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.
Dr. Devin White, senior research scientist of geocomputation at Oak Ridge National Laboratory and assistance professor of Anthropology at UT will present “Archaeological Discoveries from Space” at the UT Science Forum Friday, November 8.
There have been several exciting archaeological discoveries in the news over the past few years, from lost pyramids in Egypt to lost cites in Belize, Mexico and Cambodia. These discoveries were made possible by using remote sensing technology, which is also behind much of what you see in Google Earth.
Dr. White will highlight several of the discoveries and how the technology played a central role in each one.
The presentation will begin 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.
Gerry Dinkins, Curator of Malacology & Natural History at the McClung Museum, will speak on “Rediscovery of the Nearly Extinct Alabama Lampmussel in the Emory River” at the UT Science Forum Friday, November 1.
The Alabama lampmussel is considered to be the rarest mussel in North America; in Alabama, they can be found in only one area and were thought to be all but extinct. None were known to remain in Tennessee until their discovery in the Emory River two years ago.
Mollusk research collection at the McClung Museum
The freshwater mussels within the Paul W. Parmalee Malacological Collection at the McClung Museum consists of approximately 50,000 specimens representing over 250 distinct taxa and possesses a significant representation of the entire North America mussel fauna.
There remains in the collection a significant amount of uncatalogued specimens of freshwater mussels, aquatic snails, and land snails. The curatorial staff of the Paul W. Parmalee Malacological Collection has built an electronic database of the freshwater mussel collection, which numerous academic researchers, state and federal agencies, and conservation organizations have accessed for information regarding status and distribution of imperiled and non-imperiled species. With help from several graduate and undergraduate students from UT’s Departments of Geology and Forestry, Wildlife, and Fisheries, the staff in the collection has begun the process of accessioning the large quantity of aquatic and land snail material, some of which dates to the late 1800s.
The Paul W. Parmalee Malacological Collection functions as a resource for teaching, research, and outreach. Ongoing research involving the collection and its staff includes an extensive survey of the mussel and aquatic snail fauna of the Buffalo River system in Middle Tennessee, an analysis of the age structure of a Federal Endangered mussel species using specimens recently collected from the Tennessee River compared to specimens collected by native Americans approximately 2,000 ago, and a survey for the Federal Endangered Alabama Lampmussel in the Obed River system in East Tennessee.
Kasey Krouse, Urban Forester with the City of Knoxville, will present “Knoxville Urban Forestry – Year One” at the next UT Science Forum Friday, October 25.
The City of Knoxville has recognized the importance of properly investing in trees and has developed an Urban Forestry Division through the Public Service Department to plant, manage, and protect these valuable assets.
A variety of different strategies have been used in the City of Knoxville Urban Forestry Program to improve tree canopy within the City of Knoxville. One such strategy is the use of i-Tree, a state-of-the-art software from the USDA Forest Service. The i-Tree Tools help communities to quantify the environmental benefits that trees provide in order to strengthen urban forest management and advocacy efforts.
Mr. Krouse’s presentation will focus on two particular strategies used in the City of Knoxville Urban Forestry Program and provide an update on the state of urban forestry in Knoxville.
The presentation begins Friday, October 25th at noon in the Thompson-Boling Arena Cafe, rooms C-D. A Q&A will follow the presentation.
Dr. Chad Duty, Deposition Science and Technology Group Leader at Oak Ridge National Laboratory (ORNL), will talk about the current research being conducted at ORNL on 3D Printing this Friday, October 11 at the UT Science Forum.
Also known as additive manufacturing, 3D Printing is an advanced manufacturing technique that builds complex three-dimensional components from a computer aided design (CAD) package by selectively depositing two-dimensional patters and layering them to build a fully 3D part. This technique removes several of the traditional constraints on part geometry and allows for a paradigm shift in terms of design flexibility, cycle time and manufacturing cost.
Dr. Duty’s presentation will introduce current research topics in the area of 3D Printing within ORNL’s Manufacturing Demonstration Facility and provide numerous examples of the use of this exciting technology.
UT Science Forum presentations begin Fridays at noon in the Thompson-Boling Arena Cafe, rooms C-D. A question-and-answer session will follow the 40-minute presentation. The Science Forum is free and open to the public.
Please note: This presentation has been cancelled due to the government shutdown. Please join us next week for “3D Printing: The Next Generation of Manufacturing.”
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.
The American chestnut was highly valued for food, rot-resistant lumber and tannin.
Researchers with the Upland Hardwood Ecology and Management Research Work Unit (RWU 4157) have been conducting American chestnut research since 1995. The primary goal of the chestnut research program is to develop protocols that managers can implement to restore this species.
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.
Planting trees that have been bred for blight-resistance using Chinese chestnut (Castanea mollissima) has led to some important discoveries. Dr. Stacy Clark, research forester for the U.S. Forest Service and the Department of Forestry, Wildlife, and Fisheries at the University of Tennessee, was to present this research Friday, October 4. However, due to the government shutdown, she will not be able to present her federally-funded research. We will postpone her presentation until the Spring semester.
The UT Science Forum takes place every Friday at 12 p.m. in the Thompson-Boling Arena Cafe, Rooms C-D. The Forum is free and open to the public.
This Friday, Sept. 27, the UT Science Forum is headed to outer space with one of the world’s foremost experts on the composition of Mars: Dr. Hap McSween, UT Chancellor’s Professor of Earth and Planetary Sciences.
In his presentation, “Exploring the Asteroid Vesta: NASA’s Dawn Mission,” Dr. McSween will share information about the Dawn spacecraft, which has completed its orbital investigation of Vesta and is now en route to Ceres. The properties of these two massive asteroids provide an interesting view of the diversity of planetary building blocks.
Launched in 2007, the nearly decade-long mission will look at the asteroid Vesta and dwarf planet Ceres. Scientists hope to compare these two celestial bodies and the evolutionary path each took during the formation of the solar system. Data from the Dawn spacecraft could provide opportunities for significant breakthroughs in our understanding of how the solar system formed.
Dr. McSween has won a number of national and international awards and has long been funded by NASA for research on meteorites. His influence is so renowned that he even has an asteroid – 5223 McSween – named in his honor by the International Astronomical Union.
The UT Science Forum takes place every Friday at 12 p.m. in the Thompson Boling Arena Café, rooms C-D. Click here for a list of upcoming speakers.
Dr. Jill Mikucki, assistant professor of microbiology, will discuss her research in Antarctica at this week’s Science Forum Friday, Sept. 20.
Her topic: “Antarctica: Exploring Ecosystems Below Half a Mile of Ice,” will highlight her experiences as part of the Whillans Subglacial Access Research Drilling (WISSARD) team, which collected water and sediment samples from an subglacial lake in January; an exciting first in Antarctic exploration.
In her research, Dr. Mikucki looks at how the impact of microbial metabolism is detected on an ecosystem scale by studying the interactions between microbes and their environment. However, exploring microbial ecosystems in Antarctic subglacial environments requires drilling through hundreds of meters of ice and doing so in a clean way, in order to collect samples.
Because of their isolation and relatively simple food webs, subglacial environments serve as the “model” ecosystem to study microbially-mediated processes. These environments are an important, yet poorly understand part of the Earth’s system.
The UT Science Forum takes place every Friday at 12 p.m. in the Thompson-Boling Arena Cafe, Rooms C-D. The 40-minute presentation is followed by at Q&A.