To Be Young, Gifted and Black…and Work in STEM

Social determinants of health describes how where we work, live, and play impact our health status and in particular makes certain groups sicker and die prematurely compared to more advantaged groups. These same determinants of health impact access into to STEM fields and the degree to which members of these groups can exert their agency in advancing work in their fields. The purpose of this presentation is to explore these topics interweaving personal experience, public health data, and a historical look at firsts in STEM fields.

Dr. Fleming is a Lieutenant Commander in the United States Public Health Service and serves as the dental epidemiology officer for the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES) with the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention National Center for Health Statistics.

She has conducted research on HIV/AIDS and STD related disparities, applying social determinants of health theories and models to better understand health inequities. She also conducted domestic and international epidemiological investigations related to syphilis prevention and control. Her work has been published in peer-reviewed journals, presented at national and international conferences, and used to inform local public health policies.



The Norii are coming! The Norii are coming!

Two of our favorite Mensans are making the trek down to Pandemic! and we’re super excited!

Lori Norris (a member of Rhode Island Mensa and current AMC First Vice Chair) will be running a session with Jason Seiler (our Regional Vice Chair for Region 2) called Meet the AMC.  Have a question about the AMC, Mensa or fun events; just ask… if she doesn’t have the answer they’ll try to find out later for you. Lori has two hobbies – Mensa and her husband Ron, a fellow M she met at an RG.

And speaking of….

Ron Norris has honed his bar tending skills by serving hundreds of mango margaritas at Cape Cod Mini RG, Albany’s RechaRGe, Connecticut’s MensAutumn and Boston’s Wicked Good RG, and we were lucky enough to have him serve all of MWM’s women (and a few of the men!) at Pandemic last year. He also tempts his wife and others with Strawberry Piña Coladas and various other imbibments.  Let’s see what he tempts us with in August! 🙂  We hear tell there might be a margarita bar.



Particles and Experiments: Muon Monitoring

A presentation on physics and space?  Heck yeah!

The current Standard Model of Fundamental Particles has been able to describe in a single mathematical pattern all visible matter (4 percent of the mass of the universe). It thus states that this matter consists of six electron-like leptons and six quarks making known nuclei and atoms and many unstable particles created in high-energy particle collisions. The remaining 96 percent of the Universe is made from a still mysterious set of “dark matter” and “dark energy.” The muon, an unstable lepton particle, is effectively a massy version of the electron. Muons are present in the secondary cosmic ray showers in the atmosphere, and are one of the few particles to reach in large numbers a sea level environment. They decay into three other leptons: an electron and two neutrinos, which in our experiment escape undetected. The speaker will explain her experiment, which registers the arrival and stopping of a muon as a voltage pulse, and how it could be used in applications for modern-day society.

Cioli Barazandeh received her associate’s and bachelor’s of science in space studies from American Military University at the ages of 12 and 13, consecutively. She began graduate coursework at the Florida Institute of Technology (FIT) before completion of her bachelor’s. She is currently an FIT graduate student focusing on space systems. She is also concurrently a master’s student at Purdue University engaged in the study of aeronautical and astronautical engineering funded by a full scholarship through the School of Engineering. She hopes to achieve her MS from Purdue in December 2018 and finish her MS at FIT (by May 2018), while possibly working on the research component of a doctorate. As the President of the Society of Physics Students, Annandale chapter, at Northern Virginia Community College, she currently studies with Professor Walerian Majewski and physics students, focusing on projects revolving around magnetism and particle physics.


What the Brain Conceals, the Body Reveals

Detecting deception is a matter of strong public interest. It is the subject of numerous television programs, books and articles. Unfortunately these mediums contain many misconceptions and distortions about the art and science of lie detection. This presentation explains how to effectively and efficiently detect lies and the exercise gives you the opportunity to practice your ability to recognize Non-Verbal Deception.

Initially assigned to the Albany Resident Agency of the FBI’s Atlanta Division, Atlanta, Georgia, for five years, Supervisory Special Agent (SSA) Don Sheehan handled a full range of investigative responsibilities to include: fugitives, civil rights, applicants, drugs, public corruption, crimes on a government reservation, and bank fraud. He was cited for successfully investigating and ending a series of high profile bank robberies. During the next five years he worked in the Newark Division, Newark, New Jersey, primarily on public corruption matters. His additional duties included:  Undercover Coordinator, Crisis Negotiator, Police Instructor and Criminal Investigative Analyst (Profiler).

SSA Sheehan taught and performed research in Stress Management and Critical Incident Response in the Behavioral Science Unit, Training Division, FBI Academy, Quantico, Virginia for five years. He provided consultation to the Undercover Safeguard Unit on the psychological assessment of Undercover Agents. He ended his career in the FBI teaching Interviewing, Detection of Deception and Interrogation to New Agent Trainees and managing the FBI National Academy’s Interviewing & Interrogation Program. He wrote the Interview and Interrogation lessons used to train new Iraqi police officers.

SSA Sheehan has edited two books: Domestic Violence By Police Officers and Suicide And Law Enforcement. He sits on the Editorial Boards of two professional journals: The International Journal of Emergency Mental Health and Aggression and Violent Behavior, A Review Journal. SSA Sheehan had adjunct faculty status at the University of Virginia for ten years and is the recipient of the prestigious Jefferson Award for his research on law enforcement stress. He belonged to the external Advisory Board for the Domestic Violence Center, John Jay College of Criminal Justice, The City University of New York. He has appeared on CNN and has been quoted in USA Today and the New York Times regarding police stress.

Prior to joining the FBI, SSA Sheehan served on active duty as a Second Lieutenant – Major, in the United States Marine Corps. Initially, he worked as an Infantry Officer and later assumed additional duties as a Counterintelligence Officer. In these capacities, he traveled extensively including Central America, Europe and the Far East. He retired as a Lieutenant Colonel (Lt. Col.) with a total of 26 years of active and Reserve service. Lt. Col. Sheehan received the Navy and Marine Corps Commendation Medal for exceptional service.

Born and raised in Loretto, Pennsylvania, SSA Sheehan attended Saint Francis College, Loretto, Pennsylvania, and received a Bachelor of Arts Degree in English. SSA Sheehan has a Master of Arts Degree in Psychology from Catholic University, Washington, D.C. He also received a Post-Masters Advanced Professional Certificate from Catholic University and became certified as a School Psychologist. SSA Sheehan became a Board Certified Expert in Traumatic Stress. He received a second Post-Masters Advanced Professional Certificate from the University of Virginia, Charlottesville, Virginia in Adult Education and Development.

SSA Sheehan served the Prince William County, VA Police Department on a volunteer basis for three years. He was an advisor to the Cold Case Squad. Currently, he is an Adjunct Professor of Psychology, Nova Southeastern University, Plantation, FL.


Why are doctors so hard to understand?

This talk will explore the reasons why doctors and patients often struggle to communicate with each other, even when the stakes are so high. Doctors are trained to think and talk about bodies, diseases, and treatments one way, and those of us seeking help have little to no training and often are not at our best when trying to get help. Health literacy is an idea that suggests we as a society can do better when communicating about health. Both the healthcare system and the doctors and patients who struggle to make it work can take steps to improve communication and get better health results.

Dr. Cynthia Baur, PhD is the Director of the Horowitz Center for Health Literacy. Dr. Baur has worked for thirteen years in significant communication roles with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) in Atlanta, Georgia and has helped to define best practices for health literate communications. Most recently, she served as the Senior Advisor for Health Literacy and Plain Language in the Office of the Associate Director for Communication. In this role, she created the CDC’s health literacy website, which provides tools to improve health literacy and public health. Her approach is based in communication science and is focused on providing diverse audiences with information in ways they can understand and use.

She focuses on providing clear messages using the appropriate channels for a specific audience to achieve maximum reach.  Her strategy builds in what she calls “dynamic feedback loops” so that the communication process is iterative and self-correcting. She was also a co-creator of the CDC Clear Communication Index, a tool that can be used to help organizations develop and assess the effectiveness of public communication materials. She also developed training programs to educate health professionals about their role in providing health information and services and promoting public health literacy and was lead author and editor of the National Action Plan to Improve Health Literacy. Baur earned her PhD in Communication from the University of California, San Diego and her BA in Rhetoric from the University of California, Davis.


CSA wins; Nixon defeats Kennedy; Leonov first man on Moon: Rewriting the World with Alternate History

Alternate history is a genre of fiction in which one or more historical events occur differently, causing the world as we knew it to evolve differently. It can be a rigorous exploration of how the world came to be. Ian Randal Strock wrote the short story “Shall Not Perish From the Earth” for the alternate history anthology “Altered States of the Union.” For the story, he made a seemingly minor change to the Constitution at the founding of the United States of America and then explored what would happen during Abraham Lincoln’s administration, three-quarters of a century later. In this talk, he’ll delve further into the facts and changes of the story, as well as place it within the wider realm of alternate history.

Ian is the super handsome and ultra charming author of “The Presidential Book of Lists” (Random House, 2008), “Ranking the First Ladies” and “Ranking the Vice Presidents” (Carrel Books, 2016). Award-winning author of short fiction and non-fiction, published in Nature and Analog Science Fiction and Fact. Publisher and editor-in-chief of Gray Rabbit Publications / Fantastic Books (

Maximum Containment Labs!

Maximum Containment Labs contain the most dangerous microbes…. How are they designed and tested so that we know they’re safe?

“Biological Safety Level 4” is the phrase used to describe the practices, procedures and facilities for working with the most deadly pathogens known to man.  The facilities where the laboratory work is conducted is known as a Maximum Containment Lab.  We will explore what goes into building one from the ground up.

Suzanne (Zan) Krall has been Mensa groupie for the past 19 years when she “married-in.” She was graduated by the University of Maryland in the field of Individual Studies of Occupational Safety and Health. She has worked for the Federal Government for over 30 years and is one of the few people who actually started as a GS-1.   She has toiled in the field of Occupational Safety and Health for various agencies.  She specializes in biological safety and has participated on the design, building and testing of 3 Maximum Containment Laboratories as well as other facilities. In her “copious free time”, she loves camping and playing with her many dogs.

Suzanne Krall

Revolt of the Deplorables: The Inside Story of the Greatest Political Upset in U.S. History

The 2016 presidential campaign pitted one of the best-credentialed candidates ever to seek the presidency against a shoot-from-the-lip billionaire whose followers considered themselves part of a worldwide populist movement. The outcome was the greatest upset in U.S. political history. What happened?  Based on his forthcoming book Revolt of the Deplorables, Dr. Steven J. Allen tells the inside story of a grassroots rebellion that changed the course of America and the world. Allen has been called a “digital revolutionary” (the National Journal) and “the Tea Party’s editor in chief” (The Daily Beast/Newsweek). He served as press secretary to Sen. Jeremiah Denton and senior researcher in Newt Gingrich’s presidential campaign. Currently, he is vice president and chief investigative officer of the Capital Research Center in Washington, D.C. A former Membership Officer of Metropolitan Washington Mensa, he coordinated MWM’s Politics SIG for 10 years.

Steven J. Allen grew up on a chicken farm in the Appalachian foothills and earned his MA in political science at age 19. He was a Senate press secretary; was nominated for the Alabama school board and the state Public Service Commission; held positions in the Reagan and Gingrich presidential campaigns; assisted the Clinton administration on Internet policy; and is VP of a Washington think tank.

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Why Scribbling is So Hard – An Art Therapist’s Observations

Alicia Hurst obtained an M.S. in Art Therapy from Eastern Virginia Medical School. Her thesis was a very rudimentary look at how moving the body before creating art might affect the outcome.  After spending 3 years working with forensic populations for the state of California, she moved back to the east coast and have worked with all ages in an outpatient and inpatient setting.   Currently, she is an Art Therapist for the Co-Occurring Partial Hospitalization Program for Fort Belvoir.

Her journey in this field is forever evolving as she learns more about herself and the world, however her focus hasn’t wavered much.  It’s creating a safe place for people to connect with themselves and be authentic. This presentation touches upon this topic.

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Creating Universes via String Theory

How was our universe created? Where did all the matter and energy in it come from String Theory offers surprising answers, and even more surprises because of those answers. This presentation will help you understand those possible answers and some of the other fundamental questions that excite astronomers and physicists today, in words rather than math.

Howard Jeffrey Bender has had a long career both in and supporting scientific research. At Penn State University he helped study Jupiter’s Great Red Spot using radio astronomy and discovered a new variety of tin while assisting in high-pressure physics research. He did physical and chemical analyses at the U.S. Customs Laboratory in New York for three years, was a computer scientist at NASA for 13 years, and taught software engineering at the University of Maryland for 27 years. He has written a paper on his DNA/RNA sequence research and has assisted in environmental biodiversity research in Japan, France, and the Galapagos. He was recognized for his visual improvement system by a Johns Hopkins University competition for Personal Computers to Aid the Handicapped and was awarded a patent for a process computers use to understand human languages.

He’s a mediocre bridge player, a very mediocre tennis player, and an extremely mediocre banjo player, known for being able to clear a room in less than a minute. He has a B.S. in science from Penn State University, an M.S. in computer science from Polytechnic Institute of New York, and a Ph.D. in education from the University of Maryland.

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