Monday, May 14 – OPEN MIC

Let us hear from you. What are your concerns. What topics would you like to hear about and who would you like to hear from next season?

7:30 pm The Donut Whole (1720 E Douglas)

Monday, April 9 – Insect Recyclers: Dung and Carrion Beetles

Topic: Insect Recyclers: Dung and Carrion Beetles

Date/time/location: Monday, April 9, 7:30 pm, The Donut Whole (1720 E Douglas)

Speakers: Rachel Stone and Emmy Engasser


“If we and the rest of the backboned animals were to disappear overnight, the rest of the world would get on pretty well. But if they were to disappear, the land’s ecosystems would collapse. The soil would lose its fertility. Many of the plants would no longer be pollinated. Lots of animals, amphibians, reptiles, birds, mammals would have nothing to eat. And our fields and pastures would be covered with dung and carrion. These small creatures are within a few inches of our feet, wherever we go on land – but often, they’re disregarded. We would do very well to remember them.”—David Attenborough

We are utterly outnumbered by insects, but most of us barely give a second thought to our ubiquitous companions. While some insects might serve as sources of disease and annoyance, the truth is that without them we as a species would cease to thrive and survive. Some of the most underappreciated heroes of our ecosystems are the ones with the dirtiest jobs. Join entomologists Rachel Stone and Emmy Engasser in discussing why you should stop and appreciate the contributions of insect recyclers, dung and carrion beetles.

Rachel Stone received her BS in Biological Sciences from WSU and is currently finishing her MSc work in the Biodiversity Laboratory at WSU. Her research is primarily concerned with dung beetle ecology and behavior with a focus on dung beetle attraction to mammal carrion in temperate regions.

Emmy Engasser is an environmental consultant and an adjunct professor at WSU, where she has also received her BS and MSc in Biological Sciences. Her research focus is on carrion beetle habitat preferences in the Kansas Flint Hills. Outside of research, Emmy’s interests lay in the curation and management of museum insect collections.

Monday February 12: Characterizing Great Egret (Ardea alba) Behavior and Estimating Energy Expenditure Using Accelerometry Data – Alan D. Maccarone, Biology Department, Friends University



Monday, February 12 at 7:30 pm

The Donut Whole (1720 E. Douglas)


Although this presentation ostensibly describes recent findings in Great Egret energetics, movement patterns, and habitat selection, an important backdrop to this story is about technology and science. Specifically, how evolving technologies in remote sensing have enabled our long-term studies on wading birds to address questions that until recently could not be asked. Our studies of wading birds in the field began with observations of unknown birds. We adopted VSH-based radio-telemetry about 10 years ago and were able to follow known individuals, whose local activity patterns could then be better understood. This technology has several drawbacks, including maximum distance for signal transmission, and when the birds departed after the breeding season, we were not able to obtain additional data. Currently, we deploy GPS units on Great Egrets, which has enabled us to follow birds across vast distances and throughout the year. For example, one bird has migrated across the Gulf of Mexico for the past three years.

Dr. Alan Maccarone earned his Ph. D. from Rutgers – The State University of New Jersey. He has been a Professor of Biology at Friends University since 1998 where he previously held the positions of Director of Environmental Studies for the Graduate Program and Director of Zoo Science for the Undergraduate program.

Comparison of Foraging Behavior and Energetics by Great Egrets (Ardea alba) and Snowy Egrets (Egretta thula) Across Three Microhabitats – Abigail C. Harper , Zoo Science Program, Friends University

Monday, January 8 – Linking CRP grassland management to plant, bird, and insect abundance and diversity

Speaker: Molly Reichenborn

Topic: Linking CRP grassland management to plant, bird, and insect abundance and diversity

Date/time/location: Monday, January 8th; 7:30 pm; The Donut Whole (1720 E. Douglas)



The Conservation Reserve Program (CRP) is a national program that pays landowners to remove land from agricultural production and plant species that provide environmental benefits such as soil erosion control and wildlife habitat. In Kansas, over 1.7 million acres are enrolled in CRP, supporting extensive grassland restoration in a mostly cultivated landscape. Although CRP provides valuable habitat, these grasslands generally have lower plant diversity and uniform structure compared to grazed, native prairies. Grazing is currently limited or prohibited as CRP management, despite the historical role of large grazers (bison) on the landscape. Lack of grazing disturbance may help explain why CRP falls short in comparison to cattle-stocked native prairies. Collaborators at Emporia and Wichita State Universities are undertaking a 3-year study to examine the potential benefits of cattle grazing on bird, plant, and insect communities on CRP lands. Data were collected for the first year of the study in 2017 on CRP representing high and low diversity planting practices (CP25 and CP2, respectively) across the longitudinal precipitation gradient in Kansas. This presentation will address what the investigators have learned thus far.


Molly Reichenborn is a two-time alumna of Wichita State University, receiving her bachelor of science in 2013 and master of science in biological sciences in 2016. Though she originally intended to pursue a career in zookeeping, Molly was drawn to ecosystem restoration and research during her undergraduate studies, and instead pursued a graduate degree focused on plant community ecology. As a graduate student, she was involved with multiple projects dealing with the invasive plant species Sericea lespedeza (Lespedeza cuneata), including her thesis research examining the recovery of a Kansas plant community following the removal of this invader. Molly currently works as a project manager under the principle investigators heading up the CRP research project, Dr. Bill Jensen at Emporia State University and Drs. Greg Houseman and Mary Liz Jameson at Wichita State University.

Monday, December 11: Title: Space Biomedical Research and a Novel Wearable Smart Skin Sensor to Monitor Crew Health

Dr. Kim Cluff, Biomedical Engineering Department, Wichita State University
Monday, December 11, 2017, 7:30 pm at The Donut Whole (1720 E. Douglas, Wichita, KS)

Overview: Dr. Kim Cluff will present his research and progress towards developing a bio-monitoring sensor which is passive (does not require batteries), robust and lightweight (does not have electrical components), and able to wirelessly monitor multiple physiological parameters related to astronaut health and performance. This innovative wearable sensor may serve as a simple yet sophisticated method for monitoring multiple mission critical physiological parameters such as blood-flow, intracranial pressure, body temperature, blood gas concentration, and fitness of the space suit in a novel fashion. Our central hypothesis is that biological electrical and magnetic properties can be leveraged to detect physiological parameters using a skin patch sensor – applied like a small adhesive bandage or woven into garments. This research addresses NASA research interests in wearable health monitoring systems to address the gaps and risks that are critical to crew health and performance during long duration space missions.

Speaker Biography
Dr. Kim Cluff received his PhD from the University of Nebraska-Lincoln in Bioengineering as well as two PhD minors in statistics and computer science. Dr. Cluff is a professor of Biomedical Engineering and has a research focus in biomedical sensors, bio-imaging, and computational modeling. Dr. Cluff is the director for the Biomedical Sensors, Imaging, and Modeling, Engineering (BIoME) Lab where students gain hands on experience with advanced medical imaging systems, sophisticated bioinstrumentation, and powerful biocomputational modeling software. In the BIoME Lab Dr. Cluff’s research team aims to develop novel quantitative approaches to improve medical diagnostics and treatment monitoring through application of mathematics, computational medicine, bioinstrumentation, and biosensor design. The laboratory contains nonionizing imaging modalities such as ultrasound, lasers, spectral imaging, and 3D scanning capabilities. The laboratory also contains electronics, biosensors, multi-physics modeling software, and powerful computers to model real world medical problems in a 3D virtual environment.

Monday, November 13: The Red Hills–Out of the Ashes

Monday, November 13; 7:30 pm; The Donut Whole (1720 E Douglas)
The Red Hills–Out of the Ashes
Ken Brunson

The past two springs witnessed two of the largest wildfires known for Kansas as well as for North America. 1.2 million acres burned out of control from these two fires killing people, livestock, shelterbelts and destroying thousands of miles of fence and many structures including homes. But for the rangeland affected, things were good. Invasive cedar trees were killed and rangeland recovered with the extra benefit of timely precipitation. So how has the land and people recovered?

Ken Brunson is the Red Hills Project Coordinator for the Nature Conservancy in Kansas. He will provide descriptions and visual images of the amazing recovery of the Red Hills from these huge wildfires. Ken’s background as a long time employee of the Kansas Department of Wildlife and Parks as well as his college education at Fort Hays State gives him a secure base of knowledge in order to expertly explain the conditions for these wildfires and the land’s recovery from them.

Monday, October 9: The importance of disease model development for emerging and neglected infectious diseases


Topic: The importance of disease model development for emerging and neglected infectious diseases.

Speaker: Dr. Thomas Shelite

Date/Time/Location: Monday, October 9, 7:30pm, The Donut Whole (1720 E. Douglas)


The emergence of new infectious diseases and the continued persistence of neglected diseases continue to be global threats. Development of models that resemble human disease is an important step in understanding the damage induced by these pathogens. This allows for research into better diagnostics, treatments, as well as preventive measures such as vaccines. The accuracy of these models are imperative to the advancement of infectious disease research.


Dr. Shelite is WSU alumni, receiving his BS and MSc for the department of Biological Sciences. He was awarded his PhD May of 2014 from the Experimental Pathology program at the University of Texas Medical Branch in Galveston, TX. His field of research has been focused on rickettsial pathogenesis and host immunity to these pathogens. As such, Dr. Shelite as extensive training (10 years) at Biosafety level 3 (BSL3) and Animal Biosafety 3 (ABSL3), making him uniquely qualified for work in higher level containment.  His dissertation research established a hematogenously disseminated murine model of scrub typhus that closely parallels the pathology of human disease. This model provides a powerful new tool to study the host’s immune response to an important neglected tropical disease.  Dr. Shelite has a unique understanding of tissue pathology and will be able to use this knowledge to produce a novel understanding of the immunopathology observed in scrub typhus.  His career interests are understanding the immune mechanisms that contribute to disease pathogenesis. He is currently a postdoctoral fellow in Dr. Bruno Travi’s laboratory working on the development of rapid point-of-care diagnostics for emerging and neglected tropical pathogens to be used in resource limited countries

The Climate Emergency: The Case for Immediate Action

Topic: The Climate Emergency: The Case for Immediate Action

Speaker: Craig Wolfe

Date/time/location: Monday, September 11; 7:30pm; The Donut Whole 1720 E. Douglas


The climate crisis is real. But what are the facts? What are the threats that we face? Where are the opportunities going forward? If the climate emergency is an existential threat to life on the planet, does our response reflect that of an emergency? What can and must individuals do to avert the worst consequences of the climate crisis?
     As part of Craig Wolfe’s role in Al Gore’s Climate Reality Leadership Corps, he uses slides prepared by the Climate Reality Project along with his own to demonstrate the seriousness of the climate emergency and to provide actions we must take before the clock runs out on our window of opportunity to fight the climate crisis.
     Live original music accompanied by video can be used as an introduction to the topic.
About the Speaker:
Craig Wolfe was trained by Al Gore’s Climate Reality Project to make presentations regarding the Climate Emergency. He is President of the Heartland Renewable Energy Society; co-founder for the KC Climate Coalition; a long-time activist with Kansas Sierra Club; and
singer/songwriter in the group Soular, writing songs about climate and Mother Earth.
Ahead of his time, Mr. Wolfe in the 1980’s built 60 passive solar/super insulated houses under Craig Wolfe Solar Design & Construction before interest in the energy crisis fell off the public’s radar. He has worked as a consultant in Kansas City, Missouri and Kansas City, Kansas urban cores on housing projects, and has always been most interested in energy related activities.

Monday April 10: Darkness at Mid-Day – A TOTAL ECLIPSE of the Sun!

Darkness at Mid-Day – A TOTAL ECLIPSE of the Sun!

Date/Time/Location: Monday, April 10; 7:30pm at The Donut Whole (1720 E Douglas)

Speaker: Jackie Beuchner


Jackie Beucher, an Eclipse-Chaser, will be the presenter of the program on this summer’s total eclipse, which occurs on August 21st, just after 1:00 in the afternoon. Jackie saw her first eclipse on a beach in Hawaii in 1991 and was totally awe-struck. Since then, she has traveled the world to see a total of 11 total eclipses, and the experience has not dimmed. She says that a total eclipse is the most awesome natural phenomenon that you will ever see.

Jackie has been an astronomy enthusiast her whole life due to her father, a TWA pilot, showing the young Jackie the night sky from their driveway in rural Overland Park. She joined the Astronomical Society of Kansas City in 1984, and has been the Treasurer, Secretary, and President. Currently, she is the Vice-President. For 13 years, she was a national officer of the Astronomical League, an international group of astronomical societies. She is currently the Mid-States Regional Sec-Treasurer of the League. The Astronomical Society of KC owns Powell Observatory, built in 1985 in Louisburg, Kansas – a place where the skies are dark. Jackie has been a team leader there for more than 20 years, having developed many of the programs for the public. She has given countless presentations there, and all over the area to schools, libraries, civic groups, etc.

Jackie is also on the national Eclipse Committee of the American Astronomical Society, and will have all the current information regarding the eclipse, from a meeting in S. Carolina on March 31-April 2nd.

In the late 90’s, she began leading tours all over the world to see total eclipses in locations like Greece, Aruba, Australia, Tahiti, China, and Siberia. She says that there is no possible way to make you understand how glorious and exhilarating it is to witness a total eclipse, but she sure is going to try!