Osher Fellow • March, 2015
Dr. Sass is an architect, computer scientist, and researcher who explores digital design and fabrication. As an associate professor in the Department of Architecture at MIT, Sass has taught courses in digital fabrication and design computing since 2002. Sass has been published widely, and the Museum of Modern Art in New York has exhibited his work.
Sass’s research builds on his belief that handcrafted construction will soon be a thing of the past. He predicts that in the future, buildings will be "printed" with machines run by computers. These printed buildings can be constructed faster—and with greater precision—than conventional, handmade buildings. They can also be printed with the latest technologies and reduce many of our current energy needs.
Sass proposes that the practice of architecture must incorporate new, emerging means of machine operation within the fields of design and construction. These changes will require the development of a new knowledge base for design—one where designers will play a larger role in the delivery process. Sass believes the challenge for architecture—both in schools and in the profession—will be to develop research and teaching agendas that are relevant to creative digital design and fabrication—from furniture to skyscrapers.
Osher Fellow • May 2014
Mahzarin is a professor of Social Psychology at Harvard University and an adviser on our Science of Sharing project. Her work has relevance to many spheres of activity at the Exploratorium (visitor research, teacher training, programs, and more). She studies human thinking and feeling as it unfolds in social contexts. Her focus is primarily on mental systems that operate in implicit or unconscious mode. In particular, she is interested in the unconscious nature of assessments of self and other humans that reflect feelings and knowledge (often unintended) about their social group membership (e.g., age, race/ethnicity, gender, class) that underlie the us/them distinction. From such study of attitudes and beliefs of adults and children, she questions the social consequences of unconscious thought and feeling.
Mahzarin's work on unintended “unconscious” associations that can lead to preferential or discriminatory perceptions has had widespread impact beyond academia; some of her work has been used to raise individual awareness of the potential for unconscious bias. She recently published Blind Spot: Hidden Biases of Good People. She has also written for the Harvard Business Review on business ethics and management issues.
Osher Fellow • June 2014
Phil Bell is a professor of Learning Sciences at the University of Washington, Seattle. His research focuses on how and why people learn about science and technology and how it relates to what they want or need to accomplish in their lives. He also investigates everyday learning, cognition, and expertise in science; children's argumentation; the use of digital technologies within youth culture; the design and use of novel learning technologies; and new approaches to inquiry instruction in science. He directs the ethnographic and design-based research of the Everyday Science and Technology Group, which is part of the larger NSF-funded Learning in Informal and Formal Environments Research Center (aka LIFE). His past work includes building web-based learning platforms and the design and review of K–12 science curricula. Currently, he is conducting learning ethnographies of youth and families across social settings. His academic studies were in human cognition and development, science education, electrical engineering, and computer science.
Osher Fellow • August 2013, September 2014
Michael Bradke is a musician, music ethnographer, educator, and musical exhibit and instrument designer. He leads workshops, educator trainings, and performs in festivals sharing traditional music and rhythm making with voice and body such as "clapping culture" and "mouth music," which often result in impromptu group performances. He has also organized instrument-making workshops at festivals, schools, art academies, and science centers. Bradke received the 2000 German Culture for Children Award, was part of the 2011 Abu Dhabi Science Festival, and designed many exhibits for Swiss science center Technorama’s special 2014 Soundscapes exhibition.
Osher Fellow • June 2014
Liza Fior is founding partner of muf architecture/art, which negotiates between the built and social fabric and public and private spaces, generally in urban areas. She was recently involved in the national Reimagining Children's Museum project, and, prior to that, part of the design team for Pittsburgh Children's Museum Charm Bracelet project. Though based in the UK, she has taught as a Louis Kahn visiting assistant professor at Yale University, leading an advanced design studio and seminar. She has consulted, had academic appointments, and participated in seminars in seminars in Sweden, Norway, Denmark, Germany, Austria, Scotland, France, Italy, Switzerland, Greece, Latvia, the United States, and Canada. Liza's architectural, installation, exhibition, and advisory work includes: “Villa Frankenstein,” the British Pavilion at the Venice Biennale, 2010, which took Ruskin and Venice itself as a means to examine how detail can inform strategy. It also includes Wick Green, a park, playground, and mixed use outdoor space; and interactive learning center “Colour and Line: Turner at the Tate,” which includes color experiments, touch-screen kiosks, and sketching workstations.
Osher Fellows • July 2014
Ivars Peterson is a widely respected science journalist, author, and self-described “mathematical tourist.” He is currently director of publications at the Mathematical Association of America. Peterson taught high school science and math for eight years. As a high school teacher, he was involved with the American Association of Physics Teachers, gave presentations at meetings, and developed his own newsletter, Photon: Physics for Fun, which began as a tool to show his students that physics is not only fun and interesting but can be relevant to everyday life. He left teaching to pursue a master’s degree and career in science journalism. He worked for Science News magazine for twenty-five years and became the regular mathematics reporter. "I got into math writing partly because no one else was doing it," Peterson explains. Peterson went on to become an award-winning writer of mathematics for general audiences and for youth. His interest in mathematics is wide ranging, from research to art to everyday life.
Osher Fellow • September 2009
Adam Somlai-Fischer is an architect, artist, maker, and facilitator who creates innovative technologies and artistic projects that facilitate the creativity of others. These projects range from mixed-reality interfaces and DIY smart homes to methods for innovation. Adam was named one of the world's top 40 emerging designers by I.D. magazine in 2009. His collaborative works have been exhibited at Venice Biennale, museums, and dozens of festivals globally, and have been published in leading magazines and blogs. In 2007, he cofounded the Kitchen Budapest media lab with Peter Halacsy. He coded and composed his first “prezi” in 2001 and, with cofounders Peter Arvai and Peter Halacsy, he launched the presentation software, Prezi, in 2009. As of 2014, Prezi now has over 50 million viewers.