Only hours after protestors voiced their opinions on "Climategate" outside the HUB-Robeson Center, Penn State meteorology professor Michael Mann presented a lecture on climate change to a packed auditorium in the Walker Building.
"I imagine the standing room crowd was due in part to all of the publicity, but I don't mind," Mann said. "I love talking about science to anyone who will listen."
Penn State is currently conducting an investigation on Mann's research ethics after hundreds of illegally obtained e-mails were leaked last November from a private server in the Climate Research Unit at the University of East Anglia in England. Critics say these e-mails suggest Mann and his colleagues may have misrepresented climate change evidence.
A two-month-long initial inquiry cleared Mann of three of four charges of research misconduct, but a panel of three Penn State employees decided Jan. 29 that further investigation into whether Mann undermined "public trust in science" is necessary.
While this investigation proceeds, Mann continues his duties as a professor, saying he trusts the university to continue with the investigation responsibly.
"Nobody has communicated to me that I should do anything other than what I've been doing all along at Penn State in the meantime," Mann said. "That includes teaching, advising students, performing and supervising research projects, and engaging in outreach activities aimed at informing the public about the science that my colleagues and I do."
Mann's lecture Friday focused on using paleoclimate information about past climates to inform the still-substantial uncertainties involved in using climate models to project future climate change.
Mann gives about two dozen such lectures a year, both in public and university settings. All were welcome to attend Friday's lecture.
State College resident Jim Kerhin attended the event and said he was pleased with the presentation.
"He's very knowledgeable and most impressive," Kerhin said.
Members of Eco-Action, an environmental student group, attended the lecture to show their support for Mann in light of the investigation and to learn more about his studies.
But those who are not yet convinced of the legitimacy of global warming were welcome, too. After the lecture, Mann said a local resident approached him, politely expressing his skepticism about the reality of human-caused climate change but acknowledging he enjoyed the lecture.
"I encouraged him to come to more of the talks and public lectures given by many of the experts we have here at Penn State in the area of climate change," Mann said. "In my view, one of the most important things we do here at Penn State is share our knowledge with the public."