Past topics


Monday, May 11, 2015
Why We (and Weebles) Wobble but Don’t Fall Down
Featuring Tonia Hsieh, Assistant Professor of Biology at Temple University.

As you traverse the hazard-filled streets of Philadelphia on a daily basis, have you ever had to think about how you will step on and off a sidewalk, dexterously avoid a pothole, or simply stay upright and not fall down while walking? Though it might seem automatic to you, it turns out that moving through our natural and built environments is no easy feat. Movement is something that all animals do, and often in amazingly acrobatic ways. Ask a robot to do it, however, and it will often struggle and fall over the simplest obstacles. This talk will reveal some mysteries of animal locomotion that allow us to move through the world with grace and composure (most of the time). It will also show how integrating biology into robotics is enabling ever deeper insights into both biology and robotic design.

Monday, April 13, 2015
The Lost World of Plant Monsters: Animal-Plants, Stone-Plants, and Other Categorical Challenges
Featuring Lynnette Regouby, Mellon Post-Doctoral Fellow at the American Philosophical Society Museum.

Stone-Plants. Animal-Plants. Sensitive Plants. Eighteenth-century natural history was populated with categories that we no longer recognize but that at the time presented serious challenges to classification. This talk revisits a world of plant monsters, whose ability to walk, to feed, or to feel, breeched the boundaries between animal and vegetable kingdoms and helped to revise what it means to be a plant, a human, or something in between.

Monday, March 9, 2015
Shots for Spots and Want-It-Nots: Measles, Measles Vaccine, and Refusers
Featuring Karie Youngdahl, Director of the History of Vaccines project.

The recent measles outbreak stemming from exposures at Disneyland has focused attention on this disease that was eliminated from the United States in 2000. Karie Youngdahl, director of the History of Vaccines project, will put the current outbreak in historical context by looking at the epidemiology of measles over time and attempts at immunizing for measles from the mid-1700s. She will also discuss resistance to vaccination and the ways that arguments against vaccine have been made by anti-vaccinators from Edward Jenner’s time to now.

Monday, February 9, 2015
Guano Happens: A Illustrated History of Fertilizers in America.
Featuring Timothy Johnson, the Allington Dissertation Fellow at the Chemical Heritage Foundation for 2014-15 and a Ph.D. candidate in history at the University of Georgia.

In late summer 2014, some 400,000 residents of Toledo, Ohio lost access to tap water because of a massive bloom of toxic cyanobacteria in Lake Erie.  Every summer, similar events occur in watersheds that drain regions where soils are saturated with chemical fertilizers on farms and lawns.  If humans are responsible for this annual toxic tide, why has it been so hard to stop it?  In this talk, Timothy Johnson will discuss the environmental history of chemical fertilizers in the United States, exploring topics as diverse as guano islands, explosives production, and comic books to show how fertilizers became an indispensable tool for farmers, in spite of the considerable costs they have incurred.

Monday, January 12, 2015
The Floor is Lava (Literally): The Do’s and Don’ts of Volcanology
Featuring Loÿc Vanderkluysen, Ph.D., Assistant Professor, Department of Biodiversity, Earth & Environmental Science, Drexel University

Every year, an average of 60 volcanoes erupt worldwide; approximately 15 of these eruptions have the potential to disrupt air traffic and cause widespread destruction. The practical consequences of these damaging effects made front-page news in 2010, following the eruptions of Eyjafjallajökull volcano in Iceland (which caused extensive air traffic disruptions and flight cancellations), and Merapi volcano in Indonesia (during which 353 people were killed, and 350,000 were displaced). These events highlighted the need for novel and improved real-time volcano monitoring tools. In this presentation, Dr Vanderkluysen will talk about current eruptions in Hawaii and elsewhere across the globe, recent technological developments in volcano monitoring, and volcanic surveillance in the United States.


Monday, December 8, 2014
The Physics of the Perfect French Fry
Featuring Scott Paulson, Ph.D., Associate Professor in the Department of Physics and Astronomy at James Madison University

We’ve been enjoying french fries for centuries, yet they continue to elude home chefs and gourmands alike. Can science explain the art of perfecting this everyday food? Dr. Scott Paulson, french fry-enthusiast and physics and astronomy professor at James Madison University, says yes. During this Science on Tap, Paulson will explore the science behind the seemingly simple act of deep-frying a potato, including important questions such as: What variety of potato works best? Does the type of oil matter? Is fresher better? He will also discuss high-heat vs. low-heat cooking techniques and the reluctant interaction of oil with water, in a quest to uncover the perfect french fry recipe.
View the presentation slides.

Monday, November 10, 2014
Do Cats Make You Crazy?
Featuring Omar Harb, Ph.D., Education and Scientific Outreach manager for the Eukaryotic Pathogen Databases

The 2014 Ig Nobel prize in public health was recently awarded to researchers studying whether owning a cat is mentally hazardous to people. The source of this hazard is not the cat itself but what it can carry: an extremely contagious and ubiquitous parasite calledToxoplasma gondii. This successful parasite can infect almost any warm-blooded animal, hiding in the brain as a cyst. In most people it is thought that the dormant Toxoplasma brain cyst does nothing. However, research suggests that these dormant cysts may actually have neurological consequences. Before you run home and get rid of your cuddly kitten, we will objectively take a look at the research to try and understand if cats really make you crazy.

Monday, October 13, 2014
Thinking Outside the Jar: Exploring the Neurophysiology of Creative Genius
Featuring Seth “Dr. Adventure!” Kane, owner, Lead Fabricator, the New Flesh Workshop

Examination of Albert Einsteins brain, provided by the Mütter Museum under a Wood Fellowship grant, yielded evidence of cell growth up until his death. How did he foster this growth? What about his life and methods led to these changes in physiology? This month’s talk focuses on how joy, imagination and diligent mental exercise contribute to physiological changes in the brain, optimizing it for creativity.

Monday, September 8, 2014
“Permaculture Food Forests in the City”
Featuring Phil Forsyth, urban orchardist and Director of the Philadelphia Orchard Project

When William Penn created Philadelphia he envisioned a lush American Eden, a “greene country towne.” Today,  Philadelphia is a far cry from that vision, but there is a growing movement to create a healthier, more sustainable city full of green spaces with access to healthy local food.

Phil Forsyth, Philadelphia’s own Johnny Appleseed, has planted dozens of permaculture orchards and edible forests through his work with the Philadelphia Orchard Project. He will discuss permaculture, a design science aimed at creating sustainable regenerative landscapes and communities, and food forests, a permaculture strategy for developing diverse, multi-layered food-producing ecosystems. Phil believes we can we create functioning, diverse environments within the city that that mimic the natural systems within forests. These food forests and orchards bring fresh fruit to Philadelphians, replace vacant lots, bring the community together and help clean the water and air.

Monday, August 11, 2014

“Show and Tell”
Featuring Bartram’s Garden, Eastern State Penitentiary, Elfreth’s Alley, Free Library of Philadelphia, Independence Seaport Museum, National Liberty Museum, National Constitution Center, University of Pennsylvania Museum of Anthropology & Archaeology

How do some of Philadelphia’s great historical and cultural institutions relate to science? Find out at a special format Science on Tap: Show-and-Tell event! Join us as Philadelphia museums bring a piece of their story to National Mechanics to demonstrate to us how their work relates to science.These organizations will present a specific object or idea in flash talk format, giving you a chance to see these establishments in a new scientific light.

Monday, July 14, 2014
“Alien-like Catfish”
Featuring ichthyologist John Lundberg

Want to know what’s in the water? Ask John Lundberg, PhD, about his recent research. Kryptoglanis shajii is a strange fish—and the closer scientists look, the stranger it gets. This small subterranean catfish sees the light of day and human observers only rarely, when it turns up in springs, wells, and flooded rice paddies in the Western Ghats mountain region of Kerala, India.

Lundberg, one of the world’s leading authorities on catfishes, started taking a closer look at several specimens soon after the catfish’s discovery in 2011. It’s quite puzzling, but it doesn’t seem to fit into the family tree of catfishes.

John Lundberg is an ichthyologist, evolutionary biologist, and systematist. His research mainly concerns fish diversity and diversification using modern and fossil specimens and phenotypic and genetic data. He is drawn to exploration and collecting in poorly known waters and fossiliferous sediments. Lundberg joined the Academy of Natural Sciences as the curator of ichthyology, where he oversaw, grew, and promoted one of the world’s largest and most active research collections of fishes. He retired in 2013 but remains active in research.

Monday, June 9, 2014
“The Men Behind the Screens: RCA and the Origins of the LCD”
Featuring CHF Research Fellow Ben Gross, PhD

Everyone has heard about liquid crystal displays. These thin electronic screens are found in our televisions, laptops, and smartphones. We rely on them to consume information and communicate with each other.

But what exactly are liquid crystals? Who figured out they could be used in displays? And why did RCA—the company that oversaw their invention—never succeed in commercializing them? In this talk Ben Gross will provide a “behind the screens” tour of the science and history of the LCD.

Ben Gross is a research fellow in the Chemical Heritage Foundation’s Center for Contemporary History and Policy, where he oversees a variety of projects related to material innovation. He also serves as curator of “Innovations That Changed the World,” an exhibition on RCA’s contributions to the history of electronics at The College of New Jersey. Gross earned a Ph.D. in the history of science from Princeton University and is currently revising his doctoral dissertation on the development of the LCD for publication.

Monday, May 12, 2014
“Some Questions to Ask Ben Franklin”
Featuring  professor and APS Executive Officer Keith Thomson

Benjamin Franklin’s most famous experiment supposedly involved a kite and a key. But what was it for? Did he actually do it? In fact, could he have done it? Alternatively, why are some authors so keen to suggest it is all a fake?
Keith Thomson is Executive Officer of the American Philosophical Society and Professor Emeritus of natural history at the University of Oxford. He previously taught for many years at Yale and was President of the Academy of Natural Sciences of Philadelphia. He is the author of 12 books including The Young Charles Darwin (2009) and Jefferson’s Shadow: the Story of his Science (2012).

Monday, April 14, 2014
“Culturing Food: History, Health and Fermentation”
by Adam D. Zolkover

What do The Epic of Gilgamesh, James Cook’s Voyage Toward the South Pole and Round the World, the dairies of Gruyères Switzerland, and our speaker’s home kitchen all have in common?  Fermentation!

We can define fermentation as a biological process:  as the metabolization of sugars by yeasts, bacteria, and sometimes our own cells, into gases, acids, and alcohol.  For denizens of the microbial world, it’s a matter of eat, then excrete.  But for humans, fermentation is a cultural process.  Bread, beer, dairy, pickles, and preserved meats have all been key ingredients in the success of agricultural, sedentary, urban societies.  And they have all been essential to long voyages of exploration.

This talk explores the intermingling of science and history in the kitchen.  And it explores some of the practical aspects of fermentation for home cooks today.

Adam D. Zolkover is a folklorist, freelance writer, and food blogger living in Philadelphia, PA.  He serves as editor of the Institute for Civility in Government’s online initiative — The Civility Blog — and teaches courses in folklore, literature, and popular culture at Philadelphia University, Temple University, and The University of Pennsylvania.  He has run workshops on fermentation and lacto-pickling for the Mount Airy Learning Tree.  And he is owner and proprietor of, where he writes about food culture, sustainable cooking, and the preparation and consumption of all manners of delicious fermented things.

MONDAY, March 10, 2013
Rare Earth Metals: iPhones to Alien Life
Featuring Dr. Eric Schelter, Department of Chemistry, University of Pennsylvania

Banished to the bottom of the periodic table, the rare earth metals are rarely discussed, exotic curiosities. Yet these metals are hidden throughout our daily lives, enabling internet communication, harvesting wind energy, and illuminating our existence. We’ll discuss the intersection of the metals with clean energy and the dark side of their exploitative mining and processing. From magnets to volcanic mudpots, rare earth metals inspire and amaze.

Eric Schelter is an assistant professor of chemistry at Penn. His area of specialty is f-block chemistry, and his work currently focuses on the chemistry of rare earth elements. 

Monday, February 10, 2014
“Next Generation Paleontology” by Ken Lacovara, PhD
Department of Biodiversity, Earth & Environmental Science, Drexel University

 According to Dr. Kenneth Lacovara, “technology in paleontology hasn’t     changed much in about 150 years. We use shovels and pickaxes and burlap and plaster. It hasn’t changed—until right now.”

Lacovara and a team of researchers at Drexel University are bringing the latest technological advancements in 3-D scanning and printing to the study of ancient life. Using scale models of real fossils, for the first time they will be able to test hypotheses about how dinosaurs and other prehistoric animals moved and lived in their environments.

 Ken Lacovara, associate professor in the Department of Biodiversity, Earth and Environmental Science at Drexel University, focuses on Mesozoic Era paleoenvironments that contain the remains of dinosaurs and other vertebrates.  He co-authored descriptions of two new dinosaurs (Paralititan and Suzhousaurus) and is about to unveil the remains of a new giant, a 70-ton titanosaur from Patagonia.

Monday, January 13, 2014
“What’s the Matter with the Higgs Bozon” by Dave Goldberg, PhD

Professor, Department of Physics, Drexel University

The Higgs boson is one of the biggest, most influential discoveries of the last decade, important enough that it resulted in an almost instant Nobel prize.  But what’s it all about? How does it work? And what does it mean for a particle to “create mass”? If you’ve been feeling confused at cocktail parties, Dave Goldberg will give you a half hour primer on how the universe works to set you straight.

Dave Goldberg is a theoretical cosmologist and professor of Physics at Drexel University.  He is the author, most recently, of “The Universe in the Rearview Mirror: How Hidden Symmetries Shape Reality.” Dr. Goldberg is interested in the interface between science and pop culture and is especially prone to nerdly excess of sci-fi references.  He writes a regular “Ask a Physicist” column for, has been featured on WNYC’s Studio 360, The Leonard Lopate Show, WHYY’s NewsWorks Tonight and has contributed to Slate, Wired & the L.A. Times.


Monday, December 9, 2013
“The good, the bad… the algae?” by Charles Delwiche, PhD

Professor, University of Maryland Department of Cell Biology and Molecular Genetics

Although often thought of as nuisance organisms, algae are vital to everyday life.

Please join us for a talk all about algae by Charles Delwiche, Professor (and Affiliate of Department of Biology and Cell Biology and Molecular Genetics) at the University of Maryland. The term “algae” refers to a set of distantly related organisms that are united by their capability for oxygen-evolving photosynthesis. Often neglected, these organisms include the primary producers that dominate oxygen production and carbon dioxide consumption world-wide. Many are fascinating and beautiful (albeit microscopic) organisms, and studying them can give clues to the earliest evolution of life on Earth, and suggest strategies for coping with some of the world’s most pressing problems.

Charles Delwiche has a Ph.D. from the University of Wisconsin. His research interests focus on understanding the early evolution of photosynthetic life, and he would like to understand why of all the possible worlds, we got the one we have. His laboratory at the University of Maryland uses both classical and genomic techniques to study chloroplasts as endosymbiotic organelles, the origin of land plants from green algae, and the diversification of all forms of life, particularly dinoflagellates.

Monday, November 11, 2013
” Beauty is in the Eye of the Anatomizer” by Carin Berkowitz, Director, Beckman Center for the History of Chemistry

We sometimes talk about beautiful bodies today, but we are rarely referring to their innards. Not so for early nineteenth century anatomists, for whom beauty was a concept central to their science, often revealing truthfulness of a theory or anatomical drawing. Sir Charles Bell, one such anatomist, saw anatomy and art as closely related subjects.

He taught anatomy to artists as well as to surgeons at his Great Windmill Street School of Anatomy, in London; illustrated all of his own anatomical texts; and wrote a treatise for artists on the use of anatomy in depicting the human form, Essays on the Anatomy of Expression in Painting. As surprising as the close relationship he envisioned between science and art might seem in our modern and fragmented world, a third unlikely element, religion, helped to solidify connections across what we now regard as separate disciplines.

Carin Berkowitz is broadly interested in the intersections of science and medicine in the late Enlightenment and early nineteenth century and in the place of pedagogy in medical science. She was the recipient of the American Association for the History of Medicine’s 2010 Shryock Medal and was selected to act as guest editor for a special issue of the Bulletin of the History of Medicine on objects, images, and anatomy. Berkowitz is currently working on two projects—one a series of articles on the roles of visualization and sensation in making anatomical knowledge (two of which have now been published), and the other a book manuscript on the pedagogical spaces that defined late Enlightenment medical science in Britain. As director of the Chemical Heritage Foundation’s Beckman Center, Berkowitz works with CHF fellows and Philadelphia-area historians of science to continue to develop CHF as a center for independent research and scholarly community. Berkowitz received a B.A. from Johns Hopkins University in 2001 and a Ph.D. in science and technology studies from Cornell University in 2010.

Monday, October 14, 2013
coming soon

Monday, September 9, 2013
“Specimen: The Insects and Natural History of Eastern State Penitentiary” Greg Cowper, Entomology Department, The Academy of Natural Sciences of Drexel University

Almost 125 years ago, an inmate of Philadelphia’s Eastern State Penitentiary collected butterflies and moths in the exercise yard attached to his cell. Flash forward to spring 2011 when Academy entomologist Greg Cowper revisited the insect fauna of the prison as part of Eastern State Penitentiary’s History and Artist Installation Series. Drawing from this experience, Cowper will discuss the collision of art, science, and natural history within the walls of the prison; the insects and other invertebrates he has collected; and the Cabinet of Curiosities assembled in Cellblock 9 as part of his exhibit “Specimen.”

 Greg Cowper, a curatorial assistant in the Entomology Department, has completed fieldwork in New Zealand, Africa, the Caribbean, and the eastern and southwestern United States. His research interests are in the systematics, evolution, and biogeography of Heteroptera, the true bugs.

Monday, July 8, 2013
“The Life, Death and Rebirth of the Mississippi Delta”

Doug Jerolmack, University of Pennsylvania

The Gulf Oil Spill and Hurricane Katrina are just the latest blows to a delta that has been dying a slow death from decades of mismanagement and neglect. Doug Jerolmack will discuss the origins of the Mississippi Delta and the scientific principles behind the causes and consequences of modern wetland loss in coastal Louisiana. He will introduce possible solutions for the long-term sustainability of the Delta and what recent catastrophic flooding on the Delta has taught us about how rivers build land into the ocean.

Doug Jerolmack’s research focuses on the spatial and temporal evolution of patterns that emerge at the interface of fluid and sediment on Earth and planetary surfaces. He has a B.S. in Environmental Engineering from Drexel University and a PhD in Geophysics from MIT. He is currently a Professor of geophysics in Department of Earth and Environmental Science at the University of Pennsylvania.

Monday, June 10, 2013
“Depicting What Cannot Be Seen: The Art of Medical and Scientific Illustration”

David Rini, Johns Hopkins University

Illustration depicting the venous drainage pattern of a pair of young craniopagus twins from Germany who were operated on at Johns Hopkins by a team lead by Ben Carson, MD in 2004.

David Rini talked about the evolution of the profession of medical and scientific illustration in the United States – from crow quill pens to highly sophisticated 3D animation. Medical and scientific illustrators are professional artists with advanced education in both the life sciences and visual communication Among many other examples, Rini will discuss his illustrations of the most challenging aspect of the surgical procedure to separate conjoined, craniopagus (joined at the head) twins.

David Rini, MFA, is a Certified Medical Illustrator and an Associate Professor in the Department of Art as Applied to Medicine and the Graduate Program in Cellular and Molecular Medicine at Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore, Maryland. Rini’s work involves collaborating with scientists, physicians, and other specialists to transform complex scientific information into visual images designed to communicate to broad audiences. Prior to coming to Hopkins in 1993, he established and directed the Department of Neurosurgical Illustration at the Mayfield Neurological Institute in Cincinnati, Ohio. He is the principal and art director of The Fine Art of Illustration, an independent studio specializing in the artful and accurate blend of 2D scientific imagery and 3D technology.

Monday, May 13, 2013
“Domesticated Viscera: The Biological Becomes Quotidian”
Laura Splan, visual artist

In this month’s talk, Laura Splan, a Brooklyn based visual artist, explores how the biology of the body enters the quotidian landscape through cultural production and historical events. Splan’s conceptually driven work employs a variety of media including sculpture, video, photography, digital media and works on paper. Her objects and images interrogate the visual manifestations of our cultural ambivalence towards the human body. She often uses found objects and appropriated images to examine the evolving role of biomedical imagery in our every day lives, which she refers to as the “domestication of viscera“. She often combines signifiers of femininity, domesticity and comfort with those of disorder, aberration and disease. Much of her work is inspired by experimentation with materials and processes including blood, cosmetic facial peel and computerized embroidery.

Laura Splan has exhibited in a broad range of curatorial contexts including craft, feminism, technology, design, medicine and ritual. Her work as been exhibited widely at such venues as Museum of Art & Design (New York, NY), International Museum of Surgical Science (Chicago, IL), and New York Hall of Science (New York, NY). She was recently awarded a commission from the Center for Disease Control. As a visiting artist and lecturer, she has taught interdisciplinary courses that explore intersections of Art and Science
including “Art & Biology” at Stanford University (Palo Alto, CA)
and “Dissection as Studio Practice” at Observatory (Brooklyn, NY).

Monday, April 22, 2013
Science on Tap Quizzo
2013 Philadelphia Science Festival
Hosted by Timshel Purdum, Senior Manager of Education at the Academy of Natural Science of Drexel  University

Monday, April 8, 2013
“Hans Holbein and the Renaissance Technology of Perspective”
Alex Boxer, Idols of the Cave

The anamorphic skull in Hans Holbein’s painting The Ambassadors has been a subject of much debate and intrigue since the early Renaissance. Using computer-based image analysis and some historical detective work, Alex Boxer suggests that this famous skull was likely drafted according to a simple geometric scheme that appeared in print a few decades later.

Alex Boxer has been trying his best to live with one foot in the sciences and one foot in the humanities.  He has a Ph.D. in physics from MIT where he worked on a nuclear fusion experiment, and a master’s in the history of science from Oxford where he wrote about Newtonian lecture demonstrations.  College was at Yale where he majored in both physics and classics.  Alex currently works as an undersea analyst in Washington, DC.  In his spare time, he makes history of science YouTube videos for his website Idols of the Cave.

Monday, March 11, 2013
“Unexpected Specimens: What’s in the Academy Archives Anyway?”
Clare Flemming, Academy of Natural Sciences of Drexel University

The Academy Archives, a collection of one-of-a-kind documents, art, artifacts, film, photos, field notes, illustrations, and memorabilia, tells the story of the Academy from its founding in March 1812 through its two centuries of existence. The collection is comprised of not only official Academy documents, but also an abundance of scientific and personal unpublished materials from research scientists and others associated with the Academy.

Find out what we keep in the Archives, why we keep it, and how our oldest treasures contribute to current research. No appointment is required for this sneak peek into the Academy’s Archives!

Clare Flemming joined the Academy in 2009 as the Brooke Dolan      Archivist   and now directs the Library as well. Her early career included collection care, bibliographic research, fossil preparation, and field expeditions. She may be the only archivist we know who has described a species, an extinct fossil rodent from Jamaica (Xaymaca fulvopulvis), and has a species named after her—a blind cave scorpion from the West Indies (Heteronebo clarea).

Monday, February 11, 2013
Shifting Gears: Challenging Students to Solve the World’s Toughest Problems… and Creating Badass Hybrid Cars in the Process
Simon Hauger, The Sustainability Workshop

How did urban high school students dream up the world’s first badass hybrid – a car that is faster than a Porsche and gets better fuel economy than a Prius? Simon Hauger will share the story of his awarding-winning hybrid vehicle program, which was recently honored at the White House and featured in a Frontline documentary. He will also share lessons learned from the first year at his new school, The Sustainability Workshop, and what it tells us about teaching and learning.

Simon Hauger is an engineer turned urban high school math and science teacher. He began the Hybrid X Team at West Philadelphia High School 13 years ago to engage his students in math, science and engineering. The students won multiple national competitions with the hybrid vehicles they designed and built and which outperformed top Universities and corporations. The innovative approach to education that powered the Hybrid X Team to victory is the basis for a new school that Simon and his colleagues began in 2012. The Sustainability Workshop challenges students to solve the world’s most pressing problems, and organizes teaching and learning in service of doing. Simon and his wife have three wonderful children.

January 14, 2013
3D Printing for the Sweet Tooth: Are Sugar Glass Vascular Networks the Future of Organ Regeneration?
Jordan Miller, University of Pennsylvania

The field of regenerative medicine attempts to replace organ donation with engineered tissues made from a patient’s own cells. Jordan Miller, PhD, will talk about the development and details for 3D printing temporary templates of blood vessels made from sugar for this field, and how this technology impacts the future of organ regeneration research.

Jordan S. Miller, PhD, is a post-doctoral fellow in the Tissue Microfabrication Laboratory at the University of Pennsylvania, a founding member of Hive76 in Philadelphia,  and a RepRap core developer. His research in the department of Bioengineering combines chemistry and rapid prototyping to direct cultured human cells to form more complex organizations of living vessels and tissues. Miller has been in the 3D maker community since the beginning. He developed the first MakerBot heated build platform at Hive76 and is delighted to use his RepRap 3D printer every day in the lab for biomedical research and regenerative medicine.


November 12, 2012
“Winging It in Mongolia”
Stephen Mason, The Academy of Natural Sciences

October 8, 2012
“The Science of Vampires”
Kathy Haas, Assistant Curator at the Rosenbach Museum & Library

Everybody knows about Dracula, but did you know that his creator, Bram Stoker, had a degree in mathematics and that several of his brothers were doctors?  Science, technology, and medicine permeate the novel and Kathy Haas, assistant curator at the Rosenbach Museum & Library, will explore the tension between science and superstition in this classic tale of terror. The talk will include a look at images of Stoker’s working notes for Dracula (owned by the Rosenbach) including material from his brother, William Thornley Stoker, a noted surgeon.  Anna Dhody, curator of the Mütter Museum, will also offer a look at medical conditions that may have inspired tales of vampirism.

Kathy Haas is the assistant curator at the Rosenbach Museum & Library, which preserves Bram Stoker’s working notes for Dracula. She has curated several exhibitions on Dracula for the Rosenbach.

September 10, 2012
“Alien Invasion: Invasive Species in Our Oceans”
Amy Karpati, Assistant Professor of Biology, Temple University

July 9, 2012
“Flash! A Quick History of Photography in Motion”
Jane E. Boyd, Independent Curator

June 11, 2012
“Do-It-Yourself Evolution: A Historian’s Guide to Amateur Plant Breeding”
Helen Anne Curry, Visiting Fellow, Chemical Heritage Foundation

May 14, 2012
“The Science and Magic of Fairy Tale Birth”
Linda J. Lee, Graduate Program in Folklore and Folklife, University of Pennsylvania

April 23, 2012
Science on Tap QUIZZO!
Part of the Philadelphia Science Festival

April 2, 2012 
“Mongolian Fish Hunt”
Mark Sabaj Pérez, Ichthyology Collection Manager at the Academy of Natural Sciences of Drexel University

March 12, 2012
“Tiny Conspiracies: Cell-to-Cell Communication in Bacteria”
Bonnie Bassler, Squibb Professor in Molecular Biology, Princeton University

February 13, 2012
“Violence in the Laboratory: How Science Changed War and War Changed Science”
M. Susan Lindee, Professor and Associate Dean for the Social Sciences, School of Arts and Sciences, University of Pennsylvania

January 9, 2012
“When Good Drugs Go Bad”
Antoinette Thwaites, Forensic Chemist, Philadelphia Police Department


December 12, 2011
“Yoüth in the Building: Shaking up the Bones at the Mütter Museum”
Jacqui Bowman, PhD, Director, Education and Public Initiatives; Director, Karabots Junior Fellows Program, The College of Physicians of Philadelphia

November 14, 2011
“Supermassive skeleton Skillfully Secured from South America”
Jason C. Poole, Manager of the Fossil Prep Lab at the Academy of Natural Sciences

October 10, 2011
“The Science of Demonology”
Jonathan Seitz, Ph.D., Assistant Teaching Professor of History, Drexel University

September 12, 2011
“Chile Peppers: Heat and History”
Joseph Rucker, Ph.D., Director of Research and Development, Integral Molecular, Inc.

July 11, 2011
“Underwater Communication: Fiber Optics and Whale Songs”
Thaddeus Phillips, theater director, performer and set designer

June 13, 2011
“Imagining the Body Abnormal: Art and Artifice in Historical Medical Photography”
Evi Numen, MFA, Exhibits Manager, Mütter Museum of The College of Physicians of Philadelphia

May 9, 2011
“Shocking Streams and Freaky Fish”
Dr. Richard Horwitz, Senior Scientist, Fisheries, Academy of Natural Sciences

April 18, 2011
Science on Tap QUIZZO!
Part of the Philadelphia Science Festival

April 11, 2011
“Fermentation: The Amazing Mother of it all in Wine and Beer”
Solomon H. Katz, Distinguished Professor of Anthropology at the University of Pennsylvania; Director of Penn’s Krogman Center for Childhood Growth and Development; editor-in-chief of the Encyclopedia of Food and Culture (2003)

March 14, 2011 
“Living the High Life: Insights on the Private Lives of Giraffes”
Christine Bartos, Curator of Ungulates and Small Mammals, Philadelphia Zoo

February 14, 2011
“The Disappearing Spoon and Other True Tales of Madness, Love, and the History of the World from the Periodic Table of the Elements”
Sam Kean, science writer, correspondent for Science magazine

Jan. 10, 2011
“Benjamin Rush’s Heartbreak: The Bloody Battle Against Yellow Fever in 1793”
Annie Brogan, College Librarian, Historical Medical Library, The College of Physicians of Philadelphia


Dec. 13, 2010
“Fertilizer: More than Just The Brown Stuff”
Dr. David Hewitt, Research Associate, Botany Department, The Academy of Natural Sciences

Nov. 8, 2010
“Bedtime Stories for Fido: Life in a Biodiversity Laboratory”
Scott McRobert, Professor of Biology, Saint Joseph’s University

Oct. 11, 2010
“A Toast to Fixing the Sky”
James Fleming, Professor of Science, Technology and Society, Colby College

September 13, 2010
“The Association for Creative Zoology”
Beauvais Lyons, Director of the Hokes Archive

July 12, 2010
“The Burke and Hare Murders: Sixteen Good Reasons Not To Drink Whiskey With Strangers”
Lisa Rosner, Professor of History at Stockton College, NJ

June 14, 2010
“The Slippery Facts About Oil Spills”
David Velinsky, Vice President for Environmental Research and Senior Scientist, Geochemistry Section, The Academy of Natural Sciences

May 10, 2010 – 
“The Search for the Other Earth”
Derrick Pitts, Chief Astronomer, Franklin Institute

April 12, 2010 
“What’s in Your Air? Low Tech Tools for Finding Out”
Gwen Ottinger, Research Fellow, Environmental History and Policy, Chemical Heritage Foundation

March 8, 2010 
“The Impact of Meteors on the Origin and Early Evolution of Life”
Alexandra Krull Davatzes, Assistant Professor of Geology, Temple University

February 8, 2010 
“Imperialism and the Family Business: Population Structure and Political Change on the Central Coast of Peru”
Lori Jahnke, S. Gordon Castigliano CLIR Fellow at The College of Physicians of Philadelphia

January 11, 2010 
“The Natural History of Beer”
Ernie Schyuler, Curator Emeritus of Botany, The Academy of Natural Sciences


Dec. 14, 2009 
“Dinosaur Studies in China”
Peter Dodson, University of Pennsylvania

November 9, 2009 
“Embracing Darwin”
Colin Purrington, Professor of Biology at Swarthmore College

October 12, 2009 
“No Family History: Investigating What’s Behind the Breast Cancer Epidemic”
Sabrina McCormick, Fellow at the American Academy for the Advancement of the Sciences

September 14, 2009 
“Bringing Physics to Physicians”
Robert Hicks, Director, Mütter Museum and Historical Medical Library of The College of Physicians of Philadelphia

July 13, 2009 
“Cold Hard Science: Fossil Discoveries in the Canadian Arctic and the Origin of Limbed Animals”
Ted Daeschler, Associate Curator of Vertebrate Paleontology at The Academy of Natural Sciences

June 8, 2009 
“The Unknown Skeleton: Forensic Anthropology and the Unsolvable Case”
Janet Monge, Keeper of Physical Anthropology at the University of Pennsylvania Museum and Adjunct Associate Professor in the Department of Anthropology at the University of Pennsylvania

May 11, 2009 
“How the Tortoises Got Their Shells and the Finches Got Their Beaks: The Role of Evo-Devo in Solving Darwin’s Dilemmas”
Scott Gilbert, Professor of Biology, Swarthmore College

April 13, 2009 
“Take Some Fruit and Pass the Seeds”
Brenda Casper, Plant Ecologist and Professor of Biology, University of Pennsylvania