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School of Science and Engineering

The Harrington STEM Lectures

Save the Dates! Details coming soon:
February 12, 2019 - Dr. Laura Kosbar
March 12, 2019 - Dr. Stephen MacLeod
April 9, 2019 - Jack Stubbs, Director of Prototype Development and 3D Lab, University at Central Florida

Location:  Coykendall Science Building (CSB)
Reception: 4:30 p.m. CSB Lobby (campus map
Lecture: 5:00 p.m. CSB Auditorium

The School of Science and Engineering hosts this 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 also be available to meet faculty and students on the days of their visits. The public is cordially invited to these lectures at no charge.  

John Harrington was the founding dean of the SUNY New Paltz School of Science & Engineering. This lecture series honors his years of dedication to science, education and collaboration across the STEM disciplines.

For further information, including sponsorship opportunities, please email lavaller@newpaltz.edu or call 845-257-3784.

PAST LECTURES

Dr. Peter Saulson, Syracuse University, Professor of Physics, November 13, 2018 - Listening to the Universe with Gravitational Waves

Abstract: On September 14, 2015, a gravitational wave signal was received by the Laser Interferometer Gravitational-wave Observatory (LIGO). It was generated by the collision of two black holes, each around 30 times as massive as the sun, about 1.3 billion light years away. The signal, the first ever reception of gravitational waves, tells the story of the last two tenths of a second of the lives of those two black holes, and the first few milliseconds of the life of the 60 solar mass black hole that they formed. Since then, LIGO and its sister project Virgo have heard signals from a number of other collisions; the most spectacular was the reception on August 17, 2017 of the signal of a collision between two neutron stars, similar in “sound” to a black hole collision, but in this case also accompanied by flashes of gamma rays, visible light, radio waves and X-rays. This talk will explain the basics of gravitational waves, how we detect them, and the highlights of what we are beginning to learn about the universe by observing it in this new way.

Dr. Oliver Jagoutz, MIT, Associate Professor of Geology, October 16, 2018 - Low Latitude Arc-Continent Collision as a Driver for Global Cooling
Abstract: Throughout most of Earth’s history, the global climate was much warmer than the climate we are experiencing today and the poles were mostly ice-free. However, the Earth has experienced a few so-called ice-ages where poles were covered in ice, like today. These ice-ages are relatively brief periods and irregularly spaced in time. The global climate is dominantly controlled by pCO2 concentration in the atmosphere/ocean system. Over geologic time, atmospheric pCO2 is regulated by a balance between sources and sinks, including the products of volcanism, metamorphism and silicate weathering, which are fundamentally the results of plate tectonic processes. Attempts to relate particular episodes of Cretaceous to recent climate change to specific tectonic events remain controversial.

Dr. Niklas Manz, The College of Wooster, Asst. Professor of Physics, Tuesday, September 18, 2018 - Patterns Around You: Excitable Systems in the Lab, in Nature, and on Humans
Abstract: Excitation waves are propagating spatiotemporal structures observed in many biological, chemical, and physical systems. They can be described as a reaction-diffusion (RD) wave in which an autocatalytic reaction zone propagates via diffusion without mass transport. More common types of RD waves are the propagation of an action potential in a nerve, the spread of electrical depolarization waves on the heart surface, the (human spectator) stadium wave, or a forest fire. All RD systems can be described with one set of coupled, nonlinear differential equations and experimentally investigated with, for example, a chemical tabletop model system, the Belousov-Zhabotinsky reaction.

Dr. Kathleen Weathers, Carey Institute, Ecosystem Ecologist, Tuesday, May 1, 2018 - "A Passion for Lakes and Ecological Puzzles: How Cyanobacteria, Cyberinfrastructure, Citizens and Scientists are Advancing Freshwater Science"
Abstract: Dr. Kathleen C. Weathers received her master’s degree from Yale University and Ph.D. from Rutgers University. Her research is focused on understanding how biology influences geochemical cycles: how lake cyanobacteria affect nutrient cycles, trees influence nitrogen cycling, or how fog and ecosystems interact at the spatial scale of landscapes and in the face of global environmental change. Dr. Weathers also works at the interface of science and citizen science focusing on lakes and watersheds.  She is the G. Evelyn Hutchinson Chair of Ecology and Senior Scientist at the Cary Institute of Ecosystem Studies in Millbrook, NY, an elected Fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) and the Ecological Society of America (ESA), and co-chair of the grassroots Global Lakes Ecological Observatory Network (GLEON). Weathers carries out biogeochemical research in ecosystems around the world focusing on carbon, nitrogen, sulfur, and other elemental cycling.

Dr. Philip Hopke, Clarkson University, Director, Center for Air Resources Engineering and Science (CARES) and Bayard D. Clarkson Distinguished Professor Emeritus, Tuesday, April 10, 2018 - "Carbon Monoxide from Wood Pellets: Where it Comes From and How to Make it Go Away"

Abstract: Wood stoves are an important heating option in the Northeast, and wood pellets are a popular choice for fuel.   Although this combination produces far less pollution than the traditional wood burning stove, it is twice as polluting as an oil furnace, and no match for a natural gas furnace.   Researchers are working on several projects to create and test wood pellet burners that run more efficiently and produce less pollution.  Professor Hopke, Director of the Institute for Sustainable Environment at Clarkson University, is one of these researchers, and has been actively studying solid fuel combustion systems with an emphasis on emissions and efficiency.  In this talk, he will explain the nature of the problem, and what the future prospects are.

Dr. Sankar Varanasi, Vassar Brothers Medical Center, Director, Clinical Cardiac Electrophysiology Service, Tuesday, February 13, 2018 - "Think Outside the Pillbox"
Abstract: Dr. Sankar Varanasi is Director of Clinical Cardiac Electrophysiology at Vassar Brothers Medical Center.  Dr. Varanasi will talk about new procedures in the field of cardiology to reduce risk of stroke and the need for long-term use of drugs that can have harmful side effects. An undergraduate at New Science College, India, Dr. Varanasi graduated with honors in biology, biochemistry and biostatistics. He obtained his MBBS (equivalent to an MD degree) at Osmania Medical College in India then followed these studies with a fellowship in adult cardiovascular medicine at Yale University/Norwalk Hospital. He was the first physician in the mid-Hudson Valley region to insert the state-of-the-art wireless S-ICD System™ defibrillator implant under a patient’s skin to monitor heart activity and deliver life-saving therapy if needed. He has authored and coauthored several papers on electrophysiology and has participated in multicenter studies, some sponsored by National Institutes of Health.