November 2013

Dr. Arne-R. Diercks (NIUST, University of Southern Mississippi): A dive into the deep Gulf of Mexico - NIUST's Deep Sea AUV's

The National Institute for Undersea Science and Technology (NIUST) a cooperation between USM and UM, located at the UM Biological Field Station,  operates two autonomous  underwater vehicles (AUVs) "Eagle Ray" and "Mola Mola", that are primarily tasked with performing seafloor surveys at depths down to 2000 m.  Currently the vehicles are used in support to study the effects of the 2010 Macondo Oil Spill after the explosion of the Deep Water Horizon Drilling Platform, one of the largest oil spills in US history.  The vehicle group is taking part in a research consortium (ECOGIG) funded by BP through the Gulf of Mexico Research Institute (GoMRI) to produce high resolution bottom maps of natural oil seeps on the continental slope of the northern Gulf of Mexico.  A presentation of our operations using these vehicles at depths with pressures reaching 200 times that at sea level, producing data at a resolution impossible to obtain from the sea surface will be the general topic throughout this presentation. Remember --we know less about Earth's deep sea than we know about the surface of the moon....

November 19, 2013, Lusa Pastry Café, 6pm - 7pm.

October 2013

Dr. Nairwita Mazumder (ISER Thiruvananthapuram, Kerala, India): Gravitational-wave Astronomy: The New Observational Window to the Universe

Gravitational waves are one of the most fascinating prediction of Albert Einstein's theory of relativity. Unlike light waves, which are electromagnetic oscillations, gravitational waves are "ripples" of the space-time itself propagating at the speed of light. Gravitational waves carry information about their  variety of sources such as large scale cosmological process like inflation in the early Universe, super-massive black holes to binary neutron stars and supernova. These sources potentially span a wide frequency range, with periods from the age of the Universe to a few milliseconds and gravitational radiation from them carry very rich information about epochs and physical processes that are hard to probe in any other way. The era of advanced or second generation earth-based gravitational wave detectors is set to begin in a couple of years and the coming years will witness the birth of Gravitational Astronomy which can be considered as a new observational window. In this talk I will discuss what we expect to observe by the next generation ground based detector networks and how it can enhance our understanding of the universe.

October 15, 2013, Lusa Pastry Café, 6pm - 7pm.

September 2013

Dr. Marc Slattery (University of Mississippi): Treasures from the Sea: Drug Discovery in the Marine Environment

With emerging infectious diseases, drug-resistance, and the increase in non-communicable diseases as the baby-boomers age, there is an increased need to identify new and effective therapeutic agents. Oceans constitute 75% of the surface of our planet, yet drug discovery from marine organisms is still in its infancy relative to the search for natural products from terrestrial plant communities. This Science Café will provide an overview of research conducted in Dr. Slattery’s lab including collection techniques, sourcing strategies, as well as future approaches. Evidence to date indicates that the marine environment represents a much more diverse source of chemical agents than terrestrial plants, which should translate into a greater number of potential pharmaceuticals or other biotechnological products. However, as marine environments are damaged by increasing natural disasters and human activities there is a very real probability that these sources will be lost forever. Dr. Slattery will summarize some conservation efforts aimed at mitigating these potential losses.

September 17, 2013, Lusa Pastry Café, 6pm - 7pm.

August 2013

Dr. Maribeth Stolzenburg (University of Mississippi): High-Speed Video Observations of Lightning Flashes

During July and August of 2010 and 2011, the UM atmospheric physics group undertook two data collection campaigns in east-central Florida with the goal of developing a better understanding of lightning initiation and propagation. Multiple instrument types were used to investigate lightning flashes around the NASA Kennedy Space Center. In this talk I will show lightning data acquired with a video camera running at 50,000 frames per second. At this speed, many processes of the flashes are visible, from the initiation within the cloud all the way to activity occurring after the return strokes have connected to ground.

August 20, 2013, Lusa Pastry Café, 6pm - 7pm.

April 2013

Dr. Hillary Becker (University of Mississippi): The science of Roman wall painting: Pliny, pigments, and polychromy

The discovery of the only known pigment shop in Ancient Rome revealed an array of colors in their raw, mineral form waiting to be sold to wall painters. Roman pigments provide a surprising opportunity to understand how science can be used in archaeology, revealing what pigments were present in the shop and, potentially, from where they originated, as well as exploring the supply-side economy of Roman painting and the steps by which these pigments went from the mine, to a shop, to the walls of a Roman house.

April 23, 2013, Lusa Pastry Café, 6pm - 7pm.

March 2013

Dr. Kristie Willett (University of Mississippi): What is environmental toxicology? How estrogen-like compounds, nanosilver use and your great-grandparents' lifestyle choices may affect you

Chemicals and drugs that we may not even consider as environmental contaminants may cause toxicity. Some pharmaceutical and veterinary drugs can mimic our own steroid hormone pathways. The number of consumer products containing nanosilver (e.g. socks, washing machines, food containers etc.) is increasing because of silver's antibacterial properties, but it is currently unclear by what biologic mechanisms nanosilver may be toxic. Dr. Willett presentation will provide an overview of research done in her lab including how chemicals and drugs that we may not even consider as environmental contaminants may cause toxicity.

March 26, 2013, Lusa Pastry Café, 6pm - 7pm.

February 2013

Dr. John Z. Kiss (University of Mississippi): My life with NASA: Why do we need plants to go to Mars?

Plants will be an important part of life support systems (to generate oxygen) on the trip to Mars, and astronauts on a future Martian base will need to cultivate plants for part of their food supply. Thus, it is important for NASA and international space agencies to understand basic plant biology in order to develop these bioregenerative life support systems. I have worked with NASA since 1987 and have served as Principal Investigator on six spaceflight projects to date. These experiments have been on the U.S. Space Shuttle, the Russian Space Station Mir, and the International Space Station (ISS). I will review the results of our past experiments as well as introduce our upcoming experiments on the ISS that will be launched this spring on the SpaceX rocket. One major focus of the current project is to better understand plant behavior in the reduced gravity on Mars.

February 19, 2013, Lusa Pastry Café, 6pm - 7pm.

January 2013

Dr. Patrick Curtis (University of Mississippi): The time and space of cellular differentiation

All life is built around the process of replication, turning one thing into two things. At the level of cells, it's relatively easy to turn one cell into two identical cells. However, many living things are composed of differentiated cells (cells that have changed from one cell type to another). The process of cellular differentiation is very complex and involves precise timing of gene expression and placement of molecules at specific locations within cells. How all of the tiny tasks are accomplished and seeing how all of them fit together is difficult. I explore cellular differentiation by studying bacteria. Most bacteria grow by turning one cell into two identical cells, and we know a lot about how that works. I study bacteria that grow by turning one cell into two different cells. By figuring out how the bacterium has taken a system for making two identical cells and changed it into a system for making two different cells, we can learn the fundamental principles of cellular differentiation.

January 22, 2013, Lusa Pastry Café, 6pm - 7pm.