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April 25, 2018

Professors Randall and Denning to present at SummerFest 2018: Mission Earth

Two Department of Atmospheric Science professors will participate in events to honor Piers Sellers and educate on the topic of climate change June 24 through July 20 in Fort Collins. SummerFest 2018: Mission Earth is dedicated to the life and work of the late astronaut and scientist. The festival will explore a subject that was important to Sellers, climate change and its impact on the planet, through music, visual arts and science in four weeks of concerts, lectures, films, art exhibitions and STEAM-based educational events for all ages.

Sellers was a British-American meteorologist, pilot and astronaut who flew on three space shuttle missions. He served as the Director of Earth Sciences and Deputy Director for Science and Exploration at NASA Goddard Space Flight Center. Before joining the astronaut corps, Sellers researched how the Earth’s biosphere and atmosphere interact, at NASA Goddard Space Flight Center. It was in this capacity that Sellers and now University Distinguished Professor David Randall became colleagues.

“Piers was more than a colleague. He was my friend for about 30 years. He was a truly amazing person,” Randall reflected.

Randall continued to work with Sellers after moving to CSU. He was a member of Sellers’ science team on a NASA project that lasted 10 years. Randall even traveled to Florida for two of Sellers’ shuttle launches.

Sellers was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer in 2015. He spent the last year of his life promoting awareness of climate change. The Goddard Space Center team is honoring his wishes by holding a reunion during the first week of the festival.

Randall and other members of Sellers’ climate science team, including Professor Scott Denning, will share science and stories about Sellers at several events throughout the festival.

Grand opening of Ouroboros – June 25

Randall will speak at the grand opening of Ouroboros 7-8:30 p.m. Monday, June 25, at CSU Lory Student Center Curfman Gallery. Ouroboros, a multimedia art installation by SummerFest 2018 artist-in-residence Kate Doyle, combines video, animation, and sounds from space and Earth, along with music by Bruce Adolphe and special effects by Eric Robertson. Doyle was inspired by Sellers’ optimism and heroic commitment, despite his increasing physical challenges and pain. She hopes this collaborative project that melds arts and science will raise consciousness on climate change and promote solutions through a global conversation.

‘I saw how fragile and infinitely precious our world is’ – June 29

Randall will present a slide show honoring Sellers, and Denning and Randall will participate in a panel discussion 7-8:30 p.m. Friday, June 29, at CSU Lory Student Center Curfman Gallery. At this event composer Bruce Adolphe will premiere his piece, “I saw how fragile and infinitely precious the world is,” inspired by a quote spoken by Sellers as he viewed Earth from space.

Denning also will present two talks on the festival topic:

In “Simple, Serious, Solvable: The 3 S’s of Climate Change,” Denning will discuss how we must learn to live well without wasting energy and make energy without setting carbon on fire as climate change becomes the most serious problem in the world. “Planetary Metabolism: The Breathing of the Earth” will cover how NASA satellites document planetary biology, allow us to understand and predict the incredible process of how our planet breathes, and help us understand our place in it.

Both Randall and Denning will participate in a panel on what businesses can do to save money and act on climate change. At this event, Fort Collins businesses and city employees will facilitate a dialogue around the actions they’ve taken to benefit the bottom line and help protect our climate. The discussion will be held 12-1 p.m. Wednesday, June 27, at Odell Brewery.

Tickets for SummerFest 2018 range from $20 to $45 and can be purchased at the link or by calling 970-305-2261. There are a limited number of $10 student tickets available for each event. Advanced ticket purchase is recommended.

About the festival

Every season Off the Hook Arts presents music and visual arts in combination with issues of science or social conscience. Now in its seventh season, SummerFest raises funds to benefit year-round education programs offered through the Off the Hook Arts Academy.

For more information, visit the SummerFest 2018 website.

Photo: From left, Piers Sellers, Mary Kay Randall, Joe Berry from the Carnegie Institution at Stanford, and David Randall. Photo taken in 2003 by Mandy Sellers.