Dr. 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.
Have 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.
Dr. 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.
Dr. 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.
Mr. 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.
Dr. Jimmy Mays, Professor of Chemistry and an ORNL Distinguished Scientist, will kickoff the Spring 2014 UT Science Forum Friday, January 24. His presentation, “Changing the World with Polymer Chemistry,” will focus on thermoplastic elastomers (TPEs), which are rubbery materials that can undergo large reversible deformation.
Unlike conventional crosslinked rubber, TPEs do not require chemical crosslinking, which gives advantages of lower processing costs and easy recycling. Conventional styrene/diene TPEs, for example Kraton® – a product of Kraton Polymers and a major commercial product, have changed little since their discovery 50 years ago by Shell Oil Company.
Dr. Mays will summarize the results of a fundamental study focused on understanding how changing macromolecular architecture affects morphology and mechanical properties of styrene/diene block copolymers. By optimizing macromolecular architecture, researchers have been able to develop materials that stretch much more before breaking; have superior elastic recovery; and have a highly tunable modulus. Dr. Mays and his team are presently scaling up these materials and exploring their commercial applications, including potential use in next generation condoms.
The UT Science Forum takes place every Friday from 12 p.m. to 1 p.m. in the Rooms C-D of the Thompson Boling Arena Cafe.
The UT Science Forum officers are lining up speakers for the Spring 2014 Science Forum presentations. Do you have a suggestion for a speaker? If so, please email Amanda Womac and provide the name, affiliation and possible topic for the speaker/s.
Due to the government shutdown in October 2013, Dr. Stacy Clark was unable to present her research. We have rescheduled “American Chestnut Restoration: Can We Bring Back the Mighty Giant?” for Friday, April 11, 2014.
Other confirmed speakers include Dr. Mike McKinney, who will discuss issues of homogenization of the planet and how loss of biodiversity affects our lives Feb. 7; and Dr. Jimmy Mayes (Jan. 24), who was recently awarded a grant from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation to develop a new condom that could protect against pandemics.
We will post the Spring 2014 speaker schedule as soon as it becomes available.
Dr. Nathan Schmidt, assistant professor of microbiology, will wrap up the UT Science Forum’s Fall 2013 speaker series this Friday, Nov. 22, with a presentation titled “A ‘Sweet’ Approach to Treating Malaria.”
The parasite that causes malaria has proven to be a mighty challenge and has evaded essentially all experimental vaccines. It is currently a global health crisis. Approximately 50 percent of the world’s population lives in malaria-endemic regions. Around one million people die from malaria annually.
While anti-malarial drugs have been effective at treating infected individuals, drug-resistance is a common problem and they do not prevent re-infection. Consequently, new approaches are desperately needed to treat this disease.
Dr. Schmidt will discuss his current research, which is aimed at treating malaria through probiotics and dietary supplementation with sucralose.
The UT Science Forum takes place Fridays at 12 p.m. in the Thompson-Boling Arena Café, Rooms C-D. The 40-minute presentation is followed by a Q&A session. The Science Forum is free and open to the public.
The Eastern Hellbender, also known as the hellbender salamander, is a species of giant salamanders endemic to eastern North America and fills a particular niche as predator and prey in its ecosystems. Considered a “habitat specialist,” hellbenders are generally found in areas with large, irregularly shaped rocks and swiftly moving water.
Research throughout the range of the hellbender has shown a dramatic decline in populations in the majority of locations. Conservation efforts include species habitat preservation and breeding programs at local zoos.
This Friday, Nov. 15, Mr. Phil Colclough, Director of Animal Collections and Conservation at the Knoxville Zoological Gardens, will present “Eastern Hellbender Conservation and the New Role of Zoos” at the UT Science Forum.
Zoos have changed dramatically in the past decade from purely entertainment venues, to true conservation-focused organizations. Learning to balance the two is an ongoing process for all zoos in the modern era. Hellbender conservation efforts supported by Knoxville Zoo is but one example of this new philosophy in the current zoo world.
The presentation begins at 12 p.m. in the UT Thompson-Boling Arena Café, Rooms C-D. The 40-minute presentation is followed by a Q&A.