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Nerd Nite 1/17 MRI Magic

Wed, 06/26/2019 - 1:00pm

NNA2 #61 dives into MRIs and what we can and cannot learn about the brain with neuroscience researcher Sam Carpenter, exploring how protons are structured, inside and out, with physics grad student Nicole Lewis, and talking about why we play - or don’t play - video games with Mark Kazmierski.

Sam Carpenter – MRI: Magic Really-cool Images

We often hear in the media about some new scientific study where “brain scans reveal something interesting” But often, not a lot of effort goes into describing what is meant by a “brain scan”, how they work and what they can tell us. A common method of “brain scan” is Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI). I break down what an MRI is, how they work and what we can and cannot learn about the brain. 

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Nerd Nite 1/17 Proton Power

Thu, 06/20/2019 - 5:57pm

NNA2 #61 dives into MRIs and what we can and cannot learn about the brain with neuroscience researcher Sam Carpenter, exploring how protons are structured, inside and out, with physics grad student Nicole Lewis, and talking about why we play - or don’t play - video games with Mark Kazmierski.

Nicole Lewis – Unpacking the Proton

Scientists have known since the 60s that the proton is made of smaller particles called quarks and gluons that are tightly bound together by the strong nuclear force.  This process is responsible for 98% percent of the mass of the visible universe.  Which would be great if we had any idea how it worked. Lewis studies proton-proton collisions that are at a high enough energy that the proton breaks up into a spray of particles.  By studying the particles that come out of this spray and how they are arranged in space, we can learn more about the internal structure of the proton.

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Bright Nights Community Forum | What is Neuroscience and How Can it Change Psychiatry?

Mon, 05/06/2019 - 10:19am

As we understand the brain better, we should be able to improve our diagnosis and treatment of psychiatric disease. In fact, ideally, neuroscience should lead us to be able to fully understand and possibly even repair brain circuits important for mental health conditions. But how likely are we to achieve that ideal?  What stands in our way?

Through science and technology, we have discovered a great deal about the brain. However, emotional systems and psychiatric disease are incredibly complex. Modern neuroscience has focused its efforts and advances on the brains of experimental animals, but we are still far from moving these highly precise interventions onto humans. The question remains: how do we translate this advanced work into solutions for individuals with mental illness?

Dr. Brendon Watson, Assistant Professor for the Department of Psychiatry at Michigan Medicine, gives a brief overview presentation of our current standing in neuroscience in relation to psychiatric practices, and shares where he believes we are going. Dr. Watson speaks about the tension between theory and practice within research and the importance of moving towards non-invasive procedures.

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Nerd Nite #58 - The Search for Drugs Within: A Multi-Scale Journey from Organs to Organelles

Mon, 04/01/2019 - 1:01pm

Did you know that many FDA-approved drugs accumulate inside organs and tissues of our bodies, sometimes so much so that they actually form crystals inside cells? Have you ever wondered where drugs go when we consume them? This talk explores routes of administration, the fate of drugs inside our bodies (the ways they distribute throughout different organs and cell organelles), and the use of laser-scanning microscopy for the measurement of drug accumulation inside immune cells.

About Vernon: Vernon is a PhD candidate in Pharmaceutical Sciences at the University of Michigan College of Pharmacy. He is part of an interdisciplinary research team of scientists, engineers, and medical professionals studying the effects of long-term drug exposure and adverse drug reactions. Vernon was born and raised in Northern Michigan and has lived throughout this glorious state his entire life. When he’s not peering through a microscope, he spends his time pursuing balance in life through socialization, exercise, spirituality, literature, musical/visual art, and other creative avenues.

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Sustainable Ann Arbor Forum | Adapting to a Changing Climate

Mon, 03/25/2019 - 10:32am

The City of Ann Arbor is already experiencing impacts from climate change. More severe storms, increased precipitation, rising temperatures and extended heat waves all pose challenges to how we live, work, and play in our community. Join a conversation on how the Ann Arbor community is taking steps to address climate impacts and what more we could be doing at the city, neighborhood and individual level. Climate adaptation experts will share the soup to nuts on climate change for Ann Arbor and what we can do to thrive in a changing future. 

Beth Gibbons - Beth Gibbons is the Executive Director of the American Society of Adaptation Professionals (ASAP). In this role, she is responsible for strengthening ASAP as an emerging nonprofit organization, managing relationships with its members, board and donors, and bringing adaptation best practices into the broader conversation. Previously, Beth was Director of the University of Michigan Climate Center and managed NOAA’s Great Lakes Regional Integrated Sciences and Assessments Center. She also worked for the Graham Environmental Sustainability Institute as a research specialist, helping develop and implement the Great Lakes Adaptation Assessment for Cities. Previously, Beth worked for the International Forestry and Research Institute and the General Federation of Women’s Clubs supporting organization operations and communications. She served in the Peace Corps in Agodopke, Togo. Beth earned her undergraduate degree in Comparative Politics from the Catholic University of America and holds a Master of Urban Planning and a Masters Certificate in African Studies from the University of Michigan. Beth is based in Ypsilanti, Michigan.

Jennifer Lawson, Water Quality Manager, City of Ann Arbor - Jennifer Lawson started her career as a Civil Engineer’s daughter and at the age of 7, started working at her Dad’s office, running bluelines, holding a survey rod and coloring mylars. Jen is currently the Water Quality Manager for the City of Ann Arbor. She has a Bachelor of Science in Resource Development from MSU and a Master’s degree in Landscape Architecture from U of M focusing on Landscape as Infrastructure (How the ecology of the landscape can provide a service). With 18 years of experience in both private consulting and municipal engineering, she has a unique balance and understanding of water infrastructure regulations and management needs.

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Sustainable Ann Arbor Forum | Climate Change 201

Tue, 03/12/2019 - 10:19am

Join the conversation as UM professors and other speakers dig deeper into the latest thinking about the science and impacts of climate change, both locally and globally. This month’s panelists include: Dr. Jonathan Overpeck (Dean of the School for Environment and Sustainability, University of Michigan) and Emily Drennen (Sustainability Analyst, City of Ann Arbor).

Sustainable Ann Arbor is an annual series presented by the City of Ann Arbor and hosted by the Ann Arbor District Library. The series includes four events held monthly through April, each with a focus on a different element of sustainability from Ann Arbor’s Sustainability Framework.

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Genealogical DNA Testing

Tue, 02/19/2019 - 12:36pm

Join Mary Henderson of the Association of Professional Genealogists for an introduction to DNA testing for genealogy purposes. After a brief overview of basic genetics, Mary discusses the types of DNA tests available — autosomal, Y, X and mitochondrial — and provides an overview of DNA testing companies including ancestry.com, familytreedna.com, 23&me and My Heritage. Using an example of the DNA test result page provided by each company, Mary offers tips on how to navigate the findings.

Mary Henderson has 45 years of experience with traditional, document-based genealogy, and 6 years of experience with genetic genealogy.  She volunteers her services to adoptees seeking their birth parents and is a member of the Association of Professional Genealogists.

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Nerd Nite #57 - Stand Back, We’re All Going To Do Science!

Wed, 01/30/2019 - 12:59pm

Learn about the many ways you can join people across the world in addressing some of the biggest social and scientific challenges in the world today through community and citizen science apps, websites, hikes, photos, and more!

About Justin: 

Justin Schell directs the Shapiro Design Lab at the University of Michigan Library, where he facilitates, among other things, a variety of citizen and community science projects. In addition to this work, he has a background as a documentary filmmaker, community archivist, and reformed trombonist.

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Exploring the Mind | The Psychology of Germs, Disease, and Disgust

Wed, 01/30/2019 - 11:51am

Infectious diseases and the pathogens that cause them have been a serious problem throughout human history, with millions sickened and killed each year. In the modern world, hygiene and vaccinations help us manage this threat, but we also possess mental and physical defenses against germs. In this talk, Joshua Ackerman, Associate Professor of Psychology at U-M, discusses the emerging thinking on a set of defensive strategies grounded in our psychology – emotions, thought processes, and actions collectively called the “behavioral immune system.”

Feeling grossed out or avoidant when seeing spoiled food or sick people can help prevent infection, but these reactions also negatively affect our interactions with people, groups, and environments that in reality pose no danger. Disease-related thinking also spills over into how we see the world more generally, influencing aspects of our lives from cultural taboos to the products we buy. The psychology of germs, disease, and disgust may help us understand why.

This program was part of the "Exploring the Mind" series, a partnership with The University of Michigan Department of Psychology.

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Exploring the Mind | Sickness and Memory: How the Immune System Changes the Brain

Tue, 01/15/2019 - 4:05pm

Join Dr. Natalie Tronson, Assistant Professor of Psychology at the University of Michigan, as she describes the way immune system changes during illness can interfere with memory formation, and how this affects the development of post-traumatic stress disorder and dementia.

Memory is critical for the ability to function in the world. By storing and retrieving information about the relationships between places, events, and outcomes, our memories allow us to adjust our behavior to act in accordance with the current situation. We use our memory to navigate around our environment, efficiently finding our way to work and back home; to avoid dangerous places and things, to find food, and to recognize families, friends and colleagues. This central role of memory in our everyday lives means that disorders of memory are particularly impactful. Deficits in memory are one of the first and most notable symptoms in Alzheimer’s disease and other dementias, because they severely impact the ability for individuals to function independently in the world. Excessively strong memories are also problematic. For example, persistent memories of trauma contribute to post-traumatic stress disorder, leading to individuals avoiding places that trigger retrieval of those memory. But how do memory processes go bad? One thing we know about memory systems is that many different factors in our lives can change how well memory is stored. Stress can make some memories stronger, and some memories weaker. Illness also changes how well we can learn and remember information. This flexibility in how memory systems work also means that they are vulnerable to disruption by stress and sickness.

Natalie Tronson is an Assistant Professor of Psychology at the University of Michigan. After her undergraduate degree from the University of New South Wales, in Australia, Dr. Tronson moved to the United States and completed her PhD at Yale University, followed by a post-doctoral position at Northwestern University. Her research focuses on how the brain stores and retrieves memory, how memory is changed during stress and illness, and sex differences in these processes. Dr. Tronson’s research combines behavioral approaches and molecular analyses in an animal model of memory, with the goal of identifying new ways to prevent and treat memory disorders including post-traumatic stress disorder and dementia.