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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
NR.03.03.16-SpeakerSymposium
March 3, 2016

Speakers Symposium Series Focuses on Science & Career Exploration

The College of the Canyons School of Mathematics, Sciences & Health Professions (MSHP) announces its 2016 Speakers Symposium Series, which will give students and community members an opportunity to meet renowned research scientists and industry experts working in the science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) and health professions fields, and to explore career options available in these emerging fields.

Each of the seven events will feature a 60-minute presentation, including an open forum discussion where audience members can ask questions, interact with the speakers and dive deeper into the subject matter.

“We are thrilled to offer our students and community the opportunity to learn about a wide range of research and technological advances made in both the STEM and healthcare fields,” said Omar Torres, dean of the School of Mathematics, Sciences & Health Professions. 

Presentations are scheduled at 7 p.m. on various evenings throughout the spring 2016 semester in Boykin Hall, Room 105, at the College of the Canyons Valencia campus. All scheduled events are free and open to the public, but seating may be limited.

The 2016 Speakers Symposium Series schedule:

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March 3
How to Model the Action of Complex Biological Systems on a Molecular Level and Win a Nobel Prize
Dr. Arieh Warshel, Nobel Laureate (2013) in Chemistry – Distinguished Professor of Chemistry, University of Southern California
Despite the enormous advances in structural studies of biological systems, scientists are frequently left without a clear structure function correlation and cannot fully describe how different systems actually work. This introduces a major challenge for computer modeling approaches that are aimed at a realistic simulation of biological functions. The lecture will provide a background of Dr. Warshel’s long path for the Nobel Prize and connect it to the advances made by him and his coworkers by rewiring the progress in simulating biological functions. 


March 21
Physicians, the Brain, Health and Disease
Dr. Lance Fogan – Clinical Professor of Neurology, UCLA
This presentation highlights how medical students are educated and how physicians are trained to use their knowledge to diagnose and treat their patients. Alzheimer’s disease, concussions, multiple sclerosis, cerebral palsy and epilepsy are among the conditions depicted in brain scans, EEGs and other tests that will be demonstrated. He will touch upon medical history through descriptions of disease in William Shakespeare’s characters that are accurate and astounding. We must always be mindful that medicine is an art as much, or even more, than a science. 


March 28
Wild About Monkeyflowers (and Other California Wildflowers): 
An Exploration of Monkeyflower Diversity and the Flora of California
Dr. Naomi Fraga – Director, Conservation Programs at Rancho Santa Ana Botanic Garden
Plants placed in the genus Mimulus L. (Phrymaceae), as traditionally defined, are commonly known as monkeyflowers. These charismatic plants are exceedingly diverse in western North America with over 150 of the nearly 200 species worldwide occurring here. Nearly 60 percent (ca. 100) of the species native to western North American occur in California. However, Mimulus has recently undergone significant changes in taxonomy, leaving the name Mimulus virtually absent from the California flora. In this presentation, Dr. Naomi Fraga will present an overview of these changes and provide information on how to identify the three new genera that are recognized in California: Erythranthe, Diplacus and Mimetanthe and how these differ from Mimulus in the strict sense.


April 12
Satellite Communications: The Economic Star of the Space Age
Dr. David Whalen – Associate Professor, University of North Dakota
When NASA began its long-range planning in 1959, it was already clear that satellite communications would be a commercial success. There would be technological hurdles, regulatory hurdles, and political hurdles, but no funding hurdles. The initial issues were orbit and power. AT&T, probably the most sophisticated of potential communications satellite operators, experimented with low-earth-orbit (LEO) passive satellites (reflectors), but decided that their first “experimental” satellite would be active: the received signal would be re-amplified before being sent back to earth. A better idea from Hughes Aircraft Company allowed their satellite to reach geosynchronous-earth-orbit (GEO): remaining “fixed” over the equator in a 24-hour orbit. The first communications satellites weighed a few tens of kg and generated a few tens of watts. Modern communications satellites weigh several tons and generate several kilowatts of power. NASA’s budget is less than $20 billion.  The “black” space budget is perhaps twice that. “Commercial” space revenues exceed $200 billion. Satellite communications is ubiquitous. A 50 mbps link can be established almost any place in the world.


April 21
Unraveling a Mystery: The Question of the Slithering Stones of Death Valley
Mr. James Norris – Consulting Engineer/Owner, Interwolf Engineering
Six years ago, Mr. James Norris began what he thought would likely be a lonely and quixotic effort to discover what motivates a few otherwise ordinary desert rocks to wander around a remote desert dry lakebed. This presentation will discuss how his team of citizen scientists devised an experiment that ultimately succeeded in solving a long-standing geologic mystery. It is a story of persistence and hard work, punctuated with strokes of amazingly good fortune. It is also the story of a growing team of curious people having a wonderful time exploring how our small planet works.


April 26
Observing Infrared Light from the Ground, Space and Air – How Infrared Astronomy has Opened Our Eyes
Dr. William Latter – Associate Director, Stratospheric Observatory for Infrared Astronomy (SOFIA) Mission Operations 
Infrared Astronomy is a comparatively new area of research that has changed our entire view of the universe and how it works. This presentation will first make an introduction to the infrared part of the electromagnetic spectrum, and what can be learned. In 1983, with the launch of the Infrared Astronomical Satellite (IRAS), the field of astrophysics changed drastically in just 10 months of data acquisition. The impact of IRAS will be highlighted, as will astronomical images from the Infrared Space Observatory, the Spitzer Space Telescope, and the Herschel Space Observatory - all dedicated infrared space telescopes. Finally, the presentation will discuss the Stratospheric Observatory for Infrared Astronomy (SOFIA) - NASA’s premier far-infrared observatory. SOFIA is a Boeing 747 SP carrying a 2.7-meter infrared dedicated telescope that it takes to altitudes as high as 45,000 feet, where the obscuring water vapor is reduced by 99.9 percent of the sea level amount. 


May 2
Effects of Urbanization and Fragmentation on Wildlife Populations in a National Park in Southern California: 
From Newts to Mountain Lions
Dr. Seth Riley – Wildlife Ecologist, National Park Service at Santa Monica Mountains 
The role of national parks is to preserve the natural resources present in the parks, including the wildlife resources. At Santa Monica Mountains National Recreation Area (SMMNRA), a national park next to Los Angeles, the primary challenges for effective wildlife conservation are understanding and mitigating the effects of urbanization, including habitat loss and fragmentation. Scientists have studied wildlife communities in and around the park for 15-20 years. Southern California is home to many diverse wildlife communities, and researchers have been pleased to find that much of this diversity still exists in the park, despite intense and widespread development in surrounding areas. Long-term studies show there is great value in preserving urban wildlife communities in Southern California, but that significant challenges remain.

For more information about the Speakers Symposium Series, contact Omar Torres at (661) 362-3135 or omar.torres@canyons.edu. Follow the link below for full presentation abstracts and speaker profiles:

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