Scientist Lecture

Delve deeper into the issues and conditions that impact the world around us. These free academic lectures allow you to step back into the classroom and learn from the experts.

Each lecture is free and open to the public, but registration is required. All programs are held at 7pm.

Wednesday, Jan. 16

From Microbes to Mountains, Exploring Environments in a World of Change

Aimée Classen, PhD, University of Vermont

Soils are the most diverse ecosystems on the planet harboring thousands of organisms in a single gram. These soil-dwellers are hugely influential in our ecosystems, driving plant growth and regulating soil carbon, an important greenhouse gas. Dr. Classen explores the diversity of soil organisms, their relationships with plants, and how they regulate (and are impacted by) environmental change.                                       

Wednesday, Feb. 13

Mentor Marsh: History, Tragedy, Recovery

David Kriska, PhD, Cleveland Musuem of Natural History

Mentor Marsh was one of the most species-rich sites on the Great Lakes shoreline until the late 1960s when salt-mine tailings leached into the waterway, killing most of the swamp forest trees and marsh plants. The site was overtaken by reed grass (Phragmites australis), an aggressive invasive plant. In 2012, the Cleveland Museum of Natural History began a large-scale restoration of Mentor Marsh, treating Phragmites via helicopter and ground-based amphibious vehicles, and physically mashing the grass flat to allow native plants to grow. Today, dozens of native plant species are sprouting throughout the Marsh and rare marsh birds and native fish are returning to the site.


Wednesday, May 15

Tree Traits and Tollway Troubles: Trait-based Approaches for Predicting and Restoring Soil Function

 Meghan Midgley, PhD, the Morton Arboretum

Trees alter the soils in which they grow by contributing organic matter to the soil, such as leaf and root litters and root exudates. However, given the existence of over 60,000 species of trees, a critical challenge lies in determining how soils dominated by different species function. In this talk, I will demonstrate how tree leaf and root traits (such as deciduous vs. evergreen leaves) can be used to simplify relationships between trees and soils and predict how forests will respond to environmental changes. Additionally, I will highlight a unique research project designed to apply basic knowledge about tree effects on forest soils to enhancing urban tree biodiversity and ecosystem health along the Illinois Tollway.