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Gary McCracken
Professor Gary McCracken

KNOXVILLE — This week’s Pregame Showcase features Gary McCracken, department head and professor of ecology and evolutionary biology. He will present “The Conservation of North American Bats: What Happens If We Lose Them?”

“These ‘creatures of the night’ are poorly understood and often feared by many people, but bats are critical players in the ecological balance that sustains us. Currently, they are threatened by a disease that has killed millions of individuals,” said McCracken. “At my showcase, I will talk about misconceptions of bats, the disease that has affected bats in North America and the reason we need to fight for their survival.”

Hosted in the Carolyn P. Brown Memorial University Center ballroom two hours before kickoff, the showcases are free and open to the public and consist of a 30-minute presentation followed by a 15-minute question-and-answer session. Light refreshments are provided, and this year, the UT Bookstore will offer a 10-percent discount on certain items to showcase attendees.

Program coordinators say the Pregame Showcase series is off to a great start. The premier showcase hosted 185 guests and, despite the rain, 197 guests showed up last Saturday to discuss subconscious interpretations of the bible with Dr. Tina Shephardson.

The remainder of the 2010 Pregame Showcase lineup includes:

– Sept. 25 — Laura Howes, associate professor of English and interim director of the Marco Institute, presents “Exploring the Utility and Beauty of Medieval Gardens.” She will lead a virtual tour of medieval gardens and unveil the functionality behind their aesthetic appeal.

– Oct. 23 — Stephanie Bohon, associate professor and co-director of the Center for the Study of Social Justice, presents “Place Matters: Characteristics of Cities that Attract and Sustain New Immigrants.” She will talk about the influence of location on immigrant populations and the effect immigrants have on the communities they inhabit.

– Nov. 13 — Soren Sorensen, department head and professor of physics and astronomy, presents “Nature’s LEGOs: The Building Blocks of the Universe.” He will discuss, in a very simple manner without using any mathematical formulas, the answer to one of the most fundamental questions in nature: “What is everything made of?”

– Nov. 27 — Brandon Prins, associate professor of political science, presents “The Pendulum of Congressional Power: Partisan Opposition to Presidential Foreign Policy.” He will engage the audience in an examination of the record of past presidents in their attempt to implement foreign policy legislation, considering the roles partisan politics and congressional activism played in facilitating or blocking a president’s agenda.

The showcases are sponsored by the College of Arts and Sciences with support from WUOT 91.9 FM, the UT Alumni Association, the UT Office of Alumni Affairs and UT Athletics. For more information on the program, visit

C O N T A C T :

Abbey Taylor (865-974-9409,