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Cornell University is one of a handful of academic institutions with a collection of breathtakingly beautiful glass invertebrate models created by the 19th century father-son glass-sculpting team, Leopold and Rudolf Blaschka. In her new book, A Sea of Glass (University of California Press, 2016), professor of ecology and evolutionary biology Drew Harvell documents an amazing journey guided by the Blaschka's brilliant artistry.

Working from drawings made in the course of ocean-faring expeditions of the day, over their lifetime the Blaschkas created over 10,000 intricate, life-size sculptures of marine life as it was found in oceans not yet touched by climate change and other large-scale human activity. Over 150 years later, A Sea of Glass takes readers on the voyage of a lifetime, recounting discoveries made in rarely seen underwater environments populated by of some of the most surprising and ancient animals on earth. Harvell's quest: Learning how the astonishingly beautiful creatures rendered so brilliantly in glass by the Blaschkas over a century ago are faring in the beleaguered oceans of our 21st century world.

In a book talk given at Mann Library Oct. 27, in conjunction with Mann's special fall 2016 exhibit program, "Exploring a Sea of Glass: A Celebration of Art, Biology and History Through the Works of Leopold and Rudolf Blaschka," Harvell presents some of the wondrous sights and sobering lessons of her exploration.