Faculty Lecture Series
The Faculty Lecture Series draws from the knowledge and expertise of more than 120 full-time faculty members within the Farquhar College of Arts and Sciences. The series explores the faculty’s diverse areas of interest in the arts, humanities, social sciences, and physical sciences. In addition to mentoring students in independent research projects, guiding travel-study experiences, and participating in the development of their fields through publications and involvement in their disciplines' global communities—faculty members support the college mission by sharing their experiences with students through these insightful campus lectures that convey their passion for education and research.
Each presentation, listed below, explores a different topic related to the college’s 2012–2013 academic theme of “Life and Death.” These events are free and open to the public.
Winter 2013 Semester Schedule
“State of the Climate: A Brief Introduction”
Song Gao, Ph.D., associate professor
Thursday, January 17 | Noon–1:00 p.m. | Alvin Sherman Library, Room 2053
Life and death in the Earth’s biosphere is elegantly reflected in the measured concentrations of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere. This lecture will present scientific records relating to Earth’s past and present climate, as well as predictions for future climate based on models under continuing development. Gao will discuss the environmental health of our planet through the lens of climate change and its compounding causes involving humans.
“Deadly Parasites: Key Players in the Web of Life”
Christopher Blanar, Ph.D., assistant professor
Thursday, February 14 | Noon–1:00 p.m. | Alvin Sherman Library, Room 2053
This lecture will explore how Thomas Ray’s statement that “all successful systems attract parasites” should perhaps be reworded to “all successful systems require parasites.” Using examples from clinical medicine, environmental science, and community ecology, Blanar will discuss the emerging notion that parasites are not mere agents of harm, but play key biological roles and are often essential contributors to the health and success of the systems they parasitize.
“The Nights of Our Lives: Why We Sleep and Dream”
Jaime Tartar, Ph.D., associate professor and coordinator of psychology research
Thursday, March 21 | Noon–1:00 p.m. | Alvin Sherman Library, Second Floor Gallery
We spend approximately one third of our lives asleep and require sleep to stay alive—chronic sleep deprivation is fatal. Sleep has been rigorously studied over the last 60 years; however, the function of sleep and dreams remains elusive. This is in part because sleep is a complex state of consciousness involving many interconnected neurochemical and anatomical systems. This lecture will review the current knowledge about what happens in a sleeping brain and the consequences of sleep deprivation. In particular, Tartar will discuss the role of sleep in memory consolidation, emotion processing, hormone regulation, and immune functioning.
“From the Womb to the Tomb: Zygotic Development and the Dying Process”
Michael Voltaire, Ph.D., assistant professor
Thursday, March 28 | Noon–1:00 p.m. | Alvin Sherman Library, Second Floor Gallery
This lecture will explore the beginnings of human life from the moment of conception to the blastocyst implantation into the uterine wall. Does life begin at conception? If we are programmed to age and die, when does the dying process begin? While there is a continued trend of increasing life expectancy, why are there genetic limits to human capabilities to go on living? Voltaire will explore these questions from a broad, multidisciplinary perspective.
“Cellular Life Beyond an Individual’s Death”
Emily Schmitt, Ph.D., associate professor and coordinator of biological science
Thursday, April 4 | Noon–1:00 p.m. | Alvin Sherman Library, Second Floor Gallery
“Life and Death in 20th Century Berlin”
Stephen Levitt, LL.M., associate professor
Thursday, April 18 | 5:00–6:00 p.m. | Alvin Sherman Library, Second Floor Gallery
During the 20th Century, few cities had a more tumultuous history than Berlin. While political scientists and historians often follow the great and the powerful, this presentation will consider the average resident caught up in war, revolution, aerial bombardment, inflation, tyranny, the Holocaust, occupation, division, and unification. How did average people survive, and how did they sometimes meet their deaths in the downtown area of Berlin designated today as Mitte while all of this went on around them?