'Digital Lives of Teens' to launch Research Unplugged series on March 20

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. -- Research Unplugged, the Penn State series that brings together a broad range of University researchers and the State College community for lively public discussions, begins its spring season on March 20 at the Schlow Centre Region Library. Lynette Kvasny, associate professor of information sciences and technology, will present "Wired: Inside the Digital Lives of Teens." Kvasny is an internationally recognized expert how racial, gender and class identities shape our engagement with information and communication technologies.

Five of the six Research Unplugged events will be held in the Downsbrough Community Room Thursday afternoons from 12:30 to 1:30 p.m. All are free and open to the public, with complimentary light refreshments.

On March 27, Pete Hatemi, associate professor of political science, microbiology and biochemistry, will present "Party Animals: How Genes Help Shape Our Political Views." Hatemi, author of the book "Man is by Nature a Political Animal," believes that our political inclinations are deeply rooted -- all the way down to the cellular level. Hatemi's research has been featured in many news outlets including NPR, the BBC and the Washington Post.

On April 3, a special Research Unplugged event will feature Wayne Sebastianelli M.D. and will be held in the Pegula Club Room at the Pegula Ice Arena. Dr. Sebastianelli is the Kalanek Professor in Orthopedics and director of athletic medicine at Penn State. His talk, titled "Heads Up! Kids and Sports-Related Brain Injuries," tackles a topic much in the news: our increasing awareness of how to better prevent and treat sports-related concussions among kids and teens.

Research Unplugged blasts off on April 10 when James Kasting, professor of geosciences, leads a talk titled "4th Rock From the Sun: Exploring the Mysteries of Mars." Kasting, a renowned planetary scientist, researches the physical conditions that allow planets to sustain life. He was chairman of NASA's ongoing Exoplanet Exploration Program Analysis Group and authored the book "How to Find a Habitable Planet." Kasting's talk is presented in conjunction with this year's "Centre County Reads" book selection, "Packing for Mars" by Mary Roach. More information about the book and events is found at the Centre County Reads website: http://www.centrecountyreads.org/

On April 17, Research Unplugged celebrate Earth Day with "Ancient Flowers: The Search for Earth's First Flowering Plants" by professor of biology Claude dePamphilis. Recognized internationally for his groundbreaking work on the evolutionary genomics of flowers and the Floral Genome Project, dePamphilis will explore the mystery that has long puzzled plant biologists: why flowers suddenly appeared in the fossil record over 100 million years ago.

Research Unplugged's season concludes on April 24 by observing National Poetry Month with "Once Upon a Line," a poetry reading and talk with award-winning poet Erin Murphy, associate professor of English and creative writing at Penn State Altoona. Murphy is the author of six volumes of poetry including "Science of Desire," a finalist for the Paterson Poetry Prize; "Too Much of this World," winner of the Anthony Piccione Poetry Prize, and most recently, "Ancilla." Each of the 32 poems in "Ancilla" is voiced by an ancillary character in the lives of famous figures from literature, philosophy, science and art. Murphy's poems give voice to these siblings, servants and spouses, celebrating and elevating these background characters.

Research Unplugged is made possible with the support of the Office of the Vice President for Research, the Office of Strategic Communications and Schlow Centre Region Library. For additional information, contact series coordinator Melissa Beattie Moss at 814 865 2614 or mbmoss@psu.edu.

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Last Updated March 27, 2014