Fall 2012 Calendar of Events

Kibbe Lecture:

Kibbe Lecture: "Arctic Petroleum: Let Science Inform Decisions"

September 13, 20127:00 PM – 9:00 PM
Searles Science Building, Room 315

Arctic Petroleum:  Let Science Inform Decisions.  Dr. Brenda Pierce, Program Coordinator of Energy Resources, U.S. Geological Survey, will be speaking at Bowdoin College on Thursday, September 13, 2012, in Searles Room 315 at 7:00p.m.  The Arctic is an area of high petroleum resource potential, low data density, high geologic uncertainty and sensitive environmental conditions.  The quality, quantity and distribution of these resources are poorly understood.  Dr. Pierce will discuss the intricacies surrounding Arctic exploration and the development and findings of a multi-year USGS research effort.  She will also provide a perspective on the politics surrounding offshore claims and other issues regarding resources of the Arctic.

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Navigating Alaskan Waters: Natives, Science, and Politics

Navigating Alaskan Waters: Natives, Science, and Politics

September 20, 20124:00 PM – 5:30 PM
Visual Arts Center, Kresge Auditorium

An extraordinary group of 11 Alaskan Iñupiat and Yup'ik hunters and leaders will gather on the Bowdoin College campus September 18 through 20, 2012, for a series of meetings to look at issues of marine mammal protection and indigenous subsistence activities in light of climate change, as well as growing gas and petroleum development and ship traffic in the region.

On Thursday, September 20, the leaders will participate in a panel discussion, "Navigating Alaskan Waters: Natives, Science, and Politics" from 4 p.m. to 5:30 p.m. in Kresge Auditorium, Visual Arts Center. The panel discussion is free and open to the public.

George Noongwook, a representative of the Alaska Eskimo Whaling Commission, will be the keynote speaker. Representatives of the five Alaskan marine mammal commissions will join him in discussions moderated by Martin Robards of the Arctic Beringia Program.

The panelists are the heads of Alaska's five marine mammal commissions (whale, beluga, polar bear, seal, and walrus). They will talk about the challenges and opportunities their families and communities face in light of intensification of oil and gas development in Alaska, dramatic increases in ship traffic as ice disappears from northern waters, and climate change. They will also reflect on the importance and difficulty of integrating traditional knowledge, science, and policy when trying to safeguard marine mammal habitat and traditional cultural lifeways.

The commissioners work with state and federal authorities to ensure marine mammal populations stay healthy and indigenous hunters can continue their traditional harvesting of animals.

Along with representatives of local Alaskan community governments, they are conducting two days of meetings at Bowdoin College to work on common community concerns, most immediately the dramatic increase in international ship traffic through Alaskan waters. They will be finalizing a statement to be presented to the U.S. Coast Guard, the Alaska Congressional Delegation, and the federal Marine Mammal Commission detailing key concerns about shipping and measures that should be taken to ensure the safety of marine mammals, indigenous subsistence activities, and food security.

 While at Bowdoin the Alaskans will visit a number of anthropology, sociology, and environmental studies classes where they will talk with Bowdoin students about how the Iñupiat and Yup'ik organizations work with local, state, federal, and international organizations. 

This gathering of Alaskan leaders on the Bowdoin College campus is funded by the Oak Foundation and the Peary-MacMillan Arctic Museum and Arctic Studies Center, whose current exhibition, "Animal Allies, Inuit Views of the natural World," highlights traditional knowledge of Alaskan and Canadian northern hunters.

For more information about the panel discussion call 207-725-3062 or 207-725-3416.

Photo by Anne Henshaw.

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Common Hour with Dr. Thomas Seeley, President's Science Symposium

Common Hour with Dr. Thomas Seeley, President's Science Symposium

October 12, 201212:30 PM – 1:30 PM
Visual Arts Center, Kresge Auditorium

Honeybee Democracy

Thomas D. Seeley is a professor in the Department of Neurobiology and Behavior at Cornell University, where he teaches courses on animal behavior and does research on the functional organization of honeybee colonies. He grew up in Ithaca, New York, and began keeping and studying bees while in high school. He left home to study at Dartmouth College in 1970, but returned to Ithaca each summer to work at the Dyce Laboratory for Honeybee Studies at Cornell, where he learned the craft of beekeeping and began probing the inner workings of the honeybee colony. Thoroughly intrigued by the smooth functioning of bee colonies, he went on to graduate school at Harvard University. His research focuses on the behavior, ecology, and social life of honeybees. In recognition of his scientific work, he has received the Senior Scientist Prize of the Alexander von Humboldt Foundation, been awarded a Guggenheim Fellowship, and been elected a Fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences.

To view the Fall 2012 Common Hour program in its entirety, please visit us at: Events and Summer Programs: Common Hour

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President's Science Symposium: Student Talks

President's Science Symposium: Student Talks

October 12, 20121:35 PM – 2:45 PM
Visual Arts Center, Kresge Auditorium

Research conducted by faculty-mentored Bowdoin science and math students this past summer will be in the spotlight Friday, October 12, 2012, at the annual President's Science Symposium. All events are open to the Bowdoin community.

"The President's Science Symposium is a time to showcase the extraordinary scientific research performed by Bowdoin faculty and students," note's the event's coordinator Michael Danahy, lecturer in the Department of Chemistry. "It's a unique event in that all the sciences and mathematics are represented in one place, so one gets a real sense of the breadth of the impressive work done at the College."

Four students will give talks about their research from 1:35 p.m. to 2:45 p.m. in Kresge Auditorium, Visual Arts Center. The student researchers are Adam Childs '14, Emma Cutler '13, Jesus Navarro '13, and Tippapha Pisithkul '13.

Following these talks, poster presentations by more than 100 student researchers in the sciences and math will be held from 3 p.m. to 4:30 p.m. in Morrell Lounge, David Saul Smith Union. Students will be on hand to discuss their projects.

"With the student poster presentations and student research talks, students take ownership of their research," says Danahy. "This event highlights the importance of research in science education.

The symposium will kick off earlier in the day with a keynote address at Common Hour by guest speaker Thomas D. Seeley, an expert on honeybee colonies and a professor in the Department of Neurobiology and Behavior at Cornell University. Seeley's talk, titled "Honeybee Democracy," will be given at 12:30 p.m. in Kresge Auditorium, Visual Arts Center.

Adam Childs '14, a chemistry and physics double major with a minor in mathematics, will discuss his project, "Characterization and Structural Analysis of Thiopeptoids as Potential Biological Probes." His research entails the synthesis of thiopeptoids and mass spectrometry data analysis of the results. Childs worked with Assistant Professor of Chemistry Benjamin Gorske, supported by a Howard Hughes Medical Institute Summer Fellowship.

Emma Cutler '13, a mathematics and environmental studies major, will speak about her research, "Climate Modeling: Interactions between Carbon Dioxide, Ice Albedo, Energy Balance, and Temperature." Her project involves examining how mathematical equations have been used to show changes in the earth's ice coverage as climate has oscillated between warm and cold conditions. Cutler worked with R. Wells Johnson Professor of Mathematics Mary Lou Zeeman through a Clare Booth Luce Research Fellowship.

Jesus Navarro '13, a computer science major and math minor, will discuss his project, "An Architecture for Holistic Collaborative Operating System Monitoring." Navarro's project entailed developing a paradigm where a traditional operating system (OS) works collaboratively with a virtual machine (VM) to improve system security. Navarro worked with Assistant Professor of Computer Science Daniela Oliveira as a Student Faculty Research Grant Fellow.

Tippapha Pisithkul '13, a biochemistry major, will speak about her research, "Investigating Allelic Diversity of the Agglutinin-like Sequence (ALS) Gene Family in Candida albicans." Her research involves obtaining allelic sequences for four of the eight ALS genes in the fungal pathogen Candida albicans by cloning each gene for analysis. Pisithkul worked with Research Assistant Professor of Biology Anja Forche as a Student Faculty Research Grant Fellow.

The President's Science Symposium is made possible with the support of the Office of the Dean for Academic Affairs.

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President's Science Symposium: Student Poster Presentations and Reception

President's Science Symposium: Student Poster Presentations and Reception

October 12, 20123:00 PM – 4:30 PM
David Saul Smith Union, Morrell Lounge

The President's Science Symposium wraps up with poster presentations by the summer research fellows. Over 100 students will be presenting their research findings! Enjoy tea, coffee and cookies and learn about topics ranging from the molting cycle of the American lobster to the atmospheric history of methane gas.

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LaCasce Speaker Seminar

LaCasce Speaker Seminar

October 19, 20122:30 PM – 3:30 PM
Searles Science Building, Room 313

"Ice core insights into past atmospheric oxidant chemistry"
by Eric Sofen, Department of Atmospheric Sciences, University of Washington

As the earth went into and out of ice ages, and more recently, industrial activity kicked in, the chemistry of the atmosphere evolved. I'll show how ice core based records of nitrate and sulfate can tell us about this evolution.

Reception to follow in Searles 314.

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"Profiling cysteine reactivity in complex proteomes" Eranthie Weerapan Boston College

October 19, 20123:00 PM – 4:00 PM
Druckenmiller Hall, Room 020

Cysteine-mediated protein activities comprise proteases, kianses, oxidoreductases and metabolic enzymes that rely on cysteine residues for catalysis and regulation. These functional cysteine residues demonstrate heightened reactivity relative to non-functional cysteines, and are sensitive to a myriad of oxidative protein modifications that serve to regulate protein activity in vivo. We are applying chemical proteomic technologies to identify cysteines that are susceptible to posttranslational modifications such as S-nitrosylation, with the goal of discovering and functionally characterizing novel sites of protein regulation. We are also developing libraries of cysteine-reactive small molecules to selectively perturb subsets of cysteine-mediated protein activities in cells. We hope these small molecule probes and mass spectrometry techniques will allow us to identify and modulate disease-relevant proteins that rely on key cysteine residues for function.

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"A Peripatetic Journey in Physical Chemistry" Charles Pibel National Science Foundation

October 22, 20124:00 PM – 5:00 PM
Druckenmiller Hall, Cleaveland 151

In this talk, I will describe a few of my career highlights as an experimental physical chemist – both as a researcher in academe and as a Federal civil servant. The first part of the talk will describe work done in Japan studying the vacuum ultraviolet (VUV) spectroscopy of some interesting molecules. The talk will focus specifically on studies of the electronic spectroscopy of XeKr which revealed the very unusual bonding in one of the lowest excited electronic states of this molecule. Part two will highlight work done at American University studying the spectroscopy of a particularly important hydrocarbon radical – the vinyl radical – using cavity ringdown spectroscopy. I will conclude with some discussion of the worklife of a science administrator at the National Science Foundation.

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Lecture:

Lecture: "Radioactive Heritage: The Legacy of Chernobyl" Oct. 22

October 22, 20127:00 PM – 8:30 PM
Hubbard Hall, Room 208 Thomas F. Shannon Room

Nicholas Hryhorczuk from the Department of Recreation, Sport and Tourism at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, will give the talk "Radioactive Heritage: The Legacy of Chernobyl."

The Chernobyl reactor accident of 1986 contaminated large areas of Ukraine, Belarus, and Russia with radiation and produced a 30 km exclusion zone around the reactor. The accident displaced large numbers of people from their ancestral homes and devastated the local economy.

The exclusion zone has been intermittently open to limited tourism. The designation of Chernobyl as a UNESCO heritage site, similar to the UNESCO designation of the Hiroshima atomic bomb site, has the potential to not only preserve the legacy of this manmade disaster but also to revive the local economy through the responsible promotion of ecotourism.

However, the plans also raise issues related to "disaster tourism" or "blighted tourism" and initiate contentious debates about the official interpretation of Chernobyl--who is to blame, who was affected and how, and what the site means now. These are important questions as we think about the Fukushima disaster in Japan and the future of nuclear power more broadly.

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Linking genetic variation and biological complexity: lessons on the genotype-phenotype connection from flies, fish, and microbes

Linking genetic variation and biological complexity: lessons on the genotype-phenotype connection from flies, fish, and microbes

October 25, 20124:00 PM – 5:00 PM
Druckenmiller Hall, Room 020

Thomas Merritt, Canada Research Chair in Genomics and Bioinformatics,
Laurentian University, Ontario

Connecting the Dots between Genes and Traits

Genetics permeates our modern culture. From grade school, students now understand the fundamentals of molecular genetics-that physical characters, from the colour of our eyes to the shape of a pea, are determined by packets of information we call "genes." Many even know that genes are made up of DNA, that differences between gene copies-"alleles"-make up an organism's "genotype", and that the characteristics they lead to are called "phenotypes."
Surprisingly, though, we still do not really understand how genotypes and phenotypes are connected. Several different projects in the laboratory of Dr. Thomas Merritt, Canada Research Chair in Genomics and Bioinformatics, are investigating this connection by looking at different organisms, from microbes to fruit flies to fish.
Merritt's research explores biological diversity and its underlying genetic architecture by combining bioinformatics-the computer-based examination of gene, genotype and genome (all the genes in an organism)-with functional genomics, or direct manipulation and experimentation.
In one project, student researchers are using genetically engineered fruit flies to investigate how their metabolism affects things such as how long they live and how much fat they store. In another project, Merritt's team is looking at the genome of an entire community of microbes able to thrive in contaminated mine waste, in the hopes of understanding the community's metabolic potential.
Knowing that genetic interactions are complex and sometimes counterintuitive, Merritt's team is developing a better understanding of molecular complexity and protein function in order to tackle a wide range of challenges, from metabolic disease to biological stress to industrial waste clean-up.

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"Hydration-Shell Spectroscopy and Water-Mediated Interactions" Dor Ben-Amotz, Purdue University

November 2, 20123:00 PM – 4:00 PM
Druckenmiller Hall, Room 020

Conventional vibrational spectroscopic methods, such as infrared absorption and Raman scattering, may be used to measure the vibrational fingerprints of molecules in the solid, liquid, and gas phase. We have developed a way of extending such methods in order to obtain vibrational signatures arising from the interactions between molecules, by combining Raman scattering and multivariate curve resolution (Raman-MCR). This method may be used to obtain spectra of the hydration-shells surrounding molecules dissolved in water as well as interactions between solute molecules. For example, we have used this approach to discover surprising things, such as the presence of free (non-hydrogen-bonded) OH groups in the hydration-shells of alkane chains, and interesting temperature and chain-length dependent changes in the structure of water in hydrophobic hydration-shells. We are currently working on extending this strategy to investigate the interactions between salt ions and hydrophobic groups, and hydrophobic interactions between individual oil molecules in water.

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"Extensive protein O-glycosylation in th Bacteroidetes" Laurie Comstock, Brigham and Womens Hospital, Harvard Medical School

November 9, 20123:00 PM – 4:00 PM
Druckenmiller Hall, Room 020

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Linnean Inaugural Lecture by Prof. Bruce Kohorn

Linnean Inaugural Lecture by Prof. Bruce Kohorn

November 27, 20127:30 PM – 10:00 PM
Visual Arts Center, Kresge Auditorium

Bruce Kohorn will deliver the Linnean Professorship of Biology and Biochemistry Inaugural Lecture. The lecture, titled "From Mountains to Membranes," will be an exploration of the mechanisms that create plant cell form and function, with a concentration on the cell surface and its interaction with the cell wall.

The Linnean Professorship was established in 1996 to support biology at Bowdoin College with a gift from the estate of Laurence F. Shurtleff of the Bowdoin Class of 1926. Shurtleff worked for the New England Telephone Company for 43 years, while maintaining an active role in civic philanthropy and a keen interest in botany. He was a long-serving president of the Board of Trustees of the Turner Free Library in Randolph, Massachusetts, and continued his avid hobby of raising cranberries until nearly the end of his life.

Professor Bruce Kohorn is a pioneer in the field of plant cell biology, having made significant and influential discoveries concerning membrane proteins and the communication between the plant cell wall and nucleus. He has won a number of awards, grants, and fellowships from the National Science Foundation, United States Department of Agriculture, National Institutes of Health, Pew Charitable Trusts, and Duke University for his teaching and study of membrane proteins and plant cell walls. He has published numerous scholarly articles on these subjects and serves on the editorial boards of the Journal of Biological Chemistry and Frontiers in Plant Science.

Professor Kohorn joined the Bowdoin faculty in 2001 after 14 years on the botany and biology faculty of Duke University. He earned a bachelor of arts degree at the University of Vermont and a master of science and doctorate at Yale University, and was a postdoctoral fellow at the University of California at Los Angeles.

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