The John Burroughs Natural Science Lecture Series

This lecture series, named in honor of renowned local naturalist John Burroughs (1837-1921), is sponsored by the Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) Department and seeks to periodically bring speakers to the SUNY Ulster campus to offer free lectures to the academic community and the general public on topics of interest in the natural sciences.


Imaging Jupiter, Pluto, & Ultima Thule

Monday, April 15, 2019 

7:00 p.m. College Lounge, Vanderlyn Hall

Steve Conard is a 1979 graduate of SUNY-Ulster (AS Engineering Science) who continued his engineering education at the University of Arizona (BS Engineering Physics) and Johns Hopkins University (MS Applied Physics). He is an optical systems engineer with Johns Hopkins University, where he has been employed his entire 36-year career. He has developed spaceflight instruments for both astrophysics and planetary missions. Three displays at the Smithsonian Air and Space Museum currently feature hardware on which he has worked. For the past 16 years, he has been lead engineer for the Long-Range Reconnaissance Imager (LORRI) on the New Horizons spacecraft. This instrument collected the highest resolution images obtained at the Pluto system in 2015 and on January 1, 2019 at the Kuiper Belt Object 2014MU69 (“Ultima Thule”).

Steve will talk about how spaceflight instruments are built and tested and he will show and discuss images collected by the LORRI instrument during New Horizon's Jupiter, Pluto, and Ultima Thule encounters. This John Burroughs Natural Science lecture, sponsored by the SUNY Ulster STEM Department, is free and open to the general public.

Man smiling next to telescope


Tropical Seas and First Forests - New York 400 Million Years Ago

Thursday, November 29, 2018

7:00 p.m. - 8:30 p.m., College Lounge, Vanderlyn Hall

A drive through the rocks of the Hudson Valley and Catskill Mountains tells the history of New York long before the dinosaurs. Marine shells and coral reefs in the valley indicate an environment of shallow tropical seas. Fossil trees and strata of the Catskills record a history of some of Earth’s earliest forests and an Andes-scale mountain belt in New England.

Time travel to a very different New York State with Dr. Chuck Ver Straeten of the New York State Museum.



Past Lectures Include:

September 28, 2017

Dr. Charles Merguerian

Hofstra University

“NYC Earthquakes: Can it Happen There?”


April 12, 2016

Dr. Charles Merguerian

Hofstra University

“9 Million Thirsty People: Supplying NYC with Catskill Water.”


April 26, 2012

Shannon Smiley

Mohonk Preserve Conservation Biologist

“Climate Change at Mohonk: Weather and Species.”


May 5, 2011

Dr. Massimo Pigliucci

Lehman College

City University of New York

“Nonsense on Stilts: How to Tell Science From Bunk.”


April 30, 2010

Dr. Anthony Aveni

Colgate University

“The End of Time: The Maya Mystery of 2012.”


November 9, 2009

Dr. Robert Glennon

University of Arizona

“Unquenchable, America's Water Crisis and What to do About It.”

April 20, 2007

Bob Berman local astronomy columnist and author

“The Moon’s Wildest Year – Everything You Never Knew About the Moon’s Motion Through the Sky.”


October 6, 2004

Dr. Robert Titus

Hartwick College

“The Catskills and Hudson Valley Region during the Ice Age.”


April 7, 2004

Dr. Robert Titus

Hartwick College

“A Geological History of the Catskills & Hudson Valley Region.”


November 27, 2003

Dr. Neil Cumins

University of Maine

Harlow Shapley Visiting Lectureship

“What if the Moon Didn’t Exist?”


November 29, 2001

Dr. James Ferris

Rennselaer Polytechnic Institute

Center for the Studies on the Origins of Life

“The Origin of Life”


November 13, 2001

Bob Berman, Local astronomy columnist and author

"The Greatest Astronomy Mysteries for the New Millennium"






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