Anthropocene-themed speaker series launches next week

A new research colloquium series focusing on humans’ dark environmental impacts on the world and the bright possibilities for the future is launching next week with a discussion about Brock University’s involvement in defining the Anthropocene, a new epoch in geological time.

Organized by the Faculty of Mathematics and Science (FMS), ‘The Anthropocene: From Dusk till Dawn’ will feature speakers from Brock and the external community discussing some of the ways human influence is significantly changing the Earth and what is being done to remedy its negative effects.

FMS Dean Peter Berg says the series seeks to unravel the complexities of the Anthropocene era and foster a multidisciplinary dialogue that is as diverse as the epoch itself.

“This series isn’t just about understanding a new geological epoch, it’s about shaping future life on our planet,” he says. “The confluence of ideas from our talented researchers and community members can ignite the spark of innovation and stewardship necessary to navigate the Anthropocene.”

The series kicks off Monday, Nov. 13 with a presentation from Brock Earth Sciences Professor Francine McCarthy about her long-running research with Brock Earth Sciences Professor Martin Head and Carleton University Earth Sciences Professor Tim Patterson studying the geology of Crawford Lake in Milton, Ont., which has been selected as the site that will allow the Anthropocene to be defined as a new epoch in geological time.

McCarthy’s talk will take place from 3 to 4 p.m. in Pond Inlet and is open to the Brock and Niagara communities. Registration is required via ExperienceBU.

Four additional talks are set to take place during the first half of 2024.

In February, Liette Vasseur, Brock Professor of Biological Sciences and UNESCO Chair in Community Sustainability: From Local to Global, will speak about her interdisciplinary research in sustainability, such as climate change adaption and resilience, sustainable agriculture development, community-based ecosystem management and biodiversity conservation.

In March, Ali Emami, Assistant Professor of Computer Science, will present his research on debiasing large language models and improving their trustworthiness. His work delves into advanced prompt engineering techniques and tackles paradoxes in generative artificial intelligence, striving to enhance the reliability and ethical application of these systems.

In May, Brock University graduate Joshua Clarke (BSc ’18, PhD ’22), who is Lead Chemist at Destiny Copper, will discuss how the company is helping reduce the environmental impacts of tailing ponds —temporary storage facilities for the byproducts of the industrial mining process — by using an energy efficient copper extraction technology.

A final speaker has yet to be confirmed for a talk that will take place in June.

For up-to-date information and details on each presentation, visit the Anthropocene Colloquium Research Series website.

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