Shoshanah and Prof. Peter Westbroek with "Endo" painting
Just returned from a wonderful three-day symposium at the University of Massachusetts Amherst entitled "Celebrating a Life in Science: In Memory of Lynn Margulis." Dr. Margulis was an American biologist and University Professor in the Department of Geosciences at UMA and one of the greatest scientists of our era. (Go to the UMass Geosciences website or just Google her name and see what you find!)
Over 60 speakers (scientists, teachers, friends, and family from all over the world) praised and commented on Margulis' revolutionary thinking, her courage and tenacity, her generosity and boundless energy. The symposium was one of the most exhilarating experiences of my life and convinced me of two things other than Dr. Margulis' genius: 1) computer-based learning will never replace the power of a live, caring and well-trained teacher. Dr. Margulis was a master teacher herself and inspired many by her very presence to follow that profession, indirectly training thousands of science teachers who are in our schools today. 2) It is uplifting to hear people honor another human being whom they love and admire. How different from our current election campaign rituals in which people, from politicians to in-your-face bloggers and commentors, continually tear down others, dragging us all down into a culture of hostility.
I attended the symposium as the creator of the iconic "Endosymbiosis" painting (see my blog "endosymbiosis: homage to lynn margulis") and felt both sad and elated to be at the symposium. I sensed the grief of those who had lost Lynn so suddenly and also their love for her. My own regret was that I had never met Lynn while she was alive; but people reassured me that she was there, mirrored in all those in the room who had known her.
Conference Hall during Margulis SymposiumThe 6-foot-wide canvas giclée reproduction of my painting, "Endosymbiosis: Homage to Lynn Margulis," stood on an easel in either the lecture hall or the dining hall during the entire conference [you can see it in the far left of the Conference Hall photo], highly visible. Every attendee received an 8x10" giclée print in their registration packet (thanks to the generosity of the Department of Geosciences), and I soon found myself happily autographing many of those prints, feeling somewhat of a celebrity. At the end of the symposium, the large canvas was moved into the Morrill Science Center, to be permanently displayed with a dedicatory plaque in the hallway between the Geosciences and the Biology department, where, as one young woman told me, "thousands of future students will pass by it and be inspired."
What's next for me? More paintings! More science!
"Endosymbiosis: Homage to Lynn Margulis"