Skip to main content

McSween-forumThe asteroid Vesta and the Dawn mission that uncovered its mysteries will be the topic of Friday’s Science Forum.

Hap McSween, Chancellor’s Professor of Earth and Planetary Sciences, will present “Exploring the Asteroid Vesta: NASA’s Dawn Mission.”

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.

“The Dawn spacecraft has completed its orbital investigation of asteroid Vesta and is now enroute to asteroid Ceres,” McSween said. “These are the two most massive asteroids, and their properties provide an interesting view of the diversity of planetary building blocks.”

Dawn’s asteroid-mapping mission aims to shed light on the evolution of the solar system by studying these huge space rocks. Vesta is the solar system’s brightest asteroid, and Ceres is the largest and is considered to be a dwarf planet.

McSween is the co-investigator for NASA’s Mars Odyssey spacecraft mission, the Mars Exploration Rovers and the Dawn spacecraft. He had an asteroid named for him by the International Astronomical Union, 5223 McSween.

McSween has been a UT faculty member for thirty-six years and has been name the Department of Earth and Planetary Sciences’ best teacher seven times. UT awarded him the Alexander Prize, which recognizes excellence in teaching and research, and the College of Arts and Sciences College Marshal, the highest college honor bestowed upon a faculty member. He is also this year’s Southeastern Conference Professor of the Year.

Future Science Forums will feature:

  • October 4: Stacy Clark, research forester with the US Forest Service, discussing “American Chestnut Restoration: Can We Bring Back the Mighty Giant?”
  • October 11: Chad Duty, group leader of 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 Quest, an initiative to raise awareness of UT’s research, scholarship, and creative activity. 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,