribution of Health Care (Oxford University Press, first edition 2002; second edition 2012), and Physician Assisted Suicide: Expanding the Debate (Routledge, 1998).
  • Camille Delebecque is the co-founder and CEO of Afineur, a Brooklyn based biotechnology company using controlled fermentations to enhance the flavor and nutritional profiles of plant-based foods. Afineur is a pioneer in consumer biotechnology, raising awareness about the potential of cultured products notably through a successful Kickstarter campaign. Previously, Camille founded Synbio Consulting to foster biotechnological innovation. Camille holds a PhD in Synthetic Biology he completed between Harvard and Paris Universities. He has been recognized an emerging leader shaping the future of biotechnology and food by LEAP and Grist.
  • Camonghne Felix, M.A. is a poet, political strategist, political media junkie and cultural worker. Born and raised in New York City, Camonghne began her civic and literary career as a high school policy debater who used poetry and performance devices to win difficult cases. In 2016, Camonghne was appointed Speechwriter and then Deputy Press Secretary to Governor Cuomo -- and following the path she begun in high school, remains committed to bringing the raw humanity of poetics to the political field -- hoping to aggressively work against the mechanical, oppressive nature of government as we know it. Camonghne’s poetry has been published in over 20 publications and has recognized in various fashions, including a Pushcart Prize nomination in 2012 and the Cora Craig award for Young Women, and fellowships from Cave Canem and Callaloo. She has written for Huffington Post, Teen Vogue, For Harriet, Vice and was listed by Black Youth Project as a "Black Girl From the Future You Should Know," Camonghne has been published in over 15 various publications, and has received fellowships from prestigious programs including Callaloo and Cave Canem. She is now a Public Affairs executive for BerlinRosen, a high performance PR firm that brings the power of messaging to progressive thought leaders, non-profits and politicians. Her first full-length collection of poems, Build Yourself a Boat, is a University of Wisconsin Press Brittingham & Pollak Prize finalist.
  • Mathura Govindarajan is currently a graduate student at New York University in the Interactive Telecommunication Program. She completed her undergraduate studies from National Institute of Technology, Surathkal, India in Electronics and Communication Engineering. Her interests in the four years there took her from working on signal processing to theatre productions. Mathura's current interests revolve around assistive technology, developing accessible software, fabrication, coffee and messing around with physical computing.


Scientists make discoveries, engineers design new technologies, artists create multimedia installations contemplating how the world works, corporations develop and distribute new products, policymakers, researchers, creatives, and grassroots activists alike attempt to create positive impacts, while others instead either choose to remain a passive observer or feel their voice goes unheard. Ideally, all of these actors could work together at all stages of scientific and technological development to ensure the best outcomes for society as a whole.

Integration of Science & Society, March 30, 2016

  • Myles Jackson, NYU Gallatin; History of Molecular Biology & Intellecutual Property
  • Jeremy Blatter, NYU Steinhardt; Media, Culture, Communication; History of Science

Fostering Creativity & Social Responsiveness, April 27, 2016

  • Katayoun Chamany - Associate Professor of Biology, Director Interdisciplinary Science, The New School
  • Tracy Essoglou - Founder, CultureScaping – social literacy salons & culture seminars; recognized artist, author, indie scholar, practicing philosopher, & activist
  • Deepu Gowda - Physician, Associate Professor of Medicine & the Director of Clinical Practice in the program in Narrative Medicine at Columbia University Medical Center
  • Zishan Ugurlu - Associate Professor of Theater, Program Director, The New School

The 1000 Year View & How to Get There, May 18, 2016

  • Harvey Seifter - Founder & Director, Art of Science Learning, and Principal Investigator of its two National Science Foundation grants. Harvey is one of the world’s leading authorities on organizational creativity and arts‐based learning.
  • Pamela Smith - Seth Low Professor of History, Director of the Center for Science and Society, Columbia University; specializes in early modern European history and the history of science; current research focuses on attitudes to nature in early modern Europe and the Scientific Revolution, with particular attention to craft knowledge and historical techniques. 
  • Matthew Stanley - Associate Professor History & Philosophy of Science,  NYU Gallatin; is interested in the connections between science and the wider culture. Current projects include a history of scientific predictions of the end of the world and he is part of a nationwide National Science Foundation-funded effort to use the humanities to improve science education in the college classroom.
  • Mary Suk - a contributive force in the New York art community through her work as a choreographer, arts educator, and modern dancer. Her dances have been performed at Joyce SoHo, Merce Cunningham Studio, Aaron Davis Hall, Teachers College, Bates Summer Dance Festival and Soundance Studio. 
  • David Thompson - co-founder, Connect with STEM; previously Director of Organizational Engagement in the pharmaceutical industry (Boehringer Ingelheim), David has explored a variety of problems spanning science across academia and industry.