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Natural Science Seminars

The Natural Science Seminar Series involves informal, bi-weekly presentations that are open to everyone. They are sponsored by the CWU Department of Biological Sciences and the CWU College of the Sciences.  Visitor parking permits are available to community members who would like to attend.  Please contact the Biological Sciences Department at (509) 963-2731 by 12:00pm on the day of the seminar to make arrangements.

Upcoming Seminars 

Science Building Room 147  unless otherwise noted
Refreshments served at 3:50pm, Seminar from 4:00-5:00pm


Winter 2017

Friday, January 27

The Creation of a Marine Park:  Twenty Years of Research on the Intertidal Mudflats of NW Australia

Bob Hickey, Professor, CWU Department of Geography

Come learn about the science behind the development of marine parks in Roebuck Bay and Eighty Mile Beach, Australia, one of the few places on Earth where soft bottom intertidal mudflats support vast numbers of migratory birds.

Friday, February 10

From Bones to Behavior: Using Signs of Injury and Illness to Understand the Lives of Extinct Mammals

Meaghan Wetherell, Associate Director of Institutional Effectiveness, CWU and Adjunct Lecturer, (Ph.D., 2016, University of Oregon) Paleontology, paleopedology, CWU Department of Geology

Fossils are any sign of ancient life (bones, tracks, burrows, and even feces can become fossils), and while an animal’s behavior might not become a fossil, evidence of that behavior can. Forensic science used today can help interpret how animals interacted 30 million years ago – in a sense, like CSI: Oligocene. This presentation will discuss how evidence of illness and injury can be used to piece together a picture of herd structure, lifespan, and defense mechanisms for a group of extinct mammals called oreodonts. In particular, we will cover the abundance of bite marks, infections, bone bruises, and fractures found on the cheekbones of one genus of oreodont, and how such injuries could relate to herd behavior.

Dr. Wetherell graduated with a Ph.D. in paleontology from University of Oregon in summer of 2016, and is currently using her data analysis skills with people rather than fossils as Associate Director of Research for the Institutional Effectiveness Department here at CWU. Paleontologically her current research interests include the convergent evolution of trunks across mammalian families, geographic convergence in sympatric artiodactyls, and spatial modelling  of Pleistocene extinctions


Winter 2016

Friday, January 29

LICHENS: Marvelous, Myriad & Misunderstood

Jack S. Massie (Seasonal Botanist / Lichenologist for Cle Elum Ranger District and retired research and biological science teacher)

Friday, February 12  **Darwin Day Lecture**

Cuddling With Nature:  Aesthetics, Biophilia, and Evolution

Lixing Sun, CWU Department of Biological Sciences

A birthday cake for Darwin will be served starting at 3:30pm!

Friday, March 4

Fracking Vaca Muerta: Socio-Economic Implications of Shale Gas Extraction in Northern Patagoina

Elvin Delagado, CWU Department of Geography

Friday, March 11

Wolverines:  The Ultimate Alpine Survivor Reolonizes the North Cascades

John Rohrer, U.S. Forest Service, Methow Ranger District Range and Wildlife Program Manager


----Past Seminars----

For videos, see the CentralWashU Natural Science Seminar Series Playlist on YouTube.  The Biology Office (Science 338) also has DVDs of some of the more recent talks.

Fall 2015    

Friday, November 13th

Dr. Pat Lubinski, (CWU Department of Anthropology and Museum Studies)

The Wenas Creek Mammoth: Excavation & Current Research

CWU excavated the Wenas Creek paleontological and archaeological site near Selah from 2005-2010, with some laboratory analysis now completed and more underway.  The 17,000 year-old site includes remains of mammoth and bison, and two possible (controversial) human artifacts.  The talk will include part of a History Channel video on the site, replica bone casts, and a summary presentation on the interdisciplinary investigations.  

Friday, November 20th

Dr. Darci Snowden (CWU Department of Physics) will speak on the solar system and evolution.

Friday, December 4th

Mr. Nick Zenter (CWU Geological Sciences) will talk about local geology.

Title:  Earthquakes: Will Everything West of I-5 Really Be Toast?


Winter 2015

February 6th

"Mathematical Modeling:  Overpopulation, Zombies and Evolution"

Dr. Jean Marie Linhart, Department of Mathematics, CWU

Fall 2014

October 10th

"Human Dimensions of Colony Collapse Disorder and Its Impact on Honeybees" 

Dr. Tim Lawrence, Entomology Department, Washington State University

October 24th

"The Ebola Virus and the Current Epidemic"

Dr. Holly Pinkart, Department of Biological Sciences, CWU

November 7th

"From Snakes in Washington to Lizards in Mexico: A 20-Year Journey of Discovery with CWU Students"

Dr. Dan Beck, Department of Biological Sciences, CWU

November 21st 

"Physical Models of Biological Machines: From Molecular Motors to Migratory Cells"

Dr. Erin M. Craig, Department of Physics, CWU

December 5th 

"Tsunami Geology:  Combining Sand, Shovels, and Computers to Understand Past Events" 

Dr. Breanyn MacInnes, Department of Geological Sciences, CWU


Spring 2014

Science Building Room 147  unless otherwise noted
Refreshments served at 3:50, Seminar from 4:00 - 5:00

April 11    

A Campus-Community Partnership: Student Opportunities in Habitat Restoration
Melissa Reitz*, MS and Colleagues, Mid-Columbia Fisheries Enhancement Group

April 16    

The Power of Muscle: An Interdisciplinary Approach to Understanding Skeletal Muscle Plasticity  4:00 - 5:30pm 
Scott Trappe, PhD, Ball State University, and Jared Dickinson*, PhD, Arizona State University
Hosted by Dept. of Nutrition, Exercise, & Health Sciences

April 23    

Mechanisms of Mitochondrial Fusion
Derek Ricketson, PhD, Postdoctoral Fellow, University of California Davis

April 25    

Monitoring Native Deer, Elk and Moose Populations in Washington: Methods and Sampling Strategies
Scott McCorquodale, PhD, Deer and Elk Specialist & Acting Regional Wildlife Program Manager, Washington Department of Fish & Wildlife 

May 9       

Psyllids and Microbes, Friends or Foes?
Rodney Cooper, PhD, Yakima Agricultural Research Laboratory, Wapato

May 23     

A Structural Biology Approach Enables the Development of Antimicrobials Targeting Bacterial Immunophilins
Spencer Moen*, BS, Seattle Structural Genomics Center for Infectious Disease (SSGCID)

June 6      

Human Responses to the Last Glacial Maximum in the Transbaikal (Southern Siberia)
Ian Buvit, PhD, Director of McNair Scholars Program, CWU

 *Indicates CWU alumni

Winter 2014

Science Building Room 147
Refreshments served at 3:50, Seminar from 4:00 - 5:00

January 24th – Kate Jackson, Department of Biology Whitman College – Mean and Lowly Things: Snakes, Science and Survival in the Congo.

February 7th – Corwin P. King, Pacific Northwest University of Health Sciences – Medical Miracles and Moral Dilemmas.

February 21st – David Gee, CWU – The National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES): The Prevalence of Metabolic Syndrome in US Adults: 2003-2010.

March 7th – Kirt L. Onthank, Department of Biology, Walla Walla University – Uncovering the life histories of cephalopods using stable isotopes.


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