Dark Matter

an outreach exploring the relationship between science and art, and the unique pressures faced by students in the world of advanced degree academics.

dark-matter-movie-poster Inspired by actual events, Dark Matter delves into the world of Liu Xing, a Chinese cosmology student pursuing a Ph.D. in the United States in the early 1990s. At first, his experience is a rush of expectation and optimism. But the story takes a harrowing turn as Liu Xing’s connections begin to unravel. He clings to the idea of American science as a free market of ideas, but in the end, his dissertation is rejected as result of professional jealousy. Left alone with his shattered dreams, Liu Xing becomes a ghost-like presence at the university and ultimately explodes in a final act of violence. www.darkmatterthefilm.com

Campus Violence Outreach:

With increasing frequency our educational communities are impacted by traumatic acts of campus violence. Through discussions about Dark Matter, students, parents, teachers, administrators, campus safety officers, and psychologists can explore the important questions on how to ensure safe and healthy campus life.

  • How can we address the multi-dementional factors that lead to campus violence?
  • What can we do to help students before problems arise?
  • What ways can we create healthier campus communities?


“I wanted to explore in greater depth the forces that give rise to such violence. I tried to make a film to send a message to say that we have to find a way to prevent further tragedies from happening.”

~Chen Shi-Zheng, director of Dark Matter

Chen Shi-Zheng, director of Dark Matter, speaks with a group of PhD students and scientists

Chen Shi-Zheng, director of Dark Matter, speaks with a group of PhD students and scientists

Science Outreach:

Dark Matter has sparked a dynamic collaboration between Hollywood’s independent filmmakers and those pushing the boundaries of scientific knowledge. Fusing two worlds that are often separate, representatives from universities and science organizations are cooperating with award-winning artists in a joint exploration of the interplay between science and art:

  • How can scientific inquiry help us understand human behavior?
  • What’s the role of art in addressing the intense pressures in research environments?
  • When does science become “art”? What is the role of creativity in scientific exploration?

We invite you to share in this amazing meeting of the screening room and the lab room where two great forces for understanding our world are joining hands to illuminate the mysteries and equations of the human heart.

Adrian Quinn on the set of Dark Matter

Adrian Quinn on the set of Dark Matter

Asian Cultural Outreach:

Asian Americans, especially first generation, face intense cultural challenges both in family life and society in general. We are creating a forum in which Asian Americans can voice what is often a private and internal struggle and support each other through common challenges.

  • How can we help students balance family expectations with their American experience?
  • What can be done to combat “model minority” steroetypes in order to address often unspoken challenges?

International Asian Students:

International students, as new immigrants, often experience difficulties integrating into American life and reconciling their ideas about the US with their real experiences in the US. We desire to break down cultural barriers, increase communication, and encourage mutual respect and support between Asian and American students on college campuses.

  • How can we create a more open intercultural dialogue?
  • What can be done to offer more support to foreign Asian students?

“When I arrived here I experienced a sense of dislocation and culture clash – sometimes humorous, sometimes heartbreaking – felt by many young Chinese students who come to this country, and by the film’s protagonist, Lui Xing. I see Dark Matter as an opportunity to explore the mysterious and powerful forces unleashed when a young Chinese immigrant strives to make his mark in a culture that is at once seductive and impenetrable.”
~Chen Shi-Zheng, director of Dark Matter

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