Whoppi Goldberg Hosts Liberty Science Center’s Gala

sci1From “Drone”-selfies to red carpet photos with R2D2; from rousing musical performances by piano and violin duo Peter Dugan and Charles Yang.

As well as American environmentalist and composer Benjamin Bronfman; and from a dazzling magic performance by Marco Tempest to the first ever “LSC World Blitz Chess Title Bout” speed chess competition between Baltimore Ravens guard and mathematician John Urschel and U.S. National Chess Champion Fabiano Caruana, the Liberty Science Center Genius Gala 5.0 held tonight (Friday, May 20) at the Center overlooking the beautiful Liberty State Park and majestic New York skyline was an evening that few, if any, of the more than 700 attendees will ever forget.

sci2The magical celebration of science and creativity served to honor renowned architect Frank Gehry; legendary dinosaur hunter Jack Horner, the inspiration for Jurassic Park; “Mother of Mindfulness” Dr. Ellen Langer; and astrophysicist/black hole researcher Kip Thorne – each of whom was presented with the Center’s highest honor, the Genius Award.

Whoopi Goldberg, the renowned comedienne, actress, and host of ABC’s “The View,” presented the award to Mr. Horner. The two share a common trait: they both excelled in their careers despite having dyslexia. Horner, who failed five successive quarters during college, went on to become a paleontologist whose discoveries redefined the way we view dinosaur social behavior.

sci3Messrs, Horner and Gehry, and Drs. Langer and Thorne now join previous Genius Gala honorees Sir Richard Branson, Garry Kasparov, Jane Goodall, Oliver Sacks, Temple Grandin, Dean Kamen, Sylvia Earle, Craig Venter, Cori Bargmann, ErnőRubik, Jeff Bezos, Vint Cerf, and Jill Tarter in LSC’s Genius Gallery, a permanent, interactive display recently debuted at the Center.


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“Our four 2016 Genius Award winners are singularly brilliant men and women,” said LSC President and CEO Paul Hoffman. “These out-of-the-box geniuses deserved to be honored in an out-of-the-box way.”

sci4Indeed, the evening is a gala like no other on the New York-New Jersey-metropolitan area social calendar. The “LSC World Blitz Chess Title Bout” between Mr. Urschel and Mr. Caruana was especially memorable and thrilling. Mr. Urschel, an offensive lineman with the Ravens, is usually tasked with protecting his team’s star quarterback, NJ’s own Joe Flacco. But in this competition, he was tasked with protecting his king from Mr. Caruana, who at 23 years old is the strongest ever American-born player and the third-highest ranked player of all time. He serves as LSC’s Visiting Grandmaster and Ambassador for the Center’s scholastic Chess Works!program.

The musical performances were another highlight, as was a cameo video for Jack Horner featuring the distinguished scientist and media personality Neil DeGrasse Tyson.

All the honorees and performers generously volunteered their time and talents in support of the not-for-profit Science Center’s mission to expose learners of all ages to the power, promise, and pure fun of science and technology. No honorariums or appearance fees are paid. All Gala proceeds benefit LSC’s exhibitions and programs, particularly the science-education programs that LSC provides to 91,000 “at-risk” children.

sci5The Genius Gala brought together more than 700 movers and shakers from the NY/NJ metropolitan area. The creative black-tie event was led by a veritable “Who’s Who” of area and national business leaders and philanthropists. Corporate Chairs are Steve Howe, US Chairman and Americas Managing Partner, EY, and Brent Saunders, CEO, Allergan. Co-chairs are: David Barry, President and CEO, Ironstate Development Company; Benjamin Bronfman, Co-Founder, Bronfman Investment Group; Jennifer A. Chalsty, Director, Advisory Council, James Buchanan Brady Urological Institute, Johns Hopkins University; Kevin Cummings, President and Chief Executive Officer, Investors Bank; Michael J. DeMarco, President and Chief Operating Officer, Mack-Cali Realty Corporation; Phil Di Iorio, CEO, Global Wealth Management, JPMorgan Private Bank; Robert J. Hariri, MD, PhD, Chairman and Founder, Celgene Cellular Therapeutics; Carl R. Kuehner III, Chief Executive Officer, Building and Land Technology; Ralph LaRossa, President and Chief Operating Officer, Public Service Electric & Gas Company; Robert A. Marino, Chairman, President, and Chief Executive Officer, Horizon Blue Cross Blue Shield of New Jersey; Barry H. Ostrowsky, President and Chief Executive Officer, RWJBarnabas Health; John Overdeck, Co-Chairman and Co-Founder, Two Sigma; Laura Bilodeau Overdeck, Founder and President, Bedtime Math; Chirag Patel, Co-CEO and Chairman, Amneal Pharmaceuticals, LLC; Carlos Rodriguez, President and Chief Executive Officer, Automatic Data Processing, Inc; and Josh S. Weston, Honorary Chairman, Automatic Data Processing, Inc.

Liberty Science Center (LSC.org).

Photo credit: 1. Architect Frank Ghery, actress Whoopi Goldberg, and President and CEO, Paul Hoffman. 2. NFL Raven and mathematician, John Urschel (L) and US National Chess Champion, Fabiano Caruana. 3.  Musicians Charles Yang (L) and Peter Dugan. 4.  Genius Award Honorees, Paleontologist Jack Horner, (L) and Physicist Kip Thorne. 5. Ben Bronfman performs.



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