Cara Santa Maria on Miami's "Wonder Women" and Science in Hollywood

Sure, she's strong. But what is she doing about climate change?
Sure, she's strong. But what is she doing about climate change? Clay Enos - © 2015 Warner Bros. Entertainment Inc. and Ratpac-Dune Entertainment LLC
The Phillip and Patricia Frost Museum of Science's latest event touches upon one of the most important films of the year: Wonder Woman.

At 7 p.m. today, June 21, Frost Science will present the next installment in its series [email protected] Science: "Hollywood Science & the Wonder Women of Miami." The event, hosted by science communicator Cara Santa Maria of Talk Nerdy and The Skeptics’ Guide to the Universe, will focus on how science makes its way onto the silver screen.

“I’ll be talking about how expert science advisers partner with Hollywood directors, producers, and screenwriters in an effort to bring more accurate science to moviegoers everywhere,” Cara Santa Maria says.

But don’t expect an hour of science debunking within fiction. There’s a lot more to the presentation, including a discussion of "where priorities lie within the scientific community and within Hollywood, and how those priorities aren’t always well aligned.

“With more communication and participation between the two groups, we are seeing a better understanding of how science can improve a fascinating plot instead of fighting against it,” Santa Maria says.

Though the evening won’t concentrate on the science of filmmaking, Santa Maria notes how difficult filmmaking would be without the scientific advances that made it possible. “Science is everywhere! It's incredibly important that we understand its function as a process for investigating the natural world,” she says.

“But the truth is, most people can't name a living scientist and get sweaty palms at the thought of answering science questions. Popular culture is an incredibly important vessel for improving science literacy, and science literacy is my passion.”

So where does Wonder Woman come in? “Wonder Woman serves as an allegory for the incredible women I’ll be interviewing as part of the presentation," Santa Maria says. "She is a strong and brilliant character that offers hope for many women and girls who typically only see male superheroes — and male scientists, for that matter!”

Being interviewed tonight will be local scientists Lisa Beal, PhD, associate dean of research and professor of ocean sciences at the University of Miami’s Rosenstiel School of Marine & Atmospheric Science; Elizabeth Reynolds Losin, PhD, director of the Social and Cultural Neuroscience Laboratory and assistant professor of the Department of Psychology at University of Miami; and Kilan Ashad-Bishop, PhD candidate at University of Miami and member of the City of Miami Sea Level Rise Committee.

“Working to improve the planet against all odds is at the very core of what a ‘Wonder Woman’ does. Each of the three scientists on the panel are doing just that, in a field historically dominated by [men]," Santa Maria says. "They are an inspiration to me, and by the end of the evening, I know the audience will feel the same way.”

Hollywood Science & the Wonder Women of Miami
7 p.m. Wednesday, June 21, at the planetarium at the Frost Museum of Science, 1101 Biscayne Blvd., Miami. General admission costs $15 for nonmembers and $12.75 for members; VIP admission, including priority seating and a postshow reception, costs $40 for nonmembers and $34 for members. Visit frostscience.org.
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Juan Antonio Barquin is a Miami-based writer who programs the queer film series Flaming Classics and serves as co-editor of Dim the House Lights. Barquin aspires to be Bridget Jones.