Monday, September 10 at 7:30 pm – Life on Mars?



Date: Monday, September 10

Time: 7:30 p.m.

Place: The Donut Whole

1720 E. Douglas

Speaker: Dr. Mark A. Schneegurt

Professor, Biological Sciences

Wichita State University


Could there be life forms on Mars? If there were, would we recognize them as being “alive?” These are the kinds of fascinating questions astrobiologists ask. They search for signs of past and current life on Mars and elsewhere and study life in extreme environments on Earth that can tell us what these organisms might be like.


Dr. Schneegurt started his first lab notebook at age seven. The manned landing on the Moon inspired his love of science, and he has followed every deep space mission since. A Ph.D. from Brown University led him to the dream of collaborative research with NASA. Today, Dr. Schneegurt works with NASA’s Jet Propulsion Lab on life detection missions to Mars.


Come join us for an update on what’s going on with this exciting research, ask questions, and enjoy the company of other space fans!


Event co-sponsored by Sigma Xi

For more information:

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June 5 – Transit of Venus

On Tuesday, June 5 from 4:45 pm until 8:00 pm, the Lake Afton Public Observatory will be open for a very special event … the transit of Venus. A transit of Venus occurs when Venus passes directly between the sun and Earth. Though it seems like this phenomenon should happen frequently, it is quite rare. Venus transits come in pairs that are eight years apart, followed by spans of over 100 years of no transits. After the June 2012 transit of Venus (the last one in your lifetime), your great grandchildren may get to witness the next such alignment on December 10, 2117.

Everyone knows how dangerous it is to look directly at the sun without proper eye protection. Even the darkest sun glasses are not nearly dark enough to protect your eyes. In fact, only #14 or darker welding masks are dark enough to be used to look directly at the sun. In order to view the transit of Venus it will be necessary to use a telescope and since telescopes gather much more light than your eyes, it is even more important that a proper solar filter be used for safe viewing. For any program involving the observation of the sun, the Lake Afton Public Observatory uses special solar filters on their telescopes that only allow one one millionth of the light through.

For the Venus transit, the Observatory will open its doors at 4:45 pm giving people a few minutes to arrive and get settled. At 5:01 Venus will begin entering the huge solar disc and by 5:18, it will be completely inside the sun’s disc. At this point, Venus will appear as a small dark brown or black circle as it passes across the Sun’s huge face. Unfortunately, here in the Wichita area we will not get to see the end of the transit because the sun will set by the time Venus is about half way through its transit.

$5.00 for adults
$3.00 for ages 6 – 12
Under six admitted free
Family Rate: Mon, Dad, and all their immediate children – $15.00
Please note that we are unable to accept credit or debit cards

Monday May 7: Vote for the Top 10 New Species of the Year! Biodiversity: Pieces of the Planetary Puzzle

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Date: Monday, May 7, 2012

Time: 7:30 p.m.

Location: The Donut Whole (1720 E. Douglas Wichita, KS)

Speaker: Mary Liz Jameson

Thousands of new species are discovered each year, and among them are a few that are really weird or beautiful or hideous or funny or intriguing. You might think they would all be microscopic or from far-away places. But, no, each year the “Top 10 New Species” includes amazing finds like the Golden Spotted  Monitor that is more than 6 feet long and the Louisiana Pancake Batfish that has huge bulging eyes, hops on its fins, and was discovered just before the Deepwater Horizon oil spill. 

What will be the Top 10 New Species this year? Zombifying ant fungus? Fanged, vampire frogs? The Cyclops shark from Mexico? Nominate your favorite new species! Go to

Dr. Jameson is a biodiversity scientist at Wichita State University. She studies patterns of species diversity in insects. She has discovered and named 37 species new to science and another eight species are named in her honor.

Monday, April 2: Dark Matter, Dark Energy and the Accelerating Universe

Infrared picture of M31 from WISE

Wichita Science Cafe

Monday, April 2 at 7:30 p.m.

The Donut Whole, 1720 E. Douglas, Wichita, KS

Presented by Dr. Bharat Ratra, Physics Professor at Kansas State University. His research area is Cosmology and Astroparticle Physics.

Dr. Ratra develops models for the large-scale matter and radiation distributions in the universe and tests these models by comparing their predictions to observational data, including the anisotropy in the cosmic microwave background radiation, and the mass correlation function.

Experiments and observations over the last decade have provided strong support for a “standard” model of cosmology that describes the evolution of the universe from an early epoch of inflation to the complex hierarchy of structure seen today. Dr. Ratra will describe the data which persuade cosmologists that (as yet undetected) dark energy and dark matter are by far the main components of the energy budget of the universe.

Monday March 12: Little Readers Are Succeeders – or -How to get your child off to a good start in reading and life

Practice Storytelling with a Plot Potluck!

Monday, March 12 at 7:30 p.m.

The Donut Whole, 1720 E. Douglas Wichita, KS

Speaker: Dr Kimberly McDowell, Associate Professor, WSU College of Education

 Reading skills provide a vital foundation for children’s academic success. Children who read well tend to read more and as a result, acquire more knowledge. Although many children learn to read without significant problems, more than one in three experience considerable difficulty. This presentation will discuss risk factors associated with difficulties in successful acquisition of reading skills and strategies that can be used to facilitate growth.

 Dr. McDowell teaches language and literacy courses and is the program chair for the Reading Specialist program as well as the Masters of Arts in Teacher Early Childhood Unified Residency program. She currently is the PI or CoPI on three nationally funded grants totaling over $10.5 million. Dr. McDowell resides in Wichita with her husband, Troy, and their seven children.

Is my baby well-adjusted? -or- Could chiropractic benefit my baby?

Wichita Science Cafe

Monday, February 13 at 7:30 p.m.

The Donut Whole, 1720 E. Douglas

Wichita, KS

Speaker: Dr. Devin Jeanne Vrana

Join a discussion of chiropractic and the benefits of introducing care to our youth. Highlights will include safety and efficacy, examples of when to visit a Pediatric Chiropractor, and testimonials from happy parents.

Dr. Vrana, based in St. Mark’s, Kansas, works with patients of all ages. She has studied a variety of Chiropractic techniques, including both manual and low force/instrument-adjusting approaches. Dr. Devin is currently working on her fellowship with the International Chiropractic Pediatric Association to become specialized in Prenatal and Pediatric Chiropractic care.

Food Germs Can Make You Sick! What should we do, stop eating?

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Date: Monday, Jan. 9, 2012
Time: 7:30 p.m.
Location: The Donut Whole (1720 E. Douglas Wichita, KS)

Speaker: Melissa Weber, Ph.D.
Food Scientist, Cargill Innovation Center

Food safety has come into question more than ever before, with salmonella and E.Coli turning up in everything from spinach to peanut butter. Some outbreaks have made people sick, and even killed them.

What are some of the food risks we face?
How can they be managed?
What’s my role?

Understanding the sources and transmission of microorganisms can reduce the risk of you or a family member becoming one of the 48 million people sickened by foodborne diseases each year.

The Failed American Fitness Model (What America Isn’t Losing)

 weight scale

Date: Monday, November 14, 2011

Time: 7:30 p.m.

Location: The Donut Whole,

1720 E. Douglas, Wichita, KS

Speaker: Dr. Dustin L. Weber, M.eD,. D.C,. CSCS

Thirty percent of Americans are obese, and 60% are considered overweight. As these shocking numbers continue to increase, it is time to reevaluate the traditional approaches to healthy living and weight loss in America. Dr. Weber will share his insights as a researcher and as a professional in the field. He will offer strategies that go beyond the “in the box” thinking that has led us down this path, and he will discuss the newest research on weight loss and exercise.

 Dr. Weber is the owner and operator of Weber Family Chiropractic. He has been involved in the health and wellness field for more than eight years.

Endocrine Disruption and Epigenetics: It is Both Nature and Nurture

Date: Monday, October 10

Place: The Donut Whole (1720 E. Douglas)

Time: 7:30 pm

Speaker: Dr. William J. Hendry, Professor and Chair of Biology at WSU

How do early developmental events affect wellness in your adulthood, your children, and perhaps even your grandchildren? Dr. Hendry will introduce a newly emerging paradigm in biology (epigenetics) and how it is implicated in the induction of both infertility and cancer (endocrine disruption) across generations.

  “Once nurture seemed clearly distinct from nature. Now it appears that our diets and lifestyles can change the  expression of our genes. How? By influencing a network of chemical switches within our cells collectively known as the epigenome. This new understanding may lead us to potent new medical therapies. Epigenetic cancer therapy, for one, already seems to be yielding promising results.” — PBS Nova Program Description. See video at

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Peak Oil: What is the world energy outlook?

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Date: Monday, September 12, 2011

Time: 7:30 pm

Place: The Donut Whole (1720 E. Douglas, Wichita)

Speaker: Dr. Keith Miller, Department of Geology, Kansas State University

There are many conflicting voices about the current status of our fossil fuel resources, both domestically and globally. This presentation will focus on the current state of the global oil resource.

The availability and distribution of fossil fuel resources is a consequence of Earth history. A realistic understanding of available energy resources is vital to effectively address a wide range of environmental, social, economic, and political concerns.

Dr. Miller is a research assistant professor in geology at KSU, where he has taught since 1990. His interests are in the sedimentary geology of Kansas, paleoecology, paleoclimatology, and science education. He is particularly interested in the reconstruction of Earth history.

Please come and enjoy interesting conversation and good food and coffee.  BRING A FRIEND, COLLEAGUE, OR NEIGHBOR!