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Spring 2012 Series

March 5, 2012
Dr. Anthony Carpi

CarpiHeadshotMercury, a toxic heavy metal, is one of the few pollutants that continues to produce a growing number of advisories on fishing resources in the United States and abroad.  Mercury is released into the atmosphere from a number of sources; however, this is mitigated by the storage of the metal in forest soils.  Recent research suggests that the burning of biomass during deforestation and the subsequent evaporation of the metal from the cleared soil release large amounts of mercury back into the air.  In 2011 and 2012, Dr. Anthony Carpi,  Professor of Environmental Toxicology at John Jay College, spent 6 months in the Brazilian Amazon studying the effects of deforestation on the release and transport of this toxin.  In this Serving Science Café, he discusses his experiences in the rainforest and what rising mercury levels mean for our planet.

Dr. Anthony Carpi holds a B.S. degree in Chemistry from Boston College, and an M.S. and Ph.D. in Environmental Toxicology from Cornell University. His research focuses on both the biogeochemistry of mercury in soil and the mentoring of undergraduates in scientific research.  In 2011,  he received two very prestigious awards for these different aspects of his work. In August 2011 he was awarded a Fulbright fellowship from the American and Brazilian governments to study the effect of deforestation on mercury levels in the Amazon. And in January 2011 he was awarded a Presidential Award for Excellence in Science, Mathematics, and Engineering Mentoring in a ceremony held at the White House.

Check back soon to download the podcast!


February 6, 2012
Dr. Kyle McDonald

KyleMcDonaldNew technologies are allowing scientists to keep an ever-watchful eye on our changing environment.  Dr. Kyle McDonald (The City College of New York) is one of the scientists who specializes in “microwave remote sensing.”  Dr. McDonald uses information from Earth-orbiting satellites and ground station sensor networks to analyze the condition of forests, tundra, wetlands and other environments and their relationships to Earth’s water and carbon cycles.  This presentation discusses remote sensing work on monitoring the environment’s changing carbon, water and seasonal patterns.  These once stable cycles are changing, creating a variety of effects across the planet.  Join us as Dr. McDonald discusses his research on these changes and the technology that is allowing him to track it all.

Dr. McDonald received his Bachelor’s degree in Electrical Engineering from the Georgia Institute of Technology before attending Johns Hopkins University where he received his Master’s of Science in Numerical Science.  He earned his second master’s degree and his doctoral degree in Electrical Engineering from The University of Michigan.  Dr. McDonald worked in the Science Division of NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory for 20 years prior to coming to CCNY.  He came to The City College of New York in 2011 where he supports the NOAA-Cooperative Remote Sensing Science and Technology Center (CREST) and the CUNY Environmental Crossroads Initiative and maintains a Part-time Faculty position in JPL’s Water and Carbon Cycles group.

Check back soon to download the podcast!


Fall 2011 series  

December 5, 2011
Dr. michelle fine and dr. michael fabricant

FineFabPhotoCharter schools have been cropping up in communities across the country, but how well are they doing in their effort to improve the educational landscape?  Dr. Michelle Fine of the CUNY Graduate Center and Dr. Michael Fabricant of Hunter College have come together to look at the data and examine the movement.  This is also the topic of their new book, “Charter Schools and the Corporate Makeover of Public Education: What's At Stake?” to be published in January 2012.

Dr. Michelle Fine is a distinguished professor of Social Psychology, Women’s Studies, and Urban Education at the CUNY Graduate Center.  She received her B.A. in Psychology at Brandeis University before continuing at Columbia University where she received her Ph.D. in Social Psychology.  Dr. Fine is a founding member of the Public Science Project at the Graduate Center.  She has published extensively on race, gender, youth, community organizing and the societal impact of mass incarceration.

Dr. Michael Fabricant is a Professor of Social Welfare at Hunter College and an Executive Officer of the Ph.D. Program in Social Welfare at the Graduate Center.  Dr. Fabricant is widely published on issues related to housing and homelessness, the economy of the welfare state, nonprofit finances and public education.  He received his Ph.D. in Social Welfare Research and Policy at Brandeis University.




Check back soon to download the podcast!

November 7, 2011

dr. Thomas McGovern

McGovernPhoto Dr. Thomas McGovern is a Professor of Anthropology at Hunter College and at the CUNY Graduate Center.  Dr. McGovern began his teaching career at Hunter over 30 years ago, after receiving his B.A., M.A. and Ph.D. from Columbia University.  His research on European Expansion during the Viking Age has led him to travel extensively, particularly in the North Atlantic region.  In addition to his teaching and research, Dr. McGovern has also been the coordinator for the North Atlantic Biocultural Organization (NABO), which seeks to establish community and collaboration among the variety of scholars and disciplines working in the North Atlantic's island ecosystem.

This presentation focuses on the lifestyles of the Vikings during their expansion and settlement and how sustainability played a major role in their survival and demise.


You can listen to the podcast here .

October 3, 2011

Dr. Jayne Raper


Dr. Jayne Raper is a Professor of Biological Sciences at Hunter College.  She received her Ph.D. in Biochemistry from the University of Cambridge before beginning her postdoctoral work at the International Institute of Cellular and Molecular Pathology in Brussels and Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine.  Dr. Raper joined Hunter College faculty this fall, after 16 years at NYU School of Medicine studying host-parasite interactions. Dr. Raper is currently developing a transgenic cow that will be resistant to the parasites that cause Sleeping Sickness, hoping to eliminate a large reservoir of the disease and improve the quality of life for those living in Sub-Saharan Africa.  Funding for the development of the trypanosome-resistant cattle breed "Churma," named for the Swahili word meaning 'strong,' is jointly funded by the NSF and the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation.

Listen to Dr. Raper's talk here

Spring 2011 Series

April 4, 2011

Dr. Kelle Cruz

Kelle CruzDr. Kelle Cruz is an Assistant Professor in Physics and Astronomy at Hunter College and a Research Associate in Astrophysics at the American Museum of Natural History (AMNH). She is an observational astronomer who studies low-mass stars and brown dwarfs to investigate the composition and structure of our Milky Way galaxy and to understand how stars and planets form. In addition to teaching and leading a research group, she also enjoys playing tennis, bicycle commuting, and blogging. She did her undergraduate and graduate work at the University of Pennsylvania and postdoctoral work at both AMNH and Caltech before joining the faculty at Hunter. 

You can listen to Dr. Cruz's talk here 


March 7, 2011

Dr. Pamela Mills


Dr. Pamela Mills is a Chemistry Professor and the Principal Investigator of a multi-million dollar National Science Foundation project that creates partnerships between scientists and educators to rethink science and mathematics education in high school and college. Unlike many scientists who always “knew they were going to be scientists,” Dr. Mills avoided science in high school but discovered its depth and beauty in college. After receiving her PhD in physical chemistry from the University of Wisconsin, she conducted research in medical imaging at the University of California in San Francisco and then came to Hunter College excited to build a research group modeling protein-DNA interactions and to teach a diverse population of undergraduates.

Over the past decade, Dr. Mills has focused all of her scientific training and teaching experiences on confronting the challenges in science teaching and learning. Recognizing that complex problems are tackled by teams of people with varying degrees of expertise, she proposes a team approach to address the complexity of the urban classroom – and has some promising results to share.

Listen to Dr. Mills's talk here 

February 7, 2011

Dr. Deborah Balk


Dr. Deborah Balk is Associate Director of the CUNY Institute for Demographic Research, and Professor at the Baruch School of Public Affairs and the CUNY Graduate Center (in the Sociology and Economics Programs). Her expertise lies in spatial demography and the integration of earth and social science data and methods to address interdisciplinary policy questions. Her current research focus is on urbanization, population, poverty, and environmental interactions (such as climate change). Prior to coming to Baruch, Dr. Balk held appointments at Columbia University, the East-West Center, and the University of Michigan. She received her PhD in Demography from the University of California at Berkeley, and her Masters Degree in Public Policy, and AB in International Relations, from the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor. She is currently a member of the International Union for the Scientific Study of Population working group on Urbanization and recently completed service to two National Research Council panels.

You can listen to Dr. Balk's serving science talk here 

Fall 2010 Series

December 6, 2010

Dr. Diana Reiss & Dr. Ofer Tchernichovski

Diana ReissDr. Diana Reiss, Professor of Psychology at Hunter College since 2001 and Founder of the Marine Mammal Research Program of the Wildlife Conservation Society, is an internationally recognized specialist in animal cognition and communication. Dr. Reiss’s research interests include marine mammal cognition and communication, comparative animal cognition, and the evolution of intelligence. She developed a pioneering technique to examine mirror self-recognition in non-humans. This allowed Dr. Reiss to demonstrate that self-awareness is not only restricted to humans and the greater apes, but that Asian elephants and bottlenose dolphins are also able to recognize themselves in a mirror. This indicated that the two possess a higher intellectual capacity than was thought previously. During her 30-year professional career, Dr. Reiss has been actively involved in rescuing and rehabilitating stranded marine mammals. She played a key role in the campaign to protect dolphins from being killed in tuna nets that resulted in Dolphin-Safe labeling on canned tuna fish. More recently, Dr. Reiss has worked to increase public awareness to bring an end to the annual dolphin hunts in Japan. She served as a scientific advisor on the critically acclaimed and Academy Award winning documentary film, The Cove, about mass killing of dolphins in Japan. Dr. Reiss has published extensively and is the author of Secrets of the Dolphins. Her work has also been profiled in national and international science programs, including Wild Kingdom and several BBC nature shows. You can read a New York Times interview with Dr. Reiss here .

ofer tchernichovskiDr. Ofer Tchernichovski, Associate Professor of Biology at the City College of New York (CCNY) and Head of the CCNY Laboratory of Animal Behavior, is a leading expert in animal science. He specializes in quantitative analysis of developmental learning, using vocal learning in the songbird as a model. Like a human infant, the young songbird learns to imitate the vocal calls of its group members. Why the adult bird loses this ability is still unknown. To uncover this mystery, Dr. Tchernichovski has studied the genetic and physiological brain processes that underlie song learning. He has evaluated the development of songbirds raised in isolation as a way to understand the dynamics of vocal learning and sound production. Dr. Tchernichovski’s research has been featured widely in the media, including BBC Horizon, PBS Nova, Nova Science Now, and BBC Science.

You can hear Dr. Reiss and Dr. Tchernichovski talk about "Birds, Dolphins and Mimicry" here

November 1, 2010

Dr. margaret Bull Kovera

Margaret Bull Kovera Dr. Margaret Bull Kovera is Professor of Psychology at John Jay College of Criminal Justice, where she has been on the faculty since 2004. Her research is focused on enhancing our knowledge of how legal decision makers evaluate scientific evidence. As part of her research, Dr. Kovera has surveyed judges and attorneys, randomly presenting some of them with valid evidence and others with evidence containing methodological flaws. Her findings indicate that the two groups of legal decision makers showed a similar inability to identify flawed evidence. Dr. Kovera’s other projects include analyzing the effects of jury selection on jury decisions, as well as the effects of double-blind lineups on the reliability of eyewitness identifications. As an internationally recognized expert in the field of forensic psychology, Dr. Kovera has received numerous honors and awards, including the Ursa Major Award for Outstanding Professional Contributions (2008), the Award for Outstanding Teaching and Mentoring in the Field of Psychology and Law (2004), and the Saleem Shah Early Career Award for Excellence and Achievement in Research (2000).

You can listen to Dr. Bull Kovera's talk here

October 4, 2010

Dr. Marco Tedesco

Dr. Marco TedescoAssistant Professor of Earth and Atmospheric Sciences at the City College of New York (CCNY), has emerged as one of the world’s leading geophysicists. He is the Director of the Cryospheric Processes Laboratory at CCNY, as well as a Fellow of the Joint Center for Earth Systems Technology, operated jointly by the NASA Goddard Space Flight Center and the University of Maryland. In 2005, he received the NASA Outstanding Research Associate Peer Award and the URSI Young Scientist Award. His National Science Foundation and NASA-funded research investigating how climate interacts with the cryosphere has appeared in many prestigious scientific journals, as well as in National Geographic. Professor Tedesco’s research focuses on analyzing ice-melting trends in Greenland and the Antarctic, using satellite data and ground based microwave technologies. His findings suggest a complex interaction between ice-melting trends and atmospheric variability.

Listen to Dr. Tedesco's talk on 'Greenland's Hottest Year Ever' here 


April 5, 2010

Dr. Peter LIPKE

Peter LipkeProtein amyloids in yeast infections, sherry, mad cow disease, ale, and Alzheimers.
Speaker: Dr. Peter Lipke
Monday, April 5, 2010, 6-7 PM

Listen to Dr. Lipke's talk here



March 1, 2010

Dr. Fred Moshary

Fred MosharySensing and Sense-ability: Monitoring a Changing Environment.
Speaker: Dr. Fred Moshary
Monday, Mar. 1, 2010, 6-7 PM

Listen to Dr. Moshari's talk here



February 1, 2010

Dr. Nicholas Freudenberg

Nicholas FreudenbergA Tale of Two Obes-Cities:Comparing London and New York City's Responses to Childhood Obesity.
Monday, Feb. 1, 2010, 6-7 PM

Listen to Dr. Freudenberg's talk here





Fall 2009 Series

December 7, 2009

Dr. Lawrence Kobilinsky

Kobilinsky Genes in the Courtroom: Science and Justice for All

Listen to Dr. Kobilinsky's talk here




November 2, 2009

Dr. John Waldman

Dr. John WaldmanListen to Dr. Waldman's Cuny Radio podcast, "Swimming with the Fishes (The Death and Life of New York's Waterways)" here





October 5, 2009

Dr. Jill Bargonetti

Dr. Jill Bargonetti Disarming Breast Cancer’s Elusive Molecular Arsenals: How Close Are We?

 Listen to Dr. Bargonetti's talk here




Spring 2009 Series

May 4, 2009

Dr. Jeffrey Halperin

Jeffrey Halperin For more than two decades Jeffrey Halperin, Professor of Psychology and Educational Psychology at The Graduate Center and Queens College, has been conducting research examining behavioral, cognitive, neuropsychological, and neurochemical functioning in children with AD/HD. A substantial proportion of this research has been based on the premise that AD/HD is not a unitary disorder, and the thrust has been the identification of more homogeneous subgroups of children who might have distinct treatment responses or outcomes.

Currently, Professor Halperin is funded by NIMH to re-evaluate a large sample of clinically-referred children who were diagnosed with AD/HD between 1990 & 1997 using structured diagnostic interviews and a variety of neuropsychological instruments.

Listen to Dr. Halperin's Serving Science presentation at the CUNY Lecture Series archive  here

April 6, 2009

Dr. Marie Filbin

Marie T. Filbin is a Distinguished Professor and Director of the Specialized Neuroscience Research Program at Hunter College, City University of New York in Manhattan. She received both her BSc and PhD degrees from the University of Bath, UK. During a post-doctoral fellowship in the laboratory of Gihan Tennekoon at Johns Hopkins Medical School she began working on myelin formation at the molecular level. She showed that the myelin protein Po was a homophilic adhesion molecule and then went on to characterize the adhesive interactions of this molecule in detail and to correlate those findings with structure function studies with mutated forms of Po found in human diseases.

In 1990 she joined the Biology Department at Hunter and in 1994 made the observation that another myelin protein, MAG, was a potent inhibitor of axonal regeneration. Since then she has continued to investigate the role of MAG and myelin in general in preventing axonal regeneration after injury. More recently she devised molecular approaches to overcoming these inhibitors. Currently, she is testing these findings in animal models of spinal cord injury, as well as continuing to identify novel molecular targets for potential therapeutic intervention.

Listen to Dr. Filbin's Serving Science presentation at the CUNY Lecture Series archive  here

March 2, 2009

Dr. Charles Vörösmarty

Charles Vorosmarty's research interests focus on the development of computer models and geospatial data sets used in synthesis studies of the interactions among the water cycle, climate, biogeochemistry and anthropogenic activities. His studies are built around local, regional, and continental to global-scale modeling of water balance, discharge, constituent fluxes in river systems, and the analysis of the impacts of large-scale water engineering on the terrestrial water cycle.

As a distinguished member of the global scientific community, Dr. Vorosmarty serves on several national and international scientific panels including the National Research Council Committee on Hydrologic Science (Chair), the United States Arctic Research Commission (Commissioner-Presidential appointment), the Global Water System Project (Co-Chair), and the NASA Earth Science Subcommittee among others. He was a Convening Lead Author on global fresh water resources for the recently completed Millennium Assessment and has assembled regional and continental-scale hydro-meteorological data compendia, including the largest single such collection.

Dr. Vörösmarty's complete Serving Science presentation can be viewed  here   or heard  here

February 2, 2009

Dr. Sanjoy Banerjee

In March 2008, the Grove School of Engineering at The City College of New York welcomed its newest faculty member when Distinguished Professor of Chemical Engineering Sanjoy Banerjee arrived from his previous academic home at the University of California, Santa Barbara (UCSB). In addition to his faculty appointment, Professor Banerjee will serve as Director of the Institute for Sustainable Energy Technologies at CCNY (soon to be renamed the Energy Institute).

His research focuses on developing technology and enhancing existing infrastructure to efficiently store electricity that comes from renewable but intermittent sources (the sun and wind are two such sources). Initially, the goal is to meet the energy needs of the residential (and possibly industrial) sectors. But Professor Banerjee also sees possibilities for these storage technologies to influence the transportation sector, since more efficient electricity storage will allow for better hybrid and electric vehicles than we have currently. The trick, he says, is to "make electricity readily transportable, like gasoline." For these research purposes, he says, New York City, with its strong commitment to solar power and low-emissions transportation systems, amongst other factors, is a particularly hospitable environment.

Fall 2008 Series

December 1, 2008

Dr. Michio Kaku

Dr. Michio Kaku is a theoretical physicist and the Henry Semat Professor at the City College of New York and the Graduate Center of the City University of New York, where he has taught for more than 30 years. He is a graduate of Harvard University in Cambridge, Massachusetts, and earned his doctorate from the University of California at Berkeley.

Dr. Kaku is one of the founders of string field theory, a field of research within string theory. String theory seeks to provide a unified description for all matter and the fundamental forces of the universe; its key idea is that all particles in the universe are manifestations of the same type of minuscule, vibrating building block called a string. String field theory is an approach seeking to meld the new ideas of string theory with the powerful language used to describe elementary particles to yield a complete description of string dynamics.

Dr. Kaku is a tireless popularizer of science. He has written several best-selling popular books, including Hyperspace: A Scientific Odyssey Through Parallel Universes, Time Warps, and the Tenth Dimension , selected as one of the best science books of 1994 by both the New York Times and The Washington Post, and Parallel Worlds: A Journey Through Creation, Higher Dimensions, and the Future of the Cosmos , a finalist for the Samuel Johnson Prize. His latest, Physics of the Impossible: A Scientific Exploration into the World of Phasers, Force Fields, Teleportation, and Time Travel , is a New York Times best-selling book. He is active in both television and radio, working with the BBC and the Discovery Channel and hosting two weekly radio programs which reach 130 cities.

Listen to an earlier presentation by Dr. Kaku on "Impossible" Possibilities

November 18, 2008

Dr. Kenneth Olden

Dr. Kenneth Olden is the Founding and Acting Dean of the proposed School of Public Health at the City University of New York, and a tenured faculty member at Hunter College. Dr. Olden is a cell biologist and biochemist by training, and has been active in cancer research for over three decades. He earned a doctorate in cell biology and biochemistry at Temple University, and performed postdoctoral work at the Harvard Medical School. From 1979 to 1991, Dr. Olden worked at Howard University in several roles, ultimately as director of the Howard University Cancer Center and Chairman of the Department of Oncology. I n 1991, Dr. Olden became director of the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences (NIEHS) and the National Toxicology Program, with a concurrent scientific post as chief of the Metastasis Section of the NIEHS Environmental Carcinogenesis Program.

Dr. Olden has maintained his research interests throughout his administrative career. Much of his work has focused on the role of glycoproteins in cancer. Working with Ken Yamada and others at the National Cancer Institute, he studied the glycoprotein fibronectin, and its possible role in inhibiting metastasis.

Listen to Dr. Olden's Science Cafe lecture: Cancer Susceptibility: Genetics Loads the Gun but Environment Pulls the Trigger