Public Programming

E.E. Just Science Forum

The Science Forum features talks by Dartmouth Faculty and visiting scientists over dinner. This is a great opportunity for Scholars to learn more about exciting ideas in STEM and to network with scientists working at the forefront of their fields.

The Science Forum typically meets three to four times per term.

Winter 2019 Events

January 9: Science Forum

  • Speaker: Jared Boyce '16, Associate Researcher, Icahn School of Medicine, Mount Sinai, NYC
  • Title: Addressing the Alzheimer’s Epidemic: Chemogenetic Modulation of the Primate Basal Forebrain
  • Abstract: Advancements in public health and biomedicine have increased life expectancy globally. However, cognitive deficits and dementia-related diseases like Alzheimer’s have also risen with life expectancy. Approximately 5.8 million people suffer from Alzheimer’s and this number is expected to triple by 2050. While great strides have been achieved in understanding the underlying molecular and neurobiological etiology of this disease a cure remains elusive and treatment options are limited. The brain’s cholinergic system has been implicated in Alzheimer’s etiology and pathology, specifically in the basal forebrain. Could a pioneering research technique called DREADDs become a viable treatment option for patients suffering from Alzheimer’s? In this talk, Jared discusses some of the ongoing research in the Baxter Laboratory at Mount Sinai that utilizes non-human primates to model cognitive deficits associated with Alzheimer’s. He also explores the use of DREADDs, a chemogenetic technique, to improve learning and memory—potentially paving the path toward future treatment options with greater efficacy. 


September 19: Science Forum

  • Speaker: Barbara Jobst, MD, PhD, Department of Neurology, Geisel School of Medicine & Section Chief of Neurology at DHMC
  • Title: Brain stimulation for memory and epilepsy
  • Abstract: Brain stimulation is an emerging treatment for epilepsy and seizures. Seizures can be measured by electroencelphalography (EEG) which are brain signals. Our research concerns how to modulate EEG to avoid or abort seizures with brain stimulation. Memory can also be measure with EEG and it can be predicted from EEG whether a person will remember a word or not by applying machine learning algorithms. Brain stimulation was also applied to improve memory based on EEG signals.

October 31: Science Forum

  • Speaker: Assistant Professor Alberto Quattrini Li, Department of Computer Science
  • Title: Autonomous Robots for Monitoring the Marine Environment
  • Abstract: This talk will describe problems and challenges on designing robots that can operate in challenging environments, such as lakes and oceans, for environmental monitoring and water sampling. We will discuss how to collect measurements in a region of interest, model them realtime, and use such information to drive the robots intelligently in the environment. Field trials in Barbados and lakes around the US with real robots—including custom-made boats—provide insights and lessons learned. The talk will conclude with a discussion of some of the current open research problems for a truly autonomous multirobot system. 

November 7: Science Forum

  • Speaker: Assistant Professor Ina Petkova, Department of Mathematics
  • Title:  Knots, the Universe, and Everything 
  • Abstract: The study of the shapes of spaces in dimensions three and four has applications ranging from physics and cosmology (the shape of the universe) to biochemistry (understanding the behavior of knotted DNA). It is closely related to the study of knots (loops tied in space). Some of the important questions in knot theory are “What surfaces can a given knot bound?”, or “How many times does a knot need to pass through itself to become unknotted?”, or “What happens if I cut a knot and reglue the pieces in a different way?”. We will discuss how mathematics can help answer such questions and mention some open problems and possible ways to attack them.

Past Public Events 2017 - 2018

March 28, 2018: Science Forum

  • Speaker: Scott Pauls, Chair, Department of Mathematics, Dartmouth College
  • Title: Network models for the mammalian circadian clock
  • Abstract: How does your body know when to wake up in the morning or go to sleep at night?  Why do you get jet lag and why does it take so long to get over?  Mammals produce a master circadian rhythm (circa means “about” and dian means “day”) in a small portion of the brain that sits above the optic chasm called the suprachiasmatic nucleus (SCN).  The SCN comprises oscillatory neurons that entrain to the light-dark schedule transmitted by the optic nerve and transmit that signal to other systems in the organism as a master time-keeper for the body.  This signal needs to be both robust and flexible – it should resist rapid resetting but be responsive to daylength changes throughout the year.   While much is known about the oscillatory neurons in the system, little is known about how they connect and communicate with one another which we believe is at the heart of the necessary robustness and flexibility.  I will talk about ongoing work modeling the network connectivity within the SCN to better understand this dynamical process, demonstrating synchronicity among the oscillatory neurons and larger structures that help encode environmental information.

January 10, 2018: Science Forum

  • Speaker: Dr. Amar Das M.D., Director, IBM Research
  • Title: From Winning Jeopardy to Being your Doctor's Assistant
  • Abstract: Dr. Das at IBM’s Healthcare and Life Sciences research division, leads four teams focused on AI for healthcare and healthcare effectiveness research.  The research focuses on new statistical, computational, organizational, and regulatory methods to advance and evaluate AI solutions in healthcare.  The overall goal is to develop a learning health system that engages providers, patients, researchers in continually evaluating the effectiveness of AI interventions, improving health outcomes, and delivering high value care. 

January 17, 2018: Science Forum

  • Speaker: Professor Magdalena Bezanilla, Department of Biology
  • Title: Design principles in Biology: focusing on cell shape
  • Abstract: This talk will discuss one way to tackle deciphering the complexity of biological systems. Living organisms are intricate making it challenging to uncover the first principles underlying living systems. One approach is to find simple organisms that can be precisely manipulated allowing for mechanistic analyses of biological processes. We will take on the seemingly simple question of how a cell within an organism obtains its final shape. We will use moss as a model system to study one particular type of cell to unravel fundamental biological mechanisms conserved across millions of years.

February 21, 2018: Science Forum

  • Speaker: Assistant Professor Marisa Palucis, Department of Earth Sciences
  • Title: Water on Mars: Observations from the Curiosity Rover
  • Abstract: Using data from the Curiosity Rover, we have discovered that billions of years ago, Mars was capable of supporting long-lived streams and large lakes. As a team member on the Mars Science Laboratory mission, I will talk about the types of data the rover collects, how we collect, analyze and interpret that data, and what the implications are for past life on Mars.

February 28, 2018: Science Forum

  • Speaker: Professor Robert Hawley, Department of Earth Sciences
  • Title: Taking vitals on the ice.  Elevation, Accumulation, and Mass Balance
  • Abstract: The great ice sheets in Greenland and Antarctica are changing in response to a warming climate.  Taken together, these ice sheets contain enough water to raise sea level by 70 meters, and alter national coastlines.  Scientists, decision-makers, and the general public want to know what is happening to the ice sheets right now, and to get a handle on it, we turn to satellites, airplanes, and snowmobiles.  We will discuss the current state of the art in measuring change of the Greenland and Antarctic ice sheets from all of these platforms, find out what research on the front lines of climate change is like, and learn exactly what IS happening on the great ice sheets.

Septermber 20, 2017: Science Forum

  • Speaker: Professor Devin Balkcom, Department of Computer Science
  • Title: Economy of motion: folding origami, tying knots, fast cars, and packaging puzzles
  • Abstract: This talk will describe several problems of automatically designing mechanisms and motions drawn from practical challenges in robotics. We will discuss how to study and manipulate cloth, string, and paper, how to plan a motion for a mobile robot, and how to automatically design packaging to ship a delicate item. The models we use of robots and the physical world, while simple, lead to surprisingly beautiful geometric results. 

October 25, 2017: Science Forum

  • Speaker: Dr. Salvador Mandujano, Google Engineer
  • Title: Android Security: Detecting and Fighting Mobile Threats at Scale
  • Abstract: More than 2 billion users have an Android device today. This talk will discuss the technical challenges that the Android Security  team faces when defending these users against mobile threats. In particular, the characterization, detection and takedown of the most harmful mobile threat categories (e.g., spyware, backdoors, fraud, DDoS) will be discussed, as well as the type of technology and engineering skills necessary to mitigate these risks effectively and at scale.

 November 1, 2017: Science Forum

  • Speaker: Professor Ryan Hickox, Department of Physics and Astronomy
  • Title: Searching for hidden supermassive black holes
  • Abstract: At the center of essentially every large galaxy like our Milky Way resides a supermassive black hole. These black holes gain their huge mass by "eating" interstellar gas, which on the way into the black hole heats up and glows very brightly. These "quasars" are the most powerful energy sources in the Universe, and the energy they release can have a profound effect on how stars form in their host galaxies. I will give a brief overview of supermassive black holes and quasars, and describe my research group's efforts, using telescopes around the world and in space (including the Hubble Space Telescope, Chandra X-ray Observatory, and Southern African Large Telescope) uncover a mysterious population of "hidden" quasars that are shrouded behind thick clouds of gas and dust. 

November 8, 2017: Science Forum

  • Speaker: Professor Ivan Aprahamian, Department of Chemistry
  • Title: Rise of the Molecular Machines
  • Abstract: My talk will deal with recent advances in the field of molecular switches and machines (topic of the 2016 Chemistry Nobel Prize), including contributions from my research group here at Dartmouth College. I will describe how organic and supramolecular chemistry can be applied in designing molecular architectures that can be used as muscles/actuators, drug delivery systems, diagnostics and sensing platforms, and even molecular memory devices! There will be some badly delivered jokes as well.

April 5, 2017: Science Forum

  • Speaker: Benjamine Arellano, Geisel School of Medicine
  • Title: Charting your path to Graduate School
  • Abstract: Please join us for a discussion about Ph.D. programs in your field. We will discuss whether graduate school is the right choice for you and what you could be doing right now to be the best applicant for any program. We will have individuals from multiple science disciplines discussing their experiences in graduate school and will be on hand to answer any specific questions you may have.

April 9, 2017: Science Forum

  • Speaker: Jibran Khokhar, Geisel School of Medicine
  • Title: Substance Use and Schizophrenia: Cracking the chicken-or-egg problem
  • Abstract: Although alcohol and substance use disorders (SUDs) occur commonly in patients with schizophrenia and significantly worsen their clinical course, the neurobiological basis of SUDs in schizophrenia is not well understood. Therefore, there is a critical need to understand the mechanisms underlying SUDs in schizophrenia in order to identify potential targets for therapeutic intervention. Since drug use usually begins in adolescence, it is also important to understand the long-term effects of adolescent drug exposure on schizophrenia- and reward- related behaviors and circuitry. This talk will combine pharmacological, behavioral and pre-clinical magnetic resonance imaging approaches to study these topics with an eye toward developing better treatment approaches.

April 12, 2017: Science Forum

  • Speaker: Professor Hany Farid, Department of Computer Science
  • Title: Photo Forensics
  • Abstract: From the tabloid magazines to main-stream media outlets, political campaigns, courtrooms, and the photo hoaxes that land in our email, doctored photographs are appearing with a growing frequency and sophistication. The resulting lack of trust is impacting law enforcement, national security, the media, e-commerce, and more. The field of photo forensics has emerged to help return some trust in photography. I will provide an overview of this field of forensic science.

Jam Sessions

Once per week E.E. Just Scholars meet with the Graduate Fellows to discuss ideas encountered in their coursework, research and internships.

The Jam Sessions feature two or three 15-minute student presentations on various topics in STEM, plus time for general discussion. The presentations can be expository (e.g., cover a concept learned in class) or it can focus on a Scholar's research. The general discussion time will provide Scholars with the opportunity to form breakout groups that will delve more deeply into coursework under the guidance of our Graduate Fellows.

E.E. Just Symposium

Every two years a group of highly acclaimed scientists from academia and industry is invited to Dartmouth to speak at the E.E. Just Symposium. The Symposium provides E.E. Just Scholars and members of the Dartmouth Community with a unique opportunity to interact with top scholars and visionaries from across the spectrum.