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Inside Look at Nobel Ceremonies Kicks off 2014 USM Planetarium Series

An inside look at the recent Nobel Prize Award Ceremony in Stockholm; research on outcomes of weight loss surgery; and the link between the composition of asteroids and life on earth; are among the subjects to be explored in the 2014 USM Southworth Planetarium Science Lecture Series.

The monthly lecture series kicks off Thursday, January 16, and will continue on the third Thursday of every month. Lectures are open to the public and admission is by donation.  Doors open at 6:30 p.m., with the hour-long lectures scheduled to begin at 7.  Light refreshments will be served. USM’s Southworth Planetarium is located on Falmouth St., Portland.

-Inside Look at Nobel Events-
The inaugural lecture on Thursday, January 16, is “Greetings from Stockholm: A Report from the 2013 Nobel Prize Events.”  USM Professor of Physics and Planetarium Director Jerry LaSala attended the weeklong celebration in Stockholm as guest of his college classmate and lifelong friend, Jim Rothman of Yale, who was awarded the Nobel Prize in Medicine or Physiology. LaSala will use photos and stories to share “the science, the splendor and the excitement of this far-less-than-once-in-a-lifetime event.”

-Surgery to Combat Obesity-
USM Assistant Professor of Nursing Nancy Baugh will discuss the use of surgery to combat obesity, as part of her lecture, “The Ups and Downs of Weight Loss Surgery,” scheduled for Thursday, February 20.  Recent research findings on factors that affect surgical outcomes also will be discussed.

-Chemicals in the Environment-
The lecture on Thursday, March 20 will feature UNE Assistant Professor of Pharmaceutical Sciences Cory Theberge, who will speak on “The Fate of Pharmacologically Active Chemicals in the Environment.” Theberge conducts research in medicinal chemistry and veterinary pharmacy and is interested in the long-term effects of exposure to environmental chemical residues from pharmaceuticals and personal-care products.
-Science and Hype of Personalized Medicine-
UNE Research Associate Professor of Pharmaceutical Sciences Daniel Brazeau will deliver the lecture “The Genomics Revolution and Personalized Medicine - the Science and the Hype,” on Thursday, April 17. Brazeau will offer a realistic understanding of the roles that such factors as environmental issues and human genetics play in the effectiveness of drugs on individuals.

-What You Need to Know about Hepatitis C-
Baby boomers are disproportionately affected by the hepatitis C virus, which can cause liver cancer or death if left untreated. Mary-Kate Appicelli of the USM School of Nursing and the Maine Center for Disease Control and Prevention will review the basics of the hepatitis C virus, national and Maine case data, and the specific screening recommendations at her lecture, “Baby Boomers, Hepatitis C Virus and the role of Public Health: What you Need to Know,” scheduled for Thursday, May 15.

-Asteroids and Life on Earth-
The series will continue on Thursday, June 19, with USM Associate Professor of Physics Julie Ziffer’s presentation on her research into the composition of asteroids and comets. Ziffer has been part of an international team of scientists whose work revealed that asteroids can hold reservoirs of water, supporting the theory that these life ingredients were delivered to Earth through collisions with asteroids and comets.

The schedule of speakers for June through December will be announced in the spring.  More information on the 2014 lectures is available at 780-4249 or at