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Mon 5/3, 2021, 7:30pm
Town Hall Seattle and UW Engage Science present
UW Engage Science: Exoplanet Atmospheres, Cannabis Equity, and Sockeye Salmon Behaviors (livestream)
Héctor Delgado Díaz, Michele Cadigan, Ashley R. Townes
Monday, May 3, 2021, 7:30PM

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Town Hall and UW Engage Science present local graduate students discussing their cutting-edge research. Tune in for a look at the forefront of research in our region, and meet the students who are leading the latest wave of scientific discovery.

With the launch of the James Webb Space Telescope (JWST) planned for fall 2021, we will finally get observations of planets outside the solar system (exoplanets) similar to Earth’s size that will allow us to study their atmospheres. Because JWST will observe these exoplanets when passing in front of the stars they orbit, the best stellar systems to study are small, not-so-bright stars. The stellar system with the greatest potential for studying Earth-like exoplanets is the TRAPPIST-1 (T-1) system: a cool and small star where three out of seven exoplanets are on the right spot to have liquid water on their surface (just like Earth). However, there are no previous observations of atmospheres of Earth-like exoplanets that could serve as a reference to interpret and understand JWST’s observations. In this presentation, Díaz shows how to use statistics combined with information about atmospheres found in the solar system to create simulations of possible atmospheres on the T-1 exoplanets and how they will help compare with JWST observations in order to find possible signs of life.

Héctor Delgado Díaz is an astronomer and astrobiologist who is passionate about the search for extraterrestrial life. He studies the efficiency of each observation technique used to look at planets outside the solar system (exoplanets) and creates simulations of how the atmospheres of the exoplanets would look like through the lens of space telescopes.

Policy makers, activists, and scholars have long been concerned with racial inequality. Recently, some states and local governments have made efforts to center racial justice and economic equity in the construction of legal recreational cannabis markets. Providing economic opportunities and erasing cannabis-related convictions from criminal records are framed as a form of reparations to Black and Latina/o communities as they have been disproportionately policed for cannabis during the failed War on Drugs. What’s more, many advocates argue that making a market for cannabis provides a rare opportunity to implement progressive economic equity programs that can be looked to as a model for other markets. But how are states doing this? During Cadigan’s talk, she will explore different approaches to creating cannabis markets and why this matters for broader equality.

Michele Cadigan is a PhD candidate of Sociology and NSF Graduate Fellow at the University of Washington. She studies the intersection of economic markets and the criminal justice system in the fight for racial justice. Her current work examines how states rewrite criminal laws and build markets for cannabis in ways that facilitate or hinder racial equity and justice.

In this presentation, Townes’ explores how density-dependence processes and stream habitat characteristics affect spatial distributions and occupancy of spawning sockeye salmon in two unique streams in Bristol Bay, Alaska. Townes examines how individual adult sockeye salmon choose among habitats that provide varying degrees of reproductive habitat and protection from predators. The goal of this presentation is to discuss what the most significant effects of stream habitat characteristics (e.g., undercut bank, water depth, slope) and population abundance have on individual movement and habitat choice, and how it may impact productivity and survival. Townes reviews the results of this study and discusses how it will help managers predict occupancy of spawning habitat by adult salmon and inform management for a range of systems prior to initiation of proposed human development (e.g., mining) which cause a major threat to freshwater habitats around the world.

Ashley R. Townes is a passion-driven fish ecologist, educator, and international in-field environmental researcher working in the realm of ecological restoration and natural resource management at various international agencies, NGOs, and institutions around the world. At the University of Washington’s School of Aquatic and Fishery Sciences, Townes is studying both the behavior and ecology of spawning sockeye salmon ( Oncorhynchus nerka ) and the effects of marine biogenic habitat on groundfish species that are ecological, commercially, and economically important.

Presented by Town Hall Seattle and UW Engage Science.

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