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A taste of Biology

  • Mongoose vs Cobra 1011 McGowen Street Houston, TX, 77002 United States (map)

From communication to manipulation

Here we will bring you the best of different aspects of life, from the beautifully complex to the downright bizarre. The common ground? The weird and wonderful interactions that underly biology. Amina Qutub (TEDx talk here: will be joining us again this year to talk about how brain cells talk to each other to define your daily behavior. And Kelly Weinersmith will tell us all about a horrifying parasite recently found right here in Houston.

Understanding People from the Inside Out

Amina Qutub

Rice University

Brains are extraordinary beasts. More cells than stars in the Milky Way Galaxy formed your brain. >150 Billion brain cells with voracious appetites define your personality and decisions. These cells control you. Together they form a brilliant and greedy organ: consuming ~25% of your body’s oxygen intake and >30% of your sugar supply in exchange for computing a billion billion calculations per second. More advanced than any computer and essential to human life, the brain remains mysterious. Little is known about how brain cells form or a single thought made. New technical breakthroughs in imaging, neurobiology, and mathematics are revealing how human brain cells form electrical networks and process information - and why this matters for your daily behaviors and health.             


Tales from the crypt: a parasitoid manipulates the behavior of its parasite host

Kelly Weinersmith

Rice University

Horrifying things are afoot, right in your backyard. Just last year, we discovered a new species on Rice campus - a parasitoid that manipulates gall wasps into burrowing holes in their own galls, then plugging the holes with their heads. There, the gall wasps' heads become easy to unseal gateways out, while their bodies become parasitoid food. Come for the horror, stay because we have pictures of the horror.


Global Infectious Diseases: What is the Impact of Climate Change?

Neima Briggs


UT Health

The transmission of many human infectious diseases, including malaria, zika, Chagas disease, and ebola, are highly sensitive to the climate. The unpredictable spread in recent years, including within the United States, is redefining the impact and geographical reach of these diseases. We will examine the role of climate change in the emergence and resurgence of global infectious diseases and how Houstonians are being affected.

Earlier Event: April 26
A taste of Climate
Later Event: April 28
A taste of Space