Beyond the Looking Glass: Bird-Friendly Windows

May 2, 2017


Follow along with the slideshow here.


Glass windows are the second greatest human-related cause of mortality to North American birds, accounting for nearly 1 billion deaths annually. In an effort to make the skies safer for our feathered friends, researchers are looking for ways to reduce collisions by making glass more visible to birds.

Matt Web, the Urban Bird Conservation Coordinator for the Carnegie Museum of Natural History, will present his talk: Beyond the Looking Glass: Bird-Friendly Windows on Monday, May 1. Web will discuss developing research as to why certain types of glass are more prone to avian collisions, as well as how companies are making bird-friendly glass available.

Webb is involved in research at Powdermill Nature Reserve, the Carnegie Museum of Natural History’s field research station located in the Ligonier valley. He and fellow Powdermill avian researchers are using an innovative flight tunnel to safely test bird-friendly glass prototypes to use on new buildings.

Webb also started BirdSafe Pittsburgh in 2014, a local partnership of organizations dedicated to bird conservation in southwestern Pennsylvania. Teams of BirdSafe Pittsburgh volunteers spend the early hours of each day through the spring and fall migration combing the sidewalks of Pittsburgh, looking for birds that have collided with windows. Data is collected about each collision found and dead birds are brought back to the Carnegie Museum of Natural History to become a part of the permanent museum collection. Birds that survived a collision are captured and brought to Animal Rescue League's wildlife center for rehabilitation and release. Citizen scientists also monitor the windows of personal homes, helping researchers learn more about what makes some bird-friendly window products more effective than others.

Webb has studied birds with the Carnegie Museum of Natural History for the past four years. He holds a bachelor’s degree in Wildlife Biology from Colorado State University, in Fort Collins, Colorado.


Recorded Monday, May 1, 2017 at Carnegie Science Center in Pittsburgh, PA


Cafe Sci: Is Carbon Capture Realistic?

February 13, 2017

Is Carbon Capture Realistic?

Christopher Wilmer

Assistant Professor,
Chemical and Petroleum Engineering Department,
University of Pittsburgh

Join University of Pittsburgh professor Chris Wilmer for a discussion of the future of carbon capture technology. This very active area of engineering research explores the development of technologies that can be retrofitted onto fossil fuel-based power plants to reduce greenhouse gas emissions into the atmosphere. Retrofitting thousands of coal power plants across the globe would be a massive undertaking, and researchers need to know how feasible such a project would be.

In his talk, Wilmer will consider this problem from the molecular scale and ask what the most efficient carbon capture membrane would look like, whether it can realistically help mitigate global warming, and how it compares to existing technologies.

Wilmer is an assistant professor in the Chemical and Petroleum Engineering Department at the University of Pittsburgh. His research focuses on the use of large-scale molecular simulations to help find promising materials for energy and environmental applications.


Recorded Monday, February 6, 2017 at Carnegie Science Center in Pittsburgh, PA.


In the Blink of an Eye: The Neuroscience of Baseball

October 7, 2016

Timothy Verstynen

Carnegie Mellon University
"Neuroscience of Baseball"


In the Blink of an Eye: The Neuroscience of Baseball

How does the architecture of the brain allow us to learn complex skills and make fast decisions? What parts of neuroanatomy come into play when a person is trying to stop a 100-mph fastball with a piece of wood? Join Carnegie Mellon University Assistant Professor Timothy Verstynen as he discusses the brain science behind America's favorite pastime.

Verstynen is an assistant professor in Psychology at the Center for the Neural Basis of Cognition at Carnegie Mellon University.


Recorded Monday, October 3, 2016 at Carnegie Science Center in Pittsburgh, PA.


From River to Tap: Examining Local Water Quality

August 11, 2016

From River to Tap: Examining Local Water Quality


Gina Cyprych

Environmental Compliance Coordinator
Pittsburgh Water and Sewer Authority

Water: We drink it every day. But have you ever stopped to think about just exactly where your water comes from and how it’s treated? Join Gina Cyprych, Acting Chief Water Quality Officer at the Pittsburgh Water and Sewer Authority, as she discusses how Pittsburgh’s drinking water is captured from the Allegheny River and treated. The Authority must ensure that the highest quality water is reaching each person, but with the many competing regulations a water utility must uphold, how do they maintain simultaneous compliance given a variety of circumstances?

Cyprych has worked at the Pittsburgh Water and Sewer Authority for the past 11 years. She received her Bachelor of Science in Environmental Management from Columbia Southern University.


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


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.


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.