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Media Advisory 17-006

National Science Foundation brings 'awesome' science to Awesome Con

Federal agency to provide science-behind-the-superhero perspective in talks, demos

June 13, 2017

This material is available primarily for archival purposes. Telephone numbers or other contact information may be out of date; please see current contact information at media contacts.

Stand back Wonder Woman, Doctor Who and Bruce Wayne. The National Science Foundation (NSF) is bringing some of its own superheroes to Awesome Con D.C. 2017. Hands-on demos of NSF-funded science and talks about the science behind superheroes and superhuman science are sure to be as dazzling as some participants' costumes. NSF Director France Córdova will also participate in a roundtable discussion on women in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM).


WHAT: Awesome Con D.C. 2017

WHO: Representatives from NSF and NSF-funded researchers.

NSF Director France Córdova will participate June 17 in a roundtable discussion, "Brave New Girls: Women in STEM."

WHERE: Walter E. Washington Convention Center, 801 Mt Vernon Pl. NW, Washington, D.C.

WHEN: June 16-18

Panels featuring NSF

Frozen Fossils: Dinosaurs of the Antarctic
Saturday, June 17, 7:30-8:15 p.m., Room 143

Find out about the process of unearthing dinosaurs in one of the most remote locations on the planet, learn how filmmakers bring these monstrous, fascinating creatures to life on screen, and how museum curators imaginatively transform prehistoric wonders into "awesome" exhibits.

The Human-Technology Frontier: To Enhancement and Beyond?
Friday, June 16, 6-6:45 p.m., Room 143

If you thought Geordi La Forge's visor was cool, come hear how scientists are turning some science fiction into reality. Learn what scientists are doing now and what is possible when you mix together engineering, computer science, materials science and biology with ethical and social considerations.

Dark Skies, Bright Science: The 2017 Great American Eclipse
Saturday, June 17, 5:30-6:15pm, Room 143

People in the continental U.S. will experience a total or partial solar eclipse Aug. 21 as the eclipse path cuts across the nation from Oregon to South Carolina. During the eclipse, the NSF-funded National Solar Observatory will lead a citizen science project with 68 viewing and data collection sites along the eclipse path. NSF will also capture new information to better understand space weather through uniquely equipped aircraft from its National Center for Atmospheric Research. Find out more about the eclipse, how to get involved in the citizen science project and get a sneak preview of the Daniel K. Inouye Solar Telescope -- the most powerful solar telescope ever to be built -- before it goes online in 2020!

Science of Spider-Man
Sunday, June 18, 12:45-1:30 p.m., Room 146

Spider silk is just the start of what NSF-funded scientists are studying for an array of applications. This session features clips from the upcoming Spider-Man film along with NSF-funded arachnologists, experts in biomimicry and superhero physicists who will speak to the cutting-edge research that could re-create Spider-Man's powers!

The Technology of Batman
Saturday, June 17, 1:30-2:15 p.m., Room 150

Holy bat science! Comic creators, engineers and scientists team up on this panel to discuss replicating Batman's technology in real life -- what's possible and what's not. Join DC Comics' Greg Capullo, Scott Snyder and Tom King; NSF-funded researchers with expertise in materials science and the aerodynamics of bat flight; and representatives from the International Spy Museum as they dissect and discover Batman tech.

Brave New Girls: Women in STEM
Saturday, June 17, 5-5:45 p.m., Room 146

NSF Director France Córdova will join Dawn Myers, NASA mission planner for the Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter, and Lynnae Quick, a planetary geologist with the Smithsonian Institution, for a roundtable discussion on women in STEM. These science leaders (who also happen to be women) will talk about women's contributions to science and engineering (S&E), as well as the challenges that remain for increasing the number of women in STEM fields. Come hear about efforts to change the S&E culture for the next generation of female scientists, engineers and astronauts.

In addition to the above panels, NSF and NSF-funded researchers will be on hand for the following exhibits and hands-on activities:

  • Robotarium with micro-robots that visitors can interact with.
  • A virtual reality experience that is used specifically for building an understanding of phantom pain associated with amputated limbs.
  • An introduction to eMammal, a citizen science project that is identifying animals with wildlife cams all over the world.
  • Hands-on activities in physics, biology and chemistry.
  • Explanations and introductions to the next generation of superheroes, featuring the Generation Nano winners from NSF's recent contest.
  • Lessons on and interactions with radio and solar telescopes.
  • And many, many opportunities to ask your toughest science questions as various experts are on hand for "Ask a Scientist."

Media who want more information about the NSF-sponsored activities or would like to set up interviews with subject matter experts, should contact the NSF media contact listed below.


Media Contacts
Ivy F. Kupec, NSF, (703) 292-8796, email:

The U.S. National Science Foundation propels the nation forward by advancing fundamental research in all fields of science and engineering. NSF supports research and people by providing facilities, instruments and funding to support their ingenuity and sustain the U.S. as a global leader in research and innovation. With a fiscal year 2023 budget of $9.5 billion, NSF funds reach all 50 states through grants to nearly 2,000 colleges, universities and institutions. Each year, NSF receives more than 40,000 competitive proposals and makes about 11,000 new awards. Those awards include support for cooperative research with industry, Arctic and Antarctic research and operations, and U.S. participation in international scientific efforts.

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