Monday, November 9, 2015

New York City museum exhibit includes UIS contribution

A world-class exhibition that opened this weekend at the American Museum of Natural History in New York City has a decidedly Springfield stamp on it.

"The Secret World Inside You," which runs through Aug. 14 at the museum on the Upper West Side of Manhattan, takes an up-close look at microbes — humans are hosts to hundreds of trillions of bacteria, viruses, fungi and other organisms — and how the scientific community is revolutionizing the way we view human health.

The exhibition is largely interactive, appealing to school groups and families, with large-scale replicas; videos, games and quizzes; a live theater; and a chance to become familiar with microbes, such as Streptococcus pyogenes, which causes strep throat.

Co-curator Rob DeSalle, who is on staff with the museum's Division of Invertebrate Zoology and the Sackler Institute for Comparative Genomics, is a Springfield native and Griffin High School graduate. Two University of Illinois Springfield professors, Michael Lemke, who teaches biology, and Keenan Dungey, who teaches chemistry, also contributed work to the exhibition, along with Daniell Bennett, a senior from Pekin who is majoring in chemistry at UIS.

DeSalle, who has curated a number of shows at the museum, most recently "Brain: The Inside Story" in 2010, said the exhibitions continue to bridge the important gap between science and the public, even if it's in an entertaining way.

"There's lots of things in science we need to communicate to the public," DeSalle said. "Learning things about the natural world is important for your health. "This (new exhibition demonstrates) an important new area of scientific discovery.

After its run in New York ends in August, the exhibition will go on the road for two years. Lemke called it "an honor to be part of such an important message." While the exhibition is a significant accomplishment, DeSalle said, "this coming week, I know I'll be thinking of what I'm going to do next."

This article appeared in The State Journal-Register on November 8, 2015.

Read the entire article here.