Date: Wednesday September 24, 2014
Time: 8pm
Location: High Noon Saloon (map)

The Truth Is Out There: The Science of The X-Files

Summary: The X-Files was more than just alien colonists, our beloved Smoking Man, and Scully’s amazing pantsuits. Killer cockroaches. Giant psychedelic mushrooms. The Flukeman. How much is science fiction, and how much could be reality? Using a few of everyone’s favorite episodes, I’ll tell you what they got right and what they got awesomely wrong. 

Presenter bio: Alison D. Scott is a pinball wizard, founding editor of The Strobilus, and grad student in the Department of Botany. She left California and moved to Madison to study the evolutionary history of certain big trees using DNA and fossils. When she’s not doing research, you can find her at science outreach events, or at home reading about plane crashes. She thinks your hair looks really great like that.


Squatting for Squares: Your Guide to Proper Pooping

Summary: Everybody poops, and a lot of people poop inefficiently. Through the use of anatomy, images, and anecdotes, I argue that the squat position is much more efficient than the sitting position when pooping. Going “number 2” is such a normal, taken-for-granted part of life that most people who have grown up with westernized sitting toilets don’t think twice about their posture. Most people don’t consider the fact that humans evolved to squat, yet we contort our intestines into unnatural positions and make said intestines work harder by forcing poop out of our bodies while sitting on the toilet. I will present a solution to this dilemma by introducing a way to squat from the comfort of your porcelain toilet seat! I call this method “perching,” and hopefully it will improve people’s pooping lives for the greater good. 

Presenter Bio: Makenzie Graham is an avid advocate of natural healthcare and well-being. She provides therapy for children with Autism, and has just started going back to school to get the pre-reqs needed for a graduate Occupational Therapy program. She spends her free time paddle boarding and learning how to drum and dance to different West African rhythms. She has a holistic view of health, and believes that everything, from the different food we eat to the way we evacuate waste from our bodies, should be considered when trying to maintain a healthy lifestyle. She’ll be moving out to Portland, OR at the end of this year, so she’s happy to start spreading the message about perching here in Madison!


To Split or Lump: What Constitutes A Species In Today’s Changing World?

Summary: Can you think back to freshman year biology class? Chances are, you were taught some obscure definition of how to classify a species. As it turns out, there is not universal consensus among scientists even within different fields on how to group individuals. In this talk we will discuss and debate two contrasting views by a conservationist and an anthropologist of how to deal with variation among populations. The ultimate question: are you a lumper or a splitter?

Presenter bio: Sarah Traynor and Mary Dinsmore are both third year graduate students at the UW-Madison. Sarah Traynor is in the Department of Anthropology where she spends her days measuring Inuit skulls to identify the underlying mechanisms of modern human variation. Mary Dinsmore is a student in the Environment and Resources department. She’s conducting her research in Madagascar where she spends her nights following endangered nocturnal lemurs to study their behavioral plasticity and relationship with the local people. During their first semester these two became fast friends where they discovered their mutual love of science, curvaceous cats, and the occasional desire to slink around town.