STEM Spots

Thursdays at 9:45 a.m.

STEM Spots is a weekly look into science, technology, engineering and mathematics. Hosted by Dr. David Cornelison, professor in the department of Physics, Astronomy and Materials Science at Missouri State University, STEM Spots invites local experts to discuss advances, issues and theories dealing with all matters of STEM.

Sitting in a session at the American Astronomical Society's summer meeting in Austin, I am struck by the great measures humans take to satisfy our innate curiosity.  The particular session is detailing the science likely to emerge once the James Webb Space Telescope is deployed and operational.  That new infrared telescope promises to open up vistas in fields from the formation of galaxies to the elucidation of exoplanetary atmospheres.  That particular topic is what drew me to Texas, as our group at MSU works on lab investigations linked to the astronomers' quest for the understanding of

Missouri State University

Eclipses come in a couple varieties, lunar or solar.  They are not extremely rare but, due to the particular arrangement of Earth, sun and moon required, most people do not see them in their full glory unless they are willing to travel in order to do so. In ancient historical times when people were less apt to travel great distances a total solar eclipse would be a rare sight and so imbued with meaning.  

“Woods Hole days end” by Purpose is licensed under CC BY 2.0

Everyone possesses some measure of curiosity.  But, becoming a scientist requires an enhanced level of that innate quality.  However, some people decide to pursue science for reasons other than the deepening of knowledge.  When these other motivations, such as power or money, dominate the fundamental quest to know, does science mean as much? 

Perhaps the reasons we all do the things we do should be examined from time to time, if only to keep us honest to ourselves and to the idea of science.


Dr. Chris Barnhart

Dr. Chris Barnhart developed an interest in freshwater mussels during his childhood.  Little did he know that, upon arriving at MSU in the early 1990’s, he would devote his research efforts to studying their biological traits and behaviors.

 As a professor in Biology, Chris has used his studies into these fascinating creatures to stimulate a passion for understanding the natural world in both students and colleagues within the university.  He comes to Stem Spots today to talk about mussels, and his work to help propagate their numbers.

Missouri State University

The Environmental Protection Agency has long gathered a wealth of data on climate change.  This data and related information has been available to both scientists and the general public through their website.  Under the current administration most of the immediate links and access to climate change research will be scrubbed from the site, although it should be possible to find it in the archives through persistent effort.  Dr.