Digestible Science: UT Science Forum Weekly Brown Bag Talks Begin Friday

KNOXVILLE—For seventy-nine years now, the University of Tennessee, Knoxville, Science Forum has brought cutting-edge science to a level understood by everyone.

All UT Science Forum presentations are held from noon to 1:00 p.m. on Fridays in Dining Room C-D in the Arena Dining Hall of Thompson-Boling Arena. Membership in the forum is not required to attend the lectures; they are free and open to the public.

This semester’s lineup of forum programs will begin with a presentation by Flora Meilleur, assistant professor of biochemistry at North Carolina State University. Her presentation, “Neutrons for Biology and Bioenergy,” will cover research she is currently doing at Oak Ridge National Laboratory.

The UT Science Forum is proud to have been hosting weekly programs since 1933.

“Some professors on campus saw that science was getting very specialized. They wanted to keep up with what other people were researching, but there was so much going on with such diverse specialties, they could not always understand what others were doing,” said Mark Littmann, journalism professor and program chairman of the forum.

To remedy this, the professors took turns briefing the group on their research, especially to see if they could help each other and their students.

“I think the forum is continuing because it really serves an important purpose; there is so much cutting-edge research at UT, Oak Ridge National Laboratory, and other local facilities, and people would like to know about it.”

Today, UT Science Forum programs are organized by Littmann. Alan Heilman, professor emeritus in botany, serves as the forum’s president; Sandra Twardosz, a professor in child and family studies, is vice president; and Mike Clark, an associate professor of earth and planetary sciences, is secretary-treasurer.

“This is not just for scientists, engineers, and health professionals. It’s also for everyone who has an interest in science but can’t follow a technical talk full of jargon. This is a chance for people to hear science presented at a level that they can understand and ask distinguished researchers questions about.”

Attendees are invited to bring their own lunch or purchase lunch at the arena. A forty-minute presentation will be followed by a question-and-answer period.

Future science forums will feature:

  • February 10: David F. Cihak, associate professor of Education, will present “Apps for Autism,” explaining how life can be improved for autistic people, especially children.
  • February 17: Mark Blevins is a history teacher and men’s basketball coach at Bearden High School. He will demonstrate his personal teaching practices in his presentation, “This Most Uncivilized War—Reenacting Civil War History in the Classroom.”
  • February 24: No meeting
  • March 2: Dawnie Wolfe Steadman is a professor of anthropology and the director of the Forensic Anthropology Center. Her talk, “Forensic Anthropology Goes Global: The Identification of Disappeared Persons,” will focus on identifying the remains of victims of terrorism and genocide.
  • March 9: Terry C. Hazen is a UT/ORNL Governor’s Chair and a professor of civil and environmental engineering. Hazen will discuss the Gulf oil spill in regards to what degree nature can clean itself up in his presentation, “Can Mother Nature Take a Punch?”
  • March 16, 23, 30, and April 6: No meetings
  • April 13: Justin M. Beaver, of ORNL’s Computational Data Analytics Group, will present “Addressing Challenges in Cyber Security through Intelligent Computing.” In light of the recent foreign and anonymous hackings into government files, Beaver will cover digital spying and how to protect national and corporate computer systems against cyber-attacks.
  • April 20: Dr. Tom Terrell is an associate professor of family medicine at the UT Graduate School of Medicine. He will speak about “Concussions in College Sports: Are There Genetic Factors that Influence Risk?”
  • April 27: Norman Mannella, assistant professor of physics and astronomy, will deliver a talk titled “The Discovery of Quanta: The Birth of Modern Physics.” His presentation is an appreciation of how science came to its modern perspectives.

For additional information, visit the UT Science Forum web site.

C O N T A C T :

Mark Littmann (865-974-8156, littmann@utk.edu)

Amy Blakely (865-974-5034, ablakely@utk.edu)

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