curioCITY: Bones to Botany!


And we have one more fantastic curioCITY* event under our belt (see last month’s post)!! This month, we had the privilege of having Dr. Aravind Athiviraham, Specialist in Orthopedics Sports Medicine at the University of Chicago, and Matt von Konrat, Botanist at The Field Museum speak to us about their respective careers (and all the connections between them). I came into the event a bit curious– I knew doctors and botanists both had a background in biology, and that plants could be used medicinally, but I wanted to see if the connections extended beyond the subject matter as they had at the Art that Rocks event.

*“curioCITY brings a Field Museum scientist together with a cultural professional for a conversation about the pathway that lead them to their current career.”
Like last month, the setup was very busy and exciting. This month, we decided to host curioCITY in the Grainger Digital Media Studio for a more intimate setting, and I was really happy with the result. We decorated the whiteboards, set up activities, started up some music, and laid out snacks. By the time other teens started arriving for the event, we were all ready and excited.

For those of you that haven’t attended a curioCITY event yet (which you totally should!), we often have a ‘social hour’ during the event to get to know our audience. This month, we had it at the beginning, and I’m happy to say that I saw many familiar faces from the last event. Next month, I’m hoping to see even more (one girl I talked to is interested in forensics which ties perfectly with our next event).
We once again had a whiteboard with some fun icebreakers, but we also had new activities, such as sports stamps and a mini basketball hoop. And I’ll be honest, this was perfect because our group was a very active bunch– soccer, basketball, volleyball, swimming, running, etc: they did it all.

When Dr. Athiviraham and Dr. von Konrat took the stage, the conversation died down, and we all turned our attention to the front of our room. Amelia and Berat, our emcees, started off the discussion in a fun way, asking what superpower each guest would like to help them with their job. Dr. von Konrat said super-vision because many of the plants he looks at are so tiny. Dr. Athiviraham said the ability to see what would happen next because it’s often hard to predict how a patient’s body will react to something. On the surface, these superpowers seem totally different, but as they explained themselves, I started to see parallels in how they thought. In both of their careers, the more you were able to perceive, the better you could perform. As a result, although the powers they chose were different, they served the same purpose. I found it interesting that even from that first question, you could already see the similarities.



As the talk continued, the same types of parallels emerged. When Dr. von Konrat said learning about plants “exposed [him] to a whole microscopic world [he] didn’t know existed,” Dr. Athiviraham echoed his sentiment. When both were asked about what ‘discovery’ meant to them, their answers built upon each other, from it means excitement, to it means innovation, to it means incremental change/improvement. And while I found the physical applications of botany in medicine astounding, what really resonated with me was this same mentality and love for what they did.

By the engaged looks on other audience members’ faces and their questions in the Q&A portion of the event, I think they felt the same. Even the speakers took away a connection. As the event came to a close, each thanked the other for the fantastic conversation and more importantly for the connections they were able to find. I’m happy that once again all of our participants were able to find the connections.


Thanks! And hope to see you all next month for curioCITY: Fishing for Clues, May 6th at 1pm at The Field Museum! Register for the event at


What was your favorite part of the event? Comment below!


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