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Special Saturday U Program Pairs UW Scientists and Artists

June 11, 2014
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Four of the University of Wyoming’s top scientists will pair with four accomplished UW artists this month to produce original works that will be presented in a public program Saturday, June 28.

The collaboration, called “The Ucross-Pollination Experiment,” is sponsored by Saturday University, UW’s program that connects popular professors with lifelong learners in free one-day college education programs. The special June 28 program is scheduled to run from 9 a.m.-12:30 p.m. at the Ucross Foundation in Sheridan County.

The event will take place in the Big Red Barn at Ucross, 30 Big Red Lane, half a mile east of the intersection of Highways 14 and 16. A free lunch and roundtable discussion with the presenters and panelists from Sheridan College will follow the presentations.

“This is sure to be one of the most unusual and stimulating Saturday University events in the six-year history of the program,” says Paul Flesher, the UW Department of Religious Studies head who directs Saturday U. “We will premier four collaborations, the stories and struggles behind these genuinely integrative works of scientific art, and the lessons learned when renowned experts in wildly and wonderfully divergent fields of inquiry and exploration truly listen to one another.”

Scientists participating are Professor Ron Frost from the Department of Geology and Geophysics in the College of Arts and Sciences; Associate Professor Naomi Ward from the Department of Molecular Biology in the College of Agriculture and Natural Resources; Professor Ann Hild from the Department of Ecosystem Science and Management in the College of Agriculture and Natural Resources; and Assistant Professor Michael Dillon from the Department of Zoology and Physiology in the College of Arts and Sciences.

They will team with sculptor Ashley Carlisle, associate professor in the Department of Art; musician/composer Anne Guzzo, assistant professor in the Department of Music; poet Harvey Hix, professor in the Department of Philosophy; and choreographer/dancer Rachael Shaw, assistant lecturer in the Department of Theatre and Dance.

The faculty members will spend two weeks at the Ucross Foundation, an internationally known artist-in-residence program for visual artists, writers, composers and choreographers working in all creative disciplines, located on a 20,000-acre working cattle ranch. The UW scientists and artists will be paired and challenged to co-produce “an original expression of their shared understanding of the land.”

“We don’t know exactly what these accomplished folks will come up with,” Flesher says. “But we’re certain that their presentations will be insightful, stimulating and engaging.”

“The Ucross-Pollination Experiment” is the brainchild of Professor Jeff Lockwood, who came to UW as an insect ecologist but who has become a professor of natural sciences and humanities, with a joint appointment between the Department of Philosophy and in the MFA program in Creative Writing. Lockwood was a writer-in-residence at Ucross in 2013. He says the interplay between the sciences and the humanities provides fertile ground for artistic expression.

“The environmental challenges that we face are the products of our being fully human -- biophysical, technological, sociopolitical, economic, historical, rational, emotional, creative, moral and spiritual creatures,” Lockwood says. “We cannot blame one facet of humanity for the problems, and we cannot expect to cultivate an understanding of the land or the changes that are needed without the collaboration of science and art as mediated through the humanities.”

For more information about “The Ucross-Pollination Experiment,” go online to

Saturday U is sponsored by the UW Outreach School, the Wyoming Humanities Council and the UW Foundation, joined by local supporters. Events are held six times a year -- twice each in Jackson, Gillette and Sheridan. Local supporters in Sheridan County include Sheridan College and the Ucross Foundation.

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