Science Cafés are a venue for students interested in the sciences and engineering to informally share their interests during a conversational exchange with faculty, staff and the community in a friendly setting.
All cafés start promptly at 5:00 pm in the Front Room located in Baker Center. Free coffee for the first 50 people.
Spring 2013 Discussions
Jan. 23: Jared Deforest, Environmental and Plant Biology, "Chemical Climate Change and Sustainability"
Feb. 6: Bob Klein, Mathematics
Albert Einstein once said, "Look deep into nature, and then you will understand everything better." According to Dr. Jared DeForest, associate professor of environmental and plant biology, the depths of nature are, quite literally, soil. "Atmospherically, Athens, Ohio is one of the most polluted areas in the United States," says Dr. DeForest. "We need to know how our activity of burning coal is affecting the way the ecosystems around us function, specifically in terms of what limits plant growth." Dr. DeForest looks to uncover the consequences of human activities on plants and ecosystems as a whole. He stresses that when talking about climate change, temperature and precipitation are not the only factors involved. "There are many other things happening. The nutrient availability of soil, if chemically altered, can have an immediate effect on ecosystem function," says DeForest. Join Dr. DeForest for his Science Café discussion, "Chemical Climate Change and Sustainability," at 5 p.m. on Wednesday, Jan. 23 in the Baker Front Room.
Every term in a mathematical function contributes to the answer to a problem. Similarly, every part of a student's learning environment contributes to their educational success. "Many really good researchers have focused on urban issues in education, but few have focused on rural communities and the obstacles and affordances to teaching good mathematics," says Dr. Bob Klein, professor of mathematics. Dr. Klein believes Southeast Ohio is the perfect place to observe and understand issues arising in rural math education. He points out that, unfortunately, many of these concerns get overlooked by the general public. "The media and popular culture venues have made education the target of condemnations and 'easy fix' pronouncements, misunderstanding how difficult the enterprise is," says Dr. Klein. "Teaching is brain surgery without the instruments." Join Dr. Klein for his Science Café discussion, "Math: What's Rural Got to Do with It?" on Wednesday, Feb. 6th at 5 pm in the Baker Front Room.
Feb. 20: Mario Grijalva, Biomedical Sciences
Near Valentine's Day, there's usually a kissing bug going around - couples expressing their love and affection with one another that, often times, is very contagious. Triatomines, "kissing bugs," however, spread a different contagion that lacks the warm, romantic feeling of Cupid's holiday."Chagas disease is a hidden disease," says Dr. Mario Grijalva, professor of biomedical sciences. "It is a disease of poverty found within the most vulnerable of the population. It contributes greatly to keeping its victims in poverty as well." Dr. Grijalva has developed the Healthy Living Initiative to help alleviate Chagas Disease in Ecuador by working with the community. He also takes a group of Ohio University students to Ecuador every year so that they can personally help improve the living conditions. "Science can be used very effectively as a driver of actions to improve people's lives. This is something that the Healthy Living Initiative has accomplished, and it's pretty great to see," he says. Join Dr. Grijalva for his Science Café discussion, "Combating Tropical Disease through Social Development," on Wednesday, Feb. 20th at 5 p.m. in the Baker Front Room.
**SPECIAL CAFE' CONVERSATIONS** Feb. 27: Michele Morrone, Environmental Sciences
Which of the following statements do you believe?
1)"There have been over 1,000 documented cases of water contamination next to areas of gas drilling as well as cases of sensory, respiratory, and neurological damage due to ingested contaminated water. In the end, hydraulic fracking produces approximately 300,000 barrels of natural gas a day, but at the price of numerous environmental, safety, and health hazards."
2) "Since the first use of hydraulic fracturing, producers have completed more than1.5 million fracturing jobs without one confirmed case of groundwater contamination from these fracked formations." Which of these statements has science to support it?
"The case of fracking is an example of the importance and limitations of science in framing discussion about policy related to environmental health issues," says Dr. Michele Morrone, professor of environmental sciences. This Café Conversations will focus on the current state of the science related to the public health impacts with hydraulic fracturing. Specifically we will explore public discourse related to the environmental and public health consequences of hydraulic fracturing in the context of scientific uncertainty. Join Dr. Morrone for her Café Conversations, "The Science? Of Fracking," on Wednesday, Feb. 27th at 5 pm in the Baker Front Room.
**SPECIAL CAFE' CONVERSATIONS** Mar 20: John Sabraw, Art
A scientist walks up to an artist at a bar; he turns to her and says, "Are you a 90 degree angle? Because you're looking right." Many people would guess that this relationship wouldn't last longer than the end of that pickup line. However, professor of art John Sabraw would argue that this couple might be the perfect match for each other. "The approach of art in questioning the world, in comparison to the perceived approach of science, can work together to provide rich ground for future projects and progress," says Sabraw. He is fascinated by metaphysical and pragmatic concerns regarding our universe and attempts to convey a sense of transcendence in all of his work. "My current research focuses on natural phenomena, the earth's ecosystem as a whole, and our role within that," says Sabraw. "This in turn has driven me to incorporate ever more sustainable practices in my studio and in my life." Join John Sabraw for his Café Conversations, "Fluid Potential: Why Scientists and Artists Should Get Together," on Wednesday, March 20th at 5 pm in the Baker Front Room.
**SPECIAL CAFE' CONVERSATIONS** Mar. 27: Tom Hodson, Journalism
Nowadays, you better be a celebrity to sit front row at the Super Bowl, walk the red carpet at the Grammys, or sit next to the president during his inaugural address. With rapidly evolving media, these activities may, in the future, be experienced simply by the everyday person with a TV set. "Media has changed more in the past five years than it has in the previous sixty years," says Tom Hodson, associate professor of journalism. Media started as a monologue by distributing information to its audience. It has since become a conversation between the media and consumer. Hodson expects the media to become an experience for consumers similar to gaming. "Most research conducted focuses on what has already happened. We want to flip that on its head and look at what will happen," he says. Join Tom Hodson for his Café Conversations, "The Future of Media," on Wednesday, March 27th at 5 p.m. in the Baker Front Room.
Apr. 3: Geoff Buckley, Geography
What U.S. city today consumes gasoline at the same rate as Americans did back in the 1920s? What are the top five most dangerous cities to live in if you do not own a car? Why is this a particularly good time for cities to incorporate sustainability goals into their long-term planning? "If we can figure out a way to live more sustainably in the urban and suburban context, we could make some incredible strides," says Dr. Geoff Buckley, professor of geography. "We need to make cities more livable places to attract people to live a lifestyle that is a lot healthier and a lot more environment-friendly." To date, sustainability thinking has focused largely on environmental issues. However, Dr. Buckley stresses that sustainability has three major components. "To truly be sustainable, you need to address economic and equity issues as well," he says. Join Dr. Buckley for his Science Café discussion, "Urban Sustainability: Challenges and Opportunities for the 21st Century," on Wednesday, April 3rd at 5 p.m. in the Baker Front Room.
Fall 2012 Discussions
Sept 05: Frank Schwartz, Specialty Medicine, "Socioeconomic Stress, Appalachia and Chronic Disease"
Sept. 19: Art Trese, Environmental & Plant Biology, "Sustainability: Alternative Agriculture"
Imagine sitting down to every meal with the constant uncertainty of not knowing when will be your next. This food insecurity anxiety is all too prevalent within many Appalachian residents, which may contribute to the development of severe chronic illnesses such as cardiovascular disease, diabetes and obesity. "It's sort of the link of the stress of not knowing where your next meal is coming from, the stress of having an insecure food supply and even just the feeling of resentment," says Dr. Frank Schwartz, professor of Endocrinology. For nearly 30 years, Dr. Schwartz has practiced in the Appalachian area examining the relationship between socioeconomic stress and chronic diseases. "The people who are poor are aware of it and resent it, and that causes physiological responses that are detrimental to them," says Dr. Schwartz. Join Dr. Schwartz for his Science Café Discussion "Socioeconomic Stress, Appalachia and Chronic Disease" on Wednesday September 5 at 5 pm in the Baker Front Room for a group discussion about lifestyle interventions to overcome these issues.
Food, not only is it essential for our very survival but increasingly it has permeated our culture from Wall Street and pork belly futures to haute culture to energy production. Food provides employment for farmers and meatpackers to restaurateurs and entrepreneurs, thus transcending the creativity of chefs and profoundly affecting global equitability. "Food is a primary need for humans," says Dr. Art Trese, Associate Professor of Environmental and Plant Biology. "And how we get our food has a major impact on the environment around us." Dr. Trese's research is focused on the sustainability of foods, ranging from local to global economies. Since childhood, he has been curious about discovering ways to optimize agriculture production and distribution to ensure a balance of resources. "Sustainability really has to be about developing a more equitable system. It can't just be sustainable for just a few," says Dr. Trese. Food for thought….Join Dr. Trese Wednesday, September 19 at 5 pm in the Baker Front Room, for his Science Café discussion on "Sustainability: Alternative Agriculture," an analysis of our current agricultural system and how we can all work to improve it.
**SPECIAL CAFE' CONVERSATIONS** Sept. 26: Andre Gribou, Music, "The History of Rock and Roll"
Remember dancing around your bedroom in your leopard-print spandex, singing along to "Wannabe" by the Spice Girls? Or the bowl cut, Mod look you rocked, trying to emulate Paul McCartney? Rock music, in many cases, defines who we are. "It permeates everything in terms of our personal styles, preferences and histories, and how we see the time lines of our lives in several ways," says Andre Gribou, professor of music. From Chuck Berry and Elvis to Springsteen and Jack White, every big rock/pop musician has influenced our culture in a unique way. "The historical and cultural significance of that is really profound if we bother to look at it," says Gribou. "To me, it's not just about teaching the trivia of groups; it's about teaching the idea of how popular culture works." Don't miss "The History of Rock & Roll" on Wednesday, September 26 at 5 pm in the Baker Front Room for a lively discussion and performance of the music that has shaped our culture. Are you ready to rock, Athens? This is the first of a monthly series of Café Conversations.
Oct. 3: Christine Gidycz, Psychology, "Bystander Behavior and Violence on College Campuses"
If you had the chance to save someone from ridicule, humiliation and violence, would you do it? We would all like to think that we would jump at the chance to be a hero by rescuing others from danger. However, when the chance presents itself we often turn our heads and look the other way. "We tend to think that people are more likely to help when there are groups of people around," says Dr. Christine Gidycz, professor of psychology. "In fact it's the opposite that occurs. When there's a large group, people are less likely to intervene." Sexual violence has been a main research area for Dr. Gidycz, along with the way bystanders tend to react when witnessing inappropriate behavior. One of the most prevalent settings for sexual assault is on college campuses. "Sexual violence is a major problem on just about all college campuses, including OU," says Dr. Gidycz. "But there are strategies and behaviors that students can engage in to be part of the solution to this problem." Join Dr. Gidycz for her Science Café discussion "Bystander Behavior and Violence on College Campuses" Wednesday, October 3 at 5 pm in the Baker Front Room.
**SPECIAL CAFE' CONVERSATIONS** Oct. 24: Tom Vander Ven, Sociology and Anthropology, "Why Students Drink Too Much and Party So Hard"
Oct. 31: Natalie Kruse, Voinovich School, "Sustainability: Mining and Mine Reclamation"
It's difficult to imagine signs at your favorite bars advertising social services for relationship problems, stress and anxiety or self-esteem issues. People rarely see college drinking as a time for student counseling and support. However, the social aspect of drinking allows students to work together to improve negative outcomes. "Drinking is social. People do it together. They work together to decide when to drink and how much to drink, and they work together to deal with the inevitable crises that occur when people drink," says Dr. Thomas Vander Ven, professor of sociology. Dr. Vander Ven has studied hundreds of college students and their drinking habits, focusing on an often overlooked area within college student alcohol consumption that he calls 'drunk support'. "There's a tremendous body of literature on the harms of college drinking such as violence, sexual victimization, getting sick, not doing well in school, fighting with significant others, etc. But we know very little about how college drinkers work together to deal with those issues to reduce harm," says Dr. Vander Ven. Join Dr. Vander Ven for his Café Conversations, "Why Students Drink Too Much and Party So Hard," on Wednesday, October 24 at 5 pm in the Baker Front Room.
Nothing quenches your thirst quite like a cold, tall glass of water. But beware. Due to hazardous mining practices many of our streams have been contaminated with harmful materials, including iron and sulfuric acid– not exactly most people's idea offlavored water. "We've had a long history of extraction, and it's left a big environmental impact," says Dr. Natalie Kruse, environmental studies professor in the Voinovich School. "There are miles of impacted streams due to acid mine drainage. Basically nothing can live, grow or thrive in these areas." Mining has been happening in Appalachia for hundreds of years without any regulations to protect the environment. Since 1972 rules have been put in place to prevent further damage, but mitigating earlier pollution is still a challenge for us today. "It's left these major impacts that nobody is responsible for," says Dr. Kruse. "It's easy to stay close to Athens and not look at the heritage of mining in this area, but it's one that has significantly affected us both culturally and environmentally." Join Dr. Kruse for her Science Café discussion, "Sustainability: Mining and Mine Reclamation," on Wednesday, October 31 at 5 pm in the Baker Front Room.
Nov. 14: Tad Malinski, Chemistry and Biochemistry, "The Science of Art Restoration & Identification"
A good piece of art has always been able to absorb an observer into its beauty. With advances in technology, scientists can now literally dive through the colors and texture of a painting . "We designed sensors that could be inserted into very small cracks to have access to the cross-section of the pigments," says Dr. Tad Malinski, professor of biomedical sciences. "It is important for private collectors as well as museums to know the authenticity of their art." These nanosensors are 300 times smaller than a single human hair and are used to restore and identify the origins of particular paintings. "Knowledge of science can significantly contribute to the restoration and preservation of artwork," says Dr. Malinski. "It is like a forensic investigation." Beyond his passion for art, Dr. Malinski also conducts world-class biomedical research using nanotechnology to detect nitric oxide within the human heart for the treatment of heart disease and stroke. Join Dr. Malinski for his Science Café discussion, "The Science of Art Restoration and Identification," on Wednesday, November 14 at 5 pm in the Baker Center Theater.
Nov. 28 Joe Shields, Physics and Astronomy, "Hunting Black Holes with the Hubble"
Gazing at the midnight sky opens us up to the curiosity of a virtually infinite universe in which so many questions still go unanswered. Among the most interesting mysteries is the nature of black holes - a region in spacetime so dense that no light can escape. "Every significant galaxy, including the Milky Way, has gone through a phase of its existence where it builds up one of these black holes," says Dr. Joe Shields, professor of astronomy. "It's interesting that something so seemingly exotic is evidently ubiquitous within every galaxy." For nearly 23 years, the Hubble Space Telescope has been integral in identifying and understanding the black holes. Shields and other astronomers have been able to use this technology to gain insights into the workings of our universe. "It tells us something interesting about the history of galaxies, what drives the formation and growth of each black hole and even the formation and growth of the galaxy itself," says Dr. Shields. Join Dr. Shields for his Science Café discussion, "Hunting Black Holes with the Hubble," Wednesday, November 28 at 5 pm in the Baker Front Room.
RESCHEDULED TO Dec. 5: Martin Kordesch, Physics and Astronomy, "The Physics of Music"
It's halftime at Peden Stadium for a sold out Bobcats game. The Marching 110 takes the field to perform their viral performance of "Gangnum Style." While you hear the roar of the trumpets and the bellow of the tubas, do you ever question why it sounds the way it does? We enjoy the euphonious melodies that instruments produce, but we often overlook the physics behind what we are listening to. "Many of times people don't know how they actually make musical sounds," says Dr. Martin Kordesch, professor in the physics and astronomy department."The good instruments are made with certain scientific principles in mind." A musician himself, Dr. Kordesch can play almost every instrument, including some unconventional ones such as a plastic trombone and a saxophone made of posters. "It's good to have an appreciation and understanding of how your instrument works," says Dr. Kordesch.Join Dr. Kordesch for his Science Café discussion, "The Physics of Music," 5 pm on Wednesday, Dec. 5 in the Baker Front Room.
April 04: Willem Roosenburg, Biological Sciences, "Turtles: Why Girls are Hot and Boys are Cool"
April 18: Keith Milam, Geological Sciences, "Virtual Geology: Unraveling Planetary Secrets from Afar"
May 02: Darlene Berryman, Applied Health Sciences and Wellness, "Big Fat Myths: What You Didn't Know about Obesity"
Winter 2012 Discussions
Jan. 11: Dr. Michael Braasch, Electrical Engineering and Avionics Engineering Center, "Iron Stomachs & White Knuckles - Navigation System Flight Testing"
Jan. 12: The PhD Movie, Free Admission
Jan. 25: Dr. Molly Morris, Biological Sciences, "Beyond Match.com: Alternative Mating Strategies"
Feb. 08: Dr. Greg Van Patten, Chemistry and Biochemistry, "The Big Deal about Small Stuff"
Feb. 22:Peggy Zoccola, Psychology, "Stress: Bad Thoughts, Bad Health?"
Mar. 07: Madappa Prakash, Physics & Astronomy, "Extreme States of Matter from Explosive Events in the Universe"
Fall 2011 Discussions
Sept. 14: Dr. Brian McCarthy, Environmental & Plant Biology, "From the Brink of Extinction: the American Chestnut"
Sept. 28: Dr. Erin Murphy, Biomedical Sciences, "Bacteria: The Good, the Bad and the Resistant"
Oct. 12: Dr. Dave Bayless, Mechanical Engineering, "Powering the World with Pond Scum"
Oct. 26: Dr. James Lein, Geography, "The Geography of Tomorrow: The Science of Futures Research"
Spring 2011 Discussions
March 30:Dr. Alycia Stigall, Associate Professor, Geological Sciences, OHIO Center for Ecology and Evolutionary Studies, "Overturn of the Biotics: Predicting Biodiversity Change with Fossils"
Winter 2011 Discussions
Jan. 12: Dr. Martin Mohlenkamp, Associate Professor, Mathematics, "Developing in silico Methods to do Virtual Science."
Jan. 26: Dr. Stephen Bergmeier, Professor, Chemistry and Biochemistry, "Chemistry, the class you love to hate, and Drug Discovery."
Feb. 9: Dr. Dan Hembree, Assistant Professor, Geological Sciences, "The Secrets of Burrowing Biota: Understanding Ancient Traces of Life through Modern Organisms."
Feb. 23: Dr. Kelly Johnson, Associate Professor, Biological Sciences, Voinovich School, "Mayflies, Minnows, and Acid Mine Drainage: The Science of Stream Restorations."
March 9: Dr. Brook Marcks, Assistant Professor, Psychology, "From Thoughts to Obsessions: A Closer Look at Obsessive Compulsive Disorders."
Fall 2010 Schedule:
Sept. 22: Dr. Gar Rothwell, Environmental & Plant Biology, "Paleobotany and Plant Evolution"
Oct. 6: Drs. Shawn Ostermann (EECS), Hans Kruse (Information & Telecommunications Systems), Phil Campbell (Information & Telecommunications Systems), "Wireless Networking in Challenging Environments: the Barbarism of Baker to the Perils of Pluto"
Oct. 20: Dr. Julie Owens, Psychology, "Evaluating Treatments for ADHD: A Multi-Dimensional Approach"
Nov. 3: Dr. Eric Stinaff (Physics and Astronomy), "Where's my iQuanta: Is quantum information processing the future of computers?"
Spring 2010 Schedule:
April 7: Dr. Stephen Reilly, Biological Sciences, "The Biology of Walking and Running"
April 21: Dr. Ken Hicks, Physics & Astronomy, "From Quarks to the Big Bang"
May 5: Dr. Susan Williams, Biomedical Sciences, "Food for thought: the Evolution and Ontogeny of Feeding Mammals"
May 19: Dr. Ronaldo Vigo, Psychology, "Molecules of the Mind"
June 2: Dr. Maarten Uijit de Haag, Engineering/Avionics, "Navigation: Anyone, Anytime, Anywhere"
Winter 2010 Schedule:
Jan. 13: Dr. Doug Clowe, Physics and Astronomy, "The Dark Side of the Universe"
Jan. 27: Dr. Julie Suhr, Psychology, "Measuring your Mind"
Feb. 10: Dr. Morgan Vis, Environmental & Environmental Plant Biology, "Red Algae-Tree of life, huh?"
Feb. 24: Dr. Damian Nance, Geological Sciences, "From Grains of Sand to Supercontinents: Reconstructing Earth's Geographic Past"
March 10: Dr. Jeff Rack, Chemistry & Biochemistry, "Chemical Chameleons"
Fall 2009 Schedule:
Sept. 30: Dr. Gerri Botte, Chemical & Biomolecular Engineering, "Alternative Energy: The Search for Fuel"
Oct. 14: Dr. Larry Witmer, Biomedical Sciences, "Fleshing Out Dinosaur Evolution"
Oct. 28: Dr. Justin Weeks, Psychology, "Social Anxiety: The Fear of Positive Evaluation"