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Science Events Calendar

Thursday, September 19, 2019
12:30 pm
Thursday, September 19 | 12:30 – 1:20pmFranklin Environmental Center, The Orchard-Hillcrest 103
Howard E. Woodin Environmental Studies Colloquium Series

"Science and conservation in the largest and deepest UNESCO World Heritage Site on Earth: The Phoenix Islands Protected Area" by Randi Rotjan, Research Assistant Professor at Boston University.

The Phoenix Islands Protected Area, in the Republic of Kiribati, is the largest and deepest UNESCO World Heritage Site on the planet. It hosts a diversity of marine ecosystems including shallow coral reefs, deep sea, and open ocean, and is an important climate laboratory because it is sensitive to El Nino / La Nina dynamics in the Central Pacific. This talk will explore the latest integrative and interdisciplinary science in a conservation context.

4:30 pm
Thursday, September 19 | 4:30 – 5:30pmFranklin Environmental Center, The Orchard-Hillcrest 103
Clifford Symposium: Deep Sea Hydrothermal Vents and Volcanoes

Talk by Lisa Gilbert, associate professor of geosciences and marine science at Williams-Mystic, Williams College

7 pm
Thursday, September 19 | 7 – 8pmWilson Hall, McCullough Student Center
Clifford Symposium Keynote: Reflections of an Ocean Plastics Scientist

Plastic debris was first documented in the ocean more than 45 years ago, when global plastics production was only about 10 percent of its current levels. Today we use these materials in virtually all aspects of our daily lives, yet we are appalled when faced with images of our plastic waste in the ocean and in the stomachs of marine wildlife. This presentation will focus on the most current scientific evidence of environmental impacts of ocean plastics, as well as the role of science and environmental scientists in advancing solutions.

Clifford keynote by Kara Lavender Law, research professor of oceanography at the Sea Education Association.

Friday, September 20, 2019
12:15 pm
Friday, September 20 | 12:15 – 1:30pmWarner 203
Middlebury College Math Circus

Weekly lecture on a topic in Mathematics. Content and speaker announced weekly. Contact Jennifer Nuceder ( to join the email list.

12:30 pm
Friday, September 20 | 12:30 – 1:30pmRobert A. Jones '59 Conference Room
Clifford Symposium: Whale-watching from the Masthead off New Zealand

“Whale Watching from the Masthead off New Zealand: Historic and Present Global Whale Populations and Shifting Perspectives on Extinction”

During the fall 2018 voyage of the SSV Robert C. Seamans off the coast of New Zealand—an SEA Global Ocean expedition that included two Middlebury students in the Class of 2020—researchers studied a uniquely careful whaleman’s journal from the 1850s and compared this man’s sightings of whales and other marine life to what they observed and sampled. Using data from the 1850s journal and their own voyage, they created a GIS map, studied shifts in global whale populations, and analyzed what 19th-century whalemen and the general public understood about the health of these populations and how this compares to our perspectives and hindsight knowledge today. This year marks the 200th birthday of Herman Melville, a whaleman himself and the author of Moby-Dick (1851), who had some surprising and often misguided thoughts on whale populations and extinction.

Panel discussion featuring Richard King, visiting associate professor at the Sea Education Association, and Williams-Mystic students from Middlebury Jennifer Crandall ’20 and Caitlin Dicara ’20.

(Lunch served at 12:15, panel to start at 12:30)

4:30 pm
Friday, September 20 | 4:30 – 5:30pmFranklin Environmental Center, The Orchard-Hillcrest 103
Clifford Symposium: Extreme Weather on the Rise, Arctic Ice on the Decline: How Are They Connected?

Does it seem as though the weather gods have gone crazy lately? It is not your imagination. The question on everyone’s minds is, why? And is it related to climate change? In this presentation, Francis will explain new research that links increasing extreme weather events with the rapidly warming and melting Arctic during recent decades. Evidence suggests that Arctic warming is causing weather patterns to become more persistent, which can lead to extremes such as droughts, cold spells, heat waves, unusually snowy winters, and some flooding events.

Talk by Jennifer Francis, senior scientist at Woods Hole Research Center, Falmouth, Massachusetts.

7 pm
Friday, September 20 | 7 – 9pmDana Auditorium (Sunderland Language Center)
Clifford Symposium: Chasing the Thunder

With compelling high-seas blue-water action, this eco-thriller is an antipoaching documentary that sees the marine conservation group Sea Shepherd’s vessels chasing the Thunder, the notorious pirate poacher, to the bottom of the sea.

Movie trailer and movie poster

Film screening, followed by a Q&A and discussion with marine conservation activist Captain Paul Watson and filmmaker Mark Benjamin.

8:30 pm
Friday, September 20 | 8:30 – 10pmMittelman Observatory (McCardell Bicentennial Hall)
Stargazing at Mittelman Observatory

Mittelman Observatory and Middlebury Physics will again host stargazing open house nights this autumn. These Observatory events are scheduled for Friday evenings, September 13 and September 20, from 8:30 PM until 10:00 PM, weather permitting.

Jupiter and Saturn will be in the evening sky on these dates. A variety of interesting stars, star clusters, and nebulae will also be visible through the Observatory's telescopes. The Observatory includes a 24-inch telescope in a dome and smaller telescopes on the roof.

Mittelman Observatory is located atop McCardell Bicentennial Hall on the west side of the Middlebury College campus. To reach the Observatory, follow Route 125 west from the Middlebury village center, through campus, and down the hill. Turn right on Bicentennial Way towards the parking lot, enter the building, and take the elevator to the 7th and top floor.

Observatory open house nights are free and open to the public. However, these events will take place only if the sky is expected to be mostly clear. Please check the Observatory web site at… or call the Observatory at 443-2266 after 6:30 PM on the evening of the event for weather status.

Saturday, September 21, 2019
9:30 am
Saturday, September 21 | 9:30 – 11amFranklin Environmental Center, The Orchard-Hillcrest 103

A panel discussion with faculty and students from the BIOL 371 Advanced Field Biology: Place-based Global Biology Education W'19. Students in this course conducted field-based scientific observation, sample and data collection, and interpretation of biological phenomena in coral reef environments on Abaco Island, Bahamas. The course deeply engaged in off-campus, place-based learning practicing population genetics, ecology, genomics, biogeochemistry, and site mapping via Rapid Ecological Assessment (REA) protocols. This work will contribute to ongoing active reef research with global reef conservation implications and many of these students are continuing to pursue related research opportunities.

Panelists are Jeremy Ward, Professor of Biology; Erin Eggleston, Assistant Professor of Biology; and Middlebury students Will Greene '19, Luke Kikukawa '19.5, Helena Milazzo '22, George Valentine '19.5

(Breakfast will be served in the Franklin Environmental Center breezeway, starting at 9:00 a.m.)

Monday, September 23, 2019
5 pm
Monday, September 23 | 5 – 6:30pmMcCardell Bicentennial Hall 216
Printed: Wednesday, September 18, 2019 at 2:25 AM PDT Calendar events displayed in Eastern Daylight Time