Research in Science Summer Program 2023 Seminar Series

All seminars begin at 12:00pm in Shanklin 107 unless otherwise specified. Snacks provided, please bring your own drinks. When possible summer seminars will be broadcast on Zoom

  • June 8: "The Death and Re-Birth of Planetary Systems"

    Jay Farihi, University College London

    Jay Farihi is a Professor of Astrophysics at University College London. He completed his PhD in Physics at the University of California Los Angeles while working on infrared astronomy and searching for brown dwarfs (objects between planets and stars). This was followed by postdoctoral positions at the Gemini North Observatory in Hawaii, and the University of Leicester. In 2012, he was one of the first recipients of the Ernest Rutherford Fellowship which he held at the Institute for Astronomy at the University of Cambridge. He joined the faculty at UCL soon thereafter, where he has continued to highlight the utility of white dwarf stars to understand a range of astrophysical problems. His interests include the formation and evolution of stars over the age of the Galaxy, the influence of binary and low-mass companions, as well as the assembly and fate of planetary systems.

    Host: Seth Redfield


    seminar-photo-brian-leahy.pngBrian Leahy, Harvard

    Sometimes it’s hard to figure out what the consequences of your decisions will be. Before making an important decision, you might want to take into account what you know and also what you don’t know. You need to consider how the world is and how it isn’t, and use those facts to guide your decision-making. But if there’s some important missing information, you should also consider the facts about what might and might not happen. Brian Leahy, a developmental psychologist who splits his time between Brown and MIT, studies how children make decisions in the face of multiple open possibilities, and how their decision-making changes with age. He holds two PhDs, one in philosophy (University of Connecticut) and one in psychology (Harvard). He was also a postdoc in linguistics (University of Konstanz). He has found striking deficits in preschoolers’ decision-making: when there is more than one open possibility, preschoolers identify one of the possibilities and treat it as the fact of the matter. They do not seem to understand, as an adult would, that their chosen possibility might and might not be real. How does adultlike reasoning develop? One hypothesis is that language plays a role: children learn to think better by learning to talk about possibilities. 

    Host: Anna Shusterman 

    "The wisdom of might: How children come to appreciate multiple possibilities"



  • June 22 (Zoom): Title TBA

    i-c-s.jpegIsaac Cervantes Sandoval, Georgtown University

    Host: Tere Padilla-Benavides


  • June 29 (Zoom): "Translational Research in Kidney Disease"

    kirk-cambell-seminar-photo.jpgKirk Campbell, Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai

    Dr. Kirk Campbell is the Irene and Dr. Arthur M. Fishberg Professor of Medicine in the Division of Nephrology, Professor of Pharmacological Sciences and Vice Chair of the Department of Medicine for Diversity, Equity and Inclusion at the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai. In addition to caring for patients with kidney disease, he leads a multidisciplinary research program focused on understanding mechanisms of kidney disease progression and clinical trials in the rare kidney disease space.

    Dr. Campbell is the President-Elect of the National Kidney Foundation. He is a Past-President of the New York Society of Nephrology and a member of the Board of Directors of the Nephcure Foundation. He is the recipient of a Distinguished Leader Award from the American Society of Nephrology and is an elected member of the American Society for Clinical Investigation. He is a member of the Editorial Boards of American Journal of Kidney Disease, Kidney360, Kidney International, Frontiers in Medicine and the American Journal of Physiology – Renal Physiology. 

    Dr. Campbell received his medical degree from the University of Connecticut, completed residency at Yale University and clinical nephrology and postdoctoral research training at Mount Sinai.

    Host: Tere Padilla-Benavides

  • July 6: Leveraging the interscalar potential of fossil foraminifera

    seminar-photo-bryant.pngRaquel Bryant, Wesleyan University

    Raquel Bryant is a paleoceanographer and micropaleontologist. Her research leverages microfossil and geochemical archives to understand how the ocean and its ecosystems respond to intervals of global warmth in the geologic past. She completed her BA in Geology and Biology at Brown University. She holds an MS and PhD in Geosciences from University of Massachusetts, Amherst where she was a Randolph and Cecile Bromery Graduate Fellow and an NSF Graduate Research Fellow. She completed postdoctoral training in the College of Geosciences at Texas A&M University as a Geosciences Future Faculty Fellow.

    Host: Seth Redfield

  • July 13: On bacteria, seaweed, and integrative science: lessons from my first paper

    seminar-photo-phil.pngPhil Arevalo, Wesleyan University

    Phil Arevalo, Assistant Professor of the Practice in Biology and The College of Integrative Sciences, is a computational microbiologist. He completed his BS in Applied Mathematics-Biology at Brown University and his PhD in Microbiology at MIT as an NSF Graduate Research Fellow. He continued his training as a Ruth L. Kirschstein Postdoctoral Fellow at the University of Chicago. His research interests include unraveling the evolutionary history of bacterial genomes and elucidating the interplay between infection history and immunity to evolving respiratory viruses.

    Abstract: What is process of co-authoring your first paper actually like? In this talk, I’ll tell you how that story played out for me while I was in graduate school. You’ll hear about some of the fun and not-so-fun twists and turns I and my collaborators faced, and how we overcame those obstacles to turn what seemed like a mess of data into a coherent narrative. Along the way, you’ll learn how we used a combination of computational biology, biochemistry, and microbiology to unravel how bacteria and Darwin’s finches are more alike than you might think.


  • July 20 (Zoom): "Bringing inorganic carbon to life: From new-to-nature carboxylases to artificial chloroplasts"

    seminar-photo-erb.jpgTobias Erb, Max Planck Institute for Terrestrial Microbiology

    Tobi Erb is synthetic biologist and Director at the Max Planck Institute for terrestrial Microbiology in Marburg, Germany. His team interfaces biology and chemistry and centers on the discovery, function and engineering of CO2-converting enzymes and pathways. Research in Erb’s lab crosses multiple scales: from the molecular mechanism of biological CO2-fixation to its ecological relevance, and from understanding the evolution of natural CO2-fixation to developing new-to-nature solutions, such as artificial chloroplasts. Tobi received several awards, among them the Heinz Maier-Leibnitz Award of the German Research Foundation, the Otto-Bayer-Award and the Merck Insight Future Prize, and is elected member of EMBO and the European Academy of Microbiology.

    Host: Erika Taylor

  • July 27: KEYNOTE LECTURE: Ruth Johnson

    ruth-keynote-photo.pngRuth Johnson, Wesleyan University

    Ruth Johnson is a developmental biologist who aims to understand how epithelial tissues develop in order to function correctly. The Johnson Laboratory uses the fruit fly (Drosophila melanogaster) eye and wing as models to explore the processes that direct the organization of tissues. These processes are also essential for the correct formation and function of our organs and are later reused in adult tissues – this time to maintain the correct organization and function of an organ. For example, orthologs of the protein Cindr (first described by Ruth Johnson) are essential to maintain the structure of our kidneys and have been implicated in cancer. Current work in the Johnson Laboratory focusses on understanding how changes in adhesion, the actin cytoskeleton and cell-signaling are coordinated to correctly organize functional organs.


    Organizing a tissue: lessons from Drosophila