LASER comes to Augusta University

By Anna Dresser | Copy Editor

Here is a logo of LASER. (Credit:
Here is a logo of LASER. (Credit:

Only 14 institutions have an affiliation with the Leonardo Art Science Evening Rendezvous (also known as LASER) and Augusta University was fortunate to be one of them.

The event, which took place on Feb. 16 at the J. Harold Harrison, M.D. Education Commons, focused on how 3-D technology has affected both art and science, particularly 3-D printing. LASER was arranged by the Department of Art at Augusta University and helped facilitate conversation between experts and engage the art and science community.

“You have to apply for it (LASER),” Scott Thorp, chair of the Department of Art at Augusta University, said. “Once you get the ‘okay,’ they support you, you become a part of their network and they promote the event. There is also a network of people who travel and do LASERs and there are some top artists and scientists that go and have these discussions.”

Just being associated with them is a big deal because it gives Augusta University recognition by the National Academy of Science, Thorp said.

JD Talasek from the National Academy of Sciences came to Augusta to host the event and there were four guest speakers there. Throughout the event, the speakers presented the work that they had been doing and how it related to art, science and technology.

The first speaker was Dr. Michael Schwartz, professor of Art History at Augusta University. Schwartz focused on approaching new technology techniques in art and how it is necessary to put an emphasis on the idea or the function of technology instead of the technology itself. The ideas open up new doors, but if the focus is simply on the technology and not the idea behind it, the product of the technology is no longer being improved.

The second speaker was Cheryl Goldsleger, an artist and Morris Eminent Scholar at Augusta University. Goldsleger presented a visual piece that represented her 3-D modeling software for art.

Goldsleger played a key role in arranging LASER, Thorp said. She is also a full-time researcher and exhibitor of art and travels in order to bring interesting people, art and culture into the Augusta area.

Dr. Paul Weinberger, director of research in the Department of Otolaryngology at Augusta University and the third speaker, presented his findings from the perspective of a surgeon. He used 3-D printing for a “rapid fabrication and prototyping” process that was both fun and creative.

Finally, the last speaker was Amanda Behr, the director of Clinic for Prosthetic Restoration at Augusta University. Behr presented her work dealing with “Art for Healing,” as she called it. Her work in facial prosthetics – a form of Anoplastology – used both art and science in order to artificially recreate parts of the human body for medical use.

“Technology fits in when trying to find cost-effective ways to create a detailed prosthesis,” Behr said during her presentation.

Erica Langsam, a student at Augusta University and attendant of LASER, was impressed overall with the show and was interested in Behr’s presentation on Anoplastology.

“I definitely wasn’t aware of how much art goes into science, let alone the medical field, and the different aspects of design that help teach medical techniques,” Langsam said.

Toward the end, Talasek directed a questions-and-comments discussion that allowed the audience to participate. President Keel was one of the many who participated.

“One thing that I want to sort of keep in mind is that we have a very unique opportunity at this university that I don’t think any other university in this country, and I mean that quite sincerely, has and that is that we are a brand-new university with a 187-year history,” Keel said.

“And we have a completely blank slate to determine what our university is going to be for the next 187 years… It would be a real travesty if we did not take your advice and continue this conversation, and I think it would be a real disaster if we don’t take this university and think way outside of the proverbial box that everybody thinks universities should behave and function in, and really take that blank slate opportunity and really create something that’s new and unique.”

He ended on a note that challenged the faculty, students, artists and researchers of Augusta University to continue to explore new ways of bringing the arts and sciences together.

Contact Anna Dresser at:



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