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Fall 2016

10/08/2016 | Searching for Habitable Worlds Through Diamond Window -- Jie Li (U-M Mineral Physics and Geochemistry)

In the solar system the Earth is the only planet known to harbor life. Are we alone? Is there any habitable world among the thousands of exoplanets discovered to date? This talk will introduce high pressure experiments that shine brilliant light through diamond windows to search for clues to planetary habitability.

10/15/2016 | Growing Pains: The Tumultuous Youth of Stars -- Megan Reiter (U-M Astronomy)

Stars are the fundamental unit of astronomy - how they are born and evolve affects everything from the evolution of galaxies to the formation of planets. Most of this process is hidden behind large amounts of gas and dust. Fortunately, nature has given us a few nearby regions where massive stars light up the next generation, revealing just how complicated growing up is for stars.

10/22/2016 | Exploding Stars, Life, the Universe, and Everything -- David Cinabro (Wayne State University)

Some stars end their lives in tremendous explosions called Supernovae. These violent events not only provide the basic building blocks of life, but also reveal the origin and fate of the Universe.

10/29/2016 | Safeguarding the Genome -- Lyle Simmons (U-M Molecular, Cellular, and Developmental Biology)

All cells are able to respond to DNA damage through the use of DNA repair pathways and regulation of the cell cycle. This lecture will discuss how cells are able to repair DNA when it is damaged to maintain the cellular blueprint for life.

11/05/2016 | Nanoscale Microscopy: Understanding Life One Molecule at a Time -- Julie Biteen (U-M Chemistry and Biophysics)

Molecules and their chemical interactions lie at the heart of the world around us. To understand biology, physics, and materials science on the molecular scale, Professor Biteen has been building super-resolution microscopes that bridge the gap between traditional microscopy and the nanometer scale of molecules. These new methods allow direct visualization of very subtle details—down to just one protein moving inside a living cell! Professor Biteen will discuss how this single-molecule fluorescence imaging can measure properties that have remained inaccessible due to the fundamental limitations of traditional approaches, with an emphasis on questions important to human health, for instance, “How do the bacteria in our guts ensure digestive health?” and "How is the cholera disease regulated?"

11/12/2016 | Evolution in Black and White: How Fruit Flies Change Their Spots and Stripes -- Patricia Wittkopp (U-M Ecology and Evolutionary Biology)

DNA is often described as the blueprint for life because it encodes information that directs the development and function of all living things. Changes in DNA sequence accumulated over evolutionary time give rise to the differences we see among species. In this talk, Professor Wittkopp will use the pigmentation of fruit flies to illustrate genetic mechanisms of development and evolution.

11/19/2016 | Cosmological Inflation -- Saroj Adhikari (U-M Physics)

What do we know about what might have happened during the earliest times in the evolution of our Universe? And, how do we know about it from cosmological observations?

12/03/2016 | Capitalizing on Diversity: Planet Formatoin Boundary Conditions on the Origins of Life -- Michael R. Meyer (U-M Astronomy)

Planets form within circumstellar disks which are an inevitable outcome of the process of star formation. We know a great deal about the structure, composition, and evolution of these circumstellar disks, which set the initial conditions of formation and define the environment of their early evolution. While traditional planet formation theories generally fail when confronted with the observations, new ideas are suggesting a way forward. What is certain is that the complex interplay between the dynamics of these disks and chemical processes plays a critical role in dictating the composition of forming planets. There is plenty of room for "fine tuning" but the great diversity in observed planetary system architectures could represent an expected filling if the available phase space.