Exploring the Elements: A Salon-Style Dialogue - Atlas Obscura

Austin, Texas

Exploring the Elements: A Salon-Style Dialogue

Join Atlas Obscura & GORE-TEX Brands for a spirited lakeside discussion featuring incredible humans pushing the boundaries of innovation and exploration.

This SXSW, join us at the Waller Creek Boathouse for a fascinating conversation between inspiring visionaries in the fields of innovation and exploration. Atlas Obscura’s co-founder and bestselling author Dylan Thuras will host a waterfront chat with groundbreaking artists, scientific researchers and specialized experts working to create astounding innovations that push the limits of human exploration.

A complimentary brunch of locally-sourced ingredients and custom cocktails will be served.

This experience is part of In the Element, a two-day activation presented by Atlas Obscura & GORE-TEX Brands at the Waller Creek Boathouse on Lady Bird Lake.

Featured Panelists:

Wasfia Nazreen is a National Geographic Explorer & Adventurer and the only woman to hold these simultaneous titles. Although she is most known for being the first Bangladeshi and Bengali in the world to climb the Seven Summits, aka the highest mountains of every continent, her passion has always been driven by causes close to her heart. She's the founder of Ösel Foundation and has won numerous national and global awards for her activism and commitment to empowering women through the field of adventure. She was named by Outside magazine as one of 40 women in the last 40 years who have advanced and challenged the outdoor world through their leadership, innovation, and athletic feats, and by Men's Journal as one of the 25 most adventurous women of the past 25 years. 

Andy Cavatorta is an artist and researcher working with physical sound and robotics. His work explores technologically mediated emotions, opportunities to express the previously inexpressible, and how we make meaning with sound. He is a graduate of the MIT Media Lab. Recipient of the Lincoln Prize. Recent collaborations include Björk and Matthew Herbert. Recent exhibits include MoMA, TED, The Royal Opera House, and short documentaries by National Geographic, Vice, and Stella Artois.

Christine Dennison was the first woman to scuba dive and explore the icy waters of the Canadian High Arctic’s Northwest Passage and the Brazilian Amazon’s Rio Negro and tributaries, and is the co- founder and President of Mad Dog Expeditions. Her additional diving exploration includes technical wreck dives of historic shipwrecks around the world. She was the only American on a team of 5 women to ski to the North Pole as part of a polar conservation expedition and was the only woman on the 2010-2013 expedition team that discovered and documented the WWII Submarine USS R-12. Christine’s current projects include consulting with Tiburon Subsea Inc, a company that promotes the use of underwater robotics for exploration, discovery and research. She is an ocean and polar expedition specialist and an on-air expert for international media that includes: CNN, (Espanol/International), BBC, SKY TV, FOX News and CBC.

Kellie Gerardi is an aerospace and defense strategist as well as a Scientist-Astronaut Candidate with Project PoSSUM (Polar Suborbital Science in the Upper Mesosphere), the first crewed suborbital research program, studying our upper atmosphere and how it relates to our understanding of global climate change. She has flown multiple microgravity research flights as a payload specialist. Kellie led a 2014 crew expedition to the Mars Desert Research Station (MDRS), a prototype laboratory used by a variety of national space agencies and scientists to conduct analog Martian field research and simulate long-duration spaceflight. A popular science and technology communicator, Kellie has appeared across a broad range of television and print publications, including guest appearances on ABC’s "The View" and “Nightline”, and profiles in Vogue, Popular Mechanics, and Popular Science.

Sara Ellis is a Product Specialist for W.L. Gore & Associates, Inc., and currently supports bringing new product innovation to the consumer apparel market under the GORE-TEX brand. In close collaboration with technology, supply chain, sales, and marketing, Sara aims to bring GORE-TEX fabrics to market which make outdoor and athletic endeavors more enjoyable. How does she do this? Through Gore's approach of using sound comfort science, understanding end use requirements, and rigorous testing. Ellis lives by the Scandinavian proverb, "There is no such thing as bad weather, only bad gear."


  • As an extension of In the Element, this event is strictly 21+; I.D. required.
  • Limited capacity; priority given to SXSW badge holders.
  • Advance RSVP is highly recommended.


Email Emma at emma.suojanen@atlasobscura.com.