Next 'Science Talk' is Thursday, December 10 at 6 p.m.
Monday December 7, 2015
The next edition of the Virginia Museum of Natural History’s “2nd Thursday Science Talks” takes place Thursday, December 10 at 6 p.m. when Dr. Alex Hastings, VMNH assistant curator of paleontology, presents "Dinosaurs and Life Thereafter". Admission to the presentation is free thanks to generous contributions of all amounts to the VMNH Foundation Discovery Fund.
This season’s series of science talks follows the theme, “From Cosmology to Conservation: Your world and your place in it.” In this presentation, Dr. Hastings will discuss the time of the dinosaurs and an often overlooked time period that immediately followed dinosaur extinction. The presentation will highlight dinosaur extinction, what took the place of dinosaurs here on earth, and what earth, as a whole, looked like after dinosaurs.
“Dinosaurs were amazing creatures, but the kinds of animals that took off after their extinction were equally fascinating and set the groundwork for the world we have today," said Hastings. "The audience will hear about some of my work on the strange and giant reptilian predators that came about after the dinosaurs died out."
A relatively new face at the museum, Dr. Hastings began his role at VMNH in July. Hastings came to the museum from Martin Luther University, Halle-Wittenberg, Germany, where he was a postdoctoral fellow within the Center for Natural Science Collections. There, he studied the ecology and evolution of German fossil crocodilians, focusing on predator interactions and peculiar adaptations during a very warm time in Earth's history.
Though just in the early stages of his career, Hastings has named five new species of ancient crocodilians and played a key role in the discovery of the fossil snake Titanoboa, a 42 foot long relative of the anaconda and largest snake known to have lived.
Hastings holds a Ph.D. in Geological Sciences from the University of Florida and a B.S. in Geosciences from Penn State University. He previously served as a visiting instructor at Georgia Southern University and a teaching and research assistant at the University of Florida.
The museum's "2nd Thursday Science Talks" take place on the second Thursday of each month through May 12, 2016. Attendance is free due to contributions to the VMNH Discovery Fund.
The presentations are delivered by VMNH curators, VMNH researchers, as well as VMNH research associates. Geared towards audiences with a keen interest in science, the presentations also increase awareness of the varied and unique scientific career paths available for local students.
Thursday, September 10, 2015 "The universe and our only blue planet" Presented by Dr. Denny Casey, Director of Education & Public Programs, VMNH
During this presentation, Dr. Casey will explore what makes earth special, what conditions are needed for life, and how we are searching for life on other worlds.
Thursday, October 8, 2015 "DNA - The molecule of life" Presented by Dr. Nancy Moncrief, Curator of Mammalogy, VMNH
In this presentation, Dr. Moncrief will explore the subject of evolution through the scientific eye of basic genetic concepts. Dr. Moncrief will also provide examples of how DNA is used as a tool in natural history research.
Thursday, November 12, 2015 "Our precursors: early plants and animals" Presented by Dr. DorothyBelle Poli, Associate Professor of Biology, Roanoke College
During this presentation, Dr. Poli will navigate the evolution of plant life on Earth. How did early photosynthesis arise? How did it change the planet? What were the first plants on Earth? Find out the answers to these questions and more this November.
Thursday, December 10, 2015 "Dinosaurs and life thereafter" Presented by Dr. Alex Hastings, Assistant Curator of Vertebrate Paleontology, VMNH
This December, Dr. Alex Hastings will explore a time period often overlooked, when the dinosaurs first became extinct. Dr. Hastings will discuss dinosaur extinction, what took their place, and what the world was like after dinosaurs.
Thursday, January 14, 2016 "Biodiversity and your place in it" Presented by Dr. Kaloyan Ivanov, Assistant Curator of Recent Invertebrates, VMNH
This coming January, Dr. Ivanov will examine the vast diversity of life on Earth. Why are there so many kinds of animal? What benefits are conveyed by biodiversity? These questions and more will be answered this January at the museum.
Thursday, February 11, 2016 "Archaeology: Virginia’s past cultures" Presented by Dr. Elizabeth Moore, Curator of Archaeology, VMNH
The land that is now known as Virginia has been home to a wide variety of cultures for many centuries. During this presentation, Dr. Moore will discuss how past cultures have adapted to Virginia's changing environments, developing and adopting new plants and animals.
Thursday, March 10, 2016 "New perspectives on human evolution" Speaker to be announced
When Charles Darwin publicized the theory of evolution, it sent shockwaves through the scientific community and changed the perspective of how early humans developed. As time goes on and new evidence is discovered, perspectives continue to change. During this presentation, the audience will learn about Hominids and early humans, as well as current research and new scientific perspectives of evolution.
Thursday, April 14, 2016 "How do we protect what we have?" Presented by Tiffany Haworth, Executive Director, Dan River Basin Association
Our natural resources are vital to the survival and continuation of life on this planet. During this presentation, Tiffany Haworth will discuss conservation priorities and how they are determined, as well as what the current priorities in Virginia and the Dan River Basin are.
Thursday, May 12, 2016 "The importance of museums in the 21st century" Presented by Dr. Joe B. Keiper, Executive Director, VMNH
Museums serve a vital role in new discoveries and past history. In this presentation, Dr. Keiper will discuss the traditional reasons to have museums, the decline of collections facilities, the tangible benefits of museums to societal problems, and how to best manage museums as we move forward.