Bench Talk Live
KAS Presents Bench Talk Live
KAS is collaborating with Bench Talk: The Week in Science, a weekly radio show & podcast produced by KAS members, to bring you a live monthly online program.
Monday, March 15, 7pm EST
Black Holes and how we can find and measure them
Dirk Grupe, Space Science Center, Morehead State University
Although the idea of a Black Hole is more than 200 years old based on Newtonian Physics the accurate description of a Black Hole is embedded in Einstein's General Theory of Relativity. In February 1916 Karl Schwarzschild formulated the metric that describedthe curvature or warpage of spacetime around massive bodies. At the time these were just theoretical objects and Einstein was never convinced that they really exist, but we know today that super massive black holes exist in the centers of every single galaxy, like our Milky Way. From they physical parameters Black Holes are the simplest objects in the Universe, just described by their mass, spin, and theoretically their electric charge. I will describe methods how we can measure their spin and mass. I will then also talk about my own research on highly variable accreting supermassive black holes - Active Galactic Nuclei which I primarily observe with X-ray/Ultra-violet satellites, like Swift and XMM-Newton.
Before coming to Kentucky, Dr. Grupe was a Senior Research Associate At Penn State working on the NASA Swift mission. Dr. Grupe'sresearch is on Active Galactic Nuclei (AGN), accreting supermassive black holes in the centers of galaxies. His interest is in particular in Narrow-Line Seyfert 1 galaxies, AGN on thelower end of the black hole mass spectrum, which are characterized by strong X-ray and ultra-violet variability. What the NASA Swift mission allows is the long-term monitoring of AGN simultaneously in X-rays and the ultra-violet.
When a Black Hole Went on a Holiday
Dr. Maryam Dehghanian,
Astrophysics, the University of Kentucky
Dr. Dehghanian has worked on a large Space Telescope project entitled "HST STORM", a comprehensive study of the Seyfert galaxy NGC 5548. During her Ph.D. studies, she resolved a complex question aroused from an unexpected astrophysical phenomenon observed by the Hubble Space Telescope (HST): NGC 5548 is a bright and well-studied Active Galactic Nuclei (AGN) that has been the target of many monitoring campaigns since 1987. The most extensive observations were in 2013 and 2014, in which its emission and absorption lines behaved in an anomalous way that had never before been seen. For a two-month period during the observations, emission and absorption lines did not respond to the variations of the continuum – the HST team said that the spectral lines had “gone on holiday”.
She successfully explained the physics by which the variations of a disk wind produce the observed holiday. Her work was once highlighted in the University of Kentucky news. As part of NASA's major "UV Initiative", The Space Telescope and Science Institute (STScI) awarded an additional 198 orbits on the Hubble Space Telescope for a new project, with the innovative title "AGN STORM2", to study a different galaxy, Mrk 817. Dr. Dehghanian is one of the 17 scientists who proposed the project. The STScI awarded a grant to the University of Kentucky to support Dr. Dehghanian as a postdoctoral scholar to continue her work. You can find her papers at NASA ADS.
Tuesday, February 23, 7pm EST
COVID-19 Vaccines & TherapeuticsCOVID-19 and Cancer Research See slides here
Dr. Paula Bates, Professor of Medicine, University of Louisville
Co-Director, KYNETIC (an NIH REACH hub)
Paula J. Bates is a Professor of Medicine at the University of Louisville and the James Graham Brown Cancer Center. She also co-directs the Kentucky Network for innovation & Commercialization (KYNETIC), which is a statewide program that helps academic researchers turn their health-related discoveries or ideas into real-world products. KYNETIC provides research grants, entrepreneurial education, mentoring, and access to a network of relevant expertise; these opportunities are open to all faculty, staff, and students at Kentucky’s public universities and community colleges. Bates was involved in the discovery and bench-to-bedside translation of an experimental anticancer drug named AS1411. This agent is an aptamer (made from synthetic DNA) that binds specifically to nucleolin, a protein with roles in both cancer and viral infections. She is currently involved in numerous translational research projects and is working with an industry partner to take two AS1411-related drugs (one for cancer, one for COVID-19) to human clinical trials. Bates was co-founder of a successful startup (Aptamera) and is a co-inventor on 15 issued US patents and more than 30 foreign patents. She was elected as Fellow of the National Academy of Inventors in 2016. Her talk will focus on the intersection of COVID-19/cancer research and the story behind the recent discovery that AS1411 has promising activity against the novel coronavirus.
COVID-19 Vaccines See slides here
Dr. Sanjay Mishra, COVID-19 and Cancer Consortium, Vanderbilt University Medical CenterDr. Mishra is the project coordinator for the "COVID-19 and Cancer Consortium", (CCC19) consisting of over 125 cancer centers and other organizations that have come together to collect data about cancer patients who have been infected with COVID-19. Previously, Dr. Mishra worked as a postdoctoral fellow in the Vanderbilt Vaccine Center, where he tried developing vaccine candidates against Zika and Dengue. He got his Ph.D. from Vanderbilt University in Chemical and Physical Biology, studying small heat shock proteins (sHSPs) for their role in stress response and aging. Using protein engineering and CRISPR knockout strategies, Sanjay showed that sHSPs have conserved roles among vertebrates, and sHSPs have evolved possibly under the organellar and organismic proteostatic demands. When not in lab, Sanjay writes on popular science such as recently authorized vaccines against COVID-19. You can find his articles at The Conversation
Thursday, January 21, 7pm EST
Diabetes Research: Then and Now
On the Track of Diabetes Cure
Dr. Iuliana Popescu, Barnstable Brown Diabetes Research CenterThe discovery of insulin remains one of the most remarkable achievements of medical research of all times. But, overall, it was not the result of a single research team, although the Nobel Prize was controversially granted to only two Canadian scientists: F. Banting and J. Macleod who shared their awards with coworkers C. Best and J. Collip; the team had obtained and purified the pancreatic extract (1921) and showed that it can reverse diabetes after it has been injected into patients. However, the modern period of insulin history is set in the 19th century, by the research of C. Bernard, P. Langerhans, O. Minkovski, J. Von Mering, and several others, who laid the foundations of the scientific understanding of diabetes and the first attempts to get the miracle hormone.
Cardiac metabolism in health and disease See sildes here
Dr. Bradford Hill, University of Louisville Diabetes and Obesity Center
Friday, September 11, 7pm EDT Watch the Recording here
Science Solving Mysteries in Archaeology
Karen Stevens, University of Kentucky
For the majority of the human past, our ancestors did not leave behind a written record. We will never be able to meet these people of the past, so how do we learn about them? Archaeology, which is the study of the human past, allows us to access the lifeways and experiences of those people through the study of their material culture and landscapes. One way we learn about people through the things they left behind is by adapting scientific techniques and methods to the holistic study of what it is to be human. Here in Kentucky, we borrow from many different fields of study including biology, botany, physics, chemistry, and soil science. In this talk, I will give some examples of how observations using remote sensing, microscopy, chemical analysis, and other scientific data collection and analysis techniques tell us about the people that have lived here in the Commonwealth for over 12,000 years.
"Exploring the technical heritage of the Irish Late Bronze Age socketed axe"
Terry Runner, Kentucky Science Center
In studying the past, archaeologists often tackle the how and why surrounding objects people left behind. These objects allow us to create a narrative of past culture and society that help us understand the birth, life and death of people in the past. Over the last few decades, the use of experiment in archaeological research has gained popularity as a means to test hypotheses surrounding human material culture. In my 2018 Master’s thesis, I used an experimental method to understand a phenomenon occurring inside Irish Late Bronze Age socketed axes. This feature, commonly known as a ‘halfting rib’ may indicate a step in the casting process that is today little understood. With nearly two centuries of archaeological evidence surrounding socketed axes, I reconstructed the socketed axe casting techniques in Ireland to get a better sense of how Bronze Age casters made these tools, and how this rib played a roll in that process.
How do we use visual and other cues when we communicate with each other? How do we adjust to new norms of communicating through a screens or from behind a mask? Join us for an engaging discussion about the neuroscience & psychology of perception & communication with our speakers this month.
Monday July 13, 7pm EDT Watch the recording (program starts 1 minute 30 seconds in)
Perception & Communication for a Pandemic
Naomi Charalambakis, Federation of American Societies for Experimental Biology (FASEB)
What You See is What You Get
Our eyes are an important feature of the visual system. They connect to our brains and, in milliseconds, translate the objects and people we see into things we recognize. How exactly does the brain do this so quickly, and is it affected when our environment changes? As we continue to navigate these interesting times—wearing masks and having virtual meetings—is it possible these interactions affect the wiring of our nervous system? When our sight is impaired, the lack of visual information from mouth movements can impact other senses such as hearing, but how does this work? To answer these questions, we will explore the neuroscience behind how visual information is transmitted and examine the area and characteristics of the brain regions specifically responsible for recognizing faces. Naomi recently earned her PhD at the University of Louisville.
Listen to Naomi's presentation on the Bench Talk podcast
Andy Mienaltowski, Western Kentucky University
The Eyes Have It – Anticipating Difficulty in Facial Emotion Cue Perception
See the Slide show here
Interpreting body cues, especially facial cues, is important to understanding the emotions that others experience. Today's environment poses some interesting challenges for us as we navigate social interaction wearing masks or as we interact with one another as perceptually smaller beings on screens. Visual emotion cues from the lower half of the face are hidden, potentially reducing our ability to anticipate others' emotional status. Older interaction partners may also cope with unique challenges given age-normative changes in facial scanning patterns and in facial cue confusion. The role that facial cues play in emotion recognition across adulthood will be discussed, as well as the impact that blocking these cues may have on social interaction.
Tuesday June 2 Watch the Recording
Healthy at Home: New Visions for the Spaces We Live in
Seyed Allameh, Northern Kentucky University
Digital Homes: Manufacturing Futuristic Structures
See the Slide show here
Imagine your dream home has the shape, functionality, and orientation dictated only by your imagination. Freeing creativity and innovation from the constraints of today’s crude construction technology is the promise of tomorrow’s digital construction technology. Step-by-step, digital printing is evolving into a complete set of tools to build homes by robots that will mix and match materials, and perform processing, deposition, positioning, and timing to create works of art. These unique and beautiful structures will be functional in providing comfort, saving energy, reducing waste, recyclability, and sustainability. The know-how, tools, and feasibility of such revolutionary home building technology will be discussed along its implications for building structures on Moon and Mars. (Photo credit dwell.com)
Zeel Maheshwari, Northern Kentucky University
“Green Home” - Home of the Future
See the Slide show here
Today, the trend is to make everything smarter-our homes, offices and even our cars. But a growing number of architects and scientists are recognizing that creating homes must involve more than mere gadgetry. It must be environmentally sustainable that uses energy, water and building materials efficiently. In recent times, the term “green home” has created a buzz among homeowners. One aspect of converting a regular home to “green” home is by employing renewable energy (typically solar panels) to electrify homes. Using green energy can raise a home’s value while reducing its cost of ownership. Additionally, it is a great way to contribute towards a better future for the community and ultimately to all life on Earth. Green home makes a positive contribution to the environment or at least has a minimal negative impact. The home of the future is not just smarter, its greener!
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