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Science Cafe

Science Cafés and Cafe' Conversations are a venue for students interested in informally sharing 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.


FACEBOOK:  Ohio University's Science Cafe

Twitter:  @OUScienceCafes


Spring 2014 Discussions

Jan. 22: Sarah Wyatt, Environmental and Plant Biology

Gravity is responsible for keeping life on Earth grounded, literally, and with the advent of space travel we now have an inkling of what microgravity is like.But what does gravity do to plants?Dr. Sarah Wyatt, Professor of Environmental & Plant Biology, conducts research on the effects of gravity on plant growth and development. Dr. Wyatt's Earth-based experiments are used to predict how plants might grow in a micro and zero gravity environments for future space endeavors. Next year, Dr. Wyatt will have the opportunity to send plants into space.During her café, she is planning to involve the audience in her exploration of gravitational effects on plants through demonstrations and examples of these effects on live plants."I hope the audience leaves with a better appreciation of how amazing, unique and important plants really are to our lives," says Dr. Wyatt.With the help of, or despite, gravitational forces, come to the Baker Front Room to join Dr. Sarah Wyatt in her Science Café discussion, "Grounded by Gravity," on January 22nd at 5 pm.

Feb. 05:  Saw Hla, Physics and Astronomy

The smell of fresh cut grass, the stomping of cleats and the cheering of fans….it's soccer season.But who would ever associate the game of soccer and molecules?Dr. Saw Wai-Hla would!Dr. Hla, Professor of Physics and Astronomy, "kicks" around atoms and molecules every day.His research focuses on individual atoms and how we can manipulate them."Everything is made of atoms but people normally don't think about them," says Dr. Hla. "It's good to know how far we can control atoms." During his café, Dr. Hla plans to show the audience videos and demonstrations of how we can play with atoms at a microscopic level.He will also discuss nanotechnology and its important role in helping us understand our environment.Put on your cleats and join Dr. Saw Wai-Hla as he "kicks" around some atoms during his Science Café on Wednesday, February 5th at 5 pm in the Baker Front Room.

Feb. 19: Scott Moody, Biological Sciences

"Protecting amphibians protects us," says Dr. Moody.What exactly does this mean?Should we expect frogs to come hopping to our rescue whenever we are in danger?While frogs in fact will not save us in a dire situation, they will help save our health in the long-run.Because of their unique biology and relationship with the environment, relying on both land and streams, amphibians are excellent predictors of environmental health.Dr. Scott Moody, Associate Professor of Biological Sciences, has spent over 30 years at Ohio University studying and protecting various species of amphibians.Dr. Moody will discuss the biology of amphibians,human impacts on their environment, and ultimately how important their habitats are to their existence and to us.He will bring both living and extinct amphibians to his café for a "show and tell" with the audience.Hop on over to the Baker Front Room on Wednesday, February 19th at 5 pm and join Dr. Scott Moody in his Science Café discussion, "Endangered Species of Amphibians: Why Their Survival is Vital to Our Health."

Cafe Conversations Feb. 26: Haley Duschinski, Sociology and Anthropology

Community is a word that means something different in every language.Justice, however, is a word that carries the same meaning no matter the culture.Dr. Haley Duschinski, Associate Professor of Sociology and Anthropology and the Director of the Center for Law, Justice and Culture, focuses her research on these two words.She looks at how various local communities make claims for human rights and justice, and how these claims are shaped by social, political, and historical factors.Dr. Duschinski, accompanied by students, has conducted research of diverse cultures from Northern Ireland to Cambodia, as well as performed extensive anthropological fieldwork in Kashmir, a conflict zone in India.During her café, she hopes "the audience leaves with a better understanding of how anthropology can help us understand local perspectives on international human rights issues."Join Dr. Haley Duschinski for her Science Café discussion, "Imagining International Justice," on February 26th at 5 pm in the Baker Front Room.

Mar. 19:  Mark McMills, Chemistry and Biochemistry

Have an ache, pain, or illness?Call or visit your doctor and have them fill a prescription.That's how it works; better living through chemistry, right?We rarely take the time to really think about the medicines we are taking.But Dr. Mark McMills, Associate Professor of Chemistry and Biochemistry, will show how and why various prescription drugs have been brought to market.During his café, he will be touching on two specific drugs; Taxol, an anti-cancer drug, and an AIDS protease inhibitor.Dr. McMills will help the audience gain "a general understanding of the drug discovery process and why it may be of interest to a general audience as well as the scientist."Join Dr. McMills in the exploration of prescription drugs during his Science Café, "Modern Drug Discovery," on March 19th at 5 pm in the Baker Front Room.

Cafe Conversations Mar. 26: Roger Cooper, Media Arts and Studies

Ringing phones, clicking keyboards and a boss dictating "to-do" lists; the typical sounds of a work environment.Chuckles, jokes and a hissing laughter; what Roger Cooper believes a work environment should sound like- at least much more of the time.The Associate Professor of Media Arts and Studies insists that humor in organizations is one of the key ingredients for success."Leaders who have a sense of humor are more effective," says Cooper, "It encourages creativity as well as increases listening and motivation."He plans to get the audience involved through improv exercises and other demonstrations during his café."If nothing else, I hope the audience leaves with a smile on their face and a better appreciation for humor and laughter," says Cooper.Join Roger Cooper for a good laugh during his Café Conversation, "The Power of Humor in Organizations," on Wednesday, March 26th at 5 pm in the Baker Front Room.

April 02:  Julie Suhr, Psychology

"Now you see it, now you don't" are lines frequently used by magicians when making a white rabbit disappear into thin air.The audience stares in bewilderment.This kind of deception, along with many others, is common in human behavior.Dr. Julie Suhr, Professor of Psychology, studies deception in the medical and psychological environment.Sometimes it becomes too easy for patients to turn a simple illness or symptom into a disability in order to receive medicine they don't actually need or to receive compensation from a lawsuit."People often attempt to deceive others for the purpose of gaining something from it," says Dr. Suhr, "But, this can lead to problems and misdiagnoses of both medical and psychological conditions."Her research looks at how common deception is and ways in which clinicians can detect it. Prepare to be amazed and join Dr. Julie Suhr in her Science Café discussion, "Detecting Deception," on Wednesday, April 2nd at 5 pm in the Baker Front Room.

Fall 2013 Discussions

Sept 11:  Janet Duerr, Biological Sciences, "Genes:  Are We Just Big, Smart Worms?"

"Prescription drugs are very important and powerful, but there is still a lot of uncertainty," says Associate Professor Janet Duerr of Biological Sciences.Millions of people use prescription drugs daily to cure their various illnesses, but do they consider the consequences these drugs could have on their health after years of use?Dr. Duerr works to answer this very question.Her research uses a model organism, a microscopic soil nematode, to examine the development and function of the nervous system and observes the changes that develop in when the worms are treated with various prescription drugs, such as anti-depressants and ADHD medicines.When asked what she hoped the audience will gain from her discussion, she said, "I want people to understand how basic our brain functions are and make people aware that when we take drugs there can be consequences."Join Dr. Duerr for her Science Café discussion, "Genes: Are we just big, smart worms?" on Wednesday, September 11th at 5 pm in the Baker Front Room.

Cafe' ConversationsSept. 18:  John Gilliom, Political Sciences "The Death of Big Brother and the Rise of the Surveillance Society"

We live in a surveillance society.  Every credit card, cell phone, or search engine we use leaves a small permanent record about out life.  John Gilliom, Professor of Political Science and Associate Dean in the College of Arts and Sciences, has focused his career on studying the political and intellectual challenges created by the rise of the Surveillance Society.  In their new book, "SuperVision: An Introduction to the Surveillance Society," Dr. Gilliom and his colleague Torin Monahan recount stories from everyday life to show how surveillance is a ubiquitous part of contemporary life.  During the café, Gilliom will host an informal conversation exploring not just the rise of surveillance, but the many challenges that this new surveillance society creates for our ways of thinking and speaking about our world.  Join Professor Gilliom for his Café Conversation, "The Death of Big Brother and the Rise of the Surveillance Society," on Wednesday, September 18th at 5 pm in the Baker Front Room.

Sept. 25: Larry Witmer, Biomedical Sciences, "Fleshing out Dinosaurs... in 3D!"

"Ancient, outdated and prehistoric" are all words that come to mind when thinking about dinosaurs.  What if there was a way to change these words to "current, modern and living?"  Professor Lawrence M. Witmer, Chang Professor of Paleontology of the Heritage College of Osteopathic Medicine and dinosaur expert, does just that.  Witmer and his team use CT scanning technology on dinosaur bones to digitize their features.  From this he is able to recreate the physical appearance of the dinosaur, or "restore what time has stripped away."  Join Professor Witmer as he transforms the Front Room coffee shop into an interactive museum and shows "that dinosaurs are more than just a collection of bones in a museum. They were vibrant, living beings."

Check out this short video of this cafe'.

Oct. 9:  Savas Kaya, Electrical Engineering and Computer Science, "Nanoscale *& Engineering:  Hype or Opportunity?

To the public, "nanoscience" typically conjures images of science fiction movies with either outlandish gadgets or worse yet as destructive tiny robots bent on taking over the world.  "This could not be further from the truth," says Dr. Savas Kaya, professor of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science.  He argues that "what is fascinating about nanotechnology is not about the discovery of this material or that gadget, but the fact that it has been able to enable and usher a whole band of scientists and engineers to work together with open minds and new tools on goals that can make immediate and significant impact on human condition."  Throughout the past twenty years, technological advances have made nanoscience something more tangible for the everyday person from common light microscopes to microscopes that are able to observe individual atoms.  Even the state-of-the-art scientific instruments that used to be available only for top researchers are now available as demonstration tools for the public.  Dr. Kaya will bring some of this equipment, part of nanO stUdio he is setting up for aspiring young scientists and scholars, to the Front Room with the hope of allowing "the public to break the notion that nanoscience is only for cold, deep dark labs and serious scientists."  He expects, in near future, these instruments to be integrated into high school science labs, where students will hopefully begin to see nanoscience as something accessible and meaningful.  "Science education can be reinvented and made more interesting," says Dr. Kaya.  Join Dr. Savas Kaya in his exploration of nanotechnology during his Science Café, "Nanoscale Science & Engineering: Hype of Opportunity?" on Wednesday, October 9th at 5 pm in the Baker Front Room.

Cafe' Conversations Oct. 16:  Bill Condee, Interdisciplinary Arts

"Fracking" and "opera house" are not two phrases most people would put together.  But William Condee, J. Richard Hamilton/Baker and Hostetler Professor of Humanities and Professor of Theater, begs to differ and argues that the relationship of opera houses and industry isn't new.  As highlighted in his book, coal companies would restore opera houses in exchange for the use of the land for mining.  According to Condee, operas were usually never performed in these houses, but the name was more "culturally legitimate." Recently, Condee has come to the realization that  there is a similar correlation between opera Houses and fracking. During Condee's cafe he plans discuss the fracking industry and this complex relationship in a way that is relatable yet informative. With regards to to this somewhat controversial topic, he plans to ask two major questions. "What are my ethics as a researcher?" and "Where do I stand in relation to the research?"  Condee believes that these questions are something researchers everywhere ask themselves on a daily basis, regardless of their research.  "I hope the audience leaves the café realizing that the economics and ethics of fracking are very complex, and there aren't simple answers," Condee says. "I hope we can learn from the coal mining boom in the 19th century to refer to the fracking that is happening now."  Join William Condee for his Café Conversation, "Fracking the Opera House," on Wednesday, October 16th at 5 pm in the Baker Front Room.

Oct. 23:  David Tees, Physics and Astronomy, "TBD"

In everyday life, "pulling, pushing and squeezing" is just something we humans deal with on a regular basis.But according to David Tees, Associate Professor in the Department of Physics and Astronomy, even our cells and molecules undergo this regular tug of war. Tees' research focuses on the various ways cells can attach to each other, remain attached, detach and start the cycle again.During his café Tees will show videos and demonstrations, which he hopes will allow the audience to immerse itself into this ever-present tussle. "I hope the audience is able to see how things move around on the very small scale," Tees said, "And how cells and molecules respond to hits and kicks from their environment."Join us for "Pulling, Pushing and Squeezing: Physics and Adhesion Biology," on Wednesday, October 23rd at 5 pm in the Baker Front Room.

Nov. 6:  Alycia Stigall, Geological Sciences, "Fossil Invasion! Studying Ancient Species to Help Predict Consequences of Modern Invasion"

When we hear the word "fossil," people imagine long-dead species only remembered and relevant through specimens and records kept in a museum.How can these species possibly be relevant to our lives today?Alycia Stigall, Associate Professor of Geological Sciences, proves us wrong.Her research focuses on the fossils we can find in our own backyards."Fossils and ancient species are extremely relevant to the Ohio ecosystem," Dr. Stigall says.So after she finds these fossils, what's next?Dr. Stigall uses the fossils from the past to learn about modern invasive species that are present throughout the state and country."One of the problems with understanding invasive species is we can only look at a few decades of them," says Stigall, "Fossils allow us to look back even further."Join Dr. Stigall as she and her collection of fossils invade the Front Room during her Science Café discussion, "Fossil Invasion! Studying ancient species to help predict consequences of modern invasive species," on Wednesday, November 6th at 5 pm in the Baker Front Room.

Nov. 20:  Deb McAvoy, Civil Engineering, "TBD"

With more than 200 million drivers on US roads, you have to figure that not everyone understands or plays by the same rules of the road.But with more than 10 million motor vehicle crashes per year, improving road safety is critically important."Different drivers have different needs and we need to know how to better accommodate those needs," says Deborah McAvoy, Associate Professor of Civil Engineering in the Russ College of Engineering and Technology. For example, when some people see a"stop" sign in the distance they slow down in preparation; others do not react to the sign until the last minute.Through researching and testing, Dr. McAvoy comes up with alternative roadway designs that will accommodate a wider variety of drivers and their perceptions.Join Dr. McAvoy as she turns the Front Room into a test driver laboratory, complete with video displays, and tests the reactions times of drivers, with the help of the audience.This Science Café discussion, Roadway Design for Dummies, will be held on Wednesday, November 20th at 5 pm in the Baker Front Room.

Dec. 4: John Kopchick, Biomedical Sciences and Edison Biotechnology Institute, "TBD"

Hormones do many things to our body starting before birth and continuing until death.  John Kopchick, Goll-Ohio Eminent Scholar and Distinguished Professor of Molecular Biology, studies the various ways one specific hormone, namely growth hormone (not growth hormones!) affects our body.  For over twenty years, 300 publications and more than 25 PD students (but who's counting?) his research has focused on finding the clinical implications of growth hormone excess and deficiency.  His research on growth hormone and the interaction with its receptor has lead to the development of the drug, Somavert, which is used as a treatment for acromegaly, a condition of 'too much growth hormone' that  results in disfigurement, organ failure and premature death. When asked what he hopes the audience will take away from this discussion, Dr. Kopchick said, "a better appreciation of the positives and negative aspects of growth hormone action."  As part of the café, Dr. Kopchick also plans to discuss the misuse and abuse of  growth hormone by athletes in hopes of enhancing their performance.  Join Dr. John Kopchick for his Science Café discussion, "Growth Hormone: Too much or not enough" on December 11th at 5 pm in the Front Room.

 coffee cup and steam_cropped

Spring 2013 Discussions

Jan. 23: Jared Deforest, Environmental and Plant Biology, "Chemical Climate Change and Sustainability"

Feb. 6:  Bob Klein, Mathematics

Feb. 20:  Mario Grijalva, Biomedical Sciences

**SPECIAL CAFE' CONVERSATIONS** Feb. 27:  Michele Morrone, Social and Public Health

**SPECIAL CAFE' CONVERSATIONS** Mar 20:  John Sabraw, Art

**SPECIAL CAFE' CONVERSATIONS** Mar. 27:  Tom Hodson, Journalism

Apr. 3:  Geoff Buckley, Geography

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"

**SPECIAL CAFE' CONVERSATIONS** Sept. 26: Andre Gribou, Music, "The History of Rock and Roll"

Oct. 3: Christine Gidycz, Psychology, "Bystander Behavior and Violence on College Campuses"

**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"

Nov. 14:  Tad Malinski, Chemistry and Biochemistry, "The Science of Art Restoration & Identification"

Nov. 28  Joe Shields, Physics and Astronomy, "Hunting Black Holes with the Hubble"

RESCHEDULED TO Dec. 5: Martin Kordesch, Physics and Astronomy, "The Physics of Music"

Spring 2012 Discussions

April 04Willem 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  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. 12Dr. Dave Bayless, Mechanical Engineering, "Powering the World with Pond Scum"

Oct. 26Dr. 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,  "Nav
igation: Anyone, Anytime, Anywhere"

Winter 2
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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"




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