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Margaret Wertheim

Vice-Chancellor’s Fellow in Science Communication, The University of Melbourne

Margaret Wertheim is an internationally noted writer and exhibition curator whose work focuses on relations between science and the wider cultural landscape. The author of six books, including "The Pearly Gates of Cyberspace," a groundbreaking exploration of the history of Western concepts of space from Dante to the Internet, she has written for the New York Times, Los Angeles Times, The Guardian, and many other publications. She is a contributing editor at Cabinet.

Wertheim is the founder and director of the Institute For Figuring, a Los Angeles-based organization devoted to the aesthetic and poetic dimensions of mathematics and science. ( Through the IFF, she has designed exhibitions for galleries and museums in a dozen countries, including the Hayward Gallery in London and the Smithsonian’s National Museum of Natural History in Washington D.C. The IFF’s “Crochet Coral Reef” project – spearheaded by Margaret and twin sister Christine – is the largest participatory science-and-art endeavor in the world, and has been shown at the Andy Warhol Museum (Pittsburgh), the Science Gallery (Dublin), New York University Abu Dhabi, and elsewhere. Through an unlikely conjunction of handicraft and geometry, the Crochet Coral Reef offers a window into mathematics while addressing the issue of reef degradation due to global warming. Wertheim’s TED talk on the topic has been viewed more than a million times, and translated into 20 languages, including Arabic.

In 2012 she served as the University of Southern California’s inaugural Discovery Fellow, designing participatory programming that engaged students across campus from science, engineering and humanities faculties. A highlight of the project was building a giant model of a fractal out of 50,000 business cards. Wertheim is currently a Vice Chancellor’s Fellow at the University of Melbourne.


  • –present
    Vice-Chancellor’s Fellow in Science Communication, University of Melbourne