Each year, The Science Center hosts six Science Cafés free to the public, three taking place in the spring and three in the fall. Through our relationship with Southern Illinois University Carbondale, we have access to scientists and researchers from various fields of study. Each month one such individual presents new findings in his or her area of expertise. From geology to archaeology, marketing to neuroscience, Science Cafés have something to offer everyone.
Science Cafés are held on Thursdays at 7pm. Come early for free coffee and conversation. For more information, call or stop by the Science Center today!
Feb. 22nd at 7:00 pm. -Michael Hylin, Psychology, SIUC: "Changing Brains: How the Brain Develops and Interacts with Experience."
Neuroplasticity refers to the capacity of the nervous system to modify its organization such that the nervous system can be shaped by environmental input. The ability for the brain to change is likely a general feature of the nervous system’s response to environmental changes. We see this in learning and the formation of new memories as well as during development. The brain has the capacity to undergo change in many different methods, including its physical and electrochemical properties. I will discuss how neural plasticity is an underlying property that guides not only development but the formation of our memories, which often define who we are. With this understanding we will better comprehend what makes us.
March 22nd at 7:00 pm: Bethany Rader, Microbiology, SIUC : “Squid and the Microbiome: An Unusual Model System to Study How Humans Interact with Their Microbial Partners.”
The most significant long-term relationship you will ever be in is with your microbiome, the collection of microbes that inhabit your body. Just like human-human relationships, human-microbe relationships can be positive or negative, and can change over time. They influence your health and happiness, and understanding how these relationships start and how they are maintained is incredibly important. Rather than human-microbe relationships, my research laboratory is studying squid-microbe interactions! We are teasing apart the molecular language the animal and microbe use to enter into beneficial and life-long partnerships. We hope that our research will enhance our knowledge of the microbiome, and ultimately inform us in how to nurture this beneficial partnership.
April 26th at 7:00 pm: Roger Wiens, Space Remote Sensing Group, Los Alamos National Laboratory and the University of New Mexico: "Exploring Mars with Curiosity."
Since landing in 2012, the one-ton rover Curiosity has been exploring Mars to study how habitable our neighboring planet was over the course of time. The rover's exploration has revealed that Mars was once much wetter and warmer than now, with large, long-lasting lakes, rivers, and streams. From its landing site in Gale crater, the rover has traveled over 12 miles and climbed over 1,000 feet, exploring the geological transition to a dryer, colder climate in more recent times. The rover's ChemCam instrument uses a powerful laser beam to blast dust off the rocks and analyze them from up to 25 feet away. NASA plans to launch the next rover in 2 years.
Red Rover: Inside the Story of Robotic Space Exploration from Genesis to the Mars Rover Curiosity, by Roger Wiens
The Martian, by Andy Weir
Mars Up Close: Inside the Curiosity Mission, by Marc Kaufman
September 27th at 7:00 pm: John Martinko,Microbiology SUIC: "1918 influenza: The deadliest pandemic of all time?"
We are exactly 100 years away from the greatest recorded pandemic in human history, the 1918-1919 influenza pandemic. Questions remain about this deadly disease. What separated this influenza from the common annual influenza we all know? Why did it kill so many people? Why did it disproportionately target young, strong individuals as well as the usual very young and very old victims? Given the potential for new influenza and other infectious disease threats of this magnitude and severity, who monitors these threats? Are there preventative measures and cures in place? How can we best protect ourselves individually and collectively? Are we prepared to deal with infectious disease outbreaks at the local level and beyond?
The Great Influenza: The Story of the Deadliest Pandemic in History, by John M. Barry
The End of Epidemics: the Looming Threat to Humanity and How to Stop It, by Jonathan D. Quick
The Next Pandemic, Smithsonian magazine, November 2017 (available online)
Contagion, 2011 movie
October 25th at 7:00 pm: Keith Gagnon Biochemistry and Molecular Biology SIUC: Back to the Future: "From Understanding to Engineering the Human Genome".
The romantic idea of understanding what makes us human was embodied in the endeavor to sequence the human genome. However, when it was completed in 2003 we were quickly reminded that we are more than a catalog of genes. Since then we have slowly begun to unravel how our genes fit into the human story. But now, recent discoveries have made futuristic human genome engineering seem like a future reality. How did we suddenly go from understanding to engineering the human genome? We will attempt to demystify the science behind the discoveries, discuss the hope of treating terrible diseases, and address our ethical responsibilities.
The Gene: An Intimate History, by Siddartha Mukherjee
The Mysterious World of the Human Genome, by Frank Ryan
A Crack in Creation, by Jennifer Doudna and Samuel Sternberg
November 15th at 7:00 pm: Beverly Shofstall, Wildlife Rehabilitation: “Wildlife Rehabilitation: From Bunny Huggers to Biologists.”
In the not-so-distant past helping wild animals in distress was deemed silly, but in the last 50 years attitudes regarding wildlife have changed. The response to this rising interest in the environment and the fauna that inhibit it is wildlife rehabilitation and the science that accompanies it.
New medical and nutritional information are constantly being discovered, and animals are adapting to a changing environment. The role of rehabilitation is to keep abreast of all this information and utilize it to get these animals back into the wild.
Come learn more about this relatively new profession and the science involved in the care and return of non-pet species to their natural habitats.
****Please note: Well behaved children are always welcome at Science Cafe', however all museum exhibits will be closed.****