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Gustavus’ Nobel Conference looks into the depths

The theme of Gustavus Adolphus College’s 48th Nobel Conference is “Our Global Ocean.” The annual conference, bringing together the world’s foremost experts on a given topic, will be October 2-3 in St. Peter, Minnesota. Graphic provided by Gustavus Adophus College

Top researchers in biogeochemistry, oceanography, deep-sea biology, molecular genetics, and coral ecology are coming together on October 2-3, 2012, for “Our Global Ocean,” the 48th annual Nobel Conference at Gustavus Adolphus College. They will meet to discuss the marine realm: What we know, what we don’t know, and how humans rely upon healthy vibrant seas.

The oceans have long been a source of fascination, from the tales of Sinbad to the popular Blue Planet documentary. The marine world provides us with seafood and medicines, fertilizers, and petroleum. The oceans are associated with danger, from the exaggerated fiction of Jaws to poorly understood feedback on climate change. The 48th Nobel Conference will examine “Our Global Ocean” as a source of discovery.

“If a president or U.N. secretary general was putting together a scientific panel on the oceans, I believe that these names would be at the top of his or her list,” said Joel Carlin, assistant professor of biology and environmental studies.

Today, we know less about our own oceans than we do about the surfaces of other planets in our solar system. Thus, there would be benefits to rekindling interest in the ocean by gathering top researchers in ocean science to speak about their research and our relationship with the ocean.

Presenters for the Nobel Conference are:

* Barbara Block, Charles & Elizabeth Prothro professor in marine sciences and co-director, Tuna Research and Conservation Center, Hopkins Marine Station, Stanford University

* William Fitzgerald, Board of Trustees Distinguished Professor Emeritus of Marine Sciences, University of Connecticut

* David Gallo, director of special projects, Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution

* Ove Hoegh-Guldberg, professor of marine studies and director, Global Change Institute, University of Queensland

* Kathleen Dean Moore, distinguished professor of philosophy and founding director, Spring Creek Project for Ideas, Nature, and the Written Word, Oregon State University

* Christopher Sabine, director, NOAA Pacific Marine Environmental Laboratory and senior fellow at the University of Washington Joint Institute for the Study of Atmosphere and Ocean

* Carl Safina, president, Blue Ocean Institute

* Maya Tolstoy, associate professor, Marine Geology and Geophysics, and research scientist, Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory, Columbia University

“If a president or U.N. secretary general was putting together a scientific panel on the oceans, I believe that these names would be at the top of his or her list,” said Joel Carlin, assistant professor of biology and environmental studies and a member of the Nobel Conference 48 Committee. “These scientists are incredibly famous for their scholarly work, but all of them started with a simple fascination with nature and a desire to know more. It is my hope that everyone, but especially the young, leave Nobel 48 a little humbled and a lot excited by our global ocean.”

For almost five decades, Gustavus has organized and hosted the two-day Nobel Conference, which draws about 6,000 people to the college campus in St. Peter, Minnesota. The conference links a general audience, including high school students and teachers, with the world’s foremost scholars and researchers in discussion centered on contemporary issues relating to the natural and social sciences. The Nobel Conference is the first ongoing educational conference of its kind in the United States, and is made possible through the support of Drell and Adeline Bernhardson, major legacy gifts, and annual contributors to Gustavus Adolphus College.

Tickets for this event will go on sale at 12 p.m., Monday, April 2. Ticket prices are $65 for individual non-reserved seating and $110 for individual reserved main floor seating. High school and college student delegation rates are $5 per ticket with a minimum purchase of 10 tickets. Tickets may also be purchased for the banquet ($30), which will be held the evening of Wednesday, October 3. Tickets may be purchased online at gustavus tickets.com or by calling the Gustavus Office of Marketing and Communication at 507/933-7520.

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