Galileo's Science Café






Hear about the latest findings surrounding hot topics in science and medicine that affect our everyday lives and the decisions that we make! Bring your family and friends for a free, casual, interactive science discussion. Learn from the experts and speak with them personally.

Location: Hylton Performing Arts Center, 10960 George Mason Circle, Manassas, Virginia

6:00PM: Doors open, food and beverages available
7:00PM-7:30PM: Scientific Discussion
7:30PM-7:45PM: Q&A
7:45PM-8:30PM: Meet the Scientist and Networking Reception

2017-2018 Series
Proudly sponsored by C. Daniel and Juliann Clemente

September 14, 2017: The Art and Science of Wine and Beer Making
By: Chris Pearmund, Executive Winemaker, Pearmund Cellars and
Charles Kling, Brewmaster, Old Bust Head Brewing Company  (RSVP)

October 5, 2017: Cells that Eat Snacks: How Breast Cancer Cells Stay Alive
By: Dr. Virginia Espina  (RSVP)

November 2, 2017: The Power of Komodo Dragons: Defeating Antibiotic Resistant Bacteria
By: Dr. Monique van Hoek  (RSVP)

January 11, 2018: Breeding and Managing Endangered Species at the National Zoo
By Dr. Natalia Prado  (RSVP)

February 8, 2018: Wearable Devices for Managing Substance Use and Mental Health Disorders in the Community
By: Dr. Holly Matto and Dr. Padmanabhan Seshaiyer  (RSVP)

March 1, 2018: The FBI Profiler and The Psychopath: A Glimpse into the Mind of this Most Devastating Personality Disorder
By: Dr. Mary Ellen O’Toole  (RSVP)

April 12, 2018: Virtual Reality: Promises and Pitfalls
By: Mr. James Casey  (RSVP)

May 3, 2018: Astrobiology and the Search for Life on Other Worlds
By: Dr. Michael Summers  (RSVP)

Science Cafe Abstracts

September 14, 2017    
The Art and Science of Wine and Beer Making     RSVP
Pearmund Cellars OldBusthead BreweryBy: Chris Pearmund, Executive Winemaker, Pearmund Cellars and
Charles Kling, Brewmaster, Old Bust Head Brewing Company

Beer and wine have been crafted for thousands of years. Did you know that microbes are the chemists who make beer and wine, and we have only known about their existence for two hundred years? How are these beverages made? Learn from the experts how biology, chemistry, and art collide to make these culture defining beverages.

October 5, 2017    
Cells that Eat Snacks: How Breast Cancer Cells Stay Alive     RSVP
Virginia EspinaBy: Dr. Virginia Espina
All invasive breast cancer is thought to progress from cancer cells that are initially confined within the milk duct. Cancer confined within the duct is called ductal carcinoma in situ (DCIS). We found that human breast ductal carcinoma in situ lesions contain stem-like cells. Breast cancer cells growing within the milk duct are under considerable stress. They are crowded, separated from their foundation, and lack nutrients and oxygen. Cell stress can lead to mutations or alterations in the cell’s DNA, creating genetic instability. Genetic instability is a hallmark of cancer cells. Breast cancer cells survive, and even thrive, within the stressful confines of the milk duct by eating ‘snacks’. ‘Cell snacking’, called autophagy (auto-self, phagy-eating), is a normal cellular process in which cells digest extra organelles/proteins to generate energy.
Is snacking good or bad? Well, it all depends on your perspective, particularly if you are a cancer cell. From a cancer cell perspective, autophagy is advantageous and necessary for survival. Without the ability to snack, the cancer cell cannot make enough energy to live under the multiple metabolic stresses within the milk duct.
I will share our discoveries of identifying autophagy in stage 0 breast cancer, repurposing a drug to inhibit autophagy, and performing a clinical trial to test the safety and effectiveness of our treatment.

November 2, 2017
The Power of Komodo Dragons: Defeating Antibiotic Resistant Bacteria     RSVP
Monique van HoekBy: Dr. Monique van Hoek
Antibiotic resistant bacteria are a growing threat. We need new antimicrobial agents and new approaches to defeat deadly bacterial infections. My lab has been looking to nature for new anti-bacterials. Our BioProspector system can find anti-bacterial peptides in very small samples of blood. In fact, we have found new anti-bacterial peptides in the blood of Alligators and Komodo dragons. Some of these peptides kill important antibiotic resistant bacteria such as methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus or MRSA. I will explain what the BioProspector system is, how we identified these peptides from Komodo dragons, and how some of these peptides can kill dangerous bacteria.

January 11, 2018
Breeding and Managing Endangered Species at the National Zoo     RSVP
By Dr. Natalia Prado
Wildlife endocrinology is a conservation tool used to understand factors that impact health and reproduction in captive and wild populations. Noninvasive techniques have been developed to assess hormone metabolites released in urine and feces. The data gathered is crucial for reproduction of animals and could help preserve and restore endangered species for future generations. The metabolite data informs:1) the reproductive cycle; 2) care taking practices; 3) animal pregnancy and the possible date of birth; 4) optimal hormone treatments for artificial insemination or in vitro fertilization; and 5) the impact of human activities or environmental changes on reproduction and health of free-ranging species. Our research laboratory at the Smithsonian Conservation Biology Institute, established in 1986 and located in Front Royal, VA, has validated hormone assays for over 150 species and trained over 300 graduate students and veterinarians. We are committed to expanding knowledge that will lead to better management and conservation of endangered species.

February 8, 2018
Wearable Devices for Managing Substance Use and Mental Health Disorders in the Community     RSVP
By: Dr. Holly Matto and Dr. Padmanabhan Seshaiyer
Wearable technologies are important “helping hands” for patients struggling with substance use recovery or Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder. Advancements in wearable technologies that measure neurophysiological functioning, like wearable imaging devices, could be useful in monitoring in-the-moment symptom activity and delivering personalized interventions that interrupt and recalibrate the body’s symptomatic response. A review of some existing monitoring technologies will be presented, along with discussion of a technological innovation currently under development. The new tool is designed to help individuals in recovery regulate craving response by activating a personalized recovery-cue intervention on their mobile phone when their neurophysiological reactivity threshold is detected by a wearable sensor.

March 1, 2018
The FBI Profiler and The Psychopath: A Glimpse into the Mind of this Most Devastating Personality Disorder     RSVP
By: Dr. Mary Ellen O’Toole
In my career as an FBI Special Agent – “Profiler” the most intriguing, frightening and challenging personality I ever dealt with was the Psychopath. At the Galileo's Science Cafe, I will take you into the mind of the psychopath.
Psychopaths can present an enormous challenge for everyone they interact with – family, friends, co-workers, law enforcement, mental health professionals, prosecutors, judges, and others. How psychopaths treat people, their behavior at work, at crime scenes, as neighbors – wherever they are, can be shocking because of their stunning lack of empathy, their lack of guilt for their actions, their pathological lying, and their complete disregard for the consequences of their bad actions on others.
FBI Agent “Profilers” have probably dealt with psychopaths more than most people. We saw first hand how critical it is to understand this personality disorder from a behavioral perspective. Whether we were interviewing a psychopath, investigating a crime, prosecuting a psychopath, interacting with one in a prison setting or living next door to one, we saw close up how their personalities would attempt to dominate, manipulate and control.
Psychopaths are not “crazy”. They are not mentally ill. They know right from wrong. It’s just that the rules don’t apply to them. Are they all serial killers? Absolutely not. They can run companies, serve in politics, work in the government. Their arrogance and narcissism is only part of their complex and dark natures. It’s a combination of personality traits and characteristics they make these people fascinatingly horrifying.

April 12, 2017
Virtual Reality: Promises and Pitfalls     RSVP
By: Mr. James Casey
Virtual Reality or VR has been around for a while but it has seen a big push recently as products for PC, Console, and Mobile devices have tried to drive it into the consumer and corporate markets. The promise of creating an immersive alternative reality where one can relax, engage, and even educate has been a dream of man for a long time, but is the current crop of VR everything they promise?
Join us for this edition of Gaileo Science Cafe as we discuss just what VR really is, what it can do, and what it can’t… yet.
Mason Game and Technology Academy and Virginia Serious Games Institute will be present before and after the talk to show off some of their tech (VR/AR) and offer insight into how to learn more about the innovative new technologies.

May 3, 2018
Astrobiology and the Search for Life on Other Worlds     RSVP    
Michael SummersBy: Dr. Michael Summers
Recent discoveries in astronomy and robotic space exploration have shown that all of the requirements for life, such as liquid water, elemental carbon and other raw materials, as well as useable energy, are all commonplace in our solar system and elsewhere in the galaxy. We have also found that there are at least six locations in our own solar system that are habitable for simple life - the subsurface oceans inside three of the moons of Jupiter, two moons of Saturn, and there are even strong suggestions of a subsurface water ocean inside Pluto. It appears that habitability is commonplace!
These developments, along with the discovery of thousands of exoplanets (planets that orbit other stars), of which hundreds are Earth-like, has energized the search for life elsewhere - so much so that the study of exoplanets and the search for signatures of life on other worlds are now central goals of NASA’s space exploration efforts. In this talk I will show some of the most surprising results in our studies of other planets and discuss their implications for life elsewhere.

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Amy Adams, Associate Director, Institute for Biohealth Innovation
Phone: (703) 993-2672