Cultural Center

Science Night Live

Fall 2021

Wednesday, November 10, 6:30 p.m.

Protecting Shinnecock Homelands

Shavonne F. Smith, Director of the Shinnecock Environmental Department, will discuss the effort to protect the Shinnecock shoreline on Long Island through collaboration with federal agencies, non- profits, and community volunteers.

The Fortunoff Theater
Monroe Lecture Center, California Avenue, South Campus

Shavonne Smith

For more information on the above events, please email or call 516-463-5669.

Past Events

Hofstra University's Science Night Live is a public lecture series that features exciting science research presented by some of the top scientists and lecturers in their fields. Science is important in our everyday lives, and these timely lectures are sure to inspire and challenge us in unexpected ways.

Join the #HofSciNiteLive and #HofstraExperts conversation on social media.

Wednesday, February 10, 7 p.m.

Darwin Day: Darwin on Trial!
The Real Story of the Scopes Monkey Trial, Dayton, Tennessee 1925

During a hot July in Dayton, Tennessee, in 1925, a teacher named John Scopes was put on trial for teaching the evolutionary origins of humanity. But Scopes wasn’t who was really on trial; rather it was Darwin, his ideas, and the right to pursue them that stood in judgment. Join us as we recount and replay this fascinating and pivotal moment in the history of evolution and education.

Darwin on Trial

Wednesday, April 14, 7 p.m.

Picture a Scientist with Christa Farmer

Join Dr. Farmer for a discussion following the viewing of the film, Picture a Scientist. The film chronicles the groundswell of researchers who are writing a new chapter for women scientists. Biologist Nancy Hopkins, chemist Rachelle Burks, and geologist Jane Willenbring lead viewers on a journey deep into their own experiences in the sciences, ranging from brutal harassment to years of subtle slights. Along the way, from cramped laboratories to spectacular field stations, we encounter luminaries – including social scientists, neuroscientists, and psychologists – who provide new perspectives on how to make science itself more diverse, equitable, and open to all. Picture a Scientist was an official selection of the 2020 Tribeca Film Festival.

Picture a Scientist

Wednesday, April 21

Earth Day
“Restore Our Earth.”

The Center for Civic Engagement invites you to our annual Earth Day event series. Student clubs, community partners, academic departments, and environmental activists will gather to celebrate and affirm the power of local action in the face of mounting evidence of our planet being in great peril.


Meat Planet: Artificial Flesh and the Future of Food
In 2013, a Dutch scientist unveiled the world’s first laboratory-created hamburger. Since then, the idea of producing meat, not from live animals but from carefully cultured tissues, has spread like wildfire through the media. Meanwhile, cultured meat researchers race against population growth and climate change in an effort to make sustainable protein. In this talk, Benjamin Aldes Wurgaft explores the quest to generate meat in the lab—a substance sometimes called “cultured meat”—and asks what it means to imagine that this is the future of food. While cultured meat is a new development in food technology, the idea of meat without animals has a long history, and it presents us with challenging philosophical questions about the nature of animals, humans, and the limits of technology.

Dr. Benjamin Aldes Wurgaft, Writer and Historian
Visiting Assistant Professor of Social Studies and History

Meat Planet, Benjamin Wurgaft


Wednesday, February 12, 7 p.m.
Darwin Day
Charles Darwin in the Galápagos Islands

Join us as we explore the impact of the Galápagos Islands on Darwin’s thinking about evolution.

This event will feature experiences and images from Hofstra students and faculty who have just returned from their own exploration of the Galápagos.

Please join us for cake after the lecture in celebration of Darwin’s birthday.


Thursday, September 16, 2019, 7 p.m.
Film Screening and Discussion: Bag It With George Povall, All Our Energy

George Povall, director of the Long Island-based environmental advocacy group All Our Energy, will introduce the film and speak about new legislation that will ban single-use plastic bags in New York. Following the screening, Dr. Christa Farmer, professor of geology, environment, and sustainability at Hofstra University, will lead a discussion.
In collaboration with the Department of Geology, Environment, and Sustainability.
Leo A. Guthart Cultural Center Theater, Joan and Donald E. Axinn Library, First Floor, South Campus

Wednesday, October 16, 2019, 7 p.m.
The Surprising Origin of Long Island's Landscapes

Join Dr. J Bret Bennington, professor of geology, environment, and sustainability at Hofstra University, for a Google Earth tour of Long Island's varied landscapes and landforms and a discussion of how they formed at the margin of the massive Laurentide glacier.
The Helene Fortunoff Theater, Monroe Lecture Center, South Campus

Tuesday, October 29, 2019, 6-8 p.m.
Film Screening: Chasing Coral 

Join us for a screening of the documentary Chasing Coral, which aims to raise awareness of the catastrophic effects of the earth's disappearing coral reefs. Dr. Jason D. Williams, professor of biology, introduces the film and leads the Q&A.
Presented in conjunction with the exhibition Environmental Impact by the Hofstra University Museum of Art.
Leo A. Guthart Cultural Center Theater, Joan and Donald E. Axinn Library, First Floor, South Campus

Alejandro Durán (Mexican, born 1974), Algas (Algae) from the Washed Up series, 2013, photograph, 40 x 52 in.,
courtesy of the artist © 2019 Alejandro Durán

Wednesday, November 13, 2019, 4:30-6 p.m.
Environmental Impact Roundtable: Art Into Action

Join participating artists in a conversation about how the works of art in the exhibition Environmental Impact bring awareness to a range of environmental issues with the intention of prompting action. Annetta Centrella-Vitale, director of sustainability studies and adjunct instructor of geology, environment, and sustainability, Hofstra University, serves as moderator.
Presented in conjunction with the exhibition “Environmental Impact” by the Hofstra University Museum of Art.
Emily Lowe Gallery, behind Emily Lowe Hall, South Campus

Thursday, November 21, 2019, 7 p.m.
Building With Unconventional Materials

The bridges and buildings that surround us are usually constructed from well-established materials such as steel, concrete, bricks, and wood, but the palette of potential construction materials is much richer. In this presentation, Dr. Edward Segal, assistant professor of engineering, will introduce a broad range of unconventional materials, such as synthetic ropes, mushroom biomaterial, and aluminum cast into cracked clay, that are used in a wide range of applications from building architectural pavilions to disaster relief.
The Helene Fortunoff Theater, Monroe Lecture Center, South Campus

Photo credit: Powell Draper

Wednesday, February 13, 7-8:15 p.m.
Darwinian Valentines

Evolution is often called “survival of the fittest,” but in reality, it is often “perpetuation of the sexiest.” If natural selection was Charles Darwin's greatest insight, sexual selection was his second greatest. Join Hofstra professors Dr. J. Bret Bennington (Department of Geology and Sustainability) and Dr. Russell Burke and Dr. Lisa Filippi (Department of Biology) for a fun look at why choosing a mate is one of the greatest forces driving evolution, and learn a little about how Darwin himself chose his mate.

Fortunoff Theater, Monroe Lecture Center

Darwinian Valentines

Tuesday and Wednesday, April 2 and 3

The Apollo 11 Moon landing on July 20, 1969, marked a watershed moment in human history for science, engineering, and culture – in the United States and around the globe.

Keynote Academic Speaker: Dr. Matthew H. Hersch, J.D., Assistant Professor of the History of Science Harvard University; Author of Inventing the American Astronaut (2012) Featured Speakers: Dr. Kimberly Gilmore, Senior Historian; Vice President, Corporate Social Responsibility, The History Channel/A+E Networks and Mike Stiller, Vice President, Development and Programming at A+E Networks

Tuesday, April 2, 6:30 p.m.

Dr. Mae C. Jemison leads 100 Year Starship (100YSS), a bold, far reaching nonprofit initiative to assure the capabilities exist for human travel beyond our solar system to another star within the next 100 years. Jemison is building a multi-faceted global community to foster the cultural, scientific, social and technical commitment, support and financial framework to accomplish the 100YSS vision-An Inclusive, Audacious Journey (that) Transforms Life Here on Earth and Beyond. Jemison, the first woman of color in the world to go into space, served six years as a NASA astronaut. Aboard the Space Shuttle Endeavour, STS-47 Spacelab J mission in September 1992, she performed experiments in material science, life sciences and human adaptation to weightlessness.

For more information on the Conference, please visit

Dr. Mae C. Jemison

Thursday, March 1, 9:35 a.m.

Professor of Law
George Mason University of Law

Author, Democracy and Political Ignorance: Why Smaller Government Is Smarter One of the biggest problems with modern democracy is that most of the public is usually ignorant of politics and government. Many people believe that their votes are unlikely to change the outcome of an election and don't see the point in learning much about politics. This creates a nation of people with little political knowledge and little ability to objectively evaluate what they do know. Ilya Somin writes regularly for the Volokh Conspiracy law and politics blog at The Washington Post. He is also the author of The Grasping Hand: Kelo v. City of New London and the Limits of Eminent Domain (2015) and coauthor of A Conspiracy Against Obamacare: The Volokh Conspiracy and the Health Care Case (2013).

The Donald J. Sutherland Lecture is named for the former Hofstra trustee who endowed the annual event.

Co-sponsored by the Hofstra Cultural Center.

Guthart Cultural Center Theater, Axinn Library

Ilya Somin

Thursday, April 5, 11 a.m.-12:40 p.m.

Signature Event: A Conversation with David Frum
Senior Editor, The Atlantic
Author, Trumpocracy, The Corruption of the American Republic
Speechwriter for President George W. Bush, 2001-2002

Former White House speechwriter, Atlantic senior editor, andmedia commentator David Frum explains why President Trump has undermined our most important institutions in ways even the most critical media has missed. This thoughtful and hard-hitting book is a warning for democracy and America's future.

Student Center Theater, Mack Student Center

Trumpocracy by David Frum

Monday, April 9, 4:30 p.m.

Joseph G. Astman Signature Lecture Twyla Tharp: The Creative Habit

All it takes to make creativity a part of your life is the willingness to make it a habit. Creativity is the product of preparation and effort, and it is within reach of everyone. Whether you are a painter, musician, businessperson, or simply an individual yearning to put your creativity to use, join us as world-renowned choreographer and dance artist Twyla Tharp speaks about her book The Creative Habit: Learn It and Use It for Life, based on the lessons she learned in her remarkable 35-year career. #HofCreativity

The Fortunoff Theater, Monroe Lecture Center, California Avenue

Twyla Tharp

Wednesday, February 21, 7 p.m.
Hofstra University Darwin Day Lecture Dr. Robert Hill: Form, Function, Fossils, and … Physicians? The Surprising Evolutionary Connections Between Dinosaurs and Human Anatomy

Anatomy, the study of body structure, is as important for paleontologists as it is for medical doctors. Virtually every bone in the human body has a counterpart in the skeletons of dinosaurs. Their differences are striking, but their similarities reveal our common evolutionary ancestry. What's more, those same body parts change during development from embryo to adult. Join us for an exploration of how anatomy changes – over millions of years, and since just before you were born. Dr. Robert Hill is associate professor of science education and director of the Anatomical Gift Program at the Donald and Barbara Zucker School of Medicine at Hofstra/Northwell. He helps direct the 100-week-long Structure curriculum, where students learn anatomy, embryology, histology, radiology, and physical diagnosis. He has discovered fossils on four continents and has published several research papers on paleontology, human anatomy, and medical education.

Fortunoff Theater, Monroe Lecture Center

For more information, please call the Hofstra Cultural Center at 516-463-5669.

Robert Hill

Thursday, March 8, 7 p.m.
Dr. Ellen Stofan: What Space Exploration Can Mean for Innovation on Earth Since 1969

NASA plans to send humans to Mars in the 2030s — a monumental challenge. This will help us discover if life ever evolved on the red planet and will also boost the economy and technological capacities (like Apollo did in the 1960s). In fact, getting to Mars may provide helpful solutions to problems here in the developing world — issues around agriculture, irrigation, water purity, and rescue technology. Dr. Ellen Stofan is the former chief scientist at NASA (2013-2016), where she served as principal advisor to the NASA administrator on the agency's science-related strategic planning and programs.

Fortunoff Theater, Monroe Lecture Center

For more information, please call the Hofstra Cultural Center at 516-463-5669.

Ellen Stofan

Wednesday, October 4, 7 pm
Sinkholes of Doom: Understanding Collapsing Landscapes

Sinkholes form all over the world, but there are some places where they form more than others. Why is there such a variation in sinkhole formation over time and space? Why do places like Brooklyn and Florida seem to get more sinkholes than other places?  This lecture will review the formation of some of the most dramatic sinkholes on the planet—including some in our own backyard.

Robert Brinkmann
Vice Provost for Scholarship and Engagement
Associate Dean of Graduate Studies
Professor of Geology, Environment, and Sustainability
Hofstra University

Sinkholes of Doom: Understanding Collapsing Landscapes

Wednesday, November 1, 7 p.m.
Engineering Baseball:  STEM, Management, and the National Pastime

Science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) and management have been used in professional baseball from the time of “scientific baseball” in the early 1900's to the application of “moneyball,” big data analysis, and advanced analytics today.  Professional baseball has long been linked to applications in STEM and such diverse fields as statistical analysis and optimization, ergonomics, material science, as well as organizational behavior and management theory.  This discussion may change how you watch and think about baseball.

Richard J. Puerzer
Chair and Associate Professor of Industrial Engineering
Department of Engineering
Hofstra University

Wednesday, November 29, 7 p.m.
Physics for Rock Stars: Making the Laws of the Universe Work for You

Join us as we discuss the sexiest of sciences – PHYSICS. Mechanical engineer Christine McKinley says, “Physics is the sexiest of the sciences. Sure, you would argue that biology is all about reproduction, and chemistry has an intrinsically hot name, but when you get down to the guiding principles of the universe, it's all physics. The laws of motion, energy, gravity, and entropy rule. Literally. They trump all other laws and inform all other activity. That's what makes physics sexy. It is firmly in charge.”

Christine McKinley is a mechanical engineer, musician and author. Her musical Gracie and the Atom won a Portland Drammy for Original Score. Her book Physics for Rock Stars was published in 2014 by Penguin Random House. McKinley hosted Brad Meltzer's Decoded on History Channel and Under New York on Discovery Channel.


Location for all lectures: Fortunoff Theater, Monroe Lecture Center

For more information, please contact the Hofstra Cultural Center at 516-463-5669 or visit

Physics for Rock Stars: Making the Laws of the Universe Work for You

Wednesday, February 15, 7 p.m.
Darwin and Hume's Excellent Intelligent Design Adventure

Does the universe show evidence of having been designed by an intelligent agent? Come see Charles Darwin and philosopher David Hume tackle this question live on stage! Cake will be served in celebration of Charles Darwin's 208th birthday.

Speaker: J Bret Bennington, Professor of Geology, Hofstra University

Wednesday, March 8, 7 p.m.
Tales of Designer Drugs: A Chemist's Discovery

Designer drugs such as “Spice,” “Bath Salts” and “Molly” have spread rapidly around the world in the past decade, fueled by cheap and inventive chemistry and the rapid distribution through Web 2.0. Hospitals, law enforcement and legislators are struggling to keep up with increasing cases associated with these dangerous products. What are our solutions?

Speaker: Ling Huang, Associate Professor of Chemistry, Hofstra University

Wednesday, April 12, 7 p.m.
Is There a Human GPS System?

How is it that some people always know how to get from one place to another, and others always get lost? What do we know about how humans navigate, and can we predict their actions before they even start? This talk explores navigation research using everything from video games to real-world forests – and confirms the belief that there are good navigators and people who are perpetually lost.

Speaker: Elisabeth J. Ploran, Assistant Professor of Psychology, Hofstra University

View photos from: Is There a Human GPS System?

Location for all above lectures: The Fortunoff Theater, Monroe Lecture Center, California Avenue, South Campus

For more information, please contact the Hofstra Cultural Center at 516-463-5669.

Monday, September 19, 7 p.m.*
Science, Policy, and Controversy

At every stage of research, scientists make decisions that can affect the outcomes of that research — from which questions to investigate, to how to interpret data. Dr. Daniel J. Hicks examines how such decisions can become flashpoints for policy controversies, drawing from examples such as genetically modified foods and climate change. This phenomenon creates serious challenges for the ideal of basing public policy on objective, universally accepted science. Dr. Hicks is philosopher of science, ethicist, and American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) Science and Technology Policy Fellow. Currently, he is hosted by the National Robotics Initiative at the National Science Foundation, where he is working on emerging ethical issues with self-driving cars. Dr. Hicks is broadly interested in public scientific controversies, and has written on a variety of issues, including genetically modified foods, vaccines, and obesity.

Co-sponsored by the Department of Philosophy.

For more information on this lecture, please email Professor Christopher Eliot.


Daniel Hicks

Tuesday, October 11, 4:30 p.m.*
Bugs: Amazing, Beautiful, and Delicious!

We all know that insects occur in many shapes and colors, and they do many things to maintain our world: they pollinate plants, process animal waste, and provide food for a wide variety of species. Insects can also help save humanity by providing the most sustainable and nutritious food we could possibly eat. Admittedly, many people do have a problem with eating insects, but here's your chance to get past all that. In this workshop, David Gracer discusses entomophagy, the consumption of insects as a viable food source for all of humanity. As an entomophagist, Mr. Gracer has studied many facets of this protean subject and solicits the input of experts and lay people wherever he goes. Mr. Gracer has appeared on The Colbert Report (where he ate a bug), TEDx Cambridge (where he fed people bugs) and, most recently, Migrations (where he was the edible insect expert). Mr. Gracer sees entomophagy as a matter of discourse and of the confluence/conflict between science and human nature. He'll talk about problems and solutions, and may eat an insect or two. Bring your appetite and an open mind. You'll learn more that way!

Speaker: David Gracer, Entomophagist, and Writer, Department of English, Community College of Rhode Island


David Gracer


* Location for the above lectures: Guthart Cultural Center Theater, Axinn Library, First Floor


Wednesday, October 26, 7 p.m.**
Caught Between a Rock and a Hot Place: Coral Reefs and Climate Change

Join Dr. Jessica Santangelo as she shares her research adventures in the Florida Keys, Mexico, Hawaii and Palau. She discusses the impacts of the recent El Niño and ocean acidification on corals (and other marine ecosystems) around the world.

Speaker: Dr. Jessica Santangelo, Department of Biology, Hofstra University

Wednesday, November 16, 7 p.m.**
Extending the Human Lifespan: Implications of an Aging Population

Public health efforts and improvements in medicine have led to record increases in life expectancy globally. The growth of the older adult population and the declining fertility rate will have significant consequences and require new thinking on the structure of health care systems, housing, workforce, and social services.

Speaker: Dr. Corinne Kyriacou, Master of Public Health Program, Hofstra University

** Location for the above lectures: Fortunoff Theater, Monroe Lecture Center


Wednesday, February 3, 7 p.m.
When Dinosaurs Ruled New York

Join us for a look at Mesozoic fossils and a discussion of the important history of dinosaur studies in New York and the Northeast.

Speaker: Dr. J Bret Bennington, Department of Geology, Environment and Sustainability, Hofstra University

Fortunoff Theater, Monroe Lecture Center



Wednesday, February 10, 11:15 a.m.
Darwin Day at Hofstra University

Join us for our annual commemoration of Charles Darwin, author of On the Origin of Species, who in his 1859 book, explained his theory of evolution with convincing scientific evidence.

Guthart Cultural Center Theater, Axinn Library


Wednesday, March 2, 7 p.m.
Superbugs and Superdrugs: The Future of Antibiotics

Dr. Scott Lefurgy traces the problem of antibiotic-resistant bacteria from the early victories of penicillin to the current struggles against MRSA and the threat of CRE. His research focuses on understanding the structure of bacterial enzymes that cause resistance to antibiotics, so that drug designers can address this ever-changing threat.

Speaker: Dr. Scott Lefurgy, Department of Chemistry, Hofstra University

Fortunoff Theater, Monroe Lecture Center


Wednesday, April 13, 7 p.m.
Hunting for Beneficial Microbes on Long Island

An introduction to the microbes being studied in the lab of Javier Izquierdo, Hofstra assistant professor of biology – including their uses in biofuel production and agriculture. The focus of the lab is on “locally grown” microbes that have been collected from various sources, from vineyard soils on the North Fork to sand dunes on the South Shore to zoo animals.

Speaker: Dr. Javier Izquierdo, Department of Biology, Hofstra University

Fortunoff Theater, Monroe Lecture Center


View Photos From: Hunting for Beneficial Microbes on Long Island

For more information, please contact the Hofstra Cultural Center at 516-463-5669.