cafe scientifique



David Odde and Carl Flink


David Odde: David is a professor of biomedical engineering at the University of Minnesota who studies the mechanics of cell division and migration. His group builds computer models of cellular and molecular self-assembly dynamics, and tests them using digital imaging of cells in engineered microenvironments. Current applications include the modeling of chemotherapeutic effects on cell division, and crawling of cancer cells through the brain. Ultimately, his group seeks to use the models to perform virtual screens of potential therapeutic strategies.

Odde is an elected Fellow of the American Institute for Medical and Biological Engineering (AIMBE) and of the Biomedical Engineering Society (BMES). He served as the inaugural Co-Editor-In-Chief of the journal Cellular and Molecular Bioengineering, and also serves on the editorial boards of Biophysical Journal, Convergent Science Physical Oncology, Current Biology, Physical Biology, and Technology. He also serves as a standing member of the NIH Study Section on Modeling and Analysis of Biological Systems.

PLINKCarl Flink: Artistic director of the MN based dance company Black Label Movement (BLM), Carl Flink’s awards include a 2014 MN Sage Award, 2008 and 2012 McKnight Artist Fellowships for Choreography, a 2012 regional Emmy Award, 2010 and 2012 MN Ivey Awards and being named the Twin Cities City Pages 2012 Best Choreographer. During the 1990s, he was a member of the Limón Dance Company and Creach/Koester Men Dancing, among others. He is the Nadine Jette Sween Professor of Dance at the University of Minnesota.

Featured in Dance Magazine’s January 2014 issue, Flink’s dancemaking is recognized for intense athleticism, daring and humanistic themes. He was a commissioned choreographer for the 2014 American Dance Festival Footprints Series and the Director of Movement for Joe Dowling’s 2015 production of “The Crucible” at the Twin Cities’ Guthrie Theater. His work has also been presented by the Bates Dance Festival, TED, TEDMED, TEDx Brussels, Theater Latté Da (Mpls, MN), the Chicago Humanities Festival, The MN Orchestra, Company C Contemporary Ballet (San Francisco, CA) and Same Planet Different World (Chicago, IL), as well as, dance programs such as the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign, UC – Irvine, University of Utah, and the University of North Texas.  

Flink’s ongoing collaboration with biomedical engineer David Odde at UMN Institute for Advanced Study is called The Moving Cell Project (MCP). July 2013, Flink joined Odde for the second time at The Marine Biological Laboratory in Woods Hole, MA to work with scientists on their research technique called “bodystorming.” MCP also includes Flink’s collaboration with Science Magazine correspondent John Bohannon. Flink, Bohannon and BLM created “A Modest Proposal: Dance v. Powerpoint” featured on MCP has produced three other TED Talks and a presentation for the 2013 Better with Pets Summit. He holds a Stanford Law School JD and was a staff attorney with Farmers’ Legal Action Group, Inc. in St. Paul, MN from 2001-2004.

David Odde and Carl Flink gave a talk titled How do cells crawl? on Thursday 30 April 2015.

Urvakhsh Mehta

Dr. Urvakhsh Mehta did his MD in Psychiatry at the National Institute of Mental Health & Neurosciences (NIMHANS), Bangalore. He is an active clinician and a researcher with keen interest in the area of social cognition in schizophrenia.

Urvakhsh has been working in the area of social cognition for more than 6 years. He was instrumental in developing a new test battery to assess social cognition in the Indian socio-cultural context (Social Cognition Rating Tools in Indian Setting-SOCRATIS), which is now in use across the country. He studied the novel application of transcranial magnetic stimulation in examining and modulating the human mirror neuron system. His findings have linked social cognition deficits (especially those in theory of mind) to mirror neuron dysfunction in schizophrenia patients. His current work involves developing optimal brain stimulation techniques to modulate mirror neurons, which could potentially translate into better treatment for patients.

He has won several national and international awards for his research, from the Indian Psychiatric Society, Indian Council of Medical Research and the International Brain Research Organization.


Urvakhsh Mehta gave a talk titled Knowing me is knowing you – mirror neurons, social cognition and schizophrenia on Thursday 29 August 2013.

Peter Makovichy

Dr. Peter Makovicky is a dinosaur paleontologist at the Field Museum of Natural History in Chicago, where he oversees the fossil archosaur collections that include the largest and most complete T. rex ever collected. He has conducted fieldwork on four continents and described a dozen new dinosaur species. His 60 technical publications cover a wide range of topics including dinosaurian diversity, systematics and biogeography, biomechanics and scaling, and inferring growth rates and demographics for dinosaurs. He also teaches and supervises graduate students through the Committee on Evolutionary Biology at the University of Chicago.


Peter Makovichy gave a talk titled Dinosaurs from the End of the Earth – Antarctica’s hidden prehistory on Thursday 20 June 2013.

Madhusudan Katti

Madhusudan Katti is an Associate Professor of Vertebrate Ecology in the Department of Biology at California State University, Fresno. He studies ecological and evolutionary processes in more or less human dominated ecosystems with the goal of applying our understanding of these processes towards reconciling biodiversity conservation with human development. Research in his laboratory addresses the behavioral consequences of human activities on other species, such as the effects of urban noise on bird song, and the foraging ecology of mammals and birds in cities. Madhu tries to make science part of our cultural mainstream through the Central Valley Café Scientifique, the Fresno Bird Count, and his blog.

Madhusudan Katti gave a talk titled Cities and biodiversity: deciphering global patterns on Saturday 27 April 2013.

Shanthi Pappu, with Kumar Akhilesh

Dr. Shanti Pappu is the founder/director of the Sharma Centre for Heritage Education, and Sharma Children’s Museum, Chennai/Pune, India. She is an archaeologist who obtained her M.A. And Ph.D from the Deccan College Postgraduate and Research Institute, Pune, India, where she worked on the prehistoric archaeology of Tamil Nadu. She has been actively involved in archaeological research in Tamil Nadu since 1991, and has been excavating the prehistoric site of Attirampakkam, Tamil Nadu. She is also interested in issues related to culture resource management policies.

Shanthi Pappu, with Kumar Akhilesh gave a talk titled Dinner by the river a million years ago on Thursday 28 March 2013.

Shyamala Mani

Shyamala Mani has a Master of Science in Clinical Psychology from Marquette University, and a Doctorate in Neuroscience from the Upstate Medical University in Syracuse, New York. She did a postdoctoral fellowship at Princeton University before returning to India and worked at the National Brain Research Centre from 2000-2009. She is currently an Associate Professor at the Centre for Neuroscience at the Indian Institute of Science, Bangalore. Her laboratory studies early brain development and embryonic stem cells.

Shyamala Mani gave a talk titled Our brains, our selves on Thursday 28 February 2013.

J Srinivasan

J.Srinivasan received his B.Tech degree in Mechanical Engineering from the Indian Institute of Technology, Madras, his Master’s degree from State University of New York and his Phd from Stanford University. He was a faculty in mechanical engineering in IIT,Kanpur from 1975-82.He joined the Indian Institute of Science in 1982. He is at present Chairman, Divecha Centre for Climate Change and Professor in Centre for Atmospheric and Oceanic Sciences. He was a Senior Resident Research Associate at NASA, Langley from 1993 to 1995.

Professor Srinivasan was a lead author of the 2nd and 4th IPCC reports on Climate change and a review editor of 3rd IPCC report on Climate Change. He was the principal scientist of the Indo-French satellite mission Megha-Tropiques launched on 12th October 2011. He is the author of one book and has published more than a hundred research papers on thermal sciences, climate sciences and solar energy.

J Srinivasan gave a talk titled Boiling Point on Sunday 27 January 2013.

Sanjay Sane

Sanjay Sane obtained a B.Sc. in Physics, Chemistry and Mathematics from St. Stephens College, University of Delhi, in 1991 and a Master’s in Physics from University of Poona in 1993. During his Masters, he specialized in Astrophysics and Nonlinear Dynamics. After a short stint as Junior Research Fellow at TIFR (Mumbai)/NCBS (Bangalore), he went on to pursue a Ph.D. in Integrative Biology at the University of California, Berkeley. After graduating in 2001, Sanjay served as a Post-Doctoral Research Fellow / Research Scientist at University of Washington, Seattle. He joined the National Center for Biological Sciences (NCBS), Bangalore in 2007.

Sanjay Sane gave a talk titled Flight Plan on Friday 30 November 2012.

Rom Whitaker

Rom Whitaker, popularly known as the snake man of India, has been captivated by  reptiles since he was 5 years old. He came to India as a boy in 1951 and his career in conservation began with the campaign for the preservation of Silent Valley (which became an icon of the conservation movement in India). He then helped halt the unsustainable snake skin industry and set up a venom cooperative for Irula tribal snake hunters. He started 

India’s first reptile park, the Madras Snake Park in 1969 and India’s crocodile gene bank, the Madras Crocodile Bank in 1976. They both continue to function as resources for research and conservation education.

Rom has traveled widely to developing countries like Bangladesh, Mozambique, Papua New Guinea, Malaysia and Indonesia as a wildlife management consultant for the United Nations. 

He has written books, scientific papers and popular articles, and produced and presented 30 documentary films. 
Rom and his colleagues also established the Andaman and Nicobar Islands Environmental Team and Agumbe Rainforest Research Station as field stations to foster research and local awareness.

Rom Whitaker gave a talk titled Radio Kings on Friday 12 October 2012.