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Michael McKinney, director of the UT Environmental Studies and Sustainability Program and professor of earth and planetary sciences, will present “Homogenizing the Planet: What to Do About It?” on Friday, February 7, during this week’s Science Forum.

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.

As humans multiply, disperse, and build increasingly sprawling cities, unique and diverse habitats are being transformed into much simpler and more similar habitats solely for human needs. This is creating a biosphere inhabited by the relatively few species that are able to adapt to human habitats.

McKinney will discuss at least two solutions to this problem. One is to make cities more sustainable and create cities that promote biodiversity at several scales. This means more green space, especially those with native plants, and more “urban wilderness” projects. A second solution is to make cities more compact and do a better job of promoting biodiversity outside of the cities. This is exemplified by the Wildlands Project, which seeks to maximize the amount of land devoted to nature conservation and also connect those lands so species can migrate between them.

Here’s list of future Science Forums:

  • Friday, February 14: Harriet Wood Bowden, assistant professor of Spanish, presenting “It’s Not Too Late: Native-like Brain Processing of Foreign Language in University Learners”
  • Friday, February 21: Theresa M. Lee, dean of the College of Arts and Sciences and professor of psychology, presenting “Tick Tock: Sleep Across the Lifespan and the Role of the Internal Clock”
  • Friday, February 28: Don Goldstein, paleontology researcher, discussing “How Can Florida’s Geological Past Help Us Prepare for the Future?”
  • Friday, March 7: Marcy J. Souza, assistant professor of biomedical and diagnostic sciences, discussing “Epidemics of Less Glamorous Wildlife: What Can We Do to Stop Them?”
  • Friday, March 28: Stan Wullschleger, project director of Next-Generation Ecosystems Experiments–Arctic at Oak Ridge National Laboratory, presenting “Arctic Alaska: Wild, Wonderful and Warming”
  • Friday, April 4: Steven Wise, associate professor of mathematics, presenting “Simulations for Solutions: Solving Problems Through Scientific Computing”
  • Friday, April 11: Stacy Clark, research forester for the US Forest Service, discussing “American Chestnut Restoration: Can We Bring Back the Mighty Giant?”
  • Friday, April 25: Pete Claussen, founder and CEO of Gulf and Ohio Railways Inc. and Knoxville Locomotive Works, discussing “Green Locomotives”

The Science Forum is sponsored by the UT Office of Research and Quest, an initiative to raise awareness of the research, scholarship, and creative activity happening on campus.

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,