Clarkson University Sets Science Cafes for Fall in Potsdam and Canton

University professors will once again take to the stage starting Sept. 24 for Clarkson University’s “Science Cafe.”

Science Cafes bring together local university and college professors and townspeople in relaxed, informal settings, such as coffeehouses and pubs. The speaker makes a short presentation about a topic in his or her field and then opens up the floor to discussion.

All Canton Science Cafes will take place Tuesdays at 7:15 p.m. at the Best Western University Inn Rushton Room, 90 E. Main St. in Canton, N.Y.

All Potsdam Science Cafes will take place Wednesdays at 7:15 p.m. at the St. Lawrence Valley Roasters & Jernabi Coffeehouse, 11 Maple St. in Potsdam, N.Y.

Here’s a rundown of this spring’s topics and speakers:

The Patterns that Form Us

Canton: Tuesday, Sept. 24

Potsdam: Wednesday, Sept. 25

Looking around us we see biological patterns everywhere – patterns like spots, stripes, and honeycombs. Patterns like these are essential for animal camouflage and storing food – but the biological principles that underlie these patterns also help create our body shape and our organs’ function as we develop and grow.

Join Clarkson University Assistant Professor of Biology  Ginger Hunter for a look at some of nature’s patterns and how they are formed, including the genetics and molecular biology of pattern formation and their role in embryonic development.

She will also discuss some of her research into a particular pattern in the fruit fly, and what lessons can one learn about the role of patterning in human health and development.

Training our Frequencies: Lessons from a Chol Mayan Healing Ritual

Canton: Tuesday, Oct. 8

Potsdam: Wednesday, Oct. 9

Healing rituals have been widely studied by anthropologists since the 19th century. One of their most interesting aspects are the frequencies and repetition patterns that may play a role in the process of healing. How do they work, and how healers can reproduce these patterns?

SUNY Potsdam Assistant Professor of Modern Languages Sergio Lopez will discuss work about a Chol Maya ritual aimed at curing a woman of kisiñ, the “embarrassment-sickness,” whose skin suddenly broke out in bright red hives and rashes.

This case of a healing ritual leads to the possibility of thinking about human afflictions as a process of consolidation of habits, routines, and other type of patterns that shape our everyday life and might be externally modified. He will discuss how we might adopt or modify those frequencies and patterns to shape what we are.

The World of Schizophrenia

Canton: Tuesday, Oct. 22

Potsdam: Wednesday, Oct. 23

Schizophrenia is often viewed as a mysterious and severe disorder, one that cuts people off from reality and prevents communication and empathic understanding. But is this really the case? Research on the phenomenology, or lived experience, of schizophrenia shows us that there are many more aspects of the disorder than meet the eye.

The research of Clarkson University Assistant Professor of Psychology Liz Pienkos suggests that the disorder is not as incomprehensible as we might believe. Join her as she discusses findings from in-depth interviews and clinical work with people with schizophrenia.

Shaken, Stirred, or just Mixed up?

Canton: Tuesday, Nov. 5

Potsdam: Wednesday, Nov. 6

Some vodka, some vermouth, a quick shake, and James Bond can sip on his martini. But if Bond wanted his fresh peanut butter jar “shaken, not stirred”, he would wait a very long time to eat a PB&J. Why is that?

Clarkson University Assistant Mathematics Professor Marko Budišić will look into what makes some substances easy to mix, and others not. When mixing gets tough, as when kneading dough or stirring paint, mathematics can guide our hands to show us how to mix things quickly and efficiently.

Come hear Budišić as he introduces us to mixing, stirring, kneading, braiding, topology and chaos theory – mathematical topics one doesn’t encounter often – and guides us through them with a light and fun touch.

Charles Darwin, Abraham Lincoln, and the Evolution of Thinking about Enslaved People

Canton: Tuesday, Nov. 19

Potsdam: Wednesday, Nov. 20

Darwin’s Origin of Species arrived in America on the week John Brown was hanged, December 3, 1859, becoming immediately popular especially among American abolitionists – which President Abraham Lincoln was not, at the time.

Lincoln’s thinking about enslaved people, however, evolved throughout the Civil War until he came to concur with Darwin on the common humanity of peoples of color – for which Darwin had produced the first scientific proof.

Clarkson University Professor Emeritus of Humanities Jan Wojcik, a member of the local Civil War Roundtable and president of the board of trustees of Potsdam Public Museum, will present and lead a discussion of these fascinating events.

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