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Dancing Leaf Group

A collaboration of scientists and artists in formation, exploring Locomotion/Emotion; perception of complex movement and the dynamics of beauty. Begun in May 2009 and on going, it was co-organized with Jane Wang, a fellow Radcliffe Fellow (Prof. of Physics, Cornell University). We met again in Spring 2011 under the auspices of The Radcliffe Institute Exploratory Seminar program.

During our year at The Radcliffe Institute, we were struck by the similarity in our responses - as a dancer/ as a physicist - to complex and rhythmic movement across the spectrum of human and natural world motion: human dance, animal, insect locomotion, and fluttering leaves. These movements evoke poetic feelings in us, and we wanted to understand how and why. The seminar opened a dialogue with artists and scientists, particularly those in cognitive and brain sciences, to articulate our common fascination and response to movement in nature and humans, gain insight into their perception and identify research topics for future collaborations that might have real world application and learn how to talk about science and art.

The Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Study Exploratory Seminars are "brainstorming" sessions intended to explore new frontiers, jumpstart collaborations, or initiate future research plans and provide maximum freedom for intellectual exploration and innovative thinking.
Jane Wang (co-organizer)
is a theoretical physicist with broad interests. Her work is driven both by the desire to conceptualize the world, and by an (implicit) search for beauty. Her current research is about understanding insect flight: how do insects fly, why do they fly the way they do, and how to infer their 'thoughts' from their flight dynamics. Her study on insect flight and falling paper was in part motivated by a fascination with the seemingly erratic movement of tumbling and fluttering objects. She is keen to understand why these movements elicit a strong emotion in us. Her other work includes the statistical physics of turbulence, turbulent diffusion, and the theory of non-Hermitian random matrices. In all of this work, she strives to find sharp and intuitive answers.

Wang is a Professor at Cornell University holding a joint appointment at the Sibley School of Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering and the department of Physics. She received her PhD in physics from the University of Chicago (1996), was an NSF-NATO Postdoctoral Fellow at Oxford University, England (1996-1997), and a visiting member at New York University's Courant Institute of Mathematical Sciences (1997-1999). She has been at Cornell since 1999, and was a Fellow at the Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Study at Harvard University (2007- 2008). She received Cornell University’s Provost's Award for Excellence in Research (2005), a Faculty Early Career Development (CAREER) Award from the National Science Foundation (2001-2006), an Office of Naval Research Young Investigator Program award (2001-2004), and a David and Lucille Packard Fellowship for Science and Engineering (2002-2007). She is a member of the American Physical Society and the Society for Industrial and Applied Mathematics

Jane Wang Research Group
Uri Alon
Professor, Physicist, The Weizmann Institute, Israel. Pioneer of the field of systems biology, on sabbatical at the Harvard Medical School. Director and actor in playback improvisation theatre.
Elizabeth Bradley
Professor, Department of Computer Science University of Colorado, Olympic athlete, Former Radcliffe fellow. Nonlinear dynamics of dance movement.
Bevil Conway
is Assistant Professor of Neuroscience, the Knafel Assistant Professor of Natural Science at Wellesley College and an artist. His research examines the neural basis for visual behavior, with a particular focus on color vision, and investigates the relationship between visual processing and visual art. He is an international expert on the neurophysiology of color processing, whose research uses a range of techniques including whole brain functional imaging, single-unit neuron recording, psychophysics, and computational approaches.

His lab at Wellesley College and Harvard Medical School has been awarded grants from the Whitehall Foundation, the National Science Foundation and the Howard Hughes Medical Institute. His studio is in Cambridge, Massachusetts. At Harvard he received a Masters of Medical Sciences (1998) and PhD (2001) in Neurobiology. In Nepal, Kathmandu University Medical School was Director of Education for Physiology and Pathophysiology. Elected Junior Fellow in the Harvard Society of Fellows in recognition of his contributions to our understanding of the neural basis for vision and his work in the emerging field of Vision and Art.

Alexander Francois
Alexander Francois’s interdisciplinary research projects explore interactions within and across music, vision, visualization and video games with research focused on modeling and design of interactive (software) systems, as an enabling step towards the understanding of perception and cognition. He is creator of the Software Architecture for Immersipresence (SAI), a general formalism for the design, analysis and implementation of complex software systems. His open source Modular Flow Scheduling Middleware (MFSM; mfsm.sourceforge.net) provides a cross-platform, multi-threaded implementation of SAI's abstractions.

Fellow of the Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Study at Harvard University(07/08), M.S. and Ph.D. (’07, ’00) in Computer Science from USC. At USC, was Research Assistant Professor of Computer Science in the USC Viterbi School of Engineering and Research Associate with the Integrated Media Systems Center and Institute for Robotics and Intelligent Systems. Visiting Associate Professor of Computer Science at Harvey Mudd College, Visiting Assistant Professor, Department of Computer Science at Tufts University and François received the Diplôme d'Ingénieur from the Institut National Agronomique Paris-Grignon (France), Diplôme d'Etudes Approfondies (M.S.) from the University Paris IX - Dauphine (France)

Dr. Lior Noy
postdoctoral fellow the Weizmann Institute, studying cooperation and improvisation, continuing research begun during a postdoctoral position at Harvard Medical School. Ph.D. in computational neuroscience from the Weizmann Institute, M.Sc. in computer science from the Weizmann Institute, and a B.Sc. in computer science and psychology from Tel-Aviv University. Engaged in Playback Theater, as actor and conductor, with Israeli Playback Ensemble, True Story Playback Theater, Boston, and Kartoshkes ensemble. Main research project is an attempt to establish an empirical science of improvised group performances. Additional research areas include computational motor control and creativity
Lawrence Parsons
is a professor of cognitive neuroscience at the University of Sheffield in the United Kingdom. He was trained in cognitive and neural sciences at UCSD and MIT, and was associate professor at the University of Texas Health Science Center. From 2001-2003, he was responsible for establishing a cognitive neuroscience program at the National Science Foundation and in 2006-07 was Visiting Senior Researcher at the CNRS Center for Cognitive Neuroscience in Bron, France. His early work on action, spatial reasoning, and object recognition, was followed by recent research on neural basis of reasoning, music and dance performance, joint action (duetting), improvisation, language, emotion, and cerebellar function.

He is a trustee of the International Foundation for Music Research, a Fellow of the Royal Society of Arts, listed in Who Who’s in the World (Marquis), and serves on the French National Research Agency (Agence Nationale de la Recherche) Blanc Programme Panel. He has published papers in Science, Nature, Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (USA), Journal of Neuroscience, Proceedings of the Royal Society (UK), Scientific American, and Trends in Cognitive Science. He organized the first public forum on music and brain (at the Royal Institution of Great Britain in London), the first research workshop on the cognitive neuroscience of dance (at the Wellcome Institute, London), and a founding member of the Editorial Board of the Social Neuroscience. His research has been featured in BBC Classic magazine, BBC Radio, BBC-TV, Channel 4, New Scientist, REDES, llustreret Videnskab, CNN, Los Angeles Times, New York Times, Times of London, and in STERN, Panorama, Quo, and VSD magazines, as well as in book and journal translations in Japanese and Italian.