Videos and Livestreams - Lunchtime Lecture Series 2023

The NCDEQ Office of Environmental Education and Public Affairs hosts a guest lecture series called the "Lunchtime Discovery," hosted and streamed with our partners at the NC Museum of Natural Sciences. Professionals from a wide range of environmental fields give presentations about their work and participate in a live moderated question and answer chat with viewers. Topics range from spider diversity in North Carolina to Geographic Information Systems (GIS), to how to incorporate music in environmental education programming. 

The are several recorded presentations on a wide variety of environmental topics that can be used in the classroom to supplement existing lessons on ecosystems, natural resources, and North Carolina history. 

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graphic for lunchtime discovery series

 

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Dr. Amy Fagan, Associate Professor, Western Carolina University, Geosciences and Natural Resources Department

Billions of years ago, a Mars-sized object impacted a young Earth, sending material out into cold space, which eventually coalesced into a familiar body in our night sky: the Moon. Join Dr. Fagan to hear about what we have learned about the Moon from robotic and human missions, satellites and rock samples. But there is still more to discover, which is why NASA and other space agencies have their sights set on returning to the lunar surface to answer some of the Moon’s mysteries; learn more about Earth’s early evolution and asteroid bombardment history; and prepare us to continue to explore other areas of the Solar System.

December 13 @ Noon – 1:00 p.m. Eastern
WATCH THIS TALK

three images of the moon

Dr. Katherine Anarde, Assistant Professor, Coastal Engineering, Department of Civil, Construction and Environmental Engineering, North Carolina State University

Sea-level rise is increasing coastal flood exposure globally, with tens of millions of people at risk to coastal flooding in the United States alone. In many low-lying areas, sea-level rise is causing flooding more and more often outside of extreme events — but evidence of the extent and frequency of such floods is scarce. Join Dr. Anarde to find out what scientists are doing across North Carolina to obtain data on flooding and better understand the true burden of sea-level rise on individuals and communities.

December 6, 2023 @ Noon – 1:00 p.m. Eastern
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Dr. Katherine Anarde, flooded street, two peopel measuring flooded street

Dr. Stacy Zhang, Assistant Professor, Department of Marine, Earth and Atmospheric Science, NC State University

Many of us learned about symbioses, like mutualisms and parasitism, as children in school. Only recently have we realized how powerful and ubiquitous these interactions are. They underlie the formation of whole ecosystems, increase resistance to environmental stress, and can enhance the success of ecological restoration projects. Our guest Stacy Zhang will explore how organisms positively interact and how we can harness these interactions for improving conservation. Dr. Zhang is examining how these interactions apply to the resiliency of living shorelines, and recently received a grant from the National Science Foundation and the Paul G. Allen Family Foundation to research and develop new restoration techniques for coastal systems. Collaborators include Duke University, the North Carolina Coastal Federation and the Nature Conservancy.

November 29, 2023 @ Noon – 1:00 p.m. Eastern
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living shoreline, Stacy Zhang

Dr. Kelly Oten, Assistant Professor and Extension Specialist, Department of Forestry and Environmental Resources, North Carolina State University

Insects are all around us and play very important roles in our forest ecosystems. But they can also be pests, damaging trees and impacting our lives. Join Dr. Kelly Oten to find out when to worry about a tree pest and what to do when things get a little bit bugly.

November 15 @ Noon – 1:00 p.m. Eastern
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lady bug eating aphids, healthy woods app, tree adn Lantern Fly

Dr. Sara A. Gagné, Associate Professor and Chair, Department of Geography and Earth Sciences, University of North Carolina at Charlotte

Dr. Gagné is also author of “Nature at Your Door: Connecting with the Wild and Green in the Urban and Suburban Landscape.”
I bet you won’t believe me when I tell you that you share your home and yard with thousands, yes thousands, of other species. From coyotes to luna moths, you are surrounded by a constellation of wildlife in the ecological galaxy that is your town or city. Join me as I show you how you influence the species around you, and in turn, how they influence you in your yard, along your street, in your neighborhood and citywide. In each place, I’ll share easy ways to build on your budding relationship with urban nature.
The Lunchtime Discovery Series is a partnership between the NC Department of Environmental Quality’s Office of Environmental Education and Public Affairs and the NC Museum of Natural Sciences, hosted by Chris Smith, NCMNS Coordinator of Current Science Programs.
November 8 @ Noon – 1:00 p.m. Eastern
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Sara Gagne, a turtle and a possum

Justin McVey, District Biologist, NC Wildlife Resources Commission

Elk once freely roamed western North Carolina but were extirpated due to habitat loss and overhunting. An expanding elk herd now inhabits the mountains of North Carolina. Learn about the successful reintroduction of elk, recent research designed to help wildlife managers monitor and understand our growing herd, and the future of elk in North Carolina.
The Lunchtime Discovery Series is a partnership between the NC Department of Environmental Quality’s Office of Environmental Education and Public Affairs and the NC Museum of Natural Sciences, hosted by Chris Smith, NCMNS Coordinator of Current Science Programs.
November 1, 2023 @ Noon – 1:00 p.m. Eastern
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Justin Mcvey with elk. Two elk in the woods

 

Bradley McLamb, Meteorologist, Division of Air Quality, NC Department of Environmental Quality

Bradley McLamb, a veteran air quality forecaster of ten years, will walk through the changes and improvements made to North Carolina’s air quality forecasting program in recent years. This will include a live demo of several new and innovative forecasting tools and displays that have resulted in explosive growth in social media engagement and public interaction. He’ll also explain what makes forecasting air quality so challenging in North Carolina and discuss why the more air quality improves, the harder it becomes to predict.

The Lunchtime Discovery Series is a partnership between the NC Department of Environmental Quality’s Office of Environmental Education and Public Affairs and the NC Museum of Natural Sciences, hosted by Chris Smith, NCMNS Coordinator of Current Science Programs.

October 25 @ Noon – 1:00 p.m. Eastern
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Bradley McLamb and coworker looking at a data map on a screen

 

Ashley Hobbs, Special Projects Biologist, NC Wildlife Resources Commission

Science-based management and enlightened conservation efforts have aided black bears in making a dramatic comeback across their historic ranges. Ashley Hobbs, a bear biologist with the NC Wildlife Resources Commission, will discuss the natural history of black bears in western North Carolina and how you can use that information to safely coexist with these North Carolina treasures. Ashley will also tell us about the BearWise® initiative, which provides ways to prevent conflicts, provides resources to resolve problems and encourages community initiatives to keep bears wild.

The Lunchtime Discovery Series is a partnership between the NC Department of Environmental Quality’s Office of Environmental Education and Public Affairs and the NC Museum of Natural Sciences, hosted by Chris Smith, NCMNS Coordinator of Current Science Programs.
October 18 @ Noon – 1:00 p.m. Eastern
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bears getting into trash

Pat Donovan-Brandenburg, Stormwater, Soil and Erosion Control Manager, City of Jacksonville

The New River Estuary, located in Onslow County, is classified as a nutrient-sensitive water body due to years of increased nutrients going into the estuary, which had caused algal blooms, cloudy water and low oxygen levels. All of this exacerbated the loss of oyster reef habitat through intense sedimentation.  In 1995, the New River was so degraded that a massive hog waste spill did not have significantly negative effects because the river was so organically dead. However, Jacksonville City officials, scientists and volunteers led efforts to restore the New River with the introduction of water-filtering oysters, aeration, restored wetlands and stormwater mitigation efforts. Join Pat Donovan-Brandenburg as she shares the continuing efforts by agencies, organizations and the community to improve estuarine water quality through the creation of the "New River Oyster Highway."

The Lunchtime Discovery Series is a partnership between the NC Department of Environmental Quality’s Office of Environmental Education and Public Affairs and the NC Museum of Natural Sciences, hosted by Chris Smith, NCMNS Coordinator of Current Science Programs.

October 11 @ Noon – 1:00 p.m. Eastern
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Pat Donovan-Brandenburg holding an oyster, Oyster Highway sign, Pat on a boat

Dr. Andrew J. Read, Director, Duke University Marine Laboratory

Whales have been an important resource to North Carolina since humans first settled here, providing coastal communities with food, fuel and materials. The waters off North Carolina hold a surprising diversity of whales, from humpback and right whales in coastal waters to sperm, pilot, and beaked whales offshore. Join us to learn about the lives of these iconic animals, the threats they face and the work that is being done to conserve them. We will focus on some of the less familiar species that are found far from shore and are the subject of current study.

The Lunchtime Discovery Series is a partnership between the NC Department of Environmental Quality’s Office of Environmental Education and Public Affairs and the NC Museum of Natural Sciences, hosted by Chris Smith, NCMNS Coordinator of Current Science Programs.

October 4 @ Noon – 1:00 p.m. Eastern
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bear in trash, Stash and Latch logo, bear looking in dumpster

Saving Southeastern Pollinators with Citizen Science

Amanda Wilkins, Horticulture Agent, NC Cooperative Extension — Lee County Center

The Great Southeast Pollinator Census began at the University of Georgia in 2017 as a pilot program to raise awareness and literacy around insects in the garden, and to empower everyday citizens to use their powers of observation to gather data for scientific research. In 2023, this program expanded to include North Carolina and the first count was just recently completed. Join us and meet Extension Agent Amanda Wilkins, who was part of a team from NC State and NC A&T State Universities that brought the count to North Carolina. Discover how data from past counts has been used in research, see some of the preliminary results from the 2023 count, and most importantly, learn how YOU can participate and protect pollinators in your own home and community.

The Lunchtime Discovery Series is a partnership between the NC Department of Environmental Quality’s Office of Environmental Education and Public Affairs and the NC Museum of Natural Sciences, hosted by Chris Smith, NCMNS Coordinator of Current Science Programs.

September 27 @ Noon – 1:00 p.m. Eastern
WATCH THIS TALK

Amanda Wilkins with flowers, blazing star, a field of flowers

Amy Pitts, P.G., Senior Geologist for Education and Outreach, North Carolina Geological Survey, NC Department of Environmental Quality 

The land we now call North Carolina has been the birthplace of majestic mountain chains, has been deformed by colliding volcanoes and has seen the birth and death of oceans. Billions of years of geologic history has led to the formation of iconic and beautiful landforms such as Linville Falls, Pilot Mountain (which is, in fact, not an ancient volcano!) and the tallest living sand dune system on the Atlantic coast. Join Professional Geologist Amy Pitts as she takes you on a geologic history tour of some of our state’s most recognizable landforms, from the Outer Banks to the Blue Ridge Mountains and places in between.

The Lunchtime Discovery Series is a partnership between the NC Department of Environmental Quality’s Office of Environmental Education and Public Affairs and the NC Museum of Natural Sciences, hosted by Chris Smith, NCMNS Coordinator of Current Science Programs.

September 20, 2023 @ Noon – 1:00 p.m. Eastern
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photo of haning rock state park, NCGS logo and pilot mountain

Dr. Bronwyn W. Williams, Research Curator, Non-Molluscan Invertebrates, North Carolina Museum of Natural Sciences

In July 2023, the NC Wildlife Resources Commission received a report of a blue land crab on Emerald Isle. While this was the first report of this species in North Carolina, it has not been the last; community engagement will continue to be invaluable in determining its distribution, spread, and behavior. Join us to learn about blue land crabs, the humorous stories behind early reports in South Carolina and North Carolina, and how YOU can help with this unique community science endeavor!

The Lunchtime Discovery Series is a partnership between the NC Department of Environmental Quality’s Office of Environmental Education and Public Affairs and the NC Museum of Natural Sciences, hosted by Chris Smith, NCMNS Coordinator of Current Science Programs.
September 13, 2023 @ Noon – 1:00 p.m. Eastern

WATCH THIS TALK
 

blue land crab in car tire, Bronwyn Willimas holding crab, specimen of crab by hand for size

 

Gina Smith, Coordinator, Asheville Buncombe Food Policy Council and Christine Wittmeier, Organics Recycling Specialist, DEQ Division of Environmental Assistance and Customer Service

Food waste is a global problem negatively impacting everything from community food security to the environment. In the U.S. each year, about 40% of all food is thrown away — about 119 billion pounds (or 130 billion meals) worth more than $480 billion! Join Asheville Buncombe Food Policy Council Coordinator Gina Smith and Asheville chef Steven Goff for a discussion on what Western North Carolina is doing as a community to address food waste and some tasty ideas for reducing food waste in your own home kitchen.

The Lunchtime Discovery Series is a partnership between the NC Department of Environmental Quality’s Office of Environmental Education and Public Affairs and the NC Museum of Natural Sciences, hosted by Chris Smith, NCMNS Coordinator of Current Science Programs.
August 30, 2023 @ Noon – 1:00 p.m. Eastern

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Food Waste Solutions logo, trophy for food waste solutions' chef challenge

Dr. Nicolette L. Cagle, Faculty in the Nicholas School of the Environment, Duke University

At a time when so many animals are endangered, who will speak up for the snake? Duke University’s Dr. Nicolette Cagle has traveled the world in search of snakes, from the Midwest and southeastern US to Cuba, Nicaragua and Australia, and spent decades conducting natural science research on the patterns of snakes in regions where urban development encroaches upon the natural world. In this session, Dr. Cagle presents a first-hand account of the strange and secretive lives of snakes, and reveals their devastating losses, presenting stories and excerpts from her recent book, Saving Snakes. Dr. Cagle offers a new approach to understanding snakes and preserving their populations — an approach built on respect.

The Lunchtime Discovery Series is a partnership between the NC Department of Environmental Quality’s Office of Environmental Education and Public Affairs and the NC Museum of Natural Sciences, hosted by Chris Smith, NCMNS Coordinator of Current Science Programs.
August 23 @ Noon – 1:00 p.m. Eastern
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Dr. Cagle with snake, book cover for Saving Snakes, Dr. Cagle showing small snake to her child

Dr. Dan MacGuigan, National Science Foundation Postdoctoral Fellow, State University of New York at Buffalo

From the sandy Atlantic Coastal Plain to the rolling Blue Ridge Mountains, rivers and streams of North Carolina are home to around 250 species of fishes. Each of these species has its own ecological and evolutionary story to tell. Dr. Dan MacGuigan will share some of those stories from his research on Lake Waccamaw, a tiny ecosystem that is home to three species of fishes found nowhere else in the world.

The Lunchtime Discovery Series is a partnership between the NC Department of Environmental Quality’s Office of Environmental Education and Public Affairs and the NC Museum of Natural Sciences, hosted by Chris Smith, NCMNS Coordinator of Current Science Programs.
August 16 @ Noon – 1:00 p.m. Eastern
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Dr. MacGuigan and colleagues, little fish, Lake Waccamaw

Elizabeth Pinnix, Southern Sites Manager, North Carolina Coastal Reserve and National Estuarine Research Reserve (A program within the NC Division of Coastal Management, in partnership with NOAA)

Diamondback terrapins are North Carolina’s only turtles that live exclusively in estuaries. They can be found ranging from Cape Cod throughout the East Coast down into the Gulf Coast to Texas. Terrapins spend the entirety of their lives in estuarine waters and have unique patterns on their shells and skins that make them a remarkable species to see in the marsh. This keystone species faces many threats, including bycatch and habitat loss, and due to their elusive nature in the saltmarsh ecosystem, they are difficult to study in their natural environment. Elizabeth Pinnix will share the history and ecology of these striking marsh turtles, describe ongoing conservation efforts taking place in North Carolina, and explain how YOU can get involved with community science projects to help scientists better understand population trends in North Carolina.

The Lunchtime Discovery Series is a partnership between the NC Department of Environmental Quality’s Office of Environmental Education and Public Affairs and the NC Museum of Natural Sciences, hosted by Chris Smith, NCMNS Coordinator of Current Science Programs.
August 9, 2023 @ Noon – 1:00 p.m. Eastern
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Diamondback Terrapin left, Elizabeth Pinnix middle; terrapin swimming

 

David Mizejewski, Naturalist, National Wildlife Federation

From the largest mammals to the tiniest insects, all wildlife species need space to move and require undisturbed corridors of habitat to make such movement possible. For many species, movement from one part of their range to another is critical for their survival, whether it’s to reach breeding grounds, to survive seasonal weather extremes or simply to find food resources. Join Naturalist David Mizejewski and explore how four very different types of North American wildlife move and migrate through their environments: manatees, bats, snakes and dragonflies.

Live Virtual Presentation hosted AND presented by Chris Smith, Coordinator of Current Science Programs at the NC Museum of Natural Sciences and the NC Department of Environmental Quality’s Office of Environmental Education and Public Affairs staff. 
August 2, 2023 @ Noon – 1:00 p.m. Eastern
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Left; David Mizejewski, center: NWF logo; Right: long nosed bat

 

Dr. Matthew Bertone, Director, Plant Disease and Insect Clinic and Extension Associate, NC State University"

Recluse spiders (Sicariidae: Loxosceles spp.) are among the most feared of all arthropods. While some of their infamy is justified, much of the information the public hears constitutes myths or inaccuracies. In this talk, Dr. Matt Bertone will introduce you to these arachnids, discuss the fascinating truths about them, and debunk the common myths surrounding these maligned spiders.

Live Virtual Presentation hosted AND presented by Chris Smith, Coordinator of Current Science Programs at the NC Museum of Natural Sciences and the NC Department of Environmental Quality’s Office of Environmental Education and Public Affairs staff. 

July 26, 2023 @ Noon – 1:00 p.m. Eastern
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Matt Bertone looking at an insect, recluse spider, recluse spider webbing

Adventures in Astrobiology

Space Case Sarah, Science Communicator, PhD Communications Candidate,  University of North Dakota, Visiting Scholar Blue Marble Space Institute of Science, NASA/JPL Solar System Ambassador

Professional science communicator Sarah Treadwell will share with you her passion for astrobiology, which has taken her on epic adventures. She has traveled from the high desert of Utah as an analog astronaut at the Mars Desert Research Station, to the Lost City Hydrothermal Field in the middle of the Atlantic as a communicator on board the ocean core drilling research vessel, the JOIDES Resolution. Her love for adventure also translates into her personal life, taking her from an altitude of 17,500 feet at Mount Everest Base Camp to 95 feet underwater while scuba diving. All the while she is driven by a love of space science and communicating with others the grand beauty and mystery of our universe.

Live Virtual Presentation hosted AND presented by Chris Smith, Coordinator of Current Science Programs at the NC Museum of Natural Sciences and the NC Department of Environmental Quality’s Office of Environmental Education and Public Affairs staff. 

July 19 @ Noon – 1:00 p.m. Eastern
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Chris Smith, Coordinator of Current Science Programs, NC Museum of Natural Sciences

You’ll never see a science museum the same way again. The NC Museum of Natural Sciences is full of stories, and the dioramas are full of details that even staff easily overlook. What’s buried under the floor in the dinosaur exhibit? What is the most colorful exhibit in the Museum? Where did those whale skeletons come from? Museum educator Chris Smith (that’s right, the host of the Lunchtime Discovery Series) will be your guide to the secrets of the Museum.

Live Virtual Presentation hosted AND presented by Chris Smith, Coordinator of Current Science Programs at the NC Museum of Natural Sciences and the NC Department of Environmental Quality’s Office of Environmental Education and Public Affairs staff. 
Today @ Noon – 1:00 p.m. Eastern
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graphic of museum and Chris Smith

Chris Goforth, Head, Citizen Science, North Carolina Museum of Natural Sciences 

When faced with the COVID-19 pandemic, environmental education and nonformal science programs had to modify existing offerings quickly and create new opportunities for learning. As many traditional public programs return, there are lessons to be learned from the innovations and creativity that the pandemic necessitated. Chris will share her insights, visions for the future of programming and the unique and popular programs offered at the NC Museum of Natural Sciences’ Prairie Ridge Ecostation. Learn how Prairie Ridge involved the public during, and now after, the pandemic lockdowns, and bring your questions and program strategies to share! 
Live Virtual Presentation hosted by Chris Smith, Coordinator of Current Science Programs at the NC Museum of Natural Sciences and the NC Department of Environmental Quality’s Office of Environmental Education and Public Affairs staff. 

This special #LunchTimeDiscovery is co-hosted with the Environmental Educators of North Carolina and the North Carolina Association of Environmental Education Centers.

June 28 @ Noon – 1:00 p.m. Eastern
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kids outdoor doing activities, Chris Goforth, group in a stream

Dr. Eleanor Spicer Rice, Entomologist and Science Writer

All around us and in us, tiny living forces secretly pull the strings that make the world run. Microbes are not only essential to making our own bodies run, they also impact our everyday worlds in sometimes sinister, sometimes delightful and always unexpected ways. Eleanor Spicer Rice will share some of these tales of microbial mind control, bacterial buddies and fungal friends from her new children’s book, “Unseen Jungle: The Microbes That Secretly Control Our World.”
Live Virtual Presentation hosted by Chris Smith, Coordinator of Current Science Programs at the NC Museum of Natural Sciences and the NC Department of Environmental Quality’s Office of Environmental Education and Public Affairs staff.

June 21 @ Noon – 1:00 p.m. Eastern
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graphic images of bugs and headshot of Eleanor Spicer-Rice

Lara Klibansky, Executive Assistant for Councils and Commissions, Division of Marine Fisheries

The North Carolina Division of Marine Fisheries is responsible for the stewardship of the state’s marine and estuarine resources, and that’s more than just fish! If you’ve ever been swimming at a North Carolina beach, eaten North Carolina oysters or enjoyed fishing on one of the state’s many artificial reefs then you’ve benefited from the work of the Division. Lara Klibansky will describe the people, science and services that go into ensuring safe and sustainable fisheries and habitats for all North Carolinians.
Live Virtual Presentation hosted by Chris Smith, Coordinator of Current Science Programs at the NC Museum of Natural Sciences and the NC Department of Environmental Quality’s Office of Environmental Education and Public Affairs staff.

June 14 @ Noon – 1:00 p.m. Eastern
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marine fisheries activities

John A. Gerwin, Research Curator and Educator, Ornithology, NC Museum of Natural Sciences

North Carolina is home to many species of wasps, bees and their mimics, which perform significant pollination duties. With a little effort in the garden one can attract and enjoy quite a variety of these species. In this presentation John will showcase many species from his own Piedmont yard and discuss some of their natural histories, along with some of his favorite native plants. He has also invited his colleague Gabriela Garrison to explain a new North Carolina Bee Atlas survey, a project that invites the public to participate in observation and data collection.

Live Virtual Presentation hosted by Chris Smith, Coordinator of Current Science Programs at the NC Museum of Natural Sciences and the NC Department of Environmental Quality’s Office of Environmental Education and Public Affairs staff.

June 7 @ Noon – 1:00 p.m. Eastern
WATCH THIS TALK
 

wasps and bees and John Gerwin

 

Jeremy Markovich, Writer, Producer, Journalist

Jeremy Markovich is a longtime journalist, writer, producer and podcast host in North Carolina, who’s traveled from one side of this state to the other in search of weird and wonderful stories. Along the way, he’s won two regional Emmy awards, and his work has been featured in the Best American Sports Writing. He now works at Wake Forest University, writes the “North Carolina Rabbit Hole” newsletter and hosts a podcast: “Away Message.” He lives near Greensboro with his wife and two children, and used to get more sleep than he does now. Join Jeremy as he takes you on a ride to fun and fascinating places both near and far.

Live Virtual Presentation hosted by Chris Smith, Coordinator of Current Science Programs at the NC Museum of Natural Sciences and the NC Department of Environmental Quality’s Office of Environmental Education and Public Affairs staff.

May 31 @ Noon – 1:00 p.m. Eastern
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Frying Pan Shoals, Jeremy Markavich climbing and in remote woods

 

Chris Fischer, OCEARCH Founder and Expedition Leader

OCEARCH recently embarked on Expedition Northbound, its 45th ocean research expedition to learn more about Western North Atlantic white sharks as they begin to leave the Carolinas region and transition north for the summer. Data shows that prior to their spring migration north, many white sharks use the productive continental shelf waters around the Outer Banks, North Carolina region as an overwintering and spring staging area before heading north for the summer.
Prior to this expedition, OCEARCH’s dedicated and collaborative team successfully tagged 88 white sharks throughout the western North Atlantic, collecting data for over 24 science projects that enabled them to put together the pieces of the life history puzzle of the white shark in the region. Join Chris Fischer as he discusses Expedition Northbound and the Western North Atlantic white shark.

Live Virtual Presentation hosted by Chris Smith, Coordinator of Current Science Programs at the NC Museum of Natural Sciences and the NC Department of Environmental Quality’s Office of Environmental Education and Public Affairs staff.

Today @ Noon – 1:00 p.m. Eastern
WATCH THIS TALK
 

White Shark being tagged, Chris Fischer on the boat, White Shark underwater

 

Luke Etchison, Western Region Aquatic Wildlife Diversity Coordinator, NC Wildlife Resources Commission

The Blue Ridge Snorkel Trail is an innovative education project that will link together a set of publicly accessible river sites where people can safely snorkel to experience the underwater world of streams and rivers of western North Carolina. Luke Etchison will share information about the development of the Blue Ridge Snorkel Trail and about some of the river critters you can enjoy while river snorkeling.
Live Virtual Presentation hosted by Chris Smith, Coordinator of Current Science Programs at the NC Museum of Natural Sciences and the NC Department of Environmental Quality’s Office of Environmental Education and Public Affairs staff

May 17 @ Noon – 1:00 p.m. Eastern
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fish underwater, scuba diver underwater, Blue Rige Snorkel Trail logo

 

Dr. Wendy Bohon, Geologist and Science Communicator
We all know that places like California have earthquakes, but do you know why? And did you know that the most widely felt earthquake in the history of the US occurred not in California, but in VIRGINIA? Join Dr. Wendy Bohon to learn about the science of earthquakes and specifically about East Coast earthquakes — why they happen, how often they occur, and why they’re felt over such long distances.
Live Virtual Presentation hosted by Chris Smith, Coordinator of Current Science Programs at the NC Museum of Natural Sciences and the NC Department of Environmental Quality’s Office of Environmental Education and Public Affairs staff

May 10 @ Noon – 1:00 p.m. Eastern
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Wendy Bohon working in the field and headshot

Megan I. McCuller, Collections Manager, Non-molluscan Invertebrates, North Carolina Museum of Natural Sciences
Marine biologists have long believed that coastal marine invertebrates are incapable of surviving in the open ocean for a lengthy period of time due to their relatively low productivity. However, studies of Japanese Tsunami Marine Debris washed ashore on the US West coast and plastic collected from the Great Pacific Garbage Patch show that coastal species can not only survive a multi-year trek across the Pacific, but also now appear to have established reproducing populations on floating debris. These findings suggest that what had historically limited coastal species in the open ocean may have been a lack of permanent non-biodegradable substrate, which is now plentiful and increasing in the form of a wide variety of plastic products.

Live Virtual Presentation hosted by Chris Smith, Coordinator of Current Science Programs at the NC Museum of Natural Sciences and the NC Department of Environmental Quality’s Office of Environmental Education and Public Affairs staff

May 3, 2023@ Noon – 1:00 p.m. Eastern
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Megan McCuller, plastic bottle with coastal marine invertebrates

 

Palmer McIntyre, Director, NC Year of the Trail and Coordinator, NC Great Trails State Coalition
2023 is North Carolina Year of the Trail, designated by the NC General Assembly. This campaign, the largest celebration of outdoor recreation in NC history, is an opportunity to celebrate all kinds of trails – hiking, bike, walking, running, paddling, equine – across the state and promote the many health, economic and environmental benefits trails provide to communities and people. Palmer McIntyre will share the goals and strategies of the campaign, how communities are engaging with the campaign, and how the campaign fits into a larger strategy to secure sustained state funding for trails.

Live Virtual Presentation hosted by Chris Smith, Coordinator of Current Science Programs at the NC Museum of Natural Sciences and the NC Department of Environmental Quality’s Office of Environmental Education and Public Affairs staff

April 26 @ Noon – 1:00 p.m. Eastern
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scenic of lighthouse, runner along path with trees, kayaking

Bart Cattanach, Senior Geologist, NC Geological Survey, North Carolina Department of Environmental Quality
The geology of western North Carolina records over a billion years of Earth’s history. These rocks contain evidence of volcanism, ancient sea floors, mountain building, continental rifting, and more! Join us for a discussion of the rocks and events that have shaped this beautiful area, creating important mineral resources and potential hazards.

Live Virtual Presentation hosted by Chris Smith, Coordinator of Current Science Programs at the NC Museum of Natural Sciences and the NC Department of Environmental Quality’s Office of Environmental Education and Public Affairs staff

April 19 @ Noon – 1:00 p.m. Eastern
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bart cattanach working outdoors in western north carolina

Julie Thomson, Environmental Educator and Naturalist
Kim Livingston, Director of Conservation and Stewardship, Eno River Association

Tune in for a reading of the new book, “Saving the Eno,” with author Julie J. Thomson. “Saving the Eno” tells the story of the people who joined together to protect the Eno River for all of us, and how Eno River State Park was formed. Julie, an environmental educator and naturalist in Western North Carolina, wrote the book for her North Carolina Environmental Education Certification project. Kim Livingston with the Eno River Association will give us a brief update about new land that is being added to Eno River State Park.

Live Virtual Presentation hosted by Chris Smith, Coordinator of Current Science Programs at the NC Museum of Natural Sciences and the NC Department of Environmental Quality’s Office of Environmental Education and Public Affairs staff

April 12 @ Noon – 1:00 p.m. EST
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scenic photos of eno river and cover of book, Saving the Eno River

Dr. Heather Hanna, Geologist, North Carolina Geological Survey, Division of Energy, Mineral and Land Resources, NC Department of Environmental Quality

When people think of forensic science, geology might not be the first discipline that comes to mind. However, the North Carolina Geological Survey has worked with law enforcement over the years to help shed light on homicide investigations. Join Dr. Heather Hanna, professional geologist, to find out how geological survey scientists have assisted with some of these cases.

Live Virtual Presentation hosted by Chris Smith, Coordinator of Current Science Programs at the NC Museum of Natural Sciences and the NC Department of Environmental Quality’s Office of Environmental Education and Public Affairs staff

March 29 @ Noon – 1:00 p.m. EST
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Heather Hanna testifiying in during a trial, at a crime site wiht police and sampling soil outdoors

Dr. Rachel Smith, Head, Astronomy and Astrophysics Research Lab, North Carolina Museum of Natural Sciences

Astronomer Dr. Rachel Smith will use new software called OpenSpace to take you on a virtual tour from Earth to our neighboring planets, and far beyond the solar system. As we fly through space, Dr. Smith will discuss the search for life beyond Earth and planetary analogues to Earth’s extreme environments. She will discuss her recent observations of forming stars using NASA’s Infrared Telescope Facility on Maunakea, Hawaii and explain how scientists visualize the known Universe using data from planetary probes, satellites and telescopes.

Live Virtual Presentation hosted by Chris Smith, Coordinator of Current Science Programs at the NC Museum of Natural Sciences and the NC Department of Environmental Quality’s Office of Environmental Education and Public Affairs staff

March 22 @ Noon – 1:00 p.m. EST
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Rachel Smith

 

 

Elisa Raffa, Meteorologist and Climate Specialist at Queen City News/ FOX Charlotte, and STEM Experience Specialist at Discovery Place Science

Elisa Raffa is a broadcast meteorologist and climate specialist at Queen City News/ FOX Charlotte. With a passion for communicating climate change, she’s earned national and international recognition for using everything from beer, chocolate, snow shovels and vultures to help viewers relate to the climate crisis. When she’s not on-air, you’ll find her at Discovery Place Science in Uptown Charlotte. As a STEM specialist on staff, she writes lessons and tests hands-on activities in weather and climate science for kids of all ages. While climate communication and education are her biggest passions and drivers in her career, they don’t come without challenges. Come chat about how gender and politics play into navigating misinformation on-air, and how a small role on museum staff can make the biggest difference in our future.

Live Virtual Presentation hosted by Chris Smith, Coordinator of Current Science Programs at the NC Museum of Natural Sciences and the NC Department of Environmental Quality’s Office of Environmental Education and Public Affairs staff

March 15 @ Noon – 1:00 p.m. EST
WATCH THIS TALK

Meteorologist Elisa Raffa in the studio, reporting from a beach and at Discovery place getting educational materials ready

Ashley Emanuele, Owner/Chief Medical Officer, Oak City Aquatics Mobile Veterinary Service

Veterinary medicine is an incredibly wide field — if it crawls, flies, hops or even swims, it probably has a specialized veterinarian dedicated to its care.  Dr. Ashley Emanuele is North Carolina's first Certified Aquatic Veterinarian, and has been working with aquatic animals in some capacity for almost her whole life.  Her practice, Oak City Aquatics, is the first aquatics-exclusive mobile practice in the state.  Join Dr. Emanuele as she discusses her path to become an aquatic veterinarian, a day in the life (on the road and in the water!) and introduces a few of her favorite patients.

Live Virtual Presentation hosted by Chris Smith, Coordinator of Current Science Programs at the NC Museum of Natural Sciences and the NC Department of Environmental Quality’s Office of Environmental Education and Public Affairs staff

March 8 @ Noon – 1:00 p.m. EST
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Ashley Emanuele looking through a microscope and working with a salamander

Liani Yirka, Education Program Coordinator, Sarah P. Duke Gardens

Approximately 20% of the United States population identifies as living with a disability. Because of the way environmental education centers and outdoor spaces are designed, people with disabilities often face barriers in environmental settings or when engaging in environmental programming or education. Liani Yirka is an environmental educator and an advocate for access and inclusion in the outdoors, and seeks to create a welcoming space for all communities and audiences. Using universal design principles for learning and thinking creatively on how to remove barriers will help the field of environmental education become more inclusive and accessible, and will welcome more people to explore and engage in the natural world.

Live Virtual Presentation hosted by Chris Smith, Coordinator of Current Science Programs at the NC Museum of Natural Sciences and the NC Department of Environmental Quality’s Office of Environmental Education and Public Affairs staff

March 1, 2023 @ Noon – 1:00 p.m. EST
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Liani Yirka holding a bird outdoors and Liani pointing out something to another person outdoors

 

Adrienne Nirdé, Associate Director, NC African American Heritage Commission

For generations, people in North Carolina have used spaces and places to organize, strategize and protest to advance the civil rights of people of color, especially African Americans. It is here that young people — from Raleigh to Durham, from Elizabeth City to Greensboro — were activated to protest racial injustice. It is here where everyday people from Rocky Mount, to Robeson and Halifax Counties resisted oppression and intimidation. Leaders like Dovey Roundtree, Pauli Murray and Golden Frinks called our state home. The NC African American Heritage Commission is joining communities across the state to physically mark sites critical to the Civil Rights Movement in North Carolina. Join us to learn more about this history and how your community can become involved.

Live Virtual Presentation hosted by NC Museum of Natural Sciences’ Coordinator of Offsite and Virtual Outreach Laura Beth Speer and the NC Department of Environmental Quality Office of Environmental Education and Public Affairs staff

March 22, 2023 @ Noon – 1:00 p.m. EST
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Adrienne with a group in front of the Wade-Ins marker, headshot of Adrienne, group in front of the Golfers Protest Marker

 

Dr. Melyssa Minto, Bioinformatics Scientist, RTI International.

Dr. Melyssa Minto will discuss her journey into the field of computational biology and her graduate work on using genomic data to predict how the brain rewires itself, which is significant for research on addiction, development, learning and memory. She will also share her passions in creating equity in genomics research including her contributions to the Black Women In Computational Biology network.

Live Virtual Presentation hosted by NC Museum of Natural Sciences’ Coordinator of Offsite and Virtual Outreach Laura Beth Speer and the NC Department of Environmental Quality Office of Environmental Education and Public Affairs staff

February 15, 2023 @ Noon – 1:00 p.m. EST
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Melyssa Minto outdoors, in the lab and receiving a graduation sword

 

Murry Burgess, PhD Candidate in Fisheries, Wildlife, and Conservation Biology at NC State University and Co-founder of the Nonprofit, Field Inclusive

Murry Burgess is an Urban Ecologist, environmental educator and children’s author. She conducts a field experiment with barn swallow chicks, testing their physical development and metabolic health under artificial natural light at night and natural conditions. Growing up in the Deep South, Murry has witnessed and experienced racial and gender injustice. She works outdoors in rural NC, often alone. She uses her experiences to inform her pursuit of justice, equity, diversity and inclusion in academia and the natural sciences.

Live Virtual Presentation hosted by NC Museum of Natural Sciences’ Coordinator of Offsite and Virtual Outreach Laura Beth Speer and the NC Department of Environmental Quality Office of Environmental Education and Public Affairs staff

February 8, 2023 @ Noon – 1:00 p.m. EST
WATCH THIS TALK

Murry Burgess holding binoculars, with a group of young birders, in front of the NCSU decal on her vehicle

 

Tanesha Anthony, Site Manager, Charlotte Hawkins Brown Museum

Dr. Charlotte Hawkins Brown, founder and long-time president of Palmer Memorial Institute was a pioneer, visionary, educator and activist. While she stood on the front lines as a master orator and pressed for equality among races, she used education as another way to fight this good fight. The February One Sit-ins took place just 10 miles away from Palmer. The movement had just recently ended with the
integration of the Woolworth’s lunch counter when Dr. Brown passed away in 1961. Although neither she nor Palmer students personally took part in the sit-ins, Dr. Brown left a remarkable legacy behind that her students and staff carried on with them. Join us as we learn more about Dr. Brown’s impact on civil rights and black education and explore how her work continues to live on.

Live Virtual Presentation hosted by NC Museum of Natural Sciences’ Coordinator of Current Science Programs Chris Smith and the NC Department of Environmental Quality Office of Environmental Education and Public Affairs staff

Today @ Noon – 1:00 p.m. EST
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Dr. Brown looking at a statue of herself, students in her class, Dr. Brown addressing a class of students

 

Jerry Reynolds, Head of Outreach, NC Museum of Natural Sciences, and Michael Fisk, Eastern Region Aquatic Wildlife Diversity Coordinator, NC Wildlife Resources Commission

The least brook lamprey is one of North Carolina’s least-known fishes, with an interesting life history. Learn about Jerry Reynolds’ discovery of the least brook lamprey in his Johnston County backyard stream and his work to document their annual spawning activity. Learn about the current efforts to survey for this state-threatened fish in North Carolina by NC Wildlife Resources Commission Biologists. See the results of these surveys and the implications for the continued survival of the least brook lamprey in North Carolina’s streams.

Live Virtual Presentation hosted by NC Museum of Natural Sciences’ Coordinator of Current Science Programs Chris Smith and the NC Department of Environmental Quality Office of Environmental Education and Public Affairs staff

January 25 @ Noon – 1:00 p.m. EST
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left: Jerry Reynolds middle: lampreys in creek right: three staff in field

 

Falyn Owens, Extension Wildlife Biologist, North Carolina Wildlife Resources Commission

Feral swine are one of the most destructive invasive species in the US and pose a real threat to food security, clean water and native ecosystems. North Carolina is on the northern border of an expanding section of the country where these pigs freely roam. Efforts to hold back the tide are complicated by history, culture and practical constraints, but that hasn’t stopped several government agencies and private organizations from pooling their resources to tackle the problem. Learn about the threats posed by feral swine, the tools we have to confront them, and what you can do if you spot free-roaming pigs.

Live Virtual Presentation hosted by NC Museum of Natural Sciences’ Coordinator of Current Science Programs Chris Smith and the NC Department of Environmental Quality Office of Environmental Education and Public Affairs staff

January 18 @ Noon – 1:00 p.m. EST
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feral pigs digging up a field

 

Dr. Erin Field, Associate Professor, Department of Biology, East Carolina University, Greenville, North Carolina
Ever wonder what happens after a ship sinks? The North Carolina coastline has thousands of shipwrecks in the area known as the “Graveyard of the Atlantic,” many of which hold a world of wonder and are home to a diverse ecological community for which microbes are the foundation. In this talk, Dr. Field will discuss the microbes that call these wrecks home, the role microbes play in both the deterioration and protection of shipwrecks, and how this information can be used for long-term preservation. She will also explore how these wrecks can become artificial reefs and an ecological anchor over time, influencing the surrounding environment. Join us as we learn about these invisible organisms that live on shipwrecks and the deep impact they have on the marine ecosystem and the fate of these vessels.

Live Virtual Presentation hosted by NC Museum of Natural Sciences’ Coordinator of Current Science Programs Chris Smith and the NC Department of Environmental Quality Office of Environmental Education and Public Affairs staff

January 11 @ Noon – 1:00 p.m. EST
WATCH THIS TALK

Erin Field and two scientists on a boat in the ocean