National Geographic Live Virtual Speaker Series

Published by Roberta Emerson

[above photo credit: Bryan Smith]

Quest Science Center and The Rae Dorough Speaker Series, join Livermore Valley Performing Arts Center in presenting this series of six virtual speaker events which cover a wide range of topics, from exploring the potential for “Life on Other Worlds” to complex issues surrounding “Women and Migration.” The virtual events combine premium storytelling and visually-stunning imagery in the tradition of the legendary magazine, offering first-hand accounts of science and adventure, as told by world-class explorers who seek to inspire change in the world. Each 60-minute event includes a moderated discussion between two speakers with pre-recorded content interspersed with live conversation, as well as question and answer periods. Tickets are just $20 per event.

Three National Geographic Live events with a specific focus on science and nature will be co-presented by Quest Science Center:

JAN 20 “Life on Other Worlds” – How close are we to discovering life on other planets? NASA’s Perseverance rover is due to land on Mars in 2021 to search for signs of ancient life and collect rock and soil samples for possible return to Earth. Jupiter’s moon Europa is home to a vast subsurface ocean—a body of water that could sustain primitive forms of life on this alien world nearly 600 million miles from our planet. Join planetary scientist and astrobiologist Kevin Peter Hand and NASA engineer Kobie Boykins for the latest intriguing updates on this vast frontier of exploration.

FEB 24 “Reimagining Dinosaurs” – Groundbreaking new science is changing what we thought we knew about how dinosaurs looked, moved, and lived. Newfound troves from the Moroccan desert suggest that the immense predator Spinosaurus used crocodile-like jaws and a unique, paddle-like tail to actively pursue prey in the water: a first for dinosaurs. And in Chile, scientists have discovered a shocking new therapod. Unlike its cousins, Velociraptor and T. rex, Chilesaurus consumed a vegetarian diet. Join leading paleontologists Nizar Ibrahim and Sebastián Rozadilla for stories and conversation about the evolving science of dinosaurs.

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MAR 31 “Mysterious Seas” – Get a glimpse into the ocean’s greatest depths, and the fascinating creatures that live there, with two leading marine biologists. David Gruber searches the oceans for bioluminescent and biofluorescent marine species and designs delicate and noninvasive tools for studying and interacting with deep-sea life. Diva Amon participates in expeditions around the world to study the unusual animals living in a variety of deep-sea habitats—and how humans impact them. Through stories and conversation, they’ll shine a light on this dark, cold, and mysterious world.

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Three other events with a wider focus and a connection to the arts through photography and filmmaking will be co-presented by the Rae Dorough Speaker Series:

FEB 10 “Scientific Exposure” – Natural history photographers working with National Geographic have often emerged from scientific backgrounds, enabling them to reveal wildlife and our natural world in surprising ways. Molecular biologist-turned-photographer Prasenjeet Yadav combines his experience in research with his photography skills to highlight natural history and science stories in Asia. And Anand Varma has developed innovative techniques to create stunning images of creatures whose details are otherwise invisible to the naked eye. Join them for stories and conversation on the intriguing intersection of science and photography.

MAR 17 “Feats of Filmmaking” – Meet two filmmakers renowned for capturing extreme feats of adventure in some of the world’s most remote and inhospitable environments. Based out of British Columbia, Bryan Smith brings stories of adventure to the screen from the South Pacific’s deepest canyons to the frozen waters of Niagara Falls. Keith Ladzinski takes on the seemingly impossible—including chasing tornadoes, hanging from massive natural arches, and swimming with alligators—to document the endeavors of the world’s most elite adventurers.

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APR 14 “Women and Migration” – Photographers Danielle Villasana, Miora Rajaonary, and Saiyna Bashir join photo editor Jennifer Samuel in conversation on their latest project documenting the impact of migration on women around the globe. Never before has the world been more tightly woven and the movement of people greater between and within continents and countries. Although COVID-19 has slowed migration, in 2019 more than 270 million people—nearly half of them women—were living in countries other than the one where they were born. Drawn by the promise of a better future, women increasingly have traveled to wealthier countries, taking jobs in child- and eldercare and domestic work, as well as manufacturing and agriculture—a shift described as “the feminization of migration.” For women who are forced to leave home because of famine or violence, migration is a gamble for their very survival.

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“We are excited to be able to present this new virtual series in cooperation with such community partners as Quest and RDSS, especially during a time when the theater will remain closed,” said Chris Carter, Executive Director for Livermore Valley Performing Arts Center. For more than a dozen years, the Rae Dorough Speaker Series has offered thought-provoking events at the Bankhead and, even during the pandemic, has continued to do so virtually. The energy behind the three-year-old Quest Science Center is growing quickly, building on Livermore’s long history with advanced science and technology. “We see the fascinating Nat Geo Live series as the perfect opportunity to draw on the strengths of all three organizations and deliver events that are both entertaining and educational for our community,” Carter added.

WEDNESDAYS at 7PM    TICKETS $20/event

Please note: This is a live event and will not be recorded or available for viewing after the event date.


National Geographic Live is the live events division of National Geographic. Its broad roster of talent, including renowned photographers, scientists, authors, filmmakers and adventurers, share their behind-the-scenes stories from the front lines of exploration alongside stunning imagery and gripping footage to audiences throughout the United States and abroad. For more information visit nationalgeographic.com/events.

Livermore Valley Performing Arts Center is an independent 501(c)3 non-profit offering wide-ranging programs that provide access to the arts for the Tri-Valley community and beyond. Currently closed due to Alameda County restrictions for COVID-19, the Bankhead Theater, together with the Bothwell Arts Center, present numerous events each year including performances, speakers, films, classes and exhibits, as well as extensive educational outreach in the arts. They provide a home to eight resident performing arts companies and over 40 studio artists and cultural arts instructors.

The Quest Science Center is a 501(c)3 nonprofit organization founded in 2018 that invites people of all ages and backgrounds to be inspired by exploring the science and technology around us, for lifelong engagement. Over 3000 students in the region have participated in a variety of outreach activities, and Quest plans to open a permanent science center in downtown Livermore’s new Stockmen’s Park in 2024. In the meantime, Quest will continue to develop impactful and welcoming interactive discovery experiences throughout the Tri-Valley region and beyond. For more information, visit: quest-science.org

The Rae Dorough Speaker Series is an independent 502(c)3 non-profit that was founded in 2008 with the charter to bring renowned commentators discussing interesting and timely topics ranging from the arts and entertainment to iPhones and dark matter. RDSS speakers have included engineers, scientists, fiction and non-fiction writers and historians, entrepreneurs, comedians and entertainers, diplomats, astronauts, journalists, and a Secretary of Defense. For more information, visit raedoroughspeakerseries.org.