Lectures | Natural History Museum of Los Angeles

Come hear discussions with an eclectic mix of scientists, writers, and experts.

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A discussion presented in partnership with the
UCLA La Kretz Center for California Conservation Science

SUNDAY, OCTOBER 2, 2016 ǀ 3-5 pm

With the imminent revitalization of the L.A. River, the city’s landscape is about to transform. But how will the restoration project impact life in and around the river? In partnership with the UCLA La Kretz Center for California Conservation Science, the Natural History Museum brings to the stage a historian, ecologist, urban planner and community leader to talk about this often overlooked waterway from a biological perspective. What lived in and around the river historically, and what thrives there now? How do they expect it will change? What does success look like from an environmental perspective? From mudbugs to mallards, the L.A. River is host to some incredible biodiversity. Let’s examine it as we plan for the next phase of the river’s life.
The discussion will include:
  • Mike Affeldt Assistant Director, LARiverWorks
  • Kristine Puich Principal, Los Angeles River School
  • Dr. Brad Shaffer Ecologist & Director, UCLA/La Kretz Center for California Conservation Science
  • Moderated by Patt Morrison, L.A. River historian, Los Angeles Times journalist, author and Emmy-winning television and radio host      


FREE. Advanced reservation required.


3:00 pm: Doors open to North American Mammal Hall, 1st Floor
3:30 pm: Life in the L.A. River discussion followed by Q&A
5:00 pm: Program Concludes; Museum Closes

Mike Affeldt, LARiverWorks Assistant Director  

Mike Affeldt is the Assistant Director of the LARiverWorks team in Mayor Eric Garcetti's Office of City Services. He is involved in project development and coordination and is staff lead for the City, as local sponsor, for the LA River Ecosystem Restoration Study, which was recently adopted by the City.


Kristine Puich, Principal Los Angeles River School

Kristine Puich is the founding Principal of the Los Angeles River High School, an LAUSD, STEAM-focused, pilot school preparing students for careers in the “greening” economy by providing theme-based curriculum centered around urban agriculture, and water conservation, within the context of the school community’s proximity to the Los Angeles River.


Dr. Brad Shaffer, Ecologist & Director of the UCLA/La Kretz Center for California Conservation Science

Dr. Brad Shaffer is the founding Director of the UCLA La Kretz Center for California Conservation Science and Distinguished Professor in Ecology and Evolutionary Biology at UCLA. His research focuses on the conservation and ecology of reptiles and amphibians and the ecosystems that they inhabit across California. 

Patt Morrison, L.A. River historian, L.A. Times journalist, author and Emmy-winning television and radio host       

Patt Morrison has six Emmys, twelve Golden Mike awards and a share of two Pulitzer Prizes for her work as a public television and radio broadcaster and as a longtime columnist for the Los Angeles Times. Her book “Rio LA, Tales from the Los Angeles River” was a best-seller that helped to bring the river back to public consciousness.


Extinction! Fear and Hope at the La Brea Tar Pits
A discussion presented in conjunction with the UCLA IOES
THURSDAY, NOVEMBER 10, 2016 | 6-8:30 pm

Species extinctions happen routinely. And evolution can't go ahead without them. Charles Darwin was the first to grasp that more adapted species emerge as less adapted species die out. But mass extinctions, which happen only rarely and wipe out large numbers of species regardless of how adapted they are, pose a different kind of challenge. Today, scientists have rung the alarm that a sixth mass extinction on planet Earth may be underway — this one caused by none other than us! What better place to think about the role of extinction in the past, present, and future than the La Brea Tar Pits, home to several charismatic but extinct LA megafauna? What does the disappearance of the saber-toothed cat, the dire wolf, and the wooly mammoth — all found mired in the tar pits along with other species — tell us about LA’s ever-changing climate and environment? How do the stories we tell about extinct animals and plants, and the museum exhibitions, images and films we use to remember them, shape science, laws, and policies to protect endangered species?

Join us for a lively conversation looking at endangered plants and animals, extinction, and the global consequences of mass extinction and come away inspired with new visions and hopes for the future.
The discussion will include:
  • Stewart Brand, environmental author, co-founder and president of The Long Now Foundation and ad advocate of de-extinction
  • Ursula Heise, UCLA Professor of English, LENS co-founder and author of the new book Imagining Extinction: The Cultural Meanings of Endangered Species
  • Dr. Emily Lindsey, Assistant Curator and Excavation Site Director of the La Brea Tar Pits and Museum
  • Moderated by Jon Christensen, environmental journalist, science writer and historian with UCLA. Co-founder of the Laboratory of Environmental Narrative Strategies (LENS) Panelists:


FREE. Advanced reservation required.


6:00pm: Doors open, tours available
7:00pm: Program begins
8:30pm: Program concludes