SciFest brings world-class scientists to St. Louis

October 9 – 13, 2008

SciFest 08, a new annual event at the St. Louis Science Center, brings together world-renowned scientists and experts – including those from Washington University – to help participants see science in a new way. There are hundreds of science experiences, including presentations and hands-on exhibits. Presentations by Washington University faculty are listed below. Tickets for the presentations are $6 each (or 3 for $16.50 and 6 for $30) and are available by phone, 314-289-4424, and at the St. Louis Science Center. You can also purchase tickets and find more information about the International Science Festival St. Louis and a full schedule of events at

Stem Cells – What are they, where do they come from and why are they important? Friday, October 10 9am – 10am

Join John Dipersio, M.D., Ph.D., Professor of Medicine, Washington University, for a closer look at stem cells. How do scientists harvest and use stem cells? How do they differ from other cells? Can they really divide indefinitely and have the potential to develop into different types of cells, such as muscle, nerve, bone, or heart cells? This session will include discussion of blastocysts, differentiation and mitosis.

Fantastic Voyage ’08 From Fantasy to Fact Friday, October 10 9am – 10am

In 1966 Raquel Welch was part of a team of scientists made small enough to travel through the bloodstream of a man with a blood clot in his brain. Their journey was successful! Advances in microscopy give scientists an inside look at more than our blood vessels. Join Al Wiman, VP for Public Understanding of Science at the Saint Louis Science Center and former KMOV and KSDK reporter, Dr. Martin Gordon, former Professor of Medicine at Yale University Medical School, and Dr. Michael Welch, Professor of Radiology, Washington University School of Medicine, for an extraordinary journey into the human body.

Tailor-Made Medicine: The Future of Personalized Cancer Care Friday, October 10 11am – 12am

The Siteman Cancer Center at Barnes-Jewish Hospital is leading an effort to use genetics to develop individual therapies so precise that the type of cancer a person has is only one of many factors determining his or her treatment. Join the Center’s director, Dr. Timothy Eberlein, to discuss how this new approach extends beyond fighting cancer: it will lead to a new model of health care and a future of personalized medicine for all.

The Science of Baseball Saturday, October 11 10am – 11am

David Peters is a dedicated Cardinals fan and professor of engineering at Washington University. Join him for a scientific look at America’s favorite pastime, including the merits of different bats, ball speed and trajectory, the left-handed player, catching a fly ball and even the psychology of guessing what the opposition is going to do next.

The Hard Cell: Are Stem Cells the Answer? Saturday, October 11 12pm – 1pm

Stem cells are hailed as a future source of cures for many diseases, from Parkinson’s to cancer. However, this miracle discovery has been surrounded by controversy. Join Steve Teitelbaum, Messing Professor of Pathology at Barnes-Jewish Hospital and Rick Borchelt, former White House special assistant for public affairs for President Clinton, as they discuss the latest developments in stem cell science and what the American public really thinks.

A New Species – Or Is It? Saturday, October 11 12pm – 1pm

A small, fossilized skeleton has been the subject of much debate. Is it an example of an entirely new human species? Come and hear the theories put forward by groups of scientists around the world and see what you think. Professor Dean Falk, Florida State University, and Professor Charles Hildebolt, Washington University in St. Louis, provide an inside look into the world of cutting-edge science and how rebutting other scientists’ theories have impacted their thinking on evolution.

What Makes Us Happy? Sunday, October 12 10am – 11am

The pursuit of happiness is an unalienable right in the Declaration of Independence, so where and how do we find it? Do gender, education, religion, race, income and age affect our chances? Would winning the lottery, getting thinner or falling in love make us happier? Can we make ourselves happy? Join Randy J. Larsen, chairman of the Washington University Department of Psychology and expert on human emotions, and get a head start on your road to happiness.

Brain-Control: Thoughts Made Motion Sunday, October 12 10:30am – 11:30am

From The Six Million Dollar Man to The Matrix, fictional machines are controlled by thought alone. Washington University biomedical engineer, Dr. Daniel Moran reveals what’s new in the futuristic science of brain-computer connection that is making it possible to communicate and control artificial devices like video games and robotic arms using only the signals from our brains. You won’t want to miss science’s 21st century update on 17th century mathematician and philosopher, Rene Descartes’ echoing thought– “I think, therefore I am.”

Where are the Real Robots? Why are we waiting? Sunday, October 12 12:00pm – 1:00pm

Why don’t we have robots washing the dishes, feeding the cat and minding the kids? What are the differences between the robots in the movies and books, and robots in real life? Join Professor William Smart, co-director of the Media and Machines Laboratory in the Department of Computer Science and Engineering at Washington University, to take a closer look at the abilities of R2D2 and his pals — compared to real-life robots that can save lives.

Depression: The Good News? Sunday, October 12 2:30pm – 3:30pm

Depression is both an illness and a public health problem, which is why it has an impact on so many people. Join Dr. Charles Zorumski, Chair of Psychiatry and Dr. Eugene H. Rubin, Professor of Psychiatry, Washington University, for an exploration and discussion of the benefits and challenges of current approaches, and how advances in neuroscience are providing strong reasons for optimism in the treatment of depression.

Linguistics of Race Sunday, October 12 4pm – 5pm

What defines race – culturally, genetically, geographically, verbally and socially? These are timely questions in a year when an African-American man is running for president. John Baugh, professor of African-American Studies and Alan Templeton, professor of Genetics, Washington University, explore race from the molecular level to social, verbal interaction – join them for a closer look at the “human race.”

SciFest 08 Symposium The Future of Science and Technology in St. Louis Monday, October 13 1:30pm – 4:30pm

Join invited leaders from St. Louis businesses, universities, media and civic institutions for a discussion about the importance of science and technology to our community, state and nation. The discussion panel, moderated by Dr. Bill Peck, will discuss challenges and opportunities around issues such as the looming crisis in science and technology education and workforce development in these areas, how these industries impact our region, their potential for growth in the future and how St. Louis can emerge to become recognized as America’s center for science. Top authorities in the fields of science from other parts of the U.S. and Europe will join our St. Louis panel to provide a national and international perspective. Join the discussion, as questions, offer opinions and be part of formulating the St. Louis science and technology community call to action. Register for this free event by calling 314.289.4424.