February 19 
Amey Kaloti (Georgia Tech) 
Stein fillings of planar open books
The goal of this talk is to study geography and classification problem for Stein fillings of contact structures supported by planar open books. In the first part we will prove that for contact structures supported by planar open books Stein fillings have a finite geography. In the second part we will talk about classification of Stein fillings of virtually overtwisted contact structures on lens space L(pn+p+1,n+1). 
February 26 
Yi Li (Johns Hopkins) 
A new way to Hopf's conjectures and Yau's problem
In this talk, I describe a way from geometric analysis to try to prove the Hopf conjectures on positively curved manifolds. Namely, any compact even dimensional Riemannian manifold of positive sectional curvature has positive Euler characteristic, and S^2 * S^2 can not admit any Riemannian metric of positive sectional curvature. Our method may also give an affirmative answer to a longstanding problem of Yau: does there exist an effective circle action on a compact Riemannian manifold of positive sectional curvature? This is a joint work with Kefeng Liu.

March 5 
Rui Wang (UW Madison) 
Canonical connection on contact manifolds and its application to contact instantons
In this talk, I will define a new connection which we call the canonical connection associated to every contact triad. We use it to study the contact instanton which is a generalization of Hofer's pseudoholomorphic curve in symplectization. I will sketch how to use this connection to study the asymptotic behavior of contact instanton and also other analytic properties. We expect to study the moduli space of such contact instantons and then to define a new type of contact homology without involving symplectization. This is a joint work with YongGeun Oh. 
April 2 
Michael Brandenbursky (Vanderbilt) 
Quasiisometric embeddings, quasimorphisms and groups of geometric origin
Let M be a smooth compact connected oriented manifold of dimension at least two endowed with a volume form. Assuming certain conditions on the fundamental group of M, I will construct quasiisometric embeddings of either free Abelian or direct products of nonAbelian free groups into the group of volumepreserving diffeomorphisms of M equipped with the L^p metric induced by a Riemannian metric on M. If time permits I will explain a relation between quasimorphisms, the L^p metrics and quasiisometric embeddings of vector spaces into the above group.

April 9 
Cheryl Balm (Michigan State) 
Crossing changes, satellites and twisting operations
An easily stated question in knot theory asks when a crossing change in a knot diagram leaves the underlying knot unchanged. We will explore a related question involving cosmetic generalized crossing changes, which are defined in terms of Dehn surgery in the knot complement. In particular, we will find obstructions to the existence of cosmetic crossing changes in families of knots obtained from satellite and twisting operations on the torus. 
April 16 
Matthew Graham (Boston College) 
Grid and Marked Movies
Recently Sarkar defined maps for the combinatorial version of knot Floer homology (HFK) whose underlying grid maps could be viewed as births, deaths and saddles. Juhasz has shown that the hat version of HFK is functorial with respect to smooth decorated cobordisms. This leads one to ask the question, "Do these grid diagram maps induce maps on HFK that are invariant with respect to smooth marked isotopy classes of surfaces?" In this talk I will discuss and provide the necessary topological constructions to make sense of this question. Specifically, I will introduce grid movies and show how they correspond to smooth embedded surfaces and I will generalize Carter, Rieger and Saito's movie move theorem: to grid movies; smooth marked movies; and grid marked movies. If there is time, I will briefly sketch some of the necessary steps to answer the motivating question in the affirmative.

April 23 
Matt Hogancamp (UVa) 
Thesis Defense: Local and quasilocal sl(2) link homology 
April 26 
Michael Freedman (Microsoft Station Q) 
Distortion of knots and complexes 
April 30 
Cagatay Kutluhan (Harvard) 
Holonomy filtration and knots
Motivated by the construction of the isomorphisms between Heegaard Floer and SeibergWitten Floer homologies (joint with YiJen Lee and Clifford H. Taubes), we will describe a (Z+Z)filtered monopole knot homology isomorphic to OzsvathSzabo's knot Floer homology. 