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Popular UW Lecture Series Scheduled in Jackson Oct. 14

October 5, 2017
photos of Mariah Ehmke, Holly Ernest and Robert Kelly

The University of Wyoming’s one-day free public lecture series, featuring diverse topics from UW professors, will be offered in Jackson Saturday, Oct. 14.

Saturday U -- the half day of college lectures and discussion -- will be at the National Museum of Wildlife Art. The program begins with coffee and donuts at 8:30 a.m., followed by welcoming remarks at 8:50 a.m. The guest lectures begin at 9 a.m.

Participants may attend one, two or all three lectures. A free lunch and roundtable discussion with speakers will follow the presentations at 12:30 p.m.

“During the fall and spring terms, Saturday University visits locations throughout Wyoming, discussing today’s most captivating topics,” says Saturday U Coordinator Paul Flesher, a UW religious studies professor.

In its ninth year, Saturday U is a collaborative program that connects popular UW and Wyoming community college professors with lifelong learners. Offered nine times a year -- twice each in Jackson, Gillette and Sheridan, and once in Rock Springs, Pinedale and Cody -- Saturday U is sponsored by the university, the UW Foundation and Wyoming Humanities. The program is presented locally by UW, the Wyoming Humanities Council, National Museum of Wildlife Art and Central Wyoming College-Jackson.

“Enjoy three intriguing lectures delivered by professors from the University of Wyoming and Wyoming’s community colleges,” Flesher says. “Complimentary lunch is provided, giving participants an opportunity to engage with the speakers during a roundtable discussion following the three lectures.”

Listed below are program topic descriptions and professors lecturing:

-- 9 a.m., “Sour Whiskey, Cheap Wine, Plastic Milk and Snake Oil: Food Fraud Across National and International Supply Chains,” Mariah Ehmke, agricultural and applied economics associate professor.

Food fraud occurs when companies practice illegal deception in the production and marketing of goods for economic gain, Ehmke says.

“Such deception often includes the adulteration of the foodstuffs themselves. While comprehensive cost estimates of food fraud are not currently available, individual cases have been economically devastating not only to consumers, but also to producers, corporations and even entire countries,” she says.

Her lecture will provide details of and conditions surrounding fraud in the food industry, and how such fraud may affect Wyoming consumers and producers. Policy options that could help reduce food fraud also will be discussed.

-- 10:15 a.m., “The Fifth Beginning: What Six Million Years of Human History Can Tell Us About the Future,” Robert Kelly, anthropology professor.

Kelly will discuss the four major “beginnings” of human history -- the origins of technology, culture, agriculture and the state. He will present evidence that humanity is entering a fifth beginning, one that can be expected to mark dramatic changes in world economy, war, culture and governance.

-- 11:30 a.m., “Giving a Hoot about Wildlife Genetics: Enhancing the Survival of Western Wyoming’s Bighorn Sheep and Owls,” Holly Ernest, Wyoming Excellence Chair and veterinary sciences professor.

Genetic diversity is key to the long-term survival of a healthy population of any animal species, Ernest says.

“This is even truer for threatened species near Jackson, such as bighorn sheep and great gray owls,” she says.

Ernest and colleagues in her lab study these herds and flocks to help wildlife and land managers evaluate ways to assist in the species’ long-term survival.

For more information, call Flesher at (307) 766-2616 or email For more information about Saturday U, visit the website at

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