SF Presents

SF Presents: Labels and Lab Coats: Exploring Science Identity

Gerald D. Fischbach Auditorium/2-GDFA (160 5th Avenue)

Gerald D. Fischbach Auditorium/2-GDFA

160 5th Avenue


Registration link:

Registration is required for this free, in-person event and will close one day before this event. 

What image comes to mind when you hear the word “scientist?” For most, it’s the stereotypical image of an old white man with wild hair in a lab coat, but does this dissuade people from pursuing careers in science? How do we create new narratives around what it means to be a scientist?

Theoretical physicist and jazz musician Stephon Alexander, computational neuroscientist and visual artist Siavash Golkar, and behavioral neuroscientist and fashion model Aya Osman have each dedicated themselves to challenging this stereotype by finding ways to weave their personal passions and identities into their professional personas.

Join them as they sit down with Ivvet Abdullah-Modinou, director of outreach, education and engagement at the Simons Foundation, to discuss the importance of recognizing and celebrating the unique intersections of identity within the scientific community and how that can foster a greater sense of belonging for future generations of scientists.


Stephon Alexander is a theoretical physicist, musician and author whose work is at the interface between cosmology, particle physics and quantum gravity. He works on the connection between the smallest and largest entities in the universe, pushing Einstein’s theory of curved space-time to extremes beyond the Big Bang with subatomic phenomena. Alexander is a professor of physics at Brown University and the president of the National Society of Black Physicists. He had previous appointments at Stanford University, Imperial College, Pennsylvania State University, Dartmouth College and Haverford College. Alexander is also the author of the critically acclaimed book The Jazz of Physics and a professional touring jazz musician.

Siavash Golkar is an associate research scientist at the Flatiron Institute’s Center for Computational Neuroscience. His work focuses on bridging the gap between computational neuroscience and artificial intelligence. Golkar is also a New York City-based visual artist. His art is inspired by societal dynamics and interpersonal relationships, often taking the form of unconventional or surreal portraits.

Aya Osman is a behavioral neuroscientist, science communicator and international fashion model. Her scientific expertise focuses on how changes in the gut microbiome can affect brain development and subsequent behavior. She is currently a postdoctoral fellow at the Friedman Brain Institute at Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai and the Seaver Autism Center for Research and Treatment at Mount Sinai. Osman is also signed to a well-known modeling agency in the U.K. and continues to work in the fashion industry. She harnesses her unique skillset gained from a public-facing role as a fashion model and extensive scientific training to communicate science to lay audiences with a particular focus on marginalized communities.

5:30 p.m. Doors open
6:00 – 7:00 p.m. In Conversation
7:00 – 8:00 p.m. Reception

Inquiries: sfpresents@simonsfoundation.org