Archive for March 2016

March 28 – April 1, 2016

Monday, March 28

No Seminars

Tuesday, March 29

No Seminars

Wednesday, March 30

Psychology/Neuroscience Cannon Callosum seminar: What tamarins can tell us about the uniqueness of us 
Dr. Julie Neiworth, Professor of Psychology, Carleton College. This event is intended to potentiate the connectivity between the neuroscience communities at Carleton and St. Olaf.
6:30 pm, Black and Gold Ballrooms

Humans evolved to express behaviors very different from our close relatives, the great apes, in terms of our development, our cooperative care of children, and our means for food getting, which typically relies heavily on cooperation and prosocial helping. Cotton top tamarins are one of a very few number of primate species which also breeds cooperatively. If cooperative breeding relies upon prosociality and unusual social/cognitive traits, then we might expect to find similar social thinking in these two disparate species. A sampling of studies from our lab outlines the similarities and differences in neural processing, cognition, and social thought we have discovered between humans and tamarins. These findings suggest ways in which humans evolved to be uniquely different from other primate species, and ways in which tamarins may serve as a viable animal model for brain and behavior processing in humans.​

Physics Colloquium: Subsurface Waves in the Oceans and Lake Superior
Sam Kelly, Assistant Professor, Large Lakes Observatory and Dept. of Physics, University of Minnesota Duluth
3:30 pm, RNS 210

Thursday, March 31

No Seminars

Friday, April 1

Seminar: Breaking Strong Bonds and Recovering Rare Earths: Adventures in Sustainable Chemistry
Marion H. Emmert, Worcester Polytechnic Institute, Departments of Chemistry & Biochemistry, Chemical & Mechanical Engineering

Catalysis is one of the most powerful tools of green chemistry, enabling reactions with lower energy consumption and providing new pathways for bond formations. In particular, catalytically functionalizing C-O bonds (common in biomass) under mild conditions are critical reactions to enable more sustainable chemical methodologies. Our approach towards addressing these challenges focuses on establishing a mechanistic understanding in order to translate this knowledge into broadly useful protocols for organic synthesis and biomass activation.

At the end of the materials lifecycle, inventing new technologies to provide sustainable sources of raw materials through recycling is another critical challenge for the movement towards a circular economy. Our efforts in this area take an approach similar to our developments in the area of catalysis: Based on understanding principles and mechanisms of materials flows, we use the principles of green chemistry to enable the design of novel, sustainable rare earth recovery technologies.

3:00 pm refreshments, 3:15 pm seminar, RNS 310

March 14 – 18, 2016

Monday, March 14

MSCS Colloquium: Estimating temporal associations in electrocorticographic (ECoG) time series
Haley Hedlin, ’06, Ph.D Senior Biostatistician, Stanford Medicine
Granger causality (GC) is a statistical technique used to estimate temporal associations in multivariate time series.  Many applications and extensions have been proposed since its formulation by Granger in 1969.  Here we apply Granger causality in the context of electrocorticography (ECoG), also known as intracranial electroencephalography.  A pruning approach to remove spurious connections and simultaneously reduce the required number of estimations to fit the functional connectivity graph is proposed. This approach overcomes limitations encountered when estimating many parameters in multivariate time series data, an increasingly common predicament in today’s brain mapping studies.
3:30pm, RNS 310 – Individual mini-pies will be served in celebration of  Pi Day with conversation at 3:15pm.

Biology Seminar: Scavenger – how a starving bacterium takes up scarce nutrients.
Professor Lisa Bowers
Caulobacter crescentus is a species of bacteria that lives in water everywhere. It’s well known as a scavenger due to its ability to take up scarce nutrients. It has many
interesting adaptations that allow it to thrive in low nutrient environments, including an unusually large group of surface proteins called TonB-dependent receptors (TBDRs) that
actively bind and transport nutrients into the cell. For a long time, TBDRs were thought to transport only iron complexes and Vitamin B12 but now we know iron and B12
represent just the tip of the iceberg. Recent studies have identified many novel substrates yet most of Caulobacter’s 65 TBDRs are still uncharacterized. What are the
other TBDRs doing? We are investigating a subset of TBDRs and are hot on the trail as we test our hypotheses with RT-qPCR, gene knockouts, and growth assays.
4:00 PM, RNS 410

Tuesday, March 15

No Seminars

Wednesday, March 16

Physics Colloquium: Subsurface Waves in the Oceans and Lake Superior
Sam Kelly, Assistant Professor, Large Lakes Observatory and Dept. of Physics, University of Minnesota Duluth
2:00 pm, RNS 210

MSCS – The Pi Mu Epsilon Spring lecture: Matrix Factorizations and Singularities of Hypersurfaces
Kosmos Diveris, Assistant Professor of Mathematics, St. Olaf College.
Algebraic geometers study geometric objects defined by polynomial equations, like the unit sphere in R3 which is defined by x 2+y 2+z 2 = 1. A lot of interesting geometry is encoded in algebraic properties of these polynomials. In this talk we will discuss what factoring of polynomials can tell us about geometric objects, and explain how one can “factor” irreducible polynomials using matrices. These matrix factorizations, introduced by David Eisenbud in 1980, play a central role in the study of singularities of hypersurfaces and are an active area of research today.
4pm, RNS 208 – Shamrock Shakes will be served at 3:45pm.

Thursday, March 17

No Seminars

Friday, March 18

No Seminars

This Week in Science – March 7 – 11, 2016

Monday, March 7

Psychology Allport Award Speaker
Your brain on music: Exploring the relationships between music and diverse cognitive functions.  
Dr. Belfi ’10, Ph.D. in Neuroscience from the University of Iowa, and is currently a Postdoctoral Associate at New York University.
7:00 p.m., Regents Hall 150

MSCS Research Seminar”
Combinatorics of standard Young tableaux
Michael Chmutov, NSF postdoctoral fellow at the University of Minnesota.
Standard Young tableaux are elementary, combinatorial objects which arise naturally in abstract algebra (specifically in representation theory of the permutation groups). We will discuss two interesting results; one is the hook-length formula which allows us to compute the number of standard Young tableaux, and the other is the bijection between permutations and pairs of standard Young tableaux called the Robinson-Schensted correspondence. There are no prerequisites for this talk since the statements are completely elementary, however having had a group theory course may help with the motivation.
3:30pm, RNS 300 (3:15 cookies and conversation)

Tuesday, March 8

No Seminars

Wednesday, March 9

No Seminars

Thursday, March 10

No Seminars

Friday, March 11

Chemistry Seminar: Non-equilibrium processes:  Novel techniques for highly efficient combustion and the role of laser diagnostics in providing physical insight
Dr. James MichaelAssistant Professor, Iowa State University, Department of Mechanical Engineering

Non-equilibrium processes play important roles in processes ranging from chemical processing to plasma-assisted combustion and control.  Common themes among these processes include the importance of the disparate timescales involved, the role of excited-state species, and multiphase interactions.  This talk focuses on several novel approaches of plasma-assisted combustion and the non-equilibrium dynamics involved.  Plasma-assisted combustion offers the potential to expand the operating ranges of internal combustion and propulsion devices with efficient, tailored deposition of energy while improving efficiency.  Several techniques are discussed: (1) the interaction of pulsed microwave radiation with hydrocarbon flame fronts, (2) ignition via strong coupling between low intensity microwaves and ultrafast laser-generated ionization, and (3) enhanced combustion rates in solid propellants through coupling with alkali-metal generated ionization.  Direct plasma generation in these environments allows ultra-lean combustion for increased engine efficiency, as well as improved combustion control for gas and solid-phase combustion applications.  In studying these non-equilibrium environments, linear and non-linear laser diagnostics are powerful tools allowing direct interrogation of the thermodynamic state.  These techniques have led to improved understanding of underlying physical mechanisms common to non-equilibrium and multiscale phenomena, including turbulent combustion and plasma-enhanced processes.  Applications and developments of these laser spectroscopic techniques are discussed in relation to the understanding of energy transfer in non-equilibrium environments.
3:00 p.m. refreshments,  seminar will begin at 3:15 p.m., RNS 310