The Harrington STEM Lectures 2015 - 2016
The School of Science and Engineering sponsors a series of lectures on major topics of current scientific interest in Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM). These lectures, each designed for a general scientific audience, are given by recognized scholars from around the country who will be available to meet faculty and students on the days of their visits. The public is cordially invited to these lectures at no charge. For further information call 845-257-3990 or follow the links below.
Location: SUNY New Paltz, Coykendall Science Building Auditorium.
Time: Selected Tuesdays at 5 p.m., preceded by a reception at 4:30 PM in the CSB 110.
- Bob Berman, Overlook Observatory, Woodstock, NY. Sept. 22, 2015. "What is the Universe?"
Abstract: Quantum revelations and cosmological discoveries since 1998 have led us to completely new understandings of the cosmos that have curiously still not reached general awareness. This lecture explores the strange nature of "empty space," the non-reality of time, the curious inter-relationship between the observer and nature, and what it really means if the universe is infinite, as a major 2012 study implied when it uncovered a perfectly flat topology to the cosmos. We'll see how this demotes the Big Bang to a local event in the 'hood, and why, in fact, the universe is fundamentally size less. We'll also explore various amazing motions in the heavens as well as here on Earth.
- Vern Schramm PhD, Prof and Ruth Merns Chair, Albert Einstein College of Medicine. Oct. 20, 2015. "Enzymes: The Chemistry of Life and Target for New Medicines."
Abstract: Life in humans depends on coordinating thousands of biological chemistry reactions inside of cells each too small to see with the eye. Sugars and fats are converted to energy and proteins are converted to new human cells. These reactions depend on the enzymes made from proteins found in all cells. Enzymes make reactions occur trillions of times faster in human cells than in test tubes. The secret of this incredible power of enzymes comes from fast protein motions that occur to enclose the biological chemicals and even faster motions to make chemical changes occur. Chemical bond changes occur at the transition state, an elusive process that defines enzymatic function.
The advent of the fast computing now permits us to understand the transition state
and the protein motions that contribute to the incredible efficiency of enzymes. What good is all of this knowledge to understand transition states? Many human diseases, including cancer, infections, and metabolic diseases have enzymes at their core. Knowledge of enzyme transition states provides chemistry blueprints for the design of new medicines. Some of the new medicines designed from transition state knowledge are among the most powerful drugs known. Some of these transition state analog drugs are now being developed for the treatment of diseases.
- Dr. Ross MacPhee, Curator and Professor, Mammalogy/Vertebrate Zoology & Gilder Graduate School, American Museum of Natural History. Nov. 17, 2015. "De-extinction: Is It Really Possible to Bring Back Extinct Species Like the Woolly Mammoth, and If So, Should We?"
Abstract: It used to be thought that once a species dies out, that's the end of the road. Gone for good, no hope of return. Scientists are aiming to change all that by testing cutting-edge genomic engineering techniques to literally "de-extinct" species that are no longer with us, using genomic information recovered from preserved specimens and fossils. At present de-extinction is theory, not reality, but that may soon change: lost species of mammals and birds may be back on the scene by the end of the present decade. That may be fascinating to contemplate, but what are the implications of this new technology, both scientifically and ethically? Just because something can be created that looks like a woolly mammoth, would it really be that or simply an elegant mimic? And what are the long-term objectives of these de-extinction programs? To create strange new lifeforms just because we can, for objective scientific purposes, or merely for their entertainment value? Or are the objectives loftier, to re-establish free-living natural populations or perhaps even re-invent whole ecosystems that have been destroyed by human activities? And, most critically, is there any conservation value to de-extinction, or would bringing back the dead make keeping what we still have even harder to accomplish? Join the American Museum of Natural History's Dr. Ross MacPhee to hear the latest on de-extinction efforts and their relevancy for the future of the world's biota.
- Gail Ashley, Earth & Planetary Sciences, Rutgers University. Feb. 16, 2016. "Springs and Human Evolution."
Abstract: Human origins research over the last few decades has shown how humans evolved in Africa and then migrated in waves to other parts of the world starting as early as 2 Ma. It was a time period of cooling, drying and climate variability. One of the major unknowns connected with natural selection, hominin speciation and evolution is the availability of resources, particularly water. Recent studies show, for the first time, how groundwater would have provided 'drought proof' water supply and habitats for hundreds to thousands of years during dry periods in the East African Rift System during this critical period of human evolution. Freshwater wetlands provided a source of food and safety in an otherwise harsh setting. Such refugia would have led to intense competition and selective pressure from an evolutionary perspective, but also provided sites to aid dispersal of hominins across, and out of, Africa.
- John C. Priscu, Department of Land Resources & Environmental Science, Montana State University. March 22, 2016. "Hidden Ecosystems Beneath the Antarctic Ice Sheet."
Abstract: Antarctica is the highest, driest and coldest continent on earth. It holds 90% of our world's ice and 70% of its freshwater. If the ice melts sea level will rise about 60 m (about 200 ft.) and inundate more than five million square miles of land. The early explorers referred to it as a place devoid of life. The idea that the Antarctic ice sheet was lifeless persisted for more than 80 years. Recent research has now shown that huge river basins and some of our planets largest lakes exist beneath more than 2 miles of Antarctic ice. Discoveries over the past few years have now proven that subglacial ecosystems in Antarctica form the largest wetland on our planet. Given the dark and cold conditions presented by this environment, we do not find cattails and red winged blackbirds, common to Montana's wetlands; instead the environment is completely microbial. These organisms mine the energy in rocks to obtain energy to support their existence, while at the same time mobilizing nutrients that fuel life in the coastal regions of Antarctica. Professor Priscu will present the events leading up to these discoveries and how they have transformed the way we view the Antarctic continent.
- Christopher Andrews, Department of Computer Science, Middleburg College. April 19, 2016. "Making Sense of it All."
Abstract: We are awash with data. How do we sift through the torrent to find the answers to questions like 'what car should I buy?', 'why did British forces try to take that hill?', 'is someone laundering money through my bank?', 'is Acme Solar a good investment?', 'what is the meaning of the increased communication between known terrorist groups?', and 'just what is going on here?' Automated techniques ranging from simple search to data mining and machine learning can help us crunch numbers, find data, and identify outliers and some patterns, but they can't understand what they find. Humans, on the other hand, are good at abstraction, making connections, understanding human motivations, and telling stories. Visual analytics is an approach to tool building that attempts to leverage the strengths of both humans and machines, using interactive visualization as the communication medium between them. We will look at some of the foundations of visual analytics, my research into the use of large, high-resolution displays as an analytic platform, and some examples of analytic tools.
- Jacek Wollocko OXYVITA Inc. Sept. 23, 2014. "The Quest to Engineer a Synthetic Blood Substitute from Natural Sources"
- David A. Sela Department of Food Science, University of Massachusetts Amherst. Oct. 21, 2014. "Nursing Our Microbial Selves: Breast Milk's Influence on the Infant Microbiome"
- Percy Deift Department of Mathematics, Courant Institute of Mathematical Sciences, New York University. Nov. 18, 2014. "Universality in Numerical Computations. Case Studies"
- Larry Kepko Space Weather Laboratory NASA/Goddard Space Flight Center. Feb. 17, 2015. "The Aurora Borealis"
- Eric W. Brown Director, Watson Technologies at IBM TJ Watson Research Lab. March 24, 2015. "Watson: The Jeopardy! Challenge and Beyond"
- David Clark (SUNY New Paltz). April 21, 2015. "Creating Circuits Designs via Biological Evolution"
- Dr. Charles Van Loan, Professor, Department of Computer Science, Cornell University
Sept. 19, 2013
"If Copernicus and Kepler had Computers: An Introduction to Model-building and Computational Science" NOTE CHANGE in location: LC 102 at 5:00pm, reception outside LC102 at 4:30pm
- Dr. Alain C. Diebold, Empire Innovation Professor of Nanoscale Science. University at Albany, College of Nanoscale Science and Engineering
Oct. 17, 2013
"The impact of Nanoscale Dimensions on Optical Properties"
- Dr. Charles A. Ver Straeten, Sedimentary Geologist, & Curator of Sedimentary Geology, NY State Museum/Geological Survey
Nov. 21, 2013
"Explosive Volcanism in Eastern North America: What the Rocks Tell Us"
- Dr. Marcus Weck, Molecular Design Institute and Department of Chemistry, New York University
Feb. 20, 2014
"Learning from Nature: Functionalizing Synthetic Polymers for Tomorrows Applications"
- Dr. Matthew Gould, Professor Emeritus, Department of Mathematics, Vanderbilt University
March 13, 2014
"The Life of Pi"
- Dr. Melissa K. Fierke, Assistant Professor, Forest Entomology Department of Environmental & Forest Biology SUNY College of Environmental Science and Forestry
April 17, 2014
"Girdling, Peeling and Rearing to Know: Insights Into NY Forest Invaders"
- Dr. Eugene Oltz, Washington University in St. Louis, School of Medicine
Sept. 20, 2012
"The Cancer Epigenome: Bugs in our Gene Expression Software”
- Dr. Jean M. Moran, University of Michigan, Department of Radiation Oncology
Oct. 18, 2012
"Using Radiation Therapy to treat Breast Cancer: How much Technology is Needed?"
- Dr. Jenny Magnes, Vassar College, Physics and Astronomy Department
Nov. 15, 2012
"The Hidden Dimension of Microscopic Life"
- Dr. Michael Hind, IBM Corporation, Programming Technologies Department
Feb. 14, 2013 (Snow date: Feb. 15, 2013)
"Changing the Foundation: The Impact of Multicore Architectures on Software"
- Dr. Nadrian C. Seeman, New York University, Department of Chemistry
March 14, 2013
"DNA: Not Merely the Secret of Life"
- Dr. Gregory Denbeaux, University at Albany, College of Nanoscale Science and Engineering
April 18, 2013
"Next Generation Lithography for Advanced Semiconductor Device Fabrication"
- Dr. Michael Ziebell, Merck Research Laboratories
Sept. 15, 2011
"Affinity Selection-Mass Spectrometry in Drug Discovery"
- Dr. William Pulleyblank, United States Military Academy, West Point
Oct. 27, 2011
"Mathematics, Algorithms, and Big Computers"
- Dr. David Bradley, Vassar College
Nov. 17, 2011
"To Hear or Not To Hear: The acoustics of Drama Theaters"
- Dr. Casimer DeCusatis, IBM Corporation
February 23, 2012 (Snow date: Feb. 24, 2012)
"From Watson to Wall Street: Changing the Game for Data Center Networks"
- Dr. Maitland Jones, Jr., New York University
March 15, 2012
"William Doering, the Cope Rearrangement, and Me"
- Dr. Emily Rice, College of Staten Island
April 19, 2012
"Stars, Planets, and In Between: The Mysteries of Brown Dwarfs"
- Dr. Lila M. Gierasch, University of Massachusetts at Amherst
Sept. 16, 2010
“Moving the Protein Folding Problem from the Test Tube to the Cell”
- Dr. Seth Redfield, Wesleyan University
Oct. 21, 2010
“Transiting Exoplanets and the Age of Comparative Exoplanetology”
- Dr. George Shaw, Union College
Nov. 18, 2010
“Earth’s Early Atmosphere: A New (Old) Approach that Solves Many Problems”
- Dr. Carmen Menoni, Colorado State University
Feb. 17, 2011 (Snow date: Feb. 18, 2011)
“Exploring the World at the Nanoscale with Bright Beams of Extreme Ultraviolet Light”
- Dr. Jorge L. Sarmiento, Princeton University
March 17, 2011
“The Earth’s Carbon System and Climate”
- Dr. Avis Cohen, University of Maryland at College Park
April 21, 2011
“An Integrated Study of a Neuromechanical System: Going from Neurons to Vortices”
- Lois Pollack, Cornell University
Sept. 24, 2009
"Using Physics to Learn about Biology"
- Ann McDermot, Columbia University
Oct. 19, 2009
"The Secret Lives of Molecules: Probing the Motions of Enzymes"
- Yi Li, University of Connecticut
Feb. 18, 2010
"Making Beautiful Plants Non-Invasive"
- Wayne Knox, University of Rochester
March 25, 2010
"Optics from 3000 BC to 3000 AD"
- Robert Titus, Hartwick College
April 29, 2010
"A Geological History of the Catskills"
- Dr. Günter Wagner, Yale University
Sept. 25, 2008
“Evolution of Gene Regulation as it pertains to the Origin of Evolutionary Novelties”
- Dr. David, Hanson, SUNY Stony Brook
Oct. 23, 2008
“Guided Inquiry Learning”
- Dr. William Herbst, Wesleyan University
Nov. 20, 2008
“The Case of the Winking Star: New Insight into the Formation of Terrestrial Planets”
- Dr. Richard Perez, University at Albany
March 26, 2009
“Making the Case for Solar Energy in New York”
- Dr. Mark Bridger, Northeastern University
April 23, 2009
“Math Used to Solve Crimes”
- Dr. Kenneth Olum, Tufts University
Oct. 25, 2007
"Fine Tuning in Cosmology"
- Dr. Harold Metcalf, SUNY Stony Brook
Nov. 29, 2007
"The Coldest Temperature in the Universe"
- Dr. Daniel Jelski, SUNY New Paltz
March 13, 2008
"Buckminsterfullerenes: the way the ball bounces"
- Dr. George D. Yancopoulos, Regeneron Research Laboratories
May 1, 2008
"The Next Generation of Cancer Drug Targets"
- Dr. Glenn A. Eisman, Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute
Sept. 28, 2006
"Emerging Energy Changes and Challenges: Fuel Cells and Hydrogen"
- Dr. Jon D. Erickson, University of Vermont
Oct. 26, 2006
"An Economics for the Century of the Environment"
- Dr. Daniel Rockmore, Dartmouth College
Nov. 30, 2006
- Dr. Gregory Tucker, Brown University
March 29, 2007
"Measuring the Universe with Microwaves"
- Dr. Lee Spector, Hampshire College
May 4, 2006
"Evolutionary Computation for Science, Engineering and Art"
- Mr. Fred Jerome, Free Lance Journalist
Oct. 6, 2005
"The Einstein File: J.Edgar Hoover's Secret War Against the World's Most Famous Scientist"
- Dr. William Craelius, Rutgers University
Nov. 17, 2005
"Reaching Toward a Useful Arm Replacement"
- Dr. Alison Power, Cornell University
Feb. 9, 2006
"Genetically Engineered Crops and the Environment"
- Dr. Michael Rampino, New York University
March 2, 2006
"What Caused the Largest Mass Extinction Ever? "
- Steven Bock, M.D., Rhinebeck Health Center
May 4, 2006
"Lyme and Other Tick Borne Diseases: an integrative approach"
- Dr. H. John Wood, NASA Goddard Space Flight Center
Sept. 23, 2004
"Hubble Optics, Astronomy and Mars"
- Dr. Peter Winkler, Dartmouth College
Nov. 4, 2004
"Games People Don't Play"
- Dr. Simon Parsons, Brooklyn College
Feb. 10, 2005
"Agent Based Systems -the future of Computer Science?"
- Dr. Valerie Eviner, Institute for Ecosystem Studies
March 17, 2005
"Sustainable Agro-Ecology: feeding the world with minimal environmental impact"
- Dr. Todd Evans, Albert Einstein College of Medicine
April 21, 2005
"Stem Cell Research: controlling heart and blood development"
2003 - 2004 lectures:
- Dr. Phaedon Avouris, IBM Thomas J. Watson Research Center
Oct. 16, 2003
"Carbon Nanotube Electronics and Opto-Electronics"
- Dr. Gene E. Likens, Institute for Ecosystem Studies Studies
Nov. 20, 2003
"Acid Rain: An Unfinished Environmental Problem"
- Dr. David M. Clark, SUNY New Paltz
Feb. 12, 2004
"Quantum Theory Challenges Reality: the EPR Experiment"
- Dr. Yervant Terzian, Cornell University
March 11, 2004
"Dark Matter, Dark Energy and the Luminous Universe"
(Informal Discussion in CSB 110 at 2:00p.m.: "The Nature of Time")
- Dr. Charles Ver Straeten, New York State Museum
April 15, 2004
"Seas, Sand and Mountains: Deep Time in New York 400 Million Years Ago"
2002 - 2003 lectures:
- James M. Wilson, M.D., Ph.D., University of Pennsylvania
Oct. 17, 2002
"Science and Clinical Potential of Human Gene Therapy"
- Dr. Ronald Miller, NASA Goddard Institute for Space Studies
Nov. 14, 2002
"Is it hot enough for ya? - the human contribution to global warming"
- Dr. David DiVincenzo, IBM Watson Research Center
Feb. 6, 2003
"Introduction to Quantum Computing"
- Dr. John Harrington, SUNY New Paltz
March 6, 2003
"Blood Substitutes: Can nature show us the way?
- Dr. Jefferson W. Tester, MIT Laboratory for Energy and Environment
April 24, 2003
"Our Energy Policy"
2001 - 2002 lectures:
- Dr. Neil Cornish, NASA and Montana State University
Oct. 12, 2001
"Measuring the Size and Shape of the Universe"
- Dr. Richard Bopp, Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute
Nov. 30, 2001
"Timing is everything: PCBs & Other Contaminants in the Hudson"
- Dr. David O. Carpenter, Institute for Health and the Environment, SUNY Albany
Feb. 13, 2002
"Cell Phones & Power Lines: What are the health effects of electromagnetic fields?"
- Dr. Michael Novacek, American Museum of Natural History
April 3, 2002
"Dinosaurs and Fossil Mammals of the Flaming Cliffs: The Gobi Expedition"
- Mr. Brian McConnell, Trekmail, Inc.
April 29, 2002
"Communicating with Extraterrestrial Civilizations"