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Clarkson University Sets Science Cafes for Spring in Potsdam & Canton

Local university professors will again take to the stage starting Tuesday, February 4, for the "Science Cafe."

Science cafe logo: Cafes bring together local university and college professors and townspeople in a relaxed, informal setting, such as coffeehouses and pubs. The speaker makes a short presentation about a topic in his or her field, and then opens up the floor to discussion.

All Canton Science Cafes will take place Tuesdays at 7:15 p.m. in the Park View Common Room, above the Blackbird Café, 107 Main St. in Canton, N.Y.

All Potsdam Science Cafes will take place Wednesday evenings at 7:15 p.m. in the Potsdam Civic Center Community Room, 2 Park St. in Potsdam, N.Y.

Here's a rundown of this spring's topics and speakers:

When the Nose Knows Not...
February 4: Canton
February 5: Potsdam
When the sense of smell is lost, people worry about detecting smoke or bad odors, food does not taste right and the more subtle aspects of life are missing. Join St. Lawrence University Biology Professor David Hornung as he discusses smell disorders, their diagnosis and treatment, and their effect on our lives.

Sticks and Stones … How Bullying Affects Physical Health
March 4: Canton
March 5: Potsdam
What is bullying? And does being bullied really affect people? We have learned that being bullied does have serious short- and long-term effects on children, adolescents, college students and adults. Join Clarkson University Psychology Professor Jennifer M. Knack as she discusses the physical health effects of being bullied, what factors influence the impact of bullying (e.g., personality, social support, mental health, physiological functioning), and why bullying is a complex issue that needs to be considered from multiple perspectives and disciplines.

What’s the Value of a Human Life?
March 25: Canton
March 26: Potsdam
No society places an infinite value on a statistical human life. We can’t afford it. Human lives are routinely risked and sometimes lost in efforts to achieve other goals. Understanding these trade-offs can improve how we determine things like speed limits, drug safety standards, toxic waste clean-up and so on. Join Clarkson University Economics & Financial Studies Professor Mark Frascatore as he discusses how studies have estimated the dollar value that societies place on a statistical human life, and how this information might be used to better allocate the finite resources we have.

Cold Plasmas: A Hot New Technology!
April 8: Canton
April 9: Potsdam
Plasmas, the “fourth state of matter,” make up 99 percent of visible matter in the universe and are extremely hot. On Earth, plasmas occur naturally within lightning, the ionosphere and in the auroras (Northern and Southern Lights). Plasmas can also be made in a laboratory. You probably heard of plasma TV, fluorescent light bulbs and neon signs, but did you know that plasmas can also be used to decontaminate drinking water, convert graphite into diamond, coagulate blood, and even sterilize teeth? Join Clarkson University Chemical Engineering Professor Selma Mededovic-Thagard for a fascinating discussion of plasmas and their chemical processing, and their application in medicine, chemistry and engineering.

The Bioengineering of Gender and the Prozac Nation
April 22: Canton
April 23: Potsdam
The neuroscientific turn in psychiatry can be understood as an adoption of a bioengineering stance toward mental illness. In this Cafe event, St. Lawrence University Philosophy Professor Jennifer Hansen will argue that on treating depression, the bioengineering stance inculcates a cognitive bias that promotes status quo gender norms and social values that have traditionally harmed both women and men. Moreover, it constrains debate over biotechnological treatments of mood, such as Prozac, Paxil and Pristiq, in a way that avoids the social consequences of medicating low moods among certain classes of women.

Find out more about Clarkson's Science Cafe at .

E-mail Daniel ben-Avraham at with any comments, questions or suggestions for future Science Cafe topics.

Find out more about Science Cafes in general at .

Clarkson University launches leaders into the global economy. One in five alumni already leads as a CEO, VP or equivalent senior executive of a company. Located just outside the Adirondack Park in Potsdam, N.Y., Clarkson is a nationally recognized research university for undergraduates with select graduate programs in signature areas of academic excellence directed toward the world’s pressing issues. Through 50 rigorous programs of study in engineering, business, arts, sciences and health sciences, the entire learning-living community spans boundaries across disciplines, nations and cultures to build powers of observation, challenge the status quo, and connect discovery and engineering innovation with enterprise.

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[News directors and editors: For more information, contact Annie Harrison, Director of Media Relations, at 315-268-6764 or]

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