Dr. Bridget Ayling, September 24

Renewable energy underground – searching for hot water and hot rocks in the western USA

Geothermal energy is the heat of the earth, and this vast resource has been harnessed for electricity generation, heating and bathing for >100 years. The Great Basin region of the western USA is a world-class geothermal province, with substantial untapped resource potential. To facilitate greater use of this renewable energy source, we are working to understand (1) where do these resources exist and why? (2) how do fluids circulate in geothermal systems? and 3) how can we improve our chances of discovering viable geothermal systems for power generation? In this talk, I’ll review our current understanding and the latest research that aims to answer these pressing questions.

Headshot of Bridget Ayling

Bridget Ayling is an associate professor at the Nevada Bureau of Mines and Geology and the College of Science at the University of Nevada, Reno (UNR) and is the director of UNR’s Great Basin Center for Geothermal Energy. In this role, Dr. Ayling is responsible for developing research and education programs in the field of geothermal energy, overseeing research to understand the complexities of fluid flow in the upper crust and the implications of this for geothermal resource exploration and management, managing the public dissemination of geothermal datasets for Nevada, and supervising graduate students. She joined UNR in early 2016 after working at Geoscience Australia, the Australian Government’s geoscience agency, and the Energy and Geoscience Institute at the University of Utah. Dr. Ayling holds a B.S. with honors in geology and physical geography from Victoria University of Wellington, New Zealand. She received her Ph.D. in paleoclimate and environmental geochemistry from the Australian National University in 2006.

Register for Dr. Ayling's talk

Dr. Beth Leger, October 22

Tales from the crypt: What can we learn from natural history museums?

Many people appreciate the aesthetic appeal of natural history museums, and these collections are a treasured part of school field trips, family vacations, and rainy weekend days, for people lucky enough to have access to a public museum of natural history. Beyond the sometimes old-fashioned displays (dioramas, skins, and skeletons), there is a whole world of irreplaceable collections hidden away in scientifically controlled environments, representing a record of the history of life on earth that exists nowhere else. In addition to educating the public, these collections are important for lines of research that include questions about responses to climate change, managing invasive species, and the identification of new diseases, among many others.

Headshot of Beth Leger

We have one such collection here at the University of Nevada, Reno Museum of Natural History, which houses plants and animals from our region and beyond, documenting the life of our state with specimens dating back to the 1850s. I will describe our museum, its waxing and waning in favor over time, current efforts to protect, preserve, and share these precious items, as well as present examples of how scientists are using collections to answer some of the biggest questions of our time. Museum research has led to some unexpected discoveries, providing answers to questions such as: How does human harvest affect wild organisms? Are all species responding similarly to climate change? And why is a museum curator’s work never done?

Register for Dr. Leger's talk

Dr. Neil Lareau, November 19

Radar and Lidar Observations of Wildfire Plume Dynamics

Large, high-intensity wildfires can generate their own extreme weather, including fire-generated thunderstorms (i.e., pyrocumulonimbus) and rare fire-tornados. My research aims to understand these phenomena using state-of-the-science radars and lidars, which can probe the internal dynamics of wildfire convective plumes. This talk will use these data to examine: 

  1. Tornadic vortices generated during the Carr and Loyalton Fires 
  2. Smaller, but still intense, vortices generated in both prescribed and wildland fire. 
  3. The extreme updrafts occurring inside pyrocumulonimbus clouds.

Collectively these analyses help paint a clearer picture of how and when wildfires produce extreme weather, paving the way for nowcasting and warning for high-impact extreme fire behavior.

Headshot of Neil Lareau

Dr. Lareau is an assistant professor in the Department of Physics at the University of Nevada, Reno. His research program leverages modern observing and modeling systems to advance our understanding of atmospheric dynamics of wildfire plumes, cumulus convection, and boundary layer processes, especially in mountain settings. Dr. Lareau's previous professional appointments include: Faculty at San Jose State University, post-doctoral scholar at Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory, and Post-Doctoral Scholar at San Jose State University. Dr. Lareau earned both MS and PhD degrees in Atmospheric Science from the University of Utah. He also holds an undergraduate degree (BFA) in Fine Arts from Carnegie Mellon University and was trained as a weather observer at the Mount Washington Observatory, NH.

Register for Dr. Lareau's talk

About the Discover Science Lecture Series

The Discover Science Lecture Series was founded by the College of Science in 2010, with the goal of bringing the country's top scientists to the University to share their knowledge, research and wisdom with the community.

"Science encompasses a wonderfully diverse collection of explorations into the unknown. We invite science lovers and the science-curious to join us and experience the extent of the science universe as the best scientists on the planet visit the University of Nevada, Reno for our Discover Science Lecture Series," Jeff Thompson, Dean of the College of Science said.

Past speakers in the series include astrophysicists Michio Kaku and Neil deGrasse Tyson; Robert Ballard, who discovered the wreck of the Titanic; and Bill Nye the Science Guy.

Your support of the Discover Science Lecture series helps to keep the event free and open to the public.
Support the Discover Science Lecture Series

Learn about Discover Science speakers

Read interviews with and stories about our past and upcoming speakers.

geothermal pool

Discover Science at Home Speaker Series debuts Sept. 24

College of Science public series moves online, geothermal energy first topic

Grid of three podcast participant headshots along with the Discover Science Podcast Series logo.

Exploring the relationship between space, race and STEM attainment on the Discover Science podcast

Dr. William F. Tate IV speaks with the College of Science about his research revealing the uneven contours of the education pipeline.

William Tate

Relationship of place, race and STEM education topic of William Tate Discover Science lecture

Free public Discover Science Lecture Series Thursday at Redfield Auditorium

  • Past presenter: Bill Nye the Science Guy
  • Past presenter: planetary scientist Carolyn Porco
  • Past presenter: astrophysicist Neil deGrasse Tyson
  • Past presenter: physicist Michio Kaku
  • Past presenter: NASA's ISS Chief Scientist and College of Science alumnus Julie Robinson
  • Past presenter: Scott E. Page, author of the Diversity Bonus