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NATURE Lab Opening Celebration with Dr. Jennifer Willet and special guests

Virtual Event Virtual Event

June 27, 2021 @ 12:00 pm 1:30 pm EDT

From the streets of Troy, NY to community science labs around the globe, join our NATURE Lab Opening Celebration!  

Join us for the grand virtual opening of NATURE Lab! From around the world, bio artists, scientists and ecologists will inaugurate our new community science laboratory. Featuring a virtual talk/performance by Dr. Jennifer Willet, bio artist from INCUBATOR Lab in Windsor, Canada, along with special guests including Dr. Catherine Febria from Great Lakes Institute for Environmental Research in Windsor, Marta de Menezes from Cultivamos Cultura in Portugal, and more!

Directly after this event, witness our Water Justice Lab youth fellows, in collaboration with Riverkeeper, test community collected water samples of our nearby Hudson River!

Sponsored by iEAR Presents! and the School of Humanities, Arts and Social Sciences at Rensselaer, made possible by the New York State Council on the Arts with the support of Governor Andrew M. Cuomo and the New York State Legislature.

A head shot of Dr. Jennifer Willet, a light-skinned woman with medium-length brown hair wearing glasses and a floral blazer over a black blouse.
Dr. Jennifer Willet

Dr. Jennifer Willet is a Canada Research Chair in Art, Science, and Ecology and an Associate Professor in the School of Creative Arts at the University of Windsor (Canada.) Willet is an internationally successful artist and curator in the emerging field of bioart. Her work explores notions of representation and body in relation to evolving biotechnologies with an emphasis on ecological metaphors.  She taught in the Studio Arts Department at Concordia University in Montreal Canada from 2000-2007, and completed her PhD in the Interdisciplinary Humanities Program at the same institution.  Willet also taught “Bioart: Contemporary Art and the Life Sciences” for The Art and Genomics Centre at The University of Leiden in The Netherlands in 2008.  In 2009 she opened the first bioart lab in Canada called INCUBATOR: Hybrid Laboratory at the Intersection of Art, Science, and Ecology.


A headshot of Dr. Catherine Febria, a light-skinned woman with long dark hair and is smiling at the camera.
Dr. Catherine Febria

Dr. Catherine Febria is a Tier 2 Canada Research Chair and Assistant Professor at the Great Lakes Institute for Environmental Research (GLIER) & Dept. of Integrative Biology at the University of Windsor. She is co-Director of the GLIER Organic Analysis & Nutrients Laboratory, a central research facility.  She is Associate Director of FishCAST, an NSERC CREATE graduate student training program. Her research focuses on the ecology and restoration of small streams and wetlands, and their role in contributing to ecosystem health in the Laurentian Great Lakes. She remains actively involved as an alumni Fellow with the Intergovernmental science-policy Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services (IPBES), as Co-Chair of the International Science Advisory Panel for New Zealand’s Biological Heritage National Science Challenge, and has served as Coordinating Editor with the journal Restoration Ecology since 2017She held a postdoctoral role at the University of Maryland’s Chesapeake Biological Laboratory (2010-2013) and most recently relocated her research back to the Great Lakes Region of Canada from the University of Canterbury in Aotearoa New Zealand. She is co-founder of the Kindness in Science global initiative, and contributes actively to actions, scholarship & mentorship to support justice, equity, diversity & inclusion in academia. Twitter: @ecofebria

A medium-framed headshot of Marta De Menezes, a light-skinned woman wearing a white floral blouse with her arms crossed and pink hair.
Marta de Menezes

Marta de Menezes is a Portuguese artist with a degree in Fine Arts by the University in Lisbon, a MSt in History of Art and Visual Culture by the University of Oxford, and a PhD candidate at the University of Leiden. She has been exploring the intersection between Art and Biology, working in research laboratories demonstrating that new biological technologies can be used as new art medium. In 1999 de Menezes created her first biological artwork (Nature?) by modifying the wing patterns of live butterflies. Since then, she has used diverse biological techniques including functional MRI of the brain to create portraits where the mind can be visualised (Functional Portraits, 2002); fluorescent DNA probes to create micro-sculptures in human cell nuclei (nucleArt, 2002); sculptures made of proteins (Proteic Portrait, 2002-2007), DNA (Innercloud, 2003; The Family, 2004) or incorporating live neurons (Tree of Knowledge, 2005) or bacteria (Decon, 2007). Her work has been presented internationally in exhibitions, articles and lectures. She is currently the artistic director of Ectopia, an experimental art laboratory in Lisbon, and Director of Cultivamos Cultura in the South of Portugal.

An action shot of Paul Vanouse, who has a shocked expression at the camera with his glasses atop his head and seemingly working on something in a lab.
Paul Vanouse

Paul Vanouse is an artist working in Emerging Media forms. Radical interdisciplinarity and impassioned amateurism guide his practice. Since the early 1990s his artwork has addressed complex issues raised by varied new techno-sciences using these very techno-sciences as a medium.  His artworks have included data collection devices that examine the ramifications of polling and categorization, genetic experiments that undermine scientific constructions of race and identity, and temporary organizations that playfully critique institutionalization and corporatization. These “Operational Fictions” are hybrid entities–simultaneously real things and fanciful representations–intended to resonate in the equally hyper-real context of the contemporary electronic landscape. Paul Vanouse is the founder and director of Coalesce: Center for Biological Arts. Coalesce Lab is a hybrid studio laboratory facility dedicated to enabling hands-on creative engagement with the tools and technologies of the life sciences. Website:

A headshot of Professor Joel One, who has short black hair and is wearing a purple button up under a black blazer.
Prof. Joel Ong

Professor Joel Ong is a media artist whose works connect scientific and artistic approaches to the environment, particularly with respect to sound and physical space.  Professor Ong’s work explores the way objects and spaces can function as repositories of ‘frozen sound’, and in elucidating these, he is interested in creating what systems theorist Jack Burnham (1968) refers to as “art (that) does not reside in material entities, but in relations between people and between people and the components of their environment”. A serial collaborator, Professor Ong is invested in the broader scope of Art-Science collaborations and is engaged constantly in the discourses and processes that facilitate viewing these two polemical disciplines on similar ground. Joel Ong is the Director, Sensorium: Centre for Digital Arts and Technology. Based in the School of the Arts, Media, Performance & Design (AMPD) at York University, Sensorium is a research centre for creative inquiry and experimentation at the intersection of the media arts, performance, and digital culture. As a site for co-creation and shared critical reflection, Sensorium serves as a catalyst for examining how diverse media platforms enable multi-sensory perception and embodied experience, along with new modes of social engagement. Bridging disciplines and diverse communities, Sensorium researchers, artists, and scientists explore networked connections between people, sentient environments, and ecologies of place.

A headshot of Beth Tuck, a light-skinned woman with light brown hair who is smiling for the camera and wearing a black and white shirt under a white blazer.
Beth Tuck, M.S.

Beth Tuck (she/her) is the Executive Director at Genspace. Previously, she was a genomics education specialist at the National Human Genome Research Institute (NHGRI) where she worked on enhancing K-16 genomic literacy, education, and community engagement. Her work included designing curricular resources, engaging students and teachers in hands-on genomics activities, supporting teacher professional development, and training scientists in public engagement skills. Her graduate research at Washington University in St. Louis focused on the genetics and molecular mechanisms of neurological and neuromuscular disorders. Genspace is the world’s first community biology lab — a place where people of all backgrounds can learn, create, and grow with the life sciences. Since 2009, we have served the greater New York area by providing hands-on STEAM education programs for youth and adults, cultural and outreach events for the public, and a membership program to support New York’s community of creatives, researchers, and entrepreneurs. Our programs demystify scientific processes, provide a platform for innovation, and cultivate the next generation of life sciences leaders in emerging global technologies, such as biotechnology, neuroscience, epidemiology, genomics, and many more.

A headshot of Victoria Vesna in black and white, with her wearing a jacket with her hair pulled back looking into the distance.
Victoria Vesna, Ph.D.

Victoria Vesna, Ph.D., is an Artist and Professor at the UCLA Department of Design Media Arts and Director of the Art|Sci Center at the School of the Arts (North campus) and California NanoSystems Institute (CNSI) (South campus). Although she was trained early on as a painter (Faculty of Fine arts, University of Belgrade, 1984), her curious mind took her on an exploratory path that resulted in work can be defined as experimental creative research residing between disciplines and technologies. With her installations she investigates how communication technologies affect collective behavior and perceptions of identity shift in relation to scientific innovation (PhD, CAiiA_STAR, University of Wales, 2000). Her work involves long-term collaborations with composers, nano-scientists, neuroscientists, evolutionary biologists and she brings this experience to students. Victoria Vesna is the founder and director of Art|Sci of UCLA. The Art|Sci Center focuses on collaborative projects that address social, ethical and environmental issues related to scientific innovations. “To pursue, facilitate and promote research and programs that demonstrate the potential of media arts and science collaborations.” We are part of a world-wide network of artists and scientists who are interested in philosophical dialogue as well as working together on artistic or applied projects. Website :

3361 6th Ave
Troy, 12180 United States
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