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Astronaut coming to town and other science events

Upcoming science events include a visiting astronaut, a briefing on the public health implications of transporting animals and everyday solutions to problems with toxic water. 

Astronaut visit

Space shuttle astronaut Capt. Daniel Brandenstein is coming to the University of Minnesota on Thursday to give a free public talk.

Brandenstein — a native of Watertown, Wis. — has flown four shuttle missions, logged more than 780 hours in space and commanded the maiden voyage of the Space Shuttle Endeavor.

After graduating from the University of Wisconsin-River Falls in 1965, he entered active duty with the U.S. Navy and flew 192 combat missions in the Vietnam War.

Brandenstein was serving as an A-6 flight instructor when NASA tapped him to become an astronaut in 1978. His first shuttle mission was as pilot aboard Challenger. He served as shuttle commander for three subsequent missions, including Endeavour’s maiden voyage.

Brandenstein was chief of NASA’s Astronaut Office from 1987-1992. He was inducted into the U.S. Astronaut Hall of Fame in 2003. And he currently serves on the Astronaut Scholarship Foundation’s Board of Directors.

In addition to the public talk, Brandenstein will present two U of M College of Science and Engineering students each with a $10,000 scholarship. The funds are from the Astronaut Scholarship Foundation with a match from the university’s Office of the President. The recipients are Matthew Coudron, who is majoring in mathematics and physics, and Scott Isaacson, who is majoring in chemical engineering.

The Astronaut Scholarship is the largest monetary award given in the United States to science and engineering undergraduate students based solely on merit.

The event is scheduled for 12:35-1:30 p.m. Thursday, Oct. 28, in Coffman Memorial Union, Mississippi Room, 300 Washington Ave., S.E., Minneapolis

 Transporting animals

Millions of animals cross the U.S. border annually — some legally, some illegally. And millions more are moved legally within the country.

These movements of animals and animal products have been linked to outbreaks impacting human health, regional economies and the environment too.

Jeff Bender, a professor of Veterinary Public Health, will talk about recent case studies illustrating these issues and the need for more thoughtful discourse about them. The considerations include our need for food and the cultural implications of changing trade and policies associated with the animal movement.

Bender’s talk is the next event in the 2010 Frontiers lectures sponsored by the U of M’s Institute on the Environment. It is scheduled for noon to 1 p.m. on Wednesday, Nov. 3, in the Institute’s seminar room, 380 VoTech Building, 1954 Buford Avenue, St. Paul.

Everyday solutions to toxic water

This year’s Ada Comstock Distinguished Women Scholar Lecture at the U of M will focus on the threats facing freshwater resources and the achievements made in turning the tide toward sustainability.

From the loss of natural buffers and filters such as wetlands, to the introduction of endocrines, to industry and consumer-induced toxins, the planet’s rivers, lakes, streams and groundwater reserves are under increasing stress. The good news is that concern for our finite water supply is beginning to take center stage in town halls and legislative chambers.

The lecturer — freshwater expert and environmental chemist Deborah Swackhamer — plans to include an update on Minnesota’s own groundbreaking 25-year plan for a sustainable water future. Swackhamer co-directs the U of M’s  Water Resources Center.

The Ada Comstock lecture was established by the university’s Women’s Center to honor the scholarly accomplishments and leadership of distinguished women faculty at the university. It’s named after a university professor and education pioneer who became the first president of Radcliffe College in 1923.

The lecture, free and open to the public, is scheduled for 4 p.m. Thursday, Nov. 4, at the Humphrey Institute of Public Affairs, Cowles Auditorium, 301 19th Ave. S., Minneapolis.

You can RSVP and see more information here.

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