A Bioengineer Goes to Capitol Hill

Wednesday, January 27, 7:15 p.m.

Policies set by our federal government affect our lives every day, from the roads we use to the air we breathe. Have you ever wondered what happens behind the scenes in Congress? In today’s rapidly changing world, how do our elected officials gather the information and evidence needed to guide policy decisions on issues ranging from climate change to artificial intelligence? How do scientists and engineers, who seek to use scientific knowledge to address societal issues, play a role in this process? Professor Laurel Kuxhaus (Mechanical & Aeronautical Engineering, Clarkson) will share her experiences working as the 2018-19 American Society of Mechanical Engineers Congressional Fellow in Bioengineering and demonstrate how engineers can help shape science and technology policy.

Forensic Science: From the Crime Scene to the Courtroom

Wednesday, February 10, 7:15 p.m.

CSI, Forensic Files, NCIS, First 48 and many other TV programs, fiction and nonfiction, have put a very public spotlight on forensic science, the application of science to law. Forensic science as a discipline is growing, and demand on forensic scientists, for research, processing techniques and expert witness testimony, is increasing. All involved — scientists, researchers, attorneys, judges and even potential jurors — need to better understand the pressures on the discipline and needs in the field in order to increase the success of forensic science as a tool in fighting crime. Join Professors Liz Brown and Kelly Peterson (Criminal Justice, SUNY Canton) as they explain how the CSI effect contributes to the burden placed on forensic science testimony and how current research can impact processing effectiveness in the field.

Primates & Poop: Noninvasive Data Collection in Wild Species

Wednesday, February 24, 7:15 p.m.

How can conservation scientists effectively monitor the health status of endangered species in the wild? They must go to the source! When it comes to using careful, responsible and noninvasive methods of data collection while evaluating endangered animals in their natural habitat, one of the best methods involves collecting and studying the waste of these at-risk species. Fecal matter contains a wealth of clues about the species’ biological and social health — from diet composition to disease prevalence and even the amount of stress individuals are experiencing. Analyses of the gut microbiome, the trillions of bacteria living in the digestive tract of mammals, can also provide critical insight into differences between populations of the same species. Alicia Lamb (Biology PhD student, Clarkson) will present on her experiences studying wild primate species, such as lemurs of Madagascar and bonobos in the Congo, and the valuable information we can learn from their feces.

Statistical Challenges with Ecological Data or Ecological Challenges to Statistical Models?

Wednesday, March 10, 7:15 p.m.

Have you ever read a paper where the statistical analysis seemed far too simple to capture the complexities of the considered underlying system? Alternatively, have you read a manuscript where the statistical methods used appeared unnecessarily complex? Professor Matt Higham (Statistics, St. Lawrence University) will discuss the balance of statistical model complexity and illuminate some of the challenges in modeling ecological data. Specifically, the discussion will investigate how modeling spatial correlation, temporal correlation and imperfect detection of animals contributes to varying conclusions about (1) associations between environmental covariates and moose abundance in a region of Alaska and (2) predictions of total moose abundance in the region.

The “What” and “Why” of Goal Pursuit

Wednesday, April 7, 7:15 p.m.

Our motivated behavior is focused through goals — in any given situation, what do we want to happen? We set goals in school, at work, in our relationships and everywhere else. However, understanding our goals is not just about the intended outcome. How well we do and how we feel about our progress can also be influenced by the reasons behind those goals. These “goal complexes” include what we are trying to do and why we are trying to do it. Professor Jim Fryer (Psychology, SUNY Potsdam) will discuss research on personal goals and the ways multiple aspects of these goals can contribute to our performance and well-being.

The Science Cafe Intercollegiate Committee
Daniel ben Avraham, Clarkson University
Alex Schreiber, St. Lawrence University
Kristine Potter, SUNY Canton
Jessica Rogers, SUNY Potsdam
Beth McCarran, Clarkson University

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See the event flyer for presentation abstracts.

Fall 2020 Recorded Presentations

Professor Damien Samways on September 23: The Pharmacology of a Public Health Emergency 
Please enjoy the recorded presentation

Professor Beatrice Hernout on October 7: How Is Wildlife Affected by Environmental Pollution? 
Please enjoy the recorded presentation

Professor Adam Fox on October 21: New Hope for Solving Problems of Human Behavior 
Please enjoy the recorded presentation

Professor Michelle Yoo on November 3: Phylogenomics, Biodiversity, and Medicinal Plants 
Please enjoy the recorded presentation

Professor Alan Christian on November 18: The Complex Reproductive Biology of North American Freshwater Mussles 
Please enjoy the recorded presentation