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Science Talks

Each year, Explorit invites some of our region's top scientists to make presentations about their work.


The 'Cutting Edge' Science Talks are geared toward a general public audience.  

The talks provide information about new discoveries, topical subjects and emerging trends in research. These are adult talks and high school students often attend out of interest or even for extra school credit. Occasional Family Lectures are offered for all ages including younger children. 

The eight or nine, monthly talks are generally scheduled from January through June and September through November.  Do join us for the next talk.  There is no charge to attend the lectures. Donations are encouraged to help cover Explorit's costs.

• Wednesday, November 16, 2016

7:00 - 8:30 p.m.   at Explorit Science Center
"Turkeys of Davis" A family-friendly talk presented by John McNerney. Wild turkeys seem to be all over Davis these days and their numbers are increasing. Who are these birds? Why are they living here? Their presence has created amusement and controversy. Are there any simple solutions? John McNerney, Wildlife Resource Specialist for the City of Davis, will provide an overview of the urban wild turkeys, opportunities and challenges they present, and how the city plans to manage them. The talk is a part of Explorit's current "Feathers Community Science Project"  DOWNLOAD FLIER

• Friday, October 28, 2016: 

"The Invention Of Nature" a special event lecture and book signing by world renowned author Andrea Wulf.  This is a ticketed event at the Davis Veterans Memorial Theater.
                Read more ... 

• Wednesday, September 7, 2016:

"Feathers" a free public talk and book signing by author and conservation biologist Thor Hanson. 
                Read more ... 

Tuesday, June 7,  2016: 

  • Predicting climate change from the bottom of the sea
  • Presenter: Jennifer S. Fehrenbacher, PhD, Dept. of Earth and Planetary Sciences, UCDavis.
  • Time and location: -7:00 P.M. Explorit Science Center, West Wing, 3141 5th Street, Davis.

"Paleoclimate perspectives on global climate change: A view from the bottom of the sea"  - one of the most pressing concerns for life on Earth today is climate change, and what will happen in the future as we see global temperatures rising.

Paleoclimatology is the study of past climates. It’s a multidisciplinary field, combining history, anthropology, archaeology, chemistry, physics, geology, atmospheric, and ocean sciences. Scientists have developed a paleoclimate record stretching back over 2 billion years. The Earth was warmer than at present for most of this time, punctuated by infrequent Ice Ages. 

From geological evidence, we know that three hundred years ago the world was in the depths of a prolonged cold spell called the "Little Ice Age," that lasted for nearly 500 years. Twenty thousand years ago large continental scale ice sheets covered much of North America, Northern Europe, and Northern Asia. Fifty million years ago, global temperatures were so high that there were no large ice sheets at all.  It is hoped that studying climates of the past and endeavoring to determine the causes and effects of these changes will help us prepare for today’s changes.


Dr. Jennifer Fehrenbacher is a trained Climate Reality Project leader at UCDavis. She will discuss her research and show an abridged version of the Climate Reality Project presentation that introduces the possibilities for global solutions to today's climate change crisis. 

Jennifer studies past and present climate change and is interested in understanding how the Earth’s climate and ocean’s may change in the future due to both natural climate variability and anthropogenic perturbations. Her current research focuses on using geochemical data derived from microfossils to explore changes in the earth’s climate in the past. The chemistry of the microfossils serves as an archive of the environment within which the organisms grew. She also grows living specimens captured near Catalina Island and the Bodega Marine Laboratory to understand how the geochemistry of the shells reflects the growth environment. 

Jennifer graduated with a BS in Geology from Northern Illinois University in 1997 and a PhD from the University of Chicago in 2010. She began working as a Postdoctoral Scholar at the University of California, Davis in the Department of Earth and Planetary Sciences in 2011 and is currently a Project Scientist in the same department. She will begin a faculty position in the College of Earth, Ocean, and Atmospheric Sciences at Oregon State University this fall.


Tuesday, May 3rd, 2016: 

  • WILDFIRE: the good, the bad, and the misunderstood [A family friendly talk]  Hot Topics and Burning Questions!
  • Time and location: At 7 pm.  Davis Senior Center, 646 A Street, Davis CA - (Note that this is a location change.)
  • Presenters: Division Chief Geoff Belyea of CALFIRE's Napa/Sonoma Unit, watershed hydrologist Clay Brandow, and Pete Cafferata of CALFIRE

Fire is an essential feature of California's wild landscape. But wildfire poses risks to people and property in its potential path. It is an increasingly important dilemma in our State. This was really brought home last year by the 76,000 acre Valley Fire, which started in nearby Lake County, killing four residents and destroying 1280 homes along the way.

How do we reduce the risk to homes and human life in fire adapted environments?

This will be the topic of discussion at the Explorit science talk on Tuesday, May 3rd, 2016 at 7 PM at DMG Mori Auditorium, 3085 Faraday Ave, (off East Second Street), Davis, CA. The lecture is free, and young people interested in fire science, watershed management, and public safety are particularly encouraged to attend.

Division Chief Geoff Belyea of CALFIRE's Napa/Sonoma Unit (which also covers portions of Yolo County) will speak on how to get prepared, fire behavior, and wildfire fighting strategies. 

Next watershed hydrologist Clay Brandow will briefly explain how to read a burned landscape to learn about the fire that just passed through an area. 

Finally, Pete Cafferata, CALFIRE's Watershed Protection Program Manager, will talk about evaluating and mitigating post-fire, burned-area hazards, such as debris flows and mudslides. In Southern California, more people die in post-wildfire flooding and debris flows, than in the wildfires themselves.

These hot topics, along with your burning questions about fire, will make for a lively and instructive evening. Don't miss it.

Thursday, April 14, 2016:

  • “Oily Wildlife Aren’t Slick": An Overview of California’s Oiled Wildlife Response Programs
  • At 7 pm.  DMG MORI (Mori Seiki) 3805 Faraday Ave, Davis
  • Presenter: Michael Ziccardi DVM MPVM PhD

Dr. Zicardi will talk about the effects of oil on wildlife and case studies of regions prepared and unprepared for an oil spill (e.g. the recent Refugio oil spill in Santa Barbara, CA and the Deepwater Horizon spill in LA.

Dr. Ziccardi received his DVM, MPVM, and PhD in epidemiology from UC Davis, emphasizing free-ranging wildlife health and the effects of petroleum exposure in wildlife.  He has been an oil spill response veterinarian and coordinator since 1996, responding to more than 50 spills in the US and abroad, including involvement as the Marine Mammal and Sea Turtle Group Leader for the Deepwater Horizon oil spill in 2010 and the Deputy Wildlife Branch Director for the Refugio Incident in 2015.  

He has worked as a contract veterinarian for California Department of Fish and Game, a wildlife epidemiologist at Lincoln Park Zoo in Chicago, and as Associate Professor of Clinical Wildlife Health for UC Davis’ School of Veterinary Medicine. His current positions are Director of the Oiled Wildlife Care Network, Co-Director of UC Davis’ Karen C. Drayer Wildlife Health Center, and Health Science Clinical Professor at UC Davis’ School of Veterinary Medicine.

The Oiled Wildlife Care Network (OWCN) is a statewide collective of trained wildlife care providers, regulatory agencies, academic institutions and wildlife organizations working to rescue and rehabilitate oiled wildlife in California. The OWCN is recognized as a world leader in oil spill response, rescue, rehabilitation and research, and is an outstanding example of what's possible when diverse institutions and organizations work collaboratively toward a common goal.

Thursday, March 3, 2016:

  • "Blue Green Algae" The Good, The Bad, and The Deadly
  • At 7 pm.  DMG MORI (Mori Seiki) 3805 Faraday Ave, Davis
  • Speakers: Dr. Annaliese Franz and Dr. Bob Poppenga

This year's toxic algal bloom spreading off California's Pacific coast could be the largest one scientists have ever seen. Animal rescue centers along the coast are seeing an unusual increase in sea lion, dolphin and pelican deaths. READ MORE!  See the Flier.

The talk was lively and somewhat hands-on. Along with very interesting information about algae as non-plants was the surprising information that algae are being used to make a diesel-like fuel and a heart healthy cooking oil.

Tuesday, February 2, 2016:

  •  "From Rehabilitation to Release" a day at the California Raptor Center.
  • At 7 pm.  DMG MORI (Mori Seiki) 3805 Faraday Ave, Davis
  • Speaker: Dr. Michelle Hawkins

Dr. Hawkins received her veterinary degree from the University of Pennsylvania in 1997. She completed a residency and fellowship in Companion Avian and Exotic Animal Medicine and Surgery at the University of California, Davis in 2001 where she began caring for patients from the CA Raptor Center. After 2 years in exotic animal practice, she joined the faculty of the University of California, Davis School of Veterinary Medicine in 2003.  Since that time she has been directly involved with the CA Raptor Center, and became the Center Director in 2013. Her research interests include infectious diseases of wild raptors, and new medical therapies for common diseases of raptors.

Dr Hawkins talk was fascinating with thorough explanations of what happens when a raptor is brought to the Center's clinic to be examined and diagnosed. The birds are handled carefully and treated sensitively in order to increase the likelihood of rehabilitation and eventual release back to the location where they were found.

Tuesday, January 5, 2016:

"Green Rush" Marijuana Cultivation on California public lands.
At 7 pm.  DMG MORI (Mori Seiki) 3805 Faraday Ave, Davis
This fascinating talk by Dr. Mourad Gabriel of the IERC re-introduced us to the issues that Rachel Carson so effectively discussed in her popular book "Silent Spring." We were alerted to the very real ecological problems arising from the too liberal use of rodenticides on the multitude of illegal marijuana grow sites in California.

Thursday, November 19, 2015 - 7pm

At 7 pm.  DMG MORI (Mori Seiki) 3805 Faraday Ave, Davis

"Taking Off With Drones" [A "family friendly" talk]
View the world from a new perspective as we experience images and video taken by airborne cameras during flight. Allow us to open your mind to the artistic sides of science, technology, engineering and math.

  • Speakers: Thomas Bartlett and Abbe Lyle from the Sacramento Drone Meet-up Group
  • Thomas Bartlett is the CEO and founder of Image in Flight. He received his Commercial Pilot rating from Sierra Academy of Aeronautics and has been an avid RC enthusiast for over 30 years. 
  • Abbe Lyle is Creative Director & Pilot for Image in Flight. She has been a professional photographer and creative writer for over 20 years, and has taught corporate groups and individuals in the art of still, aerial and infrared photography. She is a private pilot, and most of all, an advocate for the safe use of drones as a form of creative expression. She has been consulting with some of the industry leaders in drone technology, and instructing on safe drone flight and photography.

Tuesday, October 6, 2015 - 7pm

At 7 pm.  DMG MORI (Mori Seiki) 3805 Faraday Ave, Davis

"Re-VOLE-utionizing the Mojave Desert" [A "family friendly" talk]
Conservation and Captive Breeding of the Endangered Amargosa Vole." 

  • Speakers: Join Risa Pesapane from UC Davis and Austin Roy from the California Department of Fish and Wildlife for a presentation on this incredible mammal.
  • The audience will be taken on a virtual journey to the Mojave desert and learn about the efforts to save a little known, yet incredibly charismatic, endangered species.  Learn how to help the Amargosa vole captive breeding program here at UC Davis. 

Tuesday, September 1, 2015 - 7pm

"Food for Thought: Innovations and Opportunities for Animal Breeding"

  • Speaker: Dr. Alison Van Eenennaam, UC Davis
  • Details: At 7 pm in the Activity Room at Davis Senior Center 646 A Street, Davis
  • Dr. Van Eenennaam will talk about how advances in biotechnology and genomics offer approaches to improve the sustainability of food animal production. 
  • Download the descriptive flier  The talk is free.

Thursday, June 11, 2015 - 7pm

"Natural Solutions to Un-natural Pests- Protecting Our Water Resources Through Innovative Stewardship". 
  • Speaker: Dr. Pam Marrone, CEO of Marrone Bio Innovations, Inc.
  • Details: 7:00 p.m. June 11, 2015 in the Davis Branch Library, Blanchard Room, 315 E. 14th Street, Davis. 
  • “A pioneer of biological pesticides, Pam Marrone has spent 30 years developing a greener path for controlling pests and diseases in agriculture. Now CEO and founder of her third company, Marrone Bio Innovations of Davis, she is considered a leading expert and proponent of biopesticide use worldwide.” [Melanie Turner, Sacramento Business Journal]. 
  •  In 2013, Dr. Marrone was named the Sacramento Business Journal's Businessperson of the Year and in 2014 the “Best Manager with Strategic Vision.” by Agrow, the industry's leading global trade publication and media group. These are just two of many awards she has received for her leadership. Dr. Marrone has a B.S. in entomology with Honors and Distinction from Cornell University and a Ph.D. in entomology from North Carolina State University. 

Monday, May 11, 2015 - 7pm

Life Beneath Tahoe Waters -The Good, Bad and Weird!” 
  • Speaker: Dr. Sudeep Chandra of the University of Nevada, Reno at DMG Mori's auditorium, 3805 Faraday Ave. in Davis. Chandra is an Associate Professor, Limnology and Conservation Ecology, Biology Department, College of Science, Associate Director, Castle Lake Environmental Research and Education Program University of Nevada, Reno. 
  • Details: 7:00 p.m. May 11, 2015 hosted by DMG-Mori in East Davis, 3805 Faraday Avenue. Free.

Monday, March 16, 2015 - 7pm a Family Friendly Lecture

“Its All About Humming:  The Ins and Outs of the UC Davis Hummingbird Health and Conservation Program”  
  • Speaker: Dr. Lisa Tell- BS, DVM. studies avian health in the UCD School of Veterinary Medicine. Lisa Tell, DVM, has been a full-time faculty member with the U.C. Davis School of Veterinary Medicine since 1997, has been working with birds for the past 25 years and is currently a Professor with the Department of Medicine and Epidemiology. Dr. Tell received her BS and DVM degrees from UC Davis. She did her internship and residency at the National Zoological Park in Washington, DC. She is also the Director of the U.C. Davis Hummingbird Health and Conservation Program. This program promotes public involvement with science and natural history projects for hummingbird biology, health, disease ecology and conservation. It is the California arm of a California/Wyoming partnership for hummingbird research and appreciation. 
  • Details: 7:00 p.m. March 16, 2015, hosted by DMG-Mori in East Davis, 3805 Faraday Avenue. Free.

Monday, February 9, 2015  

"Moving Lake Tahoe - The Story of Its Currents"  
  • Speaker: Geoffrey Schladow holds a B. Eng. and Ph.D. degrees in civil engineering from the University of Western Australia, and a M. Eng. in hydraulic engineering from the University of California at Berkeley. For over thirty years his research has focused on the interactions between the complex fluid motions found in nature and their impacts on water quality, ecosystem health and watershed processes. He holds the position of Professor of water resources and environmental engineering at UC Davis, and is the founding director of the UC Davis Tahoe Environmental Research Center. 
  • Details: 7:00 p.m. February 9, 2015, hosted by DMG-Mori in East Davis, 3805 Faraday Avenue. Free.

Monday, December 15, 2014

"Crisis and Opportunity in California Water Policy"  
  • Speaker: Cindy Tuck is deputy executive director of governmental relations for the Association of California Water Agencies (ACWA). Tuck holds a Bachelor of Science degree in Civil Engineering and a Master of Science degree in Environmental Engineering from the University of Illinois. Cindy Tuck leads ACWA's government Relations Team. This team represents the interests of ACWA members before Congress, federal agencies, the California Legislature and state agencies. Prior to joining ACWA, she served as Undersecretary of the California Environmental Protection Agency (Cal/EPA).
  • Details: 7:00 p.m. December 15, 2014, hosted by DMG-Mori in East Davis, 3805 Faraday Avenue. Free.
  • An informative and thoughtful perspective on the current water crisis, implications of the recently passed water bond (Proposition 1) and the new ground water legislation recently signed by Governor Brown. The proposition authorizes billions of dollars in funding to update the state's infrastructure for water storage, use and management. From surface and groundwater storage to water recycling and treatment technology, this comprehensive bond will address a wide range of resource management issues affecting cities, farms and businesses statewide. 

Thursday, October 25th, 2012

Come find out about Explorit's very first Community Science Project, Spiders In Your World, and learn about the fascinating world of spiders.

  • Speaker: Elena Coupal. The topic for this lecture will be Tarantulas.
  • Details: 6:00 p.m. October 25th at Mori Seiki located at 3805 Faraday Ave. Davis CA. Free. (Light refreshments & live spider display 6:00 p.m. Lecture begins at 6:30 p.m.)

  • Space is limited so please click here or call Explorit to RSVP now and save your spot.

Thursday, August 30th 2012

  • Speaker: Assistant Professor at UC Berkeley Damian Elias. Elias received his B.Sc. in Ecology and Evolutionary Biology from the University of Arizona followed by a Ph.D. in Neurobiology and Behavior from Cornell University. The topic for this lecture will be Jumping Spiders.
  • Details: 6:00 p.m. August 30th at Mori Seiki located at 3805 Faraday Ave. Davis CA. Free. (Refreshments & live spider display 6:00 p.m. Lecture begins at 6:30 p.m.) 
  • Space is limited so please click here or call Explorit

    to RSVP now and save your spot.

Tuesday, May 1st, 2012

Come find out about Explorit's very first Community Science Project, Spiders In Your World, and learn about the fascinating world of spiders.

  • Speaker: Dr. Rosemary Gillespie is Director of the Essig Museum of Entomology at the University of California, Berkeley and Heidi Ballard from the UC Davis School of Education.
  • Details: 7:00 p.m. May. 1 at Mori Seiki located at 3805 Faraday Ave. Davis CA. Free.

  • Space is limited so please click here to RSVP now and save your spot.

We hope to see you there!

 The future lectures in the series will be announced soon. If you have suggestions for speakers, please email them to with the subject line "Suggested CELS speaker." Thanks!

A look back at the 2008-09 Series

Tuesday, Oct. 7, 2008

Vision after 43 Years of Total Blindness: Exploring Visual Perception and a Can-Do Spirit 
  • Speaker: Michael May, founder and CEO of the Sendero Group in Davis
  • Details: 7:30 p.m. Oct. 7 at the Davis Musical Theatre Company, 607 Peña Drive, Davis. Free.
  • Michael May was blinded in a chemical explosion at age 3. In 2000, at age 46, he regained partial vision after cornea transplants and pioneering stem cell surgery. He'll tell his story - from the scientific advances that made sight possible to his discoveries about how years of blindness affect the brain's processing of visual stimuli. Mike will also discuss innovative developments in adaptive technology that are changing the way vision-impaired people live and navigate, including his own pioneering GPS system.

Tuesday, Feb. 3, 2009

Your Neighborhood's Secret Dump:  The Pacific's Floating Garbage Patches

  • Speaker: Eben Schwartz, outreach manager, California Coastal Commission
  • Details: 7:30 p.m. Feb. 3 at the Davis Musical Theatre Company, 607 Peña Drive, Davis. Free.
  • There are many conveniences in modern consumer society, but perhaps the greatest convenience is that we don't see where all the leftover waste ends up. An increasing body of evidence, however, shows that our hunger for consumption is impacting the ocean's health in dramatic ways. Eben Schwartz of the California Coastal Commission will discuss what we know about the growing, floating Great Pacific Garbage Patch (some estimates put it at twice the size of Texas!), how it came to be, and what is being done about it.

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

CSI Tanzania: Forensic Biology:  Comes of Age in Africa 
  • Speaker: Dr. Ruth Ballard, biology professor at California State University, Sacramento,
  • Details: 7:30 p.m. April 1 at the Davis Musical Theatre Company, 607 Peña, Davis. Free.
  • Since 2000, Dr. Ballard has run an active research program in DNA forensics, helping dozens of students train for careers as criminalists. In 2007, she finished a large-scale DNA project for the African nation of Tanzania, which will enable the country to begin solving crimes and establish paternity using DNA. In her talk, Ballard will explain how forensic DNA typing works, discuss how the project in Tanzania got started, and share many amusing and hair-raising stories from her travels.
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