Great Conversations 2023 to Feature Dr. Gregory & Dr. Thompson | College of Science
January 20, 2023

Great Conversations 2023 to Feature Dr. Gregory & Dr. Thompson

Great Conversations is a unique live event benefiting the Honors College at the University of North Texas. This engaging program brings together individuals of accomplishment and skill to facilitate conversations on important, diverse, and stimulating topics, ranging from the intellectual to the lighthearted. The event is being held in the Apogee VIP Clubroom Tuesday, February 28, 2022 at 6:00pm. We are pleased that this year two professors from the College of Science will be featured as guests at the event:

Dr. Andrew Gregory
What can malaria in the sub Antarctic tell us about the next global pandemic?

Topic: Over the past two decades we have seen a dramatic increase in the number of global pandemics e.g.: Hana, H1N1, SARS, and most recently COVID-19. Is this rise in the number of diseases that cross from wildlife into humans a mere coincidence? When you look at an image of Earth from space, you see a sparkling ball of light with small dark patches. As humans expand there range ever deeper into those dark spaces, you never know what ancient disease may lay waiting there to be discovered by us. Similarly, as humans spread our range, we bring diseases that have long been part of our species into those regions as well. The Sub Antarctic region of Chile was a paradise free from malaria until 5 years ago, by studying the establishment and spread of this disease among birds in Chile we can gain insights into how diseases might spread into human as well.

Bio: Dr. Andrew Gregory is a professor of wildlife biology at UNT. The focus of his work is to understand how human use of the landscape influences wildlife population viability and connectivity. One facet of that work is to look at how human connections have resulted int eh incursion of He is also leading an NSF- Avian Malaria into one of the most remote places on earth. The focus of this work is to better understand the drivers of zoonotic diseases. A second set of studies in Dr. Gregory's lab focuses on conservation corridor efficacy. This multinational collaboration, looks at factors that affect wildlife ability to disperse across anthropic landscapes in 9 countries and 6 continents. As a global expert in connectivity ecology Dr. Gregory has traveled to more than 41 countries to work with policy makers to develop landscape connectivity strategies to help safe-guard biodiversity.

Dr. Ruthanne "Rudi" Thompson
The Worth of Water: The saving of our water planet

Topics: There is an apparent contradiction - we are a water planet, with more than 71% of earth covered in water and yet . . . we are literally running out of water. How can that be? And what are we doing to save this, our Water Planet?

BIO: In early 2006, Dr. Thompson and members of her Science Education Research Lab (SERL) responded to a Request for Proposals from the City of Dallas for the creation of a Dallas Environmental Education Initiative. Dr. Thompson proposed an initiative that included water conservation and recycling education paired with research on the efficacy of behavior change. The first award was in the amount of $500,000 and since that time, Dr. Thompson and her lab have received three additional awards from the City of Dallas totaling $5,443,670; enabling the lab to be fully funded for 16 years and counting. The conversation at this table will focus on environmental (conservation) education, the results of behavior change research, and the next steps for replicating this program in other cities both in Texas and across the nation.

Dr. Ruthanne "Rudi" Thompson is an Associate Professor of biological sciences and director of the Science Education Research Laboratory (SERL). In addition, she is the College of Science Co-Director of Teach North Texas, Assistant Vice President for Digital Strategy and Innovation (DSI) and Executive Director of the DSI Center for Learning Experimentation, Application, and Research (DSI CLEAR).

Dr. Thompson's research program focuses on six areas: environmental education, STEM education, pre-service teacher education, teacher retention , undergraduate STEM retention, and the role tech plays in higher ed. Dr. Thompson has 30+ publications including book chapters, textbooks, and research reports; is a University Distinguished Teaching Professor and she and her lab received the Green3, Excellence in Environmental Education & Outreach award and the Texas Environmental Excellence Award from the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality (TCEQ) for their contributions to protecting Texas natural resources.

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