/ Modified feb 6, 2024 11:35 a.m.

Previewing UA's 2024 College of Science Lecture Series

Presenters will reveal unexpected findings that transformed their fields.

COS Lecture Series Preview Exotic exoplanets will be discussed in one of the presentations at the College of Science Lecture Series.
NASA Illustration

This year’s University of Arizona College of Science free lecture series begins this week, and it promises to be full of surprises.

The four presentations will focus on how science takes researchers in unexpected directions. AZPM’s Tony Perkins spoke with College of Science dean Carmala Garzione on what audiences can expect to see and hear.

TONY: The theme is about the surprise twists that have transformed science, and a lot of times in science we talk about the unexpected. How important and how fascinating is the unexpected when it happens in science?

GARZIONE: I don’t think a lot of people understand how thrilling it is to do science. And the twists and turns and the potential to discover something completely new from what you expected is a big part of why scientists love what they do. So, we’re hoping to share that infectious component of science with our audience and get them involved in feeling the thrill of what it’s like to be a scientist and make these unexpected discoveries.

TONY: Science has become something a lot of people depend on and expect it to be the same every time. But sometimes when it comes to research, it’s a work in progress.

GARZIONE: That’s exactly right. I think people look at the scientific process and think it might be kind of rote and repetitive, and if you do what you are supposed to you get results that you hypothesize will be true. That couldn’t be further from the truth. Often, we discover that our hypotheses don’t hold up, and it’s that unexpected result that gets us thinking beyond what we currently know, and adapting what we find established as an understanding in a discipline. Science is constantly changing, based on new studies, new results, the unexpected and where that leads us in further studies.

TONY: Now let’s switch to the different presenters. How are the presenters chosen?

GARZIONE: We try to choose presenters who are able to tell a story that aligns with the theme, and this year we wanted to get some exciting stories focused on big surprises in a discipline. But we also are looking for presenters who are really enthusiastic about presenting to a public audience and bringing the science to a conversation that is very understandable and engaging for the audience. So, you could think of these presenters as excellent teachers, excellent communicators, who know how to hook an audience and keep them connected with what’s being shared.

TONY: What do you hope that people come away with after listening to a lecture at the series?

GARZIONE: My hope is that people will feel the thrill and the fun of doing science. We want these lectures to not just be accurate and informative, but entertaining. We as scientists love what we do and are glad to have the audience feel our passion for the work that we do. This year we have a lecture that falls on Valentine’s Day and we’ve put a valentine’s theme around the title, and we’d love to have people choose to share their love of science both with us and with a partner they may bring. So, think of making a date out of this lecture series and join us for a very special love fest around the sciences.

The UA College of Science lecture series will be held every Wednesday evening this month at 7pm at Centennial Hall and is free of charge. Each talk will be livestreamed and posted on the College of Science YouTube channel. You can find a link to the program on our website.

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