Archive by Author | Christina Balentine

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!


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A Sweat Bee native to Texas covered in pollen. credit: Alejandro Santillana, Insects Unlocked

Tuesday, September 24, 7:30pm: Megan O’Connell – “Bees go grocery shopping” 

How to Think, Dance, and Grocery Shop Like a Bee! We humans depend on bees for a lot more than we realize, but the bees need our help! Around the world bees are struggling to survive and now it is up to us to save them. One place to start is to understand which bees live around us (spoiler alert: it’s not just honey bees!), how they think, and what they like to eat. We’ll share all the interesting ways scientists gather this information, what we know so far, and most importantly, what you can do to help!

 

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Bats use sonar to see. Credit: Uwe Schmidt

Tuesday, October 29, 7:30pm: Caitlin Leslie – “Sensory Superheroes: Extreme Animal Sensory Systems”

Like Superman’s X-ray vision or Daredevil’s radar sense, animals often have abilities  to perceive the world that humans could only imagine! They see colors that we are blind to, detect heat with their faces, send calls through the ground, and communicate with electricity. Come learn about some of the extreme sensory systems that exist in the animal world that allow them to hunt, navigate, and communicate in superhuman ways!

 

Tuesday, November 26, 7:30pm: Chase Rakowski – “Plankton: the little alien-like creatures that might save us all” 

Description coming soon!

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Leafcutter ants defending their nest against an army ant. Credit: Alex Wild Photography

Wednesday, December 4, 7:30pm: Tristan Kubik – “Clash of the Myrmidons” 

The Amazon rainforest is home to two unexpected titans. Leafcutter ants are peaceful, sedentary farmers responsible for processing huge volumes of tropical vegetation. They use their foraging material to cultivate obligate, fungal nurseries that cradle precious brood deep within their subterranean fortresses. Few organisms are courageous or capable enough to threaten mature leafcutter colonies, but the tank army ant is one of them. Tank army ants are nomadic, subterranean ant-killing machines. Their colonies can reach as many as several million and their hunger for leafcutters is insatiable. They flush out and overwhelm kilograms of prey every day with their numbers, mandibles, and venomous stings. And yet, leafcutter nests are not without defenses. Leafcutter colonies rapidly mount impressive responses to the alarming presence of tank army ant scouts including specialized soldiers, construction of barricades, and air-tight linear battlefronts. These two large, complex, derived societies clash in epic battles akin to the wars waged long ago by the Greeks and Romans with heroes just as notable as Hercules and Achilles. Such examples of social conflict are of great interest to systems science and parallels can be drawn to instances of immune systems vs disease, competing economies, and even human warfare. Join me for a night of bravery, sacrifice, and storytelling as I share my passion and knowledge about this riveting rivalry!

 

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!

September 12, Megan O’Connell

Bees go grocery shopping

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How to Think, Dance, and Grocery Shop Like a Bee! We humans depend on bees for a lot more than we realize, but the bees need our help! Around the world bees are struggling to survive and now it is up to us to save them. One place to start is to understand which bees live around us (spoiler alert: it’s not just honey bees!), how they think, and what they like to eat. We’ll share all the interesting ways scientists gather this information, what we know so far, and most importantly, what you can do to help!

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:

  • 7:00 pm: Snacks, kids activities, and displays of local animals and plants found at Brackenridge Field Laboratory will be available.
  • 7:15 pm-7:45 pm: Guided tour of the field lab (wear sturdy shoes and bring water)!
  • 8:00 pm: Settle in, because the talk begins now!
  • 8:45 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.

Have a great summer!

Thanks for coming out to our talks this semester, we all had a blast! See you again in September 🙂

May 16th Neighborhood Science

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.


Sarah Barfield – Permaculture principles in the sustainable food movement

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Demand for sustainable, locally produced food is growing across the U.S. This movement has led to a resurgence in local farmer’s markets, urban gardening, and farms utilizing sustainable soil practices guided by permaculture principles. The results of these past and ongoing efforts to produce sustainable food have to led to incredible examples of abused land that has been restored to healthy and productive farm ecosystems. Come join us at Science Under the Stars this month if you want to learn about permaculture principles, soil biology and ecology, and more!

  • Thursday, May 16th, 7:30pm at the Twin Oaks Branch, 1800 S 5th St, Austin, TX 78704