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UC Riverside Chemist Helps Launch “The Science of Art” Lecture Series


UC Riverside Chemist Helps Launch “The Science of Art” Lecture Series at Riverside Art Museum

In first lecture of quarterly series, July 1, Catharine Larsen will explain how our eyes work

(June 30, 2010)

Catharine Larsen is an assistant professor of chemistry at UC Riverside.  Photo credit: Larsen lab, UC Riverside.Enlarge

Catharine Larsen is an assistant professor of chemistry at UC Riverside. Photo credit: Larsen lab, UC Riverside.

RIVERSIDE, Calif. – How do our eyes work? How do our brains process images that allow for, say, the appreciation of art? How does white light contain all the colors? Do carrots truly improve vision?

The public has an opportunity to find out the answers to the above questions at the Riverside Art Museum, 3425 Mission Inn Ave., Riverside, Calif., tomorrow, July 1, when a new quarterly series, named “The Science of Art,” is launched.

Catharine Larsen, an assistant professor of chemistry at the University of California, Riverside, will present the first lecture of the series, titled “Our Amazing Eyes,” in which she will explain, in about 15 minutes, how vision works and then answer questions.

Larsen will give her lecture three times tomorrow, at 7 p.m., 7:30 p.m., and 8 p.m. Admission to the lecture is free, since there is no charge to visit the Riverside Art Museum from 6 p.m. to 9 p.m. the first Thursday of each month.

Larsen and Lee Tusman, the museum’s curator, view the lecture series as an opportunity to educate non-scientists about the science involved in the making and appreciation of art.

“We wanted to get a conversation going with the public on how chemistry, physics and biology in the context of art affect how we perceive and interact with the world around us,” Larsen said. “As human beings we constantly attempt to explain and interpret our experiences. Rather than being polar opposites, scientific research and art are two facets of this human need intertwined.”

Larsen, who joined UC Riverside in 2008, earned her Ph.D. in chemistry at the California Institute of Technology and went on to do postdoctoral research at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. A former professional ballet dancer, she was the first UC Irvine undergraduate to win a National Defense Science and Engineering Graduate Fellowship.

At UCR, she and her group develop new methods to synthesize small, biologically active compounds with therapeutic potential.
“The Science of Art” lecture series at the Riverside Art Museum, put together by UCR's Catharine Larsen, is aimed at educating non-scientists about the science of art.  Image credit: C. Larsen, UC Riverside. Enlarge

“The Science of Art” lecture series at the Riverside Art Museum, put together by UCR's Catharine Larsen, is aimed at educating non-scientists about the science of art. Image credit: C. Larsen, UC Riverside.

The University of California, Riverside (www.ucr.edu) is a doctoral research university, a living laboratory for groundbreaking exploration of issues critical to Inland Southern California, the state and communities around the world. Reflecting California's diverse culture, UCR's enrollment has exceeded 21,000 students. The campus opened a medical school in 2013 and has reached the heart of the Coachella Valley by way of the UCR Palm Desert Center. The campus has an annual statewide economic impact of more than $1 billion.

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