About once a month at Sigma Xi headquarters, we liven up the lunch hour with an American Scientist Pizza Lunch talk. In these informal lectures, scientists describe new research to nonscientists. Each Pizza Lunch offers an in-depth look at its subject, whether it's bedbugs or the smart grid.
After each talk, American Scientist editors chat with the speakers about their research. Anyone can listen in via our American Scientist Pizza Lunch podcast. Don’t miss our rich archives of full-length audio slideshows of earlier lectures, too.
Sigma Xi, the Scientific Research Society hosts the talks in Research Triangle Park, North Carolina. The series is supported by a grant from the N.C. Biotechnology Center.
What Is Intelligence?
Brian Hare, evolutionary anthropologist, Duke University
Hare is a member of the Center for Cognitive Neuroscience and is interested in what dogs
can do cognitively that humans and other primates cannot do. Are humans really the most intelligent species?
In this audio slideshow, Hare spoke to associate editor Katie L. Burke about what we can learn about our own species by studying dogs and bonobos.
Earthquakes and Ancient Humans on the Island of Crete
geologist, North Carolina State University
Wegmann's research may change how people
view earthquake risks in the eastern Mediterranean. He has also helped date the age of stone tools on Crete, artifacts that suggest that we Homo sapiens were not the first of our lineage to build or use boats.
In this podcast, Wegmann speaks with senior editor Cathy Clabby about
his work studying the geology and prehistory of the beautiful island of
Toward a Cure for AIDS
David Margolis, physician and medical researcher, University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill
Current therapies are very good at keeping HIV under control, but
they never completely cure it. David Margolis studies the
molecular biology of HIV infections and is looking for ways to completely eradicate the virus from infected individuals.
In this podcast, Margolis speaks with associate editor Elsa Youngsteadt
about what it will take to cure a person (or a mouse) of HIV.
Appalachian Coal Mining
Emily Bernhardt, ecosystem ecologist, Duke University
Southern Appalachian forests are a global biodiversity hotspot. But they’re also rich with coal. Emily Bernhardt led a recent study that documents the long-term, widespread effects of surface coal mining on the region’s waterways.
In this podcast, Bernhardt speaks with associate editor Cathy Clabby about Appalachian ecosystems, and how they’re changing.
Reflections on a Public Genome
Misha Angrist, geneticist and writer, Duke University
Misha Angrist's genome is a public document, thanks to his participation in Harvard's Personal Genome Project. Angrist reflects on the medical and ethical implications of the project in his 2010 book, Here is a Human Being: At the Dawn of Personal Genomics.
In this podcast, he speaks with associate editor Cathy Clabby about his experience.
Friends or Foes: Female Relationships Among the Gombe Chimpanzees
Anne Pusey, evolutionary anthropologist, Duke University
Pusey shares insights from long-term studies of chimpanzee behavior at Gombe National Park in Tanzania, where Jane Goodall began observing chimpanzees more than 50 years ago. (Feb. 23, 2011)
The Puzzle of the Bed-bug Resurgence
Coby Schal, entomologist, North Carolina State University
Schal discusses the return of bed bugs, why pesticides won’t stop them and the best theories for why the tiny pests are spreading around the world. (Jan. 25, 2011)
Images of Darwin and the Nature of Science
William Kimler, historian, North Carolina State University
Kimler charts the changing image of Charles Darwin through time—from dim but perseverant naturalist to revered founder of evolutionary theory. (October 19, 2010)
Phaedra Boinodiris, Serious Games program manager at IBM
Boinodiris explains how she designs computer games that teach students and trainees to solve complex problems in business management and city planning. (May 25, 2010)
Whole Genome Analysis in the Clinic
James Evans, clinical researcher in genetics at the University of North Carolina
Evans urges us to support genomics medicine research but asks us to temper our enthusiasm until it becomes a proven tool. (April 20, 2010)
Genomic and Personalized Medicine
Geoffrey Ginsburg, director of the Center for Genomic Medicine, Duke University
Ginsburg presents advances and ongoing research in personalized medicine, from prescribing cancer drugs to predicting flu symptoms. (March 30, 2010)
Mental Health Implications of the Khmer Rouge Genocide Trials
Jeffrey Sonis, physician and public health research scientist, University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill
Sonis and colleagues are developing ways to gauge how groups of people scarred by mass murder respond to revisiting a traumatic history. (February 18, 2010)
Metapopulation Dynamics of Oyster Restoration in Pamlico Sound, NC
David Eggleston, director of the Center for Marine Science and Technology, North Carolina State University
Eggleston discusses the challenges of conserving and restoring North Carolina coastal ecosystems, particularly oyster reefs. (January 26, 2010)
An Empire Lacking Food: The Astonishing Existence of Life on the Deep Seafloor
Craig McClain, assistant director of science, National Evolutionary Synthesis Center
McClain explores how the meager availability of food on the deep seafloor shapes the ecology and evolution of the animals that live there. (December 15, 2009)
Future Renewable Electric Energy Delivery and Management Systems
Alex Huang, professor of electrical engineering and director of the FREEDM Systems Center, North Carolina State University
Huang talks about research on new electric grid technologies that could better utilize renewable energy sources, and the role of plug-in hybrid cars in such a grid system. (November 24, 2009)
The Evolution of the Human Capacity for Killing at a Distance
Steven Churchill, professor of evolutionary anthropology, Duke University
Churchill presents his research on the evolutionary origins of projectile weaponry, and how weapon use changed interactions between humans and other species—including, perhaps, the Neandertals. (October 20, 2009)
Our Energy Future: Science and Technology Challenges for the 21st Century
Thomas Meyer, director, Solar Energy Research Center, University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill
Meyer discusses the status of the world's energy supply. In particular, he presents the idea that the sun's energy could be used to make fuels from water and carbon dioxide for heating, transportation and energy storage. (September 24, 2009)
Everything Is Dangerous: A Controversy
S. Stanley Young, director of bioinformatics, National Institute of Statistical Sciences
Young critiques statistical analysis by some epidemiologists, especially their multiple testing of data sets obtained from observational studies. (April 22, 2009)
From Cloning to Stem Cells: How Can Pigs Help Us Solve Problems in Human Medicine?
Jorge Piedrahita, professor of genomics, North Carolina State University College of Veterinary Medicine
Piedrahita describes his research with cloned swine and how their abnormal growth provides insight into human placental defects, the ways transgenic pigs may help grow human tissue and how pigs could help advance stem cell therapies. (March 25, 2009)