The worlds of Wakanda, Mars, and Green Fluorescent Proteins will converge on Wednesday, March 31, and the O’Neill School’s Shahzeen Attari will be there front-and-center.
Attari will moderate “The Power of Stories: Writing the Future of Our Planet,” a prelude to the inaugural Nobel Prize Summit in April. The event will bring together three distinguished guests to discuss how the stories we tell now will affect future generations. The event is free and open to the public.
- Martin Chalfie, a University Professor in the Department of Biological Sciences at Columbia University. In 2008 he shared the Nobel Prize in Chemistry for his introduction of Green Fluorescent Protein (GFP) as a biological marker.
- Joe Robert Cole, co-writer of the Academy Award-nominated Black Panther, for which he received a National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) Award. His critically-acclaimed Netflix directorial debut All Day and a Night was released May 2020. He produced the Emmy-Winning FX series American Crime Story: The People vs. OJ Simpson, for which he earned a Writers Guild of America (WGA) Award for Outstanding Writing and is currently co-writing the sequel to Black Panther.
- Kim Stanley Robinson, an American science fiction writer, best known for his Mars trilogy, Red Mars, Green Mars, and Blue Mars. He was sent to the Antarctica by the U.S. National Science Foundation in 1995 and 2016, and is advisor to the Clarion Writers’ Workshop and the Sierra Nevada Research Foundation. His most recent novel is about climate change and is called The Ministry for the Future.
“There are so many commonalities across these three guests,” Attari said. “Each of them deals with stories. Stories of the future. Stories that are empowering in terms of race and gender. Stories that expand our scientific approach. Whether it’s fiction or nonfiction, all of them are storytellers, and my goal is to try to figure out what can be learned about how to build a more sustainable future.”
The use of storytelling to convey information and affect change is an area of active research for Attari. Her research focuses on the psychology of resource use and how to motivate public action on climate change. Attari and her lab work on problems that draw on both cognitive and environmental science, and focus on perceptions, motivations, and biases related to climate change and sustainability.
Each guest on the panel, she says, brings a unique view of science and the role it plays in creating a better world.