Scientists meet the public monthly at OMSI

Learn how ‘Meet a Scientist’ sessions let researchers interact directly with the museum’s visitors …

During a recent session of the OMSI “Meet a Scientist”, five researchers show-and-tell about their work.

Story and photos by David F. Ashton

The work of most scientists occurs in a laboratory or some other setting, far away from the eyes of the public.

But, on the second Saturday of every month, the Oregon Museum of Science and Industry (OMSI) changes this by bringing science “up close and personal” to their “Meet a Scientist” program, at which local scientists share their research and knowledge by way of hands-on experiments and discussion.

OMSI Senior Educator of Life Sciences Sean Rooney says the “Meet a Scientist” program is getting more popular each month.

“We have been holding these for about a year now,” said OMSI Senior Educator of Life Sciences Sean Rooney. “But lately, it’s really taken off.”

Drawing from a group of eighteen scientists, Rooney said that four or five professional researchers and experimenters come to each “Meet a Scientist” Saturday.

Washington State University at Vancouver Professor of Mechanical Engineering Stephen Solovitz says he studies how volcanic eruptions impact local and distant regions.

Savanna Tucker shoots “volcanic ash” into the air, as WSU-V Professor of Mechanical Engineering Stephen Solovitz tells why that ash can travel widely.

“It’s fun to see visitors get involved with the demonstrations and experiments that the scientists bring with them,” Rooney said. “It gives people the opportunity to chat with these scientists, and ask them questions about their field of study.”

These events are not themed. “For example, this month, November, there are presentations on solar technology, volcano ash plumes, an epidemiologist talking about disease outbreaks, and even a scientist talking about the science of bedbugs,” revealed Rooney during our visit.

Using cotton puffs and glitter, Dr. Jamie Eastman Ph.D., epidemiologist at Oregon Health and Science University, illustrates how the flu virus travels from person to person in a closed environment – like a school bus (illustrated by a plastic container).

Maranda Camacho, Joann Whitney, Jeremiah Camacho, and Gabe Camacho discover how animals communicate with sound – explained by Washington State University at Vancouver graduate research assistant Elena Mahrt.

“Meet a Scientist”, held from 1:00 to 4:00 p.m. on the second Saturday of each month, is included with an OMSI membership or with general admission.

For more information, see their website page: CLICK HERE.

© 2014 David F. Ashton ~ East Portland News

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