Liberty Science Center Hosts May 1 Genius Gala Honoring Amazon’s Jeff Bezos, Google’s Vint Cerf, & Alien Hunter Jill Tarter

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Jersey City, NJ – April 16, 2015 – Liberty Science Center will bestow its coveted Genius Awards on Jeff Bezos, founder and CEO of Amazon; Vint Cerf, “Father of the Internet” and now Chief Internet Evangelist at Google; and SETI astronomer Jill Tarter of “Contact” fame at its Genius Gala 4.0, an extravagant celebration of science and creativity on Friday, May 1, 2015 in Jersey City, NJ.

“Our three 2015 Genius Award winners are singularly brilliant men and women,” said Paul Hoffman, President and CEO of Liberty Science Center. “These out-of-the-box geniuses deserve to be honored in an out-of-the-box way.” The LSC Genius Awards club has nine other members: Sir Richard Branson, Garry Kasparov, Jane Goodall, Oliver Sacks, Temple Grandin, Dean Kamen, Sylvia Earle, Craig Venter, Cori Bargmann, and Ernő Rubik.

The Genius Gala begins at 6pm. Seven hundred movers and shakers from New York and New Jersey will walk the green carpet and pose for “dronies” (photos taken from hovering quadcopters), mingle with R2-D2, challenge a fist-pumping Rubik’s Cube-solving robot over cocktails, and watch a hair-raising one-million-volt Tesla Coil Lightning Show—all before a four-star dinner.

David Blaine, the renowned endurance artist and LSC’s own Magician-in-Residence, returns as the program’s featured performer. Ultimate scholar-athlete John Urschel (he’s a Baltimore Ravens offensive linesman and an elite mathematician) will be one of the celebrity presenters at the Genius Awards ceremony.

Former NJ Governor Tom Kean, who presided over the groundbreaking of Liberty Science Center in 1989, will receive a literally “out-of-this-world” 80th birthday salute. Speaking of people who have been out of this world, guests will meet some of them, too.

New drawings for SciTech Scity, an unprecedented and ambitious initiative by LSC and Jersey City to turn 16-acres of underdeveloped city land into a campus for science and technology entrepreneurship and education, will debut publicly at the event.

The gala is being led by a veritable “Who’s Who” of NY/NJ and national business leaders and philanthropists. EY’s Americas Managing Partner Steve Howe is the Corporate Chair. Co-Chairs are: David Barry, President and CEO of Ironstate Development Company; Jennifer A. Chalsty, Director, Advisory Council, James Buchanan Brady Urological Institute, Johns Hopkins University; Kevin Cummings, President & Chief Executive Officer of Investors Bank; Dan Fireman, Co-Founder of Liberty National Golf Course; James J. Gerace, Chief Communications Officer of Verizon; Robert J. Hariri, MD, PhD, Chairman and Founder of Celgene Cellular Therapeutics; Carl R. Kuehner III, CEO of Building and Land Technology; Ralph LaRossa, President and COO of Public Service Electric & Gas Company; Robert A. Marino, Chairman, President and CEO of Horizon Blue Cross Blue Shield of New Jersey; Christopher Martin, Chairman, President and CEO of Provident Financial Services Inc.; John Overdeck, Co-Chairman and Co-Founder of Two Sigma; Laura Bilodeau Overdeck, Founder and President of Bedtime Math; Carlos Rodriguez, President and CEO of Automatic Data Processing, Inc.; Marilyn and Jim Simons, Simons Foundation; John Strangfeld, Chairman and CEO of Prudential Financial, Inc.; Josh S. Weston, Honorary Chairman of Automatic Data Processing, Inc.; Jeffrey J. Wilcox, Vice President of Engineering, Lockheed Martin Corporation; and Matthew E. Zames, COO of JPMorgan Chase & Co.

About the Honorees

JEFF BEZOS is the founder and CEO of, the world’s largest online retailer. He is a technology entrepreneur who has played a key role in the growth of e-commerce. A graduate of Princeton, he is also the founder of Blue Origin, a human spaceflight company. In 2013, he became the owner of The Washington Post. He was named Time magazine’s Person of the Year in 1999.

VINTON GRAY “VINT” CERF is Chief Internet Evangelist at Google. He is widely regarded as the “Father of the Internet” for his work at Stanford and DARPA in the 1970s. His numerous honors include the U.S. National Medal of Technology, the ACM Alan M. Turing Award (popularly known as “the Nobel Prize of Computer Science”), and the Presidential Medal of Freedom.

JILL TARTER occupies the Bernard M. Oliver Chair for SETI Research (Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence) at the SETI Institute in Mountain View, California. In 2004, Time magazine named her one of the 100 most influential people in the world. She is responsible for coining the term “brown dwarf” for stars that lack sufficient mass to sustain hydrogen fusion. Jodie Foster played a woman based on Tarter in the 1997 film Contact, adapted from Carl Sagan’s novel of the same name.

DAVID BLAINE, the celebrated endurance artist, is Liberty Science Center’s magician-in-residence, combining science with magic to create even more astonishing feats. After spending three days and nights bathed in the continuous one-million-volt blast of seven Tesla Coils at New York City’s Pier 54, Mr. Blaine donated two Tesla Coils to LSC.

The honorees and performers have generously volunteered their time and talents in support of the Science Center’s mission to expose learners of all ages to the power, promise, and pure fun of science and technology. No honorariums or appearance fees are paid. No robots have been injured. All Gala proceeds benefit LSC’s exhibitions and programs—onsite, offsite, and online.

Ticket prices start at $1,250 per guest with options for table sponsorship up to $100,000. For more details, please visit

About Liberty Science Center

Liberty Science Center ( is a 300,000-square-foot not-for-profit learning center located in Liberty State Park on the Jersey City bank of the Hudson near the Statue of Liberty. Dedicated to bringing the power, promise, and pure fun of science to people of all ages, Liberty Science Center houses 12 museum exhibition halls, a live animal collection with 110 species, giant aquariums, a 3D theater, the nation’s largest IMAX Dome Theater, live simulcast surgeries, tornado and hurricane-force wind simulators, K-12 classrooms and labs, and teacher-development programs. More than half a million students, teachers, and parents visit the Science Center each year, and tens of thousands more participate in the Center’s offsite and online programs. LSC is the most visited cultural institution in New Jersey with 600,000 visitors annually and the largest interactive science center in the NYC-NJ metropolitan area.

Media Contact:
Mary Meluso