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Presidential Lecture Series

Presidential Lecture Series

Attn: Abby Works and Jill Applegate
New Student Services
Kansas State University
9 Anderson Hall
Manhattan, KS 66506–0110

1-800-432-8270 (toll free) or 785-532-6318



Science and the Environment

A Universe of Light 

Dr. Chris Sorenson, Cortelyou-Rust University Distinguished Professor

We live in a universe of light! All the non-luminous objects we see, including this screen and the faces of friends, we see through a process of light scattering. We will explore simple ways to understand light scattering. Questions to be addressed are: what are the effects of scattering on the polarization of light? Why is the sky blue and the clouds white? What determines the magnitude of the scattering and its distribution relative to the incident direction? What is the explanation of rainbows, glories, and sundogs? My goal is to both enhance our physical intuition for the light scattering process and to awaken us all to the universe of light around us.

Dig It:  Secrets of the Soil

Dr. Chuck Rice, University Distinguished Professor of Soil Microbiology

Did you know that soils are part of our everyday lives? Soil contributes to medicines, paint, food, energy, and clean water.  We build on it, we bury things in it.  Soils sustain us and are a critical resource of the earth.  Soils aid in regulating climate, flooding and disease. Soils act as an interface between the atmosphere and the groundwater providing a filter for air and water. This lecture will discuss how a change in soil due to global change could result in a loss of genetic resources and the ecosystems services supplied through the soil.

Discovering the Higgs Boson

Dr. Yurii Maravin, Associate Professor of Physics

The discovery of the Higgs boson, announced on July 4, 2012, by the ATLAS and CMS experiments operating at the CERN Large Hadron Collider (LHC), culminated a search that spanned almost 50 years since its original prediction by several theorists, two of whom, Higgs and Brout, were awarded with the Nobel Prize in Physics in 2013. This discovery revolutionized our understanding of the universe’s fundamental particles, both validating and uncovering the limitations of the standard model of fundamental particles and their interactions. This lecture provides an overview of history of the quest to understand mass, describes some of the most sophisticated instruments ever built by humanity that allowed such an accomplishment, and explains how Higgs boson affected the structure and evolution of the universe, and our day-to-day life.

Earthquakes and Tsunamis – Japan, 2011 & Indian Ocean, 2004

Dr. Don Von Bergen, Head of Arts, Sciences, & Business at K-State Salina

An overview of the geology behind earthquakes and the resulting tsunamis.  Much of the talk will focus on the devastating earthquakes and resulting tsunamis that occurred in Japan (2011) and Indonesia (2004).  The format of the talk is an interactive PowerPoint slideshow.  Questions and discussion is encouraged.  No prior knowledge is needed.  This talk can be adapted to any age group.

Food Safety

Ms. Martha Nowak, K12 Program Coordinator at K-State Olathe

This lecture begins with sobering statistics on foodborne illness and deaths in U.S., with the participants estimating which foods are most culpable on voting boards. There is a demonstration that shows why hamburger is more likely to carry foodborne pathogens rather than a steak, and why soap and water is more effective than hand sanitizer.  An optional small group, hands on activity is to solve a case to find out which ingredient in coleslaw is the reason for the outbreak.

From Molecular Sociology to Smart Materials

Dr. Christer Aakeroy, University Distinguished Professor of Chemistry       

How do molecules communicate with each other?  Why do some molecules like each other and others do not?  Any biological system relies on molecular recognition, binding and function, and if we could improve our understanding of these processes we would be able to build new materials that are faster, smarter or cheaper than current alternatives. This lecture will (a) present some strategies for how we can begin to build new molecular architectures and (b) describe how these structures can be used for materials applications including molecular filters that will selectively capture and destroy a variety of toxins.

Hidden Benefits of Landscapes

Ms. Jessica Canfield, Assistant Professor of Landscape Architecture

Designed landscapes offer more than visually pleasing experiences; they engender many social, environmental, and economic benefits as well. Trees within a park, for example, can sequester carbon, intercept storm water, cool adjacent streets and buildings, increase property values, and reduce stress levels. An amenity such as a neighborhood trail can potentially increase walkability, while lessening vehicle trips and carbon emissions. This presentation explores a range of easy-to-use tools and methods, useful for identifying, assessing, and communicating the hidden benefits of designed landscapes

How  We Know What We Know   

Dr. Chris Sorenson, Cortelyou-Rust University Distinguished Professor of Physics

Science is much less a body of knowledge and much more a way of knowing. With science we have a method to interact with and develop an understanding of the world around us. Science is neither esoteric nor dogmatic; scientists are neither wizards nor “mad”. In this lecture we will describe some great scientific works that demonstrate how science can, from systemic, quantitative observational gleanings, find profound truths. How simple curiosity with an open mind can reveal unanticipated insights. In short, this lecture will demonstrate how we know what we know.

“Just what is “Fracking?” Energy from the Earth: Hydraulic fracturing and other principles behind Exploration, Drilling, and Production of Oil and Natural Gas 

Dr. Don Von Bergen, Department Head of Arts, Sciences and Business at K-State Salina

This is an overview of the geology and operations involved in the process known as “fracking” or hydraulic fracturing. It is designed to give the audience a better understanding of the methods used to find oil/natural gas, major steps and technology involved in safely drilling an oil well, and the steps taken to safely and efficiently produce it. Some of the discussion will focus on the factors that led to the “blow-out” and subsequent explosion on the Deepwater Horizon, resulting in the “infamous” April, 2010 oil spill disaster in the Gulf of Mexico. The format of the talk is an interactive power point slide show. Questions and discussion are encouraged. No prior knowledge is needed. The talk can be adapted to any age group.

Lasers: The Light Fantastic

Dr. Chris Sorensen,Cortelyou-Rust University Distinguished Professor of Physics

In this lecture we will study the physics of lasers, i.e. what they are and how they work. To do this we demonstrate a number of interesting physical phenomena including the physics of color, light emission, feedback, and resonance. The lecture concludes by taking a laser apart and explaining all the pieces.

The Landscape Idea: Exploring the Science of What Landscape Architecture Can Do for Learning and Health

Ms. Katie Kingery-Page, Associate Professor of Landscape Architecture and Regional and Community Planning

Landscape architecture is a licensed profession concerned with the design and stewardship of the exterior environment.  Because brains under stress are less capable of learning, understanding the science linking time in nature to stress relief highlights the role landscapes can play in schools and other places of learning.  This presentation explores the science behind time in nature, human health and learning.

Tick-borne Disease Prevention

Ms. Martha Nowak, K12 Program Coordinator at K-State Olathe

A PowerPoint style lecture with a video covers the safe way to enjoy the outside without fear of contracting tick-borne diseases. Types of ticks by region, and description of the diseases, along with how to prepare for time outdoors safely is covered.

Universe of Particles

Dr. Yurii Maravin, Associate Professor of Physics

No summary available.

Up-Cycle Your Life: Going Green through Re-purposing, Re-cycling, and Re-Using

Dr. Donita Whitney-Bammerlin, Instructor, College of Business Administration

At a time when society has concerns about the ozone layer, footprints, and global warming, appreciation and awareness for our environment is higher than before in history.  The mass media utilizes words such as ‘accountability’ and ‘responsible use’ as a means for emphasizing the fact conscientious consumption of our natural resources and recycling is everybody’s business.  Individuals or groups can not participate in this effort unless they are aware of the need and know some strategies for integrating environmental awareness in their daily lives.  Many organizations do not reinforce or reward environmental awareness.  There are few formal trainings that teach reuse and recycling and much of society views these activities as something that is everyone else’s responsibility.  This workshop will share ways your entire organization can be a part of these efforts without a huge budget, hiring on extra staff, or implementing time consuming programs.