Why we need Charles Darwin in 2016 – a #DarwinDay event

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Once again, this February, we celebrate Darwin Day in the Café Scientifique with a special guest, a historian of science, speaking about the continuing relevance of Charles Darwin to science and to our lives in the 21st century. Join us for a conversation about “Why we need Darwin in 2016: Sustainability, Evolution, and the Global Environment.” Darwin’s 217th birthday will be celebrated a week after our Café event, on February 12th.

Headshot October 2015.jpgOur guest Dr. Dawn Mooney Digrius is the Senior Project Manager for the STEM Collaboratives Project at the California State University Office of the Chancellor. Prior to coming to the Chancellor’s Office, Digrius was Assistant Professor of History at Stevens Institute of Technology. Her research centers on the history of water, agriculture and sustainability in Latin America and beyond. While running an international project in Ecuador and El Salvador, she also served as Main Representative for the International Health Awareness Network from 2011-2014 to the United Nations. Digrius participated in the Rio+20 conference and the Open Working Groups for the Development of the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals. Her deep commitment to Sustainable Development is reflected in her scholarly work and in an upcoming short documentary film, Not Just Illegals, highlighting the plight of Salvadorans and their migration to the United States as a result of violence and limited economic opportunities. She has two grown children and lives in Long Beach, California.

Special note: Our host for the past two years, Peeve’s Public House’s owner Craig Scharton, recently made a heartfelt plea for all of our support and patronage to help his business survive in the tough downtown location. Craig is a rare businessman with a strong civic sense committed to reviving Fresno’s beleaguered downtown, and has run Peeve’s as a genuine Public House, not as a mere watering hole, but as a venue for the public to enjoy music, sports, the arts, and of course, science. We would love to continue this long-term relationship with Peeve’s as our permanent home, but can only do so if we can help keep the pub in business. So please do what you can to provide your patronage to the pub, and get your friends and family out there too, so we can show that such a pub can remain a viable business in Fresno.

So join us on the first Wednesday (note the change in day for our cafe) of February to enjoy a pint of the fine brews Peeve’s has on tap, with some food, and a hearty helping of science and history to celebrate another Darwin Day!

Speaker: Dr. Dawn M. Digrius, California State University

When: Wednesday, 3 February 2016, 7:00 PM

Where: Peeve’s Public House
, 1243 Fulton Mall, Fresno, CA 93721.

Contact: 559-278-2460 (cafe inquiries) / 559-573-5735 (Pub’s number).

Here’s the full poster for this event – please feel free to download, print, and/or share with your friends and family:

Birds in the City

Lights at dusk

Cities are dynamic ecosystems where social and ecological factors interact to influence the amount and distribution of urban biodiversity. This January, Pedro Garcia will present insights from his analysis of data from the Fresno Bird Count (a citizen science project) to help understand what shapes bird species diversity at residential and city-wide scales in the Fresno-Clovis Metro Area.

Join us for an evening of conversation about how the study of social-ecological interactions helps us understand and manage urban ecosystems better, especially in times of stress like the drought now affecting California.

Speaker: Pedro Garcia, California Conservation Corps

When: Wednesday, 6 January 2016, 7:00 PM

Where: Peeve’s Public House
, 1243 Fulton Mall, Fresno, CA 93721.

Contact: 559-278-2460 (cafe inquiries) / 559-573-5735 (Pub’s number).

Here’s the full poster for this event – please feel free to download, print, and/or share with your friends and family:

A Biologist and a Sociologist walk into a… CRISPR!

How would you like it if we had the ability to precisely edit out disease-causing genes from your, or your child’s, DNA? What if a relatively simple, cheap technique could fix specific mutations in our DNA? What if the same technique also allowed you to choose the color of your child’s hair or eyes? What if you could stop cancer from growing by editing out the cancer-causing mutations in your DNA? What if you could edit the genome of any species so precisely as to be able to effectively design them to have traits we desire, or to eliminate just the traits we don’t want?

Questions like these have inspired science-fiction ever since the early days of genetics, with authors like Aldous Huxley imagining (in 1930) a Brave New World full of such wondrous and frightening technologies and exploring their implications for human nature and society. What would Huxley have thought about modern genetics, when we actually have techniques that allow for precise editing of DNA, down to the nucleotide letter?

At the next Café Scientifique event, we will learn about CRISPR, a relatively new DNA-editing technique which has taken the world of genetics by storm, both because of its promise and because of its ethical implications. Dr. Tricia Van Laar, a new microbiologist in the Biology department at Fresno State, will give us an overview of CRISPR technology. Dr. Van Laar will then be joined by sociologist Dr. Andrew Rhys Jones, also from Fresno State, to discuss the broader social and ethical implications of these technologies. You are invited to join in this live discussion at Peeve’s Pub for next month’s Café event.

Here’s science writer Carl Zimmer giving a quick primer explaining CRISPR in 90-seconds:

Tune in to 88.1 FM KFCF radio at 3:30 PM on Tuesday, 27 October 2015, for a preview of the conversation to expect between the biologist and the sociologist. Drs. Van Laar and Jones will be the featured guests in the next episode of Science: A Candle In The Dark, which airs on Tuesday and will be available via podcast soon after.

Join us at Peeve’s Pub the following Monday for an evening with the two scholars where you can join in the discussion about CRISPR, the new biotechnologies, and what they might mean for the future of humanity.

When: Monday, 2 November 2015, 7:00 PM

Where: Peeve’s Public House
, 1243 Fulton Mall, Fresno, CA 93721.

Contact: 559-278-2460 (cafe inquiries) / 559-573-5735 (Pub’s number).

Here’s the full poster for this event – please feel free to download, print, and/or share with your friends and family: