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2021-22 Virtual Science Club

Read below for updates on upcoming Virtual Science Club sessions and recordings/archives of past sessions. If you have questions contact prep@utk.edu.

What is the VSC?

It is a club that meets twice per month. It provides free programming to assist students and teachers in the development of STEM skills and to motivate students to enter the upcoming Southern Appalachian Science & Engineering Fair (SASEF) which will be held in-person on the University of Tennessee, Knoxville campus on March 29, 2022.

Who is eligible to attend VSC sessions?

The club is available to grade 6-12 students, grade 6-12 teachers, and other sponsors of STEM programs (e.g., 4-H leaders) in the 23-county East Tennessee SASEF region. Students and teachers from Central and West Tennessee are also welcome.

Upcoming Sessions

Time: 7:00 – 8:00pm EST
Zoom Link: Please RSVP to Receive Zoom Link
Session Description: Go into breakout rooms by research area to discuss your plans for your 2022 SASEF STEM project. Bring any and all questions you may have! The four research areas to choose from are:
  1. Human Sciences
    • Behavioral & Social Sciences
    • Medicine & Health Sciences
  2. Natural Sciences
    • Animal Sciences
    • Biochemistry
    • Cellular & Molecular Biology
    • Environmental Sciences
    • Microbiology
    • Plant Sciences
  3. Physical Sciences
    • Chemistry
    • Earth & Planetary Science
    • Environmental Management
    • Physics & Astronomy
  4. Engineering & Math
    • Computer Science
    • Engineering: Electrical & Mechanical
    • Engineering: Materials & Bioengineering
    • Energy & Transportation
    • Mathematical Sciences

Time: 7:00 – 8:00pm EST
Zoom Link:
Dr. Remus Nicoara – Professor of Mathematics and Director of the Math Honors Program, University of Tennessee Knoxville
Session Description: We will discuss the mathematical concepts of Graphs and Dimensions, and present various examples coming from video games.
Speaker Biography: Dr. Remus Nicoara earned his Ph.D. in Mathematics from UCLA, and his Bachelor’s Degree from the University of Bucharest, Romania. He is currently a Professor of Mathematics and Director of the Math Honors Program at the University of Tennessee. His main research interest lies in von Neumann algebras, which are algebras of operators that model quantum mechanical systems. Outside of work, Remus likes to hike, bike and garden while thinking about math. He enjoys meditation, Sci-Fi books, and Hanayama puzzles. He is also an avid gamer and he occasionally teaches a class about video games and math, called Math Effect.

 

Time: 7:00 – 8:00pm EST
Please RSVP to Receive Zoom Link
Session Description: Go into breakout rooms by research area to discuss your plans for your 2022 SASEF STEM project. Bring any and all questions you may have! The four research areas to choose from are:
  1. Human Sciences
    • Behavioral & Social Sciences
    • Medicine & Health Sciences
  2. Natural Sciences
    • Animal Sciences
    • Biochemistry
    • Cellular & Molecular Biology
    • Environmental Sciences
    • Microbiology
    • Plant Sciences
  3. Physical Sciences
    • Chemistry
    • Earth & Planetary Science
    • Environmental Management
    • Physics & Astronomy
  4. Engineering & Math
    • Computer Science
    • Engineering: Electrical & Mechanical
    • Engineering: Materials & Bioengineering
    • Energy & Transportation
    • Mathematical Sciences

Time: 7:00 – 8:00pm EST
Please RSVP to Receive Zoom Link
Session Description: coming soon…
Speaker Biography: coming soon…

Time: 7:00 – 8:00pm EST
Please RSVP to Receive Zoom Link

Session Description: No formal presentation or session. Stop by any time for 5 minutes or for the full hour, or anywhere in between! We will be on Zoom to answer any and all questions you may have about the Southern Appalachian Science & Engineering Fair (SASEF) coming up on March 29, 2022. Students are welcome to come by and ask about their project or abstract, their poster, their optional video, etc. Teachers are welcome to stop by to check in on their students’ registrations, ask questions about event day in March, etc. If you can’t make office hours contact us any time at prep@utk.edu or call 865-974-9493.

Time: 7:00 – 8:00pm EST
Please RSVP to Receive Zoom Link

Session Description: No formal presentation or session. Stop by any time for 5 minutes or for the full hour, or anywhere in between! We will be on Zoom to answer any and all questions you may have about the Southern Appalachian Science & Engineering Fair (SASEF) coming up on March 29, 2022. Students are welcome to come by and ask about their project or abstract, their poster, their optional video, etc. Teachers are welcome to stop by to check in on their students’ registrations, ask questions about event day in March, etc. If you can’t make office hours contact us any time at prep@utk.edu or call 865-974-9493.

Past Sessions & Recordings

Dr. Andrea Lear – Assistant Professor, Farm Animal Field Services
Large Animal Clinical Sciences, UT Institute of Agriculture

Session Description: This session will describe a career path into animal agriculture and specifically discuss becoming a veterinary scientist. The session will also describe clinical based research to advance the well-being of agriculture animals today and the use of livestock as a model for human disease.

Speaker Biography: Dr. Andrea Lear is an Assistant Professor at the University of Tennessee College of Veterinary Medicine.  She cares for livestock as a clinical veterinarian, teaches veterinary students and performs research in the area of immunology and infection disease. She earned her Ph.D. here at the University of Tennessee. She received her B.S. at Murray State University, M.S. at Colorado State University, DVM at Auburn University & Diplomate at American College of Veterinary Internal Medicine. Dr. Lear and her family live on a farmstead which raises meat and dairy goats, chickens, along with vegetable gardens.

Session Description: Go into breakout rooms by research area to discuss your plans for your 2022 SASEF STEM project. Bring any and all questions you may have! The four research areas to choose from are:
  1. Human Sciences
    • Behavioral & Social Sciences
    • Medicine & Health Sciences
  2. Natural Sciences
    • Animal Sciences
    • Biochemistry
    • Cellular & Molecular Biology
    • Environmental Sciences
    • Microbiology
    • Plant Sciences
  3. Physical Sciences
    • Chemistry
    • Earth & Planetary Science
    • Environmental Management
    • Physics & Astronomy
  4. Engineering & Math
    • Computer Science
    • Engineering: Electrical & Mechanical
    • Engineering: Materials & Bioengineering
    • Energy & Transportation
    • Mathematical Sciences

Matthew Carberry – Marine Biologist, President & Founder of Sustainable Aquatics in Jefferson City, TN, Former SASEF Participant
Matthew’s Session Description: Matthew will share his experiences as a student of science and as a company leader at Sustainable Aquatics (SA), a fish hatchery in East Tennessee. The presentation will include what it is like to work at a fish hatchery and some of the ongoing programs and new projects underway at SA.
Matthew’s Biography: Matthew attended Jefferson County High School and participated in the Southern Appalachian Science and Engineering Fair with mentor Jan Coley, entering a project investigating sea urchins and climate change. A judge from the University of Tennessee (Dr. David Fox) encouraged him to attend UT in Knoxville, where he studied biology under Dr. Fox and worked in a marine microbial ecology lab under Dr. Steven Wilhelm. Upon graduation in 2006, Matthew founded Sustainable Aquatics in Jefferson City, TN, which is now the largest hatchery of its type in the world. Matthew enjoys playing the flute and trying to keep houseplants alive, a pastime he shares with his wife Amy.

Main Zoom Room – October 12, 2021

 

Natural Sciences Breakout Room – October 12, 2021

 

Engineering & Math Breakout Room – October 12, 2021
Time: 7:00 – 8:00pm EST
Session Description:
Learn more about:
  • The Virtual Science Club
  • The Southern Appalachian Science & Engineering Fair (SASEF)
  • Project poster requirements for SASEF
  • An upcoming Zoom session for teachers only to help prepare you and your students for the 2022 SASEF fair
  • Go into breakout rooms by research area to meet your UTK graduate student and discuss project ideas and next steps for your STEM research project. The four research areas to choose from are:
  1. Human Sciences
    • Behavioral & Social Sciences
    • Medicine & Health Sciences
  2. Natural Sciences
    • Animal Sciences
    • Biochemistry
    • Cellular & Molecular Biology
    • Environmental Sciences
    • Microbiology
    • Plant Sciences
  3. Physical Sciences
    • Chemistry
    • Earth & Planetary Science
    • Environmental Management
    • Physics & Astronomy
  4. Engineering & Math
    • Computer Science
    • Engineering: Electrical & Mechanical
    • Engineering: Materials & Bioengineering
    • Energy & Transportation
    • Mathematical Sciences

Amy LaViers – Director at The Robotics, Automation, and Dance (RAD) Lab and Former SASEF Participant

Amy presented for about 20 minutes and then hosted a movement activity and fielded questions.

Amy’s Session Description:

Amy’s session covered the use of choreography and dance in robotic system design. Guests were led in an interactive activity to interpret and notate movement in their own bodies and translate it to a non-human physical platform. Amy’s presentation highlighted how this simple activity is critical in many cutting-edge venues of robotics.

Amy’s Biography:

Amy LaViers is the director of the Robotics, Automation, and Dance (RAD) Lab. Her choreography and machine designs have been presented internationally, including at Merce Cunningham’s studios, the Ferst Center for the Arts, Joe’s Pub at the Public Theater, and the Performance Arcade. Her writing has appeared in Nature, American Scientist, and Aeon. She is a co-founder of three startup companies: AE Machines, an award-winning automation software company; caali, an embodied media company; and, most recently, Soma Measure, a wearable device company. Her teaching has been recognized on the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign (UIUC)’s list of Teachers Ranked as Excellent by Their Students, with Outstanding distinction. She is a recipient of DARPA’s Young Faculty Award (YFA) and Director’s Fellowship (2015-2018). She has held positions as an assistant professor in mechanical science and engineering at UIUC and in systems and information engineering at the University of Virginia (UVA). She completed a two-year Certification in Movement Analysis (CMA) in 2016 at the Laban/Bartenieff Institute of Movement Studies (LIMS) and her Ph.D. in electrical and computer engineering at Georgia Tech in 2013. Her research began with her undergraduate thesis at Princeton University where she earned a certificate in dance and a degree in mechanical and aerospace engineering in 2009. From 2002-2005 she toured internationally as a member of the Tennessee Children’s Dance Ensemble (TCDE).

Main Zoom Room – September 14, 2021
Natural Sciences Breakout Room – September 14, 2021
Human Sciences Breakout Room – September 14, 2021
Time: 7:00 – 8:00pm EST
Session Description:
Learn more about:
  • The Virtual Science Club
  • The Southern Appalachian Science & Engineering Fair
  • How to structure a STEM project
  • Go into breakout rooms by research area to meet your UTK graduate student mentor that will be hosting sessions monthly through January. The four research areas to choose from are:
  1. Human Sciences
    • Behavioral & Social Sciences
    • Medicine & Health Sciences
  2. Natural Sciences
    • Animal Sciences
    • Biochemistry
    • Cellular & Molecular Biology
    • Environmental Sciences
    • Microbiology
    • Plant Sciences
  3. Physical Sciences
    • Chemistry
    • Earth & Planetary Science
    • Environmental Management
    • Physics & Astronomy
  4. Engineering & Math
    • Computer Science
    • Engineering: Electrical & Mechanical
    • Engineering: Materials & Bioengineering
    • Energy & Transportation
    • Mathematical Sciences

Meet The Research Area Mentors

Sandra Peña, Human Sciences Mentor

Sandra Peña works full time in public health as an infectious disease epidemiologist, while also being a part-time MS student at UTK studying Entomology. Sandra plans on blending her current work interests with her growing knowledge in entomology with hopes to become a vectorborne epidemiologist. Sandra enjoys mentoring early career professionals, spending time in the lab, and studying emerging diseases.

Aaron Onufrak, Natural Sciences Mentor

Aaron is a 3rd year PhD student in the Entomology and Plant Pathology department at the University of Tennessee. He studies the fungi and bacteria that associate with eastern black walnut, a tree that is highly valued for its lumber. He is currently working to identify methods to control the fungal pathogen that causes Thousand Cankers Disease, which kills eastern black walnut trees throughout the United States.  His long term career goal is to be an instructor at a college or university sharing my passion for biology with undergraduate students.

Agustin Kriscautzky, Physical Sciences Mentor

Agustin is a 5th year Ph.D. student in the Earth and Planetary Sciences Department at the University of Tennessee. He studies ancient marine rocks for various places around the world, older than a billion years. He is working to understand the geochemistry of the ancient oceans and how these rocks had recorded information that may help us unwrapping the Earth’s history and evolution through geologic time. His future goals are to become a professor and a researcher, and if possible, to be a field geologist traveling around the world, finding information hidden in rocks by nature.

Jeff Brookins, Engineering & Math Mentor

Jeff is a 4th year PhD student in the Department of Materials Science and Engineering at the University of Tennessee, Knoxville. As a physical metallurgist, his current research focuses on the characterization and design of refractory high entropy alloys. These developments could lead to higher performance materials for extreme environments. His long-term goals are to become a research scientist at a national laboratory, while continuing to mentor students at the undergraduate and graduate levels.