Science on Tap: Secrets of Spider Webs

We’re exploring the space where science and culture intersect, and we’re doing it over drinks. 

dr. cherylGrab a brew and pull up a chair for Science on Tap with Dr. Cheryl Hayashi!

Date and Time

Thursday, October 17, 2019
6:00 p.m. social hour with bar, snacks, and trivia
7:00 p.m. lecture


$5 members, $10 non-member
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Dr. Cheryl Y. Hayashi -- Curator, Professor, and Leon Hess Director of Comparative Biology Research

What is really known about spider silk? In this lecture, Dr. Hayashi  shares results from the latest discoveries about the mysteries of silk synthesis, which spiders have held secret for several hundred million years. Spiders are the superstars of the natural world when it comes to spinning silk. Although they  never evolved wings, spiders can use silk to go airborne and travel vast distances by ballooning through the atmosphere. Silk allows spiders to trap and subdue creatures that are many times their size. Capable of remarkable feats, spiders and their web-spinning abilities have been the inspiration for ancient legends, beloved children’s books, comics, and movies. 

About the Speaker

Cheryl Hayashi, a curator in the American Museum of Natural History’s Division of Invertebrate Zoology, a professor in the Richard Gilder Graduate School, and the Leon Hess Director of Comparative Biology Research, is one of the world’s top experts on spider silk. Dr. Hayashi studies the characteristics of spider silks as well as the relationship between spider genomes and their ability to make silks. Hayashi also investigates silks from other arthropods (such as caterpillars), non-fibrous proteins such as glues, and comparative analysis of spider silk biomechanics. Her findings, already advancing our understanding of spider phylogenetics, also have the potential to influence the development of biomimetic material for a variety of applications, from tissue scaffolds and medical devices to lightweight vehicle parts. Dr. Hayashi earned her B.S. and Ph.D. degrees from Yale University. She was a postdoctoral fellow at the University of Wyoming and was on the faculty at the University of California, Riverside, prior to joining the American Museum of Natural History in 2017. She was a recipient of the prestigious MacArthur Fellowship from the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation. See a video of her work here.