Biology Seminars Now Webinars

Jack Malone, Reporter

Faculty in the biology department are hosting their seminar series as a “webinar” series because all talks are held over Zoom.

The first part of the biology seminar kicked off on Oct. 1 with the program titled “A Look Inside Dinosaur Paleontology,” hosted by Dr. Mateusz Wosik, Assistant Professor of Biology.

The series, which is in its second year, provides student with an exploration of interesting facts and research, according to Dr. Grace Chen, Assistant Professor of Biology.

“We will invite a biologist and then that person will give a presentation, which usually takes about 45 minutes, give or take, about that person’s research but also why the person is interested in this, why they are doing this, what’s the career path, and then for about 10 to 15 minutes the audience will ask questions,” Chen said.

Chen encourages all students to attend the webinars to learn outside and beyond class textbooks.

“I hope that student can explore what are some new studies of cutting edge research that is going on,” she said. “The second level is that through different talks that students will find their interests or find that they are not interested in something one way or the other. Usually the textbook or the lecture we have already has certain topics and certain content there that is not reflecting the real world research.”

Chen also hopes students use this opportunity to network with people who share their interests.

“Students can know people, not only our own faculty members or our own students, but people who are doing research somewhere else. Then hopefully maybe some of them might have summer internship opportunities,” Chen said.

Chen said planning the series was more difficult this year because of the pandemic. However, she feels a level of ease because many more people are able to attend virtually.

“It has been challenging, but no matter what it is challenging to find people to give presentations. But now with COVID, to me the biggest challenge is because I have other things I need to worry about because of COVID. This is actually relatively easy because everything is online right now. I can invite anyone around the world,” she said.

She said she learns from the seminars and gets to meet interesting people.

“I personally get to hear a lot of really cool stuff and know some really cool people because some of the speakers I do not know them because my colleagues suggest them to be here. So I personally learn a lot. I think that to me is the most amazing part of doing the seminar,” she said.

She said students have also learned a lot, based on the feedback she has received.  She hopes more students will use the opportunity to explore their interests in biology.

“When they come, they always think that it is great and they always like it. My challenge is how do I get students to come. For the course I teach, it is part of their assignment to come. But once they finish my course, then I kind of need to push them harder to come,” Chen said.

She’s already planning future events, she said.

“I imagine in the future it will more of a hybrid form because I miss the face to face interaction, that is something that Zoom cannot really compete with,” Chen said.

She said she wants students to know that everyone is welcome at the seminars, not only those who are studying biology or taking courses in the discipline.

“We try to make it as simple as a freshman or somebody who has a couple classes of biology should be able to understand. I believe most of our speakers are good at starting at so

mething people already know and then move into the direction that says, ‘Hey, this what we do this is so cool.’ It is a little bit challenging, but they should be able to get the big picture.”

More seminars are set for Oct. 15, Oct. 29 and Nov. 12. The seminars run from 5:30 to 6:30 p.m.

Interested students may email Chen for the Zoom link at [email protected]