Alexis Gambis, Imagine Science Film Festival Director, Visits “GonzoLabs” at Science

Last year was a busy intersection of science and art for Alexis Gambis. While finishing up his Ph.D. at Rockefeller University, the 28-year old cancer genetics researcher was raising money to put together a “traveling science film circus.” The result: the Imagine Science Film Festival, a weeklong effort to bring science to the movie-going public in New York City.

AAAS and the journal Science are presenting sponsors of the festival, which includes films on the first computer geeks, biochemistry rap MCs, the dreams of scientists, apartment wormholes, apocalyptic penguins, and a photon caught between Good (voiced by William Shatner) and Evil (voiced by Mark Hamill).

John Bohannon

In other words, it's the perfect place for The Gonzo Scientist, alter ego of Science columnist John Bohannon. In his newly launched GonzoLabs blog, Bohannon interviewed Gambis about how the festival was born, why he's making his own film about a robot, and much more.

“It's been a rollercoaster,” Gambis said of his transformation from researcher to impresario. “Just last year I was looking at fruit flies under the microscope, and now I have acting classes and I'm shooting films! The conversion from scientist to artist has been a little surreal. I moved from the upper east side to Brooklyn. I got a new haircut. I have cinematography classes. But it's all interrelated. Science and art are part of the same thing for me.”

GonzoLabs is a “virtual research institute,” said Bohannon, that tracks the latest experiments at the intersection of art, science, and culture. The blog is an outgrowth of the correspondent's near-monthly Science column. Bohannon hosted a mini-festival of his own, when his column's “Dance Your Ph.D.” contest turned into a full-fledged competition at the 2009 AAAS Annual Meeting in Chicago.

The Imagine festival runs from 15-24 October, with screenings in Manhattan, Brooklyn, and Queens, at a range of theaters, exhibit spaces, and education centers, including the New York Hall of Science.