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November 14, Chase Rakowski

Plankton: the little alien-like creatures that might save us all

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Is that an alien? Or is it just an Earthling that’s totally different from anything you’ve ever seen? Welcome to the world of plankton, the tiny living things found in almost every bit of water on Earth. You might never realize they’re there, but just a handful of natural water contains astonishing numbers, and life as we know it wouldn’t be possible without them. What’s more, they may hold the key to solving some of our biggest problems. Come see these little water-”aliens” in action and find out how important they really are!

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 (please note time change):

  • 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.

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.

March 8, Colin Averill

Symbiosis between trees and fungi: how mycorrhizae connect our forests

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Mycorrhizal fungi form a symbiosis with the roots of most trees on Earth. These fungal networks enable entire forests to communicate and compete, and new research shows mycorrhizal fungi are central to understanding how forests will respond to global environmental change. Come on out to Science Under the Stars this March to learn about new research showing how these fungi connect forests, as well as new evidence that rapid global environmental change is altering our forests by manipulating the forest fungal microbiome.

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:

  • 6:30 pm: Food and displays of local animals and plants found at Brackenridge Field Laboratory will be available. Also, meet with our children’s division for fun activities designed for all ages.
  • 7:00 pm: Find a seat and settle in, because the talk begins now!
  • 7:45 pm: Q&A with the speaker.

November 9, Serena Zhao

A fungus among us: mushrooms and beyond

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What does baker’s yeast have in common with the world’s largest organism? What feeds plants through their roots, while related species can survive on bare rock? Fungi!!! Fungi are more closely related to humans than they are to plants, and play a variety of different roles within ecosystems. For instance, fungi can be plant mutualists, animal pathogens, or decomposers. At Science Under the Stars this November, we will explore this amazing Kingdom – the shocking lifestyles, outlandish physiology, and the ways that fungi touch our lives every day.

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: Food and displays of local animals and plants found at Brackenridge Field Laboratory will be available.
  • 6:30 pm: Kid’s activities start! Meet with our children’s division for fun activities designed for all ages.
  • 7:00 pm: Settle in, because the talk begins now!

Nathan LeClear

Photosynthesis: Past, Present, and Future

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Have you hugged a tree today?  Thanked a pond full of algae?
Plants are responsible for the oxygen in the air we breathe, they form the basis of the food web in both terrestrial and aquatic environments, and are the sources of many of our fabrics, materials, and medicines. How can plants do so many marvelous things?  Photosynthesis!
Come hear the story of the reaction that has shaped the face of the planet, dictated the path of evolution for life on Earth, and is key for our future.

Science Under the Stars is a free public outreach lecture series in Austin, Texas. Events start at 8:00pm outdoors at Brackenridge Field Laboratory, 2907 Lake Austin Blvd, Austin, Texas 78703. Arrive early for refreshments and fun activities for kids of all ages! Guided tours of the field lab are available (wear sturdy shoes and bring water)!