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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!

Samuel Scarpino

Influenza Dynamics and Vaccination in Texas

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From reductions in productivity to severe illness and death, Influenza has a profound impact on our state, country and world.  In addition, recent concerns surrounding Avian Influenza and Swine Origin H1N1 have only served to heighten our sense of insecurity about the emergence of a highly virulent, pandemic flu strain.  Can we predict the spread of flu in Texas?  How are modern vaccines produced and are they safe? Can the effect of a pandemic flu be mitigated?  In this talk I will discuss these questions and present research on the dynamics of flu in Texas, our response to emerging pandemic strains, and the development/safety of vaccines.

Eric Miller

Seeing It As It Happens:  Witnessing, controlling, and understanding evolution

How do scientists discover how evolution affects a group of organisms?  By doing what scientists do best — experimenting and recording the results!  Join us as we talk about how scientists control the environment of bacteria, viruses, and insects to learn more about evolution.  We will also talk about how people use evolution to improve computers, crops, pets, and clean up the environment.