SaddleBrooke Science Café

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Series Title:  Mysteries Revealed: Discoveries in Chemistry

We start this series with the history of how chemical sciences began and our how our fundamental understanding has led to everyday, modern advances and medical breakthroughs. Who knew that the invention of beer making would kick start a series of groundbreaking discoveries encompassing human and environmental health? A myriad of topics, ranging from the properties of snake venom to the chemical drivers of human behavior will be explored. Join the conversation!

DesertView Performing Arts Center

Spring 2019 Science Cafés Presenters:

Thursday, January 10, 2019 at 6:30PM

Life's Chemistry: Order from Disorder

Dr. Susan BeckPresenter: Jacob Schwartz. Assistant Professor, Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry, University of Arizona

The molecules of life give you the ability to be you and make the body housing your consciousness work. Their chemistry works largely because of the shapes they form. Those shapes have a remarkable beauty that often evokes memories of shapes like those maybe seen on a hike in Tucson’s mountains. They also mix form with function. That such precise structures are allowed by the laws of nature and also chaos is not immediately intuitive  but this reality is demonstrated by the human body trillions of times every second. On the other hand, life’s molecules solve some problems by allowing some chaos and disorder. The most pressing questions about these processes challenge the thinking of scientists as much as they can a non-scientist. The latest discoveries in human diseases, such as neurodegenerative disease and cancer, have proven that we can no longer hide from these questions that don’t fit nicely with the stories we tell students in their textbooks. That’s what makes these secrets so exciting!

Jacob Schwartz's Science Café Talk


Thursday, February 7, 2019 at 6:30PM

Fighting Climate Change at the Molecular Level

Dr. Barbara CarrapaPresenter: Thomas Gianetti, Assistant Professor, Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry, University of Arizona

Earth’s climate has been changing for millions of years, slowly alternating long periods of ice ages with eras of elevated temperature. In the past, rapid temperature changes have always led to large-scale extinction of life; and we are currently witnessing one of the most sudden climate evolution ever recorded. Scientists have identified greenhouse gases – CO2 from fuel combustion, CH4 and N2O from agriculture and farming – as the main cause for global climate change. These gases are mostly naturally occurring, but the increasing emissions of these gases have never been so substantial. Since the industrial revolution, cheap energy from fossil fuels has been an extraordinary boon to mankind. Driven by the explosive energy of coal, oil, and natural gas, our society has enjoyed a remarkable three-century long wave of prosperity. However, 200 years of burning carbon has had a drastic impact on our environment and climate change is now the world's most significant existential challenge. Rising temperatures are just the tip of the proverbial iceberg; their effect on the future of our planet is both widespread and serious. There will be a significant impact on agricultural productivity, sea levels, storm frequency and intensity, and prevalence of infectious disease, to name a few. In order to tackle this established risk, our society needs to understand the root of climate change, develop technologies that lower greenhouse gas emissions, and mitigate the damages already accrued.

Thomas Gianetti's Science Café Talk


Thursday, March 14, 2019 at 6:30PM

The Chemistry of Human Behavior

Dr. Jessica TierneyPresenter: Victor J. Hruby, Regents Professor, Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry, University of Arizona

For good health, all the different types of cells in our bodies must communicate with each other and especially with the brain, and modulate each other.  Much of this intercellular communication is done by peptide hormones and neurotransmitters.  Generally, these compounds interact with proteins that are imbedded on the cell surface membrane and are called G-protein coupled receptors (GPCRs).  These interactions then lead to changes in the cells’ functions.  This process is referred to as information transduction.  A breakdown in these communications, either directly or indirectly, leads to many of the degenerative diseases of the mind and body.  Indeed, over 30% of our current drugs interact directly with GPCRs and many others intervene in the intercellular chemical pathways that are modulated by hormones, neurotransmitters and GPCRs.  Cancer, cardiovascular disease, diabetes, most mental disorders, pain and addiction involve these systems.  Specific examples related to pain, addiction and behaviors such as eating and sexual function will be discussed.


Victor Hruby's Science Café Talk


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