Bioluminescent plankton

Image credit: Iyvone Khoo


Join us Thursday, November 4, at 7 pm PT for a free NightSchool livestream!

Ever wondered what makes certain plants and animals glow in the dark? Join a panel of bioluminescence experts for a deep dive into the inner workings of nature’s glow, including what it can teach us about our relationship with beneficial bacteria, the surprising evolutionary clues it unlocks, and how it has inspired artists and scientists alike.

  • Although many marine organisms are bioluminescent, not all produce light the same way: some species make their own light, whereas more than 500 species of fish and squid rely on a special symbiotic relationship with luminous bacteria to fuel their glow. Join the Academy’s very own Dr. Alison Gould as she shares all about bioluminescent symbioses and what they can teach us about our own relationship with beneficial bacteria.
  • Unlock a new lens through which to view nature aglow with artist Iyvone Khoo, an artist specializing in bioluminescence-related projects. Khoo will give an artist’s perspective on the natural phenomenon, and share the process and challenges of observing bioluminescent plankton to create their art installation Infinity Cube.
  • Although bioluminescence seems like a once-in-a-lifetime phenomenon, bioluminescent systems independently evolved over 90 times! Join UCSB doctoral candidate Emily Lau as she explains the diversity of bioluminescent systems and what they can teach us about convergent evolution, plus details on the biochemical basis of bioluminescence systems and how luminous organisms might acquire molecules to produce light.

All NightSchool virtual programming is intended for audiences 21+.



Missed the party? Just want to relive the magic? Watch the recorded livestreams on YouTube!


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Upcoming ticketed museum events

August 18th at 6:00 pm

Join us for an evening dedicated to the inspiring intersections of science and art.

August 25th at 6:00 pm

From fossil-inspired Pokémon to classic games & a Super Smash Bros. tournament, this NightLife it’s Game On.

September 1st at 6:00 pm

Explore the Academy at night alongside nearly 40,000 live animals. For adults 21+.

September 8th at 6:00 pm

Behold as both humans and animals use the power of illusion to mystify your senses for one magical night.

September 15th at 6:00 pm

Even us night owls could use a little more sleep. Hit snooze and hang with us at our dreamiest NightLife yet.

September 22nd at 6:00 pm

See what’s revealed once the sun goes down and explore the nocturnal side of the Academy. For adults 21+.

Upcoming free virtual events

August 18th at 7:00 pm

Animals don't use GPS to navigate the world around them, so how do they do it?