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College of Arts and Sciences announces spring colloquium

Science is the focus for the College of Arts and Sciences Spring 2012 Colloquium Series. The Monday series begins March 5, and runs through April 30. All speakers will be presenting in Science Hall Room 107 on the New Mexico State University campus.



Science is the focus for the College of Arts and Sciences Spring 2012 Colloquium Series. The series begins from 4-5:15 p.m. Monday, March 5, and runs through April 30. All speakers will be presenting in Science Hall Room 107 on the NMSU campus. (Courtesy photo)

"Five lectures from a range of disciplines - astronomy, biochemistry, chemistry, geology and mathematics - will be featured in the series," said English Department Head Monica Torres. "Speakers will discuss specific projects and studies with which they are engaged, as well as critical implications of their work."

Kicking off the series is Shelley Lusetti, an assistant professor in the Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry. Lusetti will give her talk, "Lessons from Biochemistry: Understanding the Cellular Responses to DNA Damage in Bacteria can Advance Human Health," from 4-5:15 p.m., Monday, March 5.

Lusetti, a biochemist who researches the enzymology of DNA repair and the biochemical roles of novel enzymes involved in DNA damage response pathways, will discuss how the advancement of microbial biochemistry continues to aid in both the treatment of bacterial infections and the understanding of crippling diseases such as cancer and premature aging.

"Appropriate Technologies for Health, the Environment, and Social Entrepreneurship," is the title of the second discussion in the series. Antonio Lara, an assistant professor in the chemistry and biochemistry department, will present his topic from 4:00-5:15 p.m. Monday, April 2.

Lara, whose research focuses on pollution abatement, air particulates, and heavy metals in water, will present a scientific perspective on links between environmental science, social justice and world poverty. His work has led to successful abatement of carcinogenic effluent from brick kilns that are used worldwide and are now known to contribute significantly to global warming.

The next presenter, Robert Smits, an associate professor in the mathematics department, will speak on "ESP, Bayesian Jurisprudence, and When Education is not the Answer," from 4:00-5:15 p.m. Monday, April 9.

In this talk, Smits will discuss the use of classical frequentist statistics as a powerful method for reasoning from incomplete information in the natural and social sciences and more specifically three examples where complex computations known as "common sense" have a deep, theoretical underpinning and where frequentist calculations are seen as ad hoc, sometimes silly and sometimes disastrous.

Sedimentologist Greg Mack, a professor in the Department of Geology, will talk about "Evolution of the Southern Rio Grande Rift: What You are Seeing When You Look Around Outside," from 4-5:15 p.m. Monday, April 23.

Mack's talk will explain the geological development of southern New Mexico and give the audience an understanding of what they are seeing when they hike in the Organ, Robledo, Sacramento, and Gila mountains.

The series concludes with "The Wrath of Ra in the Modern Age: Lesson Earned in the Human Computer and Data-Driven Science." James McAteer, an assistant professor in the astronomy department, will present his lecture from 4-5:15 p.m. Monday, April 30.

His talk will focus on recent breakthrough progress in understanding how the sun works and how solar storms affect humanity in the modern era. McAteer will describe how modern image processing, feature recognition and artificial intelligence are used to work with the vast volumes of data now being obtained in astrophysics. This talk will discuss the move away from pure, single-person, hypothesis-science to that of a multidisciplinary, multi-institutional, data-driven research model.

"Each semester, the colloquium planning committee, in conjunction with Jeff Brown, the associate dean for research, accepts nominations for the series," Torres said. "The committee then works to assure that a broad range of disciplinary perspectives are represented in each series."

For more information about the series contact Torres at 575-646-2319 or mftorres@nmsu.edu.