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Institute for the Science of Origins

Institute for the Science of Origins

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Origins Science Scholars

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The Institute for the Science of Origins is excited to sponsor the Origins Science Scholars Program for the general public at Case Western Reserve University and the Cleveland Museum of Natural History.

During this unique program, members of the community engage with each other and with leading scholars of the origins sciences to investigate everything from the big bang to the developing mind and emerging life. Each evening begins with a presentation by a world-class researcher, followed by dinner and open discussion among all the participants.
Click here to see videos of past OSS lectures!

Spring 2015 Program

Please register by April 5, 2015.

Click here to register online.
To register by phone: Call Lori at 216-368-4257 or Felicia at 216-368-2090

The seven-week program addresses new issues “A Breath of Fresh Air: Past & Future Evolution of the Lung “, “Particle Physics in the (not so) New Millennium” and “Neanderthals Among Us.”

Time: Tuesday evenings from 5:30-8 p.m .
Dates: April 14, 2015 through May 26, 2015.
Locations: Sessions will be held on the campus of Case Western Reserve University, in the Tinkham Veale University Center, 11038 Bellflower Rd, Cleveland, OH 44106, with the exception of the May 26 session, which will take place at the Cleveland Museum of Natural History. 

We are excited to share unique and challenging perspectives and hope to leave participants better educated about origins research and the Institute for the Science of Origins. We look forward to seeing you!

Video of each lecture will be available here.

For more information: Call Felicia at 216-368-2090

Course Schedule and Details

5:30-6 p.m. – Coffee and cookies
6-7 p.m. – Lecture and Q&A
7-8 p.m. – Dinner and discussion

A Breath of Fresh Air: Past & Future Evolution of the Lung

April 14: Gregory Forest, “The Virtual Lung Project at UNC Chapel Hill”
Greg ForestGrant Dahlstrom Distinguished Professor, Departments of Mathematics & Biomedical Engineering; Director, Carolina Center for Interdisciplinary Applied Mathematics, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
Held at Case Western Reserve University.

For approaching 15 years, a diverse group of scientists from applied mathematics, chemistry, computer science, and physics have teamed with scientists in the UNC Marsico Lung Institute (formerly the UNC Cystic Fibrosis and Pulmonary Center) in an effort they call the Virtual Lung Project.   The goal was always to understand lung biology and mechanics with sufficient precision to engineer health solutions.  Dr. Forest’s lecture will touch upon multiple evolutionary questions whose answers are critical to solving lung disorders:  how did mammalian lungs evolve to deal with the payload of inhaled insults – i.e., how does a healthy lung maintain health; what lung disorders or diseases are due to genetic mutation, do environmentally induced lung disorders mimic genetic defects, and are these questions even relevant to the design of health solutions.  He will discuss how the field of lung biology has evolved with advances in basic science, and highlight the molecular to macroscopic complexity of lung biology revealed through basic science.  The goal of the VLP is far from realized, yet there has been progress across the tightknit lung biology world community.  Dr. Forest will present some of these advances and reasons for optimism on the near horizon. The speaker, Greg Forest, is an applied mathematician at UNC Chapel Hill, with a long history of building collaborations that cross traditional boundaries.  Forest is a Distinguished Professor of Mathematics, with a joint appointment in Biomedical Engineering and a founding member of the new Department of Applied Physical Sciences.  His early career was devoted to nonlinear wave theory and applications to hydrodynamics, solid-state physics, and nonlinear optics.  He migrated into polymer science with applications to ink jet printing, textile spinlines and spider silk, flowing liquid crystals and nano-rod composites.  For the past 15 years, Forest has taken a deep dive into biology, starting with the Virtual Lung Project.  Over the past 5 years, his group has built strong collaborations in molecular cell biology and cell motility as well as antibody-based vaccines for viral diseases.  Scores of applied mathematicians have built careers in these collaborative ventures.

April 21: Joseph LaManna, “Breathing Water & Gulping Air: Evolution of Lungs and Other Organs of Gas Exchange”
Silber Chair, Department of Physiology, CWRU School of Medicine
Held at the Cleveland Museum of Natural History

We breathe.   So do our dogs and cats, and the cows we milk and the horses we ride, and the birds in the air, and the snakes in the grass, and the frogs by the pond, and the fish in the sea.  All vertebrates need to get oxygen from the environment to their internal organs. However fish, birds and mammals breathe differently. This presentation will highlight the evolution of the gas exchange organs and discuss the comparative aspects of one of the most fundamental features of living beings — breathing. 

Particle Physics in the (not so) New Millennium

April 28     Glenn Starkman, “The Standard Model of Particle Physics: Do we need more?”

Starkman picture

Starkman picture

Professor of Physics and Astronomy at CWRU, and Director, Institute for the Science of Origins
Held at Case Western Reserve University

The Standard Model is amazingly successful at describing the interactions of fundamental particles. Once we include in it mass for neutrinos, it gets everything we know about particle physics right. And yet … for decades most particle physicists have believed that the Standard Model is only part of the story — that it has problems that must be fixed.  What are those problems?  How have physicists thought to fix them? Are we sure they are problems at all?

May 5     Bryan Lynn, “The Standard Model of Particle Physics: The Most Successful Scientific Theory Ever”

IMG_7932 Bryan Lynn crop

CERN and Dept of Physics, CWRU
Held at Case Western Reserve University

The Standard Model describes the interactions among what we understand to be the fundamental particles of nature — quarks (like the ones that make up the proton and neutron), charged leptons (like the electron), neutrinos, the gauge bosons (of which the photon, the particle of light, is the most familiar to us) and finally the recently discovered Higgs Boson.  While we may discuss its aesthetic merits, we must acknowledge that it is incredibly successful, has made only one wrong prediction (because of an oversight that was easily repaired) and has made many many right ones.  Over the course of this evening we will come to understand what this model is, and some of its great successes.


Neanderthals Among Us
800px-Le_Moustier Neanderthal crop

May 12 ‘”Kissing Cousins': A review of the Neanderthals”



Scott Simpson, Professor of Anatomy, CWRU School of Medicine
Held at Case Western Reserve University

Our interpretation of Neanderthals has ranged from an extinct, dull, brutish ancestor to a technologically sophisticated symbol-using close cousin.  Recent analysis of modern human and ancient Neanderthal DNA has shown that modern humans and Neanderthals interbred and those individuals of Eurasian ancestry now possess genes we inherited from the Neanderthals.  Dr Simpson will acquaint us with the biology and culture of the Neanderthals – a history that spans across western Eurasia and the Middle East from their beginnings in the Middle Pleistocene through their extinction about 30-35 thousand years ago.  

May 19 Bruce Latimer, “Modern and Archaic Human Evolution: New Discoveries from Manot Cave”

Bruce Latimer
CWRU School of Dentistry Held at Case Western Reserve University

In 2008 a construction site accidentally revealed an enormous cave in Northeastern Israel. Still largely unexplored, Dr Latimer and other scientists have already discovered the remains and tools of both modern humans and neanderthals. Data from the site are being used to explore human evolution through the reconstruction of life and environment during the Upper Paleolithic period. 

May 26 Nicole Burt, “A Fine Kettle of Fish: Reconstructing Neanderthal Diet”

Nicole Burt nikki
Postdoctoral Fellow in Human Health and Evolutionary Medicine, Cleveland Museum of Natural History
Held at Case Western Reserve University

 How can we relate to the daily lives of ancient Neanderthal people? One way is through finding out what they ate. Diet is a key component in understanding nutrition and growth. The diets of Neanderthal people can be studied via stable isotope analysis of ancient tissues and zooarchaeological analysis of deposition sites. By examining Neanderthal diet, we gain insights into the health of these populations and possibly learn how they were out-competed by anatomically Modern Homo sapiens

Many Thanks…

The ISO Science Scholars Program is presented in cooperation with Case Western Reserve University’s College of Arts and Sciences and The Laura and Alvin Siegal Lifelong Learning Program and the Cleveland Museum of Natural History, and taped and broadcast in cooperation with CWRU’s MediaVision and Ideastream
Click here to register online.
To register by phone: Call Lori at 216-368-4257 or Felicia at 216-368-2090