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Science and Technology Seminar Series begins Feb. 5

2/4/2008 —

“The Elwha River Restoration:  Microbial Communities and Nutrients as Indicators of Habitat Change” is the topic that kicks off Penn State York's sixth annual Science and Technology Seminar Series Tuesday, Feb. 5 at 4:30 p.m.   The 10-week series, in the Community Room of the Joe and Rosie Ruhl Student Community Center at the campus, is free and open to the public.

Penn State York started the lecture series six years ago to offer college students, area high school students, and the general public an opportunity to hear nationally recognized speakers on a variety of topics.  “This is a great opportunity to discover new and interesting science topics and also learn more about scientific research and the careers of people we call scientists,” said Matt Hoch, Ph.D., series creator and assistant professor of biology at Penn State York.

The first seminar features William Eaton, Ph.D., senior vice president of academics and director of the Center of Excellence, Peninsula College, Port Angeles, Washington.  Eaton will talk about the possible changes in microbes and nutrients of the Elwha River after the removal of two dams that have blocked fish passage (migratory salmon) since the early 1900s in Washington State.  The state and the Elwha Indian tribe have worked to get the dams removed and this process will begin by 2012.   The result of removing the dams is the release of about 8 million metric yards of sediment into the river.    

As the largest dam removal ever conducted and the number two national restoration priority for the National Park Service, this project presents a unique opportunity for the study of ecosystem processes and ecosystem restoration.  In April 2005, a National Science Foundation funded research experience for undergraduates program began at Peninsula College, 15 miles from the Elwha River.  The primary goal of the research was to develop baseline data to be used as part of the plan for assessing the impact of the dams and the effectiveness of the restoration project post-dam removal.  

Eaton’s presentation will provide information about the Elwha Restoration Project, the Peninsula College REU program, and their results of the first attempt at assembling the feasibility of using genetic and functional microbial diversity, microbial community structure, and nutrient chemistry measurements as indicators of habitat change or variation within the three main reaches of the Elwha River and Quinault River.  Eaton’s topic is of particular interest in Pennsylvania since the state has removed many small dams and has some of the same problems with valleys being covered with mill pond sediment.  

Eaton holds a bachelor of arts in wildlife zoology, a master of arts in biology, and a doctorate in microbiology from San Jose State University.    He has been a faculty member at University of Alaska, Malaspina University College, and California State College, Monterey Bay (CSUMA).  He also served as the director of academic affairs at Penn State York and the associate vice-president of academic planning at CSUMB.  His research activities have included work on infectious diseases of aquatic animals in California, Alaska, Washington, British Columbia, and Canada as well as microbial ecology work in Pennsylvania, Belize, Washington State, and Costa Rica. Dr. Eaton helped develop the undergraduate research programs at Malaspina University College and Peninsula College. His work in the tropics includes development of tropical ecology courses and research projects in Belize from 1995-2001 and in Costa Rica since 2004.  

The series is sponsored by the Penn State York Student Activity Fee, an anonymous donor; and the science, math, and engineering faculty at the campus.  Further details on the upcoming programs can be found on the Web at www.yk.psu.edu/~mph13/STSS08.htm.

Seminar Schedule

Feb. 12         “Organic Name Reactions in Industrial Chemistry”, Dr. Ron Kreis (President, Bimax, Inc.)

Feb. 19          “A Squirrelly Subject”, Dr. Michael A. Steele (Associate Professor of Biology, Wilkes University)  

Feb. 26           “Mushrooms of Pennsylvania”, Dr. John Dawson (Professor Emeritus, Math Department, Penn State York

March 4          “Surfactants in Cosmetic Chemistry”, Dr. Camille Sasik (Staff Scientist, Johnson & Johnson)

March 18         “Greenhouse Technology in Floriculture”, Dr. Jay Holcomb (Professor of Floriculture, College of Agricultural Science, Penn State)    

March 25  “Osteopathology: Bone Tumors”, Dr. Benjamin Hoch (Assistant Professor of Pathology, Mount   Sinai School of Medicine)

April 1 
  “Stellar Evolution, Cataclysmic Eruptions, and the Mysterious V838 Monocerotis” , Dr. Timothy Lawlor (Asstistant Professor of Physics, Penn State Brandywine)  

April 8   “Stem Cells and Neurological Diseases: Now and in the Future”, Dr. Douglas Kerr (Associate Professor Neurology, Johns Hopkins School of Medicine). This program is at 7:00 p.m. in the Pullo Family Performing Arts Center at Penn State York.

April 15              “Biotechnology and the Changing Practice of Medicine”,  Dr. James Greene (Professor of Biology, The Catholic University of America)

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