Sigma Xi Distinguished Lecturers 2009-2010 Abstracts
John F. Alderete
STDs, Trichomonas vaginalis, and Adverse Health Outcomes (P,G)
An overview of sexually transmitted diseases (STDs)will be followed by a detailed presentation on Trichomonas vaginalis, the number one STD agent. The latest information on the adverse health consequences to Trichomonas infection for both men and women will be provided. Some data on research on the biology of the trichomonas parasite will be given to help the audience understand the nature of infection and disease.
Trichomonas vaginalis Adherence and Disease (G,S)
Following a brief introduction into the STD caused by Trichomonas vaginalis, the audience will be informed about the mechanisms by which the organisms colonize the vagina. Details regarding the molecules involved and the role of these molecules in host responses leading to disease will be provided.
Trichomonas vaginalis AP65 and Pathogenesis (S)
The audience will receive an introduction in the protist Trichomonas vaginalis and the sexually transmitted disease caused by infection. This will be followed by data illustrating the molecules and mechanisms of adherence and the role of the prominent adhesin AP65 in mediating binding of parasites to host cells. Lastly, the role of AP65 in eliciting specific host responses will be delineated.
Gary D. Christian
A Brief History of Analytical Chemistry: From the Beginnings to Modern Analytical Science (S)
The teaching and practice of analytical chemistry reflects the evolution of measurement science over time. Qualitative and quantitative measurements can be traced to pre-biblical times, and have been important throughout the history of humans, and today are key to the functioning of a modern society. The perceived value of gold and silver was the first incentive to acquire analytical knowledge. The chemical balance is recorded in the earliest documents found. I will trace the development of analytical science, presenting some of the pioneers through the eons, up to those who formed the basis for many of our modern techniques, and also early textbook authors and how books evolved. Gravimetry emerged in the 17th century, and titrimetry, along with stoichiometric concepts, in the 18th and 19th centuries. Quantitative analysis textbooks, and hence the teaching of analytical chemistry as a discipline, appeared in the 19th century. The past century saw the development of instrumental techniques, and we now possess incredible capabilities for measurements.
- F. Szabadvary, History of Analytical Chemistry, Pergamon Press, Oxford, 1966.
- H. A. Laitinen and G. W. Ewing, eds., A History of Analytical Chemistry, American Chemical Society, Division of Analytical Chemistry, Printed by The Maple Press Co., York, Pennsylvania, 1977.
- H. M. N. H. Irving, in Essays on Analytical Chemistry, W. Wanninen, ed., Pergamon Press, Oxford, 1977, pp. 591-600.
- G. D. Christian, "Evolution and Revolution in Quantitative Analysis," Anal. Chem., 67, 532A (1995).
- C. A. Lucy, "Analytical Chemistry: A Literary Approach", J. Chem. Ed., 77, 459 (2000).
The Ethics of Scientific Writing: How to Write and How Not to Write a Paper (G)
Scientific writing for peer-reviewed journals is how scientists communicate their work to the world. It is important to tell a clear and compelling story, beginning with justification for the work, placing it in the context of prior work, and its significance in advancing the field, i.e., what problem is being addressed? Manuscripts are submitted to peer-review by experts, selected by the editor. Only a select number will be published, depending on novelty, significance to the field, demonstrated applicability, appropriateness for the journal, and so forth. Peer-review is for the benefit of the author as well as for the editor, and helps improve the quality and impact of the paper. Ethics in publication is of paramount importance, and has become more of an issue for editors in recent years, particularly with the advent of the electronic age.
I will relay my experiences as an Editor-in-Chief for Talanta over some twenty years, providing guidance on how to structure and present a paper so the reviewers and readers will have a good understanding of your accomplishments, and pitfalls to avoid. Real-world examples of manuscripts that do not follow established and ethical guidelines will be given, along with cases of outright scientific fraud in the chemical literature
The Physiology and Chemistry of Breath Alcohol Measurement. Or, Are You Too Drunk to Drive? (P)
Driving under the influence of alcohol is a serious offense in all states. In most states, a blood alcohol concentration of 0.08% (w/w) is by law deemed to indicate being under the influence. Normally, the blood alcohol level is determined by measuring the percent breath alcohol, assuming a partition ratio between blood and breath of 2100:1. The legal consequences of being convicted of driving while under the influence will be presented, along with the physiology of alcohol absorption and metabolism, the physiological effects as a function of alcohol, and ways to estimate your blood alcohol level. The principles, chemistry, and operations of breath alcohol measuring instruments will be described.
David W. Frayer
Neandertals and Us (P,G,S)
Since their discovery in 1856, Neandertals have generally been considered a different species or offshoots from the subsequent European line with little or no contribution to the people who followed them. Yet, a variety of morphological and metric traits link Neandertals with their European successors. Along with new information from Neandertal biology and culture, it is becoming increasingly difficult to eliminate them from a relationship to the Cro-Magnons who followed them in Europe.
The Krapina Neandertals: What they tell us about Neandertal behavior? (P,G)
A review of the Krapina Neandertal site in Croatia. Excavated between 1899-1905 and dated to ~120,000 years ago, this site has produced hundreds of Neandertal remains. These bones and teeth provide information about Neandertal biology and culture, ranging from handedness to survival following severe trauma to ritual behavior and cannibalism. Coupled with what we know about Neandertals from other sites in Europe and Western Asia, a very different image of Neandertals emerges.
Homo floresiensis: The hobbit tale (P,G)
Discoveries from the Liang Bua cave on Flores Island (Indonesia) have been described as representing a species of miniature humans surviving in isolation for more than 100,000 years until they went extinct about 12,000 years. These discoveries, commonly referred to as "hobbits,' have great importance for models in paleoanthropology involving brain size and intelligence, the effect of isolation and endemism along with more general ideas about the course of human evolution. Conclusions about the fossils are controversial and alternate interpretations contradict the idea that the specimens from the site represent a new species.
Teeth: Repositories of Prehistoric Human Behavior (G,S)
Teeth are the most durable part of the human body and provide a wealth of information about their once-living owners. This lecture reviews examples of fossil and recent teeth from Europe and Pakistan which reveal information about biology and culture.
Robert B. Gilbert
Hurricane Katrina and the New Orleans Levees: What Went Wrong and Why (P,G,S)
On the morning of August 29, 2005, Hurricane Katrina struck New Orleans and triggered what would become one of the worst engineering disasters in the Nation's history. The levees and floodwalls protecting the area failed and allowed water to pour into the city. Nearly 1,500 people lost their lives. One-fourth of the houses were wiped out and tens of billions of dollars of property were lost. The educational and health care systems have been crippled. Over 400,000 residents fled the city and have not returned. It will take decades for New Orleans to recover. This presentation will address what went wrong and why it happened. In addition, we will discuss how society and the engineering profession can learn and improve in the wake of this disaster.
Role of Engineers in Managing Risks from Natural Hazards (G,S)
Managing risks from natural hazards has taken on greater significance as the world becomes more interconnected and interrelated. Local disasters can now impact everyone, such as the high prices of oil in the wake of hurricane Katrina. Also, the available resources to manage risk in the world as a whole are severely limited. Engineers are essential in providing civilization with technically effective solutions that balance costs, benefits and risks. This talk will address the important role of engineers in managing risks from natural hazards. Topics will include establishing goals, mitigating consequences, considering system effects, including physical factors in statistical models, avoiding both too much and too little conservatism, maximizing the value of information, and communicating effectively to decision makers and the public. Applications from around the world, ranging from offshore structures and pipelines to coastal flood control systems, will be used to illustrate and demonstrate the main ideas.
Offshore Experience from Recent Hurricanes (S)
Three of the strongest hurricanes on record recently passed through the offshore oil and gas facilities in the Gulf of Mexico: Hurricane Ivan in August, 2004, Hurricane Katrina in August 2005, and Hurricane Rita in September 2005. The cumulative impact of these storms was significant, with more than 100 platforms destroyed, tens of billions of dollars in property loss, and more than 200 million barrels of oil production that was removed from the U.S. oil supply. Remarkably, however, there were no fatalities or injuries to offshore workers because they were successfully evacuated in advance of each storm. This talk will address what happened and what we have learned from these intense hurricanes. Topics will include hurricane forces, wave-induced mudslides, and the performance of facilities such as temporary drill rigs, permanent production facilities and pipelines.
Michael F. Goodchild
Where are We Now? An assessment of GPS (P)
The Global Positioning System revolutionized the practice of surveying, providing for the first time a cheap and reliable means of directly measuring absolute position on the Earth's surface. Since then it has been embedded in technologies from in-car navigation to cellular phones. It raises concerns about privacy, as do other positioning technologies such as RFID. Its accuracy also creates numerous practical problems of interoperability, given the comparatively poor accuracy of much of our cartographic legacy; and it draws attention to the complexities of accurate Earth measurement. I review novel geographic applications of Web 2.0 that are being grouped under the umbrella of "neogeography", and speculate about the future of geographic information technologies as represented by the concept of a Spatial Web.
The Spatial Web: Visions for a Geospatial World (G)
The popularization of the Internet and the advent of the Web have had enormous impact on geographic information technologies, making it possible for researchers and the general public to access unprecedented amounts of information through digital libraries, clearinghouses, and geo-portals. Google Earth is only one example of a process of technological democratization that has occurred in the past two years. At the same time new positioning technologies have appeared to augment the power of GPS, including radio-frequency identification (RFID), and disciplines from geophysics to ecology and public health are embracing the power of small, cheap, and powerful sensors to collect real-time data on geographically distributed systems. I sketch a vision of a Spatial Web, in which objects in the world know and report their locations, along with useful information about their surroundings; this information is then collected and compiled by servers, and is redistributed to users. This vision has powerful implications for new kinds of science, for "citizen science", for surveillance, and for many other areas of human activity. This technological vision must be tempered by the realities of institutions, human behavior, and politics, and by concerns for privacy. Geographers have a pressing responsibility to reflect on these technological developments, and to ensure their effective and responsible use.
Fundamental Spatial Concepts (S)
The functionality of GIS has grown enormously, and it is now possible to assert that GIS is capable of any conceivable operation on spatial data. However the organization of this mass of functionality is still problematic, making it difficult to find the right tool for a problem. I argue that tools should be organized around the fundamental spatial concepts that they seek to expose and calibrate. In turn these concepts form the core of spatial thinking, and distinguish GIS from any other form of analytic software. I use examples to illustrate how the approach taken by spatial thinkers is both different and intellectually profound.
Kimberly A. Gray
The Modern American City: Can We Ever Make it Sustainable? (P,G)
The short answer to this question is "not at the rate that we are going." Yet, if we really wanted to, we could make great strides in the short term and with our current technical knowledge in the ways we use energy and resources. So what is stopping us? In this presentation, I will discuss the various perspectives on "sustainability," a term that means very different things to different people, and make the case for why this is a pressing issue to be addressed sooner rather than later. To me the strongest case for changing the patterns by which we live and move can be made by considering the energy picture - supply, demand and consequence. I will discuss the requirements and the feasibility of developing truly renewable energy sources. I will consider the role of technology in finding solutions to the problem of sustainability, but I will also stress that technology, alone, will not supply the answers. Deeper understanding of the structure and function of ecological systems is key to designing sustainable cities. I will draw on examples of re-engineering the water cycle and a 100-year vision for the City of Chicago. Finally, sustainability requires that we address equity issues and the definition of prosperity across our own society as well as across the globe.
Energy and the Environment: The Central Challenge of Sustainability (P,G)
The commonly held definition of sustainability put forth in Our Common Future (Brundtland Commission,1987) states that sustainable development should be pursued globally to "meet the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs." The only problem is that it is not clear how this notion translates into action. The way most Americans live, for instance, is far from sustainable. People in the U.S. use energy and resources to a far greater extent than what they produce and what other countries use. A compelling case for sustainability can be made if we consider energy use and the issues of supply, security and environmental consequence. While there are numerous possible renewable alternatives, there is resistance to making the necessary investments that will allow us to shift our dependence on fossil fuels to other sources, such as solar, wind, nuclear, etc. There have been many predictions that the end of oil is near and as many that refute these warnings. Yet, Amory Lovins advises, "The stone age did not end because the world ran out of stones. . . And the oil age will not end because the world will run out of oil." There is an urgent need to determine the near-term and long-term paths to a sustainable future in an integrated fashion if we are to protect future generations, the environment, and the economies of the world. Technological breakthroughs alone will not rescue us if they are not coupled to changes in how we live and where we live. Do we have the political will to pursue these changes? Do we have sufficient scientific and technical understanding to alter the course we began charting hundred of years ago as societies moved from subsistence agricultural to highly industrialized economies?
Ecological Restoration: The Importance of Details in the Big Picture (P,G,S)
A key strategy in sustainable development is to mimic nature in the design of buildings, businesses, and cities. In utilizing nature's own "zero-waste," self-renewing strategies, we hope to build a society that, as defined by the UN, "meets the need of the present without sacrificing the ability of future generations to meet their own needs." Yet to mimic nature we must first understand it. Any survey of the natural systems surrounding us illustrates our lack of mastery of their function-our lakes, rivers, and wetlands are degraded and polluted, and are no longer self-sustaining-they are no longer truly "natural." Despite decades of concerted effort on the part of scientists and management agencies to restore them, the majority of these degraded ecosystems show little improvement. One major problem is that we do not fully understand the biological structure of ecosystems that control their health and function. This is in large part due to
the fact that biological systems are under constant assault, particularly in our current global world where the introduction of non-indigenous species are causing ongoing, dramatic shifts in the world's food webs. These shifts rearrange the flow of energy, disrupt species interactions, and reroute contaminant accumulation pathways in ways that can have significant negative impact on public health. Our challenge now, if we are to succeed in truly sustainable design, is to better understand what is "natural," and use this understanding to restore degraded environments, producing self-sustaining ecosystems that can serve as models for our built environment.
Progress in Engineering Photoactive Nanocomposite Materials for Solar Fuel Production (GS)
Since Fujishima and Honda developed the photoelectrochemical cell for H2O splitting in 1972, heterogeneous photocatalysis has attracted much attention. TiO2 is among the most extensively studied semiconductor photocatalysts. It is chemically and biologically inert, photocatalytically stable, commercially available, and inexpensive. An electron is excited from the valence band of TiO2 into the conduction band by light absorption with energy greater than its band gap, leaving a charge vacancy behind. These excited charge carriers are highly reactive radicals with robust reducing and oxidizing capacity. In the past three 30 years, most of the effort in the photocatalytic field has been focused on energy and environmental applications, which require materials with the following properties: (1) hindered charge recombination and improved photocatalytic efficiency; (2) targeted reactivity and selectivity that match band energies to the desired reaction, and (3) extended photoresponse into the visible light region. Masakazu Anpo first introduced the notion of "second-generation" TiO2 photocatalysts, which are activated by visible light. We hypothesize that the solid-solid interface in TiO2-based nanocomposites is key to overcoming these three challenges and are a promising candidates for 2nd-generation photocatalysts. Recent findings in our laboratory reveal a number of surprising insights as to why TiO2 nanocomposites tend to display higher photoactivity than pure-phases and point to the critical role of the solid-solid interface as the location of catalytic "hot spots". Yet, efforts to probe the role of the solid-solid interface in photocatalytic activity are stymied by an inability to synthesize under sufficiently controlled conditions and in sufficient quantities the "interface", which would then allow structural characterization and functional interrogation. Advances in photocatalyst synthesis using sputtering technologies promise to revolutionize our ability to engineer the solid-solid interface at the molecular level and thus, to fabricate photoactive nanostructured composite materials having high densities of "defects" designed for energy harvesting and storage.
Robert M. Hazen
Genesis: The Scientific Quest for Llife's Origins (P,G)
How did life arise? Is life's origin a cosmic imperative manifest throughout the cosmos, or is life an improbable accident, restricted to a few planets (or only one)? Scientists who seek experimental and theoretical frameworks to deduce the origin of life look to the concept of emergent systems to provide a unifying approach. Natural systems with many interacting components, such as molecules, cells or organisms, often display complex behavior not associated with their individual components. The origin of life can be modeled as a sequence of emergent events - the synthesis of biomolecules, the selection and organization of those small molecules into functional macromolecules, the emergence of self-replicating molecular systems, and the initiation of molecular natural selection - which transformed the lifeless geochemical world of oceans, atmosphere and rocks into a living planet. This framework guides origin experiments, which can be designed to focus on each emergent step.
Right and Left: Mineral Surfaces and the Origins of Biological Handedness (G,S)
Life arose on Earth as a geochemical process from the interaction of rocks, water, and gases. Prior to the origin of life, the necessary organic molecules had formed abundantly, but indiscriminately, both in space and on Earth. A major mystery of life's origin is how an idiosyncratic subset of those diverse molecules was selected and concentrated from the prebiotic soup to form more complex structures leading to the development of life. Of special interest, both from a scientific and technological viewpoint, is the separation of left- from right-handed molecules - "chiral" molecules, which are hallmarks of living organisms. Rocks and minerals are likely to have played several critical roles in this selection, especially as templates for the adsorption and organization of these molecules. Our recent experimental and theoretical studies on interactions between crystals and organic molecules reveal that crystals with chiral surface structures may have facilitated the separation of left- and right-handed biomolecules - the possible origin of life's distinctive handedness.
Functional Information and the Emergence of Biocomplexity (G,S)
What is "complexity" and how do complex biological systems evolve? A key to understanding these longstanding questions is to recognize that complexity has meaning only with respect to function. All complex emergent systems of many interacting components, including complex biological systems, have the ability to "do something." Accordingly, we define "functional information" as a measure of system complexity. Functional information, which will be illustrated with letter sequences, artificial life, and biopolymers, represents the information (in bits) required for a system to achieve a specific function to a specified degree. We observe evidence for several distinct solutions with different maximum degrees of function - features that lead to steps in plots of information versus degree of function. This formalism points to experimental parameters that can be adjusted to increase the potential complexity of experimental systems, notably experiments attempting to duplicate steps in life's chemical origins.
Evelyn L. Hu
Michelangelo's Laser (G,S)
'Michelangelo's Laser' will focus on some of the design, art and tools used in shaping semiconductor materials to achieve the desired scientific or technological performance. In the masterpieces of form and sound that most delight us, we are willing believers that the artists who shape those works have a clear vision beforehand of the ultimate form that will emerge out of the starting material. Perhaps surprisingly, the same vision applies to the 'artists' who shape structures out of materials like semiconductors, where the resulting creations can be used to control the behavior and interactions of electrons and photons, vital agents of information that define our day-to-day technology. This talk will focus on some of the techniques that semiconductor artists use to sculpt nanoscale forms into their materials, and discuss how the appropriately sculpted form can provide exceptional function.
Creating Solar Cells with Viruses (G,S)
Scientists can select from the rich choice of materials that nature provides to make devices that can convert electrical energy to light energy, like lasers or light emitting diodes - or to make devices that convert light energy from the sun to electrical energy. We could potentially make much more efficient devices, if we could control the nanostructure (not the atomic structure) of the material to add the right combination of semiconductors, metals and insulators. Biological structures can possess both the nanoscale structure that can serve as a template for building materials, and also strongly specific binding of materials to those templates. The big challenge is to link biological materials with what we usually think of as 'non-biological' materials, like metals or semiconductors. I will discuss a technique that can provide that linkage: a discovery tool that will identify compatible biological-non biological material pairs. This provides the starting point for a new way of constructing non biological materials from the nanoscale, allowing creative three dimensional design of new materials and electronic and optical devices.
Terry L. Hunt
What (Really) Happened on Easter Island? Ecological Catastrophe and Cultural Collapse (P,G,S)
Easter Island has become the "poster child" for prehistoric human induced ecological catastrophe and cultural collapse. Today a popular narrative recounts an obsession with monumental statuary-a mania for the megalithic moai-that led to the island's ecological devastation and the collapse of the ancient civilization. Scholars offer this story as a parable of our own reckless destruction of the global environment. In this lecture Dr. Hunt critically examines the evidence for Rapa Nui. A revised, later chronology for Rapa Nui calls into question aspects of the current model for the island's ecological history. A closer look also reveals a complex historical ecology for the island; one best explained by a synergy of impacts, rather than simply the reckless over-exploitation by ancient Polynesians. It is essential to disentangle the related notion of prehistoric "ecocide" with the demographic collapse (i.e., post-contact genocide) that occurred centuries later with European disease, slave trading, and the other abuses heaped upon the Polynesians of Rapa Nui. Contrary to the now popular narratives, prehistoric deforestation did not cause population collapse, nor was it associated with it.
Theory of Bet-Hedging Points to Ancient Easter Island's Success (G,S)
The monuments and statues of Easter Island have drawn scientific and public interest for decades. Recent writers have suggested that making and moving the giant statues led to over-exploitation of resources and the downfall of the ancient society. In this lecture Dr. Hunt explores a very different possibility. On tiny remote Easter Island a population that grew too large to cope with periodic food shortages brought on by drought or other natural causes would have invited crisis, failure, even collapse. But under particular conditions many species-including humans--spend time in the pursuit of non-food producing, non-reproducing activities. These activities can range from simple inefficiency to grandiose forms of showing off (or "costly signaling"). In the short term, this seems to be self-defeating since organisms are sacrificing Darwinian success, but such loss is gained in long term stability and persistence. On Easter Island investments in art, architecture, and ritual demanded much of people's energy budget-what evolutionary biologists reckon as energy used for one thing cannot be used for another. Thus time spent on making and moving statues meant diversions from expanding gardens and raising larger families. By accident or design, such a strategy may have been critical to Easter Islanders by reducing the consequences of inevitable uncertainty in food supplies. Theory tells us the story of Easter Island may be quite different than many have supposed.
Megaliths Made to Move (G,S)
Easter Island is a peculiar place. Its treeless windswept landscape is littered with hundreds of multi-ton stone statues. These ancient statues (moai) were moved several miles to every corner of the island, over hills and across rugged volcanic surfaces. Their ancient transport is the enduring "mystery" of Easter Island. Ancient islanders say that the statues "walked." Archaeologists from Heyerdahl to those recently experimenting for the cameras of the Discovery Channel have proposed various methods using wooden sleds and other contraptions. In this lecture Dr. Hunt reports his field work--the first systematic examination of its kind--that considers new evidence from both the ancient roads and the details of more than 50 statues fallen along the way. The evidence documents that the statues were moved-perhaps even "walked"-in an upright position. New theories or experiments showing how these colossal statues might have been moved will have to take into account the real-world evidence of archaeology.
Ancient Human Impacts on Land and Sea in Polynesia (G)
Over the past several decades, archaeologists, anthropologists, and other scientists have written about indigenous societies as conservationists and the pristine environments they inhabited, or in contrast, as agents of widespread impacts and wholesale habitat destruction. The Pacific Islands, as "laboratories" of human ecological history, have figured prominently in these debates. In this lecture Dr. Hunt illustrates how a dichotomy of conservation versus wholesale destruction oversimplifies the complexity of human relationships and their environments. Case studies from the Pacific Island illustrate the timing, causes, and consequences of deforestation, extinctions, and in contrast, histories of sustainable resource use in terrestrial and marine ecosystems. Understanding human impacts and long-term environmental histories are important to many contemporary concerns.
Marc L. Imhoff
Gray Wave of the Great Transformation: A Satellite View of Urbanization, Climate Change, and Food Security (P,G,S)
Land cover change driven by human activity is profoundly affecting Earth's natural systems with impacts ranging from a loss of biological diversity to changes in regional and global climate. This change has been so pervasive and progressed so rapidly, compared to natural processes, scientists refer to it as "the great transformation". Urbanization or the 'gray wave' of land transformation is being increasingly recognized as an important process in global climate change. A hallmark of our success as a species, large urban conglomerates do in fact alter the land surface so profoundly that both local climate and the basic ecology of the landscape are affected in ways that have consequences to human health and economic well-being. Fortunately we have incredible new tools for planning and developing urban places that are both enjoyable and sustainable. A suite of Earth observing satellites is making it possible to study the interactions between urbanization, biological processes, and weather and climate. Using these Earth Observatories we are learning how urban heat islands form and potentially ameliorate them, how urbanization can affect rainfall, pollution, and surface water recharge at the local level and climate and food security globally.
Planetary Secrets: The Secret Lives of Storms, Deserts, and Fires (P,G,S)
Why are some storms worse than others? Can hurricanes really go surfing? Why would a fish at sea care about the Gobi desert? When they say 'the world is on fire' do they mean 'literally'? A suite of Earth observing satellites especially designed to simultaneously view the land, atmosphere and oceans is revealing Earth's secret liaisons intricately connecting processes together that would have once seemed improbable. Recent results from NASA's Earth Observing System are showing how human activities, biological processes, and climate affect one another across time and space. This new and developing capability will allow us to plan healthier and safer urban environments, understand climate and climate change, and maintain landscapes capable of sustaining adequate food and fiber production.
Human Appropriation of Net Primary Production - Can the Earth Keep Up? (P,G,S)
A unique combination of satellite and socio-economic data were used to explore the relationship between human consumption and the carbon cycle. The amount of Earth's NPP required to support human activities is a powerful measure of the aggregate impact on the biosphere and indicator of societal vulnerability to climate change. Biophysical models were applied to consumption data to estimate the annual amount of Earth's terrestrial net primary production humans require for food, fiber (including fabrication) and fuel using the same modeling architecture as satellite-supported NPP measurements. The amount of NPP required was calculated on a per capita basis and projected onto a global map of population to create a spatially explicit map of NPP-carbon 'demand' in units of elemental carbon. NPP demand was compared to a map of Earth's average annual net primary production or 'supply' created using 17 years (1982-1998) of AVHRR vegetation index to produce a geographically accurate balance sheet of NPP-carbon 'supply' and 'demand' for the globe. Globally, humans consume 20% of Earth's total net primary production on land. Regionally the NPP-carbon balance percentage varies from 6% to over 70% and locally from near 0% to over 30,000% in major urban areas. Scenarios modeling the impact of per capita consumption, population growth, and technology suggest that NPP demand is likely to increase substantially in the next 40 years despite better harvesting and processing efficiencies.
How Has Urbanization Altered the Carbon Cycle in the United States? (S)
Data from two satellites and a terrestrial carbon model were used to quantify the impact of urbanization on net primary productivity (NPP) and its consequences on carbon balance and food production. We found that different classes of urbanization have a recognizable satellite-based NDVI signal at a spatial resolution of 1 km. Our results show that urbanization is taking place on the most fertile lands and hence has a disproportionately large overall negative impact on regional and even continental scale NPP. Urban land transformation in the U.S. has reduced the amount of carbon fixed through photosynthesis by 1.6 percent of the pre-urban value. The reduction nearly offsets the 1.8 percent gain made by the conversion of land to agricultural use, a striking fact given that urbanization covers less than 3 percent of the land in the U.S. while agricultural lands approach 29 percent. At local and regional scales, urbanization increases NPP in resource-limited regions, and through localized warming "urban heat" contributes to the extension of the growing season in cold regions. In terms of biologically available energy, the loss of NPP due to urbanization of agricultural lands alone is equivalent to the caloric requirement of about 6 percent of the US population annually.
Robert D. Mathieu
A Wide View of the Universe (P,G)
Astronomers strive to observe the largest areas of the sky with the finest resolution, two goals that tend to compete against each other. We are in the midst of exciting technological advances in astronomical instrumentation that are moving us closer to the ultimate instruments. I will introduce the audience to the basic challenges and designs of modern telescopes, and explore several new directions in camera and spectrograph design. And of course along the way, show lots of beautiful images of the universe!
Stars That Go Bump In the Night (P,G,S)
The distances between the stars are vast, and until recently collisions between stars seemed highly unlikely. Now we think they happen quite frequently, particularly when binary stars encounter each other within clusters of stars, and create stars that as yet are unexplained by standard stellar physics. These events bring together two classical fields of astronomy, stellar dynamics and stellar evolution. I will introduce the audience to the basics of both, and then embark on a journey into the strange world of stellar collisions.
An Observational Exploration of Angular Momentum Evolution in Sun-like Stars (S)
This is a technical talk on angular momentum evolution processes in young stars, with a particular emphasis on magnetic disk-locking and tidal processes.
Preparing the Future National STEM Faculty (G,S)
Traditionally research universities prepare graduate students to be forefront researchers. While necessary, this training is not sufficient for a successful career in any field, and not the least for a career as a professor. The National Science Foundation has invested nearly $15M in the Center for the Integration of Research, Teaching and Learning (CIRTL), whose mission is to prepare graduate students who are both forefront researchers and superb teachers. CIRTL has used the University of Wisconsin - Madison as its laboratory to develop a prototype program for study. In the past four years more than 1300 STEM graduate students have participated and are now moving into faculty positions around the nation. A major longitudinal study will be following their early careers. In the meantime, CIRTL now is creating a network of research universities, including the University of Colorado at Boulder, Howard University, Michigan State University, Vanderbilt University, Texas A&M University and UW. I will tell the CIRTL story, and as appropriate discuss how the CIRTL ideas might help the host institution, either as programs for graduate universities or STEM faculty, and how the host institution might inform the future of CIRTL.
Stephen L. Morgan
Forensic Analytical Chemistry: Basic Research Behind CSI (P,G,S)
Prime time television presentations of analytical chemical measurements helping to solve crimes, coupled with the publicity surrounding high profile criminal cases have resulted in a number of effects. The so-called "CSI effect" arises from depictions of infallible analyses, instant laboratory results, and unambiguous computer matching of profiles and has fostered unrealistic expectations in the minds of the general public. This lecture highlights the current state of the art in forensic analytical chemistry and how it differs and, in some cases, matches this fantasy world of chemical detectives. While tremendous advances have been achieved in the application of analytical chemistry and biology to trace evidence, getting reliable and validated results that hold up in court requires a solid foundation in the relevant science, appropriate sample handling, careful laboratory technique, and good statistical practices. Forensic applications (and the science behind them) to be discussed include chemical analysis of latent prints, detection of biological fluids at crime scenes, the statistics of DNA analysis, and trace evidence analysis including fibers, hairs, bullet lead, and other polymeric materials.
Chemometrics: Separating Chemical Signals and Patterns from Noise (G,S)
Advances in science are often driven by development of improved measurement tools that provide more informative data, more reliable data, or data not previously obtainable. Improved statistical tools for analysis of the large amounts of complex data that arise from modern analytical instruments are just as important. Because such data typically consists of measured values on multiple correlated variables, interpretation is often confounded by the "curse of dimensionality." However, although spectral patterns have a large number of measured variables (e.g., an infrared spectrum at 1,500 wavelengths), these variables are not independent. Intensities may be correlated with one another simply because they are at adjacent wavelengths or as a consequence of chemical structural. As a result, the inherent dimensionality of the data is lower than the actual number of measurements. Multivariate statistical methods (principal component analysis, discriminant analysis, partial least squares) explore relationships between multiple features of an analytical data set and, project any systematic variability into "latent variables" space of lower dimensionality while discarding noise. These techniques, formerly used only in research settings, are finding their way into commercial software and routine applications ranging from applications in molecular biology to real-time quality control monitoring of manufacturing processes. Several applications to chemical problems will also be discussed, including correlations in the periodic table of elements, pattern recognition applied to spectroscopic data from forensic and polymer samples.
Capillary Electrophoresis/Mass Spectrometry and Microspectrophotometry for Trace Forensic Analysis of Fibers (G,S)
The principle that "every contact leaves a trace" speaks to the potential value of trace evidence found at a crime scene, or found on a victim or suspect. Fiber evidence is class evidence and fibers from different sources could be indistinguishable. The probative value of fibers found at a crime scene depends on their uniqueness relative to the fiber background normally encountered at that location in the absence of the crime. In forensic fiber comparisons, when spectra of known and questioned fibers are consistent, the hypothesis that the fibers originate from a common source should not be rejected. Forensic analytical research in our laboratory has addressed the task of achieving greater discrimination between trace evidence fibers in two different ways: by the use of UV/visible absorbance and fluorescence microspectrophotometry (MSP), and by micro-extraction/capillary electrophoresis (CE) and by CE/mass spectrometry (MS). We have applied pattern recognition techniques to fiber spectra and found MSP to exhibit high discriminating ability for comparisons among different fibers. However, fibers dyed with different dye formulations can have similar color and spectra; MSP does not identify the dyes present and cannot guarantee chemical equivalence of two fibers. After extraction of dyes from a fiber, however, CE/MS can separate extracted dye components and provide semi-quantitative estimates of dye amounts as well as qualitative information to identify the dye present (via the molecular weight and mass spectra). Although this approach is destructive to the sample, only an extremely small sample is required (~1-2 mm of a single 15 micron diameter fiber). Automated micro-extractions and CE offer analysis with % RSDs ranging from 5-25% and with limits of detection in the picogram range.
Sharon L. Neal
Exploiting the Selectivity of Multivariate Spectroscopy in Investigating Complex Systems (G)
One of the interesting trends in analytical methodology has been the development of multivariate measurements. While the power of hyphenated separations measurements such as GCMS are well known, expansion to multivariate formats have increased the utility of many other types of measurements including the quantification of hybridized probes on cDNA microarrays and resolution of photosynthetic processes in bacteria. In this presentation, a short overview of this trend will be presented, followed by a description of how multivariate spectral analysis is contributing to the study of complex fluids based on mixed lipid aggregates. These intriguing soft materials are finding applications in a variety of fields, but improved methods to characterize them are needed to fully capitalize on their unique properties.
Microenvironment Sensitive Probes in
Complex Liquids (G)
The spectra of microenvironment sensitive fluorescence probes exhibit dramatic shifts during processes such as lipid phase transitions or protein folding. This report will describe the methods developed to monitor, resolve and analyze the underlying components of multi-state probes emission during such processes. The application of these methods will be illustrated in a variety of microheterogeneous systems using different types of microenvironment sensitive probes. The well-known amino-napthalene esters, such as PRODAN derivatives, which are widely used to study lipid phase and novel amino-substituted flavonol derivatives, such as FFE, which simultaneously undergo electron and proton transfers are two examples of these types of probes. The spectral and photokinetic properties of the probes in lipids and/or proteins will be compared to their properties in isotropic solvents.
Congratulations, if This is How You Want to Spend Your Life! (P)
Many people have asked me "how did you become a scientist?" by which I think they meant "why did you make such an unusual choice?" In the exchanges that followed, I learned that most of them thought that it's great that a black woman does science, but they were also usually surprised, even concerned, because at a deep level, they weren't completely sure I was in the right place. As a young person this ambivalence was a sad surprise, even a source of concern, for me. Eventually, I saw that dichotomies characterize my life as a scientist: thrilled by uncovering natureÕs secrets one minute; confounded by recalcitrant equipment the next. The phenomenon that looks like a limitation to planned experiments turns out to be an exciting line of new inquiry. The chauvinist reconsiders and becomes a friend (well, this one is still a dream, but one day, right?) I will recount a few recollections that illustrate how central stubborn optimism is to overcoming obstacles inside and outside the research lab.
Jessica M. Nuñez de Ybarra
The Public Health Approach (P,G,S)
The Mission of Public Health in the United States of America is the fulfillment of society's interest in assuring conditions in which people can be healthy [Institute of Medicine]. This lecture will explore the history of public health and review the tools that are used to protect health in America.
The Work of Public Health: A California Example (P,G,S)
This Lecture will explore the broad areas that public health concerns itself in the United States of America. As an example, focus will be given to providing a basic understanding of the role of state level communicable disease control in partnership with local and federal partners as part of the overall State Public Health Emergency Preparedness and Response System in California.
The People in Public Health (P,G,S)
This Lecture will be dedicated to discussing the many disciplines and experts that come together to protect the health of all residents in the United States of America. The career ladder of a public health medical officer will be outlined. Moreover the effort to ensure the cultural competence and humility of the public health workforce will be reviewed.
The Challenges of Public Health (P,G,S)
The Mission of Public Health in the United States of America is the fulfillment of society's interest in assuring conditions in which people can be healthy [Institute of Medicine]. This mission can be daunting in an ever changing world with constant emerging threats and resource limitations. This Lecture will discuss a few of the directions the field of public health is heading with lessons from the past and future improvements including soliciting community input and partnership. Risk communication and the importance of translating scientific results into policy that are communicated clearly to the public are emphasized
Urban Crime Rates and the Changing Face of Immigration: Evidence across Three Decades (G,S)
Despite the plethora of popular commentary on the alleged link between immigration and crime, empirical research exploring this link is sparse. Noticeably missing from the literature on immigration and crime is a consideration of how rates of immigration affect rates of crime at different points in time. This talk presents research that fills this void by testing the effects of immigration on crime in metropolitan areas across three decades. This talk will present analysis of census data and crime data for 1970, 1980, 1990, and 2000 to examine how characteristics of the foreign-born population influence criminal offending across a random sample of U.S. metropolitan areas.
The Immigrant Metropolis (P,G)
Today, among scholars and the popular press, many vilify large-scale immigration as the cause of numerous urban social problems, from joblessness to crime. This talk contributes to the debate about the effects of immigration in the United States. Research will be presented that uses census data to address the impact of recent immigration on the social and economic health of urban America. The research indicates that recent immigration tends to revitalize urban areas by expanding economic opportunities for native born workers in the working and middle classes. This revitalization is not uniform across metropolitan areas, however. Metropolises with particularly large immigrant populations and those with particularly small immigrant populations experience negative effects of immigration along with the positive ones.
Hug Drug or Thug Drug? The Ecstasy Aggression Connection (G,S)
While clinical studies have established a link between aggression and ecstasy (3,4-methylenedioxymeth-amphetamine [MDMA]), no research has explored how this link manifests itself in real-world behavioral outcomes. This talk presents research examining the effects of ecstasy on aggressive and violent behavior in a sample of active users. The research indicates that those with a higher prevalence of lifetime ecstasy use exhibit higher levels of aggressive and violent behavior. However, the effect of lifetime ecstasy use differs by propensity for aggression. Those with lower propensity for aggression are actually more affected by ecstasy use than those who are more aggression prone.
Respirator Certification (P,G,S)
The National Institute of Occupational Safety and Health is charged with the task of respirator certification. A representative panel of facial features guides the selection of subjects to don and respirators to be tested at the National Personal Protective Technology Laboratory. The processes to select the panel and the subjects are discussed.
Survival Analysis and Microarray Data (G,S)
The advent of high throughput data collection technology has led to large data sets. This has provided statisticians with many challenges. In the case of survival analysis with microarray data the technical challenges derive from the fact that typically, the number of patients (e.g. in cancer studies) is small compared to the number of genes under study. The talk will discuss these issues and provide a review of proposed approaches to address this issue.
Developing Human Resources in the Mathematica Sciences (P,G,S)
The Rice University Summer Institute of Statistics (RUSIS) is a 10-week program supported by the National Science Foundation and the National Security Agency. The goal is to encourage udnergraduate students to pursue graduate studies in theoretical statistics and/or probability. The goals of the program will be discussed and examples of students' proyects and success stories will be presented. Challenges in running such programs will also
The Body Mass Index, Measures of Spread, and Statistical Genetics (P,G,S)
International studies have shown that population characteristics, such as BMI, change as groups migrate geographically. Examples from the literature that illustrate this observation will be presented. Connections to concepts of spread in statistics and models for linkage in statistical genetics can also be addressed.
Francisco J. Samaniego
Bayesian vs. Classical Statistics: The History, the Debate and a Recommended Solution (G,S)
This talk explains two general but quite different approaches to drawing inferences about populations from which we might randomly sample. The argument about which approach is more correct, appropriate or useful -- in short, which tends to give better answers -- has been going on for some 250 years. I'll present the main ideas behind claims on both sides and talk about a real experiment whose rather surprising answer suggests a way to resolve the debate. Finally, I will explain (without the mathematical details) the theoretical developments which solve, in an important class of statistical settings, the elusive "threshold problem", that is, the problem of finding the dividing line between situations in which one approach provides performance which is superior to the other and situations where the reverse is true.
From the X Files (and the Y Files) of the Statistical Laboratory at the University of California, Davis (P,G,S)
This talk is meant to give the audience a feel for the type of work that a statistical consultant does. I give detailed examples of consulting projects I've worked on in recent years for three State of California Departments (Conservation, Education and Transportation). In each case, a substantive scientific question was asked, and a statistical methodology was devised for answering it.
Comparing Engineered Systems (G,S)
This talk introduces the subject of "structural reliability", and describes a particular proxy for system designs -- the "system signature" -- which is useful in comparing classes of engineered systems, ordering their anticipated performance from best to worst or comparing systems in reliability-economics frameworks where both performance and cost are treated simultaneously. The application of signatures in the comparison of communication networks will also be discussed. All comparisons are probabilistic in nature.
Statistical Issues in Gambling, Extra Sensory Perception and Lie Detector Tests (P)
This talk takes a brief look into some of the statistical issues pertaining to topics on which I have taught courses in the Honors Program at the University of California, Davis. In the area of gambling, I'll explain the notion of "mathematical expectatio
Melvyn A. Shapiro
A Unified Global Weather and Climate Prediction System for the 21st Century (P, G, S)
Advancing the skill of global high-impact weather forecasts and reducing the uncertainty of climate predictions, for the benefit of society and the health of our planet.
- Develop a unified, ultra-high-resolution, seamless global prediction system for weather and climate that resolves extreme weather events embedded within weekly weather forecasts, and seasonal, inter-annual and decadal climate predictions.
- Develop advanced high-resolution data-assimilation systems to enhance the utility of global observations of the Earth system for the monitoring and prediction of weather and climate from hours to years.
- Contribute to the design and implementation of an Earth Observing System that satisfies the observational requirements spanning short-term forecasts and the prediction and assessment of climate variability and change.
- Facilitate regional field campaigns to improve and evaluate parameterizations and explicit representations of physical processes in weather and climate predictions systems.
- Provide predictions of short-term weather hazards, climate variability and change including the climatology of extreme events, and their inherent uncertainties, to policy makers and stakeholders of global societies to assist in their decisions regarding mitigation and sustainable development.
- Demonstrate the feasibility and evaluate the performance of the unified global weather and climate prediction system.
Striving for the Simplest Possible Means of Detecting Disease (G,S)
Methods for detecting and monitoring disease that do not rely on sophisticated, expensive equipment and expert personnel are in current global demand. The creation of simple indicator molecules that sense specific disease biomarkers is a major focus of our laboratory. These new reagents operate based on principles analogous to those used in routine pH measurements. A highly selective visual change is observed upon contact with disease-related sugars, amino acids or lipids.
How to Design a Molecular Light Bulb and Related Broadband Organic Gluorophores (G,S)
Straightforward dye synthesis methodology has led to the attainment of a series of aqueous soluble fluorophores with relatively low molecular weight, enhanced stability and potential utility in imaging. Additional properties include tunable broadband red-green-blue (RGB), white light and near infra-red (NIR) emission, as well as enhanced Stokes shifts. For example, one of these fluorophores emits NIR fluorescence upon absorbing light in the blue/green wavelength region. The potential utility of these materials in a variety of modern optical applications will be presented.
Chemistry, Medicine and Society - Translational Research from the Perspective of a Basic Scientist (P,S)
Translational research, typically defined as the application of fundamental discoveries in basic science to the development of new diagnostics and therapeutics, has become a major focal point of national science policy in the current decade. The scope of the issues that translational and related multidisciplinary research raise are relevant to not only modern health care, but also challenge some deeply rooted notions in areas such as research, teaching, communication and culture. This presentation describes the modern collaborative landscape from the viewpoint of an experienced researcher and teacher in a basic science field.
Emily A. Tobey
Frankenstein: How Physics, Literature and Theatre led to a Scientific Success (P,G)
It is hard to imagine how a simple observation made by Volta in the late 1700's could leave a lasting legacy impacting physics, literature and theatre. Yet such an observation was made and a legacy was formed which impacts the arts and sciences in ways Volta could not conceive. It is even safer to assume that Volta had no idea that his basic reflection would lead to the restoration of multiple aspects of hearing for many deaf people around the world nearly 300 years later. Imagine a world of silence, imagine a world warning against the over reaching of man and the industrial revolution, and finally, imagine that for the first time you are hearing your child speak, listening to a horse chomp oats or hearing the fall leaves rustle in the wind. Imagine, if you will, a world no longer silent.
The Bionic Ear: Intersection of Technological Advances, Communication and Societal Change (P,G,S)
Two of the most devastating consequences of profound deafness are an inability to understand others and an inability of others to understand the speech of such a person speaking. Cochlear implants, however, are rapidly changing these consequences for many individuals who experience such hearing losses. Explore how the brain responds to electrical representations of speech, how technological advances impact communication development in young children with hearing loss, and how these factors alter societal views of deaf vs. Deaf.
Breaking the Sound Barrier (G,S)
Scientific breakthroughs on multiple fronts contribute to the success of cochlear implants for restoring many aspects of hearing to individuals with hearing losses. Silence no longer impedes oral communication in many individuals with hearing loss. Explore how scientists ask, "are two ears better than one?", "should cochlear implants be given to infants?", "can all languages be electrically coded using similar strategies?", and "is listening to opera out of the question?"
Communication Through Electrical Hearing (S)
Oral communication is greatly aided by cochlear implants in young children with sensorineural hearing losses. This talk will review current research discussing how cochlear implants influence the development of communication. Presentation will review research related to speech perception, speech production, language, and literacy. Developmental changes and changes due to clinical intervention when exposed to electrical representations of speech will be explored. Talk may be adjusted to meet audience sophistication and interest.
Robert H. Tykot
Mediterranean Trade in Black Gold: The Sources and Distribution of Obsidian (P,G,S)
Stone tools are critically important to the interpretation of past human behaviors and lifeways. Studies of obsidian in particular have the potential for reconstructing the entire chaîne opératoire of activities represented, including quarrying, production, transport, trade, and use. This paper focuses on scientific studies of obsidian in the central Mediterranean, where obsidian artifacts are often found up to hundreds of kilometers from their geological sources on the islands of Lipari, Palmarola, Pantelleria, and Sardinia. With the support of NSF, intensive field surveys of these sources were conducted and have resulted in the precise location and documentation of each obsidian flow or outcrop. The analyses of geological samples from each island prove that subsources often have different physical and chemical characteristics that can be determined using non-destructive, inexpensive techniques including visual description, density measurement, neutron activation analysis, X-ray fluorescence spectroscopy, and laser ablation ICP mass spectrometry.
Nearly 2000 obsidian artifacts from Neolithic and Bronze Age (ca. 6000-1000 BC) sites in Spain, France, Italy, Croatia, and Tunisia have now been visually, physically, and if necessary, chemically analyzed by these methods. The results provide new insights into the socioeconomic role of obsidian trade during the chronological phase in which agriculture, village settlements, and ceramics first appear in the central Mediterranean region. When joined with technological and use-wear studies, as well as the excavation of a large obsidian workshop site in Sardinia, these results provide a more complete understanding of obsidian use, and the sociocultural circumstances in which it was embedded.
They Are What They Ate: Bone Chemistry and Ancient Diets (P,G,S)
Stable carbon, nitrogen, and oxygen isotope analysis of skeletal tissues is able to quantify the proportions of C3 and C4 plants (e.g. maize) and the contribution of freshwater and/or marine resources to otherwise terrestrial diets, as well as variations in trophic level of the foods consumed. Analyses on archaeological skeletal remains have been done now for more than 30 years, on projects from early hominins living millions of years ago to historic peoples in different parts of the world, and using different tissues (bone collagen, bone apatite, tooth enamel and dentin, hair, flesh, and fingernails) as well as residues (in ceramics, on stone tools). This presentation includes the history of isotope studies, the modern methods used to produce reliable results, the scientific hypotheses that may now be tested, and some examples of these applications around the world.
The Domestication and Spread of Maize in the New World (P,G,S)
Stable carbon, nitrogen, and oxygen isotope analysis of skeletal tissues is able to quantify the proportions of C3 and C4 plants (e.g. maize) and the contribution of freshwater and/or marine resources to otherwise terrestrial diets, as well as variations in trophic level of the foods consumed. In addition, while studies of faunal and floral remains, pollen and phytoliths, and ceramic residues are complementary, the isotope analyses allow the comparison of individual dietary practices with variables such as sex and/or status, as well as ecological, chronological, and cultural settings. A synthetic perspective for the New World is presented here based on collagen, apatite, tooth enamel, and hair data from many sites in North, Central, and South America.
[if desired, can also be focused on one of these geographic areas: South America; Mesoamerica; or North America]
Lawrence J. Wangh
For the past twenty years conventional PCR, also known as symmetric PCR, has been a cornerstone of molecular biology for amplifying relatively short segments of DNA. Symmetric PCR generates double-stranded DNA copies by using two oligonucleotide primers of equal concentration and equal melting temperature. In 2004 we reported on the invention of LATE-PCR, an advanced form of asymmetric PCR, in which two primers of unequal concentration and unequal melting temperature are used to generate double-stranded DNA followed by single-stranded DNA. This change in experimental design improves the fidelity, sensitivity, and quantitative accuracy of the amplification process. It also means that single-tube multiplex assays can be built which generate a great deal of information in a single-tube. Using this approach we are currently building and testing assays for important veterinary and human infectious diseases, as well as assays that can detect single precancerous cells or genetic diseases.
The Role of Serendipity in Scientific Discovery: A Personal Account (G)
Over the past decade I and my laboratory colleagues at Brandeis University have invented two platform technologies, LATE-PCR and PrimeSafe, which together promise to significantly improve detection and diagnosis of small quantities of DNA and RNA characteristic of many diseases. Both of these technologies started with serendipitous results which we did not anticipate but quickly learned to appreciate and take advantage of. I will talk about the events that led us to these discoveries and the inventions that have come from them.
From Bench-to-Bedside (P,G)
The goal of biotechnology is to transform basic scientific discoveries made in a research laboratory into practical products that improve the quality of life and make money. The path to that goal is not easy, or inexpensive, but it is very exciting. I will talk about what I have learned over the past decade in going from conception of a problem, to discovery of a solution, to commercialization of a new platform technology in the field of nucleic acid detection and diagnostics.
Genes and the Human Story" (P,G)
Genetic information today has a great deal to tell us about the origin of our species in Africa and its migration to the far corners of the earth. And, our origin as a species in Africa has a great deal to tell us about the genetic diversity of our species today. I will discuss and speculate about human history from these two perspectives.
How Physical Properties of the Extracellular Matrix Affect Cancer Invasion (G,S)
There is increasing evidence that cells not only sense chemical-molecular aspects of their environments, but also physical rigidity. The softness or rigidity of extracellular environment has been shown to affect diverse phenotypic outcomes such as stem cell fate determination, gene transcription, and cell motility directionality. In breast cancer, tissue density (which is related to rigidity) has been linked to increased frequency and invasiveness of tumors. This lecture will discuss our research on molecular and cell biological mechanisms by which matrix rigidity and crosslinking affect cancer cell invasiveness.
Integration of Experimental Data and Mathematical/Computational Science: The Whole is Greater than the Sum of Its Parts (P,G,S)
Mathematical modeling holds great promise as a tool for biology and medicine. However, in order for mathematical models to be useful and testable, they must have the ability to integrate experimental data. Unlike models used routinely in weather prediction and economics, most mathematical models of biological processes are difficult both to parameterize with biological data and to test with experimentation. Conversely, most of biology could benefit from a theoretical framework but is performed in its absence. In this lecture, I will discuss the efforts in our Integrative Cancer Biology Center to integrate experimental biology and mathematical and computational modeling to understand the process of cancer progression.
In Silico Experiments Provide Insight into Cancer Progression Mechanisms (P,G,S)
The process of tumor progression is complex and multivariate. Mathematical modeling can provide a tool to integrate and analyze the effects of multiple variables on tumor cell dynamics. In our Integrative Cancer Biology Center we have been using models of tumor dynamics to ask questions how cancer cell-microenvironment interactions affect the process of tumor dynamics. In particular, a focus has been the effect of competition and adaptability on tumor progression. This lecture will describe the rationale and results of our studies.