Minnesota Natural History Lecture Series

Interested in learning more about Minnesota's natural world? Join us each month for a lecture and discussion on a variety of natural history topics. All ages are welcome to all of our lectures, however we have designated some lectures as kid-friendly when the topics and presentation styles are more suitable for kids. Lectures that are designated as teacher-friendly indicate that there will be classroom resources available for teachers at the lecture.

Lecture Series

Lecture Schedule:

Unfortunately, the original lecture from Pandora Thomas about sustainability and social justice had to be canceled. Please join us for this lecture instead!

Tuesday, September 29 | 7:30  p.m. |
Pellegrene Auditorium, SJU campus | SJU Campus Map

Inaugural Norman L. Ford Science Literacy Lecture Series
Infectious Diseases of the 21st Century: A New World Order, Dr. Michael Osterholm, University of Minnesota

Monday, October 19 | 6:30 - 8:00 p.m.

Soils in a Changing ClimateJoe Storlien, CSB/SJU environmental studies 

The soils around us are frequently under-valued and their multiple roles in sustaining life often go unnoticed. Soils are essential components of any terrestrial ecosystem and have global impacts on water, climate, and nutrient cycling through complex processes performed on a micro-scale. the Food and Agricultural Organization (FAO) of the United Nations has designated 2015 the International Year of Soils in an effort to increase understanding of the importance of soil for food security and essential ecosystem functions.

This lecture will provide a basic introduction to soils and their common roles in our lives. The discussion will highlight some simple ways to sustain the soil health of lawns, gardens, fields, and recreational areas as well as remain responsible environmental stewards of Minnesota's natural resources. Dr. Storlien will also highlight the unique role soils play in global climate change and how we can protect our soils in Minnesota's changing climate.


Monday, November 16 | 6:30 - 8:00 p.m.

Photo-A-Day:  Two Years with a Naturalist, Joe Walewski, Wolf Ridge Environmental Learning Center

For Joe Walewski, living and working along the North Shore of Lake Superior is a dream come true. Joe is an educator, author, botanist, photographer, and storyteller. As a Professional Naturalist at Wolf Ridge Environmental Learning Center in Finland, MN, Joe trains, mentors, and inspires emerging naturalists. In 2013, he decided to take a photograph every day as a personal challenge and to record the changing world around him. Joe writes, "I am surrounded by beauty and new learning experiences every day. On April 14, 2013, I began collecting one photo per day as a way to represent the unfolding story around me. Two years later, I had gathered 730 photographs, and reflected on what I had seen over those 730 days. I'd like to share my stories and photos with you and hopefully inspire you to try the same. Join me." 


Have an idea for a topic or speaker we should pursue? Tell us!

Previous Lecture Topics:

Nature, Culture, and Two Friends Talking 
Ecologist Kim Chapman and Poet Jim Armstrong       

Jumpstarting Life:  Applying Hibernation Strategies to Emergency Rooms and Long-distance Space Travel 
Clark Cotton, CSB/SJU Biology

Shoreline Restoration 
Greg Berg, Stearns Co. Soil & Water Conservation District                                                          

16th Annual Owl Hoot
Sarah Gainey, Outdoor U

The Biology of Resurrection
Stephen Saupe, CSB/SJU biology

Swanning Around Saint John's
Marcus Webster, CSB/SJU biology

15th Annual Owl Hoot
Marco Restani, St. Cloud State University biology

Night Gliders: Nocturnal Denizens of the Abbey Arboretum
Kristina Timmerman, CSB/SJU biology

The Science & Psychology of Survival
Tom Kroll, Saint John's Outdoor U

MN Lakes: Past, Present, and Future
Bill Lamberts, CSB/SJU biology

14th Annual Owl Hoot
Marco Restani, St. Cloud State University biology

The Future of Food
Diane Veale-Jones, CSB/SJU environmental studies

Stargazing at Saint John's
Mike Lynch, WCCO meteorologist

Climbing the Grand Staircase: A Journey Through 1.2 Billion Years of Earth's History
Larry Davis, CSB/SJU geology

Another Look at Genetically Modified Foods
Dr. Jean Lavigne, CSB/SJU environmental studies

13th Annual Owl Hoot
Marco Restani, SCSU professor of biology

Our Place in the Universe
John O'Reilly, Saint John's Outdoor University

Tree Rings and the Tales They Tell
Troy Knight, CSB/SJU Assistant Professor of Environmental Studies

Seeing Through the Lens: Photography in the Great Outdoors
Ken Bachofer, Nature Photographer, MN Master Naturalist Volunteer

Worm Watch: Invasive Earthworms
Ryan Hueffmeier, Great Lakes Worm Watch, University of Minnesota Duluth

The Botany of Harry Potter
Steve Saupe, CSB/SJU professor of biology

Loons at Saint John's
Carol Jansky, CSB/SJU Biology Lab Coordinator
Read more about Saint John's Loons.