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Saturday, February 25, 2017

Sheridan College - Whitney Academic Center

Saturday University is a collaborative program connecting popular UW professors with Wyoming residents who have a desire to learn.  Saturday University is sponsored by the University of Wyoming, University of Wyoming Foundation and the Wyoming Humanities Council. The program is presented locally by Sheridan College, the Wyoming Humanities Council, and the UW outreach School.

How the Brain Learns to See: Studying Tadpoles to Understand People

Kara Pratt, Assistant Professor of Zoology and Physiology, University of Wyoming

Brains process information through neural networks, but a new brain has contains masses of neurons without connections. How are the proper connections made? The study of Xenopus tadpoles—whose see-through skin lets us view the brain directly—reveals how the brain creates itself by self-assembling neurons into networks that transform external stimuli from the environment into internal perceptions. One key discovery is that visual experience—the act of seeing—actually guides the precise wiring up of the visual system. This talk will describe this exciting research and explain what it reveals about the nature of human sight.

Democracy’s Past, Democracy’s Future: Problems and Possibilities

Scott Henkel, Assistant Professor of English, University of Wyoming

Now that the fall election has passed, we can take a moment to look more broadly at the history and the future of democracy. Scott Henkel’s lecture will examine how writers and thinkers have understood democracy and have imagined its possibilities. What has democracy been in the United States, in ancient Athens, in cooperative workplaces, even on pirate ships and space ships? Who should participate in the democratic process, and what should that participation be? What might the future of democracy look like?

Will We Ever Have Beautiful Forests Again? Bark Beetles, Resilience, and Future Forests

Daniel Tinker, Associate Professor of Botany, University of Wyoming

The Intermountain West’s bark beetle epidemic that began in the late 1990s is unprecedented in our recorded history. Its intensity and geographic scale has been overwhelming—and it continues today in many forests of the Western USA. The ramifications for such an intense and prolonged epidemic are far-reaching and many are not well understood, especially considering the changes in our climate happening at the same time. This talk will explore the bark-beetle phenomenon, its ecology and management, and the resilience of current and future forest systems.

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