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Biology

Natural Science Seminars

The Natural Science Seminar Series involves informal, bi-weekly presentations that are open to everyone, and are sponsored by the CWU Department of Biological Sciences and the CWU College of the Sciences.  

 

Upcoming Seminars 

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

 

FALL 2017

 

Friday, October 6th

Investigating Life in a Tropical Dry Forest In Jalisco, Mexico:
SOBRE Mexico Scholars Present Results of their 2017 Summer Research

 

Presenters:

Cameron Cupp
Samuel Gutierrez
Taylor Henne
Jennifer Magaña
Stacey Meekhof
Lilly Nava

Climate models predict tropical storms will grow stronger as global temperatures rise. The SOBRE Mexico team investigated the response of a tropical dry forest (TDF) ecosystem to Patricia, a category 5 hurricane that struck coastal Jalisco, Mexico in October 2015. In addition, the team investigated parasite/host interactions in the tropical dry forest after the storm.  By knocking down trees and snapping limbs, the storm’s strong winds altered the structure of the forest, which may in turn affect how animals use habitat.  Several techniques were implemented to monitor small vertebrates (amphibians, lizards, turtles) and some of their invertebrate parasites (ticks and kissing bugs) at Estacion de Biologia, Chamela, a TDF reserve struck directly by the hurricane.

The team will present their findings at the October 6th Natural Science Seminar, and at a national research conference in Washington DC later in October.

Friday, October 13th

A Basal Deinonychosaur from James Ross Island, Antarctica and the Biostratigraphy of the Latest Cretaceous, Antarctic Dinosaurs

Dr. Judd Case, Department of Biology, Eastern Washington University

Dr. Case is in his twelfth year at Eastern Washington University having served as the Dean for the College of Science, Health & Engineering/College of STEM for almost 10 years and then as Dean of Special Projects with a major emphasis being the relationship between EWU and the University of Washington around dental and medical education.  He is now full time in the Department of Biology teaching vertebrate zoology, biogeography and hematology.  Additionally, he teaches Oral Histology & Embryology in the RIDE program for the University of Washington’s School of Dentistry and histology for the UW WWAMI Spokane medical program.

He received his Ph.D. in evolutionary biology from University of California, Riverside and his research has centered on vertebrate paleontology to answer questions in the areas of evolution, biogeography and recently on the effects of climate change on the past life in Antarctica.  Dr. Case has extensive Antarctic field experience having conducted nine field seasons in the Antarctic Peninsula, which has been funded by grants from the National Science Foundation.

Dr. Case was honored by the Scientific Committee on Antarctic Research (SCAR) as one of two professors worldwide to receive their prestigious Visiting Professor Award for 2016-17.  This past summer he took his visiting professorship at the Museo de La Plata in Argentina researching new Eocene marsupials from Antarctica as well as new end of the cretaceous dinosaurs from Antarctica.  He presented talks at the Universidad Nacional La Plata and at the Instituto Antartico Argentino in Buenos Aires.

Friday, October 27th

Patterns, Sources, and Impacts of Variations and Trends in the Timing of Seasonal Transitions Over the Coterminous U.S.

Dr. Julio Betancourt, Paleoecologist, USGS

Betancourt will show how day-of-year [DOY] metrics can define spring onset in the CONUS. These DOY metrics exhibit secular trends consistent with both natural variability and greenhouse warming. In the atmosphere, spring onset variations also appear linked to the Pacific North American (PNA) pattern and the Northern Annular Mode (NAM). By contrast, last spring frost, first fall frost, and the duration of the growing season in CONUS poorly tracks common climatic indices, and instead is modulated by the polar vortex.

Seasonal timing has myriad impacts on plants and animals, biospheric processes, and human systems, and is critical for formulating adaptive responses to both climate variability and change. In the coterminous U.S. [CONUS], the timing of seasonal transitions varies widely from year to year and is also changing directionally, yet the climatic drivers, patterns, and consequences of these variations are not well understood. In his presentation, Betancourt will discuss different interpretations of large-scale drivers, opportunities for long-range forecasting, and implications for continental-scale phenological monitoring in the U.S.

Julio Betancourt is a Senior Scientist with the USGS in Reston VA, and also served for three decades as an Adjunct Professor at the University of Arizona, where he received his Ph.D. in Geosciences with a minor in Ecology & Evolutionary Biology.  He is a research hydrologist and ecologist who studies how climate variability and change affects terrestrial ecosystems at scales critical for understanding ecological and evolutionary processes and informing rational approaches to managing water and other natural resources. A Fellow of the American Geophysical Union and founding co-chair of the USGS Council of Senior Science Advisors, Dr. Betancourt has published two books and 180 peer-reviewed technical papers on a wide diversity of topics.  He has received honors from the American Water Resources Association, the Ecological Society of America and the Geological Society of America, and top awards from the U.S. Department of the Interior and the White House.  He is the founder of  USA National Phenology Network and established the Southern Arizona Buffelgrass Coordination Center, an NGO that coordinates assessment and mitigation of an African grass invasion in the Sonoran Desert.

Seminars will be added as they are scheduled.  Keep checking back!  If you would like reminders sent to your email for each of these events, please send your request to biology@cwu.edu.

 

----Past Seminars----

For videos, see our CWU Biology YouTube Channel.  The Biology Office (Science 338) also has DVDs of some of the more recent talks.

 

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

 

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
NOTE:  SCIENCE BUILDING ROOM 101 4:00-5:00PM

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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