Archive for February 2016

February 29 – March 4, 2016

Monday, February 29

Psychology Student Presentations
Interim in Inda
4:00 pm, RNS 210

MSCS Colloquium – Design considerations and alternatives for clinical trials of medical devices
Ted Lystig ’93 Director, Corporate Biostatistics at Medtronic
A recent high-profile series of hypertension trials provides an intriguing setting for a conversation around trial design issues for medical devices.  I will provide an overview of the therapy area and published trials, and then move to a discussion of various study options that were considered as subsequent candidate trials.  I’ll then discuss the operational properties of the designs, and talk about why they matter.  The presentation as a whole helps to illustrate how quantitative training can better prepare you to contribute in important, sometimes unexpected ways as a working professional.  Coursework in statistics is not necessary to follow the talk, but would allow you to appreciate more of the details.
3:15pm Cookies and Conversation; 3:30-4:30 P.M., RNS 310

Tuesday, March 1

Seminar: RNS 150 7pm

StoMols Speaker

Wednesday, March 2

Physics Colloquium 
Neutron Stars as a Laboratory
Demian Cho, Assistant Professor of Physics, St. Mary’s University-Winona, Minnesota
2:00 pm, RNS 210

Thursday, March 3

Seminar: Title
Speaker name and title
Time, Room

Friday, March 4

Chemistry Seminar: Designing peptides with non-natural residues to inhibit therapeutically-relevant protein-protein interactions
James Checco, ’10 Alumni

Peptides that bind specifically to protein surfaces can be useful as mediators of therapeutically-relevant protein-protein interactions or as diagnostic tools for disease marker detection. However, conventional peptides, comprised exclusively of the 20 proteinogenic α-amino acid residues (“α-peptides”), are rapidly degraded in biological systems by protease enzymes. The low half-life of α-peptides in vivo significantly limits the scope of their therapeutic use. Backbone-modified peptides that contain a mixture of α-residues and non-natural β-residues (which contain two carbon atoms in their backbone) can effectively mimic the structure and function of natural peptides. Such “α/β-peptides” can show high affinity and selectivity for target proteins and are less susceptible to proteolytic degradation than are α-peptides. This research develops a general strategy to design α/β-peptides that selectively target diverse and topologically-complex protein surfaces, such as the receptor-binding surface of vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF), a mediator of angiogenesis that plays a major role in several diseases.

3:00 Refreshments, 3:15 Seminar, RNS390

February 22 – 26, 2016

February 22 – 26, 2016


Monday, February 22

Seminar: Biology Seminar RNS 410 4:00 PM Interim Adventures!

0216 Interim adventures

MSCS Colloquium: Measuring the Shape of Data with Topology
Lori Ziegelmeier, Assistant Professor of Mathematics at Macalester College
Data of various kinds is being collected at an enormous rate, and in many different forms. Often, the data is equipped with a notion of distance that reflects similarity in some sense. Using this distance measure, certain topological features–e.g. the number of connected components, loops, and trapped volumes–can be ascertained and provide insight into the structure of these complex data sets. In this talk, I will introduce a fundamental tool of topological data analysis, namely persistent homology. Then, we will explore examples of using this tool in the applications of (1) detecting chemical plumes in hyperspectral movies and (2) developing a new representation of this topological information.
3:30 – 4:30, RNS 310; the conversation with snacks and cookies starts at 3:15pm.

MSCS hosting Google visits
Ethics at Google – Google engineers, Ken Shrum and Maggie Wanek 15′.
Computing ethics is a top story in the news again, this time about a San Bernadino cell phone.  But in fact, we all provide personal data about ourselves just about any time we use networked computing.  Data in the cloud enables ever-improving services ranging from better search and social-media features to automated language translation, sound analysis, and image recognition;  it could also expose quite individual information about ourselves.  How does Google tailoring results to individuals while at the same time respecting their privacy?  And how do these issues relate to St. Olaf’s CS curriculum?
7:00 p.m., RNS 203

Tuesday, February 23

MSCS Hosting Google visit: Technical Development for Software Engineers
Google engineers, Ken Shrum and Maggie Wanek 15′.
Getting a job offer as a software engineer occurs at a specific time, but a person’s technical development for that career begins years before.  This talk will focus on steps you can take to prepare yourself for engineer positions at a company like Google, including the foundation of St. Olaf’s liberal-arts CS courses, complementing academics with internship experiences along the way, and awareness of what technical interviewers expect you to know and the kinds of questions they might ask.
7:00 p.m., RNS 203.

Wednesday, February 24

No Seminars

Thursday, February 25

No Seminars

Friday, February 26

Chemistry Seminar: Understand flavor release using this one weird trick
Maggie Jilek, M.S. Doctoral Candidate, Flavor Research & Education Center, University of Minnesota
3:00 p.m., RNS 390

February 15 – 19, 2016

Monday, February 15

MSCS Colloquium: When less is more: mathematical models explain surprisingly low parasitism rates for a Finnish wasp.
Katie Montovan,assistant professor of mathematics at Bennington College in Vermont.
Imagine you are a wasp that parasitizes butterfly eggs, and that you have found a cluster of 200 host eggs that are ready and not parasitized. Why would you choose (or evolve genetic behavior) to parasitize less than all of the eggs? This is a puzzling question, but add to it that the wasp avoids previously parasitized clusters and the motivation seems downright bizarre. In this talk, I will develop a set of plausible reasons it might be better for the wasp, Hyposoter horticola, to parasitize only a third of each host egg cluster it encounters. I will then explain how we used mathematical models and field and lab studies to test each hypothesis and rule out all but one theory in order to explain this behavior.
3:15 cookies and conversation, 3:30 Colloquium,  RNS 310

Tuesday, February 16

MSCS Research Seminar: Using mathematical modeling to understand animal behavior.
Katie Montovan,assistant professor of mathematics at Bennington College in Vermont.
Mathematical modeling, simulation, and analysis are valuable tools for answering biological questions about evolution, self-organization, and complex ecosystem interactions. For each biological question the appropriate mathematical tools must be carefully employed in order to produce meaningful results. In this talk I will present several of my recent projects to illustrate the process of taking a biological problem and making it into a mathematical one, the mathematics used to answer the question, and the biological meaning of the results. I will discuss self-organization in honeybees, evolved behaviors in parasitic wasps and potato beetles, and complex population dynamics in coral reef ecosystems.
1:30pm, RNS 206

Wednesday, February 17

Physics Seminar: Testing the Standard Model and Searching for the Dark Side Using Atomic Physics
Holger Müller, Assistant Professor of Physics, University of California, Berkeley
2:00 pm in RNS 210

MSCS Colloquium:  Stochastic Population Dynamics.
Eric Eager, assistant professor at the University of Wisconsin – La Crosse.
Environmental and demographic stochasticity impact the dynamics of all biological populations.  Environmental stochasticity, spatiotemporal fluctuations in life history originating from variability in factors such as precipitation, temperature and nutrient availability, generally acts similarly on individuals within similar age and/or stage classes.  Demographic stochasticity, originating from the variability in demographic events such a survival, growth and reproduction, acts on similar individuals in different, unpredictable ways.  While a complete analysis of population dynamics will acknowledge both sources of variability, different mathematical tools are needed to understand the effects of these distinct forms of stochasticity.  In this talk we use various techniques from probability theory to study simple population models incorporating both environmental and demographic stochasticity.    
3:15pm cookies and conversation, 3:30pm Colloquium, RNS 310

Thursday, February 18

MSCS Research Seminar: Modeling, Analysis and Simulation of a Stochastic Population Model for a Disturbance Specialist Plant Population and its Seed Bank.
Eric Eager, assistant professor at the University of Wisconsin – La Crosse.
Stochastic models are essential to understanding the population dynamics of plant species that use delayed reproduction to combat environmental uncertainty.  One such species is wild sunflower (Helianthus annuus), which is a disturbance specialist plant – its seeds do not germinate in the absence of soil disturbance. These soil disturbances can be modeled as a stochastic process, which gives rise to a nonlinear stochastic integral projection model for the population density of H. annuus and its seed bank. In this talk I derive and analyze this model, and show that it predicts population dynamics that converge to an invariant probability measure either completely concentrated on the extinction state or completely excluding the extinction state. I will then show through simulation studies the sensitivity of this measure to changes to the soil disturbance profile.
11:30am – 12:30pm, RNS 206

Friday, February 19

No Seminars

February 8 – 12, 2016

Monday, February 8

Please join many of the Biology faculty with CURI research positions for the summer will be presenting brief (about 5 minutes each) pitches about their research projects. Also, many  faculty will be available to talk to interested students for a bit after the seminar.
4:00 p.m., in RNS410 – to hear about these research opportunities.

Tuesday, February 9

No Seminars

Wednesday, February 10

No Seminars

Thursday, February 11

No Seminars

Friday, February 12

Chemistry Seminar  
Brooke Reaser ’12, University of Washington
Talk: Non-targeted determination of 13C-labeled metabolites using gas chromatography time-of-flight mass spectrometry (GC-TOFMS) and principal component analysis (PCA)

3:00pm, RNS 310