Science Hall Colloquium

Tag: Science Hall Colloquium

Relationship Between Musical Ability and Second Language Skills Examined in Science Hall Colloquium

The relationship between musical skills and the ability to better recognize unfamiliar speech sounds when learning a second language will be examined in a Lawrence University Science Hall Colloquium.

Lawrence University Professor of Psychology Terry Gottfried presents “Music and Language Learning: Relation of Musical and Linguistic Tone Perception” Tuesday, May 10 at 4:15 p.m. in Science Hall, Room 102. The event is free and open to the public.

A specialist in the perception of speech and sound, Gottfried will discuss the findings of his recent research with Lawrence conservatory students which indicates musicians hold a significant advantage over non-musicians in identifying and producing unfamiliar speech contrasts in a foreign language.

In his study, listeners who had never studied Mandarin Chinese were presented with words that differed only in lexical tone. While non-native listeners had trouble detecting the tonal differences, the musicians were significantly more accurate in their identification and discrimination of the words. The musicians also were more successful in imitating these words than non-musicians.

Gottfried argues that abilities or skills associated with being a musician are related to skills necessary to learn a new speech sound contrast.

With the support of a grant from the Norwegian Marshall Fund Committee, Gottfried recently conducted research in Trondheim, Norway, in which he investigated factors that help or hinder language learners in speaking and understanding a second language.

Part of this research investigated differences in how Norwegian listeners, in comparison to Danes, perceive the vowel contrasts of their native and their second language. He also studied whether the use of linguistic tones in Norwegian provides native speakers of that language with an advantage in learning the lexical tones of Mandarin Chinese.

In 2001, he was awarded a fellowship by the Fulbright Scholar Program for a teaching and research position in the English department of Aarhus University in Denmark, teaching courses on the psychology of language and speech science.

A member of the Lawrence psychology department since 1986, Gottfried earned his bachelor’s and doctorate degrees at the University of Minnesota.

Dark Energy: University of Chicago Physicist Unravels Mystery of the Universe’s Secret Force in Lawrence University Colloquium

University of Chicago cosmologist Sean Carroll discusses the mysterious “dark energy” that scientists believe accounts for 70% of what makes up the universe in a Lawrence University Science Hall Colloquium.

Carroll, assistant professor of physics at the University of Chicago, the Enrico Fermi Institute and the Kavli Institute for Cosmological Physics, presents “Our Preposterous Universe” Monday, May 2 at 4:15 p.m. in Science Hall, Room 102. The event is free and open to the public.

According to Carroll, what people think of as ordinary matter — atoms and molecules, stars and planets — actually accounts for less than five percent of the known universe. In his talk, Carroll will address current theories, which are based on such observations as gravitational pull and galaxy dynamics, that suggest the presence of an unseen, unknown form known as dark energy that some scientists believe is the most abundant substance in the universe. Among the most widely held theories Carroll will discuss is the existence of “vacuum energy,” a minute amount of energy that is inherit in the very fabric of space-time itself.

Carroll, whose research interests focus on the fundamental laws of physics and how they are revealed in the evolution of the universe, joined the University of Chicago faculty in 1999 after spending three years in the physics department at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. He earned his Ph.D. in physics at Harvard University.

Lawrence University Physicist Discusses Electron Plasma Research in Science Hall Colloquium

Lawrence University physicist Matthew Stoneking discusses his current research with electron plasmas and their potential role in the future production of electric power Monday, April 25 in a Science Hall Colloquium.

Stoneking presents “Confining Electron Plasmas in a Toroidal Magnetic Field” at 4:15 p.m. in Science Hall, Room 102. The event is free and open to the public.

In his presentation, Stoneking will outline some basic plasma physics experiments in which electrons are trapped in a toroidal (doughnut-shaped) magnetic field. He will explain how charged particles, which flow along magnetic field lines like beads on a wire, can be exploited in experiments that might lead to a nuclear fusion type of power source.

Pure electron plasmas are collections or “clouds” of electrons that are confined in a vacuum chamber using magnetic and electric fields. Stoneking’s research focuses on the criteria needed for confining a stable electron plasma in a toroidal magnetic field and the factors that limit the duration of the confinement in such systems.

Since joining the Lawrence physics department in 1997, Stoneking has received three grants in support of his research, including a $178,000 grant from the National Science Foundation in 2003. He earned his Ph.D. in physics at the University of Wisconsin.

Lawrence University Psychologist Examines Role of Ambivalent Attitudes in Gender Inequality

The role benevolent and hostile attitudes play in perpetuating gender stereotypes will be the focus of a Lawrence University Science Hall Colloquium Thursday, March 10.

Peter Glick, professor of psychology at Lawrence, presents “Bad but Bold vs. Wonderful but Weak! Ambivalent Attitudes Towards Both Sexes Reinforce Gender Inequality” at 4:15 p.m. in Science Hall, Room 202. The event is free and open to the public.

In the address, Glick will share the findings of a 16-nation study he helped conduct that examined traditional attitudes towards men and women and how those attitudes related to gender inequality. He will discuss how traditional hostile qualities often associated with men, such as arrogance and hyper-competitiveness, can still reinforce the idea that men are likely to remain “in charge.” Conversely, he also will look at how traditionally benevolent attitudes toward women that tend to characterize them in a positive manner, such as pure and moral, reinforce the notion that women are the “weaker sex” in need of men’s protection.

As a social psychologist, Glick has conducted extensive research on both the subtle and the overt ways in which prejudices and stereotypes foster social inequality. He and his research associate, Susan Fiske of Princeton University, developed the Ambivalent Sexism Inventory, which has been administered to more than 30,000 people in 30 countries.

In 2004, Glick was accorded Fellow status by both the American Psychological Society and the American Psychological Association, the world’s largest scientific and professional organization, for his “outstanding contributions in the field of psychology.”

A member of the Lawrence faculty since 1985, Glick earned his bachelor’s degree in psychology at Oberlin College and his Ph.D. in social psychology at the University of Minnesota.

Marine Biologist Examines Role of Oceanic Microbes in Global Warming in LU Sci Hall Lecture

The crucial role played by one of Earth’s tiniest and most abundant life forms — microbes — in one of the planet’s biggest challenges — global warming — will be the focus of a Lawrence University Science Hall Colloquium.

David Kirchman, a 1976 Lawrence graduate and the Maxwell P. and Mildred H. Harrington Professor of Marine Studies at the University of Delaware, presents “Global Climate Change from a Microbial Ecologist’s View” Friday, Dec. 3 at 12:15 p.m. in Science Hall, Room 102. The event is free and open to the public.

Since the start of the Industrial Revolution, man has been altering the earth’s climate through the release of several gigatons of greenhouse gases into the atmosphere every year, resulting in a gradual upward rise in global temperatures.

To better predict the impact of the greenhouse gas effect, Kirchman is studying various microbes — marine phytoplankton, bacteria and archaea — because of their abilities to affect the production and consumption of carbon dioxide and some of the other greenhouse gases.

Kirchman will detail his research with bacterial microbes, particularly those found in the western Arctic Ocean, and the processes they control in the global carbon cycle. He also will discuss the genetic potential of microbes in the oceans using genomic and other molecular approaches.

A magna cum laude graduate from Lawrence with a degree in biology, Kirchman earned his Ph.D. in environmental engineering from Harvard University. He is the editor of the 2000 book “Microbial Ecology of the Oceans.”

LU Grad, University of Michigan Researcher Discusses Role of Biomolecular “Conversations”

University of Michigan postdoctoral researcher Rebecca Whelan will discuss the challenges of understanding the biological signals that occur within the human body and how those signals are communicated in a Lawrence University Science Hall Colloquium.

Whelan, a 1996 Lawrence graduate, presents “Eavesdropping on Biomolecular Conversations” Monday, Nov. 15 at 4:15 p.m. in Science Hall, Room 102. The event is free and open to the public.

Whelan will detail two strategies she is utilizing in her research with biological molecules, particularly proteins, to better understand how molecules communicate with each other and how they ultimately process the information that enables people to see, hear, digest food and even fend off microscopic invaders.

In the treatment of diseases, many therapeutic drugs act by specifically helping biological molecules communicate with one another or by preventing unwanted molecular “conversations” from occurring. Proteins play a critical role in human health and Whelan’s research is helping unravel questions about how proteins function in the body and shed more light on which drugs might be most effective in treating diseases.

After graduating summa cum laude from Lawrence with a degree in chemistry and English, Whelan earned her Ph.D. in chemistry at Stanford University in 2003. She joined the University of Michigan’s chemistry department as a postdoctoral fellow that same year. In January, Whelan will join the faculty of Oberlin College as an assistant professor of chemistry.

Health Care Specialist Analyses Bush, Kerry Health Plans in Lawrence University Science Hall Lecture

With health care reform once again near the top of the political agendas in this year’s presidential election, Lawrence University economist Marty Finkler analyzes the programs proposed by the two major party candidates and the feasibility of their implementation in a Lawrence Science Hall Colloquium.

Finkler presents “Health Care Reform: The Tradeoffs Before Us” Tuesday, Oct. 26 at 4:30 p.m. in Science Hall, Room 102. The event is free and open to the public.

A specialist in health care economics, Finkler will provide a brief history of health policy reform as well as an overview of the cost and quality of and access to health care services. The talk will examine the tradeoffs that collective decision-making requires and how neither of the two major proposals seriously addresses these choices.

According to Finkler, the Bush proposal might be feasible, but it does little to address the fundamental choices whereas the Kerry proposal, while not likely to be feasible, does at least make a serious effort to address part of the problem. Neither proposal, says Finkler, contains a credible funding mechanism.

Finkler, a member of the Lawrence faculty since 1979, co-founded the Menasha-based consulting firm Innovative Health Associates in 1993. A former Robert Wood Johnson Faculty Fellow in health care finance, he earned a bachelor of arts degree in mathematics at the University of California-San Diego, a master’s degree at the London School of Economics and Political Science and his Ph.D. in economics at the University of Minnesota.

Prominent Researcher, LU Grad Discusses Creation and Uses of Specialized Film Materials in Science Hall Lecture

Gregory Exarhos, a fellow at the Pacific Northwest National Laboratory in Washington, will discuss the process of creating specialized film materials that are both transparent and able to conduct electricity and the numerous applications for such materials in a Lawrence University Science Hall Colloquium.

A 1970 graduate of Lawrence, Exarhos presents “Conductive Transparent Coatings: Smart Windows for Consumer Electronics” Thursday, Oct. 21 at 4:15 p.m. in Youngchild Hall, Room 115. The event is free and open to the public.

Exarhos will discuss two distinct methods that have been used for more than 100 years to produce film
materials that possess both transparency and conductivity properties and how those materials are used in products ranging from solar cells for energy generation to switches for fiber optic communications to large area panels for lighting applications.

The author of eight patents, Exarhos is an associate director in the Fundamental Science Directorate at PNNL, where his research interests focus on the development of dielectric films, post-deposition modification of films and the preparation of nanocomposite materials.

Prior to joining the PNNL, Exarhos taught in the chemistry department at Harvard University and served as a consultant to the U.S. Department of Defense on the design and development of microwave-absorbing coatings. In addition to his fellow status at PNNL, Exarhos holds an adjunct professor of physics appointment at Washington State University.

After completing his bachelor’s degree in chemistry and physics at Lawrence, Exarhos earned his Ph.D. in physical chemistry at Brown University.

Defying Constituents Wishes: Lawrence University Political Scientist Discusses Why Elected Officials Can Do It

Political scientist Christian Grose examines the reasons why elected representatives can support positions contrary to the voters of their district and still get re-elected in a Lawrence University Science Hall Colloquium.

Grose, assistant professor of government at Lawrence, presents “Why do Legislators Deviate from their Constituents’ Preferences” Wednesday, Oct. 13 at 4:30 p.m. in Science Hall Room 102. The event is free and open to the public.

Grose will discuss recent research he has conducted on elected officials’ “valence advantage,” that is, those advantages a representative has that are unrelated specifically to policy decisions, such as personal charisma, constituency service or the delivery of federal largess to district constituents. His findings indicate that the amount of money or “pork” that an elected representative is able deliver to his/her state or district is directly related to the extent to which that representative can take positions that are contrary to the views of his or her constituents.

A specialist in congressional representation and behavior, elections and public opinion, Grose joined the
Lawrence faculty in 2002. The recipient of the American Political Science Association’s 2004 Carl Albert Award for the nation’s best doctoral dissertation in the area of legislative studies, Grose earned a bachelor’s degree in political science and history at Duke University and his Ph.D. in political science at the University of Rochester.

Nobel Laureate Discusses Breakthrough Research on Absolute Zero in Lawrence University Science Colloquium

Nobel Prize-winning scientist Eric Cornell, whose ground-breaking research resulted in cooling atoms to the lowest temperature that had ever been achieved, discusses his work and the bizarre things that occur at these extremely low temperatures in a Lawrence University Science Hall Colloquium.

Cornell presents “Stone Cold Science: Things Get Weird Around Absolute Zero” Thursday, Oct. 14 at 4:15 p.m. in Youngchild Hall, Room 121. The event is free and open to the public.

In 1995, Cornell and his research partner Carl Wieman, used laser light and the process of evaporative cooling to achieve a temperature a few billionths — 0.000,000,001 — of a degree above absolute zero, a temperature far colder than even the farthest depths of deep space. Cornell will explain how and why scientists reach such record low temperatures and the unusual ways atoms behave in this ultra-cold state.

Cornell joined the scientific staff at JILA, one of the nation’s leading research institutes jointly operated by the University of Colorado and the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST), in 1990. He holds Fellow status at JILA, is a senior scientist at NIST and has a faculty appointment in the physics department at the University of Colorado. A graduate of Stanford, he earned his Ph.D. from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

In addition to winning the 2001 Nobel Prize for Physics, Cornell was the recipient of the 2000 Benjamin Franklin Medal in Physics from the Franklin Institute, which recognizes outstanding achievement in science and technology, was awarded the 1998 Lorentz Medal by the Royal Netherlands Academy of Arts and Sciences in recognition of important contributions to physics and the 1997 King Faisal International Prize for Science for significant advances that benefit humanity. He is a member of the National Academy of Sciences and a Fellow of the Optical Society of America.