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Museum Director Delivers State of the Sciences Address

Eric Dorfman, director of the North Carolina Museum of Natural Sciences
Eric Dorfman, director of the North Carolina Museum of Natural Sciences

Eric Dorfman, director of the North Carolina Museum of Natural Sciences, headlined the college’s annual State of the Sciences event on March 9.

The college has a longstanding partnership with the museum, which is the most-visited one in the state and the largest institution of its kind in the Southeast. Dorfman is also an adjunct associate professor in the Department of Marine, Earth and Atmospheric Sciences.

Dorfman’s talk, “Can The Arts Save The Planet: The Coming Storm or A State of Fear?,” addressed the misalignment between how professionals explore science and how the public relates to it, which he called an “existential crisis in science.”

He highlighted the museum’s opportunities for artists who care about the environment, and discussed wanting the science and art communities to work together to build awareness. He believes these collaborations can be the mechanisms by which scientists and the public better relate to each other.

Dorfman concluded his talk with five key messages:

  • To think consciously about making a difference
  • Know the public and provide content that meeds their needs and expectations
  • Have a robust plan with achievable goals and appropriate measures
  • Work with external partners to make the biggest impact
  • Build on the best of what we’ve achieved to streamline future processes

“It’s always been important to us to enhance collaborative opportunities for students and faculty,” said John Blondin, senior associate dean for administration in the College of Sciences, who introduced Dorfman at the event.

The expansion of opportunities is a key tenet of the college’s recently launched strategic plan. Blondin noted that the event and Dorfman exemplify the college’s core values laid out in the plan: integrity, curiosity, collaboration, innovation and justice.

“I’m thrilled to be a part of a scientific community that is just rocking it,” Dorfman said.

The event was made possible by applied mathematics alumnus Joe Bridger, whose generous contributions to the college’s Spirit of Science Illumination Fund support the annual event.