Emotions in Art and Science: A Path to Creativity

Conference / Symposium
For NYU Community

digital illustration of brain exploding


Wednesday, April 18, 2012

6:00-7:30 p.m.

Brilliant ideas are often born in unexpected ways--from Archimedes shouting "Eureka" in the bathtub to the accidental invention of the Post-it Note. But despite all that is known about the brain, the mechanisms that drive creativity remain a mystery. 

On Wednesday, April 18, NYU-Poly will host an exploration of the creative mind through the eyes of four distinctly different panelists. Two scientists and two musicians will take the stage at Pfizer Auditorium to discuss the collision of emotion, artistry and intellect in the creative process. 

Please join us for a lively debate about the role of creativity in both art and science, and learn how tapping the opposing forces of intellect and irrationality may be the secret to fueling creativity. 


Sandra Huret, PhD and Professor of Psychology, Université de Montréal in Canada

Roberto Scarcella Perino, Composer and Senior Lecturer, Italian Studies, New York University. Scholar-in-residence, American Institute for Verdi Studies 

Howard Fishman, critically-acclaimed singer, guitarist, composer and bandleader 

Maurizio Porfiri, PhD, Associate Professor of Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering, NYU-Poly   

Speaker Biographies


Born in France, Sandra Huret studied in France and Germany. She received a DESS post-graduate degree in cognitive psychology from the University Paris V, Psychology Institute and a Ph.D. degree in psychology from the University of Paris with a specific program in “Emotionpsychologie und Affektive Neurowissenschaft” from the Freie Universität of Berlin; a Ph.D. in psychology from the University of Paris (“Mention Très Honorable” and “Prix de Thèse de Doctorat”). Since completing a post-doctoral fellowship in Germany one year ago, she has been a lecturer in France. She is also a professor at Université de MontréalPsychology Department, Montreal, Canada. Her work is focused on creativity, emotions and cognitive mechanisms. To keep alive the ideas of the famous psychologist and neurologist Alexander Luria, she pursues her work among individuals, alone or in collaboration on projects in Monaco, New York, Paris, Nice, Montreal and Avignon. Her wish is first and foremost to preserve the discipline of psychology as defined by Luria himself: “a romantic science.”  Huret is also an author and musician.


Roberto Scarcella Perino is a composer and a senior lecturer at the Italian Department and a scholar in residence at the American Institute for Verdi Studies. Born in Messina, Italy, he has been the recipient of numerous high honors and awards, including an International Competition for Children’s opera and the Musical Analysis International Competition N. Slonimskij. He holds degrees in piano and in composition from the Conservatory Martini in Bologna. He also studied composition at Accademia di Santa Cecilia and in Milan at Accademia Petrassi, and conducting at the Julliard School of Music. He has written three operas: Verdi, Merli e Cucú, A Caval Donato, and Blackout; three ballets: Colapesce, Constellations, and Basket-Dance. He graduated from the University of Bologna in with a degree in musicology and he taught music analysis at the Arturo Toscanini Foundation in Parma. Every summer, Scarcella Perinoteaches a course on Italian opera at NYU Florence.


Howard Fishman began his career on the streets of New Orleans and in the subways of New York, experiences that still resonate in his “disarmingly un-showbizy” concerts (Backstage). A pioneer of the Brooklyn music scene, Fishman brings a feeling to a room that is reunion-like. He filters his deep passion for New Orleans soul through a completely original aesthetic to create a sound entirely his own. He has been featured as a headlining performer on major stages worldwide, including Lincoln Center (as part of the American Songbook Series), the New York Guitar Festival at Merkin Concert Hall, the Steppenwolf Theatre, and The Pasadena Playhouse. His travels and omnivorous curiosity inform his constantly expanding repertoire of special projects. Fishman is a storyteller, a seeker, a cultural anthropologist, and “an important force in creative music” ( 


Maurizio Porfiri was born in Rome in 1976 and now happily resides in Brooklyn. He received M.Sc. and Ph.D. degrees in engineering mechanics from Virginia Tech; a “Laurea” in electrical engineering and a Ph.D. in theoretical and applied mechanics from the University of Rome “La Sapienza” and the University of Toulon (dual degree program). Since 2006, he has been a member of the faculty of the Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering Department of the Polytechnic Institute of New York University, where he is currently an associate professor. His work is at the interface of mechanical systems and biology, specifically focusing on the interaction between animals and robots. He is the author of more than 85 journal publications, and his research has been featured in numerous major media outlets, including CNN, Discovery Channel, and NPR. He has received the National Science Foundation CAREER award, an Outstanding Young Alumnus award from the Virginia Tech College of Engineering of Virginia Tech, and has been named to the Popular Science
“Brilliant 10” list for young scientists.