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Stony Brook University

University Libraries STEM Speaker Series

First Lecture: Dr. Christopher J. Gobler, School of Marine and Atmospheric Sciences

Title: "Decoding harmful algal bloom with molecular tools"

Harmful algal blooms (HABs) are a significant threat to coastal ecosystems, fisheries, and public health,and the fraction of the US coastline experiencing HABs significantly increased from 1990 to 2020. While the ecophysiology of HABs has been studied for decades, a comprehensive understanding of these events has been limited by their complex nature whereby the causative species exists within a diverseplankton community. While deciphering the response of an individual HAB, therefore, represents a ‘needle in the haystack’ problem, the use of molecular tools has facilitated a series of key discoveries regarding HABs during the past decade. Using the brown tide-causing picoplanktonic pelagophyte, Aureococcus anophagefferens, as a model HAB, genome sequencing and the use of transcriptomics has yielded a series of key insights regarding how this species interacts with its environment and other organisms to form HABs. This talk will highlight the dynamic nature of the transcriptional response of the brown tide alga over the course of HABs and how the environmental factors controlling blooms change during bloom initiation, peak, and decline. Observational and experimental data will also be presented regarding the manner in which specific gene sets may be activated to cause harm to predators, allowing blooms to further proliferate.


Dr. Christopher J. Gobler is an Endowed Chair and Professor within the School of Marine and Atmospheric Sciences (SoMAS) at Stony Brook University.  He received his M.S. and Ph.D. from Stony Brook University in the 1990s. He began his academic career as a professor at Long Island University (LIU) in 1999. In 2005, he joined Stony Brook University as the Director of Academic Programs for SoMAS on the Stony Brook – Southampton campus. In 2015, he was named Director of the New York State Center for Clean Water Technology. He has been editor-in-chief of the international, peer-reviewed scientific journal, Harmful Algae, since 2018. He has published more than 200 manuscripts in peer-reviewed journals that explore the linkages between anthropogenic activities and coastal ecosystems.


Date: Monday, September 26, 2022

Time: 4pm-5pm

Location: Special Collections Seminar Room, E-2340, second floor of the Melville Library

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Second Lecture: Dr. Chi-Kuo Hu, Department of Biochemistry and Cell Biology

Title: "Stopping the clock of life - diapause and its ability to suspend and preserve life"

Life runs like a clock. Every milestone is set and reached on time. From embryogenesis, to birth, sexual maturation, aging, and death, the clock of life seems to only progress forward and never stops. However, nature did evolve a mechanism to pause this clock at the beginning of life, and that is diapause. In this talk, we will discuss what diapause is and how it could help us to better understand life, including the crosstalk between biological dormancy, development, and aging.          


Dr. Chi-Kuo Hu is a new assistant professor in the Department of Biochemistry and Cell Biology. He is interested in the general principles of biological dormancy, a critical but remaining understudied phase in our life, and he tackles this question using a peculiar animal African killifish that can enter a dormant state called diapause for a period several times longer than its lifespan. Trained as a Ph.D. student at Harvard Medical School and a postdoc at Stanford, Chi-Kuo joined Stony Brook as an assistant professor in 2021. His research is supported by the NIH High-Risk-High-Reward program and Glenn-AFAR Foundation.                      


Date: Tuesday, November 15, 2022

Time: 1pm-2pm

Location: Special Collections Seminar Room, E-2340, second floor of the Melville Library