Philomathia Day

Immersive Environmental Storytelling

Wednesday, January 31, 2024
9:30 am - 5:00 pm

David Brower Center
2150 Allston Way, Berkeley
Free and open to the public

  • 9:30 am to 10:00 am: Registration & breakfast
  • 10:00 am to 11:00 am: Opening remarks & award presentation
  • 11:00 am - 1:00 pm: Lightning Talks noting speakers
  • 1:00 pm - 2:30 pm: Lunch (provided to all attendees)
  • 2:30 pm to 3:30 pm: Climate Initiative Panel noting panelists
  • 3:30 pm to 3:40 pm: Closing remarks and student project reel
  • 3:40pm to 5:00 pm: Student Exhibit and reception


Philomathia Day

Immersive Environmental Storytelling is a day-long exploration at the nexus of visual journalism, environmental science, art, and emerging technologies that will engage audiences in stories of our natural world. Join us for lightning talks, interactive demonstrations, screenings, and performances with leading visual storytellers, scientists, artists, and technologists who bring their disciplines together for a powerful day of action-oriented, truth-telling about climate change and conservation. As part of winning the 2023 Philomathia Prize, Jennifer Redfearn, Director of Berkeley Journalism's Documentary Program, has curated this dynamic event and invites your participation.

2023 Philomathia Recipient

Jennifer Redfearn

Associate Professor, Documentary Director, and Director of the Documentary Program, UC Berkeley Graduate School of Journalism.

Jennifer Redfearn is an Academy Award and Emmy-nominated director. She directed Sun Come Up, about a small island community losing their land to rising seas. Sun Come Up was nominated for an Academy Award and screened in theaters across the U.S.  Tocando La Luz/Touch the Light premiered at Full Frame, winning the Charles E. Guggenheim Award and aired on PBS. Landfill Harmonic (Field Director/Consulting Producer/Add’l Camera) won the audience award at SXSW, aired on HBO, and is streaming on Amazon. Her most recent film, Apart, premiered at Hot Docs and recently aired on PBS/Independent Lens. She has produced documentaries for PBS, HBO, National Geographic, CNN, Discovery, and dozens of short films. Her research interests include the environment, mass incarceration, AI, in-depth character-driven stories, and emerging forms of visual storytelling.

Lightning Talks

11:00 am - 1:00 pm

From scientists using technology to visualize animal behavior to artists transforming subtle signals into rich compositions, each lightning talk will unveil hidden dimensions of our natural world and encourage a sense of wonder. Against the backdrop of a rapidly changing climate and biodiversity crisis, these talks aspire to deepen our appreciation of the natural world and inspire conversations about conservation and our climate futures.

Technologist, Artist, and Professor

Amelia Winger-Bearskin

Amelia Winger-Bearskin is a Banks Family Preeminence Endowed Chair and Associate Professor of Artificial Intelligence and the Arts, at the Digital Worlds Institute at the University of Florida. She is also the founder of the AI Climate Justice Lab, the Talk To Me About Water Collective, and the Stupid Hackathon. In 2022, she was awarded a MacArthur Foundation Award as part of the Sundance AOP Fellowship cohort for her project CLOUD WORLD / SKYWORLD, which was part of The Whitney’s Sunrise/Sunset series. In 2021 she was a fellow at Stanford University as their artist and technologist in residence, supported by the Stanford Visiting Artist Fund in Honor of Roberta Bowman Denning (VAF). In 2020, while a Mozilla Fellow at the MIT Co-Creation Studios, she founded Wampum Codes, an award-winning podcast and an ethical framework for software development based on indigenous values of co-creation.

Lightning Talk

AI Creation Story

Marine Ecologist

Ari Friedlaender

Dr. Ari Friedlaender  is an ecologist working on a wide range of marine mammal species including baleen and toothed whales and dolphins across several geographic regions. Ari has long-term ecological research projects ongoing in Alaska, California, Massachusetts, North Carolina and Antarctica. He has helped in the development of tag technology and analytical and visualization tools to better understand the underwater movements and behaviors of marine mammals. In Antarctica, Ari is part of the Long-Term Ecological Research program at Palmer Station to better understand the ecological roles of cetaceans in a rapidly changing environment.  In California, Ari is part of the SoCal Behavioral Response Study to understand the impacts of anthropogenic sound on a variety of cetacean species.

Lightning Talk

Healthy whales and healthy oceans

Photographer, Scientist, and Educator

Anand Varma

Anand Varma grew up exploring the woods near his childhood home in Atlanta, Georgia. As a teenager, he picked up his dad’s old camera on a whim and found that he could use it to feed his curiosity about the natural world — and to share his discoveries with others.  Anand graduated with a degree in integrative biology from UC Berkeley and now uses photography to explore the story behind the science on everything from honeybee health to hummingbird biomechanics.  He works to reveal the invisible details around us with the goal of sparking a sense of wonder about our world. Since receiving an Early Career Grant from National Geographic in 2010, he has photographed numerous stories for National Geographic Magazine including the 2014 cover story called “Mindsuckers.”  His recognitions include National Geographic Media Innovation Fellow, Rita Allen Civic Science Fellow and World Press Award for best nature story. 

Lightning Talk

Invisible Wonders


Angélica Negrón

Puerto Rican-born composer and multi-instrumentalist Angélica Negrón writes music for accordions, robotic instruments, toys, and electronics as well as for chamber ensembles, orchestras, choir, and film. Her music was described by WQXR/Q2 as “wistfully idiosyncratic and contemplative,” while The New York Times noted her “capacity to surprise.” Negrón has been commissioned by the Bang on a Can All-Stars, Kronos Quartet, loadbang, the American Composers Orchestra, and the New York Botanical Garden, among others.  Weaving together choral performances, robotic and percussive electronic instruments, and live and recorded forest sounds, in 2019 she created “Chorus of the Forest,” an immersive work performed along a half-mile of trails in old-growth forest. “Chorus of the Forest" 

Lightning Talk

Sonic Landscapes

Panel Discussion

2:30 pm - 3:30 pm

Learn more about our exciting new climate initiative with Geeta Anand, dean of Berkeley Journalism, David Ackerly, dean of the Rausser College of Natural Resources, Jason Spingarn-Koff, professor of journalism and Knight Chair of Climate Journalism, and Jennifer Redfearn, associate professor of journalism and documentary program director. They plan to discuss how to unite the brainpower of top science experts on campus with the expertise at the journalism school to collaboratively publish stories about the climate crisis and solutions for our world.

Dean, Graduate School of Journalism

Geeta Anand

Dean, Rausser College of Natural Resources

David Ackerly

Professor and Knight Chair in Climate Journalism

Jason Spingarn-Koff

Associate Professor and Documentary Program Director

Jennifer Redfearn

Student & Alumni Showcase

3:30 pm - 5:00 pm
Kristen Hwang ('21)

When They’re Gone

A student Academy Award winning film about humanity’s fragile dependence on nature and the consequences of industrializing honey bees for crop pollination.

Cameron Neilson and Ley Heimgartner ('22)

Washed Ashore

An international team of marine biologists investigates the mysterious and sudden die-off of the Pacific gray whale.

Hana Beach, Beki Christina San Martin, and Florence Middleton ('24)

This Is Not A Climate Film

As we drift into the Anthropocene, whose labor will we rely on to avoid the most catastrophic impacts of climate change and what will they sacrifice?

Aneta Felix ('24)

Hunted Out: An investigation into the men pushing pangolins to the edge of extinction

Nature’s gentlest mammals teeters on the brink of extinction at the hands of their greatest predators – humans.

Matthew Busch ('25)

Texas’ Oil Legacy

Remnants of Texas’ lucrative oil industry are causing health and environment concerns across the state.

Zoe Rosenblum ('25)

Grazing Against Wildfire

A group of Santa Rosa neighbors, who are traumatized by the loss of their homes to wildfire, join forces to purchase a flock of sheep, using the animals to graze down the very flammable dry grasses surrounding their newly constructed homes before it is fire season in California once again.

Reserve your spot

FREE and open to the public.

This event is made possible by the generous support of the Philomathia Foundation.
If you have questions about this event, or require an accommodation for effective communication or mobility access in order to fully participate in the event, please contact with as much advance notice as possible and at least seven days before the event date.