On January 24th, the Lawrence Hall of Science Advisory Council hosted a benefit event called “Innovations & Inspirations.” The event was attended by leaders in business and industry, including many members of the biotechnology community, educators, and other supporters of the Hall.

The evening kicked off with a cocktail reception among our exhibits. Guests designed rockets, created animated stories, and did science just like our visitors and members do every day. There was also a Learning Showcase that highlighted a few of the ways in which the Hall helps both youth and the general public prepare for the implications that revolutionary innovations in biology and biotechnology will present. Featured experiences at the event included Amplify Science, Building with Biology, the Joint BioEnergy Institute, FOSS, and the Amgen Biotech Experience. The Berkeley High Jazz Combo, Smoked Gouda, provided just the right musical backdrop to enhance everyone’s enjoyment.

During the dinner, Lawrence Hall of Science Advisory Council Chair Don Proctor and Interim Executive Director Rena Dorph introduced the audience to the important work we do at the Lawrence Hall of Science. “Whenever I tell someone in the Bay Area where I work,” said Dorph, “I get an amazing reaction that goes something like this: I get a big smile and then I get an inspiring story about their experiences at the Hall.”

Created by Berkeley Video. TechHive footage courtesy of Matt Chilbert. Summer Solar Academy footage courtesy of Tiye Rose Hood. Special thanks to the students and teachers of Skyline High School (OUSD) Summer Solar Academy, St. Agnes School in Concord, The Seven Hills School in Walnut Creek, Pueblo Vista Magnet School in Napa, and St. Clement School in Hayward for participating in this video.

In addition to raising funds for the Hall’s core mission, guests were invited to help the Hall “Fund the Future” by donating to launch a new Biotech Learning Lab at the Hall. Led by a gift from the Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation, the 200 guests were spurred on by emcee Abra Annes to raise $105,050 for the Biotech Learning Lab. The innovative learning opportunities in the Hall's new Biotech Lab will engage students, visitors, and educators in biotechnology. The lab will also serve as a locus for the design of curriculum materials and the site of professional learning experiences that will inspire and prepare the next generation of citizens and scientists for the world of possibilities that biotechnology offers to address pressing global challenges.

The highlight of the event was a talk given by Dr. Jennifer A. Doudna. Dr. Doudna holds the Li Ka Shing Chancellor’s Chair in Biomedical and Health Sciences and is a professor in the Departments of Molecular and Cell Biology and Chemistry at UC Berkeley, an investigator at Howard Hughes Medical Institute, and a faculty scientist at the Lawrence Berkeley National Lab. She has earned worldwide recognition and numerous awards for her research into the structure and function of RNA. She is perhaps best known for her breakthrough invention of CRISPR/Cas9 genome editing technology. Dr. Doudna told the story of how she and her colleagues developed this technology, and took questions from the audience about her hopes for her work as well as the potential societal implications of genome editing.

“Innovations & Inspirations” was a great night of people coming together to support the Hall’s mission to foster and inspire science learning for all—especially those who have limited access to science. Many thanks to the sponsors, community leaders, donors, staff, volunteers, and everyone else who made it such a special night that will make possible innovations in teaching and learning about science for many years to come.

For more information about the event, and a full list of sponsors, please visit the Innovations & Inspirations website.

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