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Science Lecture Series

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The Science Lecture Series, originally called the Science 2000 seminars, was created in 1987 at the inspiration of Dr. Philip Barnhart, Chair of the Department of Physics and Astronomy, and Dr. Jerry Jenkins, Chair of the Department of Chemistry. Established with three-year funding from The Westinghouse Educational Foundation, Barnhart and Jenkins were hopeful that the seminars would become an annual event. In 1989, following a bequest from Mildred K. White, the George W. and Mildred K. White Science Seminar Fund was established. These Funds fulfill their educational interests in scientific enrichment.

The White Science Seminar Fund established a quasi-endowment, income and principle of which are used to sponsor the annual scientific seminars. Through these seminars, national leaders in science and technology share their insights about the future of scientific endeavor.

Today, the Science Lecture Series is coordinated by a committee, chaired by the Office of Academic Affairs, comprised of the Science Outreach Coordinator and representatives from the Science Division which includes the departments of Chemistry, Equine Science, Psychology, Nursing, Physics and Astronomy, Life and Earth Sciences, and Mathematical and Computer Sciences.

2015 Science Lecture Series: Do Animals Lie?

A lecture by Steve Nowicki, professor in the department of biology and the department of psychology and neuroscience in Trinity College at Duke University

4pm Thursday, March 26, 2015
Battelle Fine Arts Center

When a fish flashes its fins in an aggressive encounter, does it signal how likely it is to attack? When a peacock spreads its train in front of a female, is he telling her how good a mate he will be? Evidence from both the field and the laboratory suggests that most animal signals are honest, in the sense that they reliably convey accurate information to the intended receiver. At the same time, it is equally clear that signals are occasionally used in a deceptive fashion. Come hear Dr. Steve Nowicki, professor in the department of biology and the department of psychology and neuroscience in Trinity College at Duke University discuss reliability and “honesty” in animal signals.

Steve Nowicki is a professor in the department of biology and the department of psychology & neuroscience in Trinity College at Duke University, as well as in the department of neurobiology at Duke University Medical Center. He received both B.S. and M.S. degrees from Tufts University, and earned his doctorate in neurobiology and behavior at Cornell University in 1985. Nowicki did postdoctoral work and was appointed assistant professor at The Rockefeller University before moving to Duke in 1989, where he was named Anne T. and Robert M. Bass Professor in 1999. Nowicki served as dean of the natural sciences at Duke from 2004 to 2007, when he was appointed dean and vice provost for undergraduate education, a position he continues to hold.

Nowicki’s research explores mechanisms underlying the evolution of behavior. He is especially interested in the function and evolution of animal communication systems, using birdsong as a model system. His current research includes work on the evolution of signal complexity, constraints on signal evolution, and neural mechanisms of signal production and perception. He has published over 100 peer-reviewed scientific papers and is co-author of the influential book The Evolution of Animal Communication (2005, Princeton University Press).

Among his professional activities, Nowicki was Chair of the Division of Animal Behavior in the Society for Integrative and Comparative Biology from 1996 to 2000 and served as president of the Animal Behavior Society from 2003 to 2007. Steve also plays trombone in the Duke Pep Band, balancing his professional time between teaching, research, administration, and basketball games.

Science Lecture Series Past Lectures

  • 1987 – The Information Revolution

  • 1988 – The Three-Pound Universe

  • 1989 – Longevity: The Myths and Realities of Aging

  • 1990 – The Origins of Life

  • 1991 – Genetic Medicine: Accomplishments, Prospects, and Bioethics

  • 1993 – Backyard Biosphere: Environmental Technology and Ethics in Everyday Life

  • 1994 – Health Care 2000: American Through the Looking Glass

  • 1995 – Cosmology: the Universe Around Us

  • 1996 – Nature’s Mind and the Human Body: Darwin in Contemporary Psychology

  • 1997 – Educating for Community: Science and the Community

  • 1998 – Animals in Society: Exploring the Human-Animal Bond

  • 1999 – DNA Microchips: A Revolution in Nucleic Acid Diagnostics

  • 2000 – Women in Science: Lessons in Leadership

  • 2001 – NASA: Experimentation and Exploration in Space

  • 2002 – Nature and Nurture in Child Development

  • 2003 – G3: Gratifying the Globe Through Green Chemistry

  • 2004 – Got Nano? The Next Big Thing is Small

  • 2005 – Big Bang Boom: Einstein’s Universe

  • 2008 – Through the Looking Glass: The Meaning of Quantum Mechanics

  • 2009 – Remarkable Creatures: Epic Adventures in the Search for the Origins of Species

  • 2011- The Galactic Center - Uncovering the Pulse of our Galaxy

  • 2012 - A History of Violence

  • 2013 - Flipping the switch: how cells use RNA to regulate gene expression

  • 2014 - Green Chemistry: Lessons from catalysis

/ Science Lecture Series

Bonnie Ward
Assistant Director of Sponsored Programs
p/ 614.823.1847
e/ bward@otterbein.edu