55 Music Concourse Dr.
Golden Gate Park
San Francisco CA
Regular Hours:


9:30 am – 5:00 pm


11:00 am – 5:00 pm
Members' Hours:


8:30 – 9:30 am


10:00 – 11:00 am

The Academy will be closed on Thanksgiving and Christmas Day.

Planetarium will be closed Sep. 22, 23, 24

2013 Conversations on Science

The Academy is committed to engaging, inspiring, and empowering the public with its scientific mission. Its events and lecture programs offer thought provoking discussions on topics such as astronomy, ecology, sustainability, natural history, biodiversity, evolution and the science of life.

Conversations On Science

In this series, the Academy has partnered with City Arts & Lectures, Inc. to present distinguished scientists, professors, writers, thinkers, photographers and artists who discuss important and timely scientific and environmental issues. These conversations are held downtown at San Francisco's beautiful Herbst Theatre at 401 Van Ness Avenue and at the Nourse Theatre at 275 Hayes Street .


The Science of Yoga: A Mind-Body Practice
Jon Kabat-Zinn in Conversation with Kelly McGonigal

Wednesday, January 9th, 7:30pm at the Herbst Theatre
Yoga has been shown to effectively improve over 50 medical conditions including stress induced injuries and illnesses. By combining the mindfulness techniques of meditation with physical movement of yoga, people all over the world have witnessed reductions of stress and physical ailments in their bodies. Jon Kabat-Zinn is Professor of Medicine Emeritus at the University of Massachusetts Medical School. He combined the practices of mindfulness meditation and Hatha yoga in his world renowned Mindfulness – Based Stress Reduction (MBSR) program. MBSR helps patients cope with stress, pain, and illness by using moment-to-moment awareness and is now being taught at over 200 top medical centers around the world, and is offered at hospitals, schools, prisons and in professional sports. Kabat-Zinn will be in conversation with Kelly McGonigal a health psychologist and lecturer at Stanford University. She is the author of Yoga for Pain Relief, which translates recent advances in neuroscience and medicine into mind-body strategies for relieving chronic pain, stress, depression, and anxiety. McGonigal is passionate about translating cutting-edge research from psychology, neuroscience, and medicine into practical strategies for personal health and happiness.

Ticketing Information Below


Stroke of Insight: Strengthening the Brain
Jill Bolte Taylor in Conversation with Thomas Goetz

Monday January 28th 7:30pm at the Herbst Theatre
As a Harvard brain researcher, Jill Bolte Taylor, Ph.D. studied the question of how the brains of people with mental disorders differ from those without. At the age of 37, her study of the brain was changed by a very personal experience. She had a stroke. As she watched her experience unfold, her brain functions -- motion, speech, memory, linear thinking and self-awareness -- shut down one by one. What followed was a transformational experience and a personal study of perception as it differs between left brain processing and right brain experiencing. After a long and successful rehabilitation, she has become a spokesperson for the possibility of coming back from a brain injury stronger than before. She is the best-selling author of My Stroke of Insight and has the second most watched TED talk of all time. Taylor remains the national spokesperson for the Harvard Brain Tissue Resource Center and has been an active member and supporter of the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) since 1993. Taylor will be in conversation with Thomas Goetz who serves as the executive editor of Wired Magazine where he oversees all aspects of the publication from story conception to cover packages. Goetz holds a Master of Public Health degree from the University of California at Berkeley and is author of The Decision Tree: A Manifesto for Personal Health which was published in February 2010 by Rodale Books.

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The Brilliance of Sleep
Matt Walker in Conversation with Amy Standen

Wendesday February 27th 7:30pm at the Herbst Theatre
Scientists have long wondered why we power down our brains and enter into a sleeping state then spending countless hours in light dreamless slumber. Professor Matt Walker in the Sleep and Neuroimaging Laboratory within the Department of Psychology at U.C. Berkeley and his team have found compelling evidence for the purpose of this kind of sleep suggesting that it can solidify newly learned memories by rewiring the architecture of the brain. Bursts of electrical impulse brain waves known as sleep spindles may be networking between the brain's hippocampus – with its limited storage capacity – and the prefrontal cortex's – the storage area– effectively clearing the way for new learning. His team has also found evidence that sleep can associate and integrate new memories together, performing a kind of sleep-dependent alchemy. Beyond learning and memory, Dr. Walker’s lab has discovered recent findings that sleep can refresh emotional brain reactivity, effectively ironing out our prior waking concerns and allowing for well rested rational next day decisions. Sleep benefits us not only in learning and memory but also in many other ways that improve our health. Dr. Walker will be in conversation with Amy Standen from QUEST, an award-winning multimedia science and environment series created by KQED, San Francisco. Her work has been recognized by the National Association of Public Radio News Directors and Northern California's Society of Professional Journalists. Standen has been a producer on Pulse of the Planet, editor of Terrain Magazine and an editor at Salon, and a "roving reporter" for KALW's Philosophy Talk also contributing frequently to NPR.

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The Power of Language
Lera Boroditsky in Conversation with Roy Eisenhardt

Wednesday March 20th 7:30pm at the Herbst Theatre
There are over 7,000 languages around the globe and each one may shape a given culture’s conception of time, space, color, or even justice. Lera Boroditsky, who conducts groundbreaking research on how language shapes thought says that “each language is its own universe”. Boroditsky is a professor of psychology, neuroscience, and symbolic systems at Stanford University who pays attention to what a speaker of a given language thinks, perceives, and remembers about an event. She makes the claim that “different languages invite speakers to develop different cognitive skills.” This idea that language shapes thoughts puts her at ends with linguists such as Noam Chomsky who contend that thought and perception are universal entities expressed but not shaped through language. The connection between language and thought has long captivated poets, philosophers, linguists, and thinkers of many sorts, but the modern debate has its roots in the work of the early-20th-century American linguist Benjamin Whorf and his Yale mentor, Edward Sapir. They believed that the structure of language was integral to the formation of thought and the evolution of cultural. The Whorf-Sapir theory of language was all but abandoned after about the 1930s. Boroditsky is often called a “neo-Whorfian” cognitive scientist as she is bringing this theory back to the forefront of discussion. She is “one of the first to show truly convincing evidence for the effects of language on cognitive processes,” including mental imagery, reasoning, perception and problem solving. Lera Boroditsky will be in conversation with Roy Eisenhardt who practiced law for twelve years in San Francisco and has taught at UC Berkeley’s Boalt Hall School of Law. He previously served as the Executive Director for the California Academy of Sciences. Some of his numerous interviews for City Arts & Lectures include Stephen King, Gene Wilder, Philip Seymour Hoffman, Doris Kearns Goodwin, Desmond Tutu, David Remnick and Isabella Rosselini.

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Unlocking the Mysteries of Neuroscience
David Eagleman in Conversation with Dr. Kiki Sanford

Wednesday April 10th 7:30pm at the Herbst Theatre
David Eagleman is a neuroscientist and a New York Times bestselling author. He directs the Laboratory for Perception and Action at the Baylor College of Medicine, where he also directs the Initiative on Neuroscience and Law. He is best known for his work on time perception, synesthesia, and neurolaw. His work of fiction, SUM, is an international bestseller published in 27 languages. Wednesday is Indigo Blue explores the neurological condition of synesthesia, in which the senses are blended. His latest book, the New York Times bestseller Incognito: The Secret Lives of the Brain, explores the neuroscience of the conscious mind. Eagleman is a Guggenheim Fellow, a Next Generation Texas Fellow, a council member on the World Economic Forum, a research fellow in the Institute for Ethics and Emerging Technologies, and a board member of The Long Now Foundation. He is an academic editor for several scientific journals, and has been named one of 2012's Brightest Idea Guys by Italy's Style magazine. He is the scientific advisor for the television drama Perception, and has been profiled on the Colbert Report, NOVA Science Now, the New Yorker, CNN's Next List, and many other venues. He appears regularly on radio and television to discuss literature and science. Eagleman will be conversation with Kirsten Sanford popularly known as Dr. Kiki. She holds a doctorate in Molecular, Cellular and Integrative Physiology (emphasis in Neurobiology) and a Bachelors degree in Wildlife, Fisheries, and Conservation Biology from the University of California, Davis, and is a specialist in learning and memory. She is the founder and host of the popular This Week in Science podcast and radio show. Dr. Kiki is dedicated to making science accessible. She has produced and hosted programs featuring scientific luminaries such as James Watson, Neil DeGrasse Tyson, Brian Green, Lisa Randall, Leonard Susskind, and Michio Kaku among others.

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The Social Network Effect
Nicholas Carr in Conversation with Thomas Goetz

Tuesday May 14th 7:30pm at the Nourse Theatre
Our brains, the historical and scientific evidence reveals, change in response to our experiences. Is it possible that the popular social networks of the modern day net are having profound impacts on the neural networks of our brains and on our psychological functioning? How are our virtual, social worlds changing our capacity to relate and communicate with one another in the physical world? British researchers have found a direct link between the number of “friends” a person has on their social network and the size of certain brain regions that play a role in memory, emotion and social interaction but the conclusions one draws from these correlation is not clear. Studies reveal that our brains release chemicals when we simply go online to see if people have posted or responded to a request to enter our virtual friend networks. Studies show that the technologies we use to find, store, and share information can literally reroute our neural pathways. Is Google making us stupid? When bestselling author and 2011 Pulitzer Prize finalist Nicholas Carr posed that question in a celebrated Atlantic essay, he tapped into a popular question of how the Internet is changing us. Carr expands his thoughts into the most compelling exploration of the Internet’s intellectual and cultural consequences as he describes how human thought has been shaped through the centuries by “tools of the mind” from the alphabet, to maps, to the printing press, the clock, and the computer. Carr makes a convincing case that every information technology carries an intellectual ethic — a set of assumptions about the nature of knowledge and intelligence. He explains how the printed book served to focus our attention, promoting deep and creative thought. In stark contrast, the Internet encourages the rapid sampling of small bits of information from many sources. Its ethic is the ethic of the industrialist, of speed and efficiency, of optimized production and consumption and now the Net is remaking us in its own image. Nicholas Carr will be in Conversation with Thomas Goetz who is the executive editor of WIRED magazine and author of The Decision Tree: Taking Control of Your Health in the New Era of Personalized Medicine. A journalist for more than 15 years, Goetz has reported on media and business for the Village Voice, the Wall Street Journal, and The Industry Standard. He holds a Master of Public Health degree from the University of California, Berkeley.

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The Science of Love & Attraction
Helen Fisher in Conversation with Michael Krazny

Tuesday June 4th 7:30pm at the NourseTheatre
Helen E. Fisher, PhD biological anthropologist, is a Research Professor in the Department of Anthropology at Rutgers University. She has written five books on the evolution and future of human sexuality, monogamy, adultery and divorce, gender differences in the brain, the chemistry of romantic love, and most recently, human personality types and why we fall in love with one person rather than another. Fisher maintains that humans have evolved three core brain systems for mating and reproduction: 1. Lust (the sex drive or libido) 2. Romantic attraction (romantic love) 3. Attachment (deep feelings of union with a long term partner). “Love can start off with any of these three feelings,” Fisher maintains. “Some people fall head over heels in love, but the sex drive evolved to encourage you to seek a range of partners; romantic love evolved to enable you to focus your mating energy on just one at a time; and attachment evolved to enable you to feel deep union to this person long enough to rear your infants as a team.” But, these brain systems can be tricky. Having sex, Fisher says, can drive up dopamine in the brain and push you over the threshold toward falling in love. And with orgasm, you experience a flood of oxytocin and vasopressin--giving you feelings of attachment. “Casual sex isn’t always casual” Fisher reports, “It can trigger a host of powerful feelings.” In fact, Fisher believes that men and women often engage in “hooking up” to unconsciously trigger these feelings of romance and attachment. What happens when you fall in love? People can list what they don’t like about their sweetheart, but they sweep these things aside and focus on what they adore. Intense energy, elation, mood swings, emotional dependence, separation anxiety, possessiveness, a pounding heart and craving are all central to this madness. Helen Fisher will be in conversation with Michael Krasny who is the host of the KQED radio program Forum. He is also a professor of English at San Francisco State University and the author of Spiritual Envy: an Agnostic’s Quest and Off Mike: A Memoir of Talk Radio and Literary Life. His many stage interviews include Toni Morrison, Salman Rushdie, Norman Mailer, Joyce Carol Oates, and Brian Greene.

Ticketing Information Below


Ticketing Information:

Call 415-392-4400 or visit: City Box Office
(Academy discounts applied during checkout.)

Members: $20 Balcony $25 Orchestra/Box
Non Members: $22 Balcony $27 Orchestra/Box

CAS Members (7 event) Series Ticket: $155 Orchestra.
Non-Members (7 event) Series Ticket: $170 Orchestra.

Conservation Photography

Conservation photography is a vision of photography that has a long history with a new purpose. A conservation photographer's work begins once they click the shutter. It's what you do with these images that matters as it takes you into the active roll of affecting conservation for the natural world.


Conservation Photography Workshop
Adobe Lightroom for the Nature Photographer

Gary Sharlow, Photographer, Manager of Lifelong Learning

Sunday, November 13th from 1pm - 4pm
In this workshop you will be taken through the steps of setting up Adobe Lightroom for the first time all the way through to how to do basic web publishing. We will cover the basic features of the library mode and how to organize your collection including the use of external drives. We will also cover the basic editing features of the develop module and then take a more in depth look at some of the powerful plug-ins that can be used to perfect your images in the digital darkroom. There will be an additional presentation about using your photos for conservation and how you can help effect change and protect the natural world through your passion for nature photography.

What To Bring: Feel free to bring your DSLR, memory card with card reader and laptops should you wish to follow along during the Lightroom presentation. We will meet at the Business Reception Desk at the backdoor of the Academy at 12:45pm.

Reservations: Members: $40, Adults: $50 ~ For ages 18+ Space is limited. To reserve a place today, buy a ticket online or over the phone at 415-379-8000


Conservation Photography Workshop
Defining Conservation Photography

Gary Sharlow, Photographer, Education Manager

Sunday, December 04th 1:00pm to 4:00pm
Conservation photography is a vision of photography that has a long history with a new purpose. A conservation photographer's work begins once they click the shutter. It's what you do with these images that matters as it takes you into the active role of affecting conservation for the natural world. In this workshop, we will take a look at a variety of methods, tools and techniques that anyone with a DSLR can employ in an effort to help drive conservation through their photographic passion.

Please Note: We will meet at the Business Reception Desk at the backdoor of the Academy at 12:45pm.

Reservations: Academy Members: $40, Adults: $50 ~ For ages 18+ Space is limited. Please reserve online or over the phone at 415-379-8000


Conservation Photography Workshop
Artistic Expression for the Nature Photographer

Gary Sharlow, Photographer, Education Manager

Sunday, January 08th 1:00pm to 4:00pm
The beauty of the digital era of photography presents itself in the enormous opportunities for creativity in photographing the subject matter of your choice. As nature photographers, we are surrounded by the beauty of wildlife and colorful landscapes painted by the brush of the natural world. Join us in this workshop to take a look at some of the tools and techniques available today that can be used to express your vision of the natural world with your personal artistic spin. We’ll look at techniques and tools that cover such things as high dynamic range (HDR), double exposures, multiple exposures, time lapse, multi media expression and unique perspectives in the field.

Please Note: We will meet at the Business Reception Desk at the backdoor of the Academy at 12:45pm.

Reservations: Academy Members: $40, Adults: $50 ~ For ages 18+ Space is limited. To reserve a place today, buy a ticket online or over the phone at 415-379-8000


Conservation Photography Workshop & Field Excursion
The Life of Water: From Headwaters to Oceans

Gary Sharlow. Photographer, Education Manager
Geoff Willard, Naturalist Guide, Education Manager

Saturday & Sunday, January 14th and 15th
2:00 pm to 5:00 pm on Saturday and 8:00 am to 6:00 pm on Sunday

Dive into the art of conservation photography during this hands-on, two-day workshop. On Saturday, workshop participants will be introduced to the field’s methodology and techniques among the Academy's live animals. On Sunday, the group will put its skills into practice on an all-day excursion to the Mount Tamalpais watershed starting with a hike along the waterfalls and streams of the watershed and continuing with stops along salmon creeks and the mighty redwoods of West Marin on the way out to the final destination of Tomales Bay and the Pacific Ocean. Conservation photography is a field rich with history, which has only recently been recognized as a discipline and powerful medium for conservation of wild areas. Throughout the experience, Academy staff and guest experts will offer photographic guidance and insight into the subjects' natural history.

Reservations: Early bird tickets: $175 for adults, $150 for members (through December 30th); then: $195 for adults, $170 for members. Tickets include all day admission to the Academy on the first day of the workshop. Open to ages 18+. Please reserve a space online or over the phone at 415-379-8000 (Tickets are non-refundable.)


Conservation Photography Workshop
Focused on Conservation

Gary Sharlow, Photographer, Education Manager

Sunday, February 05th 1:00pm to 4:00pm
Whether it’s through a collaborative effort that involves photographers, scientists and non-profit organizations or individual exploration of the natural world with just you and your camera, there are many opportunities to get involved with conservation efforts for your favorite habitats, wild sanctuaries or most beloved wild animals. Join photographer Gary Sharlow as he presents a variety of tools, websites, organizations and ideas for turning your lens towards conservation. Whether you prefer to shoot with a DSLR, a point and shoot pocket camera or your iPhone, there are ways for each and every one of you to get involved.

Please Note: We will meet at the Business Reception Desk at the backdoor of the Academy at 12:45pm.

Reservations: Academy Members: $40, Adults: $50 ~ For ages 18+ Space is limited. To reserve a place today, buy a ticket online or over the phone at 415-379-8000


Our Real World Meetup Community

Consider this your invitation to join our virtual community that can serve as way for all of us to stay in touch as a photography community. If you who are new to Meetup, they describe their service as such: “Meetup.com helps groups of people with shared interests plan meetings and form offline clubs in local communities around the world.” We would love to have you join our group and spread the word to fellow photographers. We can use this platform to announce free real world gatherings to grow our community and plan times to get together with new friends that you may have made through the Academy photography workshops. Speaking of workshops, we’ll also announce upcoming Academy workshops through the service as well as on the Academy site. We hope you will join the group and spread the word so we can grow our community.

Please visit us online so we can make plans to get together in the real world!


Conservation Photography Flickr Pool

The second most requested thing from our workshop participants, beyond ways to continue to get together in person, has been for ways to post the images taken in our workshops to an online site where we could offer each other feedback on our images and technique. This can also be used to open up topics of conversation about anything photography related. We hope you will consider posting some of the images you took through our workshops, and we look forward to seeing more of your nature related photography through this group. A bonus of contributing to the flickr pool is that they joined forces with Getty images giving you a professional service from which to sell your images. If you’re good, they will find you!

Please join the group at our Flickr pool We look forward to sharing images and comments with you.

Pritzker Lectures 

Free to Academy members, the Pritzker lecture series features engaging speakers from the Bay Area and beyond. Topics cover a wide range of subjects related to the Academy's mission to "explore, explain and protect the natural world."


Pritzker Lecture
Diversity and Evolution of Coral Reef Fishes

Dr. Luiz Rocha
Assistant Curator. Ichthyology California Academy of Science

Tuesday, January 24th 7:00 pm
Please join us in welcoming one of the Academy’s newest curators as Dr. Luiz Rocha joins the Academy as an assistant curator on the Ichthyology team in the research division. A native of Brazil, Dr. Rocha’s research interests center on the evolution, biogeography, and ecology of coral reef fishes. His overarching goal is to understand what drives the extremely high biodiversity found in tropical reefs. He has embarked on numerous expeditions around the world, including the Philippines, Indonesia, Australia, Polynesia, Micronesia, the Caribbean, South America, and Africa. His field work in Sao Tome was covered by National Geographic in 2008, and he appeared in a Science Channel documentary in 2009 discussing the effects of radiation at Bikini Atoll.

Reservations:Adults $12, Seniors $10, Academy Members: Free. Seating is limited. Please reserve a space online or over the phone at 415-379-8000


Pritzker Lecture
Stem Cells: Not What They Used to Be

Bruce R. Conklin, M.D.
Senior Investigator, Gladstone Institute of Cardiovascular Disease
Professor Department of Medicine, University of California, San Francisco

Wednesday, February 15th 7:00 pm in African Hall
Stem cells have the remarkable potential to develop into many different cell types in the body during early life and growth. In many tissues, they serve as a sort of internal repair system, dividing essentially without limit to replenish other cells as long as the person or animal is still alive. San Francisco’s Gladstone Institutes is a leading force in stem cell research. In this presentation, Gladstone Investigator Dr. Bruce Conklin explains the surprising past, present, and future of stem cells.

Reservations:Adults $12, Seniors $10, Academy Members: free. Seating is limited. To reserve a place today, buy a ticket online or over the phone at 415-379-8000

Lecture Videos


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NightLife Events


Every Thursday, the Academy is transformed into a lively venue, for visitors 21 and older, filled with:

  • DJs & Live Music
  • Stimulating Lectures
  • Provocative Science
  • A Lively Social Scene

Activities, performers and lecturers change from week to week. Learn more »

Citizen Science


The Academy conducts numerous "Citizen Science" projects that rely on your help. This is your chance to join in on the research.

Member Perks


There are numerous benefits to being an Academy member including:

  • Free unlimited daily admission
  • Personalized member card
  • Members-only hours
  • Free Pritzker members' lectures
  • and more...