Science Speaker Series

Each summer, the Maria Mitchell Association hosts scientists and research experts on a wide variety of scientific topics.  Some of the topics highlight research here on Nantucket.  Broaden your knowledge and appreciation for science and attend the MMA’s Speaker Series.

 

Thank you to our sponsors, Cisco Brewers and Nantucket Island Resorts. and the Members of the Maria Mitchell Association. Without your support, the Science Speaker Series would not be able to take place.



"Variable Stars and Their Stories” with Dr. Stella Kafka, Director of the AAVSO

The American Association of Variable Star Observers (AAVSO) is a non-profit worldwide scientific and educational organization of amateur and professional astronomers who are interested in stars that change in brightness: variable stars. Their mission is to enable anyone, anywhere, to participate in scientific discovery through variable star astronomy.

Wednesday, June 1
7:00 PM
33 Washington Street

Members: Free
Non-members: $10

Parking in town lot

“Scavengers on Nantucket” with Andrew McKenna-Foster, MMA Director of Natural Science

Nantucket lacks large mammalian scavengers like raccoons, possum, and skunks. So what creatures pick up the slack in their absence? In collaboration with the Nantucket Conservation Foundation, MMA staff used camera traps to answer this question. Learn about early results and ongoing work. Also come and see pictures of Nantucket’s night active creatures!

Wednesday, June 8
7:00 PM
33 Washington Street

Members: Free
Non-members: $10

Parking in town lot

“Beyond Our Shores: Nantucket’s Offshore Underwater World” with Eric Savetsky

Eric Savetsky is an underwater photographer/videographer with a lifelong fascination of the sea. His goal is to share his amazing encounters with people in the hopes of inspiring a deeper appreciation of our natural world. Eric has worked on several broadcast projects including the National Geographic Channel/ Rick Rosenthal production “Superfish: Bluefin Tuna” and the BBC’s “Atlantic: Wildest Ocean on Earth.”

Wednesday, June 15
7:00 PM
33 Washington Street

Members: Free
Non-members: $10

Parking in town lot

“The American Burying Beetle” with Lou Perrotti, Roger Williams Park Zoo Director of Conservation Programs

The American Burying Beetle is one of the few insects on the Endangered Species List. It used to be widespread across eastern North America but now only exists in a few isolated areas. Populations on Nantucket and Block Island are the only groups east of the Mississippi River. Hear about the twenty-two year effort to reintroduce the endangered American burying beetle to Nantucket Island.

Wednesday, June 22
7:00 PM
33 Washington Street

Members: $Free
Non-members: $10

Parking in town lot

“A Quarter Century of the Hubble Space Telescope” with Dr. Andrew Fox, Space Telescope Science Institute Astronomer

Since its launch in April 1990, the Hubble Space Telescope has revolutionized our view of the Universe and captured public imagination. After several refurbishments, Hubble is still going strong and producing new results daily. Come and hear an overview of the telescope and its discoveries. The presentation will end with an introduction to the James Webb Space Telescope, the successor the Hubble, due for launch in 2018.

Wednesday, June 29
7:00 PM
33 Washington Street

Members: Free
Non-members: $10

Parking in town lot

“Getting to Know the Neighbors: Discovering New Galaxies in the Nearby Universe” with Dr. Kathy Rhode, Associate Professor of Astronomy at Indiana University and MMA Board Member

Over the past decade, new surveys of the immediate neighborhood of our home galaxy, the Milky Way, have revealed the presence of dozens of low-mass “dwarf” galaxies that had previously gone undetected. Many of these objects have extreme properties that challenge our picture of how galaxies form and evolve. Dr. Rhode will explain how she and her collaborators are using the Arecibo Radio Observatory and the WIYN optical telescope to find new galaxies. Despite being nearby, these objects were invisible until we figured out just how and where to search for them.

Wednesday, July 6
7:00 PM
33 Washington Street

Members: Free
Non-members: $10

Parking in town lot

"Upcycling + Sculpting" with artist Cindy Pease Roe

Explore with Cindy Pease Roe how her artwork demonstrates an Artist’s ‘Upcycling’ journey.  Cindy uses found marine debris to create treasured sculpture out of former trash.  Her art is used as public sculpture, private pleasure and educational tool.  The community is engaged by raising their awareness around the trash we leave behind in our oceans and the consequences of those actions.  Prepare to be awed and inspired!

 

Thursday, July 7
7:00 PM
33 Washington Street

Members: Free
Non-members: $10

Parking in town lot

“Electrochemical Pathways Towards Sustainability” with Professor Donald Sadoway, MIT Engineer

The road to sustainability is paved with electrochemical technology. This talk will offer examples of applied electrochemistry in action: metals production without CO2 emissions and stationary batteries for storage and delivery of off-peak power. Such large format batteries are the key enabling technology for carbon-free renewable, but intermittent, electric power generation, while enhancing security of today’s electricity grid.

Wednesday, July 13
7:00 PM
33 Washington Street

Members: Free
Non-members: $10

Parking in town lot

“It’s All in the Timing: How Phenology Can Give Us Insight to Local Climate Change” with Dr. Sarah Treanor Bois, Linda Loring Nature Foundation Director of Research and Education

Dr. Sarah Treanor Bois’ research on phenology focuses on the timing of natural events such as budburst, leaf out, and hatch offering insight into species’ response to climate change. Her research program is inclusive involving students and volunteers of all ages and encouraging others to collect phenology data in their own backyard.

Monday, July 18
7:00 PM
33 Washington Street

Members: Free
Non-members: $10

Parking in town lot

“Unusual Light Phenomena” with Dr. Vladimir Strelnitski, Maria Mitchell Observatory Director Emeritus

In this popular lecture, Dr. Strelnitski will share with the audience his admiration for atmospheric optics which create (more often than most people notice it) unusual light effects. He will describe and explain such phenomena as polar lights; the “Green Flash;” mirages; various kinds of rainbows; the “Heiligenschein (Holy Light);” the halos around the sun and the moon; and ball lightening. The presentation will be concluded with some comments on the notorious UFO problem.

Wednesday, July 20
7:00 PM
33 Washington Street

Members: Free
Non-members: $10

Parking in town lot

“Sea Turtles Around the Cape and Islands” with Bob Prescott, Mass Audubon Wellfleet Bay Wildlife Sanctuary Director

For over thirty years, Mass Audubon has been researching and rescuing sea turtles off of the beaches of Cape Cod. Every year as ocean temperatures drop, a cold wall forms preventing turtles from leaving the much warmer bay waters. As fall progresses, the bay temperature rapidly crashes sending the turtles into a hypothermic shock known as cold stunning, in which they become powerless to swim against the currents and are blown ashore by strong winds.

Wednesday, July 27
7:00 PM
33 Washington Street

Members: Free
Non-members: $10

Parking in town lot

“All Climate Is Local: Understanding the Impacts of Global Warming and the U.N. Climate Deal" with Dr. Heather Goldstone, WCAI Science Editor and Host of "Living Lab" on "The Point"

New England is on the front lines of human-caused climate change, with rising seas and more powerful storms eating away at coastlines, changing ocean conditions threatening fisheries, and increasingly extreme precipitation events. Massachusetts state law requires both reductions in greenhouse gas emissions and preparation for the unavoidable impacts of global warming. Now, nearly two hundred countries have signed a legally binding pact to address climate change. How do the plans compare? And what are the chances they’ll succeed?

 

Wednesday, August 3
7:00 PM
33 Washington Street

Members: Free
Non-members: $10

Parking in town lot

NSF-REU Students

This year’s six Astronomy Interns, will present the research projects that they have been working on this summer.  The Maria Mitchell Association’s REU internship program is sponsored by the National Science Foundation Research Experiences for Undergraduates (NSF-REU).  Around 200 students apply each year for this internship and only six are accepted.

Tuesday, August 9
7:00 PM
33 Washington Street

Members: Free
Non-members: $10

Parking in town lot

“High-Tech Learning for Individuals with Special Needs” with Sarah Brandt,

This talk will focus on how a variety of technologies can helpstudents with special needs reach their academic, social, and communicative potential. From communicating with devices controlled with the eyes, to making movies in a green screen lab, this presentation will address the exciting ways that students of all abilities can use technology and media to engage in learning.

 

Wednesday, August 10
7:00 PM
33 Washington Street

Members: Free
Non-members: $10

Parking in town lot

“Ecology and Invasion History of the Clinging Jellyfish Gonionemus vertens” with Dr. Annette Govindarajan, Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution Research Specialist

Dr. Annette Govindarajan will review the ecology and invasion history of the Clinging jellyfish Gonionemus vertens. New sightings and associated sting reports suggest a second invasion wave originating from the more toxic western Pacific populations.

 

Wednesday, August 17
7:00 PM
33 Washington Street

Members: Free
Non-members: $10

Parking in town lot

“Revealing the Mysteries of Galaxy Formation and Evolution” with Dr. Regina Jorgenson, MMA Director of Astronomy

Dr. Jorgenson will discuss her research using the largest optical telescopes in the world to find and study the first galaxies to form in the early Universe. These “baby galaxies” contain the bulk of hydrogen gas across cosmic time and are likely to be the progenitors of large spiral galaxies like our own Milky Way galaxy.

Wednesday, August 24
7:00 PM
33 Washington Street

Members: Free
Non-members: $10

“Human and Environmental Effects of Light at Night” with Dr. Mario E. Motta, Cardiologist at North Shore Medical Center and Partner at North Shore Cardiovascular Associates

All of humanity is awed by the spectacular night sky, but with ever increasing outdoor lighting, few in the world see the sky anymore in all its splendor. This has led to a movement to limit and control excessive outdoor lighting. In 2008, the WHO declared melatonin suppression from night lighting a cancer risk. Dr. Motta will explain the effects of light pollution and will describe best practices for the change over to efficient LED lighting.

Tuesday, August 30
7:00 PM
33 Washington Street

Members: Free
Non-members: $10

Parking in town lot

“What’s All the Buzz: Using Drones for Environmental Conservation” with Seth Engelbourg

This presentation will analyze the scientific applications of using unmanned aircraft systems (often referred to as drones or UAS) for environmental conservation purposes.

 

Wednesday, August 31

Members: Free
Non-members: $10

Parking in town lot

“Robotics and Education” with Dr. Jedediyah Williams, Mathematics Head and Instructor at Nantucket High School

Google bought up eight major robotics companies in 2013, so when will we be getting our robo-butlers? Williams will discuss the state of the art in robotics and why you don’t need to worry about technology rising up against us any time soon, probably. Additionally, he will discuss my work on the DARPA Robotics Challenge with Lockheed Martin, the NASA Sample Return challenge, and how he’s incorporated robotics into the classroom.

Wednesday, September 7
7:00 PM
33 Washington Street

Members: Free
Non-members: $10

Parking in town lot

“Beluga Whales, the Arctic, and Climate Change” with Dr. Tracy Romano, Vice President of Biological Research & Chief Scientist at Mystic Aquarium

Mystic Aquarium conducts research on belugas at the Aquarium to help answer questions about wild belugas and is conducting studies in three different places in the Arctic to study wild belugas and impacts on their health and behavior. The presentation will share these efforts and talk about what the future may hold for belugas and other inhabitants of the Arctic including the people who live there.

 

Wednesday, September 14
7:00 PM
33 Washington Street

Members: Free
Non-members: $10

Parking in town lot

“Nantucket Women - The Daring Daughters of Nantucket Island” with Jascin Leonardo Finger, MMA Deputy Director & Curator of the Mitchell House, Archives, and Special Collections

One of Jascin’s areas of research is Nantucket women in the 18th through 19th centuries and the factors that allowed them to live a life that their counterparts in the rest of America did not necessarily enjoy. In 2015, Jascin published a short book about her research on this subject and she will discuss the book, her research process, and some of the women highlighted in her book.

 

Wednesday, September 21
7:00 PM
33 Washington Street

Members: Free
Non-members: $10

Parking in town lot

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