ABOUT: Margaret Wertheim is a writer, curator and artist whose work focuses on relations between science and the wider cultural landscape. A two-fold perspective animates her work: on the one hand science can be seen a set of conceptual enchantments that delight our minds and senses; on the other hand science is a socially embedded activity intersecting with philosophy, culture and politics. Wertheim aims to illuminate both dimensions of science and mathematics through her books, articles, lectures, workshops, and exhibitions.
Wertheim is the author of six books including Pythagoras Trousers, a history of physics and religion; The Pearly Gates of Cyberspace, a history of scientific concepts of space; and Physics on the Fringe, a ground-breaking exploration of outsider science. She has written for the New York Times, Los Angeles Times, Washington Post, Guardian, Aeon, Cabinet and many others. In 2003, with her twin-sister Christine, she founded the Institute For Figuring, a Los Angeles based practice devoted to the “aesthetic and poetic dimensions of science and mathematics.” Through the IFF she has designed art & science exhibits for galleries and museums around the world, including the Hayward Gallery (London) and Science Gallery (Dublin). Her Crochet Coral Reef project is a global participatory art & science endeavor that's been exhibited at the Andy Warhol Museum (Pittsburg), Museum of Arts and Design (New York), Deutsches Museum (Munich), the Smithsonian (Washington D.C.), and elsewhere. Throughout her career Margaret has been a pioneer in communicating STEM subjects to women. She lectures widely at universities, colleges, and conferences internationally. With degrees in physics and math, she has worked on all seven continents and stood on the South Pole.
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Awards + Honors
In 2015 Wertheim was a Vice Chancellor’s Fellow at the University of Melbourne, and in 2012/13 she served as the inaugural Discovery Fellow at the University of Southern California. In 2016 the American Association of Physics Teachers gave her their annual award for "communicating the excitement of physics" – the first woman to gain this honor in ten years. She has won the American Institute of Biological Sciences Print Journalism Award and been a National Science Foundation visiting journalist to Antarctica. Her writing has appeared in Best American Science Writing (2003, edited by Oliver Sacks), and Best Australian Science Writing (2014, 2016). Physics Today voted her book Physics on the Fringe one of the 10 best books of the year. As an artist, she has received the Theo Westenberger Award from the Autry National Museum, granted to a living female artist (2011), and the AxS Award for art & science (2016). Her TED talk about her Crochet Coral Reef project has been viewed more than a million times and translated into 22 languages.