MBL Science Before Supper 2015-2016


The MBL Associates and the Falmouth Public Library present “Science Before Supper,” a series of talks by MBL scientists designed to whet the public’s appetite for all things science. The free talks are designed especially for non-scientists. Light refreshments will be served.

5 PM, Hermann Foundation Meeting Room, Falmouth Public Library, 300 Main Street, Falmouth.

January 14

Secrets Genomes Tell Us: G's, T's, A's and Seas
Huntington Willard, Director and President, MBL

Hunt Willard, the president and director of the Marine Biological Laboratory, is a leader in the fields of genetics and genome biology who has built comprehensive research centers at leading institutions. Willard has earned a reputation as a groundbreaking scientist, a strong leader and builder of complex academic initiatives, as well as a talented educator who has received multiple teaching awards.

As a researcher, Willard has explored many facets of genetics and genome biology, with a particular interest in the structure and function of chromosomes, the epigenetic regulation of gene silencing, and the evolution and organization of complex genomes.

February 4

Genie Out of the Bottle: Biological Feedbacks and the Acceleration of Climate Change
Jerry Melillo, Distinguished Senior Scientist, MBL

Jerry Melillo, MBL Distinguished Scientist, was elected to the National Academy of Sciences in 2014. Melillo was a lead author in the earliest reports of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, whose work was recognized by the Nobel Peace Prize in 2007. He was the chairman of the federal advisory committee that prepared the Third National Climate Assessment released in 2013. He also co-led the first two National Climate Assessments for the U.S. Global Change Research Program (published in 2000 and 2009).

A member of the MBL’s scientific staff since 1976, Melillo has conducted pioneering research on the impacts of human activities on the biogeochemistry of terrestrial ecosystems from local to global scales, using a combination of field studies and simulation modeling. He has studied carbon and nitrogen cycling in ecosystems across the globe, including arctic scrublands in northern Sweden, temperate forests in North America, and tropical forests and pastures in the Amazon Basin of Brazil.

The Terrestrial Ecosystems Model (TEM) that Melillo and colleagues developed in the mid-1980s, which was designed to consider how warmer temperatures and changes in precipitation would affect the function of land ecosystems, was the first model of land ecosystem dynamics that was global in scale and projected out for centuries. He has published more than 250 peer-reviewed articles, two ecology textbooks, and three edited volumes on biogeochemistry.

Mellilo has also dedicated decades of service to providing a scientific foundation for environmental policy. In 1990 and 1995, Melillo was a lead author in the earliest climate assessments prepared by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), and as an author he was a co-recipient of the 2007 Nobel Peace Prize awarded to the IPCC and Al Gore, Jr. In 1996 and 1997, Melillo served as Associate Director for Environment in the U.S. President’s Office of Science and Technology Policy.

March 24

Lessons From the Lamprey on Spinal Cord Regeneration
Jennifer Morgan, Associate Scientist, Eugene Bell Center, MBL

Jennifer Morgan studies the cellular and molecular mechanisms by which neurons communicate with each other at synapses within the vertebrate central nervous system. Current research goals involve identifying the fundamental mechanisms by which neurotransmission is maintained via local synaptic vesicle trafficking. Dr. Morgan also studies how synaptic transmission is restored after spinal cord injury, in particular the contributions that neuronal survival, axon and synapse regeneration, and compensatory neurite plasticity make toward restoring locomotor behaviors.