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Current Program


The Emerging Scholars Series is a partnership between the Arts & Sciences Graduate Center at William & Mary and the Williamsburg Regional Library. The series features W&M graduate students and postdocs in talks hosted by the WRL intended to bring cutting-edge research to the local community. View the WRL's Emerging Scholars Series webpage.

Maria DiBenigno, Mellon Postdoctoral Fellow: "Reinterpreting/Reorienting James Monroe’s Highland "

September 28, 2023, 2 p.m., Stryker Center

dibenigno-headshot.jpgAt James Monroe’s Highland, located in Charlottesville, ongoing research reveals interconnected community histories and recent discoveries about the site's buildings. As part of William & Mary since 1974, Highland also serves as a learning campus for W&M students and community members from Williamsburg, Charlottesville, and beyond. In this talk, Maria DiBenigno (W&M PhD ’20), Mellon Postdoctoral Research Fellow at Highland, will highlight ongoing research there, reflecting on the ways museums such as Highland shape present-day understandings of the past through a dialogue between museums and visitors.  

Ezekiel Wertz, Physics: "Building Blocks of the Universe"

November 9, 2023, 2 p.m., Stryker Center

wertz-headshot.jpegThe ordinary matter all around us is constructed of atoms composed of interacting subatomic particles. But our understanding of these particles is incomplete. Two subatomic particles of scientific interest are the proton and neutron, which serve as building blocks for atomic nuclei. In this talk, Ezekiel Wertz, PhD candidate in Physics at William & Mary, will describe how experiments at Jefferson Lab in Newport News explore the fundamental structure and properties of neutrons and protons. Research in this field offers applications in medicine, energy, and materials engineering.

Jesse Derringer, Chemistry: “What Do Bacteria Talk About? Exploring New Ways to Treat Bacterial Infections”

February 21, 2024, 2 p.m., Stryker Center

derringer-headshot.jpgBacterial resistance to antibiotics is a growing concern. Learn about research seeking new ways to treat bacterial infections. Jesse Derringer, master’s student in Chemistry at William & Mary, will explain how his lab targets a particular cellular process—bacterial communication, or quorum sensing—to disrupt bacteria when killing them with traditional antibiotics becomes impossible. Understanding quorum sensing will produce alternative treatments for people suffering with a difficult-to-treat infections. This talk will demystify current approaches to combating infection and showcase the complexity of bacteria.

Hannah Machiorlete, Biology: “The Little Things That Run the World: How Microbes Affect Pollination”

March 7*, 2024, 2 p.m., Stryker Center (*note date changed from 3/6)

machiorlete-headshot.pngThink of your favorite flower and the bumblebee who visits. Pollination would not happen without interactions between plants and animals, but it also depends on millions of microscopic bacteria and fungi that inhabit nectar. In this talk, Hannah Machiorlete, master’s student in Biology at William & Mary, will explain how microbes act as chemical engineers to change nectar’s scent and sugars, impacting pollination and plant reproduction. Learn about new research into microbes that act as “middlemen” in the plant-pollinator exchange, and what this means for the plants we rely on.


Tyler Goldberger, History: “The Cold War and U.S.-Spain Relations”

April 3, 2024, 2 p.m., Stryker Center

goldberger-headshot.jpgToday, Americans seldom give thought to Spain’s relationship with the United States, but Spain was pivotal to twentieth-century American ideological transformations. In this talk, Tyler Goldberger, doctoral candidate in History at William & Mary, will examine the impact of Spain’s political landscape on twentieth century American ideologies, examining how concerns over fascism during World War II became fears of communism during the Cold War. Learn about broader currents of transatlantic activism in response to these movements and how the Cold War affected the world beyond the U.S. and Soviet Union.


Ryan Chaban, Physics: "Star in a Bottle: The Promises and Challenges of Nuclear Fusion"

May 9*, 2024, 2 p.m., Stryker Center  *New date to coincide with Fusion Energy Week

chaban-headshot.jpgIn December 2022, the National Ignition Facility announced the first-ever fusion reaction to produce more power than was absorbed. In this talk, Ryan Chaban, recent Physics PhD from William & Mary, will explain the science of nuclear fusion, from the quantum level to the macroscale plasma physics involved. Learn about the remaining engineering and technological hurdles to potentially making fusion a sustainable and safe energy source. Ryan will discuss the future of fusion while examining the way the world is reacting to this technology and its possibilities.