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Continuing the Falconer Legacy with the Natural History Lecture Series

March 30, 2009



Ray Falconer

The Spring Lecture Series is named for the late Ray Falconer, who was known as the "Dean of Weather Forecasting."

Ray Falconer cared about nature, science, and the world around him. It is only fitting that the first lecture in the Falconer Natural History 2009 Spring Lecture Series will deal with the origins of life.

Professor James F. Kasting of Pennsylvania State University will discuss Darwin’s theories on March 31 at the John J. Sullivan Auditorium at CESTM, 251 Fuller Road, during his lecture on "The Origin of Life: How and When Did It Occur?"

Falconer, known as the "Dean of Weather Forecasting," was in charge of running the Atmospheric Sciences Research Center's (ASRC) Whiteface Mountain Field Station. Every day he called in weather forecasts to six or more radio stations. At Whiteface Mountain, he started what became a highly successful summer lecture series on natural history. He was the first full-time employee at ASRC.

It is now almost half a century since the Public Science Lecture Series was first introduced by Falconer in the summer of 1963 at Whiteface Mountain and followed a decade later by the Spring Lecture Series at the University at Albany campus. In 2000, professors Ken Demerjian and David Fitzjarrald assumed responsibility for the Spring Lecture Series while Doug Wolfe, who had assisted Falconer over the years with the Whiteface Mountain Summer Series, assumed full responsibility for organizing the Whiteface Series.

"We continue to be true to the legacy of Ray Falconer, who strove to educate and enlighten the public on the wonders of science, nature, and the environment we share," said Demerjian, who directs the research center. "The diverse topics covered in this semester's lecture series reflect our long-standing commitment to provide the public with a window into the best minds and the most compelling subjects in the environmental and natural sciences."

The lectures are on Tuesday evenings at 8 p.m. in the Sullivan Auditorium, and are free and open to the public.

The Colorado Front Range.

The Colorado Front Range will be discussed April 7.

Falconer Natural History 2009 Spring Lecture Series

March 31: Professor James F. Kasting, Pennsylvania State University, "The Origin of Life: How and When Did It Occur?"

April 7: Professor Emeritus Jon Thiem, Colorado State University, "Rabbit Creek Country: The Natural History of a Colorado Foothills Landscape"

April 14: Dr. Jack Kaye, Science Mission Directorate, NASA headquarters: "The Climate System as Viewed from Space."

April 21: Professor Steven Wofsy, Harvard University, "Understanding Greenhouse Gases in the Atmosphere – Past, Present, and Future."

April 28: Professor Chris Thorncroft, University at Albany, "West African Climate Variability and its Impacts on Society."

May 5: Professor Jose D. Fuentes, University of Virginia, Charlottesville: "Plant-emitted Volatile Gases and their Role in Air Quality and Climate." 

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Istvan Kecskes
UAlbany Faculty

For UAlbany linguist and teacher Istvan Kecskes, the world is his classroom.

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