Spring 2020 Semester Schedule

It’s that time of the year, mark your calendars! We have four wonderful speakers scheduled for the semester of talks, on the second Thursday of every month:

  • February 13: Natalie Foster – Dust to dust: the life cycle of stars in our universe
  • March 12: Tristan Kubik – Fermented fantasia: a leavenly evening sure to spoil you rotten!
  • April 9: Christina Balentine – Super humankind: how humans have adapted to thrive all over the world
  • May 14: Isaac Miller-Crews – Animal brains!

Science Under the Stars is a free public outreach lecture series in Austin, Texas. Events are held outdoors at Brackenridge Field Laboratory, 2907 Lake Austin Blvd, Austin, Texas 78703. Arrive early for refreshments and fun activities for kids of all ages!

Note: We will post the precise schedules for each event in a separate, event-specific post. Follow this blog or our Facebook page to get event notifications.

First time visitor? Please read our pet policy & field station rules here, and find parking info and directions here.

Parking at Brackenridge Field Laboratory

An update on parking at BFL: new signs have been placed in the parking lot that state that parking is only allowed for UT permit-holders. Please disregard these signs; you are allowed to park at BFL for SUTS!

Spring Neighborhood Science at Twin Oaks Branch Library

Science Under the Stars has expanded to include the Austin Public Library! At Neighborhood Science, previous SUTS speakers will present at different library branches around the city a couple times a month. Below are the dates and descriptions for this fall at the Twin Oaks Branch Library, 1800 S 5th St, Austin, TX 78704. All talks begin at 7pm.


Portrait of an iguana

Photo credit: Bjørn Christian Tørrissen

March 24th at 7:00pm: Francisco Llauger – “Through Claws and Scales: Reptiles, Conservation, and Iguanas of the Caribbean”
Reptiles are often among the most misunderstood animals walking, crawling, and slithering across our planet, but I’ve always seen nothing but fascinating beings that deserve our respect. I’ve led my life trying to study these creatures, and now I invite you to take that journey with me as we look at why these animals need our protection and look at a unique group of lizards nestled across the white sand beaches of the Caribbean-Cyclura, the most endangered lizards in the world!

 

Blue cheese

Photo credit: Hubertl

April 21st at 7:00pm: Tristan Kubik – “Fermented fantasia: a leavenly evening sure to spoil you rotten!”
Planet Earth is infested with germs. They coat everything from the surface of our skin to the machines we use, and yes, even the food we eat. Some of these germs can make us sick, some disgust us with their putrid byproducts, while still others poison the very air we breathe. But hiding amidst these tales of illness and foul decomposition is a love story of epic proportions. Amidst the fray of villainous viruses, bad bacteria, and insidious fungi are a few unsung heroes and gifted culinary artisans. What happens when animals break bread with these good microorganisms? What possibilities are unlocked when two unlikely allies team up and turn terrible into terribly wonderful. Together we’ll embark on an unexpectedly delicious adventure. Join me for a leavenly evening as I relate one of the world’s lesser-known love stories, a tale of deliberate food spoilage we affectionately refer to as fermentation!

Spring Neighborhood Science at Howson Branch Library

Science Under the Stars has expanded to include the Austin Public Library! At Neighborhood Science, previous SUTS speakers will present at different library branches around the city a couple times a month. Below are the dates and descriptions for this fall at the Howson Branch Library, 2500 Exposition Blvd, Austin, TX 78703. All talks begin at 7:30pm. **These talks will be held outdoors, so bring a chair and dress accordingly! Talks will be moved indoors in case of inclement weather.


Portrait of an iguana

Photo credit: Bjørn Christian Tørrissen

February 25th at 7:30pm: Francisco Llauger – “Through Claws and Scales: Reptiles, Conservation, and Iguanas of the Caribbean”
Reptiles are often among the most misunderstood animals walking, crawling, and slithering across our planet, but I’ve always seen nothing but fascinating beings that deserve our respect. I’ve led my life trying to study these creatures, and now I invite you to take that journey with me as we look at why these animals need our protection and look at a unique group of lizards nestled across the white sand beaches of the Caribbean-Cyclura, the most endangered lizards in the world!

 

Blue cheese

Photo credit: Hubertl

March 31st at 7:30pm: Tristan Kubik – “Fermented fantasia: a leavenly evening sure to spoil you rotten!”
Planet Earth is infested with germs. They coat everything from the surface of our skin to the machines we use, and yes, even the food we eat. Some of these germs can make us sick, some disgust us with their putrid byproducts, while still others poison the very air we breathe. But hiding amidst these tales of illness and foul decomposition is a love story of epic proportions. Amidst the fray of villainous viruses, bad bacteria, and insidious fungi are a few unsung heroes and gifted culinary artisans. What happens when animals break bread with these good microorganisms? What possibilities are unlocked when two unlikely allies team up and turn terrible into terribly wonderful. Together we’ll embark on an unexpectedly delicious adventure. Join me for a leavenly evening as I relate one of the world’s lesser-known love stories, a tale of deliberate food spoilage we affectionately refer to as fermentation!

 

Snake being held in hand

Photo credit: Anne Chambers

April 28th at 7:30pm: Anne Chambers – “Slithering serpents: biodiversity, natural history, and common misconceptions of snakes”
Do snakes really dislocate their jaws while feeding? How can you tell if a snake is dangerous? Are all snakes deaf? How did snakes evolve and what role do they play in an ecosystem? Get the answers to these questions and more during an evening exploring everything to do with snakes!

Drawings of brains of human, dog fish, frog, alligator, and ostrich

Photo credit: Internet Archive Book Images

May 19th at 7:30pm: Isaac Miller-Crews – “Animal brains”
How do animal brains evolve? Come take a dive into neuroscience, looking at how animals (including humans!) use their brains. We will examine what is different and what seems to stay the same across a wide range of species.

 

First Neighborhood Science of the Semester!

Claire Hemingway – Brainy bats: strategies for finding food in the jungle at night

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Bats are remarkable in their diversity. Over 1300 species of bats can be found in every continent, except Antarctica. They come in a variety of different sizes, shapes, and colors They also eat many different things such as fruit, nectar, insects, frogs, and fish. Because many bats have to find their food at night, they have evolved a whole suite of different hunting strategies. The brains of these impressive animals have been shaped for a long time to allow bats to find and remember where food is. I will cover just a handful of examples of the ways in which these animals have come up with solutions for finding food at night.

Science Under the Stars has expanded to include the Austin Public Library! At Neighborhood Science, previous SUTS speakers will present at different library branches around the city a couple times a month. This fun free talk for people of all ages will be held at the Howson Branch Library (2500 Exposition Blvd) on Tuesday, January 28th starting at 7:30pm. Q&A will follow the talk.

**This talk will be held outdoors, so bring a chair and dress warmly!

February 13, Natalie Foster

Dust to dust: the life cycle of stars in our universe

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Astronomer Carl Sagan said, “We are made of star stuff.” Every living thing on this planet (and the universe!) is composed of the remains of stars that existed before the Earth was formed. Our own star, the Sun, continues to drive the processes that sustain us, such as photosynthesis in plants. Why is the Sun so hot? What happens when stars run out of fuel? When will the Sun reach the end of its life? Let’s discover the answers together!

Science Under the Stars is a free public outreach lecture series in Austin, Texas. The talk will be held outdoors at Brackenridge Field Laboratory, 2907 Lake Austin Blvd, Austin, Texas 78703. Here’s the schedule for this month’s event:

  • 6:00 pm: Snacks, kids activities, and displays of local animals and plants found at Brackenridge Field Laboratory will be available.
  • 6:15 pm-6:45 pm: Guided tour of the field lab (wear sturdy shoes and bring water)!
  • 7:00 pm: Settle in, because the talk begins now!
  • 7:45 pm: Q&A with the speaker.

First time visitor? Please read our pet policy & field station rules here, and find parking info and directions here.