Tag: Science Hall Colloquium

Stanford Scientist Tom Baer ’74 Discusses Photonics’ Role in Combating Global Warming

Thomas Baer, a 1974 Lawrence graduate and executive director of the Stanford Photonics Research Center at Stanford University discusses the role photonics technologies are playing in the implementation of strategies designed to lessen the possibility of radical climate changes due to global warming in a Lawrence University Science Hall Colloquium.

Thomas Baer

Baer presents “The Global Impact of Photonics: Renewable Resources, Climate Change and Energy Conservation” Monday, Sept. 26 at 4:30 p.m. in Thomas Steitz Hall of Science, Room 102.

Photonics, one of the world’s fastest growing high-tech industries, is expected to be a critical factor in multi-faceted strategies designed mitigate the impact of rising atmospheric levels of carbon dioxide, including the development of alternative non-carbon energy sources and the replacement of existing infrastructure with more energy efficient technologies.

Recognized in 1994 with Lawrence’s Lucia Russell Briggs Distinguished Achievement Award, Baer has been awarded more than 60 patents. He is a Fellow in the American Association for the Advancement of Science and The Optical Society of America, an organization he served as president of in 2009.

Founded in 1847, Lawrence University uniquely integrates a college of liberal arts and sciences with a world-class conservatory of music, both devoted exclusively to undergraduate education. Ranked among America’s best colleges, it was selected for inclusion in the book “Colleges That Change Lives: 40 Schools That Will Change the Way You Think About College.” Individualized learning, the development of multiple interests and community engagement are central to the Lawrence experience. Lawrence draws its 1,520 students from 44 states and 56 countries.

Science Hall Colloquium Features Documentary Film on Wolf/Moose Interactions

Chicago independent filmmaker George Desort’s documentary film “Fortunate Wilderness,” based on a half-century study of predator/prey interactions, will be screened Tuesday, May 11 at 7:30 p.m. in the Warch Campus Center cinema as part of a Science Hall Colloquium. The event is free and open to the public.

Desort will introduce the film and conduct a question-and-answer session following the film.

In making the film, Desort spent four years with wolf biologists Rolf Peterson and John Vucetich in Upper Michigan’s Isle Royale National Park, a collection of islands covering 206 square miles in the northwest corner of Lake Superior. The two researchers have been examining the relationship between wolves and moose for 50 years, making their work the longest continuous study of predator/prey interactions ever conducted in the country.

ISU Psychologist Explores Reactions to Stigmas in Lawrence University Sci Hall Colloquium

The origins of people’s psychological reactions to social stigmas, once defined by noted sociologist Erving Goffman as “a discrediting difference,” will be the focus of a Lawrence University Science Hall Colloquium.

John Pryor, professor of psychology at Illinois State University, shares the latest research on the topic in the address “A Social Cognition Perspective of Stigma” Thursday, May 18 at 4:15 p.m. in Science Hall, Room 102. The event is free and open to the public.

While traditional social reactions to stigmas — drug abuse, cancer, HIV disease, mental illness, obesity and paraplegia, among others — have typically centered around avoidance of the “bearer of the mark,” research has shown people often hold ambivalent feelings about many stigmas, feeling both sympathy and repulsion. Pryor will discuss social cognition research methods that examine how both negative and positive psychological reactions to stigmas can unfold over a matter of just a few seconds. He also will examine implications for anti-stigma interventions.

A Fellow of both the American Psychological Association and the American Psychological Society, Pryor spent six years on the faculty at the University of Notre Dame before joining the psychology department at Illinois State in 1985.

He has published numerous scientific studies regarding stigma in the last 20 years and his research related to HIV disease has been funded by the National Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the Ford Foundation. He earned a bachelor’s degree in psychology from the University of Texas, and a master’s and doctorate degree in psychology from Princeton University.

Lawrence University Science Hall Colloquium Looks at Maximizing Robotic Planning

The latest research developments to enable robots and other “automated planning agents” to maximize their on-board computational powers will be the focus of a Lawrence University Science Hall Colloquium.

Kurt Krebsbach, associate professor of computer science at Lawrence presents, “Planning to Plan: Deliberation Scheduling using GSMDPs,” Thursday, April 13 at 4:15 p.m. in Science Hall Room 102 The lecture is free and open to the public.

With limited computational resources such as time, memory and partial information, robots in realistic (over-constrained) situations are unable to produce the perfect sequence of actions because the “deliberation” required to do so is unavailable. The problem of deliberation is magnified when acting and planning occur concurrently because satisfactory plans must be constructed in time to be executed.

Just as people in the real world are forced to “think about what to think about” all the time, Krebsbach says researchers are turning to meta-planning, or “planning to plan,” to help robots determine which planning activities are worthwhile given the constraints of the situation at hand.

In his presentation, Krebsbach will discuss how the problem of deliberation scheduling is being addressed by “decision-theoretic approaches based on recent advances in Generalized Semi-Markov Decision Processes (GSMDPs).” This first-ever application of GSMDPs to the problem of deliberation scheduling will allow computer scientists to more accurately model domains in which planning and execution are concurrent, plan-improvement actions have uncertain outcomes and durations and events, such as threats, occur randomly.

A specialist in artificial intelligence and automated planning, Krebsbach joined the Lawrence faculty in 2002. A 1985 Lawrence graduate, he earned bachelor’s degrees in both music and mathematics/computer science. He holds an M.S. and Ph.D. in computer science from the University of Minnesota.

Ocean Drilling Research at Great Australian Bight Subject of LU Science Hall Lecture

University of South Florida paleo-oceanographer Albert Hine will discuss his research with the Ocean Drilling Program along the continental margins of southern Australia in a Lawrence University Science Hall Colloquium.

Hine, associate dean of research at USF’s College of Marine Science, presents “Big Waves, Extreme Aridity, Strange Reefs and Poisonous Gas All Seen in the Cool-Water Carbonate Sediments of the Great Australian Bight” Wednesday, March 29 at 4:15 p.m. in Science Hall, Room 102. The event is free and open to the public.

Hine will discuss the findings of ocean drilling conducted on carbonate rocks deposits such as limestone and dolostone in the Great Australian Bight, the largest area in the world for these types of sediments. Observations from this drilling expedition provide clues to how carbonate systems respond to climate change and may shed light on the environmental conditions represented by the sedimentary bedrock of the upper Midwest.

A specialist in coastal geology and the geologic processes of shallow marine sedimentary environments, Hine has conducted scientific ocean drilling research around the world. In addition to his work as co-chief scientist at the Great Australian Bight drilling, Hine has studied the geologic history of margin environments off the coasts of Iceland, Bermuda, the Bahamas, western Canada as well as the Nicaraguan Rise in the Caribbean Sea and the Marion Plateau in the Coral Sea.

Hine joined the USF College of Marine Science faculty in 1979. He earned his bachelor’s degree in geology from Dartmouth College and his Ph.D. in geology at the University of South Carolina.

Music and Motor Movement Examined in Lawrence University Science Hall Colloquium

The relationship between music and physical coordination and the clues music may offer for basic motor coordination research will be examined Thursday, March 2 in a Lawrence University Science Hall Colloquium.

John Paul Ito, assistant professor of music at Lawrence, presents “What Performing Musicians and Motor Control Scientists Can Learn from Each Other” at 4:15 p.m. in Science Hall Room 102. The lecture is free and open to the public.

A former professional violist, Ito investigated modes of physical coordination and their expressive consequences for his Ph.D. in music theory. In his address, he will discuss some of the ground-breaking work on movement coordination formulated by famed Russian neurophysiologist Nikolai Bernstein during the first half of the 20th-century. He will argue that the outdated theories of Bernstein’s predecessor, Ivan Pavlov, may in some cases continue to haunt performing musicians, leading them to conceive of their tasks in ways that may not be maximally effective. According to Ito, musicians may benefit from looking at performance from a more Bernsteinian perspective.

The address also will explore the ways in which studying several smaller, embedded motions within the context of a larger, single motion, such as those performed by musicians, could help lead scientists to a better understanding of the organization of movement.

A member of the Lawrence conservatory faculty since 2004, Ito earned a bachelor’s degree in music from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, a master of music in viola performance from Boston University and Ph.D. in music theory from Columbia University.

Latest Robotic Developments Focus of Lawrence University Science Hall Colloquium

Paul Rybski, a systems scientist at the Carnegie Mellon University Robotics Institute, discusses his research and contributions to the development of robots that can determine their own internal “state” as well as that of other nearby robots Thursday, Feb. 23 in a Lawrence University Science Hall Colloquium.

A 1995 Lawrence graduate, Rybski presents, “Robust State Estimation for Intelligent Physically-Embodied Systems” at 4:30 p.m. in Science Hall Room 102 The lecture is free and open to the public.

Due to limited on-board computational power and imprecise sensing systems, researchers are working on novel artificial intelligence techniques by which robots that operate in natural real-world settings can perceive and interact with humans as well as other robots.

Rybski will discuss new research developments in the field of robotics and intelligent sensing which include: spatial reasoning techniques for small robots with limited on-board sensing that allow them to explore and build maps of their environments; algorithms that allow multiple robots to share information about their world and develop consistent world models in the face of sensor and communications errors; and recent results on an algorithm for visual object recognition that “learns” objects by observing how they are used by people.

Rybski, whose research interests include robust high-level environment modeling for sensor-poor robotic systems and distributed control of robot teams, started his robotics research at Lawrence as part of his senior honors project. He was a mathematics/computer science major at Lawrence with an interdisciplinary emphasis in cognitive science and earned a master’s and doctorate degree in computer science at the University of Minnesota.

After completing his Ph.D., he accepted a post-doctoral fellowship at CMU’s Robotics Institute in 2003 and was appointed to the faculty there as a systems scientist last July.

Lawrence University Graduate Discusses Development, Uses of Mass Spectrometry in Science Hall Colloquium

Gary Van Berkel, an award-winning researcher at the Oak Ridge National Laboratory, discusses the development and applications of mass spectrometry Tuesday, Oct. 18 in a Lawrence University Science Hall Colloquium.

A 1982 Lawrence graduate and Appleton native, Van Berkel presents “What is Mass Spectrometry?” at 11:10 a.m. in Science Hall Room 102. The lecture is free and open to the public.

Van Berkel will provide an overview of the history of mass spectrometry and explain how this important analytical technique is used to identify unknown compounds, quantify known compounds and clarify the structure and chemical properties of molecules. He also will examine some of the practical uses of mass spectrometry, ranging from the detection and identification of steroids in athletes to determining gene damage caused by environmental factors.

A member of the Oak Ridge National Laboratory’s staff since 1987 and the leader of the lab’s Organic and Biological Mass Spectrometry Group since 2001, Van Berkel was honored in June with the Biemann Medal by the American Society for Mass Spectrometry. The international award recognizes significant achievement in basic or applied mass spectrometry. Van Berkel was cited for his research contributions related to the electrochemical nature of the electrospray ion source.

After earning a bachelor’s degree in chemistry from Lawrence, Van Berkel earned a Ph.D. in analytical chemistry from Washington State University.

Distinguished NIH Researcher Discusses Gene-Environment Interactions in Lawrence Science Hall Colloquium

Renowned primate researcher Stephen Suomi discusses his work on biobehavioral development and some of the factors that contribute to the stability of such social traits as fearfulness and aggressiveness in a Lawrence University Science Hall Colloquium.

Suomi, chief of the Laboratory of Comparative Ethology at the National Institute of Child Health & Human Development at the National Institutes of Health in Bethesda, Md., presents “How Gene-Environment Interactions Can Shape Individual Difference in Emotional Regulation in Rhesus Monkeys” Thursday, Oct. 6 at 4:30 p.m. in Science Hall, Room 102. The talk is free and open to the public.

Suomi’s extensive research has uncovered the complex and often surprising ways genes and the environment interact and suggests nurturing mothers may alter gene expression in baby rhesus monkeys. In his presentation, he will address the degree to which his findings on monkeys studied in captivity also apply to monkeys living in the wild as well as to humans living in different cultures.

One of the preeminent scholars in his field, Suomi has delivered more than 300 invited talks, symposium presentations and convention papers at nearly 100 colleges and universities, including UC-Berkeley, Cambridge, Harvard, Princeton, Stanford and Yale. He also has written or co-written more than 300 published articles in scientific journals and chapters in edited volumes.

Suomi joined the NIH’s National Institute of Child Health and Human Development division in 1983 after beginning his professional career as a faculty member in the psychology department at the University of Wisconsin. In addition to his work at the NIH, he also holds appointments as a research professor at the University of Virginia, the University of Maryland and the Johns Hopkins University.

Smile Power: Lawrence University Psychologist Dicusses Laughter as a Coping Mechanism in Science Hall Colloquium

Lawrence University psychologist Matthew Ansfield discusses his latest research on the paradox of positive facial expressions, such as smiling, in response to anxiety-provoking events Tuesday, May 24 in the Science Hall Colloquium “When Laughter is (and is not!) the Best Medicine.” The presentation, at 4:15 p.m. in Science Hall, Room 102, is free and open to the public.

Ansfield will discuss the findings of studies he has conducted, as well as the research of others, on the use of laughter and humor as a coping mechanism when dealing with potentially distressing situations. The presentation will focus on what his research reveals about how laughter and humor can, at times, be beneficial both to people’s emotional and physical well-being as they attempt to cope with negative life experiences.

As a social psychologist, Ansfield specializes in the fields of nonverbal behavior and mental control of thought and action. In addition, he has written broadly on the subject of lies, deception and deception detection.

He joined the Lawrence psychology department in 2000 after spending three years on the faculty at Southern Methodist University. He earned his bachelor’s degree in psychology at the University of Wisconsin-Madison and his Ph.D. in social psychology at the University of Virginia.