Science on Screen 2021

These wonderful events pair popular films … with science and technology experts to show that science can illuminate films just as films can illuminate science.”
Doron Weber, Vice President and Program Director at the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation

Science on Screen®, the popular national program that pairs films with experts, begins its 2021 season at The Tull Family Theater with a free community screening on Thursday, April 29, at 7 p.m. The Tull Family Theater is honored to be selected for the third time as one of only 37 cinemas nationwide—and the only tri-state arthouse—to participate in this program. The schedule of films is below; other experts and presentations may be added. Given current occupancy restrictions, the Theater suggests securing tickets in advance for each  of these special events. All health and safety protocols are detailed on our website.

The Truffle Hunters

Tuesday, May 4 @ 7:00 PM

Julie Travaglini
Senior Director for Education and Curriculum, Allegheny Land Trust

Biodiversity isn’t only a large-scale phenomenon occurring in Italy’s hills. “Small” biodiversity is equally amazing, says Julie Travaglini, senior director for education and curriculum at the Allegheny Land Trust, the nonprofit that protects more than 3,000 acres of green space in Western Pennsylvania. Travaglini will share the biodiversity of our backyards and region in a kid-friendly presentation starting at 7 p.m., before the screening of The Truffle Hunters

With a bachelor’s degree in biology and a master’s in education, Travaglini has had many experiences as a licensed environmental educator, working in settings from arboretums to zoos, and was recognized as the 2019 Outstanding Environmental Educator of the Year by the Pennsylvania Association of Environmental Educators. As a state licensed Specialty Discipline Instructor, she serves on several Boards, including the Western PA Mushroom Club.

Friday, May 7 @ 7:00 PM

Dr. Barb DeRiso
Former Officer and Longtime Member, Western PA Mushroom Club
Dedicated Truffle Hunter

Given the rich rewards of locating these elusive treasures, truffle hunters are known to be secretive. But Dr. Barb DeRiso is willing to tell all. Well, almost all.

DeRiso, a retired anesthesiologist, joined the Western PA Mushroom Club in 2006. Since 2010, she and husband Don Newman have hunted truffles in the Umbria, Le Marche, Piedmont and Emilia Romagna regions of Italy; toured the Urbani truffle facility in Umbria; and have visited the International White Truffle Fair in Alba, Italy. When pandemic travel restrictions lift, they look forward to their 28th trip to Italy.

In Silico

Date and Speakers TBD

A young filmmaker sets out to document a brilliant and persuasive neuroscientist who has become frustrated with his field’s status quo. In Silico explores a 10-year quest, funded by billions of euros, to simulate the entire human brain on supercomputers. Along the way, it reveals the profound beauty of tiny mistakes and bold predictions, a controversial space where scientific process meets ego, and where the lines between objectivity and ambition blur.

“A fascinating window into the trouble grandiose research projects and grandiose personalities can generate,” notes the scientific publication Nature.

The science underlying the film revolves around sophisticated data, imaging and computer modeling but “the emotional aspects of In Silico are in no need of an interpreter,” says Easy Reader.

In Silico shows the scientific process in all its messy glory, with its revelations, missteps, labor, frustrations, self-promotion, fights for funding and fractious egos,” says the Boston Globe. “And it shares a filmmaker’s progress from an awestruck acolyte to a wiser and more objective observer.”

Showtimes and speaker information to come.

Test Pattern

Thursday, April 29 @ 7:00 PM

Free admission, reservations required by emailing

Dr. Sara Jennings
Education Director, International Association of Forensic Nurses

Ryan Sabolcik
Educator, Pittsburgh Action Against Rape

Free Science on Screen® Opener: A free community  screening on Thursday, April 29, at 7 p.m., launches this year’s Science on Screen programming with a look at one of the roles of forensic sciences. The award-winning film Test Pattern follows a couple as they navigate the legal and medical systems in the wake of a sexual assault. The film depicts the limitations of these systems and the strain on the couples’ relationship. Recommended for ages 15+.

Following the screening, Dr. Sara Jennings, Education Director for the International Association of Forensic Nurses, will discuss the role of forensic science and the needs of the patient in a live, remote discussion.

Jennings, a longtime forensic nurse certified for both adult and pediatric examinations, holds a Doctor of Nursing Practice degree from Duquesne University and continues to practice clinically as a forensic nurse for an organization serving multiple hospitals in Richmond, Va.

The presentation will be moderated by Ryan Sabolcik, an educator with focus on sexual assault prevention with Pittsburgh Action Against Rape (PAAR), one of the oldest rape crisis centers in the country. PAAR provides confidential services with experienced, trained counselors and advocates, and is dedicated to assisting victims of sexual abuse and ending sexual violence. During and after the screening, PAAR staff members Emma Fornari and Rhea Modi will be available.

Science on Screen is an initiative of the Coolidge Corner Theatre, with major support from the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation.