Get to Know Krista Ulman

10/9/2020
Krista, smiling, holds a plate of homemade bone-shaped cookies
Courtesy of Krista Ulman

Krista hold a plate of homemade bone-shaped cookies, baked to fuel a brainstorming session for the Dogs! A Science Tail exhibition.

Krista Ulman is an exhibit developer at the Science Center, and as her title suggests, she helps create the fun, interactive exhibits that help bring science to life. The ability to create engaging and impactful experiences requires that a developer be equally as passionate about the content as they are about the guest experience. Krista begins each of her projects by researching the scientific topic that will inspire the exhibit. Then, she works with the content team to create a core set of educational messages that guides the exhibit development process. Finally, she writes the text that describes the exhibit in detail and finds images that most represent the experience. The goal is to create exhibits that inspire science learning in all of our guests.

From a young age, Krista loved learning about how the world works. So, it makes sense that she focused on finding a job that combined her creative side with her love of science. Five and a half years ago, when Krista moved to Los Angeles, she was drawn to the work done at science centers. She loved how the exhibits have the ability to inspire countless numbers of people and wanted to be a part of a team that created those experiences. She got her opportunity when she met Jennifer Lawrence, the Science Center’s senior exhibit developer, in a professional development course. Krista was introduced to the exhibit development department and taken on as a volunteer. Within a few months, her expertise and passion landed her a permanent position as part of the team.

Krista has master’s degrees in history and museum studies, and working on the traveling exhibition, Dogs! A Science Tail was a perfect fit because its content incorporates science, history, culture, and even politics. The exhibition highlights the extraordinary ways that our canine companions navigate through the world and contains exhibits that allow you to experience how dogs see, hear and smell. The exhibit also describes the history of dogs’ unique relationship with humans. Krista also loved meeting a whole bunch of adorable dogs, which always brightened her day.

One of Krista’s most memorable moments occurred while she was doing research for the Dogs! exhibition. As part of her research, Krista was given the opportunity to visit the National Disaster Search Dog Foundation training center. They have a huge outdoor facility dedicated to training dogs to sniff out and rescue people in challenging and dangerous situations. The environments simulate the conditions that the dogs would face in real life emergencies, including rescues from collapsed structures, rubble piles, vehicle wrecks and wilderness ravines.

Krista’s favorite exhibit is the Ice Wall in the Polar Zone gallery. It reminds her of experiences she had as a child growing up in Minnesota. She loves watching the way people react when they touch the frozen ice wall and feel the chill.

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“It’s so funny to see the kids shriek when they touch the ice with their bare hands. Plus, it’s nice to go into the Polar Zone and cool down on hot days.”

-Krista Ulman

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Try It!

Ice wall in the Poles area of the Extreme Zone
© Tracie Spence Photography

Inspired by the Ice Wall, Krista created an exhibit that you can do at home!

Ice cube challenge!

Fill a plastic Ziploc bag with ice cubes. Hold it in your bare hands. Time yourself—how long can you hold it before it gets too cold? Now collect a few other materials from around your home. Try things like a sheet of aluminum foil, a glass baking pan, wool socks, an oven mitt, a fleece jacket, or a down comforter. One at a time, place these objects between your hands and the bag of ice. Time each one—how long can you hold the ice now? What material gives your hands the greatest protection from the cold? Can you guess why?