Science Speaker Series

The 2020 Science Speaker Series will be held online. Each Wednesday at 7:00 pm, the MMA will host a science lecture via Zoom. The topics will vary across the sciences. Please keep checking back for updates in the schedule and for Zoom registration links.

Learn about our 2020 speakers below

Science Speaker Series

The 2020 Science Speaker Series will be held online. Each Wednesday at 7:00 pm, the MMA will host a science lecture via Zoom. The topics will vary across the sciences. Please keep checking back for updates in the schedule and for Zoom registration links.



Free

Jack Dubinsky Register

Lovely Oceans: A discussion of the fascinating reproductive biology and contemporary issues affecting procreation in marine organisms

Join Jack for a fascinating discussion about reproductive behaviors in the ocean. First, he will discuss the basics about reproduction in the ocean. Then he will look at the most romantic, dramatic, and bizarre case studies of reproductive strategies. Finally, he will discuss how human activity is affecting the success of procreation in important marine species.

A recording of Jack’s presentation can be found on our YouTube channel.

 

June 3
7PM-8PM
Zoom Webinar

Free

Why We’re Shutting Down STEM: A Movement to Fight Racism in Academia Register

We are pausing our Science Speaker Lecture Series for a week.

On Wednesday, June 10th, the global STEM community is ceasing all research activities for the day to work to educate ourselves on eliminating anti-Black racism and organizing towards real systemic change. Join staff of the Maria Mitchell Association for a presentation on the importance of #ShutDownSTEM and #Strike4BlackLives and a discussion on how each of us can commit to action. We suggest participants read the website prior to the event at: https://www.shutdownstem.com/

A recording of this presentation can be found on our YouTube channel.

 

June 10
7PM - 8PM
Zoom Webinar

Free

Meredith MacGregor Register

How to Form a Habitable Planet

Most young stars are surrounded by ‘circumstellar’ disks of gas and dust, the initial material for the formation of planets.  She will discuss how planetary systems form from these disks and evolve over millions to billions of years, with a focus on what conditions might create a ‘habitable’ planet.  The Atacama Large Millimeter/submillimeter Array (ALMA) located in Chile has revolutionized our ability to study planet formation.  For the first time, we can see baby planets forming in circumstellar disks, and watch as they sculpt their surroundings through gravitational interactions.  She will also discuss what other factors impact the habitability of planets, including the effect of space weather produced by the host star.  In the future, the development of new telescopes presents an exciting path towards understanding our Solar System, its formation and evolution, and its place in the universe of exoplanet systems.

Biography: Meredith MacGregor is an assistant professor at the University of Colorado Boulder in the Department of Astrophysical and Planetary Sciences. She also serves as the Co-Chair of the NASA Infrared Science Interest Group. Previously, she was a NSF Astronomy and Astrophysics Postdoctoral Fellow at the Carnegie Institution for Science after finishing her PhD at Harvard University. Back in 2009, Dr. MacGregor was an intern as part of the Maria Mitchell Astronomy REU program! Dr. MacGregor’s research program leverages multi-wavelength observations to explore the formation and potential habitability of planetary systems.

A recording of this presentation can be found on our YouTube channel.

June 17, 2020
7:00-8:00 PM

Free

Jay Chittidi Register

Strange Signals and a Cosmic Conundrum: Using Fast Radio Bursts to Uncover the Universe’s Hidden Matter.

Nearly every ten seconds, an explosion occurs somewhere in our Universe lasting only a millisecond but with more energy than our Sun puts out in a day. In this talk, Jay will explain how astronomers are using these mysterious explosions, known as fast radio bursts, to solve a separate enigma – where is the missing matter in our Universe?

Jay Chittidi is the Nantucket Maria Mitchell’s Association’s first Research Fellow and has worked on island with Dr. Regina Jorgenson as part of a new, post-baccalaureate program. Jay graduated from Vassar College in 2019 with a degree in astronomy and was an MMA REU intern in the summer of 2018. In the Fall, Jay will be pursuing a PhD at the University of Colorado Boulder.

Jay recently led the MMA in publishing a paper of the ground-breaking results of his work with Dr. Jorgenson in collaboration with researchers at the University of California, Santa Cruz and many others around the world. This research is supported by a National Science Foundation grant.

A recording of Jay’s presentation can be found on our YouTube channel.

June 24
7:00-8:00 pm
Zoom

Free

JJ Hermes Register

“When the Referee Lets You Name Your Stars.”  

Digital surveys have mapped the positions of most stars in our night sky down to a limit roughly 100 million times fainter than can be seen by the unaided eye. It is therefore rare for astronomers to “discover” new stars. However, unraveling new classes of stars by grouping similar types of objects connected by a physical phenomenon happens often at the cutting edge of astronomy. I will discuss the joys (and pitfalls) of naming new classes of stars by focusing on a recent discovery: stellar remnants that were once in a close pair of binary system but have recently been slung-shot out of the Galaxy after a disruptive supernova explosion.

Dr. Hermes is an assistant professor in the Department of Astronomy at Boston University, focused on high-precision observations of the endpoints of stars, planets, and binary systems. Before moving to Boston in 2019, he was a Hubble Fellow at UNC Chapel Hill, an ERC postdoctoral fellow at the University of Warwick in central England, and he completed a Ph.D. at the University of Texas at Austin. He has also worked as a journalist, served as editor-in-chief of The Daily Texan in 2007, and worked as a reporter for The Chronicle of Higher Education in Washington, D.C.

A recording of this presentation can be found on our YouTube channel.

July 1
7:00-8:00 PM
Zoom

Free

Dr. Jennifer Karberg Register

On July 8, 2020 at 7:00 pm, Dr. Jennifer Karberg of the Nantucket Conservation Foundation will give a virtual lecture entitled, “Nantucket Coastal Resilience: Importance and Function of Natural Buffers.” The talk will be held via Zoom.

The island of Nantucket is at the forefront of climate change and sea level rise impacts anticipated in the next few decades. But the island is also benefiting from local research and innovation on ways to adapt to these impacts. The natural beauty and resources of the island are one of the unique aspects that draws people to Nantucket and they are also one of the resources that will help buffer and protect the island from climate change impacts. This talk will explore the ecological function and benefits of Nantucket’s natural coastal buffers, particularly salt marshes and coastal dunes, as well as opportunities for innovating and enhancing these buffers to protect key low lying coastal areas. Learn about local research and restoration aimed at improving salt marsh function, exploring living shorelines and the potential for blue carbon to mitigate climate change.

Dr. Jen Karberg is the Research Program Supervisor for the Nantucket Conservation Foundation and oversees the multi-faceted research program of the Foundation. Jen’s personal research interests include fresh and salt water wetland ecology and restoration, climate change and coastal resiliency, rare plant ecology and disturbance ecology. Initially from the mid-west, Jen studied first plant ecology at the University of Michigan for undergrad and then obtained advanced degrees from Michigan Technological University in wetland ecology and rare species conservation genetics. In her 12 years on island, Jen has been the co-chair of the Nantucket Biodiversity Initiative Research Conference, served on the Nantucket Conservation Commission, and various boards of the Society of Wetland Scientists. Jen is currently representing NCF on the Nantucket Coastal Resilience Advisory Committee and is Chair of the Women in Wetland’s section of the Society of Wetland Scientists.

A recording of this presentation can be found on our YouTube channel.

July 8
7:00-8:00 PM

Free

Dr. Melania Nynka Register

Satellites and Science: Building, Launching, and Using the NuSTAR X-ray Observatory
Do you know what it takes to build a space-based telescope?  Dr. Nynka will share her behind-the-scenes experience as part of a team that helped construct the high-energy NuSTAR telescope and its exciting launch into orbit.  She will describe the unique capabilities of X-ray telescopes, their challenges, and the fascinating details NuSTAR is able to reveal of the center of our own Milky Way galaxy.
Dr. Nynka is a Research Scientist at the MIT Kavli Institute for Astrophysics and Space Research. She completed her Ph.D. at Columbia University in New York in 2012 and was a Trottier Postdoctoral Researcher at the McGill Space Institute in Montreal before moving to the Boston area in 2018.  As a grad student she helped build and launch the NuSTAR telescope.  Since then, she has been using various X-ray satellites to observe compact objects, supernova remnants, and the Galactic Center.
7/15/2020
8:00 PM

Free

REU Student Astronomy Research

Astronomy Research Presentation 

Come and listen to the MMA’s astronomy students as they present their research conducted while taking part in this summer’s Research Experience for Undergraduates internship program funded by the National Science Foundation.

Please check back for the Zoom link.

August 5
7PM - 8PM
Zoom Webinar

Free

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