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USU's Science Unwrapped Explores 'Nabokov's Butterflies' Friday, Jan. 26

Friday, Jan. 19, 2018

Biologists in lab

From right, USU biologists Lauren Lucas and Zach Gompert present 'Nabokov's Butterflies’ at Science Unwrapped Friday, Jan. 26, at 7 p.m. in USU’s Eccles Science Learning Center Auditorium. Admission is free and all ages are welcome.

Nabokov’s butterfly illustrations

Scientist, artist and author Vladimir Nabokov's intricate butterfly illustrations are the topic of Science Unwrapped Jan. 26. The presentation kicks off Science Unwrapped’s Spring 2018 'Science of Art’ series celebrating USU’s ‘Year of the Arts.’

Russian American author Vladimir Nabokov (1899-1977) is probably best known for his novels, especially Lolita, which he published in 1955. But the St. Petersburg native was also an accomplished lepidopterist (butterfly and moth scientist) and illustrator.

In the 1940s, Nabokov served as de facto curator of lepidoptery at Harvard University’s Museum of Comparative Zoology and, before the advent of molecular genetics, published extensively about the biogeography and evolution of blue butterflies in the family Lycaenidae.

Along the way, he created breathtaking illustrations of the butterflies at near-microscopic detail.

Utah State University biologists Lauren Lucas and Zach Gompert explore Nabokov’s unique genius at USU’s Science Unwrapped public outreach program Friday, Jan. 26. The scientists, both faculty members in USU’s Department of Biology and the USU Ecology Center, present “Nabokov’s Butterflies,” at 7 pm in the Emert Auditorium, Room 130, of the Eccles Science Learning Center on USU’s Logan campus.

Hosted by USU’s College of Science, admission is free and all ages are welcome. Refreshments and hands-on learning activities conducted by USU students and faculty members, along with community groups, follow Lucas and Gompert’s talk.

“The beauty of butterflies is a source of inspiration for artists and scientists alike,” says Lucas, lecturer and lab coordinator. “Zach and I will discuss our own work on the genetics of the blue butterflies Nabokov studied, and how we corroborated some of his conclusions.”

Count on a few surprises during the presentation, she adds, including a butterfly release and a reenactment of Nabokov’s use of a camera lucida, an optical device that superimposes a view of an object (in this case, a butterfly) onto a drawing surface.

The Jan. 26 presentation kicks off Science Unwrapped’s Spring 2018 “Science of Art” Series, celebrating USU’s “Year of the Arts.” Additional presentations are scheduled for Feb. 23, March 23 and April 20.

For more information, call 435-797-3517, visit the Science Unwrapped website or view the ‘Science Unwrapped at USU’ Facebook page

Related Links:
“USU’s Science Unwrapped Announces Spring 2018 ‘Science of Art’ Series,” Utah State Today 
USU Year of the Arts 
USU College of Science 

Contact: Nancy Huntly, 435-797-2555,
Writer: Mary-Ann Muffoletto, 435-797-3517,

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