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Saturday U Lectures in Jackson Oct. 10

September 30, 2015
man standing in an aviary full of birds
UW Department of Zoology and Physiology Assistant Professor Jonathan Prather is among speakers at the fall term of Saturday U -- UW’s popular one-day educational event -- in Jackson Saturday, Oct. 10, at the National Museum of Wildlife Art. (UW Photo)

The University of Wyoming’s popular free one-day educational program Saturday U returns to Jackson Saturday, Oct. 10, with three lectures at the National Museum of Wildlife Art.

Each Saturday U program features lectures from three outstanding professors or community college representatives. Following the lectures, all three lecturers will participate in a final roundtable discussion. Participants may attend one, two, three or all four sessions. No registration is required, and the event is free and open to the public.

In its eighth year, Saturday U is a collaborative program that connects top UW and community college professors with lifelong learners. Offered six times a year -- twice each in Jackson, Gillette and Sheridan -- Saturday U is sponsored by the university, the UW Foundation and the Wyoming Humanities Council. The Jackson program is presented locally by Central Wyoming College (CWC), National Museum of Wildlife Art and Teton County Library Foundation.

The day begins with coffee and pastries at 8:30 a.m., followed by opening remarks at 8:50 a.m.

Listed below are program topic descriptions and UW and CWC professors lecturing:

9-10 a.m. -- “Climate, Drought and Water in the West,” Jacqueline Shinker, UW Department of Geography associate professor.

The Intermountain West has eight of the nation’s 10 driest states. Many of the region’s water resources depend on the natural reservoirs of seasonal mountain snowpack. Costly droughts in the region impact water resources for agriculture, energy, recreation and municipalities, Shinker says. She will discuss recent droughts in the West, and the impacts of climate on past, present and future water resources.

10:15-11:15 a.m. -- “How the Brain Learns to Communicate and Make Good Decisions: What Songbirds Can Teach Us about Human Behavior,” Jonathan Prather, Department of Zoology and Physiology assistant professor.

“We use our words to communicate with each other every day, and we rely on good decision making to keep us healthy and out of trouble,” Prather says. “In both speech and decision making, specialized circuits in the brain enable us to learn from experience.”

Prather finds that songbirds do the same thing. Birds learn their songs just like humans learn the sounds used in speech, and that female birds evaluate the quality of male bird’s songs in order to select their mates.

In his lecture, Prather will answer the questions: “How does the brain do that, and how can we use that insight to improve the human condition?”

11:30 a.m.-12:30 p.m. -- “Back to the Roots: Let's change the way we eat!” Master Chef Rene Stein, CWC Jackson instructor and executive chef at The Rose.

An artist and Michelin star, Stein has learned the skills and techniques of a master chef through years of studying and apprenticeship. These skills offer inspiration to create dishes that are unusual and respond to the area’s mountain climate. Using local ingredients -- dishes that focus on the exquisite and unique flavors of game meat, vegetables or fruits -- are created.

Stein has developed cooking techniques keeping the ingredients more “whole,” to amplify the flavors. He will discuss how his “new mountain cuisine” links local farms and ranches to the consumer.

The next fall session of Saturday U is Nov. 12 in Gillette.

For more information, visit the UW website at www.uwyo.edu/saturdayu/.


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