Physicist Janna Levin To Come To SUNY New Paltz

Theoretical physicist Janna Levin will be in the Distinguished Speaker Series
Theoretical physicist Janna Levin will be in the Distinguished Speaker Series

Janna Levin, theoretical physicist professor at Barnard College and Columbia University, will be coming to New Paltz Nov. 10 as a part of the Distinguished Speaker Series.

Her talk entitled “The Third Culture” will be about the overlap of art and science and her research as a part of the One Lab collective.

Levin has made “significant contributions as a theoretical physicist in the fields of cosmology and black holes,” said Amy Forestell, assistant professor in New Paltz’s Department of Physics.

“She has done much to involve the general public in the world of science,” she said. “Dr. Levin has spoken at many world-class venues and we are very fortunate to have her as the fall speaker.”

Levin is an author/artist/philosopher with a Ph.D. from Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT).  She was also a speaker at a Technology Entertainment & Design (TED) Conference and has been a guest author on “The Colbert Report.”

“As a woman with combined work in both astrophysics and the arts, she is helping to break stereotypes about scientists and will inspire more young girls to enter the STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) fields,” said Forestell.

Her talk will feature ideas and projects fostered by her community of collaborative thinkers as part of the nonprofit group, One Lab.

There are 18 separate groups of artists and scientists that connect and collaborate with one another.  They do not have a name but sometimes refer to themselves as “7” because the groups occupy the seventh floor of their building.

“It’s a collection of people that just think,” Levin said.  “It’s not that there’s a program everyone is subscribing themselves to, it’s something much more accidental in a way, fortuitous.”

One Lab explains on their website,, that they hope to find solutions to open the sociopolitical boundaries that can separate people from design. Their broader goal is to “create a language of technological design” that connects individual responsibility to our environmental crisis.

They understand these environmental issues “as a crisis of human alienation from the natural world” and explore ways to bridge this gap.

“I believe others on our campus and surrounding community will be inspired to learn more about the increasing importance of how the scientific imagination will help achieve intellectual goals,” said Special Events Coordinator Lisa Sandick.

The event is free for students with their student identification, faculty and staff. Alumni can pay $13. The general public will pay $18. “The Third Culture” will begin at 7:30 p.m. in Lecture Center 100, and tickets are on sale to the public through the Parker Theatre box office.