In partnership with the local non-profit Our Sacred Earth the Nederland Community Library is continuing a local scientists series this spring. 

Part science talks, part personal experiences, the series will explore:

  • how the scientists got involved in their work–what motivates them?
  • how their work touches our lives
  • how they address the issue of climate disruption in their work and their lives

Questions about the series? Please contact Jay at or 303.258.1101

Past Talks

Tuesday, September 27th at 7 pm      Mari Tye, PhD (NCAR)
How are the impacts from extreme weather changing? How do you produce information that is useful for decision makers?

For details on Mari's talk click on this bar

No one can deny the existence of weather extremes. And Colorado gets its fair share, possibly more than if you ask some people. But are we really able to cope with the impacts from extreme weather today let alone likely future changes? What information do decision makers really need to help communities become resilient to these extremes? These are questions that Mari Tye started asking, before realising that she needed to get the decision-makers and academics to talk to and work with each other, instead of continuing to work separately and blame each other.

Mari came from a Civil Engineering background in the UK, with a twist through policy making before ending up as a researcher of weather and climate extremes at the National Center for Atmospheric Research. Her tortuous career path inspired her to develop an active collaboration between decision-makers at all levels and scientists, to improve communication and support real world decisions around extreme weather impacts.

Tuesday, October 11th at 7 pm             Salvi Asefi-Najafabady, PhD (visiting NCAR scientist / University of Virginia)
How did the threads of my life: science, Sufism and ancient Persian cultural heritage come together to reveal to me the most ancient story of the Earth?

For details on Salvi's talk click on this bar

I am a climate scientist at the University of Virginia, and am currently a visiting scientist at NCAR (National Center for Atmospheric Research) in Boulder. I’m working on a global study of the future climate impacts of the allocation of land among biofuels, food crops and forest conservation, with a particular focus on East Africa. Prior to this, I worked at several other universities, including Arizona State University where I helped develop a global dataset of CO2 emissions from fossil fuel inventories. Some of my other work included studying the impacts of drought on the Amazon and the African forests.

I first began to study environmental sciences in Iran, where I was born and raised, and I worked there for many years as an activist with environmental NGOs and also as an environmental journalist. Then I came to the US to continue my graduate studies in Atmospheric Sciences.

In my late 20s, after coming to the US, I felt swamped by questions about the meaning and purpose of life, science, religion and most confusing of all myself, who I was. Being an environmental scientist and activist had also made me increasingly interested in exploring the underlying causes for our ill treatment of our most beautiful planet.

Being raised in Iran, I was exposed from a very early age to a vast and ancient literature and culture, and especially to the mystical stories and poetry of the Sufi masters. Following the thread hidden in their teachings, I was convinced the only way to find the answers to my questions was to look within myself. After looking round and round, I found myself strongly drawn to a particular order of Sufism (Naqshbandiyya-Mujaddidiyya) known as the silent Sufis. And for the past 10 years I have devoted myself to their practice of the silent meditation of the heart and the silent Zikr, an inner repetition of a sacred word. As my practice deepened, I started seeing all of life and all the stories of our Earth in a new light.

Now looking back, I realize I was taken along a journey in which life shared with me a story, not a simple story, but a love story which I had never expected or imagined to experience, and which I will attempt to share with you.

Weaving together these threads of my life, I will share with you some fascinating stories of science of the Earth, mystical Sufi tales of love, and ancient Persian culture. I hope this sharing will allow you to see our current environmental disasters, including climate change crisis, from a different point of view.

Tuesday, October 25th at 7 pm           Carl Schmitt, PhD (NCAR)
Dirty snow: How human activity is affecting snow globally and how this is affecting humans.

For details on Carl's talk click on this bar

Around the world, human activities are affecting snow and glaciers.  Air pollution from cities and dust from country roads, agriculture, and mining are causing snow to become dirty.  Just like a black t-shirt on a sunny day, the dirty snow absorbs more sunlight which leads to faster melting.

In this presentation, I will discuss measurements global measurements of contaminants on snow including data collected locally (Eldora) and its impacts in different regions.  I will also discuss a new citizen science effort where you will be able to collect samples which will improve our understanding of this important topic.

Wednesday, November 9th at 7 pm   Megan Melamed, PhD (International Global Atmospheric Chemistry)
How did growing up in Nederland lead to directing an international organization on atmospheric chemistry?

For details on Megan's talk click on this bar

Megan Melamed will discuss how growing up in Nederland, CO led to leading an international organization on atmospheric chemistry. Megan was raised just north of Nederland in a home that is off the grid, powered by a wind generator and solar panels. This unique experience is the foundation of her career as an atmospheric chemist. Upon graduating from Nederland High School in 1996, Megan attended Colby College in Waterville, ME where in 2000 she earned two Bachelor of Arts degrees, in Chemistry and in Spanish Literature.

She continued her education at the University of Colorado in Boulder earning a Master of Arts and a Ph.D. in environmental engineering in 2002 and 2006, conducting her Ph.D. research at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) under the guidance of Susan Solomon.  Upon completion of her doctorate work, Megan received the National Science Foundation International Research Fellowship Program award to conduct research at the Universidad Nacional Autnoma de Mexico (UNAM) in Mexico City, Mexico. Following her post-doctoral work in Mexico, Megan was awarded an AAAS Science and Technology Policy Fellowship, a program the places scientists in policy position to learn more about the how science and policy relate to one another.

Currently, Megan is the Executive Officer of the International Global Atmospheric Chemistry (IGAC) project at the University of Colorado’s Cooperative Institute for Environmental Sciences (CIRES), where her role is to facilitate atmospheric chemistry research toward a sustainable world.

Thursday, November 17th at 7 pm           Mario Molina, PhD (Climate Reality Project)
Why the international treaty on Climate Change reached in Paris last year matters for Colorado Wildfires.

Tuesday, December 6th at 7 pm   Heather Lazrus, PhD (National Center for Atmospheric Research)
What Does Culture Have to Do with Climate Change? Lessons for Resilience from a Tropical Island.

For details on Heather's talk click on this bar

Let’s visit Tuvalu, a low-lying island in the Pacific Ocean to escape winter in the Rocky Mountains and hear about how people there are responding to challenges of rising seas, increasing drought, and the uncertain future of their home.  Heather Lazrus will share photos taken during a year of fieldwork in Tuvalu and talk about how she got from Nederland to one of the most remote island communities on the planet. Heather, an environmental anthropologist at the National Center for Atmospheric Research, will discuss what she learned about the role of culture in the causes, consequences, and community-based solutions for climate change – and suggest lessons for resilience that we can all make part of our daily lives.


Tuesday, March 14th at 7 pm      Vera Schulte-Pelkum, PhD  (UC Boulder)
“Is climate change nothing new? Yes, the Earth has weathered massive swings in climate before, but not without consequences. As a geophysicist who works on tectonic processes spanning millions of years, I can offer a long-range view on geological climate history. We will explore drivers of planetary temperatures, take a tour of climate swings in the geological record and their effects such as mass extinctions, and compare human emissions to those from natural sources such as volcanism. Having grown up in Germany and Japan, I will also contemplate the morals of individual conduct and consequences in hindsight of collective avoidance.”

Tuesday, April 25th at 7 pm      Matthew Shupe, PhD (CU Boulder / NOAA)
Adventures in Arctic atmospheric research – studying the changing Arctic system from remote land stations, the top of the Greenland Ice Sheet, and embedded in the Arctic sea ice.

Tuesday, May 2nd at 7 pm      Diane Stanitski, PhD (NOAA)
“Just as a doctor uses instruments to determine a person’s health, scientists take measurements of our planet to check its well-being.  We monitor long-term changes to see how they compare to the ‘norm’.  Join me to learn how we take the pulse of our planet, specifically that of the global ocean, and share that information to inform our next generation of citizens.  I’ll describe my experiences as a geography professor, NOAA Teacher at Sea, scientist deploying ocean instruments, and children’s science book author, with a focus on long-term observations of this amazing planet.”

Tuesday, May 23rd at 7 pm      Daniel Ziskin, PhD (NCAR)
“It’s worse than you think!” How do societal patterns in the scientific community, government and the general public prevent us from taking meaningful action about climate change? What needs to shift? Where should we start? Daniel will discuss his analysis of the problem and an innovative approach for creating change that he is involved in.

Tuesday, May 30th at 7 pm      Kevin Raeder (National Center for Atmospheric Research)
“Join your neighbors to hear a hopeful account of human’s energy use through the ages, and how it relates to our current, contentious situation. Also meet a scientist at the National Center for Atmospheric Research, who is a dedicated environmentalist disguised as a middle-of-the-road, white, male, dad type.  I’ll share some of my thoughts about environmentalism as a spiritual path, or even a religion, and I’m very interested to hear your perspectives.”