** To do our part in mitigating the spread of COVID-19 and keeping our staff, supporters and community safe, MDI Biological Laboratory has cancelled all public events, courses and conferences until July 30, 2020. Our top priority is the safety of our employees, supporters and community. We will be hosting this Science Café online.**
The topic of the MDI Science Café for Monday, July 13, 2020 will be “Science and Sentiment: The Attractions of Hair in 19th Century America,” presented by Robert McCracken Peck, Senior Fellow of the Academy of Natural Sciences of Drexel University.
Shortly after Bob Peck’s arrival at the Academy of Natural Sciences of Philadelphia, Drexel University, where he now serves as Curator of Art and Artifacts and Senior Fellow, he happened upon an unusual, early 19th century collection of fur and wool and hair. Contained in beautiful, leather-bound scrapbooks, the collection had been declared unfit for study by the Academy’s scientists and was earmarked for the trash. When Bob delved into the albums, to his amazement, he found locks of hair from artists, scientists, and politicians from all over the world. One album contained signers of the Declaration of Independence and the first thirteen of presidents of the United States.
Illustrating his talk with photographs made for his recently published book, Specimens of Hair, The Curious Collection of Peter A. Browne, Bob will tell us the story behind these remarkable albums, which are now recognized as irreplaceable repositories for DNA. You won’t want to miss hearing about this fascinating brush with history.
Robert McCracken Peck, Senior Fellow of the Academy of Natural Sciences of Drexel University, is a writer, naturalist, and historian who has traveled extensively in North and South America, Africa, Asia and Europe. He served as Special Assistant to the Academy’s President and Director of the Academy’s Natural History Museum before being named Fellow of the Academy in 1983. The author of numerous books and articles on natural history and the history of science, Peck serves as the “humanist” on the staff of the Academy. He is frequently called upon to provide commentary for NPR, PBS, BBC, AP, UPI, Reuters, the New York Times and other news outlets.
The MDI Science Café series is held on the second Monday of the month through May, when the bimonthly summer series will begin.
Our live online Zoom presentations will be recorded and uploaded for those who cannot make the live session. Please note, when Zoom records, it captures the audience as well as the presenter. If you do not wish to be recorded, please turn off your video camera. Audio will still be available.
MDI Science Cafés are offered in fulfillment of the MDI Biological Laboratory’s mission to promote scientific literacy and increase public engagement with science. The popular events offer a chance to hear directly from speakers about trends in science.
We ask attendees to please preregister online so that we can send you the link to the online presentation.