Faculty present research findings in new seminar series

Brian Poolan | Staff Writers | bpoolman@mail.smcvt.edu

This fall, St. Michael’s College faculty expect to present three science related seminars based off their own research in their respective fields. “This seminar series is an interdisciplinary series and it will deal with questions that are relevant to our contemporary society,” said Ruth Fabian-Fine, director of neuroscience program and associate professor of biology and neuroscience. “To get this knowledge from an expert and be able to ask questions and be educated about this more helps us.” The first seminar, “Solutions for Social Impact: Shedding Light on Neurodegenerative Diseases for Non-scientists” took place on Oct. 6, presented by Professor Ruth Fabian-Fine and Adam Weaver, associate professor of biology and neuroscience, along with a panel of students. Throughout the seminar, neurodegenerative diseases including Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s, Huntington’s, Multiple sclerosis, Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis were discussed. “We will talk a little bit about what we know with regard to these diseases, what causes them, and what we don’t know,” Fabian-Fine said. “Good attendance in McCarthy and good attendance online, the students were amazing, we had eight students present [on the panel] and they all did an amazing job of showing their expertise of the topics and really presented well,” Weaver said. “I think it was well received, we had some good questions at the end and we addressed those. It went perfectly from my perspective.” Students were involved in the seminar by asking questions and showing their knowledge in the subject matter. Two other science seminars are scheduled for this semester. On Oct. 20, Professor of Physics Alain Brizard and student researchers are expected to discuss recent progress in nuclear fusion as a carbon-free and safe way to produce energy. The plan is to involve students and share this research to get students and faculty excited about this research and potentially share it with others. “The plan is to expand the seminar series outside of the STEM disciplines and include seminars from the humanities and so on,” Brizard said. The next seminar after that is on Nov. 3, Professor of Psychology Ari Kirshenbaum will be hosting his seminar “Weed and the Wheel” about the psychological effects of cannabis and driving. A one-credit course is expected to be offered next semester, where students will propose potential seminar topics to the class and vote to decide. “These talks will be advertised, and target groups will be invited to these talks so they can benefit from it,” Fabian-Fine said. Educating students on campus is one of the main goals for these seminars. Being able to give these students a chance to learn and participate more about these topics will help both the students gain knowledge and the faculty to share their knowledge. “Often at a younger age you have to find your place in society, and you are more of a follower than a leader,” Fabian-Fine said. Recently, there have been calls to celebrate research conducted by members of the College community. “We quietly succeed and I think she and our College’s administration want us to no longer quietly succeed. They want us to get the ideas out there,” Weaver said.