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March 2, 2022

'Wonder House' makes its debut at SXSW

  • What: The University of Arizona will host three days of speakers, musicians and immersive experiences at the "Wonder House" at the 2022 South by Southwest Conference and Festivals.
  • When: March 11-13, 11 a.m. to midnight each day
  • Where: Fogo de Chao, 309 E. 3rd St., Austin, Texas
  • Schedule: A full list of speakers and a schedule of events and entertainment are available at

TUCSON, Ariz. — The University of Arizona is bringing "Wonder" to Austin.

The University's "Wonder House" will make its long-awaited debut at the 2022 South by Southwest Conference and Festivals, offering three days of speakers, musicians and immersive experiences.

It's a vision that has been evolving for the better part of three years, according to Misha Harrison, executive director of experience in Marketing and Brand Management.

"To say we're excited to finally debut everything this incredible team has worked so hard to develop would be a massive understatement," Harrison said. "I'm just so proud to be involved with so much inspired creativity."

The name "Wonder House" represents the University of Arizona's brand: WONDER.

The full list of speakers and a schedule of events and entertainment are available online. More speakers are expected to be added as March 11 approaches.

Here are just a few of the talks planned:

Friday, March 11

Naturally Adaptive Building Tech: Aletheia Ida
Future building technologies can be sustainably based on the fundamental mechanisms of the natural ecology – specifically, nature's ability to adapt to change. Ida, an architect and associate professor at UArizona, will explore the Sonoran Desert's natural laboratory and discuss prototypes for intelligent and adaptive building mechanisms.

When: 11 a.m.
Where: Rooftop Stage

Days of Drought and Flood: Jessica Tierney
Humanmade emissions have driven carbon dioxide levels in the atmosphere higher than any time in the last 2 million years. The effects of climate change can be seen in drought, floods, more intense storms and sea level rise. Tierney, an associate professor of geosciences, looks to past climates on Earth to help prepare for the future.

When: Noon
Where: Surround Stage

When Touch Is Out of Reach: Kory Floyd and Mary-Frances O'Connor
Social interaction and interpersonal affection are important human needs that have gone unfulfilled for many during the COVID-19 pandemic. Experts say that now more than ever, people need to be intentional about how we meet our needs for connection and touch.
When: 4 p.m.
Where: Rooftop Stage

Building Machines That Understand Humans: A Hybrid Conversation between Adarsh Pyarelal and Winslow Burleson
"ToMCAT," the Theory of Mind-Based Cognitive Architecture for Teams, is a DARPA-funded project aimed at developing artificial intelligence with a "theory of mind," and creating artificial intelligence that is a good teammate to humans.
When: 5 p.m.
Where: Surround Stage

Gourmet Insects: Goggy Davidowitz and Chef Janos Wilder
By 2050, humans will experience a giant food gap, while nearly 30% of food produced in the U.S. ends up in landfills. This will result in increased demand for alternative protein sources and the need for a viable solution to food waste. Two potential solutions: protein-based ingredients like insect flour powered by food waste, and a new public perception of gourmet insects.
When: 6 p.m.
Where: Rooftop Stage

Overcoming Challenges to Gather Dust from the Early Solar System: Dani DellaGiustina
NASA's UArizona-led OSIRIS-REx asteroid sample return mission was designed without exact knowledge of the surface of the mission's target asteroid. So, when the spacecraft arrived at asteroid Bennu in 2018, it met an asteroid very different than predicted. Yet, it still captured a sample. UArizona assistant professor DellaGiustina, OSIRIS-REx lead image processing scientist, will explore the engineering design principles that allowed the mission to overcome several unexpected challenges.

When: 7 p.m.
Where: Surround Stage

Saturday, March 12

Personalized Nutrition and Wellness: Transforming Sick-Care to Well-Care: Floyd "Ski" Chilton
A person's genetic makeup can affect everything from resistance to viral infections to risk of developing chronic disease. Using targeted metabolic and data science methods, precision nutrition can help individuals across diverse communities achieve optimal health.
When: Noon
Where: Surround Stage

Adventures in Citizen Science: Katy Prudic and Theresa Crimmins
From casual backyard observers to serious outdoor adventurers, citizen or community scientists are shaping our understanding of the natural world and regional impacts of climate change.

When: 1 p.m.
Where: Rooftop Stage

The Power of Representation in Preventing LGBTQ+ Youth Suicide: Chelsea Farrar and Russ Toomey
Nearly three decades of research documents that LGBTQ+ youth think about and attempt suicide at alarmingly higher rates compared to their heterosexual and cisgender peers. Mapping Q is an arts-based suicide prevention program for LGBTQ+ youth in Arizona. Mapping Q provides youth with the language, tools and voice to overcome societal discrimination and stigma.
When: 4 p.m.
Where: Rooftop Stage

Tijuana, Tucson and Mars – Borders as Network: David Taylor and Mariel Miranda
This session will examine the past, present and possible futures of borders. Taylor and Miranda, with the UArizona School of Art, will examine the border as a geopolitical demarcation, a set of fictional/fantastic representations, a locus of community resistance and a set of contingent circumstances that have implications at the local, regional and global level.
When: 5 p.m.
Where: Surround Stage

Sunday, March 13

The Futuristic Farms and Resilient Rooftops that are Saving Tomorrow: Kai Lepley and Kirk Dimond
Lepley, a doctoral student in the School of Geography, Development and Environment, and Dimond, an assistant professor of landscape architecture in the College of Architecture, Planning and Landscape Architecture, will examine Southwestern resilience and the cutting edge of feeding and energizing cities with only drops of water. Using vertical, stackable functions and learning from the intelligent patterns of nature, humans can thrive in increasingly challenging environments.

When: 11 a.m.
Where: Rooftop Stage

StellarScape Premiere (2 p.m.) and Producer Q&A (3 p.m.): Kay He, Winslow Burleson and Chris Impey
StellarScape is an immersive multimedia piece that tells the story of a massive star, from its birth to its death, using music, dance, science, visual art and technology.
When: 2 p.m.
Where: Surround Stage

De-stress your environment and get healthier with the 7 domains of integrative health: Dr. Esther Sternberg and Dr. Rocky Crocker
Sternberg and Crocker, with the Andrew Weil Center for Integrative Medicine, will discuss the importance of lifestyle in health and wellbeing and the seven "core areas," or domains of integrative health. They will also look into the future of the field and offer practical tips to incorporate integrative health principles into one's everyday life.

When: 3 p.m.
Where: Rooftop Stage

The "Wonder House" will also be home to several immersive experiences each day. They include "Ripple Effect," an art installation designed by Dorsey Kaufmann, a multimedia specialist in the Department of Environmental Science, that visualizes water quality data through sound, light and water; Monsoon VI by Mike Olbinski; the sights and sounds of the Sonoran Desert; and several 360-degree virtual reality short films.

For those unable to visit the "Wonder House" in person, UArizona will be sharing highlights via social media using the hashtag #UArizonaSXSW and on the university's SXSW website. Full talks will be available for viewing on the website the next day.