Monday, March 13- The Hills are alive … with plants, reptiles, and amphibians: Biodiversity of plants, reptiles and amphibians in our own Flint Hills

Topic: The Hills are alive … with plants, reptiles, and amphibians: Biodiversity of plants, reptiles and amphibians in our own Flint Hills

Speaker: Dexter Mardis – Biological Field Station Manager; Wichita State University KHS President; Kansas Herpetological Society

Date/Time/Location: Monday, March 13; 7:30 pm; The Donut Whole (1720 E Douglas)


We will be discussing the diversity of plants, amphibians, and reptiles at four reserves spread in a North/South line throughout the total spread of the Flint Hills. Looking at the lists, (and diversity gradient maps) they seem to support the idea of latitudinal diversity gradients. Essentially, as you travel from the equator towards the poles, the biodiversity decreases. We’ll look at the geology of the region and examine what makes it unique among North American prairies. We’ll delve a little deeper into the biological residents of the sites, and see what factors play the largest roles in effective surveys for the organisms. And, if there’s time, we’ll discuss some conservation threats, and strengths, of the region and where the future may take the ecosystems of the Flint Hills.


Dexter grew up in the Ozarks near Branson, and has been fascinated with frogs and snakes, turtles, lizards, trees, and flowers for as long as he can remember. He moved to Wichita in 2008 to attend Friends University, and started working at the Sedgwick County Zoo as a part-time groundskeeper in October of that year. Through a coworker there, He was introduced into the Kansas Herpetological Society, and the late Joe Collins (coauthor of the Peterson Field Guide of Amphibians and Reptiles of Eastern North America, and Kansas Wildlife Author Laureate). Fast forward 8.5 years, He is still working to finish his undergraduate work, now at Wichita State University. He is the current president of KHS, and the Biological Field Station Manager for WSU.He has herped across the country, and led field courses for more traditional undergraduates in both KS and the Florida panhandle.

Monday, February 13: Life on Pluto? Life on Mars? Don’t Drink the Water!

Speaker: Dr. Mark Schneegurt

Topic: Life on Pluto?  Life on Mars?  Don’t Drink the Water!

Date/Time/Location: Monday February 13, 7:30 pm, The Donut Whole (1720 E. Douglas)


Water, water everywhere, nor any drop to drink?  Follow the water for the best chances of finding of life on other celestial bodies.  Now we know that there is liquid water on Mars, Europa Enceladus, and other icy satellites appear to have oceans.  The water may be very salty, cold, and acidic.  What makes a location habitable on another world?  What are the challenges?  Could organisms from Earth grow in these exotic environments?   We will discuss current and past robotic missions to potential habitats across the solar system.


Dr. Mark A. Schneegurt is a Professor of Biological Sciences at Wichita State University and maintains joint appointments in Curriculum and Instruction and Biomedical Engineering.  Dr. Schneegurt holds degrees from Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute and a Ph.D. from Brown University.  He was a postdoctoral fellow at Eli Lilly and has taught and researched at Purdue University and University of Notre Dame. His research focuses on applied and environmental microbiology, resulting in 70+ scientific publications and 150+ presentations.

Monday, January 10 – No Science Cafe

Due to a scheduling conflict, there will not be a Science Cafe for the month of January. The next one is scheduled for Monday February 13 2017.

Monday, December 12: Ghost Crab Ecology and Predation of Oyster Drills on the Gulf Coast of Texas

Speakers: Dr. Patrick Mathews and Serena Randolph, Friends University

Topic: Ghost Crab Ecology and Predation of Oyster Drills on the Gulf Coast of Texas

Date/Time/Location: Monday December 12; 7:30pm; The Donut Whole (1720 E Douglas)


Dr Matthews will be presenting the most recent information on our ongoing field study of Ghost Crab ecology and distribution. This study takes place along the Bolivar Peninsula in Texas, just East of Galveston.

Ms. Randolph will be presenting the results of a field study on predation by Oyster Drills, a type of gastropod. This study was also along the Bolivar Peninsula.

Dr. Mathews has spent the last 19 academic years as a biology professor, including 14 years at Friends University here in Wichita.  He has taught a wide diversity of biological courses, including organismal and field biology, ecology, and invertebrate zoology.  He has conducted externally and internally funded research involving undergraduate students that focuses mostly on the impact of environmental management strategies on invertebrates, including investigations of insect parasites of pine beetles, a long study on pulmonate snails living in a marsh at a state park in Missouri, the community structure of Comanche harvester ants, and this project focused on ghost crabs in Texas.

Dr. Mathews completed his Ph.D. in Entomology at the University of Arkansas.  He completed his Master’s degree in Biology at Truman State University in Kirksville, Missouri.  His research there focused on the natural history of a millipede and its ecological interactions with a fungus.  He also completed his Bachelor’s degree in Biology at Truman State University.

Serena is a student at Friends University from New Richmond, Wisconsin. She has spent the last three years at Friends, working to double major in zoo science and field biology, along with a minor in psychology. While in school, Serena also works for the admission’s office, giving tours to potential students, and is the biology lab assistant. After completing her undergraduate degrees, she hopes to move on to graduate school where she can continue completing research like the material she is presenting today.


Monday November 14: Conservation in Nepal

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Speaker: Lindy Gates

Topic: Conservation in Nepal

Date/Location/Time: November 14; The Donut Whole; 7:30 pm


Lindy Gates will be talking a little bit about Nepal itself, a quick background of how their organization, the Katie Adamson Conservation Fund came to be and what they do. A few different projects they are involved with over there include supporting the future construction of a new veterinary hospital for Chitwan National Park, working with the Chepang community, and supporting an Eco-Club kids group. She will also discuss the different ways Nepal has become so successful in conserving their wildlife.

Lindy Gates is a senior at Friends University and will graduate with a Zoo Science B.S. In December. She is originally from Loveland, CO and has known that she wanted to follow her passion for animals since she was a kid. Lindy started volunteering at the Denver Zoo when she was thirteen and worked her way up into internships and a temporary keeper position, with her main focus in working with the pachyderms. Lindy also spent three summers at Omaha’s Henry Doorly Zoo as an intern and summer keeper working with a variety of hoofstock and pachyderms at their institution. During this time, not only did she learn to love animal husbandry, but also the conservation of the species in our care.

Lindy’s first conservation trip to Nepal was in 2012 and she has now been there a total of four times. Each trip she went on, she learned more about the culture and how Nepal has become a leader in conservation. It has been an inspiration to be part of our non-profit, the Katie Adamson Conservation Fund, and watch it grow over the years, as well as see how we can connect people across the country and across the globe for the benefit of conservation.



Monday, October 10: The Flying Flowers of Kansas

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Topic: The Flying Flowers of Kansas

Speaker: Jim Mason

Date/Time: Monday, October 10; 7:30pm

Location: The Donut Whole (1720 E Douglas)


Jim Mason, Director of the Great Plains Nature Center, will present this program on Kansas butterflies, featuring the 61 different species illustrated in the GPNC Pocket Guide to Common Kansas Butterflies.  Jim will discuss the life history of butterflies, their plant associations, and reveal some of their unique features and capabilities.  Copies of the pocket guide will be available at the program.


Jim is a Wichita native and resides in the Riverside area.  He earned a B.S. in Biology from the University of Kansas in 1975.

Jim has worked for the Wichita Department of Park and Recreation since 1978.  In 1988 he began working as a Naturalist with the Wichita Wild program and currently is Director of the Great Plains Nature Center (GPNC).  Jim also created and maintains the Internet web site for the GPNC and formerly did so for four other Kansas environmental organizations.

Jim has had a lifelong interest in the environment.  He is a member of the Sierra Club, The Nature Conservancy, the Kansas Natural Resource Council, and the Kansas Native Plant Society.  He has served as an officer in the last two organizations and is presently on the board of the KNRC.  He co-founded the Ark Valley Butterfly Club, a chapter of the North American Butterfly Association.  The AVBC disbanded in 2003, but he has carried on his interest in the Lepidoptera.  He has been to Mexico twice to visit the overwintering sites of the monarch butterflies.

Jim served as a member of the Kansas Water Authority from October 1991 to July 1993.

Jim has written articles for the Kansas Sportsman, the Kansas Wildflower Society newsletter and the Symphony on the Prairie program booklet.  He was co-author of the GPNC Pocket Guide to Kansas Freshwater Mussels and author of the GPNC Pocket Guide to Common Kansas Butterflies.  He has written two local history books titled Wichita’s Riverside Parks and Wichita: Postcard History which were published by Arcadia Publications.

Monday, September 12 – Nanomedicine: An emerging modern technology for the treatment of cancer


Topic: Nanomedicine: An emerging modern technology for the treatment of cancer

Speaker: Dr. Santimukul Santra

Date/Time: Monday, September 12; 7:30pm

Location: The Donut Whole (1720 E Douglas)


This presentation will include a discussion on cancer, current hurdles in curing cancer and cancer-related deaths in the US. Newer approaches for the cancer treatment including nanotechnology and nanomedicine will be outlined in this presentation.


Dr. Santra is an organic chemist and nano-biotechnologist, joined the Department of Chemistry at Pittsburg State University as an Assistant Professor in Fall 2013. He teaches Organic chemistry, polymer chemistry and nanobiotechnology classes to the students from chemistry, biology, pharmacy and others. He received his Ph.D. in Chemistry from Indian Institute of Technology (I.I.T.)-Bombay, Mumbai, India and was a post-doctoral fellow at the University of Central Florida, Orlando, Florida, USA. His laboratory research is focused on the Nanotechnology-based pharmaceutical theranostics for the early detection, diagnosis and treatment of cancers, neurodegenerative disorders and infectious diseases.  He is the author of more than 20 high impact, peer reviewed journals, and contributed to more than 9 US Patents.

Monday, May 9th: Moonshot of Crapshoot: Why is Cancer So Hard to Cure?


Cancer research

Topic: Moonshot of Crapshoot: Why is Cancer So Hard to Cure?

Speaker: Dr. Moriah Beck

Date/Time: Monday, May 9; 7:30pm

Location: The Donut Whole

President Obama isn’t the first to issue a mandate to end cancer, and the public has made an immense investment in cancer research for decades. Many wonder why we are still losing this essential fight and what scientists are doing about it. This presentation will outline the state of cancer research today and offer perspectives on both the fascinating scientific breakthroughs and the collective failure to impact the increasing numbers of cancer deaths in the U.S.

Dr. Moriah Beck joined the Chemistry Department at Wichita State University as an Assistant Professor in the fall of 2011 after completing a postdoctoral fellowship int eh Lineberger Comprehensive Cancer Center at the University of North Carolina – Chapel Hill. She received her Ph. D in biochemistry from Washington University. Dr. Beck’s research is focused on understanding how cells move, with a particular interest on the processes involved with the invasive motility associated with cancer. She has already shared her passion for science with over 35 undergraduate and graduate students who do research in her laboratory.

Monday, April 11: Factors Affecting Foraging Microhabitat Selection by Wading Birds at an Artificial Weir


Topic: Factors Affecting Foraging Microhabitat Selection by Wading Birds at an Artificial Weir

Speaker: Rachel C. Renken

Date/Time: Monday, April 11; 7:30 pm

Location: The Donut Whole 1720 E Douglas


Factors Affecting Foraging Microhabitat Selection by Wading Birds at an Artificial Weir

Rachel C. Renken, Jeane A. Thompson, and Alan D. Maccarone

Biology Department, Friends University, 2100 University, Wichita, Kansas, 67213, USA

Abstract.—-To better understand how different species of long-legged wading birds select among foraging microhabitats that show spatial and temporal heterogeneity, a 100-m-long concrete weir located at the terminus of the Little Arkansas River in Wichita, Kansas, was divided into patches based on water depth. Black-crowned Night-Herons, Great Egrets, Snowy Egrets, and Great Blue Herons were observed feeding during 60 1-h periods from 12 June-29 July 2015. The independent variables collected before each session included date, time of day, water level, water clarity, and flow velocity. We recorded weir attendance, species-specific patch use, behavioral interactions, and feeding activity. Only time of day and water level predicted of the number of birds at the weir. A total of 348 fish were captured, of which 108 were large (> 3/4 bill length). Wading bird species differed in capture efficiency, lengths of captured fish, and patch use. Great Blue Herons and Black-crowned Night-Herons captured large fish toward the center of the weir. Great Egrets captured both large and small fish, and Snowy Egrets captured small fish (minnows) at the ends of the weir. Total aggression correlated with the number of large fish caught but not with total fish. Per capita aggression correlated with the number of birds at the weir.

Rachel, originally from Downs in North Central Kansas, has lived in Wichita for 5 years. She attended Friends University where she graduated with a degree in Field Biology in 2014. She has been doing bird behavioral research with Dr. Alan Maccarone for the past two summers and has plans to travel to Maine with a group to carry out a study on great blue herons in June.

Monday, March 14th: Making a Makerspace



Topic: Making a Makerspace

Speaker: Dominic Canare

Location: The Donut Whole (1720 E. Douglas)

Date/Time: Monday, March 14; 7:30pm


The presentation will include information about the maker culture, the history of MakeICT, what it’s been like to create and operate a nonprofit, and current offerings.


Dominic Canare is a founding member and the current President of MakeICT. He is also a technology consultant, former adjunct engineering instructor at Wichita State University, and current student pursuing a PhD in Human Factors Psychology. He holds BS and MS degrees in computer science from Pittsburgh State and Wichita State, respectively. In addition, he is a philanthropist, entrepreneur, and community volunteer and leader, earning him the designation of 2014 Newsmaker from the Wichita Business Journal. Currently, Dominic is a full-time volunteer for local nonprofits.