Science Pub Portland: Rivers & Hydrology

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A Random Walk Along the River: Vital Connections that Rivers Share with the Land, the Sky, and Us

With Sean W. Fleming, PhD, Chief Scientist, White Rabbit R&D LLC, and Courtesy Professor, College of Earth, Ocean and Atmospheric Sciences and Water Resources Graduate Program, Oregon State University.

  • November 19, 2019 | Doors Open @ 6PM; OMSI’s restaurant, Theory will be open from 5-7PM
  • Please Note: OMSI’s restaurant, Theory will now be open for Science Pub! Enjoy wood-fired pizza, salad, ice cream plus draft beer and cider!
  • $5 advance purchase for guaranteed seats; $5 suggested donation at the door. Tickets will be available online or at the OMSI front desk until 2pm the day of the event.

Rivers are everywhere and affect everything. When all goes well, they provide us with water, power, food, transportation, recreation, and beauty. And when things go wrong, they wipe out our homes or even bring poisoned water to our taps. But how much do we know about how rivers actually work? How can a river flood one year and dry up the next? Where do canyons come from? How do we make forecasts of floods and water supplies? How do changes in land use and climate impact our rivers? And how does the study of water flow across the landscape – known as hydrology – overlap with other natural and social sciences, from biology to finance, and astrophysics to conflict studies?

In this talk, environmental scientist Dr. Sean Fleming explores how math and physics can reveal the hidden secrets of rivers, offers insights into the deep relationships rivers have with landscapes, ecosystems, and people, and looks at the threats our rivers face and how we can best protect them over the long run.

Sean started out as an exploration geophysicist using methods from geology, digital signal processing, and physics to search for oil, gold, and diamonds. His attention soon turned instead to hydrology, glacier science, and climate, and subsequently to data analytics and complex systems in general. His experience spans two decades of field, technical, and managerial work in the private, public, academic, and NGO sectors in the US, Canada, England, and Mexico. He currently runs a Corvallis-based data science consultancy, White Rabbit R&D, working mainly on applications of artificial intelligence to predicting water quality and quantity. He is also an affiliate faculty member at Oregon State University and the University of British Columbia and has been involved in several reports of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change. Sean is strongly active in science outreach, publishing a critically acclaimed general-audience book (Where the River Flows: Scientific Reflections on Earth’s Waterways) with Princeton University Press, engaging directly with the public through events like a Smithsonian lecture and a call-in NPR radio show, and writing for Scientific American and Wired.

OMSI Science Pub at the Empirical Theater is a ticketed event. To guarantee a seat at this event, please buy tickets online or at the OMSI front desk. Advanced tickets will be available for purchase until 2:00pm the day of the event. Please show your ticket at the theater entrance upon arrival.

If the event sells out, we will update the website and Facebook listings accordingly. If the event does not sell out in advance, attendance will be first-come, first-served at the door and at-the-door admission will remain a suggested donation.

Science Pub OMSI is a monthly event that is open to anyone and everyone – no scientific background required. Just bring your curiosity, sense of humor, and appetite for food, drinks and knowledge! For more information or to sign up for our mailing list, email: [email protected].

Food and drink are welcome in the theater. Parking is free for the event. Doors open at 6pm.

For more information or to sign up for our mailing list, email: [email protected] or call 503.797.4529.

Cover image courtesy OMSI.


Event Detail

November 19, 2019 7:00 pm
November 19, 2019 9:00 pm


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