The Parkland College Blog

UI Astronomer to Discuss Lives, Deaths of Galaxies in February

Staerkel Planetarium to Present Kaler Lecture on Galaxies

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Galaxies will feature in February's edition of the James B. Kaler Science Lecture series at the William M. Staerkel Planetarium at Parkland College.

On Friday, Feb. 4, at 6:30 p.m. Dr. Decker French, assistant professor of astronomy at the University of Illinois, will present "The Lives and Deaths of Galaxies." All Kaler lecture tickets are $2 and are free for Friends of the Staerkel Planetarium members.

While galaxies like the Milky Way are actively forming new stars, other galaxies appear to have rapidly ended their star formation after an intense starburst. What makes these galaxies stop forming stars? Researchers have some interesting evidence that supermassive black holes may play an important role.

French researches how galaxies evolve over time using telescope observations of visible light and radio waves. Since light has a finite speed, astronomers observe more distant galaxies to see how they appeared at earlier points in the history of the universe. This information gives astronomers a better sense of how galaxies behave over time.

French received her undergraduate degrees in physics and planetary science at MIT, then earned her PhD in Astronomy and Astrophysics at the University of Arizona. She was a Hubble post-doctoral fellow at the Carnegie Observatories in Pasadena, Calif., before joining the UIUC in 2020.

Kaler Science lectures are filmed by Parkland College Television (PCTV) for later viewing on the station. After the talk, the seats will be cleaned before the 8 p.m. show, "Skywatchers of Africa," a program about the astronomy of diverse African cultures. Admission to fulldome shows is $6 for adults or $5 for children, students, or seniors. Please visit parkland.edu/planetarium for the show schedule or call 217/351-2568 for information about booking the dome.

Staerkel Planetarium to Present Kaler Lecture on Evolution

"The Evolution of Family Life: A Case Study in Small Fish," December 3 at 6:30 p.m.

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This December's James B. Kaler Science Lecture at the William M. Staerkel Planetarium will be about evolution, through the lens of fish.

Friday, December 3 at 6:30 p.m., University of Illinois professor Dr. Alison Bell will present "The Evolution of Family Life: A Case Study in Small Fish." Tickets for Kaler Lectures cost $2 or are free for Friends of the Staerkel Planetarium.

Bell, who teaches in the UIUC Department of Evolution, Ecology, and Behavior, researches the various ways families are organized in nature. Her lab focuses on the threespined stickleback, a type of fish whose family structure places the father as the sole provider of parental care. However, there are populations within the species which offer no parental care. Data from Bell's lab offers clues to this variance in social behavior.

Bell earned a bachelor's degree in history, philosophy, and social studies of science and medicine at the University of Chicago, and a doctorate in population biology at the University of California at Davis. Before joining the University of Illinois, she performed postdoctoral research at UC-Davis and at the University of Glasgow. In 2020, she was elected a Fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science.

The seating capacity in the planetarium is currently limited to 60 people. The Kaler Science Lectures are filmed by Parkland College TV. After the talk, the seats will be cleaned before the 8 p.m. showing of Season of Light, a program about the cultural traditions and astronomy of the winter solstice. Admission to fulldome shows are $6 for adults and $5 for children, students, and seniors. For a show schedule or booking information, please call 217/351-2446 or visit parkland.edu/planetarium.

Staerkel Planetarium to Present Kaler Lecture on Microreactors

Staerkel Planetarium to Present Kaler Lecture on Microreactors

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The William M. Staerkel Planetarium at Parkland College is hosting a talk on nuclear microreactors for the James B. Kaler Science Lecture Series.

On Friday, November 5 at 6:30 p.m., Dr. Caleb Brooks, associate professor in the Department of Nuclear, Plasma, and Radiological Engineering at the University of Illinois, will present "Rethinking Nuclear Power: Small Systems, Big Potential." Tickets for Kaler Lectures cost $2 or are free for Friends of the Staerkel Planetarium.

Nuclear microreactors are a new class of nuclear fission technology that various U.S. departments plan to deploy over this decade. As the name implies, they are much smaller than conventional reactors, but their design allows them to be factory-built and delivered to sites by truck, rail, or ship. Since they require minimal onsite construction, they can offer a plug-and-play source of energy, which is useful in locations limited by isolation or natural disasters.

Brooks earned B.S., M.S., and Ph.D. degrees in Nuclear Engineering from Purdue University and began working at the University of Illinois in 2014. He established the Multiphase Thermo-fluid Dynamics Laboratory to study nuclear systems and reactor flows, and he investigates hybrid energy approaches for existing and future power systems.

The seating capacity in the planetarium is currently limited to 60 people. The Kaler Science Lectures are filmed by PCTV. After the talk, the seats will be cleaned before the 8 p.m. showing of Phantom of the Universe, a program about the search for dark matter. Admission to fulldome shows start at $5. For a show schedule or booking information, please call 217/351-2446 or visit parkland.edu/planetarium.
 

Parkland Students, Alumni to Present Research at Kaler Lecture

Staerkel Planetarium to host PRECS students for Kaler Lecture

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Parkland students and alumni will present their summer research work at the first James B. Kaler Science Lecture to return to the dome this fall at the William M. Staerkel Planetarium.

Friday, October 1 at 6:30 p.m., Brittney Bailey, Soohyun Lee, and Faith Smith will give a talk titled "Nature & Nurture: Examining How Diverse Organisms Adapt to Changes in their Everyday Environment," which includes their results in the 2021 Phenotypic Plasticity Research Experience for Community College Students (PRECS) program. Admission for all Kaler Lectures are $2 or free for members of the Friends of the Staerkel Planetarium.

The PRECS program, funded by a grant from the National Science Foundation, is a collaboration between Parkland College and the University of Illinois at Urbana–Champaign. The ten-week program brings community college students from across the country to Parkland and UIUC to conduct research over the summer. Phenotypic plasticity describes how environmental conditions produce responses in genes that affect physical appearance or behavior.

Brittney Bailey is a Parkland graduate and UIUC student who investigated how the quality of honey bees' diet can mitigate the harmful effects of pesticides and viruses. Soohyun Lee is another Parkland grad and current UIUC student whose project, "Bioinformatics Protocol for Assessing Contamination Level and Quality on Genomics Data of Ensifer meliloti", focused on a species of bacteria. Faith Smith is a current Parkland student who monitored the effects of biofilm production in rhizobia, a soil bacteria, on how clover responds to drought conditions.

All Kaler Science Lectures will be filmed by PCTV for later viewing. The seating capacity is limited to 60 people for all planetarium shows at this time. After the talk, the seats will be cleaned in preparation for the 8 pm program, Birth of Planet Earth. Tickets for our fulldome shows range from $5 to $6 with discounts offered for large groups. For a show schedule, call 217/351-2446 or visit parkland.edu/planetarium.
 

Parkland Science Scholars to Hold Informational Webinars

Parkland to Hold Informational Webinars for New Science Program

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Parkland College will be hosting two informational webinars for the new Parkland Science Scholars program.

Students, parents, and community members who are interested in the program are invited to join Dr C. Britt Carlson on Zoom for a more in-depth explanation about Parkland Science Scholars, general information about applying to Parkland, and frequently asked questions.

There will be two webinars; the same information will be covered in both sessions.

Students and parents are asked to register at the above links for their preferred session. Instructors, counselors, and other community members can use this link to join the session without registration.

Parkland Science Scholars is a new program designed to support low-income students working toward their degrees in science. Students are awarded $2,450 per semester in financial support, for a total of four semesters, and are individually mentored by Parkland faculty.

Other support structures include peer and UIUC-graduate student mentoring, summer research opportunities, leadership opportunities in Parkland clubs, and recognition by the Parkland Board of Trustees following completion of the program.

Applications are being accepted now. For more information about Parkland Science Scholars, please visit parkland.edu/ParklandScienceScholars or contact Dr. Carlson at ccarlson@parkland.edu.

Parkland Science Scholars is supported by a grant from the National Science Foundation.

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