Science on Tap

Science on Tap in Saratoga is a series of informal talks and discussions about science. Started in 2018,  Dr. Kurt Smemo from The Environmental Studies and Sciences Program at Skidmore College and Dr. Wendy Mahaney from Sustainable Saratoga wanted to find a way to increase the communication between scientists and the public. The result, Science on Tap in Saratoga is a series of informal talks and discussions led by regional scientists and researchers. In 2019, we welcomed the Saratoga Performing Arts Center as a partner in our efforts.

Join us for monthly talks that at The Parting Glass address a diverse array of contemporary scientific research topics and debates. Click here to see the 2019 Fall schedule.


November 26: Dr. Lia Ball

Dr. Lia Ball, Assistant Professor of Chemistry at Skidmore College, will present Molecular Shape-shifters: Understanding information flow in cells and viral invasion on Tuesday, November 26 at 6:30 at the Parting Glass. As always, admission is free and all ages are welcome. Come early to get settled so the talk can start promptly at 6:30.

Talk Synopsis

Our genes code for protein molecules, tiny machines that complete all types of cellular processes, but how do these proteins that are too small to be seen under a microscope actually function? Dr. Ball uses state-of-the-art computer simulations to get a detailed picture of how these proteins pass messages in our cells and even how viral proteins can hijack cellular functions. While scientists normally think of proteins as having only one structure, some of these proteins are much more flexible and can change shape to complete their function. Computer simulations allow us study this shape-shifting ability and better understand the tiny machines inside our cells.

About the Speaker

Dr. Lia Ball is an Assistant Professor of Chemistry at Skidmore College. Dr. Ball usescomputer simulations and other computational methods to study how intrinsically disordered proteins (IDPs) interact with folded proteins in the context of disease, or as part of normal cellular function. IDPs are different from typical folded proteins in that they lack a single well-defined structure and instead dynamically occupy many alternate structures. Dr. Ball’s interdisciplinary research draws on knowledge from physics, chemistry, biology, and computer science to understand the interactions between disordered and folded proteins and how these interactions are important for their function. One current research project focused on how an IDP that is part of the HIV virus interacts with folded human proteins to change their structure, dynamics, and function.