University of Calgary

Flower power

October 15, 2009

Sigma Xi speakers’ series begins

The flowers in your garden possess more power and control than you would expect.

Plants are able to manipulate and take advantage of unsuspecting pollinators, such as bumble bees, to do their reproductive bidding. The results—sexual conflict, parent-offspring competition and sibling rivalry—can be much like a soap opera.

Lawrence Harder, from the biological sciences department, kicks off this year’s Sigma Xi lecture series today, by talking about Machiavellian flowers, the power and control of plant reproduction and the drivers behind the remarkable diversity in floral design.

Harder is one of seven University of Calgary scientists speaking at public seminars hosted by Sigma Xi throughout the year. All seminars take place at noon in the biosciences building, room 211.

“These seminars are intelligent, but you do not have to be an expert to participate and enjoy them,” says Howard Ceri, biological sciences professor and Sigma Xi president. "The seminars are for those who just want to learn.”

Sigma Xi was founded in 1886 to honor excellence in scientific investigation and to encourage a sense of companionship and cooperation among researchers in all fields of science and engineering. Its goal is to better science and those who study it.

This year’s lectures include:

Oct. 15: Lawrence Harder, biological sciences department, Machiavellian Flowers:  Power and Control of Plant Reproduction.

Nov. 19: Marie Fraser, biological sciences department, Designing Next Generation Drugs in Big Pharma. 

Dec. 10: Ian Gates, Schulich School of Engineering, If We had Warp Drive, Would We Still Recover Bitumen from Oil Sands?

Jan. 21: Jim Parker, Faculty of Fine Arts, Science in Cyber Game-space: Exploring Natural Science in Virtual Reality.

Feb. 18: Craig Stevens, Faculty of Veterinary Medicine, Pandemic Predictions as Public Policy.

March 18: Chang-Chen Ling, chemistry department, Playing Frankenstein:  Pushing the substrate specificity of enzymes to synthesize natural and unnatural carbohydrates. 

April 15: Joule Bergerson, Schulich School of Engineering, The Evolution of Life Cycle Assessment.

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