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Tuesday, April 19, 2011
6:30-8:30 p.m. with discussion beginning at 7:00 followed by Q&A
Location: The Irregardless Café, 901 W. Morgan Street, 833-8898

From solving crimes, to increasing crop production, to diagnosing and curing diseases, the study of genetics has become the key to finding answers for many of our modern day challenges and mysteries. But what is DNA? How do mutations happen? Do we all really understand how genetic studies are done and how they benefit our lives? Join us in a discussion about genetic research and in particular research on genetic diseases. What are the challenges and ethical questions that can arise in this area of science?

About our Speaker:

Dr. Jeffrey Stumpf earned his B.S. in Biology from Xavier University in Cincinnati and his Ph.D. in Genetics from Indiana University. He is currently a postdoctoral researcher at the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences in the mitochondrial replication group. For ten years, Dr. Stumpf has studied genetics of DNA replication and repair and the origins of mutations. Dr. Stumpf’s current research focuses on using yeast genetics as a model system to study human mutations that cause mitochondrial disease. As a contributing writer to the Environmental Factor newsletter, Dr. Stumpf is interested in communicating genetics and DNA replication to scientists and nonscientists alike.

The Stealth Pathogen: Bartonella

Tuesday, April 19, 2011
6:30-8:30 p.m. with discussion beginning at 7:00 followed by Q&A
Location: Tir Na Nog, 218 South Blount Street, Raleigh, 833-7795

7795 Cardiologists, neurologists and rheumatologists are often baffled on their journey to the diagnosis of diseases that are linked to cat scratch disease (CSD). Recent discoveries show that the bacteria Bartonella, best known for causing CSD, is actually responsible for a host of serious illnesses in humans that may have been misdiagnosed due to lack of awareness in the medical community. Twenty years ago only two species the bacteria Bartonella were known, whereas today the number of identified Bartonella species (sometimes referred to as the stealth pathogen) has increased to twenty-six and counting. This bacteria has co-evolved with dogs, cattle, squirrels ... even ground hogs, and is being transmitted to humans by fleas, lice and possibly ticks. Join us to learn more about how the “One Medicine” approach to researching vector-borne diseases has opened the way for important medical discoveries.

Black Holes: Relentless Attraction of Gravity

Tuesday, April 19, 2011
6:30-8:30 p.m. with discussion beginning at 7:00 followed by Q&A
Location: The Irregardless Café, 901 W. Morgan Street, Raleigh, 833-8898

Television and movies often portray black holes as tunnels for time travel or as cosmic vacuum cleaners sucking up all light and matter within their vast reach. What in fact are black holes? How do we know that they even exist? Join us to learn about recent NASA X-ray observations of these phenomena, and about the work being done at NCSU that models the accretion of "normal" stars into black holes as well as the existence of super-massive black holes believed to be found in most galaxies.

About our Speaker:

John Blondin is an Alumni Distinguished Undergraduate Professor of Physics at North Carolina State University where he has introduced many students to astrophysics research, mentoring over 75 undergraduate research projects. Dr. Blondin received his doctoral degree in Astronomy and Astrophysics from The University of Chicago in 1987. He is the recipient of an NSF CAREER award and a Sigma Xi Research Award, as well as being named a Cottrell Scholar, an NCSU Alumni Outstanding Teacher, and a Fellow of the American Physical Society. Dr. Blondin’s research focuses on computational gas dynamics, using the largest supercomputers in the world to study interacting binary stars, accretion disks around compact objects, planetary nebulae, supernovae and supernova remnants.

Security in the Digital Age – Are we safe?

Tuesday, March 15, 2011
6:30-8:30 p.m. with discussion beginning at 7:00 followed by Q&A
Tir Na Nog, 218 South Blount Street, Raleigh, 833-7795

Most of us are aware that computer and network security are important. You may even be aware that smartphones are a new "target of opportunity" for attackers, but not much more than that. Who are the attackers, and why are they attacking us? More importantly, what's at stake, how can you protect yourself, and are we winning or losing the battle?

About our Speaker:

Douglas Reeves is a Professor of Computer Science at N.C. State University, specializing in networking and security. He received his PhD in Computer Science from Penn State. His research is funded by the National Science Foundation, and he consults regularly with industry.

Prevention of Heart Disease: Managing Risk Factors

Tuesday, February 15, 2011
Time: 6:30-8:30pm with discussion beginning at 7:00 followed by Q&A
Location: The Irregardless Café, 901 W. Morgan Street, Raleigh, 833-8898

Heart disease is the leading cause of death for both men and women. Why is heart disease different in women versus men? Why are some people more prone to heart disease than others? Is a healthy diet and exercise enough to prevent it? Will statins prevent heart disease in healthy people? What role does second hand smoke really play? Prevention is key to minimizing the impact of heart disease on our bodies, our longevity and our quality of life. We'll explore the risk factors, the role of genetics and the things we can do to minimize heart disease.

About our Speaker:

Deepak Pasi, M.D. is a board certified cardiologist and completed fellowships in both cardiology and interventional cardiology at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. He has practiced cardiology for twenty five years and is a member of Rex Heart & Vascular Specialists in Raleigh.

Rainforests - Going, Going, Gone

Tuesday, January 18, 2011
Time: 6:30-8:30pm with discussion beginning at 7:00 followed by Q&A
Location: Tir Na Nog, 218 South Blount Street, Raleigh, 919.833.7795

Every child grows up with a sense of awe about tropical forests -- extraordinary creatures including poison dart frogs, sloths, orchids and jaguars representing a veritable treasure-trove of biodiversity. But scientists estimate that more than half of Africa's rain forests are gone, with at least 40 percent losses in Asia and Latin America and 95 percent in Madagascar. Even with new technologies, measuring tropical deforestation is not easy, and illegal logging is epidemic in many parts of the world. What is the prognosis for the future of tropical rain forests? And how will human beings fare if these vital ecosystems disappear? What essential services do tropical forests provide for the planet, and how can we conserve them for our children?

About our Speaker:

Dr. Meg Lowman (www.canopymeg.com) is Director of the Nature Research Center, North Carolina Museum of Natural Sciences and a research professor at NC State University. Over the past three decades, “Canopy Meg” has earned an international reputation as a pioneer in forest canopy ecology, tropical rain forest conservation, and for designing canopy access tools including ropes, hot-air balloons, walkways and construction cranes. Equipped with degrees in biology, ecology and botany, Lowman developed her childhood interest of building tree forts into mapping canopy biodiversity worldwide and spearheading the construction of canopy walkways in tropical forests for conservation. She uses science education to influence government policy and encourage environmental stewardship. Her book, "Life in the Treetops," earned a cover review in the New York Times Sunday Book Review.

Where Have All the Frogs Gone?

Tuesday, November 16, 2010
Time: 6:30-8:30pm with discussion beginning at 7:00 followed by Q&A
Location: The Irregardless Café, 901 W. Morgan Street, Raleigh, 833-8898

Since the 1980s, dramatic reductions in amphibian populations (including population crashes and mass localized extinctions) have been noted from locations all over the world. Currently, the loss of these animals (especially frogs) is thought to be one of the most critical threats to global biodiversity. Many of the causes are still poorly understood, and the topic is the subject of much ongoing research. Join us to discuss what is known and what is yet to be known about the global loss of such an important group of animals.

About our Speaker:

Bryan Stuart is currently the Curator of Herpetology at the NC Museum of Natural Sciences. In 2006, Stuart received his Ph.D. from the University of Illinois-Chicago working in a collaborative program with the Field Museum. He remains a Research Associate and close collaborator with the Field Museum and also completed a two-year postdoctoral program at UC-Berkeley before joining the Museum staff here in Raleigh. Stuart has authored and co-authored numerous publications about reptiles and amphibians in several prominent scientific journals, such as Herpetologica and Molecular Phylogenetics and Evolution. He travels often and extensively in Southeast Asia as well as Africa for his current research and study of herpetological biodiversity.

SPECIAL WEDNESDAY Science Café: March of the Fossil Penguins
Please Note: This Month the Cafe has Moved to Wednesday Night

Wednesday, October 20, 2010 - 6:30-8:30 pm with discussion beginning at 7:00 followed by Q&A
Tir Na Nog 218 South Blount Street, Raleigh, 919.833.7795

Penguins are familiar faces at zoos and aquariums, but they evolved long before humans. These fascinating birds have been around for more than 60 million years, during which they survived dramatic changes in climate, wholesale re-arrangements of the continents, and the rise of new mammalian competitors. Thanks to their dense bones, penguins have left behind a rich fossil record that we can use to trace their geographical expansion and morphological evolution. In this Science Cafe we will get to know some of the diverse cast of extinct penguins, including primitive species from the deep past, spear-billed penguins from Peru, and giants that would have towered over today's Emperor Penguins.

About our Speaker:

Dr. Daniel Ksepka is a paleontologist at North Carolina State University and a research associate at the North Carolina Museum of Natural Sciences. His research focuses on reconstructing the evolutionary tree of birds and understanding the transition from aerial flight to underwater wing-propelled diving in groups like penguins and the now extinct plotopterid birds. Ksepka has traveled to South America and New Zealand to collect and study fossil penguins. He is the author of numerous scientific papers on penguin evolution as well as the science blog "March of the Fossil Penguins."

Growth in North Carolina – Smart or Not Smart?

Tuesday, September 21, 2010 - 6:30-8:30 pm with discussion beginning at 7:00 followed by Q&A
The Irregardless Café, 901 W. Morgan Street, Raleigh, 919.833.8898

Join us for a discussion about Smart Growth, an urban planning and transportation theory that concentrates growth in the center of a city to avoid urban sprawl. In a time when climate change and all of its causes are becoming more and more apparent, the value of Smart Growth planning is becoming an important long-range regional consideration for sustainability. Its goals are to achieve a unique sense of community and place; expand the range of transportation, employment, and housing choices; equitably distribute the costs and benefits of development; preserve and enhance natural and cultural resources; and promote public health. This café is co-sponsored by UNC-TV as part of their Blueprint America project. Blueprint America is an ongoing PBS multi-platform media initiative that can be accessed at www.pbs.org/blueprintamerica.

About our Speaker:

Dan Douglas is Director of Urban Planning and Design at KlingStubbins Architects where he focuses his efforts on projects that weave together Economic Development, Sustainability, Urban Design and Civic Participation. He recently completed a citizen-driven Retail Vision and Strategic Plan for Long Beach, California and is currently working on a new Development Framework and Investment Strategy for downtown Chapel Hill, North Carolina.

Prior to joining KlingStubbins Dan served for seven years as Director of Raleigh's Urban Design Center where he directed the formation of downtown urban design policy, reviewed all private projects within the downtown area, coordinated public initiatives across all city departments and created the strategies to guide its revitalization.

While at the Center, he also facilitated the design process for the reopening of Fayetteville Street, led the design and programming for downtown’s signature high-tech public space (City Plaza), and was the senior planner on the working group for the new Convention Center.

Additionally, Dan wrote the Livable Streets Downtown Strategic Plan and the South End Master Plan – leveraging over $2.5 billion dollars of new investment.

The project is being supported with a major grant from The Rockefeller Foundation.


Tuesday, August 17, 2010 - 6:30-8:30 pm with discussion beginning at 7:00 followed by Q&A
Tir Na Nog 218 South Blount Street, Raleigh, 833-7795

Just in time to lead up to BugFest the museum's annual event highlighting the world of arthropods, our café this month will be a discussion about insects (in particular, some species that we are not too fond of… bed bugs and cockroaches!) I first learned about bed bugs from a television documentary probably a year or more ago. Since that show, and most likely because I work in a natural history musem, I have heard more and more about these pests and how difficult they are to deal with. Because travelers can bring them home in suitcases after staying in infested hotel rooms, it is important for all of us to understand their life history. An interesting website http://bedbugregistry.com/, is a site where the public report bed bugs that they have encountered in hotels and apartments. You can see from the listings that these pests are found throughout our country.

Another pest that people are more familiar with, the cockroach, (found in all 50 states) is also very difficult to deal with -- So, we've added them to the line up for our evening's café discussion. Learn how to distinguish one species of roach from another and how to be on the lookout for these unwanted house (or office) guests.

Bed bugs and cockroaches: The insects that bug us. After disappearing from many countries for almost 50 years, bed bugs have made a comeback and are once again sucking our blood while we sleep and stowing away in our luggage when we travel. Cockroaches, on the other hand, have always been a fact of life for people living in the South, but all roaches are not the same -- some are part of our outdoor environment and only end up in our homes by accident, while others are only found in buildings and produce allergens that can pose health risks.

In this Science Café, we will explore some of the urban legends related to bed bugs, observe some insects to get an idea of what to watch out for, and discuss how you can keep these tiny vampires out of your home.

We will also discuss do-it-yourself options for cockroach control as well as give you some cockroach identification tips.

About the Speaker:

Richard Santangelo is a research specialist in the Entomology Department at North Carolina State University. His work focuses on urban pest control aspects of entomology, including pesticide resistance monitoring of cockroaches and bed bugs, product testing of commercial insecticides for pest control, and allergen intervention in low income housing and hog farms. Santangelo has also worked on a Colorado Spider Survey with the Denver Museum of Nature and Science and biological control of cotton pests in Arizona.

A Nuclear Renaissance

Tuesday, July 20, 2010 - 6:30-8:30 pm with discussion beginning at 7:00 followed by Q&A
Tir Na Nog 218 South Blount Street, Raleigh, 833-7795

From its development in the 1950s and ‘60s to the protests against its use in the 1970s and ‘80s, commercial nuclear energy in the United States has always been surrounded by debate. Opponents of its use have presented possible risks to the environment and human health. Meanwhile, proponents cite it as a sustainable energy source that reduces carbon emissions and eases dependence on foreign oil. In February 2010, the federal government approved a loan guarantee for the construction of two nuclear reactors in Georgia, which would be the first plants to start construction in the U.S. since the 1970s. What does this renewed commitment to nuclear power mean to our energy future? What will it mean for our environment and our health?

About the Speaker:

Professor David N. McNelis has more than 45 years of environmental sciences and engineering experience in federal government, university and industry settings. He served in research and research management positions with the U.S. Army, the U.S. Public Health Service and the Environmental Protection Agency; with the Department of Energy's prime contractor for the Nevada Test Site; and with the University of Nevada, Las Vegas. He now serves as the Director of the Center for Sustainable Energy, Environment and Economic Development in the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill’s Institute for the Environment and as President of Nuclear Fuel Cycle Technologies, LLC. In addition to being a Research Professor in the Department of Environmental Sciences and Engineering at UNC, he is also an Adjunct Professor in the Department of Nuclear Engineering at NCSU. Currently Dr. McNelis specializes in conventional, alternative and nuclear energy systems and technologies and the nuclear fuel cycle (including partitioning, transmutation, repository capacity and nuclear non proliferation).

The Human-Animal Bond

Tuesday, June 15, 2010 - 6:30-8:30 pm with discussion beginning at 7:00 followed by Q&A
The Irregardless Café, 901 W. Morgan Street, Raleigh, 919.833.8898

Animals touch our daily lives from the pets we keep, to the food we eat, to the health care advances we enjoy. Current animal welfare concerns include pet overpopulation, rescue and care of animals in disasters, treatment of food animals, biomedical research involving animals, and the affects of global urbanization and environmental change on wildlife.

Our evolving human-animal bond and the mandate to be good stewards of animal welfare are at the heart of these concerns. Join our discussion about how the integration of veterinary medicine and animal science, as well as ethics and public policy, can dictate how successfully these concerns are addressed, and how the diverse needs of humans and animals are met on a local and global scale.

About the Speaker:

Dr. Dianne Dunning is a clinical associate professor and the director of the Animal Welfare, Ethics and Public Policy Program (AWEPP) at the NC State College of Veterinary Medicine. Through professional education, public service, research and public policy development, AWEPP seeks to explore and address issues including pet abandonment, animal abuse and fighting, companion animal loss and grief, and the link between animal health and human well being.

Geologic forces in North Carolina and beyond

Tuesday, May 18, 2010 - 6:30-8:30 pm with discussion beginning at 7:00 followed by Q&A
Location: Tir Na Nog, 218 S. Blount Street, Raleigh - 919.833.7795

Earthquakes, volcanic eruptions, tsunamis, rising seas! These geologic events have been making the headlines lately, but did you know these same events have shaped the North Carolina landscape for the past billion years? We tend to think of our state as being far from the geologic action, but we once had Himalayan-scale mountain ranges and exploding volcanoes. Join us as we discuss the geologic history of North Carolina as well as the global geologic events that are occurring today.

About the Speaker:

Dr. Kevin Stewart has been a professor of Geological Sciences at UNC-Chapel Hill for the past 24 years. Stewart’s research focuses on the deformation of the earth’s crust and the tectonic history of mountain belts. He has worked in the southern Appalachians, the Rocky Mountains, and the Apennines in Italy. He recently co-authored a book published by UNC Press titled "Exploring the Geology of the Carolinas."

Clash of the Titans; energy, environment, and the economy

Tuesday, April 20, 2010 - 6:30-8:30 pm with discussion beginning at 7:00 followed by Q&A
Location: The Irregardless Café, 901 W. Morgan Street, Raleigh 833-8898

There are approximately 250 million cars on U.S. roads today, fueled primarily by imported oil, and demand is growing. The electric utilities are in the midst of a "Smart Grid" revolution, driven by new technology, increased demand, and need for higher reliability and security. The U.S. government, along with the auto and electric utility industries, are currently striving for electrification of the transportation sector by way of plug-in hybrid and all-electric vehicles. All-electric vehicles can provide significant oil savings, improved air quality, reduced energy costs to consumers, increased energy diversity, and support for the electric grid. But are U.S. drivers ready to go all electric?

About the Speaker:

Rogelio Sullivan is the Associate Director of the Advanced Transportation Energy Center and also of the Future Renewable Electric Energy Delivery and Management Systems Center (FREEDM) at NCSU. The two research centers are working in partnership with industry to develop technologies that can effectively create the "energy internet"; which will support widespread utilization of renewable energy, plug in electric vehicles, and greater consumer participation in the energy marketplace. Mr. Sullivan is an engineer with more than 20 years of research and development management experience in advanced transportation systems such as hybrids, batteries, lightweight materials, advanced combustion engines, and vehicle auxiliary systems.

OUR BODIES: The Final Frontier

Tuesday, March 23, 2010 - 6:30-8:30 pm with discussion beginning at 7:00 followed by Q&A
Location: Tir Na Nog 218 South Blount Street, Raleigh, 833-7795

We have come to think of the world as known. It isn’t. Even basic parts of our own bodies remain totally unexplored. For example, have you ever stopped to wonder why you are naked? Aside from naked mole rats, we are among the only land mammals to be essentially devoid of hair. Why? Join us for a discussion about the human body and its adaptations to a world filled with predators, pathogens and parasites. Bring your appendix, if you still have one, and learn about its special purpose.

About the Speaker:

Rob Dunn is an ecologist in the Department of Biology at North Carolina State University where he studies the global distribution of life and how it is changing as we change the world. He also studies ants. Dunn's award-winning book "Every Living Thing" (Harper Collins, 2009) explores the strange limits of the living world and the stranger scientists that study them. His next book, "Clean Living is Bad for You ... and Other Modern Consequences of Having Evolved in the Wild," will be out in 2010. Dunn also writes articles for magazines including National Geographic, Natural History, Seed, Scientific American and National Wildlife. To read more of Rob’s writing, sign up for his email list at: http://groups.google.com/group/Smallthingsconsidered.

Forgetting Something?

Tuesday, February 16, 2010 - 6:30-8:30 pm with discussion beginning at 7:00 followed by Q&A
Location: The Irregardless Café, 901 W. Morgan Street, Raleigh 833-8898

All of us misplace our car keys now and again. Most of us get lost while driving from time to time. We all have been to cocktail parties and have run into someone familiar whose name just escapes us. We often toss off such events as “senior moments.” These trivial events trouble us because they reflect a short circuiting of brain function. Do they mean anything serious is wrong with us or are they just annoying bumps in the road? Are they warnings of bad things to come such as dementia? This evening we will discuss the issues of memory loss, dementia, and aging.

About the Speaker:

S. Mitchell Freedman, MD, FAAN, is a member of the medical staff at Rex Hospital and Adjunct Professor of Neurology with the School of Medicine at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. Dr. Freedman is board certified in neurology and is a Fellow of the American Academy of Neurology. He has practiced neurology in Raleigh since 1978 and formed Raleigh Neurology Associates in 1983. Dr. Freedman also served as a major in the US Army Medical Corps and is an active member of the Consortium of Multiple Sclerosis Centers.

GPS and Geocaching Fun

Tuesday, Jan. 19, 2010 - 6:30-8:30 p.m. with discussion beginning at 7:00, followed by Q&A.
Location: The Busy Bee - 225 S. Wilmington St. Raleigh, 919.424.7817

GPS (Global Positioning System) was developed for our military but we have quickly made it a civilian-based utility required for business, travel and recreation. Come learn the technology behind GPS -- from satellites and trilateration to binary codes and radio frequencies -- as well as some of its surprising and innovative applications and glimmers into the future of this technology. We’ll discuss the phenomena behind geocaching, its health benefits, necessary and useful gear, and resources for even more information. We welcome all veteran geocachers to share their tales and helpful tips.

About the Speaker:

James Jeuck is an Extension Specialist at NCSU Extension Forestry. He started the first Trimble Navigation Mapping Grade GPS Training Center on the east coast at NC State in 1993 and has been teaching GPS in one form or fashion ever since. James also developed a two-year AAS Degree Program in Geospatial Technologies in 1999 at Haywood Community College. He has used GPS navigation to visit more than 900 random points scattered throughout West Virginia’s New River Gorge and Bluestone River’s 90,000 acres while doing a vegetation map accuracy assessment in the summers of 2006 and 2007. While not a member of a geocaching group, James fully understands the fun, mental challenge, health and camaraderie offered by this fun activity. James is currently working on his PhD at NCSU in Forestry and hopes to navigate his way to graduation by 2012.


Tuesday, Nov. 17, 2009 - 6:30-8:30 p.m. with discussion beginning at 7:00, followed by Q&A.
Location: The Irregardless Café, 901 W. Morgan Street, Raleigh 919.833.8898

This year, roughly 66,000 people will be diagnosed with non-Hodgkin lymphoma, while another 22,000 will be diagnosed with cancers of the brain. In parallel, our pet dogs also suffer from a range of similar spontaneous cancers. For thousands of years, humans and dogs have shared a unique bond—breathing the same air, drinking the same water, and living in the same environment. During the 21st century this relationship is now strengthened into one that may hold intriguing biomedical possibilities. Using the 'One Medicine' concept—the idea that human and animal health relies on a common pool of medical and scientific knowledge and is supported by overlapping technologies and discoveries; research is revealing that the dog genome may hold the keys to unlocking some of nature’s most intriguing puzzles about human cancer.

About the Speaker:

Dr. Matthew Breen, professor of genomics in the NC State University College of Veterinary Medicine, co-directs the Clinical Genomics Core of the Center for Comparative Medicine and Translational Research at NC State. Dr. Breen’s lab http://www.breenlab.org/ helped map the canine genome in 2004 and the internationally known research scientist has conducted studies and published articles on numerous comparative medicine investigations of canine and human cancers including non-Hodgkin lymphoma, meningioma, and other cancers of the brain. A member of the Cancer Genetics Program at the University of North Carolina's Lineberger Comprehensive Cancer Center, Dr. Breen’s collaborative investigations involve Duke University Medical Center and the University of Minnesota Medical Center among others.

RTP Chapter of Sigma Xi · PO Box 13068 · Research Triangle Park, NC 27709 · info@rtp-sigmaxi.org