2016 Scientist Lecture Series

Delve deeper into the issues and conditions that impact the world around us. These free academic lectures allow you to step back into the classroom and learn from the experts.


Each lecture is free and open to the public, but registration is required. All programs are held at 7pm at the Warren H. Corning Visitor Center.

Out on a Limb – Exploration of Global Forest Canopies

Friday, April 29 – Join us for our special Arbor Day lecture, featuring Meg Lowman, chief of science and sustainability at the California Academy of Sciences. Lowman is internationally known for her tree canopy research and is the author of Life in the Treetops.


Kids love climbing trees, and our human ancestors may have originally lived in trees. With a great deal of perspiration, and perhaps a smaller amount of inspiration, scientists have discovered a new frontier high above the forest floor, but only in the last 30 years. As one of the world’s first “arbornauts,”  Lowman designs and uses tools including hot air balloons, ropes, ladders, scaffolds and elevated walkways to explore the treetops, home to approximately half of planet Earth’s biodiversity. Such canopy exploration is not only changing our understanding of the importance of forests, but it also inspires conservation and education. As the interface between earth and sky, forest canopies function as important machines that provide benefits to all of us -- climate regulation, medicines, food, fresh water cycling, and cultural heritage are just some of the important functions of forests. New methods for access into the treetops have also promoted ecotourism, sustainable harvest of medicines and fruits, and led to the discovery of many new species that live exclusively above-ground. But perhaps most important, forest canopy research provides a “hook” to inspire kids, families and policy-makers to appreciate the value of forests for human health.


In this talk, Lowman takes us into the treetops of the Amazon, Ethiopia, and Australia to illustrate the links between canopy exploration and forest conservation. If we all work together to conserve global forests, our children and grand-children will thank us. 


Only a few tickets are still available for this program. Please call 440.602.3833 to make reservations.

The Return of the American Chestnut

Thursday, May 19 – Allison Dealton Oakes, research assistant at the State University of New York, College of Environmental Science and Forestry


As a keystone species and mast-producing canopy tree, the loss of the American chestnut from the Eastern US was an ecological and economic disaster for the region more than a hundred years ago. This native species, once classified as functionally extinct, is now poised to make a comeback thanks to modern technology and ground-breaking research. The American Chestnut Research and Restoration Project will share their inspiring success story, and elaborate on how genetic engineering can benefit the fields of conservation and restoration.



Climate change and the reshuffling of ecological communities

Thursday, July 14 – Jeff Diez, assistant professor of Plant Ecology at the University of California - Riverside.


Climate change, landscape development, and species invasions are reshuffling ecological communities around the globe. These processes can lead to the loss of biodiversity and changes in ecosystem functions, but also offer an interesting lens through which we can view our place in a dynamic world. In this talk I will present an overview of current research on how ecosystems are changing, with a particular focus on plant and fungal communities, and speculate on the ecological changes to come in the 21st century.