Fall Research Unplugged speaker series returns to Schlow Library starting Oct. 3

Conversations around nature and ecosystems highlight October talks

Research Unplugged, the popular conversation series with Penn State researchers, begins Oct. 3 and runs each Thursday through Oct. 24 in Schlow Library’s Downsbrough Community Room.  Credit: Penn StateCreative Commons

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. — Research Unplugged, the popular series of stimulating conversations with Penn State researchers, returns to Schlow Centre Region Library in October.

Research Unplugged is a collaboration between Penn State’s Office of Government and Community Relations and Schlow Library. Talks will be held from 12:30 to 1:30 p.m. each Thursday in October in the library’s Downsbrough Community Room. All Research Unplugged events are free and open to the public. Light refreshments will be provided by Irving’s.

The fall schedule begins Oct. 3 with Erica Smithwick, professor of geography, presenting “Firescapes of the Mid-Atlantic: A Promethean Promise.” Smithwick will review the socio-ecological barriers and opportunities for incorporating fire, sustainably, into landscape management, with implications for understanding fire-prone ecosystems globally.

On Oct. 10, Harland Patch, assistant research professor of entomology, will present “Garden Landscapes for Pollinators.” Pollinator gardens can be vital places for pollinator habitat, but scientific understanding of how to build these landscapes is just coming into focus. Part of the talk will center on the soon-to-be-built four-acre Pollinators’ Garden at the Arboretum at Penn State. 

Peter La Femina, associate professor of geosciences, will present “Multidisciplinary Monitoring of Active Volcanoes” on Oct. 17. Geoscientists (volcanologists) study and monitor active volcanoes to understand the processes that lead to eruption. La Femina will review the history of volcanology, monitoring techniques, and use specific examples from his research of active volcanoes in Central America and the Galapagos Islands.

The fall schedule will conclude on Oct. 24 with Erynn Maynard-Bean, a postdoctoral researcher in the Penn State Department of Ecosystem Science and Management, presenting “Leaf Long and Prosper? Shedding Light on Invasive Shrubs in Eastern Deciduous Forests.” Several shrub species from our yards and ornamental gardens are escaping and spreading into forests. Maynard-Bean discusses how a unique trait — holding onto their leaves for a longer time than native species — makes them successful and can impact native plants and animals.

For more information on Research Unplugged, visit

Last Updated September 24, 2019