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We bring outstanding artists, scholars, authors, and scientists to the museum as Osher Fellows through the generosity of the Bernard Osher Foundation. Osher Fellows work with Exploratorium staff on programs, exhibit projects, and new endeavors, and share their own research and work with staff and the public. These thinker-in-residence fellowships are generally one to four weeks in duration.
The perspectives and backgrounds of our Osher Fellows are wide-ranging and reflect the Exploratorium’s multidisciplinary interests. Previous Fellows include Oliver Sacks, who helped in the planning of exhibits about memory; Richard Gregory, who worked with us on visual perception exhibits; photographer Rosamond Wolff Purcell, who provided guidance for the temporary exhibition Revealing Bodies; and Edith Ackermann, visiting scientist at MIT’s School of Architecture, who shared design principles of interactive learning.
Osher Fellow • January 2019
Sculptor, artist, maker Julien Berthier “always did a lot of drawing as a kid," and he's turned that interest in drawing into a full-time career. His re-imagined drawings of urban surroundings, simple tools, and daily routines are a core influence on his work.
Some of these improbable scenarios, re-engineered devices, and explanatory diagrams may appear to be only ironic commentaries, fantasies, or impossible jokes. However unlikely the drawings, they served as initial sketches for intricate construction and engineering projects that have later come to fruition—among others, a boat that always seems to be sinking, a time-tracking meter that adds up working hours over a person’s lifetime, and an electric car powered by a long extension cord. In addition to these fully operational kinetic pieces, Berthier has also composed oil paintings, works in video, and site-specific installations.
Osher Fellow • August 2018
Henry Jenkins is the Provost Professor of Communication, Journalism, Cinematic Arts and Education at the University of Southern California. He was previously on the faculty of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, where he was the Peter de Florez Professor in the Humanities. He directed MIT’s Comparative Media Studies graduate degree program from 1993 to 2009, setting an innovative research agenda during a time of fundamental change in communications, journalism, and entertainment.
His recent books, By Any Media Necessary: The New Youth Activism and Convergence Culture: Where Old and New Media Collide, examine the role social and digital media play in communicating and creating community. His other published works reflect a wide range of research interests: democracy and new media, the “wow factor” of popular culture, science-fiction fan communities, and the early history of film comedy.
Osher Fellow • May 2018
Dr. Nalini Nadkarni is a forest ecologist and science communicator. She was on faculty at The Evergreen State College for 20 years and, in 2011, joined the University of Utah as a Professor of Biology and Director of the Center for Science and Mathematics Education. She has been awarded a Guggenheim Fellowship, an Aldo Leopold Leadership Fellowship, the 2011 NSF Public Service Award, the 2012 AAAS Award for Public Engagement, and the 2013 Carr Medal for Conservation. Her research concerns the ecological roles of canopy-dwelling biota in forest ecosystems. She has published over 100 scientific articles and four scholarly books.
She is deeply interested in public engagement with science,; she has given two TED Talks and been highlighted in magazines such as National Geographic, Glamour, and ASTC Dimensions. She created the Research Ambassador Program to train scientists to engage the public in non-traditional venues, such as churches, preschools, tattoo parlors, and sports stadiums. In 2005, she co-founded the Sustainability in Prisons Project, which brings science, scientists, and nature to incarcerated men and women, and is now being expanded to a national level.
Osher Fellow • March 2018
In 1961, physicist Moshe Rishpon was carrying out research in nuclear physics at the Weizmann Institute with every expectation that he would continue as a research scientist—but then he became involved in the Weizmann science summer camp for high-school students. Though his participation in the science camp delayed the attainment of his PhD, it gradually became the central focus of his work. The summer program grew to become an international program, the canvas tents that housed students were replaced by huts, and in 1993, a permanent bungalow village.
The ad hoc, temporary, outdoor science demonstrations of the science summer camp gradually evolved into the Clore Garden of Science, the simple demonstrations became permanent exhibits, and the landscaping was designed to integrate the exhibits. Rishpon also worked with biologists to add biology exhibits in an EcoSphere before transferring the Garden of Science management to his colleagues. Since his "retirement" in 1999, he has traveled the world, performing with his characteristic humor and playful approach at science festivals in Poland, Slovenia, Finland, Scotland, Australia, and the United States. Rishpon received the Roy Shafer Leading Edge Award (2010) and the ASTC Award for Innovation (1999) for his exemplary accomplishments in the Clore Garden of Science.
Osher Fellow • December 2017
Golan Levin develops artifacts and experiences that explore the expressive use of computation. Through performances, digital artifacts, and virtual environments, Levin applies creative twists to digital technologies that highlight our relationship with machines, make visible our ways of interacting with each other, and explore the intersection of abstract communication and interactivity. Levin has exhibited widely in Europe, America and Asia.
Levin's work has been presented in the Whitney Biennial; the New Museum of Contemporary Art (NYC); the Ars Electronica Center in Linz, Austria; The Museum of Contemporary Art in Taipei, Taiwan; the NTT InterCommunication Center (ICC) in Tokyo, Japan; and the Zentrum für Kunst und Medientechnologie (ZKM). He has received grants from Creative Capital, The New York State Council on the Arts, the Pennsylvania Council on the Arts, the Rockefeller MAP Fund, The Greenwall Foundation, the Langlois Foundation, and the Arts Council of England.
His undergraduate and graduate degrees are from the MIT Media Laboratory, in the Aesthetics and Computation Group. Currently, Levin is Director of the Frank-Ratchye STUDIO for Creative Inquiry and an Associate Professor of Electronic Time-Based Art at Carnegie Mellon University.
Osher Fellow • November 2017
Dr. Lynda Kelly works in audience research, digital production, and learning across the cultural sector. She was recently Head of Learning at the Australian National Maritime Museum, responsible for all visitor programs, formal education programs, and audience research. Before moving to the Maritime Museum, she was Manager of Online, Editing, and Audience Research at the Australian Museum, responsible for developing and evaluating the museum’s extensive digital content and programs. Kelly has been working in the digital realm since 2007, the evaluation and visitor research field since 1994, and the museum industry since 1987.
Kelly has published widely on audience research and learning and digital trends, and has been a keynote speaker at national and international conferences; she also writes the popular professional development blog Museums | Digital | Research | Learning. She has taught Museums and the Digital in the Master of Museum Studies program (University of Sydney), sits on the Advisory Board of the New Media Consortium Horizons Project on museum education, and is an elected member of the Museums Australia National Council.