Welcome back to Science Fair, Bwog’s weekly roundup of science events happening around campus—this time, with a new science editor. Consider this a scientific revolution! As always, email science@bwog.com if you want your event featured.

Virtual Seminar – Samantha Lewis

  •  Monday, February 7, 2022. 12 pm.
  • Online event, email biology@columbia.edu for Zoom link!
  • “Our cells contain mitochondria because of a single endosymbiosis event 1.5 billion years ago. The acquisition of mitochondria literally fueled an explosive increase in eukaryotic cell complexity via symbiotic energetics, yet has come with a cost: the maintenance of a second genome: mtDNA. MtDNAs replicate autonomously and maintain a relatively constant number in post-mitotic cells via unknown mechanisms. Compromised mtDNA abundance causes bioenergetic defects and metabolic disease; perturbed mtDNA integrity is also a feature of cancer cell metabolism and has been linked to the innate immune response. In the Lewis lab, we aim to reveal the cellular mechanisms that ensure mitochondrial DNA integrity and inheritance in metazoans, using quantitative imaging, genetics and systems biology approaches. Using human cell culture and C. elegans as model systems, we are mapping the pathways that regulate mtDNA and visualizing how those pathways intersect with mitochondrial morphology, dynamics, and signaling in vivo.”

Co-production of Knowledge and a Path for Inclusive Climate Change Science

  • Monday, February 7, 2022. 5 to 6:30 pm.
  • Online event, registration here.
  • “Ikaaġvik Sikukun is a research project that couples state-of-the-art geophysical observations from unmanned aerial systems (UAS) with a community-engaged research approach to bridge scientific and indigenous understanding of sea ice change in the Alaska Arctic. Our research team represents a partnership between academic researchers and the Native Village of Kotzebue and includes expertise in ice and ocean physics, marine biology, ethnography and documentary filmmaking. The research will take place in and around the community of Kotzebue, Alaska, which lies within Kotzebue Sound on the coast of southern Chukchi Sea. Sea ice is integral to the way of life for Kotzebue’s indigenous residents who rely on the marine mammals that inhabit the ice pack for food and clothing. Our study plan begins and ends with the involvement of community members to help craft research questions, collect observations and synthesize our findings. Ultimately, the findings will contribute to predictive assessments of the changing cryosphere of Kotzebue Sound, the implications of such change for the ecology and the Iñupiaq way of life that is dependent upon it. Through this approach, we will address key questions concerning the mechanisms and impacts of rapid changes taking place in the Arctic while ensuring that our answers incorporate traditional ways of knowing and are relevant to local needs.”

Diversity in Computing: Dr. Talitha Washington on Empowering Data Science for Social Justice

  • Monday, February 7, 2022. 6 to 7 pm.
  • Online event, registration here.
  • “As part of the Year of Science @ Barnard College, the Vagelos Computational Science Center (CSC) is excited to announce our first Diversity in Computing Speaker Series. This series will run for the 2021–2022 academic year and will feature talks from scholars and practitioners in computational fields who explore what DEI (diversity, equity, and inclusion) looks like in STEM”…”Data science impacts every facet of our lives: from marketing to finance to voting to facial recognition to medical care. What happens if data science develops technology that amplifies societal biases and blatant racism? Talitha Washington will share her vision on how the STEM community might unite to bring true validity into data science”…“There is an urgent need to more fully consider the ethical and social implications of computing and its applications: for example, in designing addictive social media platforms or in using AI for facial or name recognition, which can lead to housing discrimination, racial biases in job hiring, or restrictions on personal freedoms through public and private surveillance.”

Weather, Indigenous Knowledge, and Early European Expeditions in North America

  • Wednesday, February 9, 2022. 4 to 6 pm.
  • Online event, registration here.
  • “Why did it take so long for Europeans to come to grips with the climates of North America, and how did they eventually come to understand them? This talk examines this question, with a focus on the transfer of Indigenous knowledge of weather and climate. Explicit evidence for such learning is conspicuous by its very absence. However, indirect evidence suggests that early expeditions came to recognize and adapt to North America’s stronger seasons and extreme weather only when and where they could communicate with Indigenous Americans. This talk considers what that communication about climate and weather might have involved and why it proved so difficult.”

Jada Benn Torres – Race and Genetic Identities

  • Wednesday, February 9, 2022. 5:30 to 7 pm.
  • Online event, registration here.
  • “The Direct to Consumer (DTC) genetic testing industry has been steadily growing since its inception at the end of the 20th century. One DTC product, genetic ancestry testing, has continuously garnered attention from both scholars and the lay public because it is often marketed as indicative of racial or ethnic identities. This promise of “genetic race” has ignited conversations about the relationship between race, genetics, and social identities. Drawing on my research with Puerto Rican Afrodescendants and an African American genetic ancestry focus group, I will discuss various ideas surrounding the utility of genetic ancestry testing for thinking about self and community identities. Ultimately, the complexities of genetic ancestry interpretation reflect the complexities of lived experiences of race and anti-racism in the African Diaspora and beyond.”

Addressing Implicit Bias as Standard of Care II: Organizational Ethics and Solutions

  • Thursday, February 10, 2022. 6:15 to 8:15 pm.
  • Online event, registration here.
  • “This session will address the ways health care organizations can and should reframe the scope of professional ethical obligations to improve the quality of care for marginalized communities. The panel will discuss the moral obligations of organizations to acknowledge and ameliorate micro-aggressions and implicit bias in healthcare settings as part of the standard of care.”

From Cytokines In Airway & Tumor Immunity To The Angel Complex

  • Friday, February 11, 2022. Seminar 9 am. Coffee Hour 12 pm.
  • Online event, register here.
  • “This talk will begin with the Abraham lab’s interests in cytokine control of lung immunity. We study responses to viral challenge and their regulation by the IL-7-family of cytokines. We focus on effector CD8 T cell response to Influenza/A infection in various mouse models and document a key role for IL-7, beyond its known role in early lymphopoiesis. We will also show unbiased immune-phenotyping of lung cancer in mice and patients to discern immune cells that may enable better survival outcomes. Finally, I will touch on the data-centred approach used at the UBC Faculty of Science to assess faculty equity and inclusion. It will refute assumptions about the state of racial and gender equity amongst our faculty, examine the evidence of persistent racial bias in academia, and suggest ways to ensure a culture shift in practices.”

Genomic Imaginaries: Sparking Dialogue between ELSI and Literary Studies

  • Friday, February 11, 2022. 12 to 1 pm.
  • Online event, registration here.
  • “As long as genetics research has been pursued, authors within and outside of the scientific establishment have crafted narratives to make sense of what it means. The “genomic imaginaries” found in literary fiction, works of popular nonfiction, blockbuster movies, and visual culture both reinforce and complicate dominant narratives about genomics put forward by governmental institutions and the popular press. They grapple with and help to construct notions of citizenship, humanity, and belonging informed by genomics.”

An Experiment on a Bird in the Air Pump via Wikimedia Commons