March STEAM Exchange

April 4, 2019
Dr. Kaplan speaking to the audience

Ice and Fire

By: Maria Bergman, Student Assistant for the STEAM Factory

Hilary Bussell, an Assistant Professor in the University Libraries moderated this month’s salon-style seminar on Ice and Fire. An intimate gathering where curiosity and ideas flow through conversations among all present. This style allows for those in attendance to hear about applications of common concepts in uncommon ways. The evening was complete with food, interesting lectures, and good questions all around. Hilary wanted a topic that related to climate change but wanted to be able to tie that in with mythology and religion. Especially with Game of Thrones returning for its final season in April, this was a great way to tie together different disciplinary perspectives.

Emilie Beaudon, a Post-Doctoral Researcher at The Ohio State University working with Byrd Polar and Climate Research Center started out the evening discussing Fire in Ice. Emilie decided at an early age that she wanted to find a career that would allow NASA to send her to Mars. Her research focuses on Paleo fires and tephra conductivity in ice cores. Furthermore, it defines the chemical signature of El Nino induced fires in snow in the Quelccaya ice cap. Her connection to the “ice” aspect of the theme started the evening off perfectly.

The next presenter was Dr. Merrill Kaplan, an Associate Professor and Director of Scandinavian Studies in the Department of Germanic Languages and Literatures at The Ohio State University. Kaplan set the scene with a pro-source poem on the beginning of creatures, frost giants and Norse myths. Her mellow field studies the myths about conflicts between giants and gods, and the struggles against elements. The topic is always open for interpretation in terms of current society, especially with the commonality of a self-help society. This conversation wouldn’t be complete without a couple questions about the Marvel Universes cinematic take on Norse mythology.

The last presenter of the evening, G. Matt Davies, an Assistant Professor in the School of Environment and Natural Resources at the Ohio State University covered the interesting topic of Fire on Ice. His research focuses on how fire management as a tool affects ecosystem compositions in areas of Scotland with smoldering underground peat fires with implications for climate change. This work will be applied to tundra ecosystems and the distribution of fires in Alaska. The question this talk brought up is if humans are priming artic landscapes to burn with the addition of built infrastructures altering soil composition, drought, and increasing occurrences of fires.

Join us on April 18th for a similar evening with a light dinner, good people, and fun conversations. This next STEAM Exchange topic will be Shapes and Patterns.