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Dean's Lecture Series Abstracts
2014 Dean's Lecture Series
Tuesday 11th March, 2014
Birds' Eye View
Dr Susan Ellis-Felege, Department of Biology
Cameras are used widely to research and monitor wildlife populations. Advancements in camera technology have increased capabilities and reduced costs of equipment allowing more biologically significant large scale studies to occur. At the same time digital data acquisition is greatly outpacing processing capabilities that allow for efficient use of the information in conservation and management recommendations. Nowhere is this more apparent than in the field of avian ecology where nest cameras are becoming a common tool to study bird behaviors and nesting events. Nest cameras have provided important information about nest success, nest predator identification, incubation patterns, nesting behaviors, and implications of land use changes and management actions on nesting ecology. At UND, we are conducting large-scale studies of avian nesting ecology that are generating massive datasets, while at the same time exploring more efficient methods to rapidly filter through this data deluge. For example, we are studying sharp-tailed grouse (Tympanuchus phasianellus) in western North Dakota to understand impacts of gas and oil development on predator-prey interactions and general nesting behaviors of this important grassland bird. In addition, we are evaluating accuracy of monitoring methods and impacts of human disturbances on the federally endangered least tern (Sternula antillarum) and federally threatened piping plover (Charadrius melodus) on the Missouri River. These video datasets are the cornerstone of a citizen science project called Wildlife@Home where a team of UND wildlife researchers and computer scientists have joined forces to streamline the video analysis portion of this research to answer conservation questions in avian ecology. Our web-based citizen science project incorporates nest cameras, crowd sourcing where people volunteer to watch videos, and volunteer computing where people volunteer computers to assist in running computational algorithms employing computer vision techniques. This novel application of infrastructure is not only allowing us to answer complex ecological questions, but also to educate the public on conservation issues and provide a basis for future video imagery analysis.
2013 Dean's Lecture Series
Tuesday, March 5th, 2013
Unmanned Aircraft: Turning Potential into Reality
Dr Mark Askelson, Atmospheric Sciences
Unmanned Aircraft (UA) hold tremendous promise for providing social benefit. Potential applications range from humanitarian—search and rescue missions, monitoring conditions during emergencies (both man-made and naturally occurring), delivering medicine to remote areas—to economic—advancing precision agriculture, pipeline monitoring, real-estate, etc.—to research—measuring conditions in relatively dangerous locations like thunderstorms, volcanic eruptions, etc.—to military—monitoring troop movements, etc. While many potential military applications have been realized, the use of UA in other areas has been limited owing to multiple barriers. The primary barrier is safety. Because UA are fundamentally different from manned aircraft, they exhibit different performance and capability characteristics relative to manned aircraft. These include, for instance, airworthiness and sense and avoid capabilities. Another barrier is privacy. Because UA are such efficient tools for gathering information, privacy concerns have arisen. Despite these barriers, members in many communities, including aviation, atmospheric sciences, computer science, engineering, law and law enforcement, physics, and psychology have been driven by the potential social benefits of UA to overcome them. Here, efforts at UND to overcome these barriers, which have generally been interdisciplinary in nature, will be discussed. One of the exciting aspects of these efforts, which range from sense and avoid challenges (e.g, the Limited Deployment-Cooperative Airspace Project) to redesigning training programs for UA, is the partnerships that they have engendered both within UND and between UND and external agencies. These partnerships, which have been facilitated by UND leadership and the UND Center for UAS Research, Education, and Training, have enabled UND to lend its strengths to overcoming national-scale barriers to realizing the benefits UA can provide.
Wednesday, March 6th, 2013
The Evolution of the Scholarly Journal: Digital Convergence and Broader Impacts
Dr Timothy Pasch, Communication Program, Department of English
The term Broader Impacts is used by various national granting agencies as one of the principal review criterion for evaluating the quality of a researcher's plan for disseminating knowledge.
Print-based reporting of scholarly findings in journals is still the generally accepted standard for the dissemination of much research.
For academics, the scholarly journal has for centuries been a primary mechanism for sharing knowledge, yet as communicative technologies develop, we are at a crossroads in terms of the evolution of academic journals.
Even Digital Journals in many cases consist of digital simulacra of print-based journals, made up primarily of words and (in some cases) images embedded on a static page.
Although the ability to read scholarly journals on a variety of hardware devices (tablets, laptops, mobile devices) provides a good deal of flexibility, the actual process of reading the scholarly printed word and viewing images on a page still dates back to technologies used in some of the very first scholarly journals in the 17th century.
This talk then, will focus on actual and potential ramifications of the evolution of the scholarly journal for broader impacts.
In particular, it focuses on a brief history of the scholarly journal, followed by current models, and progressing through future potentialities for sharing research and creative work more effectively and immersively than by means of the printed word alone.
2011 Dean's Lecture Series
Wednesday, October 26th, 2011
Examining Conflict between Work and Family
Dr Krista Lynn Minnotte, Department of Sociology
The past several decades have witnessed the large scale entrance of women into the paid labor force. Workplaces have failed to keep up with this change, leading many people to struggle with conflicts between work and family. These conflicts are bi-directional in nature, with each domain at times interfering with performance in the other. A large scholarship has blossomed that explores the causes and detrimental outcomes associated with conflicts between work and family. Scholars have also sought to identify mechanisms that can either reduce such conflicts or minimize their effects.
Dr. Minnotte’s presentation sheds light on the importance of work-family conflicts for outcomes including marital satisfaction and perceived parental success. Dr. Minnotte also discusses the promise and limitations of proposed solutions to work-family conflicts, such as workplace social support and flexible scheduling. A focus is placed on both the effectiveness of and unequal access to these solutions.
Wednesday 9 March, 2011
Aerosol, Clouds and Climate
Jianglong Zhang, Department of Atmospheric Sciences
Aerosol particles suspended in the atmosphere represent one of the most critical yet least understood factors for climate change studies. Aerosol particles alter the earth's climate directly by reflecting and absorbing solar and terrestrial energy, and indirectly by modifying cloud properties, including cloud lifetimes and precipitation processes. Aerosols are also important for air quality and visibility, and civil agencies are often tasked with monitoring conditions in real-time in order to ensure public health and safety standards are maintained. Observing aerosols and their regional and global transport is now extensively studied through combined satellite and ground-based remote sensing, and numerical models are being generated by many global weather agencies to forecast conditions worldwide.
In this presentation, aerosol particles from both natural and anthropogenic sources and their effects on climate are introduced. Aerosol and cloud interactions are described, and current topics of extensive aerosol/climate focus will be discussed. In particular, recent advances in aerosol studies from both observational and modeling perspectives will be highlighted and the performance of current satellite aerosol observational techniques will be explained. Finally, recent improvements to global aerosol transport forecasting systems, led by Dr. Zhang, through the assimilation of near real time observations into numerical models will be shown.
2010 Dean's Lecture Series
Tuesday March 9, 2010
Education as the Avatar of Sustainability?
Richard Kahn , Department of Educational Foundations and Research
"Twaddle, rubbish, and gossip is what people want, not action....
The secret of life is to chatter freely about all one wishes to do
and how one is always being prevented and then do nothing."
Sustainability is fast becoming a defining buzzword of our current moment. As scholars, we increasingly bear witness to the greening of the academy. Campuses everywhere now trumpet their institutional commitment to realizing smaller carbon or ecological footprints, and fields such as environmental science are growing in disciplinary power. As citizens, corporations and politicians routinely bombard us with messages of sustainable development as a guiding policy norm; and our consumer lives have begun to steadily take on the appearance of being informed by a sustainability ethos whether it is through the purchase of hybrid vehicles, organic foodstuffs, energy-efficient light bulbs, non-toxic housecleaning solutions, or socially responsible investment portfolios. Still, we live in a time of unprecedented planetary ecocrisis, a period that poses the serious and burgeoning threat of mass extinction and widespread social disaster across the globe. The writer H. G. Wells once remarked, History is a race between education and catastrophe. If the finish line is our sustainable future, could it be that we presently are on course to finish last? In consideration of this question, my talk will offer some general remarks about the need to conceive of sustainability as beyond technical solutions and as a moral challenge that demands the radical reconstruction of education and society.
Wednesday March 10, 2010
Genomic Approaches to Identify Insect Resistance Genes in Poplar Trees
Steven G. Ralph, Department of Biology
Concurrent with the ever increasing demand for wood-based products, there is an obvious need to conserve forest ecosystems for their ecological value. Recent research suggests that these potentially competing objectives can be achieved by increasing or tailoring the productivity of planted forests through the use of biotechnology. Unfortunately, this strategy could be hindered by forest insect pests that pose a challenge to the sustainability of planted forests. While advancing genetic improvement or domestication of tree species for productivity in plantation forestry, it is critical that we also identify tree genes controlling resistance and/or tolerance mechanisms against insect pests. In this regard, poplar (Populus spp.) has emerged as the model angiosperm tree to investigate forest tree-insect interactions. In recent years a number of studies have harnessed the power of genomics to generate extensive inventories of genes that are involved in the defense response of poplar following insect attack. However, despite these advances, the challenge remains to link insect feeding-induced changes in gene expression with altered resistance or tolerance to insect attack. Does induced expression of individual genes directly contribute to insect resistance or is induced expression simply correlated with the timing of the defense response? We are addressing this question using a forward genetics approach that involves screening activation tagged poplar populations for resistance to defoliating insects, followed by molecular, biochemical and genomic analysis of candidate insect resistance genes. Identification of these genes will advance fundamental knowledge on perennial plant defense mechanisms and will provide critical targets to incorporate into tree breeding programs to engineer superior trees for the forest industry.
2009 Dean's Lecture Series
Wednesday March 11, 2009
Five Years at an Ancient Harbor in Cyprus - New Perspectives on an Ancient Landscape
Bill Caraher, Department of History
The Pyla-Koutsopetria Archaeological Project (PKAP) began work in the coastal zone of Pyla in Cyprus in 2003. Our initial exploration of the area revealed a massive coastal site extending for over 1 km along the coastal plain. We quickly recognized that this site was remarkable both on account of its coastal position and its size and complexity. Moreover, we became aware that the previous archaeological work in the area had only reveal small and isolated sections of the diverse array of archaeological remains present. Consequently, beginning in 2004, the PKAP initiated a systematic, multi-tiered investigation of the microregion designed to understand the historical development of the in its political, economic, and cultural context. Using the tools of intensive pedestrian survey, remote sensing of various kinds, and targeted excavation, we produced a robust assemblage of material capable of answering numerous questions about the history, function, and chronology of the site.
This fieldwork confirmed that people occupied our corner of Cyprus from at least as early as the Late Bronze Age (ca. 1200 BC) and fortified parts of the site during the Archaic to Hellenistic period (700 BC-BC 300). The site, however, flourished during Late Antiquity (AD400-600) when it reached its greatest extent and included monumental religious architecture, fine imported ceramics, and a significant functional diversity across. At this time, sprawled for over a kilometer along the Cypriot coast producing a scatter of material considerably larger than a villa, hamlet or rural village yet smaller than a urbanized polis or city center. Scholars have generally overlooked such “mid-sized” sites in the Eastern Mediterranean and, consequently, must of our research has focused on the key role that such sites played in both the regional and local economy and within the local settlement structure.
Alongside these traditional components of archaeological research, PKAP has sought to document the performative, narrative, and reflexive components of the archaeological experience. By drawing extensively on new media technologies and applications we have worked to record the experience of archaeology and project it beyond the limits of the field. Such programs are more than simply ancillary components to the overall aims of the project, but complement the main lines of research by emphasizing the multiple narratives present within the same body of research. This practice not only remind project members of the dense web of assumptions, methods, and procedures required to produce archaeological knowledge, but also reinforces the ambivalence and ambiguity central to all humanistic inquiry.
Thursday March 26, 2009
Fabrication of Nanoparticles for Biomedical Applications and Energy Conversion
Julia Xiaojun Zhao, Department of Chemistry
Nanoparticles have demonstrated great promise as optical probes or carriers in biomedical applications, such as cancer diagnosis and therapy. To develop highly effective optical nanoparticle probes, we have produced a series of silica-based nanoparticles for easy bioconjugation, high signal amplification and excellent reproducibility in bioimaging and bioanalysis. In this presentation, the synthesis, characterization, and bioconjugation of various silica-based optical nanoparticles will be presented. Several significant bioapplications using different types of the nanoparticles will then be discussed, including ultrasensitive detection of trace metal ions and DNA molecules, single bacterium determination, and cell imaging. In addition, the applications of the nanoparticles in energy conversion will be briefly introduced.
2008 Dean's Lecture Series
Monday February 11, 2008
Rebecca Weaver-Hightower, Department of English
Weaver-Hightower discusses her research, which, broadly conceived, investigates the psychology of colonizers through examining literary narratives of conquest. Though Weaver-Hightower will touch on her recently published book Empire Islands: Castaways, Cannibals and Fantasies of Conquest (Minnesota 2007), the talk will focus on materials from her work in progress, Sorry Dreams, Guilty Deeds: Writing, Remorse and Reparation in the Post-Settler Colony, which investigates literature by and about South African, Australian, Canadian and US settlers for how they help their larger cultures cope with or deny guilt over imperialism. These former Anglophone settler colonies exhibit striking parallels in both their movements to make reparation to indigenous people for colonialism and in their cultural perceptions of race, indigeneity, and colonial guilt. Weaver-Hightower’s talk will demonstrate how certain narratives represent the complex and often ambivalent experiences of white settlers and how these stories help them manage psychological, moral and legal guilt over previous treatment of indigenous peoples.
Tuesday 12 February, 2008
Diane Darland, Department of Biology
My laboratory investigates the interactions between neurons and blood vessels during early brain development. As the brain forms, vascular cells and neural cells communicate at several levels that include diffusible factors as well as direct cell-cell communication. Over the last few years it has become clear that several molecular regulators are shared between neural and vascular cells. We are currently focusing our attention on a traditionally vascular factor, Vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF), and its possible role in regulating neurogenesis, new neuron formation. We use a variety of experimental cell, molecular and quantitative imaging approaches in our in vitro models (multi-cell type cultures and brain tissue explants) and in transgenic mice (VEGF isoform-expressing mice). The laboratory team consists of student volunteers, undergraduate students, graduate students and summer research interns that collaborate on a range of projects that relate to how heterotypic cell-cell signals can affect cell fate and differentiation in central nervous system development.