Biodesign Challenge 2021
Im thrilled to report that I received a Biodesign Challenge Award from Genspace. The award covers the cost of participating in the Biodesign Challenge curriculum, exhibition and competition. So, this year my Biodesign class is covered. With the current budget cuts at Rutgers, I honestly didn’t think that we would be participating. All my thanks to Genspace and the BDC.
So, what are we looking at this year. My 50:080:349 group is looking, so far, at slime mold as a clean up agent, at urban farming systems, at urban ant feeders, and at the Passaic River. They are particularly interested in Dr. Donna E. Fennell’s proposal in the Rutgers Seed grant database, Identifying a Dioxin Dehalogenase in Passaic River Microbial Enrichments. This study looks at how bacteria living in the sediments at the bottom of the highly contaminated Passaic River in New Jersey detoxify deadly dioxin. As many of us know, he lower branch of the Passaic River has a long history of industrial contamination. As Dr. Fennell’s proposal states An important chemical pollutant found in the river is dioxin, one of the most harmful compounds known to humankind. We cultured bacteria from the Passaic River that transform dioxin into less toxic compounds. Research during this project will identify the genetic elements (genes) that give these specialized bacteria the ability to convert dioxin into less harmful forms of the chemical. Identifying the genes will allow us to develop ways to monitor the dioxin conversion process and better understand whether dioxin removal by the bacteria could be enhanced. In the future the bacteria could be used to clean up dioxin contamination from the Passaic River and other contaminated areas. deadly dioxin. So, this year the Rutgers BDC group will be considering the byproduct of this interaction. So, stay tuned!
Streaming: The Genre Project now.
This year ISEA2020 will address pressing contemporary issues and present practice-based approaches to explore the theme “Why Sentience?” As part of this symposium, I will be presenting The Genre Project: Listening Stations for Birds that Play Human Music. This outdoor installation invites birds to respond to different genres of human music. The goal of this artwork is to allow our avian companion species to select the kinds of music that they prefer to hear in our shared environment.
Please come to the online symposium, and also come to the live feeds each day from 11:00am to noon (except Wed 10/14 when I leave at 11:30am to present at my panel). The YouTube links to each day are here:
The Genre Project: ISEA Tues Oct. 13th, 11:00AM-12:00PM EST
The Genre Project at 26TH INTERNATIONAL SYMPOSIUM
ON ELECTRONIC ART (ISEA) 2020 Montreal
This year ISEA2020 will address pressing contemporary issues and present practice-based approaches to explore the theme “Why Sentience?” While the theme of this year’s symposium was adopted pre-pandemic, our conditions sharpen the need to stop, pause and re-examine what it means to be sentient, “the ability to feel or perceive.” Our great pause may in fact help us reformulate our notions of what the world is with us and beyond us. It gives us a front seat perspective on the corporeal and ecological entanglements between power and knowledge, animals and humans, machines and environment, oppression and liberation. It may also pointedly demonstrate that difference—social-economic-cultural—resonates through the sentient world. The intro to this year’s symposium states “The virus—a 120-160 nm in diameter entity that is invisible to our human senses and considered neither living nor dead but ontologically somewhere in between—is thus perversely a great teacher and provides us lessons on how the modern splitting up of the sentient and inanimate worlds increasingly makes no sense.” Our current moment and this current symposium seems like an ideal time to premier The Genre Project, considering aesthetics in the non-human. Supported by the Art and Artificial Intelligence Lab At Rutgers, this artwork uses realtime interaction and an AI interface to consider which genre of human music may be favored by our avian companion species.
And the best part about this year’s symposium is that it’s all online! So log on now, get a ticket and I’ll “see” you in Montreal.
Rutgers Biodesign Group at the 2020 Biodesign Challenge in NYC
Welcome to our pandemic summer. Due to the health issues involved with in person events, the Biodesign Challenge was moved from NY MOMA into a virtual space for 2020. This year’s winner from my Biodesign Group at Rutgers University was a brilliant project that proposes to feed sugar to yeast. Titled Yeasties Protein to the People, the project responds to food desserts and the industrial food system in the US, by utilizing the junk food found in US food desserts and converting it into a food source ignorer to grow protein from yeast. The project video is here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SC0hWViqf4M
Yeasties, Protein to the People is a domestic farming strategy that has been tailor made for communities living in food deserts or anybody who would like to take a sugar laden Slurpee, soda pop or candy bar and transmute it into something healthier to eat. To use this system all you need is ammonium sulfate, yeast and sugar or sugary junk food. Over 18 hours, the Yeasties system will turn these simple ingredients into a delicious, nutrient dense, source of protein.
The Yeasties system is cruelty free, commerce free, gluten-free and, ultimately, sugar-free. So, the next time you find yourself stuck in a food desert, give our system a try. It’s the yeast you can do for yourself and your nine billion neighbors on planet Earth!
AI in the Arts and Design @ CAA 2020
I had the great pleasure of presenting “AI and Design for the Non-Human” at this year’s CAA 2020 special session on AI in the Arts and Design. Sponsored by Leonardo/ISAST, the panel featured an exciting and distinguished group of speakers addressing the topic: Does generative and machine creativity, or AI in the arts and design, represent an evolution of “artistic intelligence” or is it a rupture in the evolution of creative practice yielding new forms and types of authorship? xREZ Director Ruth West and Andres Burbano (Universidad de los Andes) did a fabulous job co-chairing the session in Chicago. I’m also thrilled to report that the panel was open to anybody because February 14th was CAA 2020’s “pay as you wish day” for registration, generously sponsored by the Thoma Foundation.
While much research has focused the way that AI is shaping visual culture, within the space of fine art little attention has been paid to the roll of AI in relation to the non-human. At “AI and Design for the Non-Human” supported a platform on which to consider the potential impact of AI on the future of other life forms.
Home Is Where The Plastic Eating Stomach Is community art at Swale House on Governors Island
I hope your summer to fall transition is going well. If you’re in NYC this weekend, or any weekend before the end of October, come check out Home Is Where The Plastic Eating Stomach Is at Swale House on Governors Island. The artwork utilizes resent research from the John Dighton Lab and design form my BDC group at Rutgers University. These efforts have produced what I like to call a plastomach (plastic + stomach). This open source design suggests that we may be able to re envision our consumer waste cycle by expanding the habitat of white rot fungi into our domestic living spaces.
Today, September 14th from 3:00 PM to 4 :00 PM, we will be holding a Porch Chat, Plastic Catharsis, and Public Feeding Event at Swale House in celebration of Home Is Where... Please bring a piece of plastic debris, for real-time plastomach fungi feeding, and a libation to share with others. This event will also feature a plastomach cooking demo, fungi know-how, and design for a mechanical feeding apparatus, all by the artist/researchers at Swale House.
Hot Spots: Radioactivity and the Landscape at the Krannert Art Museum and in HYPERALLERGIC
If you happen to be at the Krannert Art Museum at University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, please check out Hot Spots: Radioactivity and the Landscape. If you are not in Illinois, a lovely review of the show is here: HYPERALLERGIC. I’ve just had the plaesure of returnig form the Krannert where I spent 4 days installing the missile for the current itteration of the exhibition. Originating at University of Buffalo and co-curated by Jennie Lamensdorf and Joan Linder at University of Buffalo, the show examines the environmental impact of military and industrial production and use of radioactive materials. Artworks in the exhibition scrutinize the nuclear industry, including its day-to-day functions and long-term impact, with an emphasis on the complex issue of radioactive waste. The artists in this exhibition examine this expansive subject through a variety of themes, including rendering the invisible visible, using art as a tool of information disclosure and disruption, and developing the complex language necessary to communicate thousands of years into the future. So, if you are in the vacinity of the Krannert, please stop by!
I am also thrilled that Natural Proclivities, a wonderful exhibition curated by Kim Power and Melanie Vote, is reviewed here in ART PULSE MAGAZINE by Peter Drake. If you are on the West Coast, please check my work in Strange at the University Art Museum at Berkeley form Aug. 21st to January 5th. Curated by Larry Render and Stephanie Cannizzo, the show explores the improbable, uncanny and miraculous as sources of artistic inspiration. I’m also pleased to report that I’m participating in the CITIZEN ARTIST exhibition,Sept. 4thto Oct. 23rd, at TCNJ Art Gallery at The College of New Jersey. Curated by Julia Buntaine Hoel, founding director of SciArt, the exhibition and associated events, features artists whose work engages with ideas and issues from the world of contemporary science.
Cheers and I hope to see you soon!
Antatecture Event: Fieldtrip to median in front of LEAP Academy for a talk on urban ants with Dr. Amy Savage
The lecture will be streamed live on the New Brunswick LASER FB page Feb. 18th from 11:30 AM to 12:20 PM
The in-person lecture will happen at the same time on the Cooper St. grassy median that runs between 4th and 5th Streets in Camden, NJ. Dr. Savage has found that urban ants are more aggressive and hostile than their country dwelling cousins who are the same species. The Antatecture Project will bring together artists and scientist to create architecture and a trans-species feeding program to address the new needs of the is natural life form. Please join us for this consideration of the unique challenges that urban companion species face by being part of our extended biotope.
Plastomach at the Future of Food, UsagiNY Gallery, DUMBO
Dear friends, please join us for the “The Future of Food” opening at UsagiNY Gallery and after party at our place in DUMBO from 7:00 PM to 9:00PM. As many of you know, our loft space is at 30 Main St. #10D, Brooklyn, NY. Usagi Gallery is about 5 blocks away at 163 Plymouth St.
“The Future of Food,” the latest exhibition from SciArt Center, features the work of 22 artists who explore the scientific and cultural evolution of food as sustenance, a waste product, and creative medium as we look towards our futures. The show also features the Plastomach: the stomach that degrades plastic by virtue of living fungia project created by my student at Rutgers as part of the Biodesign Challengeat NYMOMA in 2018.
Exhibition dates: February 1st – March 2nd, 2019
Location: UsagiNY Gallery, DUMBO (NYC)
163 Plymouth St, Brooklyn, NY 11201
Life, Agency & Ecology: Aesthetics of Human-Nonhuman Encounters in Environmental and Biological Art CAA Panel, NYC, Feb. 15, 2019
I’m chairing a panel at CAA titled Life, Agency & Ecology: Aesthetics of Human-Nonhuman Encounters in Environmental and Biological Art with Ellen Levy who will also be acting as panel discussant. In addition to myself, the panel includes Carlos Castellanos and Paul Vanouse. It should be an interesting evening, so please join us at the Hilton.
Trans-Species Collaboration: The New New Media abstract here:
In 2004, the artist and theorist Roy Ascott coined the term “moist media” to represent the convergence between dry computational systems and wet biological processes. Ascott saw moist media as a way of extending the sensorium of the self.Today, advances in AI, genomic engineering, and computer science give artists access to materials that are radically different from those that were available in the studio even ten years ago. Some wet-media makers may utilize these materials to explore issues in the anthropocene that are faced by humans and non-humans alike, while others may be motivated by the aesthetics of life itself.
Inherent in this kind of cultural production are major challenges, rewards, and a steep learning curve as artists grapple with new freedoms and responsibilities. Presented here are five artworks that I have authored that involve trans-species giving, trans-species collaboration, and design for the non-human. In addition to tracing the historical antecedents of each work, this paper presents a theoretical framework for considering the aims, desires, and perceptual landscapes of our non-human companion species.
SEPTEMBER 7-DECEMBER 8, 2018 UB ART GALLERY, CFA
RECEPTION: SEPTEMBER 6, 5–7:30PM
I’m so pleased to report the Sticks and Stones, the Nike Missile Cozy Project (pictured above) is in Hot Spots: Radioactivity and the Landscape a superb exhibition co-curated by Jennie Lamensdorf and at University of Buffalo. examine the environmental impact of military and industrial production and use of radioactive materials. Artworks in the exhibition scrutinize the nuclear industry, including its day-to-day functions and long-term impact, with an emphasis on the complex issue of radioactive waste. The artists in this exhibition examine this expansive subject through a variety of themes, including rendering the invisible visible, using art as a tool of information disclosure and disruption, and developing the complex language necessary to communicate thousands of years into the future.
In Allison Meier’s great review of the exhibition for HYPERALLERGIC: Artists Confront the Radioactive Landscapes of the United States Lamensdorf states:“We live in such a visual culture, and art helps make these complex issues accessible and relatable,” said co-curator Jennie Lamensdorf. “This subject is even more urgent now than when we began working on the exhibition three years ago, because of the President’s reduction of the Bears Ears National Monument, which has significant uranium reserves, and the inflammatory rhetoric about ‘big nuclear buttons’ and expanding the United States’s nuclear arsenal.”
The Buffalo-Niagara region played a critical role in the Manhattan Project and the legacy of residual radioactive material continues to impact the community. Radioactive waste is located in sanctioned sites including Niagara Falls Storage Site and West Valley, and radioactive slag, once used as backfill, remains in parking lots, roads and driveways, continuing to pepper the landscape. Even if there is never another accident, meltdown, or tsunami, industrial activities including power generation, medicine, and household products like smoke detectors, will continue to generate radioactive byproducts. Hot Spots contributes to an ongoing and important international dialogue that demonstrates the perilous nature of radioactive material, illuminates critical environmental issues, and emphasizes the need for longterm solutions.
Artists and collectives featured in Hot Spots include: Michael Brill & Safdar Abidi, Naomi Bebo, Erich Berger & Mari Keto, Jeremy Bolen, Edward Burtynsky, Ludovico Centis, Robert Del Tredici, Elizabeth Demaray, Nina Elder, Isao Hashimoto, Adele Henderson, Abbey Hepner, Eve Andrée Laramée, Cynthia Madansky & Angelika Brudniak, Amie Siegel, Claudia X. Valdes, Don’t Follow the Wind (collective composed of Chim↑Pom (initiators), Kenji Kubota, Eva and Franco Mattes, and Jason Waite), Will Wilson, and Claudia X. Valdes.
Hot Spots: Radioactivity and the Landscape is organized by the University at Buffalo Art Galleries and curated by Jennie Lamensdorf and Joan Linder. Support for Hot Spots is provided by Judith Fisher, Technē Institute for Arts and Emerging Technologies, the UB Department of Media Study, the UB Department of Architecture and Planning, and the UB Department of Art.
Image: Elizabeth Demaray. Sticks and Stones: The Nike Missile Cozy Project, 2001. Fabric. Photo: Annie Sprinkle
The Most Exalted Object
The National Socio-Environmental Synthesis Center
If you are in Baltimore/DC area today come visit my exhibition The Most Exalted Object, and see the PandoraBird Project, which is on public display at the National Socio-Environmental Synthesis Center (SESYNC) . The Most Exalted Object exhibition takes its title from a quote by Charles Darwin (1809-1882) in The Origin of Species (1859). In the passage Darwin marvels at the “grandeur” and complexity of the life which has evolved as a spontaneous order through the operation of natural laws. He states “Thus, from the war of nature, from famine and death, the most exalted object which we are capable of conceiving, namely, the production of the higher animals, …” This exhibition is dedicated to these life-forms and to our relation ship with our non-human companion species.
While at SESYNC I’ll also be leading a seminar titled Art and Science Collaboration: Challenges and Benefits, which is open to the general public.
SESYNC brings together the science of the natural world with the science of human behavior and decision making to find solutions to complex environmental problems. SESYNC seeks to be the leading institution for in-depth research and scholarship with the potential to inform decisions. SESYNC conveins science teams to work on broad issues of national and international relevance, such as water resources management, land management, agriculture, and species protection, among other areas of study. Funded by the National Science Foundation, the center is dedicated to accelerating data-driven scientific discovery at the interface of human and ecological systems. You can visit the center online at http://www.sesync.org.
Art and Science Collaboration: The Key to a Sustainable Future
Association for the Advancement of Sustainability in Higher Education
I also had the pleasure of presenting Art and Science Collaboration: The Key to a Sustainable Future, with Kim Landsberger from Antioch College and Emily Bosanquest of Pacific Northwest College of Art (OR). This webinar was presented at the Association for the Advancement of Sustainability in Higher Education (AASHE), an organization dedicated to supporting global sustainability transformation through higher education. The talk can be found at this link: https://hub.aashe.org/browse/video/18115/Art-and-Science-Collaboration-The-Key-to-a-Sustainable-Future
Usually the archived webinars are available for AASHE members only, but the organization had so many inquires from viewers who are not affiliated with an institutions that they changed it to only require an AASHE login. So, to view the talk you have to create a free account here.
Friday June 16th, 2016
Art and Science Collaborations at Biological Field Stations
AESS: Fri Jun 10 2016: I had the pleasure of moderating a conversation about how artists collaborate with environmental scientists and what the pay-offs of such collaborations—for scientific discovery, innovation, pedagogy, and public policy––may be.
I was so pleased to present this discussion with Lissy Goralnik, Roberto Mighty, Ellie Irons. The panel was a great success and a really good example of how artists are functioning within Environmental Studies. Focusing on artists who have done residencies at biological field stations, and one researcher studying their work, we aimed to elucidate the aims and outcomes of the collaborations taking place at these sites. From the artist’s perspective, we were interested in what constitutes a successful collaboration. From the perspective of environmental studies, we were interested in how these residencies support the work of participating institutions, scientists and field stations. On the most basic level, this discussion was what I hope will be a beginning in critically considering how and where art and science collaborations are working and how to intervene in ways that facilitate effective engagement.
After Ellie and Roberto’s presentations, Lissy presented her work in actually studying the effectiveness of artist residencies at Long Term Biological Field Stations. (Lissy–if you send me a link to your paper I would love to include it here.) Best, E
If you are in Washington D. C. in June, The Songs We Sing DC opens at American University on June 8th, 2016 in conjunction with Open Channels AESS. This site specific artwork ponders the lack of human companion species in a postindustrial Western landscape, and attempts to improve on the current lack of animal centric sounds in our auditory experience of the natural. A project description of an earlier iteration of the work at the Lloyd in Amsterdam can be read here: https://elizabethdemaray.org/2013/05/30/the-songs-we-sing-amsterdam-at-the-lloyd/.
I will also be the moderator at Art and Science Collaborations at Biological Field Stations
panel at this year’s Association of Environmental Science Studies Conference. The theme of the overall conference is “Science, Empathy, Collaboration and Sustainability.” The panel, featuring Lissy Goralnik, Roberto Mighty, Ellie Irons, and Lynn Cazabon, aims to open a conversation about how artists collaborate with environmental scientists and what the pay-offs of such collaborations—for scientific discovery, innovation, pedagogy, and public policy––may be.
On the 24th of June, Hugo Bastidas and I will be the visiting critics at the Art Students League of New York Artist Residency at Vyt. The League Residency at Vyt provides support to emerging, established, and teaching artists by bringing them together with masters and colleagues for intensive focus through public critiques and an international residency program. To anybody that needs a beautiful, supportive workspace in NYC, I highly recommend Vyt.
Have a great summer, and I hope to see you at one of the events above.
JUNE 10th, 2015:
I’m a little late sending out exhibition announcements from this past season. I’ve been busy setting up the DigiHuman Lab at Rutgers University with Ahmed Elgammal. The lab is in the Computational Biomedicine Imaging and Modeling Center at Rutgers, New Brunswick and is a platform for the use of machine learning in art (if you have an art related project that needs support in the area of computer vision or machine learning, you should come see us). Below are a listing of summer exhibitions, presentations and shindigs. Of note, the opening at Zagreus Projekt in Berlin includes fabulous food and a participatory performance, so please join us!
Cheers and I hope to have the pleasure of seeing you at one of the events below–Eliz
This work is dedicated to the naturalist E.O. Wilson who believes that by the end of this century—in our lifetimes, we will lose half of all plants, animals and birds on our planet, if our current rate of ecological destruction continues. The Endangered Species Recipe Book isn’t actually a book. It is a series of oil paintings on paper. Each painting depicts an extinct or endangered animal, along the earliest known recipe that us humans may have used to cook the unfortunate creature. We will be showing the Recipe Book, along with a site-specific (and species specific) installation of the Songs We Sing Berlin. A live performance of the Song Cycle Berlin will take place at the opening on June 19th.
Confronting Frontiers, Borders, and Boundaries, The Association of Environmental Science Studies (AESS) University of California, San Diego, CA June 24-27th, 2015. For a second year in a row, AESS has taken the unusual step for a scientific organization of including artist presentations at its annual symposium. It was my great pleasure to curate the artist panel presentations at this year’s AESS symposium. The participating artists include Eve-Andree Laramee, Ash Eliza Smith, Ben Cosgrove, Claudia Jacques, Victoria Vesna and Jennifer Joy. Above is a plant sweater image is from Welcome to The Anthropocene, an exhibition of my work at last year’s symposium.
The IndaPlant Project, an act of tram-species giving, CA International Symposium of Electronic Arts 2015 Conference, Disruption at Simon Fraiser University, Vancouver, Canada, August 14-18th, 2015, I will be presenting recent work on the IndaPlant floraborg project and floraborg community in the paper The IndaPlant Project, an act of trans-species giving on Monday, August 17th.
I’m thrilled to report that the IndaPlant floraborg project was featured in an interview in the above issue of ArtSci in America. A great flip through link to the interview is here: http://read.uberflip.com/i/456382/34
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JANUARY 19th, 2015
Hi everybody, I’m presenting the floraborg project along with the SongsWeSing (crazy conducted group bird call) tomorrow at NY LASER. Please come, I would love to see you! Cheers, Eliz
NY LASER:a Leonardo Education and Art Forum (LEAF) Rendezvous Event
What: Wine + Discussion, Where: LevyArts: 40 E 19th St #3-R, NYC, When: Sunday, January 25th from 4:00 – 7:00 pm. NY LASER is a series of lectures and presentations on art and science projects, in support of Leonardo/ISAST’s LEAF initiative (Leonardo Education and Art Forum). Former LEAF Chairs Ellen K. Levy and Patricia Olynyk co-organize these presentations on behalf of the Institute for Doctoral Studies in the Visual Arts and Washington University in St. Louis, respectively. Space is limited; to reserve your place, send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org. There will be four presentations by Jonathan Gilmore, Elizabeth Demaray, Michelle Jaffe and Victoria Vesna.
Jonathan Gilmore is a philosopher of art. A 2013-2014 National Endowment for the Humanities Fellow, he currently teaches philosophy at the City University of New York/Baruch College. His areas of research specialization include the philosophy of art history, artistic style, the emotions, science and art, and the nature of the imagination. He will address some of his critical work in perception at the upcoming LASER.
Elizabeth Demaray is an Associate Professor of Fine Arts at Rutgers University. Her awards include the National Studio Award at New York MOMA/P.S.1 Contemporary Art Center, the New York Foundation for the Arts Fellowship in Sculpture, the Headlands Center for the Arts Residency Award, the Art Omi Residency and the Aldrich Museum of Contemporary Art Emerging Artist Award. Demaray will present several artworks in which science is an integral component.
Michelle Jaffe is an artist who creates participatory installations that interweave sculpture, sound, and video. Her work employs a large array of materials to create immersive environments that explore psychic and architectural space. She probes sound as a dimensional volume full of association and memory, invoking pre-cognitive states of mind. Her work has been exhibited at the Beall Center for Art + Technology at UC Irvine, Bosi Contemporary, NY and at UICA in Grand Rapids, Michigan.
Victoria Vesna is a media artist and professor at UCLA’s Design I Media Arts Program and director of the Art I Sci Center at the School of the Arts and California Nanosystems Institute. Her work, which explores the effects of communication technologies on identity and behavior has been shown internationally. Victoria will discuss brainstorming sessions with neuroscientists, the Bodies Corp 2.0 launch at the Pelham Art center and Hox Zodiac dinners.
Technically Brooklyn Artists Innovation Award!!
This was a total surprise. We won the Artist Group Innovation Award for the projects that comprise SWALE, 2016. Swale is a giant floating edible forrest and artist residency on a barge that has been docked at Brooklyn Bridge Part this summer.
SWALE was conceived by artist Mary Mattingly. It is a provocative public artwork and a floating edible landscape on a reclaimed barge that launched in 2016.
The artist residency is an extraordinary space to interact with some of the most innovative art/sci artworks being created today. Over the course of the 2016 season it hosted Jessica Segall’s Fugue in B Flat, 2016 which is a grand piano modified into a beehive. It also hosted PandoraBird: Identifying the Types of Music That May Be Favored by Our Avian Co-Inhabitants is a site-specific installation that uses computer vision and interactive software to track the music choices made by local feeder birds. While on view at Swale, PandoraBird had many visitors, both human and avian. I also garnered two wonderful articles in the magazine Technically Brooklyn and HYPERALLERGIC. Stay tuned for what Swale hosts next and prepare to be impressed.
Winning the Brooklyn Artist’s Innovation Award 2016!!! Pictured here artists Mary Mattingly, Jessica Segall, Elizabeth Demaray and plant specialist Marisa Prefer.