Sackler Colloquia creativity banner

Sackler Colloquia creativity banner

Creativity and Collaboration: Revisiting Cybernetic Serendipity

March 13-14, 2018; Washington, D.C.
Organized by Ben Shneiderman, Maneesh Agrawala, Alyssa Goodman, Youngmoo Kim, and Roger Malina 


Our ambition is to redirect the history of ideas, restoring the Leonardo-like close linkage between art/design and science/engineering/medicine.  We believe that internet-enabled collaborations can make more people more creative more of the time.

Speaker Abstracts


Tuesday March 13, 2018

9:00am Opening: Marcia McNutt, President NAS

Introduction: Ben Shneiderman, University of Maryland, Rock the Research: Embrace Design, Rediscover Visual, and Go Social

Opening Talk: Jasia Reichardt, Cybernetic Serendipity Exhibit Organizer, In anticipation of the sixties

10:30am BREAK


Session 1: Revisiting Cybernetic Serendipity:  A Catalyst for Research Breakthroughs

The 1968 Cybernetics Serendipity exhibit proved to be generative of art/design and research directions that were fruitful and beneficial for science/engineering/medicine.   This session provides an historical perspective while speculating about which directions and exemplars hold promise for the coming decades.  

Session Chair: Roger Malina, University of Texas, Dallas

Sara Diamond, OCAD University, Modeling New Knowledges – An Inclusive STEAM + D Imperative

Curtis Wong, Microsoft, Inc.,  Leonardo da Vinci: Art/Science as the virtuous cycle of rendering and understanding natural world

Patrick McCray, University of California, Santa Barbara, All Watched Over and Watching Machines of Loving, Sometimes Terrifying, Grace

12:20pm LUNCH


Session 2: Information Visualization, Data Art/Design, Data Journalism: Revealing Hidden Worlds

Visualization exposes surprising patterns in data, influences the direction of research, and produces unexpected insights. How does interactive, immersive, and large-data visualizations enhance exploration, discovery, and presentation of research results?  Visualization clarifies thinking for researchers and policy makers.  

Session 2a:

Maneesh Agrawala, Stanford University, Deconstructing Charts and Graphs

Jeff Heer, University of Washington, Constructing Charts and Graphs

Alyssa Goodman, Harvard, Smithsonian, The Road from Explanation to Exploration, and Back

3:00pm  BREAK


Session 2b:

Katy Borner, Indiana University, Data Visualization Literacy: Research and Tools that Advance Public Understanding of Scientific Data

Fernanda Viegas, Google, Inc.,

Jonathan Corum, New York Times, Revealing Hidden Worlds: Visualizing Science at The New York Times

5:00pm Reception

6:00pm Annual Sackler Lecture - free and open to the public, rsvp required.

             Introduction by Marcia McNutt, President, National Academy of Sciences
             David Skorton, Secretary, Smithsonian Institution

Wednesday March 14, 2018


Session 3: Integrating Art & Design Education with Science, Engineering & Medicine

Breakthroughs are increasingly through collaborative efforts spanning multiple disciplines. This session explores integrations of art and design with science, engineering, and medicine. Does such integration have the potential for developing researchers and professionals better prepared to incorporate multiple perspectives, accept new ideas, with greater capacity to work with diverse team members?

Panel Discussion and Reflections with Report Committee Members Integrating Higher Education in the Arts, Humanities, Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine:  A consensus report by the National Academies of Science, Engineering, and Medicine, Board on Higher Education and Workforce

  - David Skorton, Secretary, Smithsonian Institution

  - Tom Rudin, Director, NRC Board on Higher Education and Workforce

  - Pamela Jennings, Construkts

  - Laurie Baefsky, Alliance for the Arts in Research Universities

  - Youngmoo Kim (moderator), Drexel University

10 am Suzanne Bonamici, Congresswoman, Oregon (Invited)
     The Congressional STEAM Caucus

10:30am BREAK


Session 3b: Session Chair: Youngmoo Kim, Drexel University

Robert Root-Bernstein, Michigan State University, How Arts, Crafts and Design Training Benefit STEMM Professionals: The Evidence and It's Limitations

John Maeda, Global Head of Computational Design + Inclusion, Automattic (Invited), Design, Technology, and Inclusion for Advancing Learning

Robert Semper, Exploratorium, Art as a Way of Knowing: Lessons from the Exploratorium Experience Integrating Art into STEM educ

12:20pm LUNCH


Session 4: Social Media, Citizen Science & Team Research

How to harness the power of collaboration, participation & teamwork to accelerate research?

In the past, individual “heroes” were celebrated, but today, evidence powerfully supports collaborative projects which bring together diverse talents.  This session presents effective strategies for communication and collaboration in two-person partnerships, small and large teams, and massive citizen science projects. 

Session 4 Chair: Alyssa Goodman

Session 4a:

Jennifer Preece, University of Maryland, Citizen Science Speaks to Research: New Paradigms, New Agendas and Broader Impacts

Laura Trouille, Adler Planetarium & Zooniverse Project and Chris Lintott, Oxford University and Zooniverse Project, Tales from the Zooniverse: Enabling Serendipity and Creativity through Citizen Science

Julia K Parrish, University of Washington, The Promise of Citizen Science: Scale, Technology, Agency and Saving the World

3:00pm BREAK


Session 4b: Session Chair: Alyssa Goodman

Niki Kittur, Human-Computer Interaction Institute, Carnegie Mellon University, Scaling Up Serendipity: Augmenting Analogical Innovation with Crowds and AI

Zeynep Tufekci, University of North Carolina, New York Times contributor, The New Information Infrastructure: Reconfiguring the Production of Knowledge, Authority and Networks

5:00pm END

Thursday March 15, 2018
There is a separate, related event taking place at the National Academies Keck Building, 500 W. 5th St. NW; Washington, D.C. 20001 at 6:30 p.m.
D.C. Art Science Evening Rendezvous (DASER) featuring Jasia Reichardt, Art Critic, Curator, Writer, England; Curator of the 1968 Cybernetic Serendipity exhibition, Institute of Contemporary Arts, London
In conversation with Klaus Ottmann, Deputy Director for Curatorial and Academic Affairs, The Phillips Collection, Washington, D.C.
Free and open to the public, advance registration required. 

This unique interdisciplinary experience also includes the Student Symposium on March 12 and the Colloquium on March 13-14.

//// Role/Play: Collaborative Creativity and Creative Collaborations Student Fellows Symposium

March 12, 2018, Washington D.C.
Supported by the Arthur M. Sackler Foundation for the Arts, Sciences and Humanities and Google, Inc.
Organized by Liese Liann Zahabi and Molly Morin 

50 North American graduate students enrolled in masters and doctoral programs across all disciplines have been selected to participate in the Monday, March 12 Student Fellows Symposium and attend the Sackler Colloquium which follows on March 13-14, (please note that the selected students are expected to attend all three days of events).  

Scientists thinking like artists—artists thinking like scientists. When these traditionally defined roles mix together, how is the process of making work or conducting research altered? Does the play between disciplines benefit a designer’s practice, an engineer’s output, or a scientist’s data? What are the hazards and opportunities?

Student Fellow Symposium Agenda

Awards will include registration for all three days for all awardees (includes some meals during the conference).  West coast students will receive $800 in travel subsidy, students traveling from the Northeast, Midwest, and Southeast will receive $600 in travel subsidy. Local students in the District of Columbia, Maryland, and Virginia will receive registration for all three days, but no travel support.  Selections will be finalized by December 1, 2017 and all applicants notified by email.

Major support for the student symposium has been provided by the Dame Jillian and Dr. Arthur M. Sackler Foundation for the Arts, Sciences, and Humanities, which also supports the colloquium series; and Google, Inc.


Additional support for the colloquium has been provided by Science Sandbox – a Simons Foundation initiative, Studio International, Leonardo/ISAST, University of Maryland Human-Computer Interaction Lab, ACM Creativity & Cognition and MedStar Institute for Innovation.



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