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Green background with text 'Cedar Creek Ecosystem Science Reserve Lunch with a Scientist 2023' next to image of lichen with frost

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Additional information

Who? The program and content level is designed for adults, ages 16+ recommended.

When? The series is scheduled for the second Tuesday of every month, 11:30AM - 1:00PM. The 2023 series will be virtual during the winter months (January - March, November - December), and offer a hybrid option during the growing season (April - October). 

Where? During winter months, the program will be virtual only, using a Zoom webinar format. Click this link to pre-register and access the webinar for the monthly talk:

During the growing season, the program will be hybrid. Those wanting to participate in person can join us in the Lindeman Center located at 2660 Fawn Lake Dr. NE, East Bethel, MN, 55005. No registration is required to attend in person. Those wanting to participate virtually will use the Zoom webinar format. Click this link to pre-register and access the webinar for the monthly talk: The presentation will be streamed live from Cedar Creek. See additional information below.

Additional information for hybrid participants: The hybrid option from April - October will include a guided outdoor field tour related to the research for in-person participants only. No registration is required for in-person participants.

Need help with Eventbrite or Zoom?

Instructions to navigate Zoom can be downloaded here: Registration tutorial

Instructions to navigate Zoom can be downloaded here: Joining a Zoom webinar

Questions can be directed to Kara Baldwin at sends e-mail)

Recordings of past programs can be viewed here.


2023 Lunch with a Scientist Speakers

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2023 Lunch with a Scientist Speakers

January (Online)

Nutrient Cycling in Water

Ever wonder how nutrients, like phosphorus, move through the environment? The January 2023 Lunch with a Scientist will kick off with Dr. Seth Thompson. He will discuss his research relating to geochemical processes within freshwater systems. Seth’s work focuses on aquatic bacteria, their role in transforming phosphorus in freshwater systems, and how microbes break down organic matter. In addition, he considers how global change and environmental factors influence nutrient cycling within inland waters.

About the Scientist

Dr. Seth Thompson received his PhD in Limnology and Oceanography from the University of Minnesota in 2019. In addition to exploring phosphorus biogeochemistry and dissolved organic matter in freshwater systems, Seth is active in research related to environmental education and equity in STEM fields. He completed a post-doc focused on educational research in 2020. He currently serves as the Director of Outreach in the College of Biological Sciences at the University of Minnesota. In this role, he organizes the Market Science program and works with scientists to connect, collaborate, and engage communities in science research and science-based activities.


Lunch with a Scientist Recordings

February (Online)

Patterns of Ecosystem Change

Change is constant, which is also true of habitats and ecosystem communities. Our Lunch with a Scientist lecture for February will focus on patterns of ecosystem community change within abandoned farm fields and the mechanisms behind these patterns. The end of the presentation considers how to use models to predict changes in ecological communities in Minnesota and beyond. 

About the Scientist 

Adam Clark received his PhD in Ecology, Evolution, and Behavior from the University of Minnesota in 2017. His dissertation work, conducted at Cedar Creek Ecosystem Science Reserve, explored how interactions among prairie plant species and their environments influence ecosystem properties. During his postdoc at the German Centre for Integrative Biodiversity Research in Leipzig, Adam continued to explore ways to quantify stability and coexistence in real-world ecosystems. Since 2020, Adam has worked as an Assistant Professor in the Institute of Biology at the University of Graz in Austria. His research currently focuses on how ecological communities are able to persist across space and time, using both empirical data, and theoretical models.

Lunch with a Scientist Recordings

March (Online)

Light, Soil, Action!

Through the Forests and Biodiversity (FAB) experiment at Cedar Creek, researchers are gaining an understanding of how trees interact with one another. One of the strongest interactions between neighboring trees is shading, which can cause trees to compete for light energy or to shield each other from stress caused by excess light. The March Lunch with a Scientist program welcomes Dr. Shan Kothari, an ecophysiologist, to discuss his research on light's role as both an essential resource and stressor for trees, as well as other recent results from FAB. 

About the Scientist 

Shan Kothari comes from Michigan and finished his PhD in 2020 at the Department of Plant and Microbial Biology at the University of Minnesota, during which he lived, did fieldwork, and mentored interns at Cedar Creek for three summers. Currently, he is a postdoctoral researcher at Université du Québec à Montréal in Montréal, Canada.

Lunch with a Scientist Recordings

April (Online and In-Person)

Lichens as Indicators

Lichens are a fascinating example of symbiosis in ecology. In lichens, algae and fungi support each other to survive in unique habitats and locations. Lichens also can inform scientists about environmental quality and climate change. Join us for April's Lunch with a Scientist when we host Dr. Natália Koch as she describes the unique characteristics of lichens but also their utility in science as environmental indicators.

About the Scientist

Dr. Natália Koch's research focuses on community ecology, functional traits, and biomonitoring with an emphasis on lichens. She explores the relationships of different lichen species and traits with environmental changes and how these traits can be utilized to monitor changes. She earned her PhD in Ecology from the Universidade Federal do Rio Grande do Sul and currently is a postdoctoral researcher at the University of Minnesota exploring the patterns of ecophysiological functional traits of lichen symbioses related to human-caused environmental changes. You can learn more about Natália's research through her research gate webpage and can follow her on Twitter and Instagram via @natimkoch.  

May (Online and In-Person)

Noxious Weeds in Anoka County

Some non-native species can have lasting impacts on public and private lands as they have a survival advantage and can out-compete native species, and take over landscapes. These problematic species, noxious weeds, need to be managed to restore habitat and ecosystem functions. The May Lunch with a Scientist is pleased to welcome Carrie Taylor to discuss invasive species in Anoka county as well as methods for controlling invasive species. 

About the Scientist

Carrie Taylor is a restoration ecologist at the Anoka County Conservation District. She holds a Bachelor’s degree in Geological Sciences from Indiana University and a Master’s degree in Land Rehabilitation from Montana State University. Carrie is responsible for natural resource monitoring, inventory, assessments, and planning. She also facilitates the Anoka Cooperative Weed Management Area and coordinates and implements ecological restoration projects in the District including at Cedar Creek. 

June (Online and In-Person)

Fire and Tick Ecology

Cedar Creek scientists have been exploring how fire restores, maintains, and influences oak savanna habitats since the 1960s. Cedar Creek actively sets controlled fires, known as prescribed burns, through sections of oak savanna and prairie to explore how fire impacts these environments. Different plots at Cedar Creek have different burn frequencies, allowing scientists to ask questions about fire’s influence on various communities from plants to parasites, like ticks. We are excited to welcome Chris Wojan to June's Lunch with a Scientist. He will discuss his research on fire’s role in shaping tick ecology. 

About the Scientist

Chris Wojan is a PhD student in the Ecology, Evolution, and Behavior Program at the University of Minnesota, where he studies the ecology of parasites - particularly ticks. Prior to starting at UMN, Chris earned an MS at New Mexico State University studying the dispersal of brush mice and then worked as a field researcher for various organizations, including the Jornada Experimental Range, the National Ecological Observatory Network, and Indiana University.


July (Online and In-Person)

Drones and Monitoring Forests

Our ability to infer about tree communities and their ecological processes relies on our capacity to observe them. Our Lunch with a Scientist lecture for July will focus on integrating remote sensing technologies with ecological experiments to better observe and infer structural and chemical changes associated with forest communities. This lecture dives deep into how drones are used to monitor the Forests and Biodiversity (FAB) experiments at the Cedar Creek Ecosystem Science Reserve and the ecological understanding we are gaining by doing so.

About the Scientist

J. Antonio Guzmán Q. received his Ph.D. in Earth and Atmospheric Sciences from the University of Alberta, Canada in 2021. His dissertation focused on integrating novel remote sensing techniques to evaluate the variability, presence, and contribution of lianas and trees in Tropical Dry Forests. Shortly after his Ph.D. convocation, Antonio started to work as Postdoctoral Associate at the ASCEND institute (Advancing Spectral biology in Changing Environments to understand Diversity) at the University of Minnesota. His research currently focuses on using remote sensing to quantify elements of tree communities (e.g., species, structure, chemistry) and their processes (e.g., diseases) across space and time.

August (Online and In-Person)

The Ecology of Urban Contaminants

The ecology of urban contaminants: who thrives, who struggles, and what we can do

Human environments come with suites of pollutants, from heavy metals to pesticides. Despite the toxicity of these chemicals, some organisms thrive in these polluted environments -- why? In our urban ecology research, we are describing patterns of pollutants across the Twin Cities, and using butterflies to test whether certain traits or evolutionary histories may predispose some species to thrive in polluted areas. We are also exploring how different forms of ecological restoration may mitigate exposure to urban pollutants, with implications for the health of humans and wildlife in urban spaces.

About the Scientist

Emilie Snell-Rood is a professor in Ecology, Evolution and Behavior at the University of Minnesota. Her research considers how organisms respond to anthropogenic environments, and what this means for conservation in pockets of habitats such as urban gardens or roadsides. Emilie also has an interest in bio-inspired design, and the process of interdisciplinary science.

September (Online and In-person)

Climate Change Resilience of Temperate Trees

We tend to take for granted that there are differences among species, including their resilience to the physiological stresses associated with our rapidly changing climate. At the same time, we also know that woody plants in temperate climates (like that of the Upper Midwest) display predictable, adaptive life-cycle changes over the course of a year; the study of these changes is called "phenology" and usually focuses on annual changes in leaves, flowers, fruit, and cones. Yet global change scientists tend to think of physiological resilience to climate change as temporally static and phenological observations tend to focus on changes in morphology. Researchers in the Grossman Lab measure drought tolerance and cold hardiness in diverse temperate woody plants (aspens, maples, hollies, and magnolias) to study the extent to which diversity in the physiological traits underlying climate change resilience shift predictably over the course of the year. Our work toward "phenological physiology" is designed to help people who care about temperate trees and shrubs to take better care of them in a warmer and more drought-prone future. In this talk, Prof. Grossman will present highlights from this research, including some new work addressing the intersection between climate change and biodiversity loss in the Forests and Biodiversity (FAB) experiment at Cedar Creek.

About the Scientist

Prof. Grossman is a plant ecologist and Assistant Professor of Biology and Environmental Studies at St. Olaf College. Originally from Phoenix, Arizona, he holds a B.A. in Biology and Environmental Studies from Oberlin College; a Master’s in International Forestry from the University of Washington; and a Ph.D. in Ecology, Evolution, and Behavior from the University of Minnesota. While a graduate student at Minnesota, he conducted research at Cedar Creek for five years. Past professional positions have included service as an agroforestry extension volunteer in the U.S. Peace Corps (Paraguay 2009-11), a Putnam postdoctoral fellowship at Harvard University’s Arnold Arboretum, and a visiting faculty position at Swarthmore College. Prof. Grossman is passionate about climate change mitigation and adaptation, plant conservation, and bridging Indigenous and Western approaches to the management of environmental challenges. He teaches Ecology and interdisciplinary Environmental Studies at St. Olaf and lives in Minneapolis with his husband and their rescue dog, Roxie. In his free time, he enjoys reading, cooking, lifting weights, going to movies and art museums, and, of course, spending time outside.

October (Online and In-person)

Landsigns - Science and Art

Details coming soon 

November (Online)

Minneapolis/St. Paul Long Term Ecological Research

Sarah Hobbie will describe a new Long-Term Ecological Research program centered in the Twin Cities Metropolitan Area. This new project explores interactions between people and nature in cities, towards understanding the ecological and social consequences of urban environmental impacts on nature.

About the Scientist

Dr. Sarah Hobbie is a Distinguished McKnight University Professor in the Dept of Ecology, Evolution, and Behavior. Her research addresses the influence of changes in atmospheric composition, climate, land use, and plant species composition on communities and ecosystems, and the effects of urbanization on biodiversity and water quality. She is currently the Director of the new Minneapolis-St. Paul Metropolitan Area Urban Long Term Ecological Research program, and is also an active researcher with the Cedar Creek Long Term Ecological Research program.

December (Online)

Freshwater Bacteria, Evolution, and Ecology

More than meets the eye: Addressing ecological and evolutionary questions with freshwater bacteria
Freshwater bacteria are critical for biogeochemical and eco-evolutionary processes. In addition, these bacteria have potentially harmful effects (i.e., cyanobacteria blooms). Using both model systems and bioprospecting in the field, Dr. Bea Baselga Cervera studies empirical evolution and ecological pressures within the context of exploratory microbial research. During her Lunch with a Scientist presentation, Bea will present how, in a range from model systems to natural communities, ecologically relevant questions and evolutionary theories can be tested using experimental evolution including 1) testing the evolutionary stasis in cyanobacteria, 2) synthetic microbial communities (SynCom) experiment addressing biotic interactions and cyanotoxins production, and 3) detecting life with freshwater bacteria behavior. The talk will highlight the importance of studying unexplored microbial diversity, ecology, and evolutionary dynamics. It turns out that there’s much more to it than meets the eye.

About the Scientist 

Dr. Bea Baselga Cervera, Ph.D., DVM, Presidential Postdoc fellow in the Ecology, Evolution, and Behavior Department at the University of Minnesota. Bea completed a degree in Veterinary Science, followed by a Masters and Ph.D. in microbiology at Universidad Complutense de Madrid. Her research focus is experimental microbiology with an interdisciplinary laboratory field background, linking ecological, evolutionary, and applied scientific methods. Currently working in the experimental evolution of multicellularity and complexity with cyanobacteria and yeast, and broadly interested in freshwater microbial diversity (particularly toxin-producing cyanobacteria and meroplanktonic microbes). She also has more than 10 years of performing community-centered outreach and science communication.