Spiders: Myths and Facts

April 5, 2016

Jonathan Pruitt

Assistant Professor
Department of Ecology, Evolution & Marine Biology
University of California - Santa Barbara

 

Spiders: Myths and Facts

 Follow along with the slideshow here.

What’s it like to live in a spider society? Join University of California Santa Barbara Assistant Professor Jonathan Pruitt as he discusses "Spiders: Myths and Facts."

Sociality is rare in spiders. Pruitt’s research concerns one species of spider that lives in social groups and how social interactions between the arachnids impacts their behavior and environment.

Pruitt’s research explores the ecological consequences of individual variation in behavior for individuals, populations, and communities. Is aggressive behavior rewarded? What mix of docile and aggressive individuals is optimal for a community?

Pruitt’s research considers the role of individual differences in patterns of task allocation within societies, and how these patterns impact the long-term performance of groups in different environments. In non-social systems, Pruitt looks at how variation in behavior impacts species interactions across different ecological niches, in both terrestrial and marine systems.

Pruitt performed his graduate studies at the University of Tennessee, Knoxville. He then conducted postdoctoral studies at the University of California, Davis. He is currently an assistant professor in the Department of Ecology, Evolution and Marine Biology at the University of California Santa Barbara.

Recorded Monday, April 4, 2016 at Carnegie Science Center in Pittsburgh, PA.

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Bridges: Connecting Researchers, Big Data, and High-Performance Computing

March 11, 2016

Nick Nystrom

Director of Strategic Applications, Pittsburgh Supercomputing Center

 

Bridges: Connecting Researchers, Big Data, and High-Performance Computing

Inferring the causes of disease, tracking the survival of the human race, and enabling natural-language searches of video are just a few of the topics being tackled right here in Pittsburgh at the Pittsburgh Supercomputing Center. Join us as we explore how the center uses big data and data analytics to better understand challenging problems.

As the center's Director of Strategic Applications, Dr. Nick Nystrom and his team develop hardware and software architectures to enable groundbreaking research, engaging in research and collaborations across diverse disciplines. At Café Sci, Nystrom will discuss researchers' use of PSC's newest resources, including "Bridges."

"Bridges" is a data-intensive high-performance computing (HPC) system designed to empower new research communities, bring desktop convenience to HPC, expand campus access, and help researchers facing challenges in Big Data to work more intuitively. Funded by a $9.65 million National Science Foundation award, Bridges consists of three tiers of large-shared-memory resources, dedicated nodes for database, web, and data transfer purposes, high-performance shared and distributed data storage, powerful new CPUs and GPUs, and the new, uniquely powerful interconnection network. From a software perspective, Bridges supports widely-used data analytic software such as R, Java, Python, and MATLAB, integration of Spark and Hadoop with HPC, and virtualization.

Nystrom will discuss the importance of converging Big Data and HPC and how Bridges is bringing HPC to nontraditional users and research communities.

Nystrom is also a research physicist in the Department of Physics at Carnegie Mellon University. He earned his bachelor’s degree in Chemistry, Math, and Physics and a PhD in Computational Chemistry from the University of Pittsburgh.

Recorded on Monday, March 7, 2016 at Carnegie Science Center in Pittsburgh, PA.

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If You Can’t See It, It Doesn’t Exist: Connections of Air and Climate Pollution with Policy Decisions

February 2, 2016

Neil Donahue

Professor of Chemistry & Chemical Engineering

Director Center for Atmospheric Particle Studies at Carnegie Mellon University

 

If  You Can’t See It, It Doesn’t Exist: Connections of Air and Climate Pollution with Policy Decisions


The effects of climate change, air pollution, and efforts by leaders to address these effects are pressing issues that pervade recent news-cycles – from climate talks in Paris to the increase in “red alert” days in Beijing. Dr. Neil Donahue will discuss “If  You Can’t See It, It Doesn’t Exist: Connections of Air and Climate Pollution with Policy Decisions.”

Donahue is a Professor of Chemistry & Chemical Engineering at Carnegie Mellon University; and a Science & Engineering Ambassador with the National Academy of Sciences and National Academy of Engineering. He directs the Steinbrenner Institute for Environmental Education and Research.

Climate pollution is mostly invisible and diffuse. More traditional air pollution — haze and smog — is visible and localized.  However, both cause a world of hurt, and addressing them together may be a key to making progress on both.  The “social costs” of pollution can be very high, with the costs of climate pollution distributed over the globe and over generations, while the social costs of air pollution bourn locally and immediately, including contribution to millions of deaths every year.

Donahue will discuss the role of three current research activities towards enabling decision-makers to consider the costs and benefits of policies that could affect both pollution types.  The research includes fundamental experiments about fine atmospheric particles at CERN, the particle-physics research institute in Geneva; a collaboration to model the life-cycle of carbon in regional pollution in China; and development of a decision support tool for city policy makers to compare policy “intervention” options in terms of costs and effectiveness for climate and air-pollution benefits.

Donahue seeks to understand how Earth's atmosphere works and how humans affect the atmosphere. He strives to help all graduating CMU students understand the climate problem and to apply their outstanding problem-solving skills to solutions of this enormous challenge.

Donahue’s research focuses on the behavior of organic compounds in Earth's atmosphere. The world experts in his research group study what happens to compounds from both natural sources and human activity when they are emitted into the atmosphere. Recently, the group’s research has focused on the origin and transformations of very small organic particles, which play a critical role in climate change and human health. Particles scatter light, influence clouds, and kill roughly 50,000 people each year in the U.S., mostly of heart attacks.

Donahue earned a degree in physics from Brown University and a doctorate in meteorology from MIT. He spent nine years as a research scientist at Harvard before returning to Pittsburgh in 2000.

Recorded on Monday, February 1, 2016 at Carnegie Science Center in Pittsburgh, PA.

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Expeditions and Species Discovery in the Amazon

December 9, 2015
Jose Padial

William and Ingrid Rea Assistant Curator of Amphibians and Reptiles
Carnegie Museum of Natural History

 

Expeditions and Species Discovery in the Amazon

For centuries, the Amazon has captivated naturalists, including a Pittsburgh-based scientist who has lead expeditions to tropical forests and discovered fascinating new species of amphibians and reptiles. Dr. Jose Padial, the William and Ingrid Rea Assistant Curator of Amphibians and Reptiles of the Carnegie Museum of Natural History, will discuss “Expeditions and species discovery in the Amazon”.

The Amazon has been a top destination for naturalists attracted by the diversity of life forms occurring in these forests and by the endless possibilities for discovery. Most species of birds, mammals, frogs, fishes, and invertebrates known in the world live in the tropical rainforests of the Amazon. Still, many areas of the Amazon remain poorly explored, and scientists working in these areas are discovering dozens of new species each year.

Padial will explain how he organized expeditions to the tropical forests of the Andes and the Amazon in Bolivia, Peru, and Colombia that uncovered new species of amphibians and reptiles. These discoveries involved traveling to remote locations in the jungle and using scientific methods such as comparative anatomy, DNA barcoding, or bioacustics. His discoveries are helping us to understand the enormous diversity of life forms in the Amazon.

Padial, the William and Ingrid Rea Assistant Curator of Amphibians and Reptiles of the Carnegie Museum of Natural History, focuses on the systematics of amphibians and reptiles. He earned his PhD and bachelor’s degree in biology at University of Granada in Spain. He also studied zoology at Ruprecht-Karls University in Heidelberg, Germany, and at Institüt für Zoologie of the Albert-Ludwigs-University in Freiburg, Germany.

The video mentioned during the talk shows daily at the Carnegie Museum of Natural History's Earth Theater. It will be linked here when it becomes available in its finished form online

Recorded on Monday, December 7, 2015 at Carnegie Science Center in Pittsburgh, PA.
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Rain, Rivers, and Resources: How Watersheds Change Drinking Water

November 12, 2015

Jeanne M. VanBriesen
Professor of Civil and Environmental Engineering
Carnegie Mellon University

 

Rain, Rivers, and Resources: How Watersheds Change Drinking Water

Follow along with the slide show here.

How do everyday choices impact the water supply? Carnegie Mellon University professor and Carnegie Science Award winner Dr. Jeanne M. VanBriesen will discuss her research in ““Rain, Rivers, and Resources: How Watersheds Change Drinking Water” on Monday, Nov. 9, from 7 – 9 pm, at Carnegie Science Center.

Rivers teem with fish and plants, offer a space for recreation, and provide the source of the water we drink. Rain water, on its way to rivers, runs across watersheds. Watersheds are land surfaces that house activities such as mining, farming, producing electricity, and building homes. These activities pose a challenge to maintaining high quality water for ecosystems, recreation, and potable water supply. VanBriesen will talk about engineering systems that manage the quality and quantity of water resources. She’ll discuss how the choices people make around energy resources in our watersheds affect the options to treat drinking water.

VanBriesen, who serves on the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency Science Advisory Board, is the Duquesne Light Company Professor of Civil and Environmental Engineering at Carnegie Mellon University. Her research is in environmental systems, including detection of biological agents in water systems and impacts of energy extraction. 

She earned her bachelor’s degree in education and her master’s and doctorate degrees in civil engineering from Northwestern University. She is a licensed professional engineer in the state of Delaware and has served on the board of the Association for Environmental Engineering and Science Professors. Earlier this year, VanBriesen was awarded the Environmental Award in the Carnegie Science Awards program for her water quality research.


Recorded Monday, November 9, 2015 at Carnegie Science Center in Pittsburgh, PA.
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Q&A: Rain, Rivers, and Resources: How Watersheds Change Drinking Water

November 12, 2015

This is the Q&A portion of the talk. The full talk is available in the previous podcast.

Jeanne M. VanBriesen 
Professor of Civil and Environmental Engineering
Carnegie Mellon University

 

Rain, Rivers, and Resources: How Watersheds Change Drinking Water

How do everyday choices impact the water supply? Carnegie Mellon University professor and Carnegie Science Award winner Dr. Jeanne M. VanBriesen will discuss her research in ““Rain, Rivers, and Resources: How Watersheds Change Drinking Water” on Monday, Nov. 9, from 7 – 9 pm, at Carnegie Science Center.

Rivers teem with fish and plants, offer a space for recreation, and provide the source of the water we drink. Rain water, on its way to rivers, runs across watersheds. Watersheds are land surfaces that house activities such as mining, farming, producing electricity, and building homes. These activities pose a challenge to maintaining high quality water for ecosystems, recreation, and potable water supply. VanBriesen will talk about engineering systems that manage the quality and quantity of water resources. She’ll discuss how the choices people make around energy resources in our watersheds affect the options to treat drinking water.

VanBriesen, who serves on the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency Science Advisory Board, is the Duquesne Light Company Professor of Civil and Environmental Engineering at Carnegie Mellon University. Her research is in environmental systems, including detection of biological agents in water systems and impacts of energy extraction. 

She earned her bachelor’s degree in education and her master’s and doctorate degrees in civil engineering from Northwestern University. She is a licensed professional engineer in the state of Delaware and has served on the board of the Association for Environmental Engineering and Science Professors. Earlier this year, VanBriesen was awarded the Environmental Award in the Carnegie Science Awards program for her water quality research.

Recorded Monday, November 9, 2015 at Carnegie Science Center in Pittsburgh, PA.
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Checking the World’s Software for Exploitable Bugs

October 6, 2015

David Brumley

President & Director
Carnegie Mellon Univeristy’s CyLab

 

Checking the World's Software for Exploitable Bugs

To Carnegie Mellon University’s David Brumley, hacking is “not something just bad guys do.” Brumley, a professor and director of the CyLab Institute at Carnegie Mellon University will discuss the important science behind hacking at Carnegie Science Center’s next Café Scientifique on Monday, Oct. 5, from 7 – 9 pm.

Brumley and his team at Carnegie Mellon’s CyLab (cyber security lab) envision a world in which software is automatically checked for exploitable bugs, giving people the ability to trust their computers. The demand for cybersecurity professionals is growing, and Carnegie Mellon University is working to train students interested in the field.

Brumley is an associate professor who focuses on software security, with appointments in the Electrical and Computer Engineering Department and the Computer Science Department.

He is the faculty mentor for the CMU Hacking Team Plaid Parliament of Pwning (PPP), which is ranked internationally as one of the top teams in the world. Brumley’s honors include a 2010 NSF CAREER award, a 2010 United States Presidential Early Career Award for Scientists and Engineers (PECASE) from President Obama, the highest award in the U.S. for early career scientists, and a 2013 Sloan Foundation award. Brumley is the 2015 winner of the Carnegie Science Award in the University/Post-Secondary Educator category. He was lauded for recognizing the need for novel approaches to STEM education, leading him to spearhead picoCTF, a national cyber security game and contest targeted at exciting young minds about computer security.

Brumley attended the University of Northern Colorado for his bachelor’s degree in mathematics, Stanford University for his master’s degree in computer science, and, most recently, CMU for his PhD in computer science. At Stanford, he worked as a computer security officer, solving thousands of computer security incidents in a four-year span.

Recorded on Monday, October 5, 2015 at Carnegie Science Center in Pittsburgh, PA.

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CATTfish and Flamingo, a new way to measure water quality from CMU

September 17, 2015

Dave Speer

President & Co-Founder
MellonHead Labs

 

CATTfish and Flamingo, a new way to measure water quality from CMU

Why does water quality matter to you? Carnegie Mellon University start-up MellonHead Labs will explain water quality issues and what part can we can play in the water economy.

Dave Speer, president and co-founder of MellonHead Labs will speak about: Water quality issues facing Pittsburgh and the nation, how CMU is involved and water and environmental programs, how these programs function and are supported/funded, and the future of water quality monitoring, technology, and IoT (internet of things).

CATTfish was created by the CREATE Lab at Carnegie Mellon University. The CATTfish system provides a simple and easy way to track water quality at home.

In 2014, a new venture, MellonHead Labs, was formed to bring this innovative environmental sensing product to market. The sensor is used by both citizens and industry to track water quality changes over long periods of time and large geographic areas. Cloud-based visualization of large data sets allows easy interpretation of results.

Speer is a fourth-generation Pittsburgher who attended University of Delaware for his undergraduate degree, George Washington University for graduate school, and Carnegie Mellon University for his business launch and start-up founding.

Recorded on Monday, September 14, 2015 at Carnegie Science Center in Pittsburgh, PA.

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“Wily Land Snails of Pennsylvania: Where Do They Live and Which Are Rare?”

August 17, 2015

Dr. Timothy Pearce

Assistant Curator & Head, Section of Mollusks
Carnegie Museum of Natural History

 

"Wily Land Snails of Pennsylvania:
Where Do They Live and Which Are Rare?"

Follow along with the slideshow HERE.

A local scientist's work is dramatically increasing what we know about Pennsylvania's 129 land snail species. For the Pennsylvania Land Snail Atlas Project, Dr. Timothy Pearce collected 17,472 records of Pennsylvania land snails from modern field work and museum specimens, documenting thousands of new county records. Many minute species are now known to be widespread, although they previously seemed to be rare. Dr. Pearce, assistant curator and head of the section of mollusks at Carnegie Museum of Natural History, will discuss his work in, "Wily Land Snails of Pennsylvania: Where Do They Live and Which Are Rare?" at Café Scientifique.

Dr. Pearce gained an important historical perspective on ecology while working toward a master's degree in snail paleontology at University of California at Berkeley, then he continued studying snail ecology for a PhD at University of Michigan. During a year-long post-doctoral study in Madagascar, he helped find more than 600 undescribed land snail species. During his first curator job at the Delaware Museum, he was awarded that institution's first National Science Foundation grant. His current research at Carnegie Museum of Natural History ecological snail studies in the northeastern and northwestern regions of the United States and in Colombia, South America.

Recorded Monday, August 10th, 2015 at Carnegie Science Center in Pittsburgh, PA.

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Learning Science for Better Learning: Carnegie Mellon University’s ‘Simon Initiative’

May 18, 2015

Learning Science for Better Learning:

Carnegie Mellon University's "Simon Initiative"


Dr. Marsha Lovett

Director of the Eberly Center for Teaching Excellence & Educational Innovation
Carnegie Mellon University

Many students today receive a 19th-century education that is developed without the benefit of contemporary evidence-based research, Carnegie Mellon University's Dr. Marsha Lovett asserts. At Carnegie Science Center's next Café Sci, She'll discuss how a combination of education-based research plus innovations in educational technology can improve students' learning outcomes while further advancing our scientific understanding of how learning works. Carnegie Mellon University's Simon Initiative focuses on leveraging these opportunities and making a difference for local and global learners. The Simon Initiative focuses on the learner and how to improve learning. Dr. Lovett is co-coordinator of The Simon Initiative at Carnegie Mellon University and the director of the Eberly Center for Teaching Excellence & Educational Innovation. Her remarks will present recent results, tools, and examples of how educational theories are being applied.

Dr. Lovett has published more than 50 research papers and two books, Thinking with Data and How Learning Works: Seven Research-Based Principles for Smart Teaching. The latter is ranked third on The Chronicle's "Top 10 Books on Teaching" and has been translated into several languages. She has developed several innovative, educational technologies to promote student learning, including StatTutor and the Learning Dashboard. Dr. Lovett earned her doctorate in psychology from Carnegie Mellon University, and her bachelor's degree, also in psychology, is from Princeton University.

Recorded Monday, May 4th, 2015 at Carnegie Science Center in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.

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