Research Unplugged discussion series launches new season March 14

February 26, 2013

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. -- Research Unplugged, the Penn State series that brings together a broad range of Penn State researchers and the State College community for lively public discussions, begins its 9th year on March 14 at the Schlow Centre Region Library. The events will be held in the Downsbrough Community Room Thursday afternoons from 12:15 to 1:15 p.m. and are free and open to the public, with complimentary light refreshments.

Susan McHale, professor of human development and family studies, will begin the series with "Sibling Wars: Why Brothers & Sisters Fight (and What to Do About It)." McHale, who is a faculty member in the Prevention Research Center, focuses on the dynamic relationships of parents, children and adolescents.

March 21 will feature a special Research Unplugged event held at the Palmer Museum of Art on the University Park Campus. Dana Carlisle Kletchka, curator of education, and Joyce Robinson, curator of the Palmer Museum, will present "Behind the Scenes at the Museum: What Do Curators Do?" Kletchka and Robinson will give attendees a peek at the inner workings of art museums and the professional life of museum curators.

On March 28, Jeffrey Brownson, assistant professor of materials science and engineering, will present, "Power Quest: Are We Solving the Sustainable Energy Puzzle?" Brownson was the faculty director for Penn State's solar house, Natural Fusion, and mentored the student-run Natural Fusion team to a third place victory in two categories within the Department of Energy's Solar Decathlon in Washington, D.C., in 2009.

Research Unplugged will hit a high note on April 4 when Bonnie Cutsforth-Huber presents a talk and demonstration, "Figaro, Figaro, Figaro! How to Understand and Love Opera." Cutsforth, assistant professor at Penn State Altoona, is a professional contralto and has performed across North America and Europe, including a performance as alto soloist at Carnegie Hall in April 2012.

On April 11, Evan Pugh Professor of Geosciences Richard Alley will lead a talk on causes and effects of global warming in "Lessons in Antarctica: Global Warming, Rising Seas." Alley is a widely published and awarded researcher on climate change and one of several Penn State earth scientists who are contributors to the United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, which shared the 2007 Nobel Prize with former U.S. Vice President Al Gore.

Research Unplugged's season concludes when Jenifer Smith, professor of forensic science, shares her intriguing line of work in "Real-Life CSI: Myths and Realities of Crime-Scene Investigation." As former DNA analyst for the FBI, Smith serves on several federal advisory groups that support national security entities concerned with microbial forensics.

Video excerpts will be available online following each talk. Follow @PSUresearch on Twitter during the events for live updates each week.

Research Unplugged is made possible with the support of the Office of the Vice President for Research, the Office of University Relations and Schlow Centre Region Library. For additional information, contact series coordinator Melissa Beattie-Moss at 814 865 2614 or


  • Research Unplugged Spring 2013 poster
    IMAGE: Penn State

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Last Updated April 04, 2013