UT Science Forum

Presented by Quest



Bringing Back the Mighty Giant: American Chestnut at next forum

The-American-Chestnut-TreeDr. Stacy Clark, research forester with the U.S. Forest Service, will present: “American Chestnut Restoration: Can We Bring Back the Mighty Giant?” at the next UT Science Forum Friday, April 11.

The American chestnut (Castanea dentata) was one of the most widely distributed and important tree species in eastern North America until decimated in the early part of the 20th century by an exotic fungus from Asia, the chestnut blight. Planting trees that have been bred for blight-resistance using Chinese chestnut (Castanea mollissima) has led to some important discoveries. The return of American chestnut into forests of the eastern United States will face challenges from native and non-native plants, animals, insects and diseases, in addition to the chestnut blight.

Dr. Clark will present her current research findings and share her thoughts on bringing back this mighty giant.

The UT Science Forum takes place Fridays from 12 p.m. to 1 p.m in the Thompson-Boling Arena Cafe, Rooms C-D. Each 40-minute presentation is followed by a Q&A. The UT Science Forum is free and open to the public.


Solving Problems Through Scientific Computing at next Forum

computer-simulationsDr. Steven Wise, association professor of mathematics at the University of Tennessee, will present “Simulations for Solutions: Solving problems through scientific computing” at the next UT Science Forum Friday, April 4.

Computer simulation is used in almost every aspect of our lives, from the design of the antenna on our smartphones, to the weather forecast that we rely on before we leave for work in the mornings. But, what are computer simulations really? Are they reliable? Are there problems that we cannot solve with computers?

There are some amazing success stories in the history of computer simulation, and, in fact, there are certainly things that human beings simply could not do without relying upon computers to crunch the numbers. However, with any subject that has a history, there are also great failures and cautionary tales we all should heed.

Dr. Wise will discuss the advent of scientific computing, from the early days at Princeton and Los Alamos and the building of the first atomic weapons, to the present day and the great triumphs of modern computing. Wise’s lecture is also speculative about the future, as he will speak about what challenges lie ahead and how we might—and might not—be able to solve some of our biggest problems with the help of computers.

The UT Science Forum starts at 12 p.m. in the Thompson-Boling Arena Cafe, Rooms C-D. The 40-minute presentation is followed by a Q&A session.


Arctic Alaska: Wild, Wonderful and Warming at next Forum

arctic-alaska-wild-warming-stan-wullschlegerDr. Stan Wullschleger, project director of Next-Generation Ecosystem Experiments at ORNL, will present “Arctic Alaska: Wild, Wonderful, and Warming” at the next UT Science Forum Friday, March 28.

Rising temperatures in high-latitude ecosystems bring into question the vulnerability of frozen soil or permafrost to thaw and degradation. Organic matter stored for thousands of years is slowly becoming available for microbial decomposition with implications for our planet’s climate. While important, that is just part of the story; the tip of the terrestrial iceberg.

Dr. Wullschleger will address, through a mixture of science and travelogue, the rest of the story as he focuses his presentation on the landscape-scale consequences of further warming in the Arctic.

The UT Science Forum takes place Fridays from 12 p.m. to 1 p.m. in the UT Thompson-Boling Arena Cafe, Rooms C-D. The 40-minute presentation is followed by a Q&A session. The UT Science Forum is free and open to the public.


UT Science Forum on Spring Break

The UT Science Forum is on spring break for the next two weeks – March 14 and 21.

We will resume our weekly Science Forum series Friday, March 28 with Dr. Stan Wullschleger, project director of the Next-Generation Ecosystems Experiments at ORNL. His talk is titled “Arctic Alaska: Wild, Wonderful and Warming.”

We will post more information about his talk soon, so please check back.


Saving the “Less Glamorous Wildlife” at the next UT Science Forum

Little brown bats with white-nose syndrome, New YorkDr. Marcy J. Souza, DVM, MPH, assistant professor of biomedical and diagnostic sciences in the College of Veterinary Medicine, will present “Epidemics of Less Glamorous Wildlife: What Can We Do to Stop Them?” at the next UT Science Forum Friday, March 7.

When people think of saving wildlife, they often think of charismatic mega-fauna such as elephants, rhinos, pandas and tigers.  But these types of animals only make up a small proportion of the animals that share our planet.

Two less glamorous types of animals, amphibians and bats, have been under attack from various threats, but fungal diseases may lead to extinction of some species. Chytrid fungus attacks the skin of amphibians and can lead to massive die-offs, although some species seem to be resistant to disease.  Similarly, white nose syndrome of bats has led to the death of between 5 and 7 million bats in North America and is still spreading. Dr. Souza will discuss these two major epidemics of wildlife and what interventions are being conducted worldwide and at UT to try to stop them.

The UT Science Forum begins at 12 p.m. in the Thompson Boling Arena Cafe, Rooms C-D. The 40-minute presentation will be followed by a Q&A session. The UT Science Forum, presented by Quest, is free and open to the public.


Learning from Florida’s Past to Prepare for the Future

florida-geological-past-learning-for-future-don-goldsteinDon Goldstein, a paleontology researcher, will present “How Can Florida’s Geological Past Help Us Prepare for the Future?” at the next UT Science Forum Friday, February 28.

During the past 2 million years, Florida has been partially covered by the sea repeatedly, which provides enormous volumes of fossil materials for study. The patterns of depositions and the distribution of the animals reveal a picture of a tropical to subtropical environment similar to South Florida today. It also shows the periodic tropical storms.

The pattern of flooding of the peninsula revealed by the geographic distribution of the Pleistocene deposits, gives researchers a picture of where future flooding may occur for sea level changes of various heights above the current level.  Researchers compare maps of the past marine coverage of the peninsula (prepared by Dr. E.J. Petuch) with predictive maps of flooding to discover various proposed sea level changes. 

During his presentation, Mr. Goldstein will share these maps and discuss various means of adapting to the possible geological changes in South Florida. 

The UT Science Forum takes place every Friday from 12 p.m. to 1 p.m. in the Thompson-Boling Arena Cafe, Rooms C-D. The 40-minute presentation is followed by a Q&A session. The UT Science Forum is free and open to the public.

 


Sleep and the Role of the Internal Clock at next UT Science Forum

sleep-and-the-role-of-the-internal-clock-theresa-leeHave you ever lived with a baby, a teenager or the very elderly? If so, you know that sleep patterns differ across our lifespans. You might have also noticed the individual variation at the same age in preferred sleep times, which is often described as “larks and owls.”

Dr. Theresa Lee, Dean of the College of Arts & Sciences and Professor of Psychology, will present “Tick Tock: Sleep Across the Lifespan and the role of the Internal Clock” at the next UT Science Forum February, 21, 2014.

What controls the timing and amount of sleep? Why is there such variation across the lifespan? What does normal sleep look like at different ages and in different individuals at the same age? 

Dr. Lee will provide some background on the biology of sleep control and describe some research from humans and other species that helps explain the great variation within a lifetime of sleep and what is “normal.”

Join us Friday, Feb. 21 in the Thompson-Boling Arena Cafe, Rooms C-D, at 12 p.m. for our weekly Science Forum. A Q&A session will follow the 40-minute presentation. The UT Science Forum is free and open to the public.


Linguist to Share How We Process Foreign Languages

native-like-brain-processesDr. Harriet Wood Bowden, assistant professor of Spanish at the University of Tennessee, will present “It’s not too late: Native-like brain processing of foreign language in university learners” at the next UT Science Forum February 14.

Dr. Bowden will share findings from a study that examined how university foreign language Spanish learners process difference aspects of the language. Results from the study indicate that late learners of a foreign language who studied for several semesters and spend one or two semesters abroad showed substantial native-like brain processing of both lexical and grammatical aspects of Spanish.

The presentation will begin at 12 p.m. in the Thompson Boling Arena Cafe, Rooms C-D. The 40-minute presentation will conclude with a Q & A.

The UT Science Forum, presented by Quest, is free and open to the public.


Scientist to Speak on Homogenization of the Planet at Next Science Forum

mike-mckinney-wild-lands-projectDr. Michael McKinney, director of the Environmental Studies and Sustainability Program and professor of Earth and Planetary Sciences at the University of Tennessee will present “Homogenizing the planet: What to do about it?” at the UT Science Forum Friday, Feb. 7.

Humans are homogenizing the planet in many ways, especially culturally and biologically. As we multiply, disperse and build, increasingly sprawling cities, we transform unique and diverse habitats into much simpler and more similar habitats solely for our own needs. This is creating a depauperate biosphere inhabited by the relative few species that are able to adapt to human habitats.

Dr. McKinney will discuss at least two solutions to this problem. One is to make our cities more sustainable: creating cities that promote biodiversity at several scales. This means more greenspace, especially those with native plants and more “urban wilderness” projects. A second solution is to make our cities more compact and do a better job of promoting biodiversity outside of the cities. This is exemplified by the Wildlands Project, which seeks to maximize the amount of land devoted to nature conservation and also connect those lands so that species can migrate between them.

The UT Science Forum takes place in the Thompson-Boling Arena Cafe, Rooms C-D. The 40-minute presentation begins at 12 p.m. and is followed by a short Q & A session. The UT Science Forum, presented by Quest, is free and open to the public.


Historian to Share “Stories from the Secret City”

ray-smith-stories-from-the-secret-city-ut-science-forumMr. Ray Smith, historian at the Y-12 National Security Complex, will present “Stories from the Secret City” at the UT Science Forum Friday, January 31.

Mr. Smith will provide an overview of the early history of Oak Ridge. His primary focus will be on the Y-12 National Security Complex, but will include some Oak Ridge National Laboratory (ORNL) history as well.

Stories he will share include how the East Tennessee location was selected and the predictions of the “Prophet of Oak Ridge.” Historical images by Ed Westcott will form the basis of the visuals and be the backdrop for the stories of Oak Ridge’s history during the Manhattan Project.

In addition, Mr. Smith will discuss the Cold War ear and today’s Oak Ridge missions and, if time permits, the joint nonproliferation efforts between ORNL and Y-12.

The UT Science Forum takes place in the Thompson-Boling Arena Cafe, Rooms C-D. The 40-minute presentation will begin at 12 p.m. A Q&A session will follow.

The University of Tennessee, Knoxville. Big Orange. Big Ideas.

Knoxville, Tennessee 37996 | 865-974-1000
The flagship campus of the University of Tennessee System and partner in the Tennessee Transfer Pathway.