The Science Café series returns to Mershon Hall. This series features expert speakers and discussions on exciting conservation topics. Enjoy refreshing drinks during Cocktails in the Garden every Thursday!
Free with Garden Admission | Meet in Mershon Hall
July 18: Genetic Status of Mountain Bog Pitcher Plants
Speaker: Jen Rhode Ward, Professor of Biology, University of North Carolina Asheville
Biography: Jen completed her B.A. in biology from St. Mary’s College of Maryland and Ph.D. in Biology / Biological Oceanography from the College of William and Mary. After postdoctoral research in terrestrial plant ecology and genetics at Portland State University, she started at UNC Asheville in Fall 2007. Her research combines molecular, field, and statistical methods to examine several interrelated aspects of plant population biology, and she has published projects focused on plant hybridization, invasive plant species, American ginseng, the ecology of a threatened rose, and pedagogical techniques. Grants from the Christopher Reynolds Foundation, Great Smoky Mountains National Park, North Carolina Biotechnology Center, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Survey, and National Science Foundation support her current work. Ongoing projects in her lab include examining the floral ecology and genetics of Virginia spiraea, exploring gene flow and hybridization in pitcher plants, determining relationships between medicinal properties and genotypes of American ginseng, studying the effects of climate shifts on phenology of Southern Appalachian flora, developing genetic markers for threatened plants in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park, and investigating shifts in food production and consumption in rural Cuba.
Description: Western North Carolina is home to several species of pitcher plants, a charismatic and carnivorous group. Members of this group are threatened by habitat destruction, including filling wetlands for development, and by collection. The amount of genetic diversity remaining in these small and isolated populations is unknown, and reintroduction efforts could inadvertently allow cross-species hybridization. This Science Cafe will discuss the demography and genetic structure of mountain bog pitcher plants, and explore ongoing questions.
August 15: American Eden
Speaker: Victoria Johnson, Ph.D., Associate Professor of Urban Policy and Planning, Hunter College, City University of New York
Description: This illustrated lecture by historian Victoria Johnson features her new book, American Eden, which both the Wall Street Journal and Ron Chernow (Alexander Hamilton) have called “captivating.” American Eden was a finalist for the 2018 National Book Award in Nonfiction, the 2018 Los Angeles Times Book Prize in Biography, and the 2019 Pulitzer Prize in History. It was also a New York Times Notable Book of 2018. When Alexander Hamilton and Aaron Burr met on a dueling ground in July 1804, they chose the same attending physician: David Hosack. Family doctor and friend to both men, Hosack is today a shadowy figure at the edge of a famous duel, the great achievements of his life forgotten. But in 1801, on twenty acres of Manhattan farmland, Hosack founded the first public botanical garden in the new nation, amassing a spectacular collection of medicinal, agricultural, and ornamental plants. Hosack used his pioneering institution to train the next generation of American doctors and naturalists and to conduct some of the first systematic pharmacological research in the United States. Today, his former garden is the site of Rockefeller Center.
September 19: Swarm Robotics – Lessons from Biology & How Robots Can Help With Environmental Monitoring
Speaker: Magnus Egerstedt, Professor and School Chair, School of Electrical and Computer Engineering, Institute for Robotics and Intelligent Machines, Georgia Institute of Technology
Description: Dr. Magnus Egerstedt is the Steve W. Chaddick School Chair and Professor in the School of Electrical and Computer Engineering at the Georgia Institute of Technology. He previously served as the Executive Director for the Institute for Robotics and Intelligent Machines at Georgia Tech, overseeing one of the largest robotics institutes in the nation. He received the M.S. degree in Engineering Physics and the Ph.D. degree in Applied Mathematics from the Royal Institute of Technology, Stockholm, Sweden, the B.A. degree in Philosophy from Stockholm University, and was a Postdoctoral Scholar at Harvard University. Dr. Egerstedt conducts research in the areas of swarm robotics, with particular focus on distributed machine learning, decision making, and coordinated controls.
By drawing inspiration from social insects, flocking birds, or schooling fish, swarm robotics investigates how large teams of robots should be coordinated. This talk will describe how to make robot teams do useful things, including performing environmental monitoring and conservation tasks.
October 17: Alien Invaders of the Georgia Coast
Speaker: Anthony Martin, Professor of Pedagogy, Department of Environmental Sciences, Emory University
Description: This discussion will touch on conservation issues related to the ecological impact of invasive species on the Georgia barrier islands such as hogs, horses, cattle, cats and ambrosia beetles.