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Bridget Coughlin

Gaining Fat, Losing Gray Matter: An Uplifting Assessment of our Mile High Health

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Human Biology at the Museum

Exercise your body?  Lose Weight?  Nah.  How about gaining some gray matter for a New Year's Resolution?  In 2009 the Denver Museum of Nature & Science will open a new permanent health exhibit, Expedition Health, that will allow visitors to learn more about their personal biology and what it is capable of. This interactive and collection-rich exhibit also strikes at two seemingly unrelated concerns: that people, especially kids, spend too much time indoors and that as a population we are increasingly illiterate about how our bodies work. 

At this Café we will test (yes, there might be a pop quiz—with prizes given out for the winners!—our knowledge of how the human body works by taking a regionally-specific look at our health.  We will also discuss (and undoubtedly debate) the pros and cons of legislation such as No Child Left Inside and hear what the museum is trying to do to connect the Natural World of the Rocky Mountains to the personal health and scientific literacy of Colorado's citizens.

Expedition Health, which cost $8.7 million, is the first project of the Denver Museum of Nature & Science's 10-year strategic plan. When it opens in April 2009, Expedition Health will provide visitors with a wide variety of activities and experiences that will broaden their knowledge of human biology, disease, and wellness and inspire the application of these discoveries to their everyday lives. Interested in volunteering? Click here!


Bridget Coughlin
Deputy Chief Curator & Curator of Human Health
Denver Museum of Nature & Science
PhD, 1999, University of Iowa Howard Hughes Medical Institute

Dr. Coughlin holds a bachelor of arts from Knox College in Galesburg, Illinois, and a doctorate in biochemistry from the University of Iowa Howard Hughes Medical Institute. In 2005 she returned to her native Colorado and joined the Museum after working for five years at the National Academy of Sciences where she was the managing editor of the multidisciplinary journal PNAS . While in Washington, she also worked on science policy reports related to her research on infectious diseases.

Specifically, Dr. Coughlin is interested in how infectious diseases escape the human immune system and characterizes the genomic and physiological interplay between the parasitic pathogen and its human host. In addition to her doctorial work on the subject, she has conducted research at Oak Ridge National Laboratory and the Woods Hole Biological Laboratory.

Dr. Coughlin is the curator and science advisor to the Museum's initiative to build the new permanent health sciences exhibit Expedition Health  and programs. She collaborates with local organizations to promote a culture of scientifically informed citizens and oversees the adult programs and courses at the Museum.

Visit the Children and Nature Network which has some great stories, including the furore about Oxford Junior Dictionary's decision to make room for words like "MP3 player" and "blog" by getting rid of "beaver" and "dandelion."

Learn about No Child Left Inside, otherwise known at HR 3036, which tries, for a change, to do something fun for kids.


© 2004 Colorado Café Scientifique