What happened in January

California condors are fucked! Dr. Carolyn Kurle

What’s grosser then eating rotting meat? Eating dead animals contaminated with persistent pollutants! California condors returned from the brink of extinction via strong conservation action after their population dropped to 22 animals in the 1980’s. Now, their recovery is threatened by poisoning from lead and persistent organic pollutants (DDT, PCBs, flame retardants, mercury) present in the carcasses they eat. Our research demonstrates that condors eating dead marine mammals on the coast in Big Sur, California contain high levels of these pollutants which puts them at risk for many things, including reduced fertility due to egg shell thinning.

tl;dr: see above talk title

Dr. Kurle is a professor of conservation ecology at UC San Diego with projects examining Antarctic and northern fur seals, California sea lions, sea turtles, Bahamian iguanas, bears in Yosemite and Yellowstone National Parks, and zooplankton in the Pacific Ocean. One of the stranger things she studied was the effects of invasive rats on islands which required her to camp on rat infested Aleutian Islands in the Bering Sea. She came away from that experience loving rats. Except the ones that have occasionally appeared in her house in the middle of the night.

Countable Sets – or, Infinity is Very Big Dr. Randy Zack

Integers, rational numbers, polynomials, algebraic numbers, transcendental numbers, and an introduction to the concept of infinity itself! Need I say more? I could go on for-ev-er….

Dr. Zack earned a doctorate in mathematics from UCSD in 1988, but decided to pursue a career in software development. You probably know him from such Nerd Nites as San Diego, where you can hear him laughing from the front row and heckling the speakers. Your turn, Randy.

Finally, our third speaker is back … that’s right, back! It’s everyone’s favorite entomologist, Dr. Michael Wall! He’s returning to give part 2 of his 3 part series on insect sex, drugs, and rock ‘n’ roll.

Breaking Bug: Insects as Drug Lords, Pharmacists, and Addicts Dr. Michael Wall

It is not happenstance that a 70s blaxploitation drama about the drug underworld was titled “Super Fly.” Insects have been in the drug game for over 400 million years. They have been doing drugs, being drugs, or pushing plants to make drugs. In the seedy underworld of the underworld the original Pusherman had six legs and compound eyes, while other insects went legit. In other words, we’re going to have fun talking about the medicinal use of insects and their role in the evolution in recreational and medicinal drugs.

Dr. Wall is Curator of Entomology at the San Diego Natural History Museum and lover of all things buggy.

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