Science Cafe

Science Café

Science Cafés help to promote scientific literacy by encouraging relaxed, open conversations among scientists and nonscientists of all ages.

Coffee, Chocolate, Conversation.

Spring 2017

African Dust, Shanghai Smog, Georgia-Florida Wild Fires: An Environmental Tale on Three Continents

February 2, 7:00-8:30 p.m.


Song Gao, Professor of Chemistry

In this Science Café talk, Song Gao, Associate Professor of Chemistry at Stetson, will discuss his research on the characteristics and mechanisms of pollution in the atmosphere and hydrosphere. He will illustrate, using field observations and satellite images, the atmospheric transport and chemical transformation of particulate matter in Africa, Asia, and North America. “The cross-boundary nature of environmental pollution,” explains Gao, “requires a globally coordinated approach to remediation.” His talk will also address some of the latest science-based policy advancements in mitigating climate change.

Dr. Gao joined the chemistry faculty at Stetson University in Fall 2016 after serving on the faculty at Nova Southeastern University and Hong Kong University of Science and Technology. He received his Ph.D. in Chemistry from the University of Washington and completed postdoctoral research on atmospheric chemistry at California Institute of Technology. His research and teaching interests include atmospheric chemistry mechanisms, megacity air pollution, and science-based climate mitigation. He has published dozens of peer-reviewed papers in international journals and served on several review panels at National Science Foundation. He was a co-recipient of the Alan Berman Research Publications Award from the Naval Research Laboratory. Song enjoys music (Bach and Mendelssohn, in particular), hiking and spending time with family.

Cultural Credit for Stetson Undergraduates

Fall 2016

Field Notes From Archbold

November 10, 7:00-8:30 p.m.


Ethan Royal ('15 Biology)

At this café, recent Stetson graduate Ethan Royal will talk about his current ecological research and reflect on a recent grad's experiences in science and his path to graduate school.  Ethan has worked on a wide variety of ecological projects, both as a field tech and as a lead researcher. He is currently a visiting researcher at Archbold Biological Station, a world-renowned site and resource center dedicated to long-term ecological research. Staff, visiting investigators and students conduct research primarily focused on the organisms and environments of Lake Wales Ridge and adjacent central Florida, including population ecology and conservation biology.

Royal’s current research at Archbold examines the response of fish and larval amphibian populations in seasonal wetlands to a wide range of biotic and abiotic factors, including predator presence, pond isolation, pond elevation, pond area, vegetative cover and water chemistry. This is the first year of a multi-year pond sampling program designed to shed some light on how an abnormally wet year like this one affects fish and amphibian communities in normally temporary wetlands, and will allow for study of the effects of an invasive fish predator (Hemichromis letourneuxi, the African jewelfish) on native communities as it colonizes new wetlands.

In January, Royal will begin a Ph.D. in biological sciences at the University of Arkansas, working with herpetologist J.D. Willson on a project assessing the ability of timber managed loblolly pine forests to support longleaf associated herp communities (reptiles and amphibians) in northwestern Louisiana.

Cultural Credit for Stetson Undergraduates


The St. Johns River, An Overview

October 27, 7:00-8:30 p.m.

Rob Mattson in the field

Rob Mattson, Senior Environmental Scientist with the St. Johns River Water Management District

In his talk at the Gillespie Museum’s October 27 Science Café, Rob Mattson will discuss the hydrology, water quality and ecology of the St. Johns River system and will also discuss some of the main management issues affecting the river and steps being taken to address those. This is a community event in partnership with the City of DeLand’s Water Festival, an outdoor celebration of water and art at Earl Brown Park, on Sunday, October 16.

Rob Mattson is a Senior Environmental Scientist with the St. Johns River Water Management District. He has been with the District for 11 years and prior to that spent 17 years as a Biologist with the Suwannee River Water Management District. He has a B.A. in Biology and M.S. in Zoology from the University of South Florida. At SJRWMD, his work mainly focuses on investigations of the ecology of the springs of the St. Johns River and application of that science to their restoration and management. Rob is also an Adjunct Instructor at St. Johns River State College in Palatka, where he teaches the course Introduction to Environmental Science.

Cultural Credit for Stetson Undergraduates

September 15, Gregor Falk     "Vulnerability of Coastal Regions in South Asia"

October 27, Rob Mattson           "The St. Johns River, An Overview"

November 10, Ethan Royal     "Field Notes From Archbold"

February 2, Song Gao          "African Dust, Shanghai Smog, Georgia-Florida Wild Fires: An Environmental Tale on Three Continents"

March 23, Camille King                "To Sleep Perchance To Remember"

April 20, Sarah Garcia, Cindy Bennington, Peter May      "Pollinator Project at the Volusia Sandhill"