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November 12th, Tristan Kubik

Planet of the Insects

Please note that for this event, both the lecture and Q&A will be live and NOT recorded.

If you don’t like insects, then you’re living on the wrong planet. Earth is likely home to over ten million species of insects. Compared to the 5,000 or so mammal species and the 20,000 or so plant species, insect biodiversity vastly overshadows all other life on our planet. Furthermore, there are close to 10 quintillion insects estimated to be alive this very second. That’s more than 111 million creepy crawlies for every single one of the 9 billion humans alive today. Insects eat everything, do everything, and without them, life on land could not exist. Insects are important pollinators, they take care of life’s waste and dead organic material, and support every terrestrial ecosystem they occur in. But not all insects are allies. Insect pests are our number one competitor for food, blood-sucking insects have killed more humans than all the wars, famines, and natural disasters combined, and bugs constantly invade our homes and spoil our goods. So why are insects so successful? What has driven their massive diversity? How old are insects? And what are some of the ways we humans have figured out how to coexist with the true overlords of planet Earth? Join me, Tristan Kubik, a zany entomologist, as I introduce you to the marvelous microcosm of insects and show you that, contrary to what we would like to believe, insects truly are the dominant form of life on planet Earth. 

Science Under the Stars has gone virtual! This semester all SUTS activities will be online, but we encourage you to participate outdoors under the stars in your backyard! (If wifi allows for it, of course.) November’s schedule is as follows:

  • November 5th: Links to the kids activities and live online lecture/Q&A will be posted here and as an event on our Facebook page.
  • November 12th, 7:00pm CST: Live online lecture and Q&A with the speaker!

Science Under the Stars is a free public outreach lecture series based in Austin, Texas.

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.

 

Special event! September 19, Larry Gilbert

The history and role of Brackenridge Field Laboratory at 52 years and counting

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Have you wondered about how and why UT Austin keeps a field lab in the middle of the city? Come on out to this special, one-time event to learn about the history and discoveries made at Brackenridge Field Lab (BFL).

In the 1880’s, leaders of Austin attempted to industrialize with hydroelectric potential of the Colorado River. George Brackenridge provided capital, and land for a dam and a quarry that provided most the dam’s structure. The quarry, abandoned in 1893, and deep silt deposits that followed the dam’s collapse in 1900, were two disturbances that ultimately created a patch of urban nature dedicated as Brackenridge Field Laboratory in 1967. This backdrop explains how BFL, as a keystone resource that fostered UT’s premier graduate program in biology, could be created although never planned for this role by city or university leadership.

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 discovered 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.

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.