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.

red-rectangle-join-us-button-hiDuring 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.

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!

Click here to see videos of past OSS lectures!
Click here to register online
To register by phone: Call Felicia at 216-368-2090

Spring 2019 Program

.The seven-week program addresses new issues::

“Animal Behavior”
“Climate Change Impacts on Ecosystems”
“The Physical Science of the Origin of Life”

 

When: April 16, 2019 through May 28, 2019
Where: Sessions will be held on the campus of Case Western Reserve University and the Cleveland Museum of Natural History.

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

Lectures:

 April 16


Laura Bernstein-Kurtycz
Cleveland Metroparks Zoo

“Smarter Than the Average Bear”


This session will be held in the Tinkham Veale Center on the campus of Case Western Reserve University.

While many studies of animal cognition have focused on our closest cousins, researchers have begun to look outside the Primate order to gain a better understanding of the evolution of cognition. Carnivores differ greatly in behavior, diet, and social structure from primates, yet they demonstrate equally impressive cognitive abilities. Using bears as an example, I will explore the complex cognitive abilities of this fascinating branch of mammals.

 

April 23


Kaylin Tennant
Cleveland Metroparks Zoo

“Bringing Silver Back: The World of Gorillas”

This session will be held in the Tinkham Veale Center on the campus of Case Western Reserve University.

As one of the four great ape species, gorillas have intrigued people for decades. Much research has gone into furthering what we know and understand about this charismatic species. This talk will provide an overview of the evolutionary and life histories of these animals, exploring their relationships with other primate species, delving into their ecological traits, and discussing some of their fascinating natural behaviors, as well as consideration of the complex cognitive abilities of gorillas and the studies that have examined them.

April 30


Patricia Princehouse
CWRU, Institute for the Science of Origins

“How Puppies Learn: An Evolutionary Perspective”

This session will be held in the Tinkham Veale Center on the campus of Case Western Reserve University.

Our best friend in the animal kingdom is beginning to speak to us in ways we’ve never heard before! Not only does the typical dog understand some 200 or more words plus intricacies of emotion and intention in our voices, their brains light up when they hear their owners’ voices but the same words spoken by others do not produce this effect, even though the dog understands the words and will respond to commands from strangers. Recent experiments demonstrate dogs read human body language better than we read each other. These things point increasingly to a fascinating conclusion: dogs learn differently from humans, and in particular puppies experience the world and learn from it in ways we are only beginning to imagine!

 

May 7


Sarah Diamond
George B. Mayer Chair in Urban and Environmental Studies, CWRU Dept of Biology

“A Crystal Ball for Climate Change”

This session will be held at Tinkham Veale University Center on the campus of Case Western Reserve University.

In the face of rapid, widespread losses of insect biodiversity under recent climate change, forecasting responses to future warming has become an endeavor of paramount importance. Urban heat islands present a unique opportunity to peer into the consequences of ongoing and future global climate change. Dr Diamond explores how a tiny acorn-dwelling species of ant copes with the elevated temperatures in cities, including Cleveland, and what these responses mean generally for insect biodiversity in a changing world.

May 14


Michael Hinczewski
Dept of Physics, Case Western Reserve University

“Thermodynamics and the Origin of Life”

Presented in collaboration with CWRU’s Emeriti Academy

This session will be held in the Tinkham Veale Center on the campus of Case Western Reserve University. 

 Perhaps no complex system is more intriguing than life itself! What does the often misinterpreted second law of thermodynamics imply for the origins of lifeboth on earth and possibly elsewhere in the universe?  Often explained as a net increase in the disorder of the universe, the second law stands in apparent contradiction to the multitude of intricate, ordered systems we observe all around us. One of the salient features of life is that it is always far from equilibrium, and the traditional versions of the second law are based on equilibrium physical quantities.  However a revolution in thermodynamics over the last few decades has for the first time allowed us to rigorously describe systems far from equilibrium.  Can we use this new physics to understand something about the mechanisms through which life arose?

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May 21


Carlos Crespo
Dept of Chemistry, Case Western Reserve University

“Sunlight and the Molecular Origin of Life”

Presented in collaboration with CWRU’s Emeriti Academy

This session will be held at the Cleveland Museum of Natural History

The genetic alphabet is composed of only four DNA nucleobases, or five including RNA, which is a prominent example of the narrow selection of organic molecules forming the basis of life. Among the diverse array of selection pressures thought to have shaped the composition of nucleobases on prebiotic Earth, protection against intense ultraviolet radiation must have been essential. Encoding the genetic material using light-resistant building blocks is an elegant answer to the threat of sunlight damage. I will present general physical and chemical principles that underlie the remarkable stability of the contemporary DNA and RNA nucleobases to ultraviolet radiation and discuss some possible implications of these findings for prebiotic chemical evolution.

 

May 28


Nita Sahai
University of Akron

“Minerals and the Origin of Life”

This session will be held in the Tinkham Veale Center on the campus of Case Western Reserve University.

The appearance of life around four billion years ago was a result of a series of geochemical events involving the interaction of a primitive atmosphere, water and minerals with simple molecules leading to the formation of biopolymers, such as lipids, nucleic acids and peptides, which are the building blocks of life. The focus of Sahai’s research is to discover the potential role of minerals in the synthesis and self-assembly of these essential biomolecular components into the earliest life-like entities, protocells. Her goal, as a geochemist, is to use our knowledge of mineral structure and reactivity to identify mechanistic structure-activity relationships in order to predict whether a protocell may emerge on a rocky planet or moon.

 

Many Thanks! 

The ISO Origins 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.

 

Learn more:

For more information about the program, you can:
Download the Origins Science Scholars brochure

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