Tuesday, December 11: “Swaziland Elephants”. A story of the Sedgwick County Zoo elephants

Watermark Books
Starlight Room
Tuesday December 11
6:30 pm

“Swaziland Elephants”.
A story of the Sedgwick County Zoo elephants.


Micaela Atkinson- Micaela graduated from Friends University with a Zoo Science degree. She has been professionally working with elephants for nearly five years. Born and raised in Wichita, she started volunteering at the Sedgwick County Zoo with elephants at the age of fourteen. In her free time, Micaela loves to rock climb.

Jenn Woolard- Jenn graduated from Aquinas College (where she received a scholarship to play softball) located in Grand Rapids, Michigan with a Biology degree. Jenn has been working here with elephants for just under two years. Previously, she interned at the Indianapolis Zoo where she worked with marine mammals, carnivores, and great apes. Jenn loves anything and everything Disney.

Time and Location Change for Science Cafe Wichita

Please note the time and location change starting October 8.

6:30 pm

Watermark Books (4701 E Douglas)

Monday, October 8 – Measuring Deep Time by Clark Sturdevant

Date/Time/Location: October 8, 6:30pm; Watermark Books (4701 E Douglas Ave)

Speaker: Clark Sturdevant

Topic: Measuring Deep Time



Monday, September 10 – Armenia in Retrospect: A Decade of Conservation Efforts for the Armenian Viper, Montivipera raddei

Topic: Armenia in Retrospect: A Decade of Conservation Efforts for the Armenian Viper, Montivipera raddei

Speaker: Dr. Jeff Ettling

Date/time/location: Monday, September 10; 7:30pm; The Donut Whole (1720 E. Douglas)

Dr. Jeff Ettling made his first trip to Armenia in 2004 to start an investigation into the spatial ecology and population s of the Armenian viper, Montivipera raddei. It’s hard to believe that he has now made 20 trips to Armenia ranging in length from two weeks to two months. Dr. Ettling and his Armenia colleagues, Dr. Aram Aghasyan and his son Dr. Levon Aghasyan, had a good idea of what they were going to try to accomplish with their study, but they had no idea at the time how much impact the program would truly end up having for the conservation of the Armenian viper and for other wildlife. Dr. Ettling will provide a retrospective look at what they’ve learned about Armenian vipers and how their work has impacted the conservation of the species as well as other wildlife.


Dr. Jeff Ettling, is Executive Director of the Sedgwick County Zoo.

Jeff holds a B.S. and an M.S. in Biology from Southern Illinois University – Edwardsville.  He received his Ph.D. in Biology at the University of Missouri – St. Louis.  Jeff’s dissertation was based on his work in Armenia where he is investigated the spatial ecology, genetic diversity and population structure of the Armenian Viper.

Jeff is a native of the St. Louis metro area.  His zoo career started 31 years ago.  From 1987–1991 he was a reptile keeper and head keeper in the Herpetarium at the Saint Louis Zoo.  He moved to the Sedgwick County Zoo in 1991 where he served as curator of herpetology.  Jeff returned to the Saint Louis Zoo in 1995 as associate curator of herpetology and aquatics and was promoted to curator in March 1996, a position he held for 21 years.  Jeff also served as Director of both the Center for Conservation in Western Asia and the Ron Goellner Center for Hellbender Conservation for the Saint Louis Zoo’s WildCare Institute.

He is a member of the Association of Zoos & Aquariums (AZA) Field Conservation Committee, an advisor to the AZA Wildlife Conservation and Management Committee, and serves as a member of AZA accreditation site visit teams.

Jeff also served as an adjunct assistant biology professor at the University of Missouri – St. Louis where he taught both undergraduate and graduate courses and served on graduate student committees.

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.