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UW to Celebrate Research and Economic Development, Bill Gern May 18

March 20, 2017

The University of Wyoming plans to celebrate the history of research and economic development endeavors of its faculty and staff. At the same time, it plans to honor Bill Gern, who has been instrumental in these ventures.

A UW Office of Research and Economic Development event is scheduled Thursday, May 18, from 8:30 a.m.-6 p.m., in the Classroom Building. The event will include “lightning talks” by UW faculty members and entrepreneurs; a keynote speaker during lunch; a poster session for faculty members and students; and a reception to honor Gern’s 38 years of service to UW. Gern, UW’s vice president for research and economic development, plans to retire this summer.

“We’re really trying to celebrate all of the great research and innovation taking place at UW, and give faculty and staff an opportunity to see what others are doing on campus,” says Bryan Shader, a UW professor of mathematics and special assistant to Gern. “And, hopefully, the event will catalyze collaboration. At the end of the day, we will use it as a reason to celebrate Bill’s retirement.”

During the four one-hour lightning rounds, about 36-40 faculty members each will describe their research in five minutes. Essentially, each snippet is an “elevator speech” of the key ideas of the research project and why it is important. Shader says there is no specific theme for the research, such as a particular area of study. That is deliberate, he says, so as to expose faculty members to various disciplines. Afterward, there will be time for faculty members to organically discuss future research collaboration possibilities.

“In many ways, we tend to be so separated in our departments that we miss these opportunities,” Shader says. “What people have found is that these ‘lightning talks’ are very meaningful stimulation for talks and collaborations. It’s uplifting to see the depth, breadth and impact UW faculty and students are having on many problems.”

He adds that it would be ideal to see faculty members from the arts or fine arts commingle projects with those from the hard sciences. Additionally, the lightning talks could provide opportunities for junior and senior faculty members to work together.

Carlos Martinez del Rio, a UW professor and Wyoming Excellence Chair in the Department of Zoology and Physiology, will be the lunch keynote speaker. He will discuss UW research and economic development, and where it might be headed in the future.

“At this university, we didn’t have our first Ph.D. programs until the late 1960s, and it wasn’t until the mid-1980s until we had a true research office,” Shader says. “We’ve got a long way to go, and there are places where we can improve. He (del Rio) will lay out the challenge, ‘What do we want to be?’”

Because there likely may be more faculty members who might want to participate in the lightning talks than there are slots available, Shader says a poster session also will be available for both faculty members and UW students to display and discuss their scientific research.

Shader hopes the event will have a number of outcomes. He would like people to gain a broader sense of research capabilities on campus; spark opportunities for collaboration among faculty members from different departments; stimulate excitement, in general, for research; and provide perspective as to where UW stands in research and what kind of research opportunities it is poised for in the future.

“It’s a lot about the future. It’s an opportunity to look at how far we’ve come, where we are going and where we want to be,” Shader says. “There is some cool stuff going on.”

To register, express interest in giving a lightning talk or present a poster, go to

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