Jane Lubchenco kicks off OSU speaker series at da Vinci Days

Jane Lubchenco will kick off the 2013 da Vinci Days Festival in Corvallis. Fresh from four years in Washington, D.C., at the helm of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), she will share tales and reflections about her experiences with the federal agency in charge of weather forecasts and warnings, climate records and outlooks, stewardship of federal ocean waters including management of fisheries, and the research and satellites that support those activities. (Photo: Joy Leighton)
Jane Lubchenco will kick off the 2013 da Vinci Days Festival in Corvallis. (Photo: Joy Leighton)

Jane Lubchenco, Oregon State University professor and former administrator of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, will give the opening night keynote address at Corvallis’ annual da Vinci Days festival on Friday, July 19.

Her presentation, “From the Silly to the Sublime: Stories about Science in D.C,” will begin at 7 p.m. in the Whiteside Theater. It is free and open to the public.

Lubchenco will reflect on her experiences with NOAA, the federal agency in charge of weather forecasts and warnings, climate records and outlooks. NOAA is also the nation’s ocean agency, managing fisheries, monitoring changes, and being the steward of ocean health in federal waters. NOAA’s satellites, ships, planes and other platforms and its cadre of scientists provide the information and understanding that support those activities.

Since stepping down from NOAA, Lubchenco has been on leave at Stanford University and plans to return to Oregon State in June.

Steve Amen hosts Oregon Field Guide, the popular outdoors science program produced by Oregon Public Broadcasting. (Photo courtesy of OPB)
Steve Amen hosts Oregon Field Guide, the popular outdoors science program produced by Oregon Public Broadcasting. (Photo courtesy of OPB)

Lubchenco’s talk will launch a weekend series of family-friendly talks by Oregon State researchers that will focus on the ongoing Mars rover mission, decoding the golden ratio, underwater photography from Antarctica and invasive bullfrogs in our lakes and streams.

All weekend presentations will be held in Kearney Hall, which is located on the university campus across from the da Vinci Days fairgrounds. They are also free and open to the public.

Steve Amen, host of Oregon Public Broadcasting’s popular Oregon Field Guide, will conclude the series as the festival’s closing speaker. His presentation, “Oregon’s Splendor,” will begin at 4 p.m. Sunday in Kearney Hall. He will share some of his favorite spots in Oregon, from the high desert to the coast.

Inspired by Leonardo da Vinci’s left-brain-meets-right-brain genius, the first da Vinci Days festival was held in 1989. In addition to the speaker series, this celebration of arts, science and technology features independent films, live music and a kinetic sculpture race. Hands-on exhibition booths and demonstrations on the Oregon State campus invite students and families to explore the many creative sides of OSU and the Corvallis community.

See more about da Vinci Days at www.davincidays.org.


OSU speakers scheduled for da Vinci Days in 112 Kearney Hall

Saturday, July 20

11 a.m. Jack Barth and the ocean glider team, Ocean Exploration with Underwater Gliders
Underwater gliders are a key component of OSU’s new Ocean Observatories Initiative. As they patrol the ocean depths, these autonomous robots are giving scientists new views of the marine ecosystems. See a glider and learn how it navigates, dives and resurfaces in the course of collecting data on ocean currents, dissolved oxygen, plankton and more.

12 noon. Dan Rockwell, A Mathematical Detective Story: Decoding the Golden Ratio
We’re surrounded by pattern and rhythm. From the branching of an ancient oak to the classical architecture of a courthouse, our environment reflects principles of harmony and repetition. We can use the language of mathematics to see this underlying reality. We’ll explore our world through the Golden Ratio and other tools that show how forms lead to function.

1 p.m. Marty Fisk, Curiosity on Mars: NASA’s search for habitable environments.
Scientists have found life in surprising places: in rocks a mile under the ocean floor and in scalding pools of hot water. In comparison, Mars may not be such a long shot. Martin Fisk, OSU marine geologist, is part of the NASA team that analyzes the Martian landscape for places where life existed in the past or could exist today.

2 p.m. Seri Robinson, Art and Science of Spalted Wood
The art of wood spalting dates back to 15th century Italy. Wood scientist Seri Robinson will talk about how it’s done and give visitors a chance to make their own by applying fungi to wood veneer.

3 p.m. Andrew Thurber, Life in the Polar Ocean
Life under polar ice thrives in surprising abundance. Sponges, sea stars, tube worms and anemones dot the sea floor around Antarctica while ice fish carve out caves to hid from predatory seals. Overhead during the summer, a light show flashes sunset colors and illuminates natural ice sculptures. At this presentation, see images from the seafloor near the U.S. Antarctic station at McMurdo, learn what it’s like to dive into a dark nearly frozen realm and hear how art is informed by science.

Sunday, July 21

12 noon Tiffany Garcia, Bullfrogs and Other Threats to Aquatic Ecosystems
The American bullfrog is an invasive species in Oregon. Find out how the bullfrogs got here, where they came from, what we can do to control them. We will discuss specific impacts to our aquatic ecosystems, our native frog and salamander species, and what makes them such effective predators and competitors in the Pacific Northwest invasion range. This demonstration will include live bullfrog adults and tadpoles.

1 p.m. Skip Rochefort, Stories from the Game of Life: Engineering for fun and function
Let’s face it. Every day seems to bring some new problem: life-threatening illness, an oil spill, hunger. Engineers look for solutions in the oddest places. They use wool from Willamette Valley sheep to clean up oil spills. They create Jello-O-like beads to deliver cancer therapy and replace spinal discs. They turn recycled plastics into building insulation. They solve personal transportation problems with the Segway scooter and the i-Bot stair-climbing wheelchair. Come find out what else engineers are doing!

2 p.m. Zach Dunn, Kel Wer: A film about water, survival, and hope in Lela, Kenya
In July of 2012, a group of Oregon State University students traveled to the small village of Lela, Kenya with the goal of helping the community gain access to safe water. Kel Wer (“to bring song” in the native Dholuo language) is a film that tells the story of their journey, the challenges they faced, and the incredibly welcoming and resilient people they met along the way. Zachary Dunn, currently a graduate student at OSU, was part of that expedition and will present the film and answer questions.

3 p.m. Michael Wing, The Future of Unmanned Aerial Systems
Unmanned aerial systems (UAS) are now becoming available at prices well below $2000. Coupled with light-weight sensors, UAS are capable of capturing high resolution imagery that can support natural resource management, disaster response, and search and rescue operations. This presentation will include information about low-cost UAS and how this technology can be used for the benefit of society.”