Research Unplugged speaker series prepares for ninth year

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. -- Research Unplugged, the popular Penn State speaker series that brings University researchers into the community for lively public discussions, launches its ninth year on Oct. 11.

The series, sponsored by the Office of the Vice President for Research and the office of University Relations, gained an even broader audience last semester when it relocated its programs to Schlow Centre Region Library's Downsbrough Community Room. Find it this fall at the same place and time on Thursdays from 12:15 to 1:15 p.m.

The events are free and open to the public, with complimentary light refreshments.

"This fall's line-up represents an exciting mix of Penn State's research topics across the disciplines," said Melissa Beattie-Moss, manager of Research Communications and coordinator of the Research Unplugged series. "We are always aiming to bring Penn State researchers -- and the issues they spend their lives investigating -- into the community to foster dialogue about things that touch impact us all. We couldn't be more pleased about how our partnership with Schlow Library is helping us reach an even greater cross-section of people in our area."

Lisa Gatzke-Kopp, Assistant Professor of Human Development, kicks off the series on Oct. 11 with "The ABCs of ADHD: Inside the Brains of Kids with Attention Deficit and Hyperactivity Disorders." A recipient of the National Science Foundation's prestigious Faculty Early Career Development award, Gatzke-Kopp researches how children develop behavior problems such as aggression and hyperactivity.

On Oct. 18, Jenni Evans, Professor of Meteorology, will present "Stormy Weather: Hurricanes, Monsoons and Global Climate Change." Evans studies climate variability, particularly its impact on tropical weather. "The field trips are generally hot and sticky," said Evans of her research, "but understanding the workings of the atmosphere affecting 50 percent of the Earth's populations is worth a little sweat."

The series recognizes 150 years of graduate education at Penn State with a discussion on Oct. 25 by food science graduate student Nadia Byrnes and her faculty advisor, John Hayes, assistant professor of food science. "Some Like it Hot: The Science Behind Our Food Preferences" will be an eye-opening (and mouth-watering) talk about our sense of taste.

On Nov.1, the timely topic is the presidential election. Discussing "Obama vs. Romney: The Debate on Economic Growth," Samuel Thompson, distinguished faculty scholar and professor of law, will guide our talk about the candidates' economic policies. Thompson is also the director of Penn State's Center for the Study of Mergers and Acquisitions.

Simon Bronner will present "Campus Traditions: Folklore from the Old-Time College to the Modern University" on Nov. 8. Bronner, distinguished professor of American studies and folklore at Penn State Harrisburg, is a widely published author and, since 2011, the editor of the Encyclopedia of American Studies.

On Nov. 15, Research Unplugged closes the season with a talk by associate professor of music and music education, Anthony Leach, titled "A Joyful Noise: Choral Music from the African-American Tradition," along with a live performance by members of the Essence of Joy choir. Leach, who was the 2009-2010 Penn State Laureate, teaches graduate and undergraduate courses in music education and conducts both the University Choir and Essence of Joy.

"We greatly look forward to seeing many new first-time attendees this season, along with our Research Unplugged regulars," said Beattie-Moss. She pointed out that University Relations plans, once again, to make a video excerpt of each talk available the following Monday on Penn State Live (http://live.psu.edu/), as well as to subscribers to the free biweekly Research & Discovery Newswire that keeps readers informed about interesting research happening at Penn State. Subscribe here.

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Last Updated August 16, 2012