Research Colloquium

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Join us for a monthly showcase of research-in-progress by Interdisciplinary Arts & Sciences faculty members. The campus-community and the general public are invited to interact with faculty in conversations about their research, gain a sense of how research practices shift as they move across disciplines and sectors, and think critically and creatively about the implications of different forms of research design.

Spring 2016 Colloquium

The IAS Research Colloquium theme for spring quarter is The Art and Science of Thinking the Unthinkable.  Organized by Amy Lambert and Bruce Burgett, Thinking the Unthinkable examines concepts in the arts and natural sciences that are indefinable or elusive. Speakers discuss current research projects related to the sublime, extinction, and evolution, with each speaker focusing on the dissonance between what we know to be true and what we grapple to believe.  The goal of the series is to open a conversation about how working across the arts and sciences can help us think critically and creatively about intangible biological processes and environmental histories.

Speaker Lineup

Gary Carpenter
The Elusive Sublime
Tuesday, April 5, 2016
4:00 – 5:30 PM
UW1-280 (Rose Room)

There is a rich history of the sublime in the arts, but it’s a concept that is often misunderstood today.  The sublime is elusive (not a thing or a place), an emotional response elicited by an experience.  This presentation explores the sublime and its evolution from ancient Greece to postmodern aesthetics.  It focuses on the question of why the sublime, understood as an elicited response, is relevant today and how it shapes our understanding of ourselves and the world around us.

Gary Carpenter is a visual artist inspired by the sciences, poetry, personal experiences in nature, and research into the sublime in aesthetics throughout history. His process always begins with drawing, but the progression of the work is inspired by the research and intent of the piece ranging from permanent public art projects to collage and painting and ephemeral works. 

Amy Lambert
Escaping Extinction
Tuesday, May 3, 2016
4:00 – 5:30 PM
UW1-280 (Rose Room)

What happens when a butterfly species disappears for 90 years?  This presentation considers narratives created to explain the gap in the account of the island marble butterfly, Euchloe ausonides insulanus, one of the rarest butterflies in the continental United States. It examines what conservation measures are being taken to prevent this butterfly from slipping back into extinction. Lambert’s interest in extinction is informed by relational aesthetics, environmental social theory, and materialist philosophy.  In the presentation, she re-considers the object (in both the arts and sciences) as unique in its capacities to function as “vital matter” and memory.

Amy Lambert is a conservation scientist and public artist whose work crosses boundaries of scientific practice, collaborative performance, experimental investigation and public intervention. Her research focuses on species-level conservation biology (rare butterflies and pollinators), plant community restoration and the political and philosophical barriers that limit the study and preservation of imperiled species.

Rebecca Price
Magnitude in Evolution
Tuesday, June 7, 2016
4:00 – 5:30 PM
UW1-280 (Rose Room)

Evolution is a tough concept, in part because many of the processes in evolution involve numbers so large that they are difficult to understand: deep, geologic time; the number of generations through which natural selection occurs; the time it takes for random changes to spread through a population.  This presentation discusses simulations that have been developed to help students – and the general public – grapple with the magnitude of evolutionary time.  It invites audience members to think about these simulations as scientific presentations, but also considers how they could be modified to be pieces of conceptual art.

Becca Price is a biology education specialist who studies how undergraduate students learn evolution. She is also interested in how the visual arts help people learn and communicate scientific ideas. You can follow her on Twitter @ProfBeccaPrice.

No RSVP is required for general attendance.  A one-credit course option is available to graduate students.*

Visit this page again soon for more information on these and future presentations. If you have questions regarding the research colloquium series, please contact Bruce Burgett

*A one-credit course option is available to graduate students (BCULST/BPOLST 591).  The first class meeting of the quarter begins at 3:30pm (location TBD), with the actual colloquium presentation beginning at 4:00pm.

The University of Washington is committed to providing equal opportunity and reasonable accommodation in its services, programs, activities, education and employment for individuals with disabilities. To inquire about disability accommodations, please contact Rosa Lundborg at Disability Support Services at least ten days prior to the event at 425.352.5307, TDD 425.352.5303, FAX 425.352.5455, or email


Background readings are available via the campus e-reserve system under “IAS Research Colloquium.” If you would like access to these readings and do not have a UW NetID, please contact Bruce Burgett at

Past Colloquia

Learn about past colloquium presentations.

Subject areas included: education policy, sex trafficking, rethinking Marxism, environmental justice, arts-based research, qualitative geovisualization, religion and HIV risk, conserving biodiversity, human rights, and media activism.