Saturday, September 12, 2020

September Science Cafe: The Road to a Pandemic COVID-19 Vaccine, by Dr. Angela Branche (UofR)

 Hello to all the devoted friends and attendees of the Rochester Science Cafe!

Starting this Fall, and continuing on until it is deemed safe for us all to meet in person again, the Rochester Science Cafe is moving to Zoom (the Rochester Zience Cafe?).  See below for details on how to join, and how to ask questions.

Our Fall 2020 series will begin on September 22, and continue on monthly.  The first talk will be:

September 22, 7pm:

The Road to a Pandemic COVID-19 Vaccine

Dr. Angela Branche

Assistant Professor, Department of Medicine, Infectious Diseases

University of Rochester Medical Center

To join the Cafe,  simply follow the Zoom link above.  Please note that Cafes will be recorded, so we can reach the broadest audience possible.  There will be two ways to ask a question:

  • Write it down in the "Chat", and one of the MCs, either David or Josh, will ask it for you
  • Go to "Participants", and use the "Raise Hand" feature.  Josh or David will unmute you and ask you to go ahead with the question.

We will allow the audience to leave their video on, but we recommend turning it off while you are just listening to save bandwidth, turning it on to ask a question.

During her years at the University of Rochester her focus in research involved the use of viral molecular and immunological diagnostic assays to explore the pathogenesis and host response to acute viral respiratory illnesses in adults. She is currently the clinical director of the NIH Center for Excellence in Influenza Research and Surveillance (CEIRS) New York Influenza Center of Excellence (NYICE) and Co-Principal Investigator for the UR Vaccine Treatment and Evaluation Unit (UR VTEU). Her current research activities explore clinical disease, pathogenesis, development of therapeutics and vaccine biology related to infection with viral and bacterial respiratory pathogens. Studies include assessment of asymptomatic carriage of Streptococcus pneumoniae and the impact of pneumococcal vaccination, surveillance of epidemic influenza infections and immunologic mechanisms of protection following natural infection versus vaccination, the development of pandemic influenza vaccines, population-based studies of RSV infection and the development of vaccine and anti-viral agents for RSV. Current efforts also include the study of the pathogenesis and immune response to pandemic SARS Coronavirus 2 infections and clinical interventional trials for the development of COVID19 therapeutic agents and vaccines. She is a member of the Infectious Disease Society of America and the NIH Human Cohorts Steering Committee and NIH IDCRC Emerging Infectious Expert Working Group. Dr. Branche has published several peer-reviewed articles, reviews and book chapters related to respiratory viral pathogens in adults.

Wednesday, March 11, 2020

March Science Cafe cancelled -- updates to follow

Dear Rochester Science Cafe Friends,

Out of an abundance of caution over the COVID-19 virus situation we have decided it best to cancel Seth Hubbard's March 24th Science Cafe.

We are taking our lead from local universities and colleges, who have cancelled all unnecessary meetings and gatherings for now.

In lieu of the cafe meeting, we'll try to post more science related content to both here and the facebook page:

Look for notifications there and via email for when we restart.

Stay safe, healthy, and informed!


Joshua Faber and David Goldfarb

Saturday, January 25, 2020

Spring 2020 Cafe Lineup -- part 1

The Rochester Science Cafe is pleased to announce the first part of our Spring 2020 cafe lineup.  Our first cafe will be this coming Tuesday, January 28, at 7pm.  As always, we'll be at the Pittsford Plaza Barnes and Noble (3349 Monroe Ave.) upstairs in the community room.  The talk will be:

Tuesday, January 28, 7pm
Artificial Intelligence: Assistant or Adversary?
Dr. George Ferguson
Assoc. Professor, Dept. of Computer Science, UofR

We will discuss the rapidly evolving field of artificial intelligence to help us understand what exactly AI is, and whether we should be concerned or elated.

Our February and March Cafes will be:

February 25: Dr. Michael Lam (RIT) -- "Pulsars: Fundamental Physics with Nature's Best Celestial Clocks" 

March 24: Dr. Seth Hubbard (RIT) -- Solar power (title TBD).

More on April and May to come!
On another note, if you enjoyed our November Cafe on Perception by Edmund Lalor, here are some links that he sent along for further reading:

Sunday, September 15, 2019

Fall 2019 September Science Cafe lineup announced -- Welcome to our 11th year

Welcome to everyone as the Rochester Science Cafe begins its 11th year! We are excited to announce our Fall 2019 lineup as we continue on with Rochester's premier free monthly science talk series. 
As always, talks will be the fourth Tuesday of the month at 7pm, upstairs in the Community Room at the Pittsford Plaza Barnes and Noble, 3349 Monroe Ave.  All talks are free, and coffee and cookies are provided.

This Fall, our lineup will be

September 24
“Health around the clock: human circadian rhythm in health and disease”
Dr. Brian J. Altmann, Ph.D.
Assistant Professor, Department of Biomedical Genetics
University of Rochester Medical Center

Circadian rhythms in mammals are 24-hour cycles that govern gene regulation and cellular metabolism. While many cancers have altered or disrupted circadian rhythms, there is little understanding of the implications of this disruption on cancer cell metabolism, tumor cell growth, and prognosis. We have previously shown that the MYC oncogene, commonly overexpressed in many human cancers, disrupts circadian rhythm and metabolic oscillations, which may provide a growth advantage to the cancer cell.

Our research focuses on identifying the intersections between circadian rhythm, cancer cell physiology, and metabolism. We utilize diverse cell line models of cancer and mouse MYC-driven lung cancer to focus on amplified MYC, the extended MYC family of related proteins, and nutrient input and metabolic stress signaling in circadian rhythm control. Better understanding of how tumors and metabolic input modulate the clock and the circadian metabolic cycle could aid in developing novel treatment strategies to time increased efficacy and reduced toxicity.

October 22
“Bacterial seashells: How to build your environment using bacteria” Dr. Anne Meyer, Ph.D.
Assistant Professor, Department of Biology
University of Rochester

November 26 
 “Perception as controlled hallucination”
Dr. Edmund Lalor, Ph.D.
Associate Professor, Departments of Biomedical Engineering and Neuroscience
University of Rochester

Saturday, March 23, 2019

March Science Cafe (3/26): Dr. Lea Michel (RIT): "Prevention, Protection, and Diagnosis: One protein’s role in multiple diseases"

Our next Science Cafe talk will be this coming Tuesday, March 26. As always, 7pm at the Pittsford Plaza Barnes and Noble, upstairs in the community room. For this month, our topic is:

Dr. Lea Michel
Associate Professor, School of Chemistry and Materials Science
Chair of Women in Science & Director of Rochester Project SEED

Prevention, Protection, and Diagnosis: One protein’s role in multiple diseases
The Michel research group has focused on the Peptidoglycan associated lipoprotein (Pal) protein from two pathogenic bacteria: nontypeable Haemophilus influenza (NTHi) and Escherichia coli (E. coli). NTHi causes ear infections and other respiratory illnesses, including chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD). The Michel group aims to use the NTHi Pal protein in a vaccine to protect against these diseases. E. coli can be found in the human gut, where they act as a “good bacteria,” helping to maintain gut health. However, E. coli can also cause serious illnesses, including sepsis, which is extreme inflammation caused by a serious infection. In this research realm, the Michel group studies the role of Pal in sepsis and aims to prove that Pal is a useful biomarker for early detection and diagnosis of E. coli sepsis.

There will be two more talks in our Spring series as well:

April 23: Dr. Ernest Fokoue (RIT):

To Bayes or not to Bayes? That’s no longer the question!
A light on the ubiquitous power of the Bayesian paradigm in Data Science.

This conversation will unapologetically make a series of bold claims seeking to make the case that the Bayesian Paradigm just might be the single most fundamental building block of statistical machine learning and data science. A tour of some foundational concepts in statistics and machine learning will serve as the fulcrum for anchoring all the claims, but concrete examples of the power of the Bayesian thought in modern data science will also be provided.

May 28: Dr. Andre Hudson (RIT):

Public Health Alert: Why should you care about antibiotic resistance.
Antibiotic resistance is one of the major public health challenges of the 21st century. The recent death of a United States citizen who became ill with an infection caused by Klebsiella pneumoniaethat was resistant to twenty-six antibiotics highlights this important issue. The rise in the number of multidrug-resistant bacteria such as; Methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus, Vancomycin inter-mediate and resistant Staphylococcus aureus, Pseudomonas aeruginosa (multidrug resistant strains), multi-drug resistant Mycobacterium tuberculosis among others has led to a significant increase in the morbidity and mortality of humans infected with pathogenic bacteria.

Tuesday, February 19, 2019

Science Cafe Spring lineup announced; First cafe in a week, 2/26

The Rochester Science Cafe is excited to announce our lineup for the remainder of the Spring series as we continue through our 10th year. Below is the lineup of the remaining talks.

Our net talk will be a week from today, Tuesday February 26, at 7pm at the Pittsford Plaza Barnes and Noble. As always, cookies, coffee and conversation upstairs in the community room.

We thank everyone for their patronage for this past decade, and look forward to a
few more!

February 26: Dr. Joel Kastner (RIT)
Professor, Chester F. Carlson Center for Imaging Science and
Astrophysical Science and Technology Program
"Needles in a haystack: the search for (and study of) young stars near Earth"
Thousands of extrasolar planets ("exoplanets") have been discovered over the past two decades. Astronomers seeking to understand the astonishing variety of planetary masses and orbital separations that characterize these myriad exoplanet systems, as well as the earliest evolution of our own solar system, must carefully study exoplanet birthplaces: dusty, molecule-rich “protoplanetary” disks orbiting young stars. Here, I'll talk about recent advances in the study of protoplanetary disks using the recently commissioned Atacama Large Millimeter Array (ALMA) radio interferometer as well as the latest generation of adaptive optics (AO) cameras on the world’s largest (8-meter-class) optical/infrared telescopes. My talk will focus on ALMA and AO studies of the nearest-known disks; these young neighbors afford opportunities to image disk structures and chemistry on solar system size scales. Also, I'll talk about finding the source of the air we breathe, from an astronomical perspective.

March 26: Dr. Lea Michel (RIT)
Assoc. Professor, School of Chemistry and Materals Science
Chair, Women in Science program
"Prevention, Protection, and Diagnosis: One protein’s role in multiple diseases"

April 23: Dr. Ernest Fokoue (RIT)
Assoc. Professor, School of Mathematical Sciences

May 28: Dr. Andre Hudson (RIT)
Professor and Head, Thomas H Gosnell School of Life Sciences
"Public Health Alert: Why should you care about antibiotic resistance"

Monday, September 24, 2018

On behalf of the Rochester Science Cafe organizers, we are happy to announce the Fall 2019 Science Cafe speaker lineup, as we mark our 10th year of operations. Back in September of 2009, little did we know how much of a fixture this would become for all of us, and hopefully how much we have been able to bring to all of you. In that spirit, here are our speakers and dates for Fall 2018/January 2019. As always, all talks will take place at the Pittsford Plaza Barnes and Noble, upstairs in the community room, on the fourth Tuesday of the month, 7pm. Cookies, coffee, conversation! We look forward to seeing everyone there!


September 25

“HIV/AIDS in 2018: Progress & Persisting Challenges”
Dr. Michael Keefer, M.D.

Professor in Medicine
School of Medicine and Dentistry
University of Rochester Medical Center

Dr. Keefer's Research page:

Bio: Dr. Keefer has over 18 years of experience in the preventive HIV vaccine field, having served as Director of the University of Rochester's NIH-supported HIV Vaccine Trials Unit (HVTU) since 1991. Working initially as a laboratory investigator he was the first to demonstrate T-cell mediated immune responses to a candidate HIV vaccine. Subsequently he focused his attention on the design and conduct of clinical trials. When the HIV Vaccine Trials Network (HVTN) expanded to include international sites in 1999, he assumed the position of the HVTN's Associate Director of Scientific Administration. In that role his duties include leadership of scientific and administrative committees and visits to international sites. Dr Keefer is also PI of an NIH-funded Program Project entitled "HSV-1 amplicon vectors for HIV vaccine delivery", a collaboration with Drs. Dewhurst, Mosmann, Federoff and Bowers.


Upcoming Cafes:

October 23 
 ““What?” How Hearing Loss Affects Speech Perception”
Dr. Laurel Carney, Ph.D.

Marylou Ingram Professor of Biomedical Engineering
Departments of Biomedical Engineering, Neuroscience, and Electrical & Computer Engineering
University of Rochester

November 27
 “Alien Worlds and the Fate of the Earth” 
Dr. Adam Frank, Ph.D.
Professor of Physics and Astronomy
University of Rochester

January 22
 “Oceans and Climate Change: Greenhouse Gas Gusher to Gas Gobbler”
Dr. John Kessler, Ph.D.

Associate Professor
Department of Earth and Environmental Sciences
University of Rochester