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> The Cutting Edge Lecture Series

The University at Buffalo Humanitites Institute in partnership with the UB, College of Arts and Sciences, UB's Center for the Arts, WNED's ThinkBright, and 88.7FM WBFO, is pleased to present The Cutting Edge lecture series, a series of five Saturday morning seminars where UB scholars give introductory presentations on a topic in their field, including recent developments. The Cutting Edge brings together top UB professors, as well as successful alumni speakers, aimed at increasing public awareness in rapidly advancing fields.

All lectures are free and of interest to the general public. Specifically, we encourage top high school students from the Buffalo-Niagara region to attend this program to further explore new realms of knowledge, not only here at the University at Buffalo but in the world.


The Cutting Edge Lecture Series

The 2008 Series is now online - click here to watch taped presentations


The Cutting Edge - Where the Future Awaits!

Explore The Cutting Edge and find out what's happening now! For five Saturdays, join some of the best and brightest of UB's faculty for a special lecture series where they discuss their most recent work. Questions and audience participation are encouraged and fun is mandatory!

A special drawing for a 1GB Jump Drive will be held at each lecture!!

Prizes: High school students that attend 3 or more lectures will receive an "Honorary Scholar" certificate and souvenir gifts.

Lectures begin at 10:30 am and end by 12:00 pm and will be held in the UB Center For The Arts North Campus. Parking is free. There will also be a free shuttle service available from the South Campus Metro Station to the Center for the Arts.


February 23 - Communication

Detecting Deception in the Age of Terrorism
Mark Frank, Associate Professor, Communication Department

Dr. Frank was featured on NPR's Morning Edition as part of NPR's three-part series on new developments in lie detection. Frank's work focuses on detection of involuntary facial "microexpressions" that may indicate a person is being deceptive. His research is useful in detecting potential terrorists at security checkpoints. NPR national security correspondent Dina Temple-Raston interviewed Frank in his Communication Science Center lab on the UB North Campus.

To listen to the NPR interview and read about it on the NPR Web site visit:


The ability to determine when someone is lying is an essential skill in the war on terrorism.  This lecture will focus on what happens when people lie, how good people are at spotting lies, and how combining this knowledge gained from laboratory research with the real world contexts and experiences of professional lie catchers to better detect those with hostile intentions.   


Mark Frank is an Associate Professor and Director of the Communication Science Center at UB, which he founded upon his return to Buffalo in 2005.  Born and raised in Buffalo, he received his BA in Psychology from UB, his Ph.D. in Social Psychology from Cornell University, and was a National Institute of Mental Health National Research Service Award recipient where he did Postdoctoral work in the Psychiatry Department at the University of California, San Francisco.  He has also been tenured faculty at the University of New South Wales in Sydney, Australia, and at Rutgers University in New Jersey prior to UB.  He has published research papers on facial expressions and interpersonal deception, and has research funding from Homeland Security, the Department of Defense, and the National Science Foundation to examine deception and behaviors in checkpoint and other counter-terrorism situations.  He has also worked with many law enforcement and intelligence agencies in the USA such as the LA Sheriff’s Department, the NJ State Troopers, US State Department, all virtually all Homeland Security agencies and Government Intelligence agencies.  He has also worked with Scotland Yard, Canadian and Australian Authorities.  He has presented briefings to the US Congress, as well as the National Academy of Sciences, on deception and counter-terrorism. Finally, he has appeared in many media appearances to talk about his work, including The New Yorker Magazine, Time Magazine, CBS Evening News, CNN, Fox News Channel, National Public Radio, CNBC, The Learning Channel, the Discovery Channel, The National Geographic Channel, the Oprah Show, the British BBC and others.


March 8 - Romance Languages & Literatures

Treasures of the Spanish Main, or the Hidden Origins of American Societies
José Buscaglia-Salgado, Associate Professor, Romance Languages and Literatures Department; Director of the Program in Caribbean Studies


Did you know that the cathedral of the first Christian city in the New World was built by Muslims, and that the first American known to have traveled around the world was a pirate from San Juan de Puerto Rico? Did anyone ever tell you that the earliest known American masterpiece was a signed painting done by an Indian from Quito and that it depicted a group of runaway slaves who had become kings of a vast territory the size of the present State of New York?

Most probably you have never had notice of these important developments in the history of civilization. As it turns out, few people are familiar with these stories due to the fact that, until recently, the prevailing narratives of "modernity" and its origins have been constructed in the centers of power in Western Europe and the United States. These stories have tended to be always partial to limited notions of humanity and civilization when not altogether based on religious intolerance or been profoundly racialized. Not surprisingly, there is much to be uncovered.

This lecture will present some of the earliest and very valuable contributions made by diverse social actors in the New World, throughout the old Spanish Main and beyond, showing in the process how these contributions gave rise to some of the most important ideas and institutions of truly universal projection and transcendence.


José Buscaglia-Salgado is an Associate Professor of Spanish and Comparative Literature, Romance Languages and Literatures Department and  Director of the Program in Caribbean Studies. He is the author of Undoing Empire, Race, and Nation in the Mulatto Caribbean.  Buscaglia is a public intellectual whose work explores the complexities of Caribbean space and aesthetics. His critical practice is thoroughly interdisciplinary, benefiting from his studies in history, architecture, and comparative literature. His scholarship is solidly grounded in archival research and in the study of iconography and architectural space.


Under Buscaglia's leadership, the University at Buffalo and the University of Havana established in 2002 the first degree-granting graduate program to be jointly administered by a Cuban and a US university.  Beginning in 2005, the program evolved into a full semester study abroad experience for advanced undergraduate students. 


March 29 - Psychology

Why are so many people bad singers yet good talkers (or are they)?

Peter Pfordresher, Associate Professor, Psychology Department

Most people consider themselves inept singers, occasionally invoking the term “tone deaf.” At the same time, it is uncommon to hear anyone doubt their ability to vocally communicate in their native language. I will discuss a line of research designed to better explore what constitutes “bad” singing from an objective standpoint, possible causes to individual differences in singing ability, and comparisons between speech and singing for music-like characteristics of each behavior (pitch, timing). The research involves analyses of the acoustical qualities of singing and speaking performed under controlled situations (in behavioral experiments).

Through this discussion, I hope to offer a clearer understanding of how people communicate vocally, and to a more realistic assessment of individual differences in vocal communication.


Peter Q. Pfordresher received degrees in psychology from the Georgetown University (B.A.), University College London (M.Sc.), and the Ohio State University (Ph.D.). His research focus is on the cognitive bases of sequential behaviors, focusing in particular on musical behaviors. In addition to the research summarized in this talk, Dr. Pfordresher has conducted research on the role of auditory feedback in performance, the relationship between memory retrieval and performance errors, and the way people use musical accents to get a sense for the ‘beat’ in music. Dr. Pfordresher’s research is funded by the National Science Foundation and he is a consulting editor for the journals Music Perception and the Journal of Experimental Psychology: Human Perception and Performance.

March 29th is also UB Preview Day
Everyone is invited to come and see all that UB has to offer accepted students! Preview Day at UB is your chance to see the University at Buffalo's many dimensions up-close and in-person.  Click here for more information


April 5 - Economics

IdeaJacked-Tsunami Level Chaos and Opportunities in Technology and Trade
Patrick Kennedy, UB Alumnus, Founder & CEO/Chairman, Cellport Systems, Boulder CO


Patrick J. Kennedy  is the Founder and CEO/Chairman of Cellport Systems of Boulder, Colorado. Cellport is oldest technology development lab and largest licensor in the $4 billion global Telematics business. Kennedy and fellow Cellport architects have advocated "open telematics connectivity" as their mantra since the company founding in 1993. Kennedy has worked to evolve and grow a portfolio of networking hardware and software technologies focused on bridging the disparities between consumer electronics and automotive technologies. Pat contributed to ten Cellport patents and leads the company's licensing and technology partnering programs.


Kennedy has a B.A. in International Economics from the University of Buffalo and has worked in the wireless and networking fields for the past 25 years. For the past 7 years Pat has served on the Dean's Advisory Counsel for the School of Arts and Sciences at UB. Additionally Pat has recently authored a book titled IdeaJacked that is expected to be published in the fall of 2008. IdeaJacked covers the importance of inventions and intellectual property (IP) in America and the current challenges to its technology driven wealth, in the global counterfeiting and IP theft markets. The book also covers future technologies and a new order in "trusted-commerce" that will emerge...


April 12 - Theatre and Dance

How One Spends the 20 Years Leading to Overnight Success
Stephen Henderson, Associate Professor, Theatre and Dance Department


This presentation will be an introduction to how fulfilling a life in the arts can be without fame or wealth; or at least until they arrive, and coming to terms with expectations of instant success.


Stephen Henderson is currently on leave from the faculty at UB and has discovered that life on TV begins at age 57. Though he has made several appearances as a judge on Law & Order and its spin-offs, Henderson has his first regular series role in New Amsterdam, which premieres March 4 on FOX. The series is about a New York homicide detective, John Amsterdam, who became immortal in 1642 and won't age until he finds his one true life. Henderson plays Omar, the jazz club owner who knows Amsterdam's secret and has "a few of his own."

 Henderson's impressive acting resume includes performances in August Wilson plays and as Van Helsing in Dracula, the Musical on Broadway. "I've been very fortunate because I was able to work with August Wilson's plays, and that happened to me at 50," said Henderson. "This is just a gas, because there is something about the texture of it that has great potential -- to talk about our country and the many different cultures that pull together in New York?It is that thing about reaching a larger audience with something that is about something?...I hope it realizes its inherent potential to discuss these large human issues that transcend time. You talk about cold-case crimes. You've got a guy who has been around for a while. There is potential to talk about some things that you don't correct in one lifetime."



Lectures and parking are free.
Call 716.645.2711 for more information, or you can email us

Special Thanks to our Sponsors:


  College of Arts and Sciences


  Center for the Arts


  WBFO radio station