Category Archives: Science Education

Sigma Xi Pizza Lunch – ‘ Friends or Foes: Social Relationships Among Female Chimpanzees’ with Anne Pusey

To keep keeping you on your toes, we’ll host Pizza Lunch on a Wednesday again this month, rather than on a Tuesday. And it promises to be another good one.

Come hear Anne Pusey, chair of evolutionary anthropology and a James B. Duke professor at Duke, speak at noon Wed., Feb 23 at Sigma Xi. Her talk: Friends or Foes: Social Relationships Among Female Chimpanzees. Pusey has studied competition, cooperation and social bonds in multiple species. Most of her work focuses on our close evolutionary cousins, the chimpanzees. Early in her career, Pusey observed juvenile and adolescent development under the direction of Jane Goodall at Tanzania’s Gombe Stream Reserve. She still has ties. Her research team maintains and digitizes data collected at Gombe, where Goodall started observing chimpanzees more than 50 years ago.

Thanks to a grant from the N.C. Biotechnology Center, American Scientist Pizza Lunch is free and open to science journalists and science communicators of all stripes. Feel free to forward this message to anyone who might want to attend. RSVPs are required (for the slice count) to

Directions to Sigma Xi, the Scientific Research Society in RTP, are here:

Sigma Xi Pizza Lunch (if you have stomach to eat at the time): Everything you wanted to know about Bedbugs but were too afraid to ask

You’ve heard the media buzz about bed bugs. But what of the science? Join us at noon, Jan. 25 here at Sigma Xi to hear N.C. State University entomologist Coby Schal offer the facts. He’ll discuss the basic biology of the insects and some of the new research strategies aimed at finding ways to better control them.

Thanks to a grant from the N.C. Biotechnology Center, American Scientist Pizza Lunch is free and open to science journalists and science communicators of all stripes. Feel free to forward this message to anyone who might want to attend. RSVPs are required (for the slice count) to

Directions to Sigma Xi, the Scientific Research Society in RTP, are here.

Science Cafe Raleigh: Rain Forests – Going, Going, Gone?

Happy New Year! We are excited to be starting a new year of science cafes. Our January Science Café (description below) will be held on Tuesday 1/18 at Tir Na Nog on South Blount Street. Our speaker for the evening will be Dr. Meg Lowman, Director of the Nature Research Center (a new wing of the Museum of Natural Sciences currently under construction). Dr. Lowman is a world famous canopy researcher. To learn more about her and her work please see the information listed below (be sure to look at her website). We will have a fun and informative discussion about the amazing (and sometimes strange) diversity of life that can be found in the earth’s rainforests as well as how researchers have figured out ways to study sometimes elusive plants and animals. We will talk about the importance of what is being discovered in the rainforests and how these discoveries can affect our way of life. I hope that many of you can come.

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

6:30-8:30 p.m. with discussion beginning at 7:00 followed by Q&A
Tir Na Nog, 218 South Blount Street, Raleigh, 833-7795

Every child grows up with a sense of awe about tropical forests — extraordinary creatures including poison dart frogs, sloths, orchids and jaguars representing a veritable treasure-trove of biodiversity. But scientists estimate that more than half of Africa’s rain forests are gone, with at least 40 percent losses in Asia and Latin America and 95 percent in Madagascar. Even with new technologies, measuring tropical deforestation is not easy, and illegal logging is epidemic in many parts of the world. What is the prognosis for the future of tropical rain forests? And how will human beings fare if these vital ecosystems disappear? What essential services do tropical forests provide for the planet, and how can we conserve them for our children?

About our speaker:

Dr. Meg Lowman ( is Director of the Nature Research Center, North Carolina Museum of Natural Sciences and a research professor at NC State University. Over the past three decades, “Canopy Meg” has earned an international reputation as a pioneer in forest canopy ecology, tropical rain forest conservation, and for designing canopy access tools including ropes, hot-air balloons, walkways and construction cranes. Equipped with degrees in biology, ecology and botany, Lowman developed her childhood interest of building tree forts into mapping canopy biodiversity worldwide and spearheading the construction of canopy walkways in tropical forests for conservation. She uses science education to influence government policy and encourage environmental stewardship. Her book, “Life in the Treetops,” earned a cover review in the New York Times Sunday Book Review.

Sigma Xi pizza lunch lecture – Science in the current media environment

Next Tuesday at Sigma Xi:

Hi all. Normally we aim to hold pizza lunch on the 3rd Tuesday of each month. In November, that date conflicts with the ship date of the January-February 2011 issue of American Scientist. So we’ll convene a week later. Still, I think you’ll find the session—something different this time—worth the wait.

Join us on Tuesday, Nov. 23 to hear one of our own, veteran science blogger Bora Zivkovic, talk about the shifting ecosystems within his craft. Zivkovic has had a front seat to much of that change, as author of the influential A Blog Around The Clock, as co-founder (with Anton Zuiker) of the international conference ScienceOnline in RTP, as the former online community manager at Public Library of Science and, now, as the new blog and community editor for Scientific American magazine. For a long time, people spoke of the day when print and online media would converge. In a growing share of the publishing world, that convergence has occurred. And Bora, when it comes to science journalism, has been a catalyst in that change.

Thanks to a grant from the N.C. Biotechnology Center, American Scientist Pizza Lunch is free and open to science journalists and science communicators of all stripes. Feel free to forward this message to anyone who might want to attend. RSVPs are required (for the slice count) to

Directions to Sigma Xi, the Scientific Research Society in RTP, are here:

Science Café Raleigh: Where Have All the Frogs Gone?

Hi Café Enthusiasts,

This month’s Science Café (description below) will be held on November 16th at The Irregardless Cafe. We will be meeting Dr. Bryan Stuart and discussing the status of amphibian populations around the world. Dramatic changes are currently happening globally with diverse populations of frogs and salamanders. It is a time when many new species are being discovered and simultaneously we are also mysteriously losing many species to extinction. Dr. Stuart will discuss current herpetological research that is helping us understand what is happening with the world’s amphibian biodiversity. I hope that many of you can come – it should be a very informative discussion.

Where Have All the Frogs Gone?

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Time: 6:30-8:30pm with discussion beginning at 7:00 followed by Q&A

Location: The Irregardless Café, 901 W. Morgan Street, Raleigh, 833-8898

Since the 1980s, dramatic reductions in amphibian populations (including population crashes and mass localized extinctions) have been noted from locations all over the world. Currently, the loss of these animals (especially frogs) is thought to be one of the most critical threats to global biodiversity. Many of the causes are still poorly understood, and the topic is the subject of much ongoing research. Join us to discuss what is known and what is yet to be known about the global loss of such an important group of animals.

About our Speaker:

Bryan Stuart is currently the Curator of Herpetology at the NC Museum of Natural Sciences. In 2006, Stuart received his Ph.D. from the University of Illinois-Chicago working in a collaborative program with the Field Museum. He remains a Research Associate and close collaborator with the Field Museum and also completed a two-year postdoctoral program at UC-Berkeley before joining the Museum staff here in Raleigh. Stuart has authored and co-authored numerous publications about reptiles and amphibians in several prominent scientific journals, such as Herpetologica and Molecular Phylogenetics and Evolution. He travels often and extensively in Southeast Asia as well as Africa for his current research and study of herpetological biodiversity.

This will be our final science café for 2010, with our next café being held in January 2011.

As always, it helps so much if you can send me an email letting me know if you will be coming to the event (katey DOT ahmann AT ncdenr DOT gov). Having an approximate participant count helps us communicate with the restaurant so that they can be prepared for serving our group.


My readers are most likely to know Andrew Bleiman as my SciBling from the Zooillogix blog, a witty and fun blog about animals and curious things they do. You may not be aware that he also runs a blog called Zooborns which highlights the animal babies.

Recently, Andrew teamed up with photographer Chris Eastland and produced two books of Zooborns – one, ZooBorns for a little bit bigger children, and the other, ZooBorns!: Zoo Babies from Around the World, for very little kids. Let’s say the first is for kids who can read on their own, and the latter for kids who need to be read to.

When the books arrived the other day, we read them together, the whole family. Actually, “reading” may be an overstatement. We were loudly oooooohing and aaaaaaahing at each page. Those baby animals are sooooo cute!

Of course, that’s the point! Hook ’em young with charismatic megafauna! Or even better – with irresistible babies of animals not usually deemed ‘charismatic’. Perhaps they will want to learn more when they grow up – the information provided in the books is a great hook to get them to want to learn more. Or they will grow up being aware of conservation efforts. Or they will keep us elders hostage by constantly nagging us to keep those species around for a couple of decades more so they can go and see them when they grow up!

On that last point, the books can help you a little bit as 10% of proceeds from the sale of every book goes to support the AZA’s (Association of Zoos and Aquariums) Conservation Endowment Fund.

Holidays are coming soon. If you were wondering what presents to get the small and big children in your family, now you know – a bunch of copies of ZooBorns! books!

‘Charles Darwin would have been a blogger.’

‘Charles Darwin would have been a blogger.’ – that was the title of the winning proposal for the Wellcome Trust’s Survival Rival Winners award. You can read the original proposal (PDF) here.

And now, Karen James (website, blog, Twitter) and a group of students and teachers from Scotland are on their trip to Galapagos, live-blogging and tweeting their trip, posting images and videos online and generally doing what Darwin would have done on his original Beagle trip if the technology was available at the time.

As Karen says:

“Now through the 30th of October I am in Galapagos with the Wellcome Trust, accompanying some students and teachers on their trip of a lifetime (in fact, they are accompanying me on MY trip of a lifetime, they just don’t know it). In the spirit of our session at Science Online ’10, my winning application proposed communicating our adventures by twitter, blogs, flickr and youtube, as described here.”

You can and should follow their adventures on the blog (go back in time through the archives to the very first post – fascinating!) and Twitter (actually Twitter list of all the travelers), see their photographs on Flickr and videos on YouTube.

I assume they will also write some final reports after they come back from the trip. And perhaps some of them will come to ScienceOnline2011 with Karen and share their experiences with us there.