For immediate release: 01/17/2013 | NR-13-01-02

LLNL's Saturday lectures explore cutting edge science

Linda A Lucchetti, LLNL, (925) 422-5815,

Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory's popular lecture series, "Science on Saturday," returns Jan. 26 and runs through Feb. 23. This year's talks cover a wide range of current topics including detecting pathogen DNA; the Lab's technologies used on NASA's NuSTAR Mission; the next generation medical diagnostic devices; and biofuels -- the new energy from ancient life.

The lectures are free and will be held in the Bankhead Theater, located at 2400 First St. in Livermore. Two presentations are offered at 9:30 and 11:15 a.m.

Each lecture highlights cutting-edge Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory (LLNL) science presented by leading Lab researchers who are joined by master high school science teachers.

Kicking off the series of four Saturday sessions is: "Detecting Pathogen DNA," by LLNL scientist Reg Beer and teacher Erin McKay.

In the movies, when a killer infection spreads, doctors triage and isolate patients while a medical biologist races to diagnose the illness and find a cure. Inevitably, a national emergency follows as the virus or bacteria wipe out an unsuspecting population. This may be Hollywood's vision. The presenters will discuss how scientists at LLNL are developing tools to identify organisms in a few minutes so that doctors can be certain of the need for antibiotics, patient isolation or additional intervention.

Here is the complete schedule of lectures:
  • Jan. 26: "Detecting Pathogen DNA: Making Medical Diagnostics Fast, Accurate and Cheap," by LLNL scientist Reg Beer and teacher Erin McKay of Tracy High School.
  • Feb. 2: "The Extreme X-ray Universe: Discovery Science with NASA's NuSTAR Mission," by LLNL scientists Michael Pivovaroff and Bill Craig and teacher Tom Sheffler of Granada High School.
  • Feb. 16: "Medical Radar: Next Generation Life Saving Medical Diagnostic Devices," by LLNL scientist John Chang and teacher Dean Reese of Tracy High School.
  • Feb. 23: "The 'Bio' in Biofuels: New Energy from Ancient Life," by LLNL scientists Michael Thelen and Rhona Stuart and teacher Ken Wedel of Tracy High School.
Lectures and demonstrations are targeted to middle and high school students. The lectures are sponsored by LLNL's Science Education Program. Seating is on a first-come basis. There is no pre-registration.

For more information about Science on Saturday, directions and a map, go to the Web at or contact Richard Farnsworth, (925) 422-5059, or e-mail.

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Founded in 1952, Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory provides solutions to our nation's most important national security challenges through innovative science, engineering and technology. Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory is managed by Lawrence Livermore National Security, LLC for the U.S. Department of Energy's National Nuclear Security Administration.