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On the scene at the 2014 World Science Festival Gala

Mary-Claire King, Alan Alda and Arlene Alda attend at The World Science Festival Annual Gala at The Allen Room, Jazz at Lincoln Center
Mary-Claire King, Alan Alda and Arlene Alda attend at The World Science Festival Annual Gala at The Allen Room, Jazz at Lincoln Center
Sylvain Gaboury/Patrick McMullan for The World Science Festival

Yesterday on April 7, made an appearance at the 2014 World Science Festival Gala. The night was full of science, song and sophistication. The underlying theme was women empowerment as geneticist Mary-Claire King was this year’s honoree. Her tribute was performed by an all-female cast of Broadway singers, professional dancers and even an all-female A cappella vocal group. Before each performance there was a pre-recorded segment played on monitors where Mary-Claire gave a snippet of an event or moment in her life that matched the song selection of the following act. The venue itself was beautiful and had a view of the city below. As the evening came to a close host Alan Alda gave his closing remarks on the honoree as she was given a standing ovation by the crowd. The reception that followed the tribute served science inspired deserts and by the smiles in the room they were greatly enjoyed.

We spoke with honoree Mary-Claire King on the red carpet.

Q: How does it feel to be the 2014 World Science Festival Gala honoree?

A: I’m not sure whether to be more stunned that I was asked to be the honoree or more stunned that this level of enthusiasm and support is available for teaching science to kids. But the ladder is certainly a lot more exciting. And it’s just fabulous that the world science festival exists and that it's flourishing and that it pulls children from all over the world into speaking to those of us that come back in the summer to be teachers. I participated in the festival a few years ago, had a fabulous time and very much look forward into doing so again.

Q: What do you think your discovery will mean to the future of science?

A: I guess what all of us want more than anything is to believe that the next generation of scientist uses what we do. So I am hoping that the kinds of discoveries that I have made in different areas of genetics will be useful to the young women who follow me. And who twenty, thirty, forty years from now are forging their own paths but that they exploit what I have done. Just like I have taken advantage of what people the generation before me did.

We spoke with Alan Alda as well.

Q: Why do you feel this year’s world science gala is so special?

A: You know it’s wonderful because we’re celebrating a woman of science, who has an extraordinary range of curiosity and accomplishment. Her accomplishments one after another are ground breaking and its just wonderful to see that in as field where still women don’t always get the opportunity to be as- to rise to the top as they should. But she’s risen to the top in many different ways and it’s just wonderful to see.

We also spoke with actress Carole Carmello.

Q: How’d it feel performing tonight?

A: Oh it was a great honor! I mean I don’t normally get to rub elbows with the scientific community, so it was a lot of fun to hear everybody talk about the amazing, changes that have been made and she sounds like such an amazing woman ... such great accomplishments that she’s had in her life. So it was a pleasure for all of us to pay tribute to her.

Capathia Jenkins also performed.

Q: How did it feel performing tonight?

A: You know, it felt pretty amazing. I got asked to do this and I thought what is this? But the whole notion of women and science really intrigued me and I thought yeah I want to do this. Yeah it was fun, lots of fun.

Q: How long have you been performing?

A: Oh my gosh, a very long time; since I was a very little girl. And I have done five Broadway shows that people may know my name from. But yeah I’ve been singing my whole life from the time I could.

Professor Brian Greene and Tracy Day added,"It’s the seventh anniversary of an event that is so close to our heart. Bringing science to the general public in a way that really is experienced nowhere else like this in the world. So that’s really what makes it special....We are so delighted to honor Mary-Claire King, whose one of the most remarkable geneticist alive. She is extraordinary, an incredible scientist, an incredible leader for women who are going in to the science world and she’s also an amazing humanitarian."

Toyibat Oridami contributed reporting.

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