The Runnin’ Colonials: A Visit to My Alma Mater

Thanks to Chris Paparo (Marine Sciences Center Manager at the School of Marine and Atmospheric Sciences of SUNY Stony Brook Southampton) who invited me to speak at their seminar series last Friday evening on March 4th. Chris was a great host, and ultimately took me down memory lane with a tour of the old campus, and trading throwback stories of the good ol’days. Thanks to everybody who braved the questionable weather to come out and see my talk!

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Two Steps Behind: Not the Def Leppard Ballad

In grand ol’tradition, fell behind on the colloquium notices. But, here’s was the previous one, and now the next one coming up.

“Social Workers’ Attitudes Towards Recovery Among People with Serious Mental Illness”

Dr. Debra Kram-Fernandez (SUNY Empire State College)

Growing numbers of researchers have been studying mental health practitioners’ adoption of the Recovery Perspective and its operational model Psychiatric Rehabilitation. However, prior to my dissertation (2011), social workers had not been studied as a separate group. This is interesting as social workers provide the majority of services to consumers with serious mental illness in numerous capacities from direct care provision to state commissioners of mental health (Kirk, 2005). The study I will discuss examined social workers’ beliefs, practices, goals and adoption of the Recovery Perspective and Psychiatric Rehabilitation model. Participants will learn about differences between a medical perspective and a recovery perspective on serious mental illness. We will also discuss factors that might make practitioners more or less likely to subscribe to one or the other.

Kirk, S. (2005). Mental disorders in the social environment. New York: Columbia University press.

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(*Note: Dr. Kram-Fernandez presented on March 1st!)

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‘Language universals and cross-species comparisons: A multi-component approach to understand the nature of human language’

Daniel Mann (PhD Candidate in Linguistics/CUNY Brooklyn College)

Human language is a complex system that is comprised of several sub-systems (e.g., phonology, syntax, etc.) and relies on numerous domains of cognition (e.g., vocal imitation, theory of mind, etc.). However, there is considerable debate among language scientists as to whether or not there is anything that is unique to the linguistic system. That is, is there any mechanism that is both specific to language and unique to humans, and if so, what is it (Hockett 1960, Hauser et al. 2002; Fitch 2010)? The sonority sequencing principle (SSP), a putative language universal which relates to how sounds are organized with respect to each other, has been argued to be a potential candidate for uniqueness (Berent et al. 2007; Berent 2013). However, the evidence in support of this hypothesis is equivocal and certain aspects, particularly related to non-humans, remain unexplored. To address both the linguistic-specific and the species-specific issues in relation to the SSP I have taken a multi-component and interdisciplinary approach. For the former, I have gathered data from a wide range of unrelated languages and analyzed their historical development. Typological and historical research give us insight into language by offering countless “natural experiments” (Blevins 2004). The data from languages across the world suggest that the SSP is not a reflection of linguistic-specific constraints, but is epiphenomenal from non-linguistic biases in cultural acoustic transmission. For the latter question, I propose an experiment testing budgerigars (Melopsittacus undulates) on the SSP. This will be first experiment to directly test whether the SSP is based in human-specific mechanisms or is the result of broadly shared perception of physical acoustic signals.

Berent, I. (2013). The phonological mind. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
Berent, I., Steriade, D., Lennertz, T., & Vaknin, V. (2007). What we know about what we have never heard: evidence from perceptual illusions. Cognition, 104(3), 591–630.
Blevins, J. (2004). Evolutionary phonology: The emergence of sound patterns. Cambridge University Press.
Fitch, W. T. (2010). The evolution of language. Cambridge University Press.
Hauser, M. D., Chomsky, N., & Fitch, W. T. (2002). The Faculty of Language: What Is It, Who Has It, and How Did It Evolve? Science, 298(5598), 1569–1579.
Hockett, Charles F. (1960) The Origin of Speech, Scientific American 203.

DanielMann

Date: Tuesday, March 15th, 2016
When: 4:30-5:30PM
Where: Hudson St. Gallery (325 Hudson St., NY, NY)

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General Note: We’re proud to have this year’s events sponsored by the ESC STEM Club. Please join us after each talk for an informal Q&A with food. (I did say free food, right?)

A Little Behind, and a Little Ahead

Still playing catch up – but, we had our first colloquium presentation of the spring, and one more coming up!

“Learning about the Universe with Data Science”

Dr. Viviana Acquavivia (CUNY CityTech)

A galaxy’s Spectral Energy Distribution (SED) is a chart of the brightness of a galaxy as a function of wavelength. It contains information about, for example, the galaxy’s stellar population age, stellar mass, distance from Earth, and star formation history. In the last decade, large galaxy surveys have provided us with an unprecedented volume of data for many galaxies billions of light years away, and it has become increasingly crucial to improve the tools we use to extract information from these data. I will present two examples of how supervised machine learning algorithms can be used to learn about the Universe’s history. In the first one, we show how we can discriminate between nearby and faraway galaxies in order to improve our knowledge of dark energy, the mysterious source of the present accelerated expansion of the Universe. In the second, we attempt to recover the history of metal enrichment (the production and dissemination of elements heavier than helium, which astronomers improperly call “metals”) through cosmic time.

acquaviva

(*Note: Dr. Acquaviva presented on Tuesday, January 26th!)

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Next up…

“Extreme NYC Weather: Connecting the Ground-Station Events to the Large Scale Storms’”

Dr. James Booth (CUNY City College)

New York City and the Northeastern United States are subjected to multiple types of weather hazards. These events range from windstorms to flooding to heat waves. From an atmospheric science prospective, an important question is: what are the synoptic-scale weather features responsible for these events and have they changed over the recent past? In this talk, I will address these questions for three specific types of extremes: (1) wintertime windstorms, (2) storm surge, and (3) inland precipitation. For this analysis the strongest events are identified in weather station records using Extreme Value Theory. Then, using the existing physical understanding of the storms, we associate the extreme events with extratropical and/or tropical cyclones. The life cycles and track locations of these storms are analyzed, and these will be discussed in the context of the recent snowstorm, Jonas. Additionally, the work creates probabilistic estimates of the most common pathways for the storms that cause the different hazards.

JamesBooth

Date: Tuesday, February 16th, 2016
When: 4:30-5:30PM
Where: Hudson St. Gallery (325 Hudson St., NY, NY)

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General Note: We’re proud to have this year’s events sponsored by the ESC STEM Club. Please join us after each talk for an informal Q&A with food. (Did I mention that there will be free food?)

We’re All Going to Die? Or not?: Ecopsychoanalysis and Climate Change

In preparation for Earth Day next week, Dr. Joseph Dodds from the University of New York in Prague will deliver the next Science Colloquium seminar. He will present his talk on, ‘Feeling the Heat… What is Ecopsychoanalysis?: Psychoanalysis and Climate Change in the Three Ecologies‘.

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When: Tuesday, April 14th
Where: 325 Hudson St., NY, NY; Hudson Gallery (Room 544)
Time: 5-6PM

Following the seminar, we will also have a reception with appetizers and light refreshments. Please join us for both the talk, and an informal chat during the reception with Dr. Dodds.

To Flatter or Not To Flatter?

Dr. Claudia Brumbaugh (CUNY Queens College) will present her seminar entitled, ‘Attraction Preferences: Where does Attachment Security Rank’ for the next Science Colloquium. Aside from seeing her volunteer for the Sunday NYC Audubon Ecocruises, it’ll be great to learn about her research on the evolution of human attraction.

brumbaugh

When: Tuesday, March 31st
Where: 325 Hudson St., NY, NY, Room 544
Time: 5-6PM

Bats!

It’s just been a long, long time since I last posted. So much to tell…

But, first – Dr. Paul Velazco from the American Museum of Natural History will present his seminar ‘Historical Diversification in the Neotropics: Evolution and Variation of Noctilionoid bats’.

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When: Tuesday, February 17th, 2015
Where: 325 Hudson St., Fifth Floor
Time: 5-6PM

Be there or be square.

Five Boro Bike Tour

Yesterday, I did the TD Five Boro Bike Tour again. As I said to my wife the night before, I often feel lucky to participate in this bike tour, and there’s simply something magical about the opportunity to ride your bike through the streets of NYC, the FDR, uncontested over the Queenborough Bridge, and my favorite, the gauntlet of the BQE. However, I only wish that I actually cycled anytime during the preceding year. Aside from a brutally cold winter, I scaled back my riding time to being a daddy. This is a trade-off I’d never give up, except that I feel like I was hit by a truck, as my entire body hurts. But, I did it, and I’ll do it again next year.

Couple of side notes: 1) Thanks for the mechanic team on Church and Reade streets at the beginning of the tour. My chain (albeit rusted to the core) unhinged itself on the subway, and they were able to realign it about 5 minutes before our group started. 2) I also pulled a cramp on both legs going up the Pulaski Bridge, and a second momentary panic – thinking the tour was over for me right there.

My chariot (and the little car that took her to the tour). I especially like the add-ons to the frame. I lost my water bottle and holder, as both snapped off on last year's during as I approached the Pulaski Bridge. Speaking of Pulaski, I suspect there's a superstition about to become enshrined about that spot.
My chariot (and the little car that took her to the tour). I especially like the add-ons to the frame. I lost my water bottle and holder, as both snapped off on last year’s during as I approached the Pulaski Bridge. Speaking of Pulaski, I also pulled a cramp on both legs going up the bridge, and a second momentary panic – thinking the tour was over for me right there.
Atop the Queensborough Bridge
Atop the Queensborough Bridge
Generic view of crowd and green helmet bibs on 6th Avenue.
Generic view of crowd and green helmet bibs on 6th Avenue.

The Sound of the Harmonic Generator