Monday May 13: Face of Climate Change in Kansas


Climate Change and You

Speaker: Mary Knapp

Date: Monday May 13

Time: 7:30 pm

Location: The Donut Whole 1720 E Douglas


What is climate change?  What are the myths and the facts?  How does it affect me?  Come interact with a climatologist to better understand this issue affecting us.


As the state climatologist, Mary Knapp occupies a unique position in the Department of Agronomy. She is responsible for establishing and maintaining a statewide network of equipment for gathering of weather data, and answering questions on climate and weather matters. She also maintains the web site that provides a constant update and complete archive of weather-related data for Kansas.


Her degree is in Agronomy from K-State, but her career path back to the department was not entirely straightforward. The Weather Data Library started at K-State in 1976 in the Physics Department. Mary started working at K-State after a stint in the Peace Corps in Dominican Republic as a rice specialist. After a number of years as a research assistant in Entomology, she joined Computer Information Systems in Extension, working with the State Climatologist Dean Bark. When Dr. Bark retired, she became acting state climatologist. The Weather Data Library moved to Agronomy in 2002.


The best part of being state climatologist is being able to travel the state frequently, checking on weather data collection stations and giving talks. She also enjoys the interaction with other weather and climate specialists in the region and nationwide. She is especially proud that K-State recently received a 50-year recognition from the National Weather Service for continuous weather observations during that time.


She advises students interested in meteorology or climatology to take as many courses as possible in mathematics and statistics, and in communications. The courses in math and statistics will help students interpret and understand data throughout their lifetimes, she says. And the courses in communications are vital to any professional position, and always will be, she adds.


Monday April 8: Oceans of Kansas – Our fossil treasure

Oceans of Kansas – Our fossil treasure

Wichita Science Café

Monday, April 8

7:30 pm

The Donut Whole (1720 E Douglas)

The rocks left behind by the many oceans that have covered Kansas in the past contain a  spectacular variety of fossils, some of which are unique to our state, and many of which are exhibited in museums around the world. These fossils were first discovered in the late 1860s and started a ‘fossil rush’ to Kansas by the most prominent paleontologists of the day. Besides our fossils, what many people do not realize is that these same ancient oceans were also the source of just about all of our mineral resources. Oil and natural gas, salt, gypsum, limestone, shale, clay and other minerals mined in this state accumulated at the bottom of these same oceans many millions of years ago. Take a trip back in time to see some of the strange and wonderful creatures that once swam in the Oceans of Kansas.


Michael J. Everhart is a 1969 graduate of Wichita State University. After his military service (U.S. Army) he returned to Wichita State for his Masters Degree (1973).  He worked for the Wichita Sedgwick County Health Department for 12 years and served as the Environmental Health Director from 1981-1985. He was hired as the Environmental Affairs manager at the Boeing Company, where he retired after 17 years. Mike has been an Adjunct Curator of Paleontology at the Sternberg Museum of Natural History, Fort Hays State University, Hays, Kansas since 1998.


Mike is an expert on Late Cretaceous marine fossils of central and western Kansas, and on the history of paleontology in Kansas. In addition, he has worked with the “T rex Sue” exhibition at the Sternberg Museum in Hays, and Exploration Place in Wichita. Mike was a contributor to the BBC documentary “Chased by Sea Monsters” and served as one of the senior science advisers on the 2007 National Geographic IMAX film, Sea Monsters. His work has been featured in five made for television videos on the History and Discovery channels.


He is the creator and webmaster of the educational “Oceans of Kansas Paleontology” web site: which has been on the Internet since December, 1996.  He served as an editor of the Transactions of the Kansas Academy of Science from 2006 to 2011 and was President of the KAS in 2005. Mike is currently a speaker for the Kansas Humanities Council.

Monday March 11: Charles Darwin: The Development of a Naturalist

Date: Monday March 11th

Time: 7:30 pm

Place: The Donut Whole (1720 E Douglas)

Speaker: Dr. Alan Maccarone will present “Charles Darwin: The Development of a Naturalist.”


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.
He is currently an ornithological and ecological consultant for Altwell LLC, on Lesser Prairie Chicken habitat study in Kansas.  Most recent of his many publications include: ”Changes in the abundance and spatial distribution of the Atlantic Ghost Crab (Ocypode quadrata) on a Texas Beach two years after Hurricane Ike”, Texas Journal of Science, (2011) and “Nest-activity patterns and food-provisioning rates by Great Egrets (Ardea alba).”,  Waterbirds, (2010).

February 11, 2012. Got a telescope! Now what?: How to see more and do more with a backyard observatory


Date: Monday, Feb 11, 2013

Time: 7:30 p.m.

Place: The Donut Whole

1720 E. Douglas

Speaker: C. W. Robertson

SETEC Observatory


Most professional astronomers can take data or analyze/model data, but they don’t have the funding, the time, or the students to do both. Most amateur astronomers can take lots of data, but don’t have the time to glean all the information from the data. But there are ways these two groups can work together, whether it is looking for supernovae, observing variable stars, eclipsing binaries or newly suspected variables that do some pretty strange things. The key is to find a good match between your interests, your equipment, and the science that can be done.


We’ll present an overview of the kinds of science that can be done with a backyard observatory, including observing programs, tips, tricks, how to get started, where to get help, how to join an international collaboration, and how to get your results published.


SETEC Observatory is a private observatory located northwest of Wichita, Kansas. The purpose of the observatory is to assist others (amateurs and professionals) in the study of Delta Scuti Stars, Variable Stars (AAVSO), newly suspected variable stars, eclipsing binaries or stars that are part of the Blazhko Project.

This work was partially funded with a grant from the American Astronomical Society.


Monday December 10th: Matter, Anti-Matter and the Ghostly Neutrino


Date: December 10, 2012

Time: 7:30 p.m.

Place: The Donut Whole

1720 E. Douglas

Speaker: Dr. Andrew Norman

Associate Scientist

Fermi National Accelerator Laboratory


Most of us have a pretty good idea of what matter is. It’s what all things on earth are made of. Tables, chairs, you and me. But in space, scientists have encountered something called anti-matter. What the heck could that be? And what is a ghostly neutrino? Dr. Norman will explain.


Dr. Norman is a physicist at the Fermi National Accelerator Laboratory, where he studies the differences between matter and anti-matter. He is currently conducting research on the NOvA experiment, which is designed to send beams of neutrinos and anti-neutrinos through the Earth’s crust, from Chicago to northern Minnesota, in order to measure the speed at which they travel, the ways they interact, and their abilities to transform into different neutrino species.


Please come and enjoy interesting conversation and good food and coffee. BRING A FRIEND, COLLEAGUE, OR NEIGHBOR! Ask all the questions you want.


For more information:

Monday November 19 — Alice Through the Looking Glass: An Adventure into the Quantum Realm


Date: Monday, November 19

Time: 7:30 p.m.

Place: The Donut Whole

1720 E. Douglas

Speaker: Elizabeth Behrman, Ph.D.

Physics Professor, WSU


Albert Einstein once famously said that “G-d does not play dice!” But as science has progressed, it has become undeniably clear that even if G-d may not gamble, the universe does. All the time. I’ll take you down to the land of the very small, where everything is governed by probability, it is physically impossible to know anything with complete certainty, and things can effect changes over distances faster than light could travel. I’ll also show you how I use these cool and spook quirks of reality in the largest revolution ever in computers.


 Prof. Behrman earned her Ph.D. in Physics at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. A Sigma Xi speaker, she has taught nearly every physics course on the books, but her favorite is still quantum mechanics. When not physics-ing, you will find Prof. Behrman reading mountains of books and spending time with her daughter and her dog.


Come and enjoy the company of other science fans as you learn about the spooky, mysterious realm of quantum physics.


Event co-sponsored by Sigma Xi

For more information:

Kansas Citizens For Science •

Monday October 15th — Whispers from the Dead: The Science of Human Identification

Date: Monday, October 15

Time: 7:30 p.m.

Place: The Donut Whole

1720 E. Douglas

Speaker: Peer H. Moore-Jansen

Professor of Anthropology

Wichita State University

“Within the archives of our skeletons are written down the intimate diaries of our lives… To read all of these things — that is the art of forensic anthropology.”—William Maples, former director of C. A. Pound Human Identification Laboratory

Prof. Moore-Jansen works in human osteology and forensic anthropology. He has a particular interest in the study of population variation in and among humans and how it can facilitate the identification of undocumented human skeletal remains in archaeological, historic and modern forensic (crime scene) contexts. He works with local, regional and state law enforcement in his capacity as a forensic anthropologist. Come join us to look into this fascinating field of research, ask questions, and enjoy the company of other science (and Cold Case) fans! And BTW, Happy Halloween!

For more information:

Kansas Citizens For Science •

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:

Kansas Citizens For Science •

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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.