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Lecture Series in the Sciences

Elmira College's second annual Lecture Series in the Sciences.

Tufas on Mono; Lake photo courtesy of David Fulmer

This series will run throughout the fall and is free and open to the public. All of the lectures will take place in the Kolker Lecture Hall at Elmira College.

“Lots” of Danger: A Geologist Looks at Natural Hazards that Affect Your Home, Your Community—Now and in the Future

Dr. R. Laurence Davis, University of New Haven, Friday, September 20, 6:00 p.m.

Dr. Davis's lecture will examine the challenges that natural hazards (floods, storms, earthquakes, volcanic eruptions, coastal processes) present to you personally and to your local, regional, and national communities. Dr. Davis has very broad interests in both applying geology to a variety of environmental problems and issues, as well as environmental education. For many years he and his students (including one recent MS graduate from Elmira) have carried out research in the hydrology of cavernous areas on San Salvador Island, Bahamas. He is currently the Chair of the Geological Society of America's (GSA) Division on Geology and Society and has also served on GSA's Committee on Geology and Public Policy. He is also active in the environmental education field and has just completed his 44th summer as Director of Nature Programs and Teaching at Camp Pemigewassett in Wentworth, NH. Dr. Davis is a Professor of Earth and Environmental Science and coordinator of the undergraduate program in Environmental Sciences at the University of New Haven.

Learning Under the Next Generation Science Standards: Using the Scientific Practice of Modeling to Support Deeper Learning

Dr. Daniel Capps, University of Maine, Thursday, November 7, 6:00 p.m.

Dr. Daniel Capps focuses on professional development and supporting teachers and their students in understanding more about what science is and the many ways it is practiced. In this lecture Dan will describe recent research on teachers’ enactment of instruction aligned with the Next Generation Science Standards and give some examples of teacher professional development that supports teachers in engaging deeply in the scientific practice of modeling. Over the past 15 years he has done a variety of things including: studied geology, Spanish, education, hiked the Appalachian Trail, judged dog shows, and taught in a variety of settings from kindergarten through college and beyond. Through these experiences Dan has become passionate about science, science teaching, and research on teaching and learning. At present, Dr. Daniel Capps is an Assistant Professor of Science Education at the University of Maine.

Animals Driving Ecosystem Function: Understanding the Role of Aquatic Organisms in Nutrient Dynamics

Dr. Krista Capps, University of Maine, Friday, November 8, 6:00 p.m.

In this lecture, Dr. Krista Capps will use three case studies to document changes in nutrient dynamics in response to the addition or loss of species from three, distinct systems threatened by a variety of anthropogenic disturbances. Research in both terrestrial and aquatic ecosystems has demonstrated that animals can play integral roles in the storage and remineralization of elements. Throughout the globe, freshwater ecosystems are threatened by non-native species invasions and by the extirpation or extinction of native species. To conserve the integrity of freshwaters and protect ecosystem function in systems threatened by species invasion and/or species extinction, it is imperative to understand the functional role of organisms in ecosystem processes such as nutrient dynamics. Recent work has attempted to address the context dependence of species effects on ecosystem processes. Collectively, this body of work demonstrates the ecosystem-level impact of consumer-driven nutrient dynamics is taxon-specific and strongly influenced by environmental variables. Dr. Krista Capps is a Post-Doctoral fellow in the Sustainability Solutions Initiative, Department of Wildlife Ecology at the University of Maine.

Toxic Fish and Global Warming: What’s the Connection?

Dr. Michael Parsons, Florida Gulf Coast, Friday, November 15, 6:00 p.m.

Dr. Michael Parsons’ lecture will give an overview of ciguatera and work being conducted by Florida Gulf Coast University researchers and their collaborators in an effort to better understand the processes that influence ciguatera outbreaks. Ciguatera poisoning is caused by the consumption of fishes containing toxins (ciguatoxins) produced by benthic dinoflagellates in the genus Gambierdiscus. Ciguatoxins enter reef food webs when herbivores and detritivores consume Gambierdiscus directly or indirectly by grazing on macroalgae. These toxins bioaccumulate and generally attain highest levels in piscivorous (carnivorous) fishes, many of which are commonly targeted in commercial and recreational reef fisheries. Cases of ciguatera appear to be increasing world-wide, possibly in response to climate change; e.g., seawater temperature increases and environmental disturbances. Outbreaks of ciguatera have frequently been linked to coral reef impacts that cause massive coral mortality, such as reef dredging, bleaching, and hurricanes. Consequently, ciguatera has been described as a "sentinel" disease, and potentially could be used to detect and/or assess environmental disturbances to coral reefs. Dr. Parsons is a Professor of Marine Science and the Director of Coastal Watershed Institute at Florida Gulf Coast University.