Physics

News & Events

Thursday, March 30, 2017

Targeting Mitochondria for the Treatment of Neurodegenerative Disease

Sara Lagalwar, Skidmore College


Time: 12:00 pm
Location: Reem-Kayden Center Laszlo Z. Bito '60 Auditorium
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Thursday, March 30, 2017

From the Ham Sandwich to the Pizza Pie:
An Introduction to Topological Combinatorics

Steve Simon, Mathematics Program

Given any 3 shapes in R3 (e.g., a piece of ham, a hunk of cheese, and a slice of bread), does there exist a single plane that simultaneously cuts each shape into two pieces of equal volume? Can any shape in R2 be dissected into four pieces of equal area by some pair of perpendicular lines? By exploiting hidden geometric symmetries, we will show how equipartition problems such as these can be solved using powerful techniques from the seemingly unrelated eld known as algebraic topology. For instance, the positive answer to the rst problem above { the so-called Ham Sandwich" Theorem { ultimately reduces to a very deep result of Borsuk and Ulam: for any continuous map from a sphere to a plane, there must exist a pair of antipodal points on the sphere whose images coincide. While fairly advanced mathematics is not too far away, this talk requires only a familiarity with the intermediate value theorem to be understood. All are welcome to attend!
Time: 4:45 pm
Location: Hegeman 308
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Thursday, March 30, 2017

Protein Folding: Seeing is Deceiving

 

Once you eliminate the impossible, whatever remains, no matter how improbable, must be the truth. -Sherlock HolmesGeorge RoseJenkins Dept. of BiophysicsJohns Hopkins University 

We challenge the time-honored conviction that proteins realize their native folds via specific favorable interactions, proposing instead that an imprint of the fold is selected primarily by elimination of unfavorable interactions.  Two types of energetically disfavored interactions are considered here: steric clashes and polar groups lacking hydrogen-bond partners. Both types are largely excluded from the thermodynamic population, winnowing that population progressively as the protein becomes compact.  Compaction is accompanied by the entropically favored release of solvent shells around apolar groups.  Remarkably, both solvent shell release and excluding interactions are somewhat non-specific, yet together they promote highly specific chain organization.  For example, exhaustive conformational enumeration of a test hexapeptide reduces 1.5x1012 conceivable conformations to the experimentally-determined dominant population in aqueous solution – this despite deliberate neglect of attractive interactions.
 
Time: 7:00 pm
Location: Reem-Kayden Center Laszlo Z. Bito '60 Auditorium
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Thursday, April 6, 2017

Canaries in the Saltmarsh:
Tidal Marsh Conservation in the Face of Sea Level Rise

Chris ElphickUniversity of Connecticut


Time: 12:00 pm
Location: Reem-Kayden Center Laszlo Z. Bito '60 Auditorium
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Thursday, April 6, 2017

Healing, Service, Research, Activism:
An Introduction to the Health Professions

Helen Epstein, Professor of Human Rights and Global Public Health


Time: 5:00 pm
Location: RKC 115
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Thursday, April 13, 2017

Psychosocial Adversity the Epigenetic Origins of Health Disparities

Allison Appleton, SUNY Albany 


Time: 12:00 pm
Location: Reem-Kayden Center Laszlo Z. Bito '60 Auditorium
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Thursday, April 13, 2017

Early Life Adversity and the Risk of Depression in Young Adulthood

Melissa Tracy, SUNY Albany


Time: 4:45 pm
Location: RKC 111
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Thursday, April 20, 2017

The Ecology of West Nile Virus in the United States

 

Sarah Bowden, Cary Institute for Ecosystem Studies 


Time: 12:00 pm
Location: Reem-Kayden Center Laszlo Z. Bito '60 Auditorium
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Thursday, April 27, 2017

Molecular mechanisms of SLUG-induced Chemotherapeutic Resistance in Triple-negative Breast Cancer (TNBC)

 

Charvann BaileyVassar College


Time: 12:00 pm
Location: Reem-Kayden Center Laszlo Z. Bito '60 Auditorium
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Thursday, April 27, 2017

Is Empathy Necessary for Morality?

Dr. Jean Decety | University of Chicago

Empathy, the ability to perceive and be sensitive to the emotional states of others, motivates prosocial and caregiving behaviors, plays a role in inhibiting aggression, and facilitates cooperation between members of a similar social group. This is probably why empathy is often and wrongly confused with morality. Morality refers to prescriptive norms regarding how people should treat one another, including concepts of justice, fairness, and rights. Drawing on empirical research and theory from evolutionary biology, psychology and social neuroscience, I will argue that our sensitivity to others’ needs has been selected in the context of parental care and group living. One corollary of this evolutionary model is that empathy produces social preferences that can conflict with morality. This claim is supported by a wealth of empirical findings in neuroscience and behavioral economics documenting a complex and equivocal relation between empathy, morality and justice. Empathy alone is powerless in the face of rationalization and denial. It is reason that provides the push to widen the circle of empathy from the family and the tribe to humanity as a whole.

 
Time: 4:45 pm
Location: RKC 111
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Thursday, May 4, 2017

Collective Dynamics of Microbes in Natural Sediment

Alexander PetroffRockefeller University


Time: 12:00 pm
Location: Reem-Kayden Center Laszlo Z. Bito '60 Auditorium
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Thursday, May 11, 2017

Fragments, Fungi, and Feedbacks:
Can Fungal Pathogens Help Maintain Prairie Plant Diversity in Fragmented Landscapes?

Michelle HershSarah Lawrence College 


Time: 12:00 pm
Location: Reem-Kayden Center Laszlo Z. Bito '60 Auditorium
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Friday, May 19, 2017

Marco Spodek senior recital


Time: 8:00 pm
Location: Blum Hall
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Monday, March 12, 2018

Getting in to Medical School…And What I Learned on the Way!

Matthew Lampeter, class of 2017


Time: 4:30 pm
Location: RKC 111
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Past Events

  • 2017
  • 2016
  • 2015
  • 2014
  • 2013
  • 2012
  • 2011
  • 2010
  • 2009
  • 2008

    • 2009

      Senior Project Poster Session

      December 9
      RKC lobby

      Students presenting:
      Denise Feng
      Adviser: Michael Tibbetts

      Genevieve Howell
      Adviser: William Maple

      Paul Jordan
      Advisers: Craig Anderson and Michael Tibbetts

      Paul McLaughlin
      Adviser: James Belk

      Sarah Mount
      Adviser: Catherine O'Reilly

      Jacob Pooler
      Adviser: Peter Skiff

      Wyatt Shell
      Adviser: Philip Johns

      Sarah Wegener
      Adviser: William Maple

      Yi Xiao
      Adviser: Michael Tibbetts

      Science on the Edge lecture

      December 8
      Reem-Kayden Center Laszlo Z. Bito '60 Auditorium

      2009 Nobel Prizes

      Swapan Jain
      lecturing on the Chemistry prize
      Awarded to Venkatraman Ramakrishnan, Thomas A. Steitz, and Ada E. Yonath
      "for studies of the structure and function of the ribosome"

      Michael Tibbetts
      lecturing on the Physiology or Medicine prize
      Awarded to Elizabeth H. Blackburn, Carol W. Greider, and Jack W. Szostak
      "for the discovery of how chromosomes are protected by telomeres and the enzyme telomerase"

      Christian Bracher
      lecturing on the Physics prize
      Awarded to Willard S. Boyle and George E. Smith
      "for the invention of an imaging semiconductor circuit - the CCD sensor"


      Chemistry search candidate lecture

      November 20
      Reem-Kayden Center Laszlo Z. Bito '60 Auditorium

      Molecular Shapes and Molecular Interactions:
      Insights from Infrared Spectroscopy

      A lecture by
      Timothy Vaden
      Candidate for the position in Chemistry

      Chemistry search candidate lecture

      November 6
      Reem-Kayden Center Laszlo Z. Bito '60 Auditorium

      Watching Rust Dissolve:
      Ultrafast X-Ray Absorption Measurements of the Reductive Dissolution of Iron Oxide Nanoparticles

      A lecture by
      Jordan Katz
      Candidate for the position in Chemistry
      The reduction of Fe(III) is one of the most important chemical changes that takes place in the development of anaerobic soils and sediments, and the reductive dissolution of iron-bearing minerals by microbes plays a critical role in this process. Despite its importance in biogeochemistry, many questions remain about the mechanism of this electron transfer reaction, in part because the speed of the fundamental chemical steps renders them inaccessible to conventional study. Ultrafast time-resolved x-ray spectroscopy is a technique that can overcome this limitation and measure changes in oxidation state and structure occurring during chemical reactions that can be initiated by a fast laser pulse. We use this approach with ~100 ps resolution to monitor the speciation of Fe atoms in maghemite nanoparticles following photo-induced electron transfer from a surface-bound photoactive dye molecule.


      Chemistry search candidate lecture

      October 29
      Reem-Kayden Center Laszlo Z. Bito '60 Auditorium

      Creating Devices and Performing Analyses at the Micro-Scale
      A lecture by
      Christopher LaFratta
      Candidate for the position in Chemistry

      Shape Recognition through Opto-Mechanical Integration and Symmetry Classification

      October 15
      RKC 111

      A seminar by
      Jenny Magnes
      Vassar College
      Physics department
      We have shown that shapes representing functions can be opto-mechanically integrated and re-produced. This method involves linear opto-mechanical scanning. We show that angular opto-mechanical scanning can be used to classify shapes by symmetry groups. This information can then be used to identify objects mathematically based on their symmetries. Applications lie in the fields of psychology, quality control, and surveillance. 


      Bard Summer Research Institute Poster Session

      October 1
      Reem-Kayden Center

      Science, Mathematics & Computing Division Ice Cream Social

      August 26
      RKC lobby

      "Ice cream is happiness condensed"
      -Jessi Lane Adams


      Come to the Science, Mathematics & Computing Division
      ICE CREAM SOCIAL

      Stop by to ask questions about courses being offered or find out more about majoring in the programs.  Faculty members from each program will be there to answer questions.

      Preparing for the Health Professions at Bard

      August 24
      Reem-Kayden Center, Room 101

      A seminar by
      John B. Ferguson
      Health Professions Advisor


      Why study single events in biology? Studies on the assembly of HIV, how cells secrete and the metastatis of tumor cells

      May 14
      Reem-Kayden Center Laszlo Z. Bito '60 Auditorium

      A lecture by
      Sandy Simon
      Laboratory of Cellular Biophysics
      Rockefeller University
      Most studies in biology focus on the "averaged" behavior. Either the average behavior of a molecule (which we study by its biochemical activity), the average behavior of a cell (which we study by its physiology) or the average behavior of an individual (which we study by population dynamics). However, important lessons can be learned from studying single events. Examples will be given from our work on a number of projects ranging from studying single HIV viruses as they assemble, single vesicles as they are release by a cell to signal or internalized into a cell, single cells as they die and single tumor cells as they metastasize through the body. 


      Pizza on the Pod

      February 10 - May 19
      RKC pod 222

      A chance to do homework, get help with your classes, eat pizza and socialize with your professors & fellow biology students!TuesdaysRKC POD 2227 p.m. 


      Psychology Senior Project Poster Session

      May 12
      RKC lobby

      Join us in celebrating our graduating seniors as they present posters outlining their work.

      Independent Research Poster Session

      May 12
      RKC lobby

      Students presenting:

      Algebraic & Symbolic Computation Laboratory
      Adviser: Robert McGrail
      Jacqueline Bow
      Aleksandar Chakarov
      Bella Manoim
      Georgi Smilyanov
      Adina-Raluca Stoica
      Petar Stojanov

      Biology Independent Research Students
      Advisers: Ken Howard, Philip Johns & Michael Tibbetts
      Elena Dragomir
      Rosa Levin
      Jessica Philpott
      Jega Jananie Ravi
      Hannagh Shapero
      Ilya Smirnoff
      Rachel Steinhorn

      Math Independent Research Students
      Advisers: James Belk, Maria Belk & Lauren Rose
      Julia Bennett
      Adam Chodoff
      Liz Jimenez-Martinez

      Tropical Ecology class
      Adviser: Catherine O'Reilly
      Erik Badger
      Tessa Dowling
      Genevieve Howell
      Allison James
      Hannah Liddy
      Chantal Ludder
      Elizabeth Lund
      Sarah Mount
      Loralee Ryan
      Wyatt Shell
      Marta Shocket


      Senior Project Poster Session

      May 12
      RKC lobby

      Join us in celebrating our graduating seniors as they present posters outlining their work.

      Mathematics Senior Project Presentations

      May 12
      RKC 111

      Serena Randolph
      4:15 p.m.

      Tina Zhang
      4:40 p.m.

      Scott McMillen
      5:05 p.m.

      Mathematics Senior Project Presentations

      May 7
      RKC 111

      Nicholas Michaud
      4:15 p.m.

      Sylvia Naples
      4:40 p.m.

      Tomasz Przytycki
      5:05 p.m.

      Zhechao Zhou
      5:30 p.m.

      Biology Student lectures

      May 7
      Reem-Kayden Center Laszlo Z. Bito '60 Auditorium

      Young Eun Choi
      "Developing a reversible and cell-specific system for inhibiting
      protein synthesis in C. elegans"

      Trillian Gregg
      "Development of a Novel Method of Macromolecule Delivery into Cells"

      Pizza on the Pod

      February 10 - May 19
      RKC pod 222

      A chance to do homework, get help with your classes, eat pizza and socialize with your professors & fellow biology students!TuesdaysRKC POD 2227 p.m. 


      Mathematics Senior Project Presentations

      May 5
      RKC 111

      Mona Merling
      4:15 p.m.

      Ezra Winston
      4:40 p.m.

      Dexin Zhou
      5:05 p.m.

      A Glimpse of Symplectic Geometry, via lots of pictures

      April 30
      RKC 111

      A lecture by
      Megumi Harada
      McMaster UniversityThe motivation for symplectic geometry comes from classical physics, but the modern theory is related to many other areas of mathematics (not just physics) such as combinatorics, representation theory, topology, algebraic geometry, and many others. I will give a "mosaic" glimpse of this exciting field of research by briefly discussing the following inter-related topics, all of which appear (in one way or another) in my current work: 1) From classical physics to symplectic geometry: the magic of Hamiltonians;2) Horn's problem: how linear algebra and symplectic geometry yield polytopes and combinatorics;3) Getting topology out of a function: a bit of Morse theory;and finally, time permitting, I will say a few words about how the themes (1)--(3) come together  in my current work on the study of the topology of hyperKahler Hamiltonian quotients. 



      Pizza on the Pod

      February 10 - May 19
      RKC pod 222

      A chance to do homework, get help with your classes, eat pizza and socialize with your professors & fellow biology students!TuesdaysRKC POD 2227 p.m. 


      Forensic DNA Analysis: The Real CSI NY

      April 23
      Laszlo Z. Bito Auditorium-RKC

      A lecture by
      Kathy Corrado
      Director, Onondaga County Crime Lab
      Forensic DNA analysis is used extensively in criminal investigations to either associate or exonerate individuals from leaving their DNA at crime scenes. The Director of the Onondaga County Crime Lab in Syracuse NY will provide insight into the real life workings of a forensic DNA lab including the types of evidence typically encountered, current technologies being utilized in the field, the significance of DNA matches, and examples of interesting cases. The benefits and concerns of the use and expansion of forensic DNA databases will also be discussed. 


      Pizza on the Pod

      February 10 - May 19
      RKC pod 222

      A chance to do homework, get help with your classes, eat pizza and socialize with your professors & fellow biology students!TuesdaysRKC POD 2227 p.m. 


      Science on the Edge "The Orbiting Carbon Observatory: Assessing carbon dioxide concentrations in the atmosphere"

      April 21
      RKC 111

      A lecture by
      Catherine O'Reilly
      Biology program
      and
      Simeen Sattar
      Chemistry program
      In February, NASA launched a rocket on a mission to deploy a new satellite. The rocket malfunctioned, sending the satellite, in development for the past 9 years and part of $273 million dollar system, into the ocean. The rocket was carrying the NASA's new Orbiting Carbon Observatory, a satellite intended to assess carbon dioxide concentrations in the atmosphere. The information from this satellite would have helped researchers understand the distribution of this greenhouse gas, providing data to improve climate models and insights into the 'missing carbon sink'.


      Linear Stability of Simple Higher-Dimensional Dynamical System: The Role of Self-Adjointness and Non-Normality, with Examples from Ecology and Climate

      April 20
      RKC 111

      A lecture by
      Gidon Eshel
      Physics program
      I will first review the concept of stability in the context of variance maintenance by dynamical systems, starting in 1-D and working our way to N-D. I will provide numerous examples, both analytic (i.e., with no physical relevance) and  from physically realizable system such as the jet stream or Spotted Owl survival in response to conservation efforts. I will discuss two methods of obtaining dynamical system's governing linear operator: (1) using analytic linearization of non-linear operators (with the examples of mid-latitude perturbations on the jet, and the Lotka-Volterra equations of population dynamics; and (2) data-based (empirical) derivation using covariance of strobed states. I will then introduce normality (self-adjointness), discuss time-scales, and emphasize the distinction between asymptotic and transient stability. I will conclude with the complete solution of the stability problem, a solution comprising both eigen analysis (and thus asymptotic stability) and Singular value Decomposition of finite time propagators (addressing transient stability).


      How Hard is Static Program Analysis?

      April 16
      RKC 111

      A lecture by
      Harry Mairson
      Brandeis University

       Static program analysis is a form of predicting the future: it's what a compiler does to predict the behavior of your program, so that at run-time, the compiled version of your code runs faster or better.

      Control flow analysis (CFA) is a canonical form of static program analysis performed by compilers, where the answers to questions like "can call site X ever call procedure P?" or "can procedure P ever be called with argument A?" are used to optimize procedure calls. In the interest of compile-time tractability, these questions are answered approximately, possibly including false positives. Much experimental work has been done on flow analysis. Here we describe, instead, some analytic characterizations of how hard CFA is.

      Different versions of CFA are parameterized by their sensitivity to calling contexts. We show that the simplest version of CFA, called 0CFA, is complete for PTIME. In other words, it is as difficult to solve as any problem requiring polynomial time. A family of generalizations of 0CFA providing better analyses, called kCFA (k a positive integer), has never been implemented efficiently. We prove that this is necessary: the problem solved by kCFA is complete for EXPTIME---it is as difficult to solve as any problem requiring exponential time.

      Each proof depends on fundamental insights about the linearity of programs, appealing to ideas from linear logic and the geometry of interaction---a linear logic semantics that is effectively an exact form of control-flow analysis.

      This is joint work with David Van Horn (Brandeis University), presented at the 2008 ACM International Conference on Functional Programming.



      Evolution for Everyone: How Darwin's Theory Can Change the Way We Think About Our Lives

      April 16
      Laszlo Z. Bito Auditorium-RKC

      A lecture by
      David Sloan Wilson
      Director, EvoS program
      Binghamton University
      For complex reasons, evolutionary theory was restricted to the biological sciences and avoided for most human-related subjects for most of the 20th century. That is now rapidly changing. The 21st century will witness an integration for the study of humanity comparable to the integration of the biological sciences that took place during the 20th century (and continuing). I will review current trends and how they are embodied in EvoS, a campus-wide evolutionary studies program at Binghamton University that has received NSF funding to expand into a nationwide consortium.  


      Pizza on the Pod

      February 10 - May 19
      RKC pod 222

      A chance to do homework, get help with your classes, eat pizza and socialize with your professors & fellow biology students!TuesdaysRKC POD 2227 p.m. 


      Gender Participation and Performance in Science and Mathematics: The Ordinary Origins and Unintended Consequences of Attitudes and Stereotypes

      April 9
      RKC 111

      A lecture by
      Kristin Lane
      Psychology program
      Many mental activities occur automatically or unconsciously, including thoughts that are relevant to social perception, judgment, and action. This talk will present interactive illustrations of mental events that exist outside of conscious awareness or control; I will then show evidence that suggests that these ordinary processes can give rise to systematic social biases, which in turn can influence participation, interest, and performance in science and math domains.  In particular, the talk will consider the gender disparity in science and mathematics in light of these findings from the mind sciences.


      Females & Fluoxetine: Sex differences in the effects of antidepressants on the brain and behavior

      April 9
      Laszlo Z. Bito Auditorium - RKC

      A lecture by
      Georgia E. Hodes
      University of Pennsylvania
      Women are twice as likely as men to suffer an episode of depression, but only between puberty and menopause. This suggests a relationship between reproductive hormones and depression in females. However, most theories on the etiology of depression are based on research done solely in males. This talk will focus on current research examining sex differences in the effects of antidepressants on neurogenesis and depression associated behaviors using a rodent model. Additionally, this talk will examine how reproductive hormones influence cognitive function and the response to stress across the lifespan. The understanding of how males and females differ may lead to better treatments for depression in both sexes.    


      Pizza on the Pod

      February 10 - May 19
      RKC pod 222

      A chance to do homework, get help with your classes, eat pizza and socialize with your professors & fellow biology students!TuesdaysRKC POD 2227 p.m. 


      Cycle-Structure Invariant for Finite, Connected Quandles

      April 2
      RKC 111

      A lecture by
      Robert McGrail
      Laboratory for Algebraic and Symbolic Computation
      Bard College
      The speaker introduces the notion of a quandle, an algebra that arises in knot theory and group theory, as well as the concept of connectedness in algebras. In particular, every finite, connected quandle has an unambiguous permutation cycle structure associated to it. This cycle-structure can be simply and efficiently computed from an operation table for the quandle, and so serves as a useful combinatorial invariant for the classification of finite, connected quandles. The speaker will introduce an improvement to the isofilter program of the Prover9/Mace4 automated deduction suite based upon this invariant. Moreover, he will discuss the implications of this work to the goal of completing a computational classification of the variety of finite quandles. This is joint work with Aleksandar Chakarov (Bard '10).


      Newborn Screening: A Look Back and a Look Ahead

      April 2
      Laszlo Z. Bito Auditorium - RKC

      A lecture by
      Michele Caggana, Sc.D, FACMG
      Director, New York State Department of Health, Newborn Screening ProgramNewborn screening began in New York State in 1965 with the addition of a single metabolic disorder called phenylketonuria (PKU). If you drink diet soda, you may see the bottle warning phenylketonurics not to drink these beverages. That's because prior to 1965, people who had PKU became mentally retarded and often were institutionalized because their disease was caught too late. With the advent of newborn screening, the Wadsworth Center, New York State's Public Health Laboratory could identify those affected babies at birth, before they suffered significant cognitive impairment by sampling a few drops of blood from a newborn's heel. By limiting intake of phenylalanine and protein in general, affected infants could live and function normally. Newborn   screening has changed a lot over the years. The Program in New York is the largest, most comprehensive free program in the United States. We now screen for 45 disorders and use sophisticated equipment. This discussion will start in the early 60's, bring us to current activities in Albany, and we will glimpse into the future as well. In addition, factors that have impacted newborn screening in recent years will be discussed.  

      Pizza on the Pod

      February 10 - May 19
      RKC pod 222

      A chance to do homework, get help with your classes, eat pizza and socialize with your professors & fellow biology students!TuesdaysRKC POD 2227 p.m. 


      Pizza on the Pod

      February 10 - May 19
      RKC pod 222

      A chance to do homework, get help with your classes, eat pizza and socialize with your professors & fellow biology students!TuesdaysRKC POD 2227 p.m. 


      Stream Ecosystem Functioning in Urban Landscapes

      March 19
      Laszlo Z. Bito Auditorium-RKC

      A lecture by
      Cathy Gibson
      Skidmore College
      As integrators of the landscape, streams are heavily impacted by land-use change such as urbanization.  Changes in ecosystem structure associated with urbanization are well known, but how ecosystem function changes as a result of these structural changes is not well understood.  This talk will examine how urbanization affects nutrient cycling and whole system metabolism in both small headwater streams and large rivers.   Maintenance of downstream water quality depends on the ability of stream to retain and process nutrients.  This talk will examine what drives nutrient uptake in urban streams, how it differs from forested counterparts, and discuss implications for downstream water quality.  In addition, we will look at the impact of hydrological modifications via dams affects these functions, as well.


      Thirty Days Hath September (or Diophantus, Music, and Shakespeare)

      March 18
      RKC 102

      A lecture by
      Jeff Suzuki
      Brooklyn College

      What do a musical scale, a calendar, and the U.S. flag have in common? They are all solutions to the problem of finding a set of whole numbers that match a particular property. The solutions rely on the use of Diophantine equations and continued fractions, which offer the best rational approximation to a given real number.


      Pizza on the Pod

      February 10 - May 19
      RKC pod 222

      A chance to do homework, get help with your classes, eat pizza and socialize with your professors & fellow biology students!TuesdaysRKC POD 2227 p.m. 


      Cartan's View of Einstein's Relativity

      March 13
      Laszlo Z. Bito Auditiorium-RKC

      A lecture by
      S. James Gates, Jr.
      John S. Toll Professor of Mathematics
      Director, Center for String and Particle Theory
      University of Maryland
      Gauge theories seem to describe all of the known forces in Nature...except gravity as it is normally viewed. However, using the Cartan approach to the geometry of curved manifolds, even gravitation is seen to be almost identical to other gauge theories. This talk will be accessible to math and physics majors.


      Biodiversity Loss and the Rise of Emerging Infectious Diseases

      March 12
      Laszlo Z. Bito Auditorium-RKC

      A lecture by
      Richard S. Ostfeld
      Senior Scientist, Cary Institute of Ecosystem Studies
      The rate of species extinctions, both globally and from local communities, continues to accelerate. In recent years, ecologists have asked, to what degree will ecological communities lose their ability to provide “ecosystem services” as biodiversity is lost? This talk will describe how biodiversity loss affects the risk and incidence of zoonotic diseases (diseases transmitted from non-human vertebrates to humans). Zoonotic diseases, including avian influenza, Ebola, SARS, and plague, comprise the majority of so-called emerging infectious diseases. Most zoonotic pathogens can infect several wildlife host species. However, hosts differ strongly in their capacity to support population growth of the pathogen. Some hosts act as reservoirs that amplify pathogens, whereas others act as “dilution hosts” that can absorb but do not contribute pathogens. Therefore, the diversity and species composition of the host community is fundamentally important in determining pathogen transmission and disease dynamics. Reservoir hosts tend to be abundant, widespread species that are resilient to human-caused environmental degradation. In contrast, dilution hosts are often sensitive to environmental degradation, disappearing when biodiversity is lost. This presentation will describe three case studies of diseases – Hantavirus Pulmonary Syndrome, West Nile virus encephalitis, and Lyme disease – that are exacerbated when biodiversity is reduced. Explorations of the mechanisms that underlie the increase in disease risk with reduced biodiversity suggest that other zoonotic diseases will behave similarly. These case studies show that the current biodiversity crisis is likely to increase human exposure to many infectious diseases. 

      Pizza on the Pod

      February 10 - May 19
      RKC pod 222

      A chance to do homework, get help with your classes, eat pizza and socialize with your professors & fellow biology students!TuesdaysRKC POD 2227 p.m. 


      Tricolorable Torus Knots are NP-Complete

      March 5
      RKC 111

      A lecture by
      Peter Golbus, class of 2009
      ASC Lab, Bard College
      This work presents a method for associating a class of constraint satisfaction problems to a three-dimensional knot. Given a knot, one can build a knot quandle, which is generally an infinite free algebra. The desired collection of problems is derived from the set of invariant relations over the knot quandle, applying theory that relates finite algebras to constraint satisfaction problems. This allows us to develop notions of tractable and NP-complete quandles and knots. In particular, we show that all tricolorable torus knots and all but at most 2 non-trivial knots with 10 or fewer crossings are NP-complete.


      Hearing space: An exploration of vibrational prey localization

      March 5
      Laszlo Z. Bito Auditorium - RKC

      A lecture by
      Jason Schwarz
      Laboratory of Sensory Neuroscience, Rockefeller University
      The teleost fish Aplocheilus can locate and capture its insect prey on the surface of the water without any visual input.  An array of mechanosensory organs on the crown of the fish's head, the neuromasts, detect water surface waves in a manner analogous to the detection of sounds by tetrapods.  The fish compares the intensities and latencies of stimuli at various neuromasts to determine the direction of the wave source and analyzes the wave spectrum to determine how far the wave has propagated.  In view of the robustness of the behavior and the accessibility of the nervous system, prey localization by Aplocheilus offers us an experimental system useful in the study of fast neural signal processing.

      Pizza on the Pod

      February 10 - May 19
      RKC pod 222

      A chance to do homework, get help with your classes, eat pizza and socialize with your professors & fellow biology students!TuesdaysRKC POD 2227 p.m. 


      Black-Scholes Insight: Hedging Investments to Create a Risk-free Portfolio

      February 26
      RKC 111

      A lecture by
      Rebecca Ryan
      MAT Program in Mathematics
      Bard College
      In 1973 Fischer Black and Myron Scholes settled a longstanding problem in economics: how to determine the fair value of a stock option. They realized that holding specific positions in stocks and in an option could render a portfolio instantaneously risk-free. Having eliminated the risk, solving for the value of an option became a feasible mathematical procedure. This revolutionary insight sparked the explosion of the now multi-trillion dollar derivatives market.

      In this presentation, I will reconstruct the Black-Scholes portfolio from the ground up, assuming basic economic or mathematical knowledge from the audience. First, learn how investors use options, stocks, short positions, and long positions to speculate and to hedge. Then, explore how casinos hedge games to cover payouts. Finally, see how the Black-Scholes portfolio is analagous to a casino's hedging strategy.

      Life stage transitions: Hormones make fish do crazy things too!

      February 26
      Reem-Kayden Center Laszlo Z. Bito '60 Auditorium

      A lecture by
      Steven Gavlik
      Siena College
      Most vertebrates pass through two or more distinct life stages. Examples include hatching or birth (larval to juvenile transitions) and puberty (a juvenile to adult transition). Hormones of the endocrine system are primary controllers of the anatomical and physiological changes occurring during these life stage transitions. Fish undergo these transitions as free-living organisms, which allows for interactions between the hormonal control systems and the environment. This talk will present findings about the hormonal controls of two important fish life stage transitions – metamorphosis of Summer flounder and sex determination in American eel. 

      Pizza on the Pod

      February 10 - May 19
      RKC pod 222

      A chance to do homework, get help with your classes, eat pizza and socialize with your professors & fellow biology students!TuesdaysRKC POD 2227 p.m. 


      Dynamical Systems & Number Theory

      February 19
      RKC 111

      A lecture by
      John Cullinan
      Mathematics program
      Dynamical systems have been studied in the context of population modeling, fractal geometry, and topology for much of the 20th century, but it is only recently that they have been studied for their number-theoretic applications.  In fact, many open questions in number theory can be rephrased in terms of dynamical systems.  This talk will be an introduction to the arithmetic of polynomial dynamics and we will also discuss our recent work on the ramification of iterated rational functions.


      Pizza on the Pod

      February 10 - May 19
      RKC pod 222

      A chance to do homework, get help with your classes, eat pizza and socialize with your professors & fellow biology students!TuesdaysRKC POD 2227 p.m. 


      The Angle Defect and Its Generalizations

      February 12
      RKC 111

      Lecture by
      Ethan Bloch
      Mathematics Program
      The angle defect, which goes back to Descartes, is a very simple way of measuring the curvature at the vertices of a polyhedral surface in Euclidean space.  The angle defect is the polyhedral (and much simpler) analog of Gaussian curvature, as studied in differential geometry.  Although the angle defect is the only plausible definition of curvature at the vertices of a polyhedral surface, it turns out that there is more than one possible way to generalize this definition to arbitrary finite 2-dimensional polyhedra, and to higher dimensional polyhedra.  This talk will present a few different such generalizations, and will discuss a way to compare these different generalizations in dimension 2.  The talk will be elementary, though a willingness to consider higher dimensional polyhedra is required.

      Pizza on the Pod

      February 10 - May 19
      RKC pod 222

      A chance to do homework, get help with your classes, eat pizza and socialize with your professors & fellow biology students!TuesdaysRKC POD 2227 p.m. 


      Science on the Edge lecture - The 2008 Nobel Prize Awards

      February 10
      Reem-Kayden Center Laszlo Z. Bito '60 Auditorium

      The 2008 Nobel Prize Awards
      Christian Bracher, Physics programLecturing on the Nobel Prize in Physics awarded jointly to Yoichiro Nambu for the discovery of the mechanism of spontaneous broken symmetry in subatomic physics and to Makoto Kobayashi and Toshilde Maskawa for the discovery of the origin of the broken symmetry which predicts the existence of at least three families of quarks in nature.
      John Ferguson, Biology programLecturing on the Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine awarded to Francoise Barre-Sinoussi and Luc Montagnier for their discovery of human immunodeficiency virus.
      Michael Tibbetts, Biology programLecturing on the Nobel Prize in Chemistry awarded to Osamu Shimomura, Martin Chalfie and Roger Y. Tsien for the discovery and development of the green fluorescent protein, GFP.

      Information session - Semester in Environmental Science in Woods Hole, MA

      February 5
      Reem-Kayden Center Laszlo Z. Bito '60 Auditorium

      Led by
      Stephanie Oleksyk (SES '06)
      Learn more about the Semester in Environmental Science at Woods Hole, MA.

      Study environmental science in an array of ecosystems with researchers at one of the world's premier centers for biological research and education!  The Semester in Environmental Science (SES) is a hands-on semester of courses taught in beautiful Woods Hole by some of the field's top scientists.  The aim of the core curriculum is to study global problems in a local context.  It covers ecosystem biogeochemistry and the biology of coastal bays, ponds, wetlands and forests of Cape Cod.  Students conduct independent research projects and make connections with researchers that can lead to internships and jobs at the MBL.