Date: Wednesday January 28, 2015
Time: 8pm
Location: High Noon Saloon (map)

What Makes a Sport Real: The Case of Professional Ultimate Frisbee

Summary: Professional sports are a big business, and sports once considered niche are attracting more and more attention in the form of media coverage and financial sponsorships. But the biggest hurdle sports face when trying to break into the mainstream is the perception over whether or not they are real. So what makes a sport real? This talk will discuss various benchmarks established by fancy academics to judge when a sport has successfully transitioned from the edge into the mainstream, and apply them to the case of pro ultimate. It will also look at how a historically marginalized sport attempts to shed the stereotypes that have long defined the sport in order to attract new fans.  

Presenter bio: Caitlin Cieslik-Miskimen is a graduate student in the School of Journalism and Mass Communication, where she specializes in media history and writes papers about Ultimate Frisbee on the side (her lack of coordination prevents her from being a serious on-the-field threat).


A Brief History of Cannabis: A Dope Story

Summary: Cannabis is currently legal in four states and the District of Colombia, and 23 states have medical marijuana laws. But what is Cannabis? Why was it illegal? Why did these states legalize it? What effects have these drug laws had? What is “medical marijuana” used for? Should you care? In this invigorating talk, I’ll keep you from feeling dazed and confused and take you on an excellent adventure to learn more about this famous plant, its history, and its uses, so you can be a better educated citizen! 

Bio: M Stillwell has learned from his time in graduate school at the University of Wisconsin that science is an incredibly important aspect to understanding the world around you. Originally from Colorado, he takes great interest in nature and loves finding new surprises that nature leaves. He is also interested in policy and does his best to stay up to speed with politics when he isn’t living under a rock in lab.


Rodents of Unusual Size and Islands, Environments of Unusual Character

Summary:Approximately 150 years ago, mouse stowaways made the jump from ships to Gough Island, one of the most remote islands on the planet. Since that time, Gough Island mice evolved the largest body size of any wild mouse population in the world – truly, rodents of unusual size! This phenomena has been observed in other species on other islands: animals and plants marooned on islands often evolve either gigantism or dwarfism. Our lab maintains a colony of Gough Island mice. We aim to uncover the mutations and genes underlying the island-induced size evolution of these mice. Perhaps our most helpful colleagues in this quest are other islands, since they naturally crank out other unusually sized rodents, permitting us to answer one of the most important questions in evolutionary biology: Do two widely separated populations that share a trait, such as large body size, evolve that trait as a result of mutations in the same or different genes?

Presenter bio: Mark J. Nolte is a postdoctoral fellow in the Laboratory of Genetics at UW-Madison. He hopes that his academic success in Evolutionary Biology can catch up to his success in applied Darwinian Fitness where he boasts four children and a beautiful, choosy wife. He enjoys reading about altruism, cognitive science, religion and naked mole rats (which is really just more altruism).