On a spring afternoon in 2014, dozens of people gathered to watch as Anthony Morgan was blanketed neck-to-toe in garbage bags with the edges duct-taped to a glass window on a storefront on Queen Street West in downtown Toronto. With the tape ensuring an airtight seal, a vacuum cleaner was used to suck the air out of the bags, vacuum-sealing him to the window. An assistant pulled away the step-stool that Morgan had been standing on; still, he stayed firmly in place.
“It was easily one of the best days of my life,” says Morgan, who has been enthusiastically bringing science to the public for the past 15 years. He’s currently completing his PhD in TMU’s Department of Chemistry and Biology. “I figured, if you go to a really busy intersection in downtown Toronto at five o’clock on a Friday and do something interesting enough, people will probably stop and look.”
Morgan is now reaching an even larger audience as a part of the long-running CBC TV series The Nature of Things, sharing hosting duties with Sarika Cullis-Suzuki. Cullis-Suzuki, a marine biologist and science communicator, is one of long-time host David Suzuki’s five children. After hosting the show for 44 seasons, Suzuki announced his retirement last year.
“In some ways, it was just luck–being in the right place at the right time,” Morgan says of landing the gig at The Nature of Things. On the other hand, he’s been doing science on TV for about a dozen years, working on shows that have aired on the CBC, TVO and the Discovery Channel (where he hosted a regular segment on Daily Planet). Through all of that, one question has kept him going: “How do you engage the public with science in ways that are unexpected and entertaining?”
In 2014, Morgan also founded Science Everywhere, a science-focused media and events company that was incubated in the TMU Science Discovery and Transmedia Zones. “We were doing pop-ups on the street, lots of weird science, designed to catch people’s attention and get them asking questions,” he says.
Hand lettering by Hannah Browne.