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March 3, 2023

Wonder House returns to SXSW

  • What: The University of Arizona will return to the annual South by Southwest Conference and Festivals for four days of speakers, music and immersive experiences at the Wonder House.
  • When: March 11-14, noon to midnight each day
  • Where: Café Blue Downtown Austin, 340 E. Second St., Austin, Texas
  • Schedule: A full list of speakers and a schedule of events and entertainment are available on the university's SXSW website

TUCSON, Ariz. — The University of Arizona Wonder House will return to Austin, Texas, this month for the 2023 South by Southwest Conference and Festivals, offering four days of speakers, music and immersive experiences.

The Wonder House made its debut at last year's SXSW, with researcher talks about edible insects, ways to de-stress your environment and how to gather dust from the early solar system. Other experiences last year included 360-degree virtual reality short films and multimedia art installations.

This year, the Wonder House will take over Café Blue Downtown Austin, roughly a block away from last year's location and within walking distance of the Austin Convention Center, where the main festival is held.

"I'm excited to see that we are investing in SXSW again, as it is an excellent platform for our thought leaders," said Misha Harrison, executive director of experience in Marketing and Brand Management. "We have a strong showing this year with faculty speakers from several colleges focused on big systems including health, climate, cybersecurity, digital humanities, history, media, politics and the arts. Many of these presentations will showcase Arizona's prowess with big data and translation to needed, helpful insights."

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.

Some of the planned talks include:

Saturday, March 11

Harnessing the Power of Food as Medicine: Dr. Shad Marvasti
The American diet is sad – and it's making us sick, says Marvasti, director of public health, prevention and health promotion at the UArizona College of Medicine – Phoenix. He will explain how we can change our systems of medicine, food production and even fast food delivery for a healthier country.
When: 1 p.m.
Where: Surround Stage

Cannabis is Here. So Let's Understand It: Todd Vanderah
With the increasing legalization and use of marijuana throughout the country, we have a duty to ourselves and our society to understand its potential benefits and harms, says Vanderah, professor and head of the Department of Pharmacology and director of the UArizona Comprehensive Pain and Addiction Center. He will discuss the ups and downs of cannabis as found in the research, and what the future could hold.
When: 4 p.m.
Where: Surround Stage

A Guide to Inventing the Future: Erika Hamden
Hamden, an assistant professor and assistant astronomer in the UArizona Department of Astronomy and Steward Observatory, will explain why progress isn't the result of one brilliant idea, quickly and swiftly executed, but rather driven by new technology and by the imperfect, slow and laborious work that goes into technology development.
When: 5:30 p.m.
Where: Surround Stage

Sunday, March 12

Myth Busting: Women, Competitiveness, and Equity: Mary Rigdon
Rigdon will show that, despite what you think or have heard, there is no gender competitiveness gap. Rigdon is director of the UArizona Center for the Philosophy of Freedom and an associate professor in the Department of Political Economy and Moral Science. Her research makes a business and ethical case for greater inclusion, equity and opportunity to place more women on boards and in C-­suites.
When: 1 p.m.
Where: Surround Stage

Political Common Sense in Four Easy Steps: Keith Allred
Allred, the executive director of the university's Washington, D.C.-based National Institute for Civil Discourse, will explain why Americans are growing more polarized by virtually every measure, except on the issues themselves. It may look like an unbreakable deadlock, Allred says, but he'll explain how the more than 50,000 members of the Commonsense American program have dramatically improved bipartisan congressional problem solving.
When: 2:30 p.m.
Where: Surround Stage

Gaming the Past: History as Time Travel: Alison Futrell and Paul Milliman
Futrell and Milliman, associate professors of history, developed educational content for Age of Empires IV Illuminated History Experience, a supplement to the popular real-time strategy game, which allows players to earn credit toward their college degrees. The two historians will discuss how the partnership opens new possibilities for creative and meaningful virtual time travel.
When: 5:30 p.m.
Where: Surround Stage

Monday, March 13

Latino/a/x Cultures and Media: Going Global: Jessica Retis
The U.S. is becoming the second-largest Spanish speaking country in the world, yet media companies still look at the Latinx market as a block, leading to missed opportunities in coverage, editorial and market share, says Retis, director of the UArizona School of Journalism and founder of its Master of Arts in Bilingual Journalism. Retis will explain the origins of this diverse and bilingual audience, and how to better reach Latino, Latina and Latinx audiences. (Latinx is a gender-neutral term for people of Latin American descent.)
When: 4 p.m.
Where: Surround Stage

Immerse Yourself: How VR Can Revolutionize Learning: Bryan Carter
Educators and businesses of all sizes are investing in virtual reality to connect and learn in real time, says Carter, director of the UArizona Center for Digital Humanities. Carter's talk will ask you to imagine walking into an underground club in Digital Harlem in the 1920s,

When: 7 p.m.
Where: Surround Stage

Tuesday, March 14

Net Zero Urban Water Future: Reinventing Self-Sustaining Cities in the Southwest: Courtney Crosson
Innovation in urban water systems is required to address drivers of change across natural, built and social systems, says Crosson, director of the Drachman Institute in the College of Architecture, Planning and Landscape Architecture. Crosson, who is also an associate professor, will present a vision to enhance urban water system resilience through a Net Zero Urban Water approach.

When: 1 p.m.
Where: Surround Stage

Insights from Biosphere 2 about Biosphere 1 and Beyond: John Adams and Joost Van Haren
From a million-gallon ocean to study coral reef decline and restoration to a half-acre rainforest to test drought conditions, UArizona's Biosphere 2 – a laboratory that recreates biomes found on Earth – has much to teach us. Adams, Biosphere 2 deputy director and chief operating officer, and Van Haren, an assistant professor of research, will discuss how Biosphere 2 became the largest Earth science living laboratory and how researchers are using it for scientific exploration.
When: 2:30 p.m.
Where: Surround Stage

Climate Data is Power – to the People: Joellen Russell and Beth Tellman
As climate scientists – and moms – Russell and Tellman know that future generations depend on us making good decisions today about where and how to develop our human society and protect our planet. Russell is a University Distinguished Professor of Geosciences; Tellman is an assistant professor in the School of Geography, Development and Environment. The two will explain how, when we harness the power of big climate data, we can all make better decisions for our cities, countries and homes.
When: 4 p.m.
Where: Surround Stage

I Know What Your Water Did Last Summer: Laura Condon
Understanding and predicting watershed behaviors in a changing climate are big challenges, especially considering the current changes to move water for human habitation and agriculture, says Condon, associate professor in the Department of Hydrology and Atmospheric Sciences and principal investigator for a National Science Foundation project called HydroGEN, which will build a national platform for hydrologic forecasting. Condon will discuss how big data with simple tools can help city planners and water managers be smart about decisions with lasting ramifications.
When: 5:30 p.m.
Where: Surround Stage

The Wonder House will also include other experiences each day, including immersive short films between talks on the Surround Stage and chef demonstrations and tastings throughout the day at the bar/lounge and patio.

Catch the Santa Cruz Sound Experience on the patio from 8 p.m. to midnight on Saturday, March 11, featuring DJ DirtyVerbs with sounds of the Sonoran Desert, hand-drawn animations of Tucson storms by Tucson artist Alex! Jimenez, and tacos, elote, Sonoran hot dogs and churros prepared by the staff of Michael Omo, senior executive chef for the Arizona Student Unions.

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Media contacts:
Misha Harrison
Marketing and Brand Management

Pila Martinez
University Communications

The University of Arizona, a land-grant university with two independently accredited medical schools, is one of the nation's top 50 public universities, according to U.S. News & World Report. Established in 1885, the university is widely recognized as a student-centric university and has been designated as a Hispanic Serving Institution by the U.S. Department of Education. The university ranked in the top 20 in 2021 in research expenditures among all public universities, according to the National Science Foundation, and is a leading Research 1 institution with $770 million in annual research expenditures. The university advances the frontiers of interdisciplinary scholarship and entrepreneurial partnerships as a member of the Association of American Universities, the 66 leading public and private research universities in the U.S. It benefits the state with an estimated economic impact of $4.1 billion annually. For the latest on the University of Arizona response to the novel coronavirus, visit the university's COVID-19 webpage.

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