Exhibits & Programs

Meet A Scientist (formerly known as Scientist Spotlight)

Discover how science works alongside the pros at Meet A Scientist. This program is free with admission and happens nearly every month (always on first Saturdays). Meet A Scientist features two rounds (11 a.m.-2 p.m. and 2 p.m.-5 p.m.) of local scientists who share their work with you through hands-on activities and conversation. The program welcomes guests of all ages to interact with the scientists, who are more than happy to answer all sorts of questions relating to their current research. You might learn how scientists detect cancer-causing genes, how bugs fly, or how our brains remember what we’ve seen. Come back for new scientist guests each month.

This program exclusively features Pacific Science Center Science Communication Fellows. Fellows are local science-based professionals trained in communication and committed to sharing their love of science with you.

Entry to Meet A Scientist is included with the price of general admission – FREE for Pacific Science Center Members. Contact Marley Jarvis at mjarvis@pacsci.org or (206) 269-5768 for more information.

Upcoming Dates for Meet a Scientist:

  • February 6, 2016
  • April 2, 2016
  • June 4, 2016

Here are some of the scientists you’ll meet on February 6, 2016:

Zac Simon
Institute for Systems Biology, Baliga Lab
Date: Saturday, February 6   Time Slot: 2 – 5 p.m.   Location: The Studio

Activity title and description:
“Tumor Destroyer!” In Tumor Destroyer visitors will learn about cancer and how cells in tumors change over time. We go over how cells change over time and how those changes can make cells different from one another. We then play a game to destroy a tumor made up of many cell types using either one drug or a combination to show how new research is being done.

Who is your favorite scientist and why. Has anyone else influenced you to this career?
Other than my amazing co-workers, I’d say Richard Lenski. He has worked extensively with the evolution of E. coli for 25 years and I think that his work has made the theory of evolution more accessible to people by showing that it isn’t a phenomena that takes millions of years for some organisms.

What is your favorite science fiction movie and why?
I really enjoyed Sharktopus because the thought of making a creature with a shark head and an octopus body is both ridiculous and amazing. But really, give me any SciFi monster movie and I’m there.

Complete this sentence: Science is:
Science is the hunt for knowledge in an agreed upon way and that failure isn’t bad, it simply lets you know where you can stop searching for a while.

Donna Shows
Benaroya Research Institute
Date: Saturday, February 6   Time Slot: 11 a.m. – 2 p.m.   Location: The Ackerley Family Gallery 

Activity title and description:
“Gut Guardians.” See how researchers study intestinal diseases and dissect our guts to figure out which is sick or healthy.

Why did you get into this field of science?
When I got to college, rather than working in an office, childcare or yardwork, I took a job cleaning up for researchers in an infectious disease laboratory at the university. The doctors, technicians and scientists were very smart people who kept asking questions and inviting me to learn more biology every day. Who knew a job could challenge us daily and keep us respecting mistakes as much as success? That was a revelation about what kind of work would suit me.

Give us a science fact not very many people know about.
Even a lowly pollen grain can tell us much about the constitution of matter. The mysterious jerky movement of tiny particles suspended in fluids, what we know an Brownian motion, was explained mathematically by Einstein and verified in experiments by Perrin to show that atoms and molecules are real physical objects.

Bish Paul
University of Washington, Dept. of Molecular and Cellular Biology
Date: Saturday, February 6   Time Slot: 11 a.m. – 2 p.m.   Location: The Ackerley Family Gallery 

Activity Title and Desciption:
“Gene Therapy: Using Viruses to CURE disease!” How can we use viruses to CURE disease? Come learn how gene therapy might provide an answer!

What was your first science experiment?
As a 6 year old in India, I trapped several different iridescent locusts in jam jars and tried to figure out what they ate by feeding them a varied diet of rice, beans, biscuits, jelly, potatoes etc. I blame my mom’s cooking for their eventual demise.

What is your favorite science fiction movie and why?
Inception, because it suspends reality beautifully.

Complete this sentence: Science is:
Science is fascinating, engaging and entertaining!

Dr. Sheila Ganti,
University of Washington, Dept. of Comparative Medicine
Date: Saturday, February 6   Time Slot: 11 a.m. – 2 p.m.    Location: The Ackerley Family Gallery 

Activity Title and Description:
“Cancer: When Good Cells Go Bad.” Cancer is a family of diseases characterized by abnormal cell growth. Sometimes these cancer cells can be removed by our own immune system, but other times, the cancer can overwhelm our own defenses. How can we harness the power of our immune system to attack these abnormal cancer cells?

Who is your favorite scientist and why. Has anyone else influenced you to this career?
My favorite scientist is Leonardo Da Vinci. He was such an out-of-the-box thinker, and his work demonstrates the creative approach needed to answer scientific questions.

Laura Gaydos
Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center
Date: Saturday, February 6   Time Slot: 11 a.m. – 2 p.m.   Location: The Ackerley Family Studio 

Activity Title and Description:
“Worms, Frogs And Me.” What do worms and frogs have in common with us? Find out how scientists use worms, frogs and other organisms to learn more about humans and cure diseases.

Why did you get into this field of science?
I like the problem solving aspect and I have always been curious about how things in our cells work.

What do you like to do in your leisure time outside of science?
Swimming, hiking, snowboarding, backpacking, SUBA diving, anything outdoors, really!

Adam Lesiak
University of Washington, Neuroscience
Date: Saturday, February 6   Time Slot: 11a.m. – 2 p.m.   Location: Portal to Current Research  

Activity Title and Description:
“Talk To A Brain Cell.” Have fun learning the language of the brain. Interact with a model brain cell to learn how brain cells communicate and change. See how brain cell activity and shape are affected by disease.

Why did you get into this field of science?
I wanted to know how everything worked. When I first heard about the brain and sensory perception, I was hooked.

Give us a science fact not very many people know about.
One of the best ways to treat almost any disorder of the brain is to exercise.

Matt Brodsky
University of Washington, Neuroscience
Date: Saturday, February 6   Time Slot: 2 – 5 p.m.   Location: Portal to Current Research

Activity title and description:
“How fast can you change your brain?” Experience neuro-plasticity first hand! Let me change your brain with prism goggles.

Who is your favorite scientist and why. Has anyone else influenced you to this career?
Alexander Fleming- because I would have died without penicillin.

Give us a science fact not very many people know about:
Babies have three-times the synapses in their brains as an adult

Complete this sentence: Science is:
Science is the only truth

Molly Gasperini
University of Washington Genome Sciences
Date: Saturday, February 6   Time Slot: 2 – 5 p.m.   Location: The Ackerley Family Gallery 

Activity Title and Description:
“The Genetics of Puppy Fur.” Come pet some stuffed animals and learn about how they inherit their fur from their mom and their dad!

What was your first science experiment?
My first experiment involved looking at bacteria from the mud in my backyard.

Who is your favorite scientist and why. Has anyone else influenced you to this career?
Rosalind Franklin is a famous female scientist. She helped discover the structure of DNA but didn’t receive credit for it until much later.

Andrew Mathewson
University of Washington and Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center
Date: Saturday, February 6   Time Slot: 2 – 5 p.m.   Location: Portal to Current Research 

Activity Title and Description:
“Feeling The Way: Cell Migration In The Developing Brain.” For proper brain development, neurons need to accurately migrate from where they divide to where they will carry out their mature functions. Come find out how these “blind” cells correctly navigate the complexity of the brain with a hands-on puzzle challenge!

Who is your favorite scientist and why. Has anyone else influenced you to this career?
I’m a big fan of Bill Nye because I grew up watching his show and he made a lot of different kinds of science interesting and fun to learn about. My parents played a major role in getting me into science because they have always encouraged my curiosity and pushed me to follow my dreams.

Complete this sentence: Science is:
Science is essential.

Sarah Waldherr
University of Washington, Molecular and Cellular Biology
Date: Saturday, February 6   Time Slot: 2 – 5 p.m.   Location: The Ackerley Family Gallery 

Activity Title and Description:
“Attack Of The Mutant Proteins: Coming To A Neuron Near You (And How To Stop Them!)” Step right up and help your brain cells or neurons, combat those pesky mutant proteins. Proteins are the workhorses in every cell of every living thing and are involved in almost all of the processes going on inside your body, including your brain. Learn how proteins are assembled, allowing neurons to properly function, and the detrimental consequences when a protein is incorrectly assembled and becomes mutant!

Why did you get into this field of science?
I’ve always been fascinated with the complexity of the human body, especially the brain. During high school, I witnessed one of my teachers struggle with Parkinson’s disease. This personal impact provided the early motivation for my career geared towards understanding what goes wrong in the brain to cause such diseases and how we can develop treatments.

Complete this sentence: Science is:
Science is constantly evolving as new discoveries are made.