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Perot Museum's National Geographic Live series kicks off 2/16 with "How to Clone a Mammoth" author

Tickets are now on sale for the Perot Museum of Nature and Science’s 2022 National Geographic Live Speaker Series, which kicks off Feb. 16 with evolutionary biologist and ancient DNA research pioneer Beth Shapiro, author of How to Clone a Mammoth. The three-part series is an extension of the Perot Museum’s commitment to provide learning opportunities by spotlighting thought leaders in science who provoke curiosity in topics from prehistoric life and underwater predators, to conservation and more.

The series also will feature large carnivore ecologist Dr. Rae Wynn-Grant on Wednesday, April 6, and underwater photographer Thomas Peschak on Wednesday, May 4. All three explorer talks will take place at 7 p.m. in The Hoglund Foundation Theater. Season and individual tickets are available at perotmuseum.org.

“These explorers are known internationally for their dedication to study and protect wildlife,” said Dr. Linda Silver, Eugene McDermott Chief Executive Officer of the Perot Museum. “As an added bonus, they are incredible storytellers with many daring and breakthrough adventures to share, which is so important as we strive to excite and inspire the next generation of STEM professionals.”

Silver adds that the series traditionally sells out quickly.

2022 NATIONAL GEOGRAPHIC LIVE SPEAKER SERIES

“How to Clone a Mammoth”, presented locally by Charles Schwab
Feb. 16, 2022, at 7 p.m.
Could extinct species, like mammoths and passenger pigeons, be brought back to life? National Geographic Emerging Explorer Beth Shapiro is one of the scientists investigating this intriguing possibility.

An evolutionary biologist and pioneer in ancient DNA research, Shapiro travels extensively through the Arctic regions of Siberia and North America to collect bones, teeth and other remains of Ice Age giants like mammoths, saber-toothed cats and giant camels. She extracts DNA from these remains and uses this information to understand how changing climates and increasing human activity have shaped the present-day distribution of species. Her goal is to use this information from the past and, increasingly, genomic tools developed in the present, to save living species from the same fate as so many ancient animals.

The Secret Life of Bears”
April 6, 2022, at 7 p.m.
Dr. Rae Wynn-Grant is dedicated to wildlife ecology research, but it wasn’t until life brought her to Kenya at age 20 that she had ever taken a hike, pitched a tent to camp or seen a wild animal. While there, she studied East African lions – top carnivores that live in close quarters with local communities – and observed that problematic interactions between the two groups threatened conservation efforts. Now, Dr. Wynn-Grant is finding similar patterns for North American black and grizzly bears.

As a scientist with the National Geographic Society’s Last Wild Places Initiative, Wynn-Grant works to protect and restore iconic wildlife populations – grizzly bears, bison, pronghorn, cougars and more. But there’s an obstacle: roads, fences and cattle ranches crisscross the habitat of these wide-ranging animals. Wynn-Grant studies the movements and behaviors of the bears in an effort to find ways to improve the relationship between local communities and the powerful wildlife that surround them.

“Wild Seas, Secret Shores”, presented locally by Charles Schwab
May 4, 2022, at 7 p.m.
For Thomas Peschak, sharks aren’t why you get out of the water—they’re why you get in. His lifelong obsession with the ocean led him first to marine biology, specializing in kelp forest and the impacts of marine poaching. He became a conservation photographer in 2004, realizing his images could have greater impact than this research. He soon found himself paddling kayaks alongside great white sharks in South Africa, swimming among hundreds of one-ton manta rays in the Maldives, and tracking sea turtles the size of bears in the Caribbean. He has spent a lifetime documenting the beauty and fragility of underwater life and the majesty of wild coastlines.

TICKETS. Individual tickets for the 2022 National Geographic speaker series are $49 for members and $54 for non-members. (Museum general admission is not required – or included – with ticket purchase.) COVID-19 protocols will be in place.

The Perot Museum is located at 2201 N. Field Street in Dallas, Texas. For more information, visit perotmuseum.org or call 214-428-5555.

About the Perot Museum of Nature and Science. A top cultural attraction in Dallas/Fort Worth and a Michelin Green Guide three-star destination, the Perot Museum of Nature and Science is a nonprofit educational organization located in the heart of Dallas, Texas. With a mission to inspire minds through nature and science, the Perot Museum delivers exciting, engaging and innovative visitor and outreach experiences through its education, exhibition, and research and collections programming for children, students, teachers, families and life-long learners. A trusted science resource for all of North Texas, the Museum is committed to preparing the next generation of STEM workers by supporting K-12 schools and educators through highly accessible programs. The 180,000-square-foot facility in Victory Park opened in December 2012 and is now recognized as the symbolic gateway to the Dallas Arts District. Future scientists, mathematicians and engineers will find inspiration and enlightenment through 11 permanent exhibit halls on five floors of public space; a children’s museum; a flexible-space, traveling exhibition hall; and a theater. Designed by 2005 Pritzker Architecture Prize Laureate Thom Mayne and his firm Morphosis Architects, the Victory Park museum has been lauded for its artistry and sustainability. To learn more, please visit perotmuseum.org.

SPEAKER BIOS

Beth Shapiro
Evolutionary Biologist

Dr. Beth Shapiro is a pioneer and global leader in the high-profile field of ancient DNA and a clear voice in the debate over the future of genetic engineering. A Rhodes Scholar, Macarthur “genius,” and National Geographic Explorer, Shapiro is Professor of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology at UC Santa Cruz, Director of the UCSC Paleogenomics Lab, and a Howard Hughes Medical Institute Investigator.

Shapiro travels extensively through the Arctic regions of Siberia and North America, where she collects the bones, teeth, and other remains of ice age giants, including mammoths, saber-toothed cats, and giant camels. She extracts DNA from these remains and uses this information to understand how changing climates and increasing human activity have shaped the present-day distribution of species. Her goal is to use this information from the past and, increasingly, genomic tools developed in the present, to save living species from the same fate as so many ice age animals.

Shapiro’s research has been published in many top scientific journals, including Science and Nature, and she has written for Popular Science, the Times Higher Education, and The Observer. Shapiro’s dynamic and fluid style and ability to present complex scientific ideas in an easy-to-digest manner have made her a highly sought-after to speaker for public and scientific audiences. A regular on BBCNational Geographic, Discovery, and others, Shapiro is one of the most prominent popularizers of science in her generation.

Shapiro’s first book, How to Clone a Mammoth: The Science of De-Extinction, published by Princeton University Press in 2015, explores the technical, ethical, and ecological challenges to bringing extinct species back to life. How to Clone a Mammoth won the 2016 AAAS/Subaru SB&F Prize for Excellence in Science Books, the 2016 PROSE Award in Popular Science & Popular Mathematics, and the 2016 Independent Publisher Book Awards Gold Medal in Science. It was shortlisted for the 2016 Phi Beta Kappa Award in Science and the 2016 LA Times Book Prize in Science & Technology. Her second book, Wild(ish) Life: Our Long History of Messing with Nature, will be published by Basic Books in 2020.

Rae Wynn-Grant
Carnivore Ecologist

Dr. Rae Wynn-Grant is a large carnivore ecologist with an expertise in using statistical modeling to investigate how humans influence carnivore behavior and ecology. In particular, she is currently studying the drivers of human-carnivore conflict, and the influence of human activity on connectivity of suitable carnivore habitat. Her current field system encompasses part of The Great Plains in northeastern Montana where she is studying potential corridors to facilitate grizzly bear conservation. Her previous research questions surrounded the ecological drivers of human-carnivore conflict with black bears in the Western Great Basin, African lions in rural Kenya and Tanzania, as well as grizzly bears in the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem.

A native Californian, Dr. Wynn-Grant attributes her interest in wildlife and conservation from the television shows she watched as a child. She was introduced to the field of conservation biology as an undergraduate and is unapologetic about her passion for studying charismatic megafauna. Dr. Wynn-Grant serves on the Board of Governors for the Society for Conservation Biology, and as a Special Director for The Explorer’s Club, where she largely aids the organizations in their equity, inclusion, and diversity strategies.

Dr. Wynn-Grant received her B.S. in Environmental Studies from Emory University, her M.S. in Environmental Studies from Yale University, and her Ph.D. in Ecology and Evolution from Columbia University. She completed a Conservation Science Research and Teaching Postdoctoral fellowship with the Center for Biodiversity and Conservation at the American Museum of Natural History. Her doctoral and postdoctoral research focused on the ecological and social drivers of carnivore behavioral patterns in human-modified landscapes. She is currently a Fellow with National Geographic Society working on carnivore conservation. She maintains a Visiting Scientist position at the American Museum of Natural History, and adjunct faculty positions at Columbia University and Johns Hopkins University.

Thomas Peschak
Photographer

Thomas Peschak’s love affair with the ocean began early. He started snorkeling at the age of six and SCUBA diving at the age of twelve. At night, he devoured books by Jacques Cousteau and legendary National Geographic photographers. When he was sixteen, his parents gave him a Nikonos V underwater camera for his birthday, and it changed his life forever.

Photography remained a hobby, however, while he trained as a marine biologist specializing in kelp forests and the impacts of marine poaching. Only after realizing his images could have greater conservation impact than his research did he leave behind a scientific career and embraced the nomadic life of a photojournalist.

Today, as a National Geographic Explorer and photographer, Peschak specializes in documenting both the beauty and fragility of the world’s oceans. Since 2008, he has photographed fourteen stories for National Geographic magazine on a range of subjects, from manta rays to the Galapagos Islands. His most recent features on sea turtles and Antarctica appeared in the October 2019 and Nov 2021 issues.

Peschak was appointed a National Geographic Fellow in 2019. He continues to document critical conservation threats and undertakes expeditions to rarely visited ecosystems, including the mysterious underwater world of the Amazon river. He has written and photographed eight books, his most recent WILD SEAS, was published by National Geographic in October 2021. He is a seventeen-time winner in the Wildlife Photographer of the Year competition and has received seven World Press Photo Awards for his images and stories. His 2015 TED Talk, “Dive into an Ocean Photographer’s World” has been viewed more than one million times.

When he is not underwater or exploring remote islands, Thomas calls Cape Town, South Africa home.  

Wednesday, January 26, 2022