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NREL Fall 2020 Soup & Science Seminar Series Information

This webpage will be updated weekly with information about the Fall 2020 Soup & Science Seminars.

We have a great lineup of virtual seminars this year that include graduate students, research scientists, invited speakers, and interactive workshops. All seminars will take place from 12-1 pm MST on Fridays via zoom, please email for the link.

Scroll to the bottom for full schedule. Each past seminar has a link to view the recording, or links are also included in the full schedule.

Upcoming Seminar:

November 6, 2020: “Taking the pulse of avian aerial passage in North America” featuring Dr. Kyle Horton from CSU Dept. of Fish, Wildlife, and Conservation Biology

The notion of hundreds of millions, if not billions, of migratory birds passing in and out of broad geographic areas is of considerable public and ecological interest – and of conservation concern. Many species of migratory birds have evolved the capacity to migrate at night, and the recent and rapid expansion of artificial light at night has dramatically altered the nighttime sky through which they move. Capturing and quantify these large-scale movements has remained a principle challenge. Kyle will discuss how he uses weather surveillance radar to quantify and forecast migratory movements and generate lights out alerts across the United States.

Kyle Horton received his B.S. in Biology from Canisius College in 2011, M.S. in Wildlife Ecology from the University of Delaware in 2013, Ph.D. in Ecology and Evolutionary Biology from the University of Oklahoma in 2017, and was a Rose Postdoctoral Research Fellows at the Cornell Lab of Ornithology from 2017-2019. 

Past Seminars

October 23, 2020: “Decarbonization Studio: A tool for climate change education” featuring Dr. Rich Conant, Chris Dorich, and Daqi Wang from NREL

Decarbonization is simply the process of removing carbon from a system. However, identifying pathways to decarbonization within a country or globally to stay below 2 C is more complicated. To understand the challenges, implications, and benefits of decarbonization for a country requires in-depth examination of data and development of future emission scenarios. A major barrier to teaching and learning about decarbonization is that the emissions data needed for this understanding must be assembled from myriad sources, with often varying reporting years, emission sectors, and structures to the data. Here we present Decarbonization Studio, an R shiny app that has aggregated these various data sources – providing a tool for easy and interactive data visualizations, manipulation, and user inputs. These interactive capabilities put students in the driver’s seat of decarbonization and helps place an emphasis on not just emissions but the activities that incur emissions – helping students focus on examining what’s important, what’s possible, and what it might cost for a country to decarbonize. The app is currently being piloted in ESS524 where students have been assigned a country to develop a decarbonization plan for. During this seminar we will give an overview of the app and use the app for an interactive energy sector negotiation. 

October 16, 2020: “Rocks and the carbon cycle: New frontiers for modern climate change” by invited Speaker Dr. Ben Houlton

Click here for the recording

Rock weathering is widely known to impact Earth’s carbon cycle over long times scales. Over geological time, the weathering of silicates results in negative feedback on carbon dioxide accumulation in the atmosphere, stabilizing the climate system and maintaining Earth’s “goldilocks temperature.” But what about modern changes in carbon dioxide that operate over decadal to century scales? Although traditional concepts suggest that weathering is too slow to substantially alter the modern carbon cycle, here I discuss emerging research findings which highlight an alternative perspective. First, rocks have been posited to contribute ~20% of nitrogen inputs to terrestrial ecosystems, thereby supporting plant productivity and carbon storage in nutrient limited environments worldwide. Second, the purposeful introduction of pulverized silicate rock fines — known as enhanced weathering — into cropland soil has the capacity for billions of tons of annual carbon dioxide capture on a global scale.  These aspects of short-term impacts of rock weathering on carbon sequestration suggest new research frontiers for considering rock weathering in shaping the fate of climate change this century.

October 9, 2020: Indigenous Science Seminar featuring guest speaker Dr. Doreen Martinez, CSU Department of Ethnic Studies

Click here for the recording

“My abuela’s soup is the best and Western science ruined it.” – Dr. Martinez. 

This seminar, titled “Indigenous Science and Ways of Knowing” will explore how knowledge and knowledge expectations (also known as science) are practiced.

Dr. Doreen Martinez

Dr. Doreen E. Martinez is of Mescalero, Apache and Pennsylvania Dutch lineage. She is a transnational Indigenous epistemologist with a Sociology PhD. Her scholarly expertise is in Indigenous knowledge systems, research methodologies, visual culture, and, sociopolitical land and environment issues.  Her work focuses on how diverse knowledges, life’s theoretical grounding, are engaged and practiced every day.  Her projects address and include mis/understandings of identity, collective philosophies, contemporary and historical belief practices, and nation-state influences. She is committed to ethically engage and pass along this knowledge and understandings.  Thus, she is an avid advocate of alliance building and promoting justice.

October 2, 2020: NREL Research Scientist talks by Dr. Jenny Soong and Peder Engelstad

Click here for the recording

Dr. Jenny Soong – Research Scientist, NREL and Department of Soil & Crop Sciences: “Soil organic matter formation and persistence in the Anthropocene” 

Jenny is a soil biogeochemist who recently returned to the soil and crop sciences department as a Research Scientist. Some of you may remember her because she got her PhD in Ecology from CSU in 2014 working with Francesca Cotrufoat NREL. Since then she has been a postdoctoral fellow at the University of Antwerp in Belgium and at Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory in California. For this talk, she’ll give a brief overview of her work during that time and her plans for research at CSU.

Peder Engelstad– NREL Research Scientist: “An introduction to web-based invasive species habitat assessment through the INHABIT web tool” 

Bridging the gap between producers and consumers of scientific data can be difficult but facilitated by using decision support tools (DSTs). DST development can be enhanced by the use of free and open source software solutions, such as the R Shiny platform. Pederwill present the Invasive Species Habitat Tool (INHABIT), an R Shiny web application showcasing spatial data visualizations of species distribution models and aspatial statistical summaries. INHABIT is perpetually evolving to augment and enhance invasive species management strategies at local, regional, and national levels.Pederis a spatial data scientist (and amateur baker!) with the Evangelista lab at NREL, focusing on statistical modeling and programming. Much of his recent work has been building INHABIT, optimizations of species distributions models using high-performance computing methods, and maintaining software products for USGS.

September 25, 2020: NREL Graduate Student talks by Bryce Pulver and Eric Jensen

Click here for the recording

Bryce Pulver – M.S. Watershed Science: “Metals Export to Streams During Base Flow and Storm Events in the 416 Fire Burn, southwestern Colorado”  

This presentation will discuss what variables are directly and inversely related to the concentration of metals observed with in streams the following summer after the fire. Univariate and multivariate models are used to show relationships between watershed properties, burn severity, and water chemistry. In general, metals concentrations are increased inside the burn area for both baseflow and storm events. 

Eric Jensen – M.S. GDPE: “Pixels and Post-fire Recovery: Spatial models of post-fire vegetation trends in Great Basin shrublands” 

Shrublands in the Great Basin are under pressure from invasive annual grasses and increased fire frequency—often leading to loss of habitat. However, because of the topographic and climatic variability of the region post-fire vegetation recovery trends are complex and variable at multiple scales. In this presentation, Eric will share about environmental drivers and spatial patterns of post-fire recovery in the region.

September 18, 2020: Josh Zaffos, “Science and Research Communications and Storytelling”

Click here for the recording

Join us on September 18 at 12 pm for our next soup and science seminar on scientific communication with speaker Josh Zaffos!

This talk and discussion, titled “Science and Research Communications and Storytelling” will explore why and how scientists can communicate their work — and insight — with the media and other audiences, including the motivations and opportunities for science communications by researchers and science practitioners.

Josh Zaffos

Josh Zaffos is the communications specialist for the Department of Anthropology and Geography at CSU. He also leads the online Graduate Certificate in Communications for Conservation and teaches writing through the Department of Journalism & Media Communication. Josh is also an experienced reporter and writer whose work has appeared in High Country NewsAudubonYale Environment 360, Slate, WiredScientific AmericanHakai MagazineNature Conservancy, and many other print and digital publications.

September 4, 2020: “Exploring our Roots”, NREL Scientists

NREL has a rich history with famous scientists and pinnacle projects. We want to celebrate our roots while fertilizing new growth. At the “Exploring our Roots” Soup and Science Seminar we will construct a timeline of NREL through a series of flash talks from NREL scientists. Overall, we want to create an opportunity for those of us here now to build a connection to our past and envision our future directions together.

Full Schedule

DatePresenter(s)AffiliationLink to recording
9/4/2020Past, present, and future of NRELExploring Our Roots: NREL Speakers 
9/11/2020Off Week
9/18/2020Josh ZaffosDirector, Graduate Certificate in Communications for Conservation & Communications Specialist, Anthropology and Geography (Science Communications Workshop)Link
9/25/2020Eric Jensen and Bryce PulverEcosystem Science and Sustainability, Graduate StudentsLink
10/2/2020Peder Engelstad and Dr. Jenny SoongResearch Associate II with NREL (Peder), Research Scientist II in Soil and Crop Sciences (Jenny)Link
10/9/2020Dr. Doreen MartinezAssistant Professor, Ethnic Studies and Women’s Studies & Gender Research (Indigenous Science Workshop)Link
10/16/2020Dr. Ben HoultonUC Davis, Invited SpeakerLink
10/23/2020Dr. Chris Dorich and Rich ConantEcosystem Science and Sustainability, Research Associate II (Chris) and Professor and Department Head (Rich)
10/30/2020Dr. Caridad SouzaDirector, Center for Women’s Studies and Gender Research & Associate Professor, Ethnic Studies (Feminist Science Workshop)
11/6/2020Dr. Kyle HortonDepartment of Fish, Wildlife, and Conservation Biology, Assistant Professor
11/13/2020Dr. Colden BaxterIdaho State University, Invited Speaker
11/20/0202Dr. Jill Baron NREL Senior Research Ecologist and Co-Director for the John Wesley Powell Center for Earth System Science Analysis and Synthesis
11/27/2020Thanksgiving break- skip
12/4/2020Casey BarbyEcosystem Science and Sustainability, M.S. Public Defense
12/11/2020AGU- skip