Mote Science Café on Nov. 11 “SeaSI: Investigating Cause from Effect”

Have you ever wanted to solve a mystery by gathering clues and answering a question? That’s what forensic scientists do best, whether they study damage to the natural environment – like oil spills – or uncover the secrets hidden in a crime scene.

Meet two different forensic investigators and learn about their fascinating jobs during Mote Marine Laboratory’s free Science Café, “SeaSI: Investigating Cause from Effect,” from 6-7:30 p.m. on Tuesday, Nov. 11, at Libby’s Café & Bar at 1917 S. Osprey Ave., Sarasota.

Mote Science Cafés are casual, community-based discussions between scientists, community experts and the general public. Guests can ask questions and help the discussion develop in fascinating ways.

The Nov. 11 Café will feature Mote Senior Scientist Dr. Dana Wetzel and her research within Mote’s Environmental Laboratory for Forensics. Wetzel investigates the causes and effects of environmental stress in marine ecosystems, particularly focusing on organic contaminants such as oil. Dr. Wetzel studies a variety of species – from phytoplankton to manatees to polar bears – in many different environments to better understand how human activities affect the natural world.

“With typical experiments in the lab, we cause something to happen in a controlled way and look at the effects, but in forensics we tend to work backward, looking at an effect and tracing it back to a cause,” Wetzel said. “For instance, when we are trying to find out what is happening to animals after the Deepwater Horizon oil spill, we might see an effect like health problems in fish, and then look for a potential cause, such as exposure to the spill. In that case, we’re trying to determine cause from effect.”

The Café will also feature Michael Gorn, Supervisor of the Forensic Services Unit for Sarasota County, to discuss how experts investigate crimes and mysteries, ultimately asking the same types of questions many scientists ask: What are the causes and effects unfolding within our society, and how can we make a positive difference in the community right outside our doors?

Please visit us on Facebook at “Mote Science Café” for updates on the event. Doors open at 5:30 p.m., so come early to guarantee a seat. This event is free and open to the public, but it is recommended that you RSVP early by calling 941-388-4441 ext. 172. Delicious food and drink specials will be available.

Dr. Dana Wetzel of Mote Marine Laboratory
Michael Gorn of Sarasota County