Scientists and artists to explore “Physics and Dance” in Shulman Lectures

 Poster for the "Physics and Dance" Shulman Lecture series.
January 25, 2016

“Physics and Dance” is the theme of the spring 2016 Shulman Lectures in Science and the Humanities, hosted by the Whitney Humanities Center (WHC).

The opening lecture — “Research at the Energy Frontier: What, Why, and How?” — will be given by experimental particle physicist Jonathan Butterworth on Wednesday, Feb. 3. The event is free and open to the public.

Other speakers in the series and their topics are: choreographer, filmmaker, and writer Yvonne Rainer, “Innovation in Dance: Back and Forth with Yvonne Rainer,” Feb. 15; physicist Young-Kee Kim, “An Atom as an Onion,” March 10; and choreographer, performer, writer, and educator Liz Lerman, “Creative Research: Crossing Borders, Disciplines, and Domains,” March 28.

All lectures will be at 5 p.m. at the WHC, 53 Wall St. The opening lecture will be held in the auditorium, subsequent lectures in Rm. 208.

Biographies of the speakers follow:

Jonathan Butterworth
“Research at the Energy Frontier: What, Why, and How?”
Feb. 3

Butterworth, is head of the physics and astronomy department at University College London. His current research is on the ATLAS experiment at the CERN Large Hadron Collider (LHC), where he has led a UCL group that contributed to the tracking, trigger, and software for the experiment. His work has focused on physics processes at the LHC that will help us discover more about electroweak symmetry breaking, or basically “why some things have mass.” This included searching for the Higgs boson, discovered in July 2012. Butterworth won the Chadwick Prize from the Institute of Physics in 2013 for his pioneering experimental and phenomenological work in high-energy particle physics, especially in the understanding of hadronic jets. He writes regularly for the Guardian; his book “Most Wanted Particle,” on the discovery of the Higgs, was published in 2014.

Yvonne Rainer
“Innovation in Dance: Back and Forth with Yvonne Rainer”
Feb. 15

Rainer was one of the founders of the Judson Dance Theater (l962) and the improvisational group Grand Union (1970). Her major choreographic works include “The Mind Is a Muscle” (1968), “Continuous Project-Altered Daily” (1969–1970), “After Many a Summer Dies the Swan” (2000), “AG Indexical” (2006), “RoS Indexical” (2007), “Spiraling Down” (2008), “Assisted Living: Good Sports 2” (2011), and “The Concept of Dust” (2015–). She has produced and directed seven feature-length films, including “Privilege” (1990, winner of the Filmmakers’ Trophy at the Sundance Film Festival and the Geyer Werke Prize at the International Documentary Film Festival), and “MURDER and murde”r (1996, winner of the Teddy Award at the Berlin Film Festival and Special Jury Award at the Miami Lesbian and Gay Film Festival). She also authored four books: “Work 1961–73,” “The Films of Yvonne Rainer,” “A Woman Who…  Essays, Interviews, Scripts,” and “Feelings Are Facts: A Life.” Rainer has received Guggenheim and Rockefeller Fellowships, a MacArthur Fellowship, a Wexner Prize, Honorary Doctor of Fine Arts degrees, and the Yoko Ono Courage Award.  She is a member of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences and an Officier de L’Ordre des Arts et des Lettres.

Young-Kee Kim
“An Atom as an Onion”
March 10

Young-Kee Kim is the Louis Block Professor of Physics at the University of Chicago. She has devoted much of her research work to understanding the origin of mass for fundamental particles by studying the two most massive particles (the W boson and the top quark), as well as the Higgs particle, which gives mass to elementary particles. Between 2004 and 2006, she was the spokesperson of the CDF experiment at Fermi National Accelerator Laboratory’s Tevatron, a collaboration with more than 600 physicists from around the world. From 2006 to 2013, she was deputy director of Fermilab. She is currently working on the ATLAS experiment at the LHC at CERN. She has served on numerous national and international advisory committees, councils, and boards, and been honored with the Ho-Am Prize, South Korea’s Science and Education Service Medal, the University of Rochester’s Distinguished Scholar Medal, and Korea University’s Alumni Award. She has been a Sloan Fellow, a Fellow of the American Physical Society, and a Fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science.  

Liz Lerman
“Creative Research: Crossing Borders, Disciplines, and Domains”
March 28

Lerman founded Liz Lerman Dance Exchange in 1976 and cultivated the company’s multigenerational ensemble into a leading force in contemporary dance. She is currently pursuing new projects with fresh partnerships, including a recent semester at Harvard as an artist-in-residence. Her work “Healing Wars” just finished touring across the United States. Lerman conducts residencies on the Critical Response Process, creative research, the intersection of art and science, and the building of narrative within dance performance at such institutions as Harvard, Yale, Wesleyan, the Guildhall School of Music and Drama, and the National Theatre Studio. Her essay collection,” Hiking the Horizontal: Field Notes from a Choreographer,” was published in 2011. Lerman has received numerous honors, including a MacArthur Fellowship and a United States Artists Ford Fellowship in Dance. Her work has been commissioned by Harvard Law School, Lincoln Center, the American Dance Festival, and the Kennedy Center among many others.

Shulman Lecture Series

The Shulman Lecture Series is organized in conjunction with a Yale College seminar taught by Emily Coates and Sarah Demers. 

The Shulman Lectures are presented under the auspices of the Franke Program in Science and the Humanities, which is made possible by the generosity of Richard and Barbara Franke. The series is named after Robert Shulman, Sterling Professor Emeritus of Chemistry, Molecular Biophysics and Biochemistry, and senior research scientist in diagnostic radiology, in recognition of his roles as a Founding Fellow of the Whitney and as an unwavering supporter of the integration of science and the humanities.

For more information contact the Whitney Humanities Center at 203 432-0670 or email

- YaleNews press release