Science Sundays

Science Sundays is a free lecture series open to the public that provides a wide range of current and emerging topics and issues in science that touch our everyday lives. Speakers are experts in their fields from on campus and around the world with experience in making their topics interesting and accessible for audiences of all ages, with or without a science background.

Event information

Each lecture is followed by a free, informal reception.

Time: Lecture from 3-4 p.m. and reception from 4-5 p.m.
Lecture Venue: Ohio Union U.S. Bank Conference Theater
Reception Venue: Ohio Union Ohio Staters Traditions Room (unless otherwise noted)

If you have questions about accessibility or wish to request an accommodation for a disability please contact John Beacom (; 614-247-8102).  With advance notice of two weeks, we can generally provide seamless access.

Sunday, March 3 at 3 p.m.
followed by a public reception at 4 p.m.
Ohio Union U.S. Bank Conference Theater
1739 N High St, Columbus, OH 43210

This event is free and open to the public. We ask that you kindly RSVP using the form below. Seating will be on a first come, first served basis.


"Lights, Camera, Science: Data Visualization with a Hollywood Twist"

Kalina Borkiewicz

Have you ever found yourself captivated by a video that takes you on a flight through the stars, or watched in awe as DNA gracefully folded within the human body? From YouTube journeys to documentary films and museum exhibits, these visual experiences transport us to realms that elude our direct senses – too distant, too minuscule, or hidden within other structures. The question arises: How do we access these invisible wonders? The answer lies in the combination of data visualization with Hollywood filmmaking techniques. This talk will unveil the magic of cinematic scientific visualization, where the invisible intricacies of the universe come to life before our eyes.

Kalina Borkiewicz has been creating cinematic scientific visualizations since she started working in the Advanced Visualization Lab (AVL) at the National Center for Supercomputing Applications, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign in 2014. She started her visualization career as a programmer, and worked her way up to Director of the AVL, where she worked until early 2024. In her time in the AVL, Kalina contributed visualizations to numerous documentary films, ranging from fulldome to IMAX formats. Currently, Kalina is a PhD student at the University of Utah, studying computer graphics and data visualization. Kalina also volunteers with the ACM SIGGRAPH conference, where in 2023 she served as Director of the Academy Award-qualifying Computer Animation Festival Electronic Theater.

Sunday, April 21 at 3 p.m.
followed by a public reception at 4 p.m.
Ohio Union U.S. Bank Conference Theater
1739 N High St, Columbus, OH 43210

This event is free and open to the public. We ask that you kindly RSVP using the form below. Seating will be on a first come, first served basis.


"The Enemy of My Enemy is My Friend: How Viruses are Being Used to Fight Superbugs"

Steffanie Strathdee


Steffanie Strathdee
Associate Dean of Global Health Sciences and Harold Simon Distinguished Professor of Medicine at the University of California San Diego

Antimicrobial resistance is one of the most pressing global health issues of the 21st century and is worsening with the COVID-19 pandemic. With existing antibiotics losing potency and limited classes of antibiotics in the pipeline, alternatives are needed to battle multi-drug resistant bacterial infections (‘superbugs’). Through the lens of her family’s personal experience with a deadly superbug infection, Dr. Strathdee’s presentation will discuss the medical history of viruses that attack bacteria (bacteriophage, or phage) and how they have been used to treat superbug infections for over 100 years. This presentation will discuss the reasons why bacteriophage therapy fell out of favor in the West, drawing from research conducted by medical historian Dr. William Summer. It will also cover recent advances in phage therapy that led to the founding of the first dedicated phage therapy institute in North America (IPATH), and the role of her family’s case in the process. 

Steffanie Strathdee is an infectious disease epidemiologist who is Associate Dean of Global Health Sciences and Harold Simon Distinguished Professor of Medicine at the University of California San Diego where she now codirects the Center for Innovative Phage Applications and Therapeutics (IPATH).  In 2016, Strathdee and colleagues were credited with saving her husband’s life from a deadly superbug infection using bacteriophages – viruses that attack bacteria. The case, which involved cooperation from three universities, the U.S. Navy and researchers across the globe, shows how phage therapy has potential to treat multi-drug resistant bacterial infections which are expected to kill 10 million people per year by 2050. Strathdee and her husband co-authored their memoir called The Perfect Predator: A Scientist’s Race to Save Her Husband from a Deadly Superbug. For her efforts to revitalize phage therapy in the West, she was named one of TIME magazine’s Most Influential People in Health Care in 2018.

John Beacom (Chair)
Departments of Physics and Astronomy
Center for Cosmology and AstroParticle Physics

Juan Alfonzo
Department of Microbiology
Center for RNA Biology

Claudia Buchmann
Department of Sociology

Sean Downey
Department of Anthropology

Marty Golubitsky
Department of Mathematics

Matt Lewis
Department of Design
Advanced Computing Center for the Arts and Design

Bryan Mark
Department of Geography
School of Earth Sciences

Virginia Rich
Department of Microbiology

Hannah Shafaat
Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry

Previous Talks

Sunday, February 18

"Will Genetically Engineered Food Help Us Feed a Hungry Planet?"

Bart Elmore

Bart Elmore
Professor, Department of History

For over a decade now, environmental historian Bart Elmore has studied the history of one of the largest seed sellers in the world: Monsanto. This St. Louis company, which German firm Bayer bought in 2018, launched a genetic engineering revolution in agriculture over 25 years ago, introducing the first Roundup Ready crops in 1996 that could tolerate Monsanto’s signature herbicide Roundup. We now have data that can help us see the profits and pitfalls associated with that revolution and to think more fully about how Monsanto’s past will shape the future of the food we eat.

Bart Elmore is a professor of environmental history and a core faculty member of the Sustainability Institute at The Ohio State University. His work focuses on the ecological footprint of large multinational firms. He is the author of the award-winning book Citizen Coke: The Making of Coca-Cola Capitalism (W. W. Norton, 2015), a global environmental history of the world’s biggest soft drink brand from his home town. From 2016 to 2018 he was a Carnegie Fellow and Eric and Wendy Schmidt Fellow at the New America Foundation in Washington, D.C. He published his second book, Seed Money: Monsanto’s Past and the Future of Food (W. W. Norton, 2021) in October 2021. And he just completed a third project, Country Capitalism: How Corporations from the American South Remade Our Economy and the Planet (Ferris and Ferris, 2023), which came out in May 2023. He is also a recipient of the 2022 Dan David Prize, the largest history prize in the world. 

January 14, 2024

"Climate change in Ohio: What should you do?"

Robyn Wilson graphic


Robyn Wilson
Professor, School of Environment and Natural Resources

There is a scientific consensus that climate change is occurring, it is caused by people, it is bad for people, and we can solve it! We will walk through the evidence for these facts, with a focus on the impact of climate change in central Ohio and steps we can take as citizens to create a more resilient future.

Robyn Wilson, PhD, is a professor in the School of Environment and Natural Resources at The Ohio State University. Dr. Wilson is a behavioral decision scientist studying individual decisions under risk. She is also interested in the development of strategic communication efforts, as well as the design of decision support tools that assist individuals in making more informed choices. Her current research focus is on adaptation to climate-exacerbated hazards, and what motivates and constrains different land use and land management decisions on private and public lands.

Reception Location: Ohio Union Great Hall Meeting Room

November 5, 2023

“The dawning age of RNA medicines”

Melissa Moore

Melissa J. Moore, PhD
Dean, Research & Development, Moderna University
CSO Emerita, Moderna

We have now officially entered the era of programmable or language-based medicines. These medicines, based on our ability to read and write in the language of life (the genetic code), have the potential to completely transform how we can prevent and treat previously intractable diseases, as well as more equitably deliver healthcare across the globe. Melissa Moore will take us down to the molecular level, unraveling how RNA in our bodies helps maintain health, prevent disease, and how it can be used to instruct the human body to treat ailments that have haunted humanity for millennia.

Melissa J. Moore is a distinguished RNA scientist who has spent decades researching RNA, mainly working to extend fundamental knowledge around how it is created, used — and destroyed — in mammalian cells. After many years as an academic researcher, she joined Moderna and served as its chief scientific officer 2016-2022. Work from her team on mRNA engineering and delivery was foundational to the rapid production of Moderna's highly effective mRNA vaccine for SARS-CoV-2. In her current role at Moderna, she is passionate to educate the public, industry leadership and other stakeholders about what she sees as the coming age of RNA medicines. She has earned numerous academic accolades, including a Howard Hughes Medical Institute Investigatorship and election to the National Academy of Science and the American Academy of Arts and Sciences.

Reception Location: Fawcett Center Lobby

December 3, 2023

“The Birth and Death of Stars in Galaxies”

Adam Leroy

Adam Leroy
Professor, Department of Astronomy

Where do stars and planets come from? New observations with the Hubble Space Telescope, NASA’s groundbreaking new James Webb Space Telescope, and the giant radio telescope ALMA reveal galaxies in stunning detail, breaking them apart into individual star clusters and nebulae. These reveal a complex, dynamic cycle of star birth and death that is constantly playing out across the Universe. In this talk, Prof. Adam Leroy will show these new observations and describe how they reveal a complex ecosystem operating within galaxies, one that is at once violent and delicately balanced.

Adam Leroy is a professor in the Department of Astronomy at Ohio State and a member of the Center for Cosmology and AstroParticle Physics.

Reception Location: Ohio Union Ohio Staters Traditions Room

January 22, 2023

Scott Gaudi

“Strange New Worlds” 
Scott Gaudi
Thomas Jefferson Professor for Discovery and Space Exploration

Since the Nobel prize winning discovery of 51 Peg b in 1995, we have discovered over 5000 exoplanets - planets orbiting other stars - using a bewildering array of techniques, observatories, surveys, and space missions. These strange new worlds are as myriad and diverse as people, each with its own unique personality. Also like people, many of these worlds are both unexpected and difficult to understand. I will provide a guided tour of the search for exoplanets, introducing some of the stranger denizens of the realm, and discuss the prospects for discovering the most exciting of them all - a world capable of supporting life. 

Dr. B. Scott Gaudi is the Thomas Jefferson Professor for Discovery and Space Exploration in the Department of Astronomy at The Ohio State University. Dr. Gaudi has been a faculty member in the Department of Astronomy since 2006. His research focuses on the search for and characterization of exoplanets, and he has discovered over 100 exoplanets. He self-identifies as an autistic, gay man and is strongly committed to diversity, equity, and inclusion. 

Reception location: Ohio Union Great Hall Meeting Room

February 19, 2023

David Staley

“History and Future”
David Staley
Associate Professor of History

When someone says they want to know the future of something, what they are really saying is they want to know what the state or behavior of some complex system is going to be at point n in the future. This lecture will make the case for the disciplined study of the future via the historical method: I will redefine the discipline of history as that which studies the past behaviors of complex systems. Given this redefinition, I will argue that historians are methodologically well-positioned to anticipate — not predict — the possible future behaviors of a wide variety of complex systems.  This lecture will consider the future of social, technological, economic, environmental, and political systems.    

David Staley is an Associate Professor in the Department of History and (by courtesy) the Departments of Design and Educational Studies at The Ohio State University. He is the author of Alternative Universities: Speculative Design for Innovation in Higher Education, the co-author of Knowledge Towns: Colleges and Universities as Talent Magnets, the author of Visionary Histories, a collection of futures essays, and author of History and Future: Using Historical Thinking to Imagine the Future. He is an Honorary Faculty Fellow at the Center for Higher Education Leadership and Innovative Practice (CHELIP) at Bay Path University, and a fellow at the Center for Science and the Imagination at Arizona State University.  He writes the monthly futures column "Next" for Columbus Underground, for which he was awarded "Best Freelance Writer" by the Ohio Society of Professional Journalists in 2022.

Reception Location: Ohio Union Ohio Staters Traditions Room

March 5, 2023

Hollie Nyseth Nzitatira

“Understanding Genocide” 
Hollie Nyseth Nzitatira
Associate Professor of Sociology

More than 40 genocides have taken place since the Holocaust, resulting in the loss of millions of lives and much harm to peoples and communities worldwide. In this talk, Hollie Nyseth Nzitatira will address why genocide happens, including efforts to predict and prevent this grave crime. The talk will likewise consider why people commit genocide and how communities rebuild in the aftermath. This talk is appropriate for high schoolers and beyond. 

Dr. Hollie Nyseth Nzitatira is an associate professor of sociology at Ohio State. She conducts atrocity forecasts for the U.S. government and has interviewed hundreds of people who have committed genocide. Every summer she leads an Ohio State study abroad program focused on genocide in Rwanda, and she has received Ohio State's highest teaching honor (the Alumni Award for Distinguished Teaching) as well as the highest early-career research awards from the International Association of Genocide Scholars and the American Society of Criminology.  

Reception Location: Ohio Union Ohio Staters Traditions Room

April 16, 2023

Tanya Berger-Wolf

“AI for Wildlife Conservation: AI and Humans Combating Extinction Together” 
Tanya Berger-Wolf
Director of the Translational Data Analytics Institute

We are losing the planet's biodiversity at an unprecedented rate and yet, shockingly, mostly do not even have the basic biodiversity numbers. Photographs from researchers, citizen scientists, automated cameras, and collected from social media are the most abundant source of wildlife data today. Tanya Berger-Wolf will show how AI can turn massive collections of images into high resolution information database about wildlife, enabling scientific inquiry, conservation, and policy decisions. 

Dr. Tanya Berger-Wolf is a Professor of Computer Science Engineering, Electrical and Computer Engineering, as well as Evolution, Ecology, and Organismal Biology at The Ohio State University, where she is also the Director of the Translational Data Analytics Institute. She is also a co-founder and director of the AI for wildlife conservation non-profit Wild Me ( As a computational ecologist, her research is at the unique intersection of computer science, wildlife biology, and social sciences.  

Reception Location: Ohio Union Ohio Staters Traditions Room

Sept. 8, 2019

Marcos Sotomayor

The Molecular Machinery of Hearing

The human hearing organ is exceptional in its ability to sense sound across a wide range of frequencies and intensities. The process of sound conversion into brain electrical signals that we can understand is called "mechanosensation" and is carried out by various proteins essential to hearing. In this lecture, Marcos Sotomayor will explore and present in simple terms the structures and function of these proteins.

Marcos Sotomayor is an associate professor of chemistry and biochemistry at The Ohio State University whose research focuses on exploring the molecular mechanisms underlying hearing and brain wiring. Sotomayor has received various awards, including an Alfred P. Sloan Fellowship and Ohio State’s Distinguished Undergraduate Research Mentor award.

View lecture >>

Oct. 13, 2019

Dustin G. Mixon

The Mathematics of Partisan Gerrymandering

Every decade, politicians update voting districts to account for population shifts as measured by the U.S. Census. Of course, partisan politicians are inclined to draw maps that favor their own party, resulting in partisan gerrymandering. Dustin G. Mixon will explore how tools from mathematics can help to deter this growing threat to democracy.

Dustin G. Mixon is an assistant professor of mathematics at The Ohio State University. He studies interactions between algebra, geometry, combinatorics and data science. His recent work on the mathematics of gerrymandering has been featured in New Scientist and Forbes, among others.  

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Nov. 17, 2019

Karen G. Lloyd

The Strange Microbes Deep Inside Earth and What They Do

In this lecture, Karen G. Lloyd will introduce the vast and diverse microbial ecosystem that was recently discovered buried deep within Earth’s crust, illuminating how these microbes perform important ecosystem functions in volcanoes, hot springs and deep subsurface oceanic sediments.

Karen G. Lloyd is an associate professor of microbiology at the University of Tennessee whose research applies molecular biology techniques to environmental samples to learn more about strange, uncultured microbes. She has worked on deep oceanic subsurface sediments, deep-sea mud volcanoes and cold seeps, terrestrial volcanoes, hot springs, serpentinizing springs, Arctic marine fjord sediments and ancient permafrost.

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Dec. 1, 2019

Nandini Trivedi

Superconductivity: From the Quantum Dance of Electrons to Levitated Trains and Quantum Computers

In this lecture, physicist Nandini Trivedi will explain why a piece of metal can superconduct, that is allow electricity to flow without any resistance; why superconductors make the strongest magnets; how superconducting qubits are driving the revolution for quantum computers; and, most importantly, describe open questions in quantum matter.

Nandini Trivedi is a professor of physics at The Ohio State University. She completed her undergraduate degree at the Indian Institute of Technology, Delhi, and her PhD from Cornell University. Her research focuses on quantum matter — the interplay of quantum mechanics and interactions to create emergent states of matter.

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Jan. 12, 2020

Amanda Hummon

Diagnosing Cancer with Molecular Imaging

Science and medicine are at an exciting crossroads. Recent developments in the clinical laboratory are being implemented in research hospitals and will soon be used to diagnose diseases across the U.S. In this talk, Amanda Hummon will illustrate some of the recent breakthroughs in molecular imaging technologies and how they are being used to help cancer patients.

Amanda Hummon is an associate professor of chemistry and biochemistry at The Ohio State University and a member of Ohio State's Comprehensive Cancer Center – Arthur G. James Cancer Hospital and Richard J. Solove Research Institute. Her research group examines protein changes that occur with the development and progression of colorectal cancer, and they also develop novel molecular imaging approaches.

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Feb. 2, 2020

Barbara Piperata

Food insecurity and Mental Health: An Underexplored Global Health Concern

Food insecurity is on the rise, affecting the nutrition and mental health of around 821 million people. Drawing on research from Nicaragua, Barbara Piperata will explore the underlying causes of the issue and how to inform policies aimed at alleviating food insecurity and improving mental health both locally and globally.
Barbara Piperata is an associate professor of anthropology at The Ohio State University. Her research in Nicaragua and the Brazilian Amazon focuses on food security, lactation and, most recently, the ways socioeconomic conditions and cultural practices interact to shape the formation of the infant gut microbiome.

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March 1, 2020

Kate Zwaard

Collections as Data: Combining Data Science and the Power of Library Collections to Unlock New Understanding

While the digital revolution has changed the way libraries serve their users, it’s also enabled new modes of research and creativity. Kate Zwaard will explore how libraries and archives are presenting their collections so artists, researchers and the curious can interact with them in new ways.

As director of digital strategy at the Library of Congress, Kate Zwaard helps the nation’s oldest cultural institution use technology to enable transformational user experiences. She is a statistician by training, a software developer by trade and deeply in love with humanity’s creative and scientific work.

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April 5, 2020

John M. Horack

Gamma Ray Bursts: A Brief History of the Most Powerful Explosions in the Universe

Gamma-ray bursts, discovered by accident with classified satellites, were for decades a leading mystery in astrophysics. John M. Horack explores the breakthroughs that followed from the Gamma Ray Observatory (1991) and subsequent experiments, which showed that these are the most powerful explosions in the universe. Very recently, gravitational waves have been detected from these still-mysterious explosions.

John M. Horack is the inaugural Neil Armstrong Chair in Aerospace Policy at The Ohio State University, with tenured, full-professor appointments in the College of Engineering’s Department of Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering and the John Glenn College of Public Affairs. He is a 30-year veteran of the spaceflight industry.

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Sept. 16, 2018

Michael A. Neblo

Politics With the People

Citizens and scholars alike worry about the health of representative democracy around the world today. They worry about resurgent nationalism across the globe as well as accusations of “democratic deficits” against technocrats. In the United States, public approval of Congress remains near its all-time low, with populist challenges roiling both major parties. This talk explores some realistic reform proposals based on Neblo's research into what ails democratic politics in the U.S. today.

Michael A. Neblo is associate professor of political science and (by courtesy) philosophy and public policy, and director of the Institute for Democratic Engagement and Accountability (IDEA) at The Ohio State University. 

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Oct. 14, 2018

Bharat Bhushan

Lessons from Nature: Bio-inspired Surfaces for Green Science and Technology

Over billions of years, nature has developed materials, objects and processes that function from the macroscale to the nanoscale. Many organisms and objects — including bacteria; plants; animals; and seashells — possess properties of commercial interest. The emerging field of biomimetics allows scientists to mimic biology or nature to develop eco-friendly nanomaterials, nanodevices and systems with desirable properties. This talk will present an overview of the field of biomimetics and biologically inspired surfaces.

Dr. Bharat Bhushan is an Ohio Eminent Scholar and the Howard D. Winbigler Professor at The Ohio State University College of Engineering, where he also serves as director of the Nanoprobe Laboratory for Bio- & Nanotechnology and Biomimetics. Bhushan holds two master’s degrees, a PhD in mechanical engineering/mechanics, an MBA, and four honorary doctorates.

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Nov. 18, 2018

Michael W. Gray

What Do We Really Know About the Origin of the Cell's Powerhouse?

Mitochondria — the so-called “powerhouse of the cell” — hold a special place in eukaryotic (nucleus-containing) cells. Evidence accumulated over the past half century strongly points to an origin of the mitochondrion from a free-living bacterium closely related to a specific group, the Alphaproteobacteria. However, the actual processes by which this endosymbiotic bacterium was integrated into its host cell remain controversial. So, what do we really know?

Michael W. Gray is a professor emeritus of the Department of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology and the Centre for Comparative Genomics and Evolutionary Bioinformatics at Dalhousie University in Nova Scotia, Canada. He is a Fellow of both the Royal Society of Canada and the American Academy of Microbiology.

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Dec. 2, 2018

Naomi Ehrich Leonard

Flock Logic: The Art and Engineering of How Groups Move

What are the social interactions and responses that explain the stunning behavior of flocking birds, schooling fish and swarming honeybees? How do performance instructions shape a collaborative improvisation when dancers make compositional choices on the fly? How should we design decision-making for a team of robots to perform environmental monitoring and search and rescue? A unifying framework will be presented to explore these and related questions on the dynamics of groups.

Naomi Ehrich Leonard is the Edwin S. Wilsey Professor of Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering at Princeton University. She studies the principles and design of collective dynamics in nature and robotics.

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Jan. 13, 2019

Nadya Mason

Going Through the Quantum Tunnel...

Quantum mechanics — the fundamental theory that describes nature at the smallest scales of atomic and subatomic energy levels — seems to be everywhere, from superhero movies to Fortune 500 companies. But what makes quantum mechanics so different and special? How can it be used (and can objects really pass through barriers)?  This talk will bridge the divide between popular imaginations of quantum and real quantum mechanical devices, covering the basics of quantum mechanics and how it creates both limits and promise for computer processing.

Nadya Mason is a professor of physics at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign and director of the Illinois Materials Research Science and Engineering Center. Her research focuses on experimental studies of nanoscale electronic materials.

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Feb. 17, 2019

Harvey J. Miller

Mobility Matters: Why Sustainable Transportation is Essential for our Future

Contemporary humanity enjoys mobility levels that are unprecedented in history. While this has benefits, it also has enormous social, health and environmental costs. Resolving these costs is crucial if civilization is to survive the 21st century — a world that will see 10 billion people, most of whom will crowd into cities. This lecture will describe the concept of sustainable transportation and how new, data-driven science allows scholars and practitioners to address these essential issues.  

Harvey J. Miller is the Reusche Chair in Geographic Information Science, director of the Center for Urban and Regional Analysis (CURA) and professor of geography at The Ohio State University. His interests include geographic information science, transportation and mobility data analytics.

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March 17, 2019

Robert M. Hazen

The Story of Earth: How Life and Rocks Have Co-Evolved

The story of Earth is a 4.5-billion-year saga of dramatic transformations driven by physical, chemical and biological processes. The co-evolution of life and rocks unfolded in an irreversible sequence of evolutionary stages. Each stage re-sculpted our planet’s surface; introduced new planetary processes and phenomena; and inexorably paved the way for the next.

Robert M. Hazen is staff scientist at the Carnegie Institution of Washington and Clarence Robinson Professor of Earth Sciences at George Mason University. With degrees from MIT and Harvard, he studies mineral evolution and the coevolution of the geosphere and biosphere.

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April 14, 2019

Laurie E. Cutting

Educational Neuroscience: How the Brain Supports Learning in Children and Adolescents

Educational neuroscience draws upon cognitive neuroscience, education and psychology with the goal of examining neurobiological processes related to education. This presentation will provide an overview of this emerging field and the insights it can offer, using reading development as an exemplar and examining how neurobiological approaches inform and refine our understanding of how to identify and treat reading difficulties.

Laurie E. Cutting is the Patricia and Rodes Hart Professor at Vanderbilt University; associate director of the Vanderbilt Kennedy Center; and a senior scientist at Haskins Laboratories. Her work focuses on brain-behavior relations in children and adolescents.

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September 10, 2017

Frederic Bertley

Paying Attention to the Importance of the Scientific Revolution Amid Cluelessness

Despite an ever-growing dependency on science and technology, we are seeing a decline in scientific literacy. Bertley discusses this duality and challenges us to become advocates for science. Highlighting wide-ranging technological advances, he emphasizes the necessity of basic scientific literacy and appreciation for the scientific process, whatever our career paths.

Frederic Bertley, PhD, president and CEO, Center of Science and Industry (COSI), has worked in the area of preventive medicine in Haiti, Sudan, and the Canadian Arctic.

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October 15, 2017

Jonathan Yewdell

A Practical Guide to Becoming a Priest of Scientific Methodism

Yewdell, who studies influenza viruses to see how viral proteins are made to better understand immune-system responses to viral infection, describes the nuts and bolts of becoming a biomedical PhD researcher. He shares what is required to make and interpret discoveries, the sheer joy of scientific exploration and life in the worldwide research community.

Jonathan Yewdell, MD, PhD, chief, Laboratory of Viral Diseases, National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, is passionate about promoting science and helping the next generation of young scientists be successful researchers via lectures, Youtube videos, and a forthcoming book.

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November 12, 2017

Ruchika Prakash

Mindfulness for the Aging Brain

Mindfulness meditation has been practiced for centuries, but is now finding its place in Western discourse. Prakash discusses research examining the effect of training in practices of mindfulness meditation for brain and cognitive health, with a special emphasis on the aging brain.

Ruchika Prakash, Ohio State associate professor of psychology, is an expert in neuropsychological rehabilitation. She studies effects of lifestyle-based interventions, e.g., exercise training and mindfulness meditation, to promote cognitive and brain health.

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December 3, 2017

Joe Lykken

Particle Physics: New Research Frontiers

Particle physics, the quest to understand the smallest objects in the universe, depends on operating powerful colliders, like those at Fermilab and CERN. Surprisingly, the answers we get also shed light on the largest objects, such as the universe itself. Lykken outlines deep theoretical questions, exciting experimental programs and how they connect.

Joseph Lykken, a theoretical physicist, is deputy director and chief research officer of Fermilab, the leading particle physics laboratory in the United States.

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January 21, 2018

Rebecca Reczek

Do Healthy Diets Make Empty Wallets? How Consumer Beliefs Shape Food Choice

Consumers have many lay beliefs about how the world works. But are these beliefs always correct? Reczek explains how our non-professional theories about food, including the relationships between health and taste; and cost and health, drive our food choices that can sometimes lead us away from making healthy decisions.

Rebecca Walker Reczek, Ohio State associate professor of marketing, studies consumer decision making, including those about food and health, sustainability, and ethical issues in the marketplace. Her work is published in leading journals; she recently received the Early Career Award from the Society for Consumer Psychology.

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February 18, 2018

Matt Kahle

Archimedes: Mathematical Superhero of the Ancient World

Archimedes — remarkable physicist, engineer, inventor, astronomer — built a heat ray to burn attacking ships’ sails; designed machines predicting motions of planets and eclipses; estimated how many grains of sand it would take to fill the universe. Kahle discusses a few of these amazing inventions and insights, including one that anticipated calculus by thousands of years.

Matthew Kahle is Ohio State associate professor of mathematics. His research interests include various interactions of topology and geometry with probability, statistical mechanics, and combinatorics.

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March 18, 2018

Amanda Petford-Long

How Microscopy Can Help Understand Nanomaterials

Materials at the nanoscale behave in a fundamentally different way. Using microscopes as ‘nano-laboratories,’ allows us to understand their structure at the atomic scale. Petford-Long shares how this new understanding has applications for how we store, read and write information in computers.

Amanda Petford-Long, Argonne Distinguished Fellow, Materials Science Division, Argonne National Laboratory; Northwestern University Professor of Materials Science and Engineering, studies behavior of nanoscale materials with applications in information-storage technology. She is a Fellow of the Royal Academy of Engineering; and the American Physical Society.

April 15, 2018

Alberto Cairo

Visual Trumpery

Trumpery: worthless nonsense, something that is, simultaneously, deceitful and showy. Cairo explains how to fight fake data, fake facts, fake visualization, demonstrating how choices a data-visualization designer makes have significant impact on how an audience perceives data. He shares strategies to improve rational thinking and understand probability and uncertainty as ways to fight back against a deluge of misinformation.

Alberto Cairo is the Knight Chair in Visual Journalism at the University of Miami, and director of UM’s Center for Computational Science’s Visualization program. He is an author and freelancer and permanent consultant for companies like Google and Microsoft.

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View Cairo's Repository of Readings

September 18, 2016
Emery Brown

The Rhythms of the Unconscious Brain under General Anesthesia

General anesthesia, a drug-induced reversible coma, allows patients to humanely undergo surgeries and invasive diagnostic procedures. Brown explains that under general anesthesia the brain is controlled by highly organized oscillations. Study of these oscillations resolves the long-standing mystery of general anesthesia and offers new insights into the brain’s fundamental workings.

Emery N. Brown, MD, PhD, Warren M. Zapol Professor of Anesthesia, Massachusetts General Hospital and Harvard Medical School; Edward Hood Taplin Professor of Medical Engineering and Computational Neuroscience, MIT.

October 23, 2016
Richard Petty

How Confidence Affects Decision Making and Action

Although some people are more confident than others, nearly everyone wants to be more confident. But why? What good is confidence? Petty explains where confidence comes from and the polarizing impact that it can have on our important judgments and behaviors.

Richard E. Petty, Distinguished University Professor of psychology at Ohio State, an expert on the impacts of social influence on judgment and behavior.

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November 13, 2016
Sian Beilock

How to perform your best under stress

In an energetic tour of the latest brain science, Sian Beilock explains why we all too often blunder when the stakes are high. She reveals what happens in our brain and body when we experience performance anxiety and shows us how to succeed brilliantly when it matters most.

Sian Beilock, psychology professor and director, Human performance Lab, University of Chicago, is author of the bestseller, Choke.

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December 4, 2016
Elisabeth Root

Has Cholera Met its Match? Geographic Science and the Fight against a Global Killer

Root takes us into the past with the story of John Snow, who stopped the London cholera epidemic by using geographic science to figure out the source of the outbreak. Then, back to the present, we see how modern geographic science can track and prevent outbreaks. 21st Century climate makes it even more pressing because today cholera is being driven by rising sea-surface temperatures. 

Elisabeth Root is an associate professor of geography at Ohio State. Her research area lies at the intersection of geography and public health. She uses spatial statistical methods and Geographic Information Systems (GIS) to integrate socioeconomic and environmental context into studies of disease processes and health behaviors. 

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January 22, 2017
Laura Cadonati

Listening to the Universe with Gravitational Waves

Einstein predicted gravitational waves as ripples in space-time produced by violent astrophysical events. One hundred years later, the Laser Interferometer Gravitational-wave Observatory (LIGO) observed gravitational waves from the collision of two black holes. This groundbreaking discovery marks the beginning of a new astrophysics, providing new ways to probe the universe.

Laura Cadonati researches gravitational waves and particle astrophysics. She is associate professor of physics and member of Georgia Tech’s Center for Relativistic Astrophysics.

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February 19, 2017
Matthew Sullivan

Understanding ocean viruses may just save the earth and help cure your next ailment

Microbes are now recognized to impact human health, weight, even behavior. However, viruses that infect microbes are everywhere, and those in your body may play particularly important roles, yet remain virtually undiscovered. Sullivan shares the state of the art in studying ocean viruses and relates how that helps us understand viruses in humans, agriculture and industry.

Matthew Sullivan, Ohio State microbiology associate professor, studies co-evolution of microbe and virus in environmental populations and impact of marine phages on microbe-mediated global biogeochemistry. Sullivan was part of the international Tara Oceans Expedition.

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March 19, 2017
John Beacom

Neutrino Astronomy Made Easy

Neutrinos barely exist: They have almost no mass or interactions.  Yet they are blazing forth from the hot, dense centers of nuclear reactors, the Sun, supernova explosions and who knows what else?  If only we could see them!  With new detectors, now we can, but faintly, opening up new vistas, questions and possibilities.

John Beacom is Ohio State professor of physics and astronomy; director, Center for Cosmology and Astroparticle Physics (CCAPP); and frequent public speaker and contributor to online publications.

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April 23, 2017
Cara Malek

How Would A Dragon Fly? The Science & Art of Rigging Animated Characters

Before an animated dragon can fly or a panda can execute a kung fu kick, a character rigger must design and create the digital puppet to bring the character to life. Part anatomy, part computer science, part sculpture, character rigging is a challenging, interesting blend of aesthetics and usability. Malek has 10-years rigging experience and shares how it’s done.

Cara Malek supervises DreamWorks’s Character Technology team, directing rigging on all studio productions. Credits include, How to Train Your Dragon, Kung Fu Panda 2 & 3. She trained at ACCAD, earning an MFA in digital animation from Ohio State’s design department.

Sean B. Carroll
April 17, 2016

The Serengeti Rules: The Quest to Discover How Nature Works & Why It Matters

Nature regulates everything — whether it’s the molecules in our bloodstream or lions on an African savanna. Revolutionary discoveries like The Serengeti Rules, are illuminating this regulation. Carroll discusses ecological rules that control numbers and kinds of animals and plants everywhere that are being applied to restore some of the planet’s greatest wildernesses.

Professor of molecular biology and genetics, University of Wisconsin.

Todd Thompson
March 20, 2016

The Fantastic Forge: Supernovae and the Origin of the Elements

Thompson describes the grand pageant of stellar death and transfiguration caused by supernovae — exploding massive stars and tremendous thermonuclear detonations of white dwarfs — that partially replenish galaxies with raw materials for future star formation. We owe our existence to the elements they provided: carbon, oxygen and iron.

Professor of astronomy, Ohio State

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Jill Pipher
February 21, 2016

Mathematical ideas in Cryptography: from ancient times to a post-quantum age

How does encryption work? How do we know that our current encryption methods are secure? Pipher provides answers and explores why we need new mathematical ideas to deal with emerging problems, such as privacy for information stored in the cloud, and the computational potential of quantum computing.

Elisha Benjamin Andrews Professor of Mathematics, Brown University, and director of the Institute for Computational and Experimental Research in Mathematics

Ellen Peters
January 10, 2016

Decision making across the life span: What are good moods good for? 

How we process information in making decisions changes as we get older. We don’t think as hard as we get older, but having experience to rely on allows us to think better. And, good moods have a surprising power that can help older adults make better decisions.

Professor of psychology and director, Ohio State’s Decision Sciences Collaborative

Sian Beilock
December 6, 2015

How to perform your best under stress

In an energetic tour of the latest brain science, Sian Beilock explains why we all too often blunder when the stakes are high. She reveals what happens in our brain and body when we experience the dreaded performance anxiety and shows how to succeed brilliantly when it matters most.

Vice provost for academic initiatives and psychology professor, University of Chicago

Stefano Mancuso
November 15, 2015

Brilliant green ­– from plant intelligence to a new model of modernity

Despite huge differences in form, all animals are similar to us—variations on a theme. A plant is ‘something else,’ viewed as commodity or decoration. Mancuso shows plants are exquisitely complex organisms that communicate, solve problems, memorize, learn: with intelligence, but not as we know it.

Professor, University of Florence; director and founder of the International Laboratory of Plant Neurobiology; founder of International Society for Plant Signaling and Behavior

October 18, 2015     
Tish Shute

The Future of Story Telling: What are we going to do with our super powers?

Today’s emerging Augmented and Virtual Reality technologies takes computing back to the language of the body, emotions and senses. This new era of computing is not just about seeing something, but feeling something and making connections — offering a super power that brings new forms of empathy to storytelling.

Director, Product Experience, THRED, team of talented designers, engineers, entrepreneurs who created genre defining works: SimCity, The Sims, Spore, Carmen San Diego

September 20, 2015
Jeffrey R. Childress

Science and technology of data storage in the information age

We know data needs to be stored somewhere — quickly, safely, reliably. Translated into tiny magnetic poles on hard disk drives, or an electric charge inside a silicon chip, enormous amounts of data storage rely on amazing scientific and technological progress in magnetism and nanofabrication. Learn about today’s technology and challenges ahead. 

Research director, HGST, a Western Digital company in San Jose, CA. 

Sept. 14, 2014
Margot Gerritsen

Mathematical tools bring hidden beauty to light

Lecture: Wexner Center Film/Video Theater, 3-4 p.m.
Reception: Wexner Center Cafe, 4-5 p.m.

Is it difficult to believe that the linear algebra taught in school is attractive, even useful? Gerritsen will make us believers. She shows that not only are these equations the very core of science and engineering, they can be turned into beautiful art.

Margot Gerritsen, associate professor, Energy Resources Engineering; and director of the Institute for Computational & Mathematical Stanford University, specializes in renewable and fossil energy production. She is active in coastal ocean dynamics and yacht design, as well as several areas in computational mathematics, including search algorithm design and matrix computations.

Gerritsen's main research area is design of efficient numerical algorithms for compositional and thermal fluid flow processes in porous media — particularly enhanced oil recovery processes: the more oil recovery processes can be optimized, the better — both in terms of available resources and the environment.

In addition to research, Gerritsen enjoys teaching and thinking about energy issues. Check out the Smart Energy Show for thoughts and discussions on energy issues and policies, or follow on twitter @smartenergyshow.

In 2007, Gerritsen started producing Smart Energy, a podcast blog that discusses energy issues and policies.

Other information on outreach in energy is available on her Leopold page.

Outside academia, Gerritsen loves the outdoors, music, writing, reading, horse-back riding, motorcycling, scuba, yoga, the arts and travel with her son.

Oct. 12, 2014

Ray Jayawardhana

Neutrino Hunters: Chasing a Ghostly Particle to Unlock Cosmic Secrets

Lecture: Wexner Film/Video Theater, 3-4 p.m.
Reception: Wexner Cafe OR: the adjacent Mershon Lobby, 4-5 p.m.

Move over Higgs — it's neutrino time. Take a thrilling journey into the shadowy world of these elusive particles as Jayawardhana recounts a captivating detective story with a colorful cast of characters and awesome cosmic implications.

Dean of Science and professor at York University in Toronto, Ray Jayawardhana is a renowned astrophysicist and award-winning science writer. His primary research areas include the formation and early evolution of stars, brown dwarfs and planets. With more than 100 scientific papers to his credit, Jayawardhana also has written for The Economist, New York Times and Scientific American. He is the author of Strange New Worlds and Neutrino Hunters. Follow him on twitter @DrRayJay.

Nov. 2, 2014

James Sneyd

Mathematics and Music: the Beauties in Pattern

Lecture: Wexner Film/Video Theater, 3-4 p.m.
Reception: Wexner Cafe OR: the adjacent Mershon Lobby, 4-5 p.m.

Sneyd claims to have no answer to the question of whether mathematical and musical ability are necessarily linked, but hopes to show us how an appreciation and understanding of one field can enrich the other, and demonstrate common beauties not always apparent to the naked eye. He will briefly discuss some of his favorite moments in the joint history of mathematics and music. He believes we will find them amusing as well as interesting. Then he will give us a deeper look at patterns typically underlying mathematical research and show how such pattern constructions lie also at the heart of such things as musical improvisation and rhythmic patterns — not to mention Homeric poetry — which he promises will make an appearance.

James Sneyd, professor of mathematics, University of Auckland, Royal Society of New Zealand, states that, "For over 2000 years of Western culture, mathematics and music have been inextricably linked. Together with geometry and astronomy, arithmetic and music made up the four components of the quadrivium that formed the basis of the academic curriculum throughout antiquity and the medieval period. It can come as no surprise, therefore, that the greatest scientific philosophers and mathematicians, from Pythagoras and Aristotle to Euler and Helmholtz, have included music as a natural part of their scientific studies."

Thus has arisen in the popular mind the notion of mathematician as musician — that somehow, a mathematical brain is peculiarly suited to the study of music, and vice versa.

"However, here be dragons," Sneyd said. These historical studies, focusing on how musical scales are constructed using various fantastical combinations of mathematical fractions, expose only a superficial similarity between the disciplines. Just as music is so much more than scale construction, so is mathematics far more than mere multiplication of fractions. Both mathematics and music are — at heart — the construction of patterns, and herein lies a far more fundamental connection between the worlds of mathematics and music.

Dec. 7, 2014

Martina Newell-McGloughlin

Genetically Modified Organisms: Debunking the Myths

Lecture: Ohio Union U.S. Bank Conference Theater (First Floor), 3-4 p.m.
Reception: Ohio Union Ohio Staters Traditions Room (Second Floor), 4-5 p.m.

Trying to avoid GMOs? We may need to return to a hunter-gatherer society; humans have been genetically modifying plants for around 10,000 years. Newell-McGloughlin addresses the many myths surrounding modern techniques developed to introduce desirable traits into crops and animals.

Martina Newell-McGloughlin directs the University of California System-wide Biotechnology Research and Education Program (UCBREP), which covers all ten campuses and three national Laboratories — Lawrence Livermore, Lawrence Berkeley and Los Alamos — a position that requires familiarity with state-of-the-art everything, from stem cells to nanotechnology research, across academia and industry. 

She has vast experience in developing novel biotechnology research, training and education programs and in managing large multidisciplinary grants programs. She has published and edited numerous papers, articles, book chapters and three books on biotechnology.

Her own research is in the areas of disease resistance in plants, scale-up systems for industrial and pharmaceutical production in microbes and microbiological mining. She has a special interest in Developing World Research and is part of the USAID Applied Biotechnology Research Program.

Newell-McGloughlin travels worldwide for various organizations, including the U.S. State Department and the USDA, as an expert on biotech research and education issues. She was recently requested by the Gates Foundation to brief their directors; and by the Pontifical Academy of Science to brief the Vatican on future opportunities and challenges in Biotechnology.

Jan. 11, 2015

Clifford Will

Black Holes, Waves of Gravity & other Warped Ideas of Dr. Einstein

Lecture: Wexner Film/Video Theater, 3-4 p.m.
Reception: Wexner Cafe, 4-5 p.m.

Einstein's General Theory of Relativity has had a major impact on everything from popular culture to everyday life to basic science. Songs, plays and movies proclaim Einstein as the symbol of genius, while people navigating with GPS devices unknowingly take account of Einstein's relativistic warpage of time. Two of the crazier ideas that come from Einstein are Gravitational Waves and the Black Hole, which manifest the warpage of space. Today, at the 100th anniversary of his theory, international teams of scientists have embarked on a quest to verify these ideas. Building and operating large-scale detectors on the ground, and designing space-based detectors for the future, they hope to detect and measure the waves, and to use those wave signals to reveal the hidden secrets of black holes.

Clifford Will is Distinguished Professor of Physics at the University of Florida.

Feb. 8, 2015

Joel Cohen

The Human Population: Its Past and Its Prospects

Lecture: Wexner Film/Video Theater, 3-4 p.m.
Reception: Wexner Cafe, 4-5 p.m.

The history of the human population results from interactions among demography, economics, the environment, and culture. The human population today is very heterogeneous. In 2005-2010, roughly half (48%) of the world's people lived in the 75 countries where fertility was below replacement level, although population continued to increase in many of these countries. Roughly 1/8 of the world's people live in regions with 4 or more children per woman per lifetime. The fractions of people living in cities and the fractions of old people also differ widely among regions. Under assumptions that are plausible but by no means certain, most demographers anticipate that, by the middle of the 21st century, the world's population will be larger by several billion people, more slowly growing, more urban, and older. Actions taken now can strongly influence the world we will have half a century from now.

Joel E. Cohen is Professor of Populations in the School of International Relations and Public Affairs; the Department of Earth and Environmental Sciences; and the Center for Environmental Research and Conservation at Columbia University. He also is the Abby Rockefeller Mauze Professor of Populations at Rockefeller University and director of the Laboratory of Populations at Rockefeller University & Columbia University in New York.

March 8, 2015

Fran Kalal

Digital Tailoring, Grooming and Simulation in Pixar Films

Lecture: Wexner Film/Video Theater, 3-4 p.m.
Reception: Wexner Cafe, 4-5 p.m.

Fran Kalal is a Cloth and Simulation Technical Director at Pixar Animation Studios and has tailored outfits and simulated shots on “Up,” “Brave” and “Inside Out.” Learn how art and science are woven together to dress, groom and simulate the characters in some of your favorite Pixar Animation Studios films.

April 12, 2015

Craig Mello 

A Worm's Tale: Secrets of Evolution and Immortality

Lecture: Wexner Film/Video Theater, 3-4 p.m.
Reception: Wexner Cafe, 4-5 p.m.

Nobel laureate Craig Mello will talk about how everything alive today shares a nearly 4 billion year-old common ancestry. Humans — even scientists — cannot conceive of or understand the implications of such a timescale, and consequently, always underestimate living things. Hear about the remarkable mechanisms organisms use to program gene expression, and ways scientists and physicians are learning to use them as tools.

But, what this talk is really about, he says, is the excitement of science and the ever-unfolding and deepening mysteries of life.

Mello won the 2006 Nobel Prize in Physiology/Medicine for the discovery of RNA interference, a type of gene silencing. He is investigator, Howard Hughes Medical Institute; Blais University Chair in Molecular Medicine and co-director, RNA Therapeutics Institute, University of Massachusetts Medical School.

Sept. 8, 2013

Aydogan Ozcan

Computational Imaging and Diagnosis for Telemedicine and Global Health

Lecture: Ohio Union U.S. Bank Conference Theater, 3–4 pm
Reception: Ohio Union Ohio Staters Traditions Room, 4–5 pm

With more than six billion cell-phone users in the world, the majority of them in developing parts of the world, new opportunities exist to put their technology to work in point-of-care diagnostics and/or microscopic imaging applications to improve health care. This is especially important in areas where medical facilities and infrastructure are extremely limited or non-existent. Ozcan introduces new imaging and detection architectures using novel theories and numerical algorithms to address immediate needs of telemedicine for global health problems.

Aydogan Ozcan is a professor at UCLA leading the Bio- and Nano-Photonics Laboratory at the Electrical Engineering and Bioengineering Departments. He has 22 issued patents—all of which are licensed—and more than 15 pending patent applications. He is author of one book and co-author of more than 250 peer reviewed research articles. Ozcan has received several awards, among them: the Presidential Early Career Award for Scientists and Engineers (PECASE), SPIE Biophotonics Technology Innovator Award, SPIE Early Career Achievement Award, ARO Young Investigator Award, NSF CAREER Award, NIH Director’s New Innovator Award, ONR Young Investigator Award, IEEE Photonics Society Young Investigator Award and MIT’s TR35 Award for his seminal contributions to near-field and on-chip imaging, and telemedicine based diagnostics.

Innovate UCLA  

Oct. 13, 2013

Bernie Krause

The Great Animal Orchestra

Lecture: Ohio Union U.S. Bank Conference Theater, 3–4 pm
Reception: Ohio Union Cartoon Room, 4–5 pm

A musician and naturalist and one of the world's leading experts in natural sound, Krause has spent his life discovering and recording nature's rich chorus. Searching far beyond our modern world's honking horns and buzzing machinery, he has sought out the truly wild places that remain, where natural soundscapes exist virtually unchanged from when the earliest humans first inhabited the earth. Krause shares fascinating insight into how deeply animals rely on their aural habitat to survive and the damaging effects of extraneous noise on the delicate balance between predator and prey. But natural soundscapes aren't vital only to the animal kingdom, Krause explores how the myriad voices and rhythms of the natural world formed a basis from which our own musical expression emerged.

From snapping shrimp, popping viruses, and the songs of humpback whales-whose voices, if unimpeded, could circle the earth in hours—to cracking glaciers, bubbling streams, and the roar of intense storms; from melody-singing birds to the organ-like drone of wind blowing over reeds, the sounds Krause has experienced and describes are like no others. And from recording jaguars at night in the Amazon rain forest to encountering mountain gorillas in Africa's Virunga Mountains, Krause offers an intense and intensely personal narrative of the planet's deep and connected natural sounds and rhythm.

Wild Sanctuary

Nov. 17, 2013

Risa Wechsler

Building the cosmos: how simulations shed light on the dark universe

Lecture: Ohio Union U.S. Bank Conference Theater, 3–4 pm
Reception: Ohio Union Cartoon Room, 4–5 pm

Recent advances in observations of the cosmos have allowed us to peer into the earliest moments of our Universe, and have dramatically changed our picture of its contents. Wechsler will walk you through how cutting-edge simulations allow us to be a fly on the wall during the formation of the cosmos, and shed light on the physical processes that created the Universe we see today.

Risa Wechsler is an associate professor in the physics department at Stanford University and SLAC National Accelerator Laboratory and a member of the Kavli Institute for Particle Astrophysics and Cosmology.

Dec. 8, 2013

Paul Kwiat

The Quantum Information Revolution

Lecture: Ohio Union U.S. Bank Conference Theater, 3–4 pm
Reception: Ohio Union Ohio Staters Traditions Room, 4–5 pm

More than a century after Einstein's revolutionary suggestion that light is composed of particles, the quantum information revolution seeks to use the almost magical properties of nonclassical physics to enable new feats in information processing that would be difficult or impossible without the quantum advantage. Kwiat will discuss how quantum randomness, superposition, and entanglement can be used to realize perfectly secure cryptography, ultra-fast computation, and completely non-invasive photography. Time/appetites permitting, Kwiat may also give a brief lesson in Quantum Cooking.

Paul Kwiat is the Bardeen Chair in Physics, at the University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign. A Fellow of the American Physical Society and the Optical Society of America, he has given invited talks at numerous national and international conferences, and authored over 135 articles on various topics in quantum optics and quantum information. His research includes quantum interrogation and optical implementations of quantum information protocols, particularly using entangled photons.

Jan. 12, 2014

James Gentile

Carcinogens in the Environment: Separating Fact from Fiction

Lecture: Wexner Center Film/Video Theater, 3–4 pm
Reception: Wexner Center Café, 4–5 pm

Open a newspaper, turn on the TV, go online—and we are deluged with information about “carcinogens” in the environment, along with “anticarcinogens” that can protect us from gene mutations that might give rise to some form of cancer.

Gentile gives examples below that he believes are representative of issues in which perceived risk versus reality are at odds with one another relative to human exposures to environmental agents.  His talk will take a deeper look at the complex world of “environmental carcinogenesis” to better understand the balance between reality versus perception relative to chemicals present in our foods and in our environment.

The phenomenon of understanding real risk versus perceived risk from environmental chemical or physical agents is not new. For example, when Rachel Carson’s lyrical, yet scientifically flawed, book Silent Spring--an eloquent case that pesticides, especially DDT, were poisoning both wildlife and the environment and endangering human health--was released in 1962, the emotional public reaction launched the modern environmental movement –a very good thing. DDT became the prime target of a growing anti-chemical and anti-pesticide movement during the 1960s. Unfortunately, reasoned scientific discussion and sound data gathered from a risk/benefit analysis never took place.

Another example is cooking with microwaves.  Humans have been heating meals for thousands of years using fire, or the sun.  Microwaving food is a relatively new process, only a few decades old. "Nuking" a pizza, or leftover food, is a quick and easy way to get a hot meal and burn the roof of your mouth, but is it worse for you than firing up the oven or, perhaps, using lighter-fluid saturated charcoal? From an environmental standpoint, a microwave uses much less electricity than a conventional oven, and there is no need for combustible petroleum products to ‘start the fire.’  In fact, microwaving meat can actually eliminate up to 90% of carcinogens over conventional high-temperature methods, such as pan frying or grilling directly over an open flame, which have been linked to various cancers.

Gentile is Dean for the Natural Sciences at Hope College, and Past-President of Research Corporation for Science Advancement. He has a PhD in genetics and formerly held an endowed professorship, and was dean at Hope College (MI). He is president of two separate scientific societies as well as past editor-in-chief for the international journal Mutation Research. He is a former member of both the Michigan Hazardous Waste Site Review Board and U.S. EPA Science Advisory Board, as well advisory boards for NIOSH, NSF, and NIH. He served on both the NRC Committee on Undergraduate Science Education and the NAS Science Education and Life Science Boards. He is a National Academies Education Mentor.

Gentile had a leadership role in the publication, Biology 2010: Transforming Undergraduate Education for Future Research Biologists. He also served on the National Science Board Commission on science education and was a co-chairperson of the National Academies Summer Institutes for Education in Biology.  He was a governor for the National Conferences on Undergraduate Research, a council member for the Council on Undergraduate Research, and on the executive committee for Project Kaleidoscope. He is the recipient of the Alexander Hollaender Research Excellence Award, the Distinguished Alumni Award from Illinois State University, the Cancer Medallion of the Japanese National Cancer Institute, the Science Medal of Distinction of Pisa, Italy, and is an AAAS Fellow.  His research focus is environmental mutagenesis and carcinogenesis, with an emphasis on metabolism of carcinogens plant and animal systems, and the association between inflammation and cancer.

Feb. 9, 2014

L. Mahadevan

Sickle Cell Anemia: Physics and Physiology of a Molecular Disease    

Lecture: Ohio Union U.S. Bank Conference Theater, 3–4 pm
Reception: Ohio Union Ohio Staters Traditions Room, 4–5 pm

Sickle cell anemia arises from a single mutation that leads to the intermittent stoppage of blood flow, wreaking havoc in the body. Understanding the pathophysiology of this disease links nano-scale macromolecular biochemistry to the physics of soft systems. L. Mahadevan, describes how in-vitro experiments and theoretical models lead to predictive quantitative diagnostics for this disease, while setting this in the broader context of evolutionary dynamics.

L. Mahadevan received his PhD from Stanford in 1995, and started his career at MIT, before moving to Cambridge University where he was the Schlumberger Professor of Complex Physical Systems and a Fellow of Trinity. Since 2003, he has been at Harvard, where he is currently de Valpine Professor of Applied Mathematics, Organismic and Evolutionary Biology and Physics. His work centers around using mathematics to understand the physical and biological organization of matter in space and time, particularly at the scale of the everyday world and is thus closely tied in with experience and experiments. Among other honors, he is currently a MacArthur Fellow (2009-present).

March 2, 2014

Mike Reed

Mathematics and Human Physiology

Lecture: Ohio Union U.S. Bank Conference Theater, 3–4 pm
Reception: Ohio Union Ohio Staters Traditions Room, 4–5 pm

What does mathematics have to do with biology anyway? What are the uses and misuses of statistics? Why is it so hard to understand biological systems? Why does the medical system often change its mind about diagnosis and treatment?  Reed will discuss these questions directly and in the context of specific examples drawn from human and animal physiology.

Our metaphors for how our body works are deeply misleading and this is especially true of the brain. Although we compute, we are not circuit boards. The electrophysiology of the brain is affected by the biochemistry of the brain, the endocrine system, and the changing patterns of gene expression and anatomical connections. All of these systems affect behavior and, in turn are affected by behavior and each other.  Reed will talk about both depression and Parkinson’s disease.

Einstein famously remarked that “God does not play dice with the world," because he was dismayed at the probabilistic nature of quantum mechanics. Maybe, or maybe not—but biological systems make use of randomness to accomplish specific biological goals—Reed will supply examples.

Finally, Reed will discuss how the biological revolution has changed science and the science workforce.

Mike Reed is professor of mathematics at Duke University and senior scientific advisor at Ohio State’s Mathematical Biosciences Institute (MBI). He received a BS from Yale University and PhD from Stanford University.

April 13, 2014

Jane Wang

Falling Paper and Insect Flight

Her work is driven by a fascination with the puzzles and beauty around us. She will discuss puzzles and mathematics about the dynamics of falling paper and the tricks used by insects to fly.

Jane Wang is a professor of physics and mechanical engineering at Cornell University. A theoretical physicist, Wang studies the physics of living organisms. Her research aims to identify, investigate, and discover new phenomena in a broad range of physical and biological systems. She has worked on problems in statistical physics of turbulence and turbulent diffusion, fluid dynamics, and applied mathematics. Her recent work has focused on understanding the physics of insect flight: how do insects fly, why do they fly the way they do, and how can we infer their 'thoughts' from their flight dynamics. She received her PhD in Physics from the University of Chicago in 1996. She was then a NSF-NATO postdoctoral fellow at the department of theoretical physics of Oxford University and a visiting member at New York University's Courant Institute of Mathematical Sciences. She joined Cornell in 1999, where she is now a professor of mechanical and aerospace engineering and physics. She is a member of the American Physical Society and the Society for Industrial and Applied Mathematics. Her work is supported by an NSF Early Career Award, an ONR Young Investigator Award, a David and Lucille Packard Fellowship in Science and Engineering, and a Radcliffe Fellowship in Science.

Dragonfly at Cornell

September 9, 2012

Don Saari

Distinguished Professor of Mathematics and Economics, and Director of the Institute for Mathematical Behavioral Sciences at the University of California, Irvine.

Professor Don Saari kicked off the second season of the free, public lecture series sponsored by the centers and institutes of the College of Arts and Sciences, posing the question:  We vote; but can we elect someone who we really don't want?

In some elections, it is debatable whether the "winner" is who the voters really wanted.  As the "winner" can affect the future of an organization, whether a fraternity, sorority, academic department, city, county, state, or country, the consequences can be serious.  Saari will describe how the power of mathematics is beginning to identify those persistent villains that lead us astray—our choice of voting methods.  

Saari’s research interests range from mathematical astronomy (e.g., evolution of the universe, dark matter, collisions) to the mathematics of voting and decision rules.  He is a member of the National Academy of Sciences, the American Academy of Arts and Science, and a foreign member of the Finnish Academy of Science and Letters.

October 14, 2012

Lonnie G. Thompson

Distinguished University Professor of Earth Sciences and senior research scientist at the Byrd Polar Research Center

Lonnie G. Thompson is an internationally-recognized expert on climate change. Thompson lectured on, Glaciers, People and Global Climate Change (An Inconvenient Truth Meets An Inconvenient Mind).  

Thompson’s research has propelled the field of ice core paleoclimatology out of the Polar Regions to the highest tropical and subtropical ice fields. He and his team have developed light-weight solar powered drilling equipment for acquisition of histories from ice fields in the tropical South American Andes, the Himalayas, and on Kilimanjaro. These paleoclimate histories have advanced our understanding of the coupled nature of the Earth’s climate system. Work has focused on the El Niño and monsoon systems that dominate the climate of the tropical Pacific and affect global-scale oceanic and atmospheric circulation patterns.

Thompson’s observations of glacier retreat over the last three decades confirm that glaciers around the world are melting and provide clear evidence that the warming of the last 50 years is now outside the range of climate variability for several millennia, if not longer. He has published over 185 peer-reviewed publications, including several in the top journal, Science.

He has led over 54 field programs, been funded by the National Science Foundation, the National Ocean and Atmospheric Association, and NASA.

His work has been recognized around the world. He has received top honors and awards including the National Medal of Science, the highest honor the United States bestows on an American scientist; the Tyler Prize for Environmental Achievement, and the Dr. A.H.  Heineken Prize for Environmental Sciences research from the 200-year old Royal Netherlands Academy of Arts and Sciences—both environmental science equivalents of the Nobel Prize; and Israel’s Dan David Prize.

In addition, Thompson is an American Geophysical Union Fellow, an American Association for the Advancement of Science Fellow, a member of the National Academy of Sciences, and was elected to membership in the Chinese Academy of Sciences.

November 11, 2012

Andrew E. Johnson

NASA Jet Propulsion Lab

Landing and Roving on Mars


3-4 pm, Ohio Union US Bank Conference Theater; Reception: 4-5 pm, Ohio Staters Traditions Room

Johnson will give us an insider's looks at Landing and Roving on Mars. He is a principal member of the technical staff and supervisor of the GN&C Hardware and Testbed Development group at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory developing image-based techniques for autonomous navigation and mapping during descent to planets moons, comets and asteroids.

Johnson graduated with Highest Distinction from the University of Kansas in 1991 with a BS in Engineering Physics and a BS in Mathematics. In 1997, he received his PhD from the Robotics Institute at Carnegie Mellon University where he developed the spin-image surface signature for three dimensional object recognition and surface matching.

December 9, 2012

Jennifer Ouellette


Ready for Their Closeup: Scientists Go Hollywood


3-4 pm, Ohio Union US Bank Conference Theater; Reception: 4-5 pm, Ohio Staters Traditions Room

Science writer Jennifer Ouellette will take us to the movies to examine what happens when science intersects with popular culture. She is the author of three popular science books; her latest, The Calculus Diaries: How Math Can Help You Lose Weight, Win in Vegas, and Survive a Zombie Apocalypse. She is an editor and writer specializing in physics and related topics, with particular emphasis on how science intersects with popular culture. She is interested in communicating science to the public and  frequently contributes to NPR's Science Fridays. She also is a prolific blogger, writing regularly for Discovery News and maintains a blog at Scientific American called Cocktail Party Physics, featuring her faux-French avatar/alter ego, Jen-Luc Piquant.

January 13, 2013

Roland Kawakami

UC Riverside, physics

Two Dimensional Electronics and Spin-Based Computers

3-4 pm, the January Lecture ONLY is in the Wexner Center's Film/Video Theatre; Reception in the adjoining Cafe

Can you imagine electronic devices as thin as a single atomic layer? What about powerful new computer chips that take advantage of the electron's spin, a quirky aspect of quantum mechanics that makes electrons into tiny magnets? How about studying relativistic physics in a table-top experiment? Once upon a time this had to be considered science fiction, but it is now becoming a reality at the forefront of nanoscale physics and nanotechnology research. In this talk, I will tell you about the latest advances around the world and in my lab on two dimensional crystals, atomic sized electronics, and spin-based computing.

February 10, 2013

Jeffrey Reutter

director, Ohio Sea Grant and Stone Lab

Ohio State's Role in Protecting and Restoring the Most Important Lake in the World—Lake Erie


3-4 pm, Ohio Union U.S. Bank Conference Theater; Reception: 4-5 pm, Ohio Staters Traditions Room

Jeffrey Reutter, Lake Erie Area Research and Stone Lab Director, shares the latest research that tackles problems of lake health, invasive species, sustainability issues, and fisheries management.

March 17, 2013

John Wenzel

director, Powdermill Nature Reserve, Carnegie Museum of Natural History

How to work as a team when no one knows what she is doing


3-4 pm, Ohio Union U.S. Bank Conference Theater; Reception: 4-5 pm, Ohio Staters Traditions Room

John Wenzel mixes some math, information theory, cybernetics, and real life stuff to show how ants, bees, and wasps organize their labor without time clocks, or job foremen, or blueprints.

April 14, 2013

Ron Graham

Math, UCSD

Magic and math


3-4 pm, Ohio Union US Bank Conference Theater; Reception: 4-5 pm, Ohio Staters Traditions Room

Ron Graham, aka “The Mathemagician,”Department of Mathematics, University of California-San Diego, spills the secrets of Magic and Math.

The series premiered in September 2011, with renowned British mathematician and science-fiction writer Ian Stewart, who introduced his audience to the fun of creating The Science of Discworld.  

The October 2011 speaker, astronomer and planet-hunter Scott Gaudi, talked about The Search for Other Worlds, planets beyond our solar system enough like Earth to support life, and the excitement of finding them in unexpected places.  

On November 20, 2011, earth scientist Steven Lower told us about A Bacterium’s Sense of Touch and protein feelers that allow it to attach to and infect implanted cardiac devices. We can’t wait to find out how a geologist ended up working on bacteria.

On January 22nd, 2012, Giorgio Rizzoni presented, Sustainable mobility, renewable energy, and the future of transportation – what vehicles will our (grand)children drive? 

February's speaker, Jeffrey Daniels, spoke about The Science of Shale Gason February 19th, 2012 in the Wexner Center for the Arts Film/Video Theatre. 

The March 2012 speaker, Marty Golubitsky, spoke about Patterns, Patterns Everywhere on March 11, in the Wexner Center for the Arts Film/Video Theatre.

On April 15, 2012; Wexner Center Film/Video Theatre, Wendy Panero presented: The Earth Under Pressure: Experiments to probe the deepest reaches of the planet.

On May 20, 2012, Ohio Union, US Bank Conference Theatre Evalyn Gates, executive director and CEO of the Cleveland Museum of Natural History, spoke about Einstein’s Telescope: The Hunt for Dark Matter and Dark Energy; Gates' new book, by the same name, will be available for purchase and signing after the talk.