Clarkson University Sets Virtual Science Cafes for Fall 2020

University professors and scientists will take to the virtual stage starting September 23rd for Clarkson University’s “Science Cafe.” 

Traditionally, Science Cafes have brought together local university and college professors and townspeople in relaxed, informal settings, such as coffeehouses and pubs. For the health and safety of all, we are shifting to a virtual platform for the fall series of talks. The speaker will make a short presentation about a topic in his or her field and, as always, there will be plenty of time for questions and discussion.

Please note that four of the talks will take place on Wednesdays (Sept. 23rd, Oct. 7th, Oct. 21st & Nov. 18th) and one will be on a Tuesday (Nov. 3rd).

Not familiar with virtual event participation? We will use ZOOM which allows participants to connect with or without ZOOM installed on your device. Use the link below to access the Zoom Help Center, which offers information, instructions and assistance to new Zoom users.

Zoom meeting links for each talk (required to access the meeting) will be sent to all past Science Cafe participants who shared their email addresses. If we do not have your email address and you would like to attend, please send your request or any questions to or visit for updates.

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

The Pharmacology of a Public Health Emergency

Wed., Sept. 23, 7:15 p.m.

Opioids provide one of the most effective means of pain relief, but instances of opioid overdose have claimed the lives of over 700,000 people in the U.S. in the last 20 years alone, and the annual mortality rate continues to climb. Despite over 100 years of research, during which the addictive nature of oxycodone was recognized as early as 1939, understanding of opioid pharmacology among clinical and public health professionals remains poor. In this talk, Professor Damien Samways (Biology, Clarkson) will attempt to demystify the pharmacology of opioids, explaining their effects on the central nervous system and how their relative potencies and ceiling effect maximums can be altered by changes in neuronal opioid receptor density.

How Is Wildlife Affected by Environmental Pollution?

Wed., Oct. 7, 7:15 p.m.

Since the Industrial Revolution, the level of various synthetic chemicals emitted and dispersed into the environment has dramatically increased. Trying to understand and predict the impacts of these chemicals in the environment, and particularly in wildlife species, is a big challenge. This knowledge could ultimately improve the regulatory system of chemicals and benefit the long-term survival of wildlife species. In this talk, Professor Beatrice Hernout (Institute for a Sustainable Environment/Biology, Clarkson) will present a case study looking at bats and the potential threat of pollution by metals. She will discuss the challenges and limitations of wildlife toxicology, in addition to its exciting future horizons!

New Hope for Solving Problems of Human Behavior

Wed., Oct. 21, 7:15 p.m.

Three things control your behavior: your genetic and physiological makeup inherited from your ancestors, everything you’ve ever experienced and your present circumstances. That’s all. There is no part of you or your behavior that can be free of those things. However, we tend not to think about our behavior and the behavior of others this way. What happens when we do? Join Professor Adam Fox (Psychology, St. Lawrence University) as he explains how thinking this way can result in meaningful social change and has already helped solve major behavioral problems, such as addiction. When we understand the true causes of behavior, we can change behavior — and solve the problems of human behavior that we face.

Phylogenomics, Biodiversity and Medicinal Plants

Tues., Nov. 3, 7:15 p.m.

 Flowering plants are the most diverse group among plants, with approximately 250,000 known species. People have relied on flowering plants for food, wood, fiber, medicine, decoration and landscaping throughout the ages. Join Professor Michelle Yoo (Biology, Clarkson) for a fascinating discussion of flowering plants and the efforts to better understand and protect their biodiversity. Yoo will describe recent progress in biodiversity research using the entire genome, or large portions of the genome (“phylogenomics”), and how this research explores new uses for medicinal plants. She will also explain how we can all contribute to biodiversity research through the iNaturalist website and app.

The Complex Reproductive Biology of North American Freshwater Mussels

Wed., Nov. 18, 7:15 p.m.

 Freshwater mollusks, one of the most imperiled taxa on the planet, are most diverse in North America. While trying to understand the reasons for their diversity and decline, malacologists have learned a lot about the reproductive biology of this obligate parasite. Freshwater mussels parasitize fish, and a few amphibians, during their larval stage, during which they undergo a complete anatomical metamorphosis while encysted on the host. In this talk, Professor Alan Christian (Biology, Clarkson) will focus on the patterns of host use and infection strategies employed by freshwater mussels.

The Science Café series is sponsored by Clarkson University’s School of Arts & Sciences.

Click here for a shareable link:

You Might Also Like