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The interactions between microbes and their environments, specifically in Antarctica, will be discussed at UT’s continuing Science Forum.

Jill Mikucki, assistant professor of microbiology, will present “Antarctica: Exploring Ecosystems Below Half a Mile of Ice,” on Friday, September 20.

The Science Forum is a weekly brown-bag lunch series that allows professors and area scientists to discuss their research with the general public in a conversational presentation.

The presentations begin at noon on Fridays in Room C-D of Thompson-Boling Arena. Attendees can bring lunch or purchase it at the arena. Each presentation is forty minutes long and is followed by a question-and-answer session. Science Forum presentations are free and open to the public.

“Ice covers 10 percent of continental landmass on the planet, making subglacial environments an important, yet poorly understood, component of the Earth system,” says Mikucki. “Subglacial aquatic environments serve as analogs for past global glaciation events.”

She focuses her research primarily on the interactions between microbes and their environment, and how the impact of microbial metabolism is detectable on an ecosystem scale.

Mikucki will discuss her research in Antarctica and highlight her experiences as part of the Willans Subglacial Access Research Drilling (WISSARD) team, which collected water and sediment samples from a subglacial lake in January—an exciting first in Antarctic exploration.

Mikucki boasts numerous trips to Antarctica and plans to return in November to continue her research and exploration of the Antarctic subglacial aquatic system beneath Whillans Ice Stream in West Antarctica and the mysterious Blood Falls subglacial ecosystem in the McMurdo Dry Valleys.

Future Science Forums will feature a variety of topics:

  • September 27: Hap McSween, Chancellor’s professor of earth and planetary sciences, presenting “Exploring the Asteroid Vesta: NASA’s Dawn Mission”
  • October 4: Stacy Clark, research forester with U.S. Forest Service, discussing “American Chestnut Restoration: Can We Bring Back the Mighty Giant?”
  • October 11: Chad Duty, leader of the Deposition Science and Technology Group at Oak Ridge National Laboratory, discussing “3D Printing: The Next Generation of Manufacturing”
  • October 25: Kasey Krouse, urban forester for the city of Knoxville, presenting “Knoxville Urban Forestry—Year One”
  • November 1: Gerry Dinkins, curator of malacology and natural history at the McClung Museum, discussing “Rediscovery of the Nearly Extinct Alabama Lampmussel in the Emory River”
  • November 8: Devin White, senior research scientist of geocomputation at Oak Ridge National Laboratory and assistant professor of anthropology, discussing “Archaeological Discoveries from Space”
  • November 15: Phil Colclough, director of animal collections and conservation at Knoxville Zoological Gardens, discussing “Eastern Hellbender Conservation and the New Role of Zoos”
  • November 22: Nathan Schmidt, assistant professor of microbiology, discussing “Infection with the Malaria Parasite: Malaria Is Only Half the Problem”

The Science Forum is sponsored by the UT Office of Research and presented by Quest. For more information, visit the Science Forum website.

C O N T A C T :

Amanda Womac (

Mark Littmann (865-974-8156,

Amy Blakely (865-974-5034,