Science & Mathematics
Epigenetics and the Aging Brain
SC1 Session I: Feb. 25, Mar. 4, 18, 25
Mondays 9:00 - 10:15 am **Special dates: No class March 11**
“I have bad genes.” Really? The conundrum “Nature versus Nurture” continues to plague just about every aspect of human health; however, new research seriously questions this perspective. We are the master of our own genes - for better or worse! And nutrition may play a vital role, especially when it comes to staying sharp into old age. We will learn about epigenetics, explore the aging brain, and discuss foods that keep our brains fit.
Instructor Tom Kuhn is on a quest to let everyone know how to keep your grey matter red-hot. Dr. Kuhn is a neuroscientist and biochemist and has been a UAF faculty member since 1998.
The Aurora: A Look From Above
SC2 Session I: February 25, March 4, 11, 18
Mondays 2:45 - 4:00 pm
Aurora is produced by charged particles entering the upper atmosphere. Where do these particles come from and what accelerates them in a way that accounts for the structured auroral forms? The course will start with a review of auroral morphology as observed from the ground. The main part of the course will trace energy transfer processes from the Sun to the Earth and describe the processes taking place above the atmosphere that accelerate the charged particles responsible for the aurora.
Instructor Dan Swift is a retired professor of physics from the Geophysical Institute of the University of Alaska and much of his professional career has focused on understanding of auroral processes.
Alaska’s 1964 Earthquake: A Game-Changer in Global Plate Tectonics Theory or a Local Catastrophe Fading from Memory?
SC3 Session I: February 26, March 5, 12, 19
Tuesdays 9:30 - 11:30 am. **Optional Project Steering Group work sessions 11:45 am - 12:45 pm.
The previous OLLI version of this team-taught course (Fall 2012) revealed Alaska OLLI members’ appetites for a more extensive feast of ideas and experiences. Evaluators recommended that more discussions take place between now and the earthquake’s 50th anniversary. Accordingly, OLLI regards this course as an experimental project, or “work in progress.” That work may pioneer partnerships with other Alaska communities, field excursions to explore coastal sites of earthquake damage, and may grow to involve interactions with younger students. If OLLI students’ energy proves durable, we may contribute significantly to 50th anniversary commemorations of the event. The Spring 2013 session’s course is designed for both continuing students from 2012 and newcomers to the topic.
Dave Norton, a research generalist, will act as organizer and host for invited specialist-discussants, to include Rod Combellick of the Division of Geological and Geophysical Surveys, Alaska Department of Natural Resources.
Edible Wild Plants of Alaska’s Interior
SC4 Session I: February 27, March 6, 13, 20
Wednesdays 3:00 - 4:15 pm
This course will take you through a series of steps learning to accurately identify, gather, process and store a wide variety of wild plants throughout the seasons. Focusing on the boreal forest of the Interior, many of these plants may be found growing right in your own backyard! Notebooks and pens are recommended, handouts will be available, and other materials will be provided or recommended as needed. This course will encourage you to begin a fulfilling lifelong journey of working with Alaska’s wild plants both as food and for natural remedies.
Instructor Leslie LaBar is the Wild Edible Plant instructor for the Becoming an Outdoors Woman (BOW) program offered through the Dept. of Fish & Game. She and her husband George LaBar are enthusiastic naturalists who strive to empower people to understand, explore and embrace the natural world.
Marmots in Alaska
SC5 Session I: February 28, March 7, 14, 21
Thursdays 3:00 - 4:15 pm *Location: UA Museum of the North
Chances are if you have hiked through any mountainous region in Alaska, or even walked through Creamer's Field, you have seen or heard these conspicuous critters. But did you know it was a marmot? Alaska is home to three of North America's six marmot species. These mammals have much to teach us about Alaska's biogeographic history and the current effects of a warming climate on arctic and alpine ecosystems. Learn about our current understanding of the ecology, evolution and biogeography of marmots, and Alaska's other lesser-known alpine mammals. We'll use museum specimens and include a tour of the research and collections areas in the UA Museum of the North to learn how natural history museums contribute to our understanding of biodiversity.
Instructor Aren Gunderson is the Mammals Collection Manager at the UA Museum of the North and continues research on marmots after having completed an M.S. in wildlife biology at UAF.
The Immune System
SC6 Session II: April 1, 8, 15, 22
Mondays 9:00 - 10:15 am
The immune system is so complex and so marvelous! We will explore the major body systems (blood, lymph, bone) that contribute to our health. We will discuss the differences between the innate and the acquired immunity systems and what happens when the immune system fails.
Instructor Janice Ott is an adjunct professor at UAF, retired high school biology teacher, and someone who has a passion for unusual things. She holds a M.S. in biology with an emphasis on wildlife disease.
SC7 Session II: April 1, 8, 15, 22
Mondays 1:00 - 2:15 pm
This class will cover how we measure land, how we define property, and some of the special problems we have in Alaska. Learn about techniques for measuring land including compass and Gunter chain, transit and 100-foot chain, Theodolite and EDM, total stations, and Differential GPS. Discuss property definition with the public land survey system, US surveys, subdivisions, and mineral surveys, and consider some of the differences in these. Consider also Lot and Block descriptions, Aliquot part descriptions, priority of ownership and senior/junior ownership considerations. Types of deeds will also be mentioned.
Instructor Scott Sexton started surveying in 1970 for Dept. of Highways for construction on the Healy Canyon on the Parks Highway. He retired from DOT in June of 2010 as Location Survey Supervisor for Northern Region. You cannot leave Fairbanks, or most of the state, without using a road or airport that he worked on.
Oceanic Deep Water Formation: How do we know about it, and why is it important?
SC8 Session II: April 1, 8, 15, 22
Mondays 1:00 - 2:15 pm
Current inquiries into climate and climate change on Planet Earth require expertise and participation from numerous disciplines: meteorology, oceanography, physics, circulation modeling, paleontology…etc. Because deep water formation drives far-reaching planetary processes (e.g. “thermohaline convection,” or “Oceanic Conveyor Belt”) the mechanisms and implications of polar deep water formation promise to remain at the cutting edge of scientific understanding for at least the coming decade. OLLI presents an analysis of what we know and what we still have to learn about deep water dynamics. Global oceanic circulation patterns illustrate both the importance of interdisciplinary research and how such thematic topics in modern scientific research are challenging university educators.
Peter Winsor of the UAF School of Fisheries and Ocean Sciences will be one of the featured guest discussants. Dave Norton serves as host and course organizer.
Archaeology in Alaska
SC9 Session II: April 1, 8, 15, 22
Mondays 2:45 - 4:00 pm
This course will cover the prehistory of Alaska, from the initial colonization of the New World, 14,000 years ago, to recent times. Explore how archaeologists reconstruct and interpret the record of the past in this region. We will cover early mammoth and bison hunters, the effects of dramatic climate change on these ancient populations, as well as intensification of the food quest after 5000 years ago. We will also track the origins and migrations of present-day Alaskan populations, Na-Dene and Eskimo-Aleut peoples.
Instructor Ben Potter is Associate Professor of Anthropology at UAF. He has worked in high latitude archaeology since 1995 and has published on stone tools, faunal remains, settlement and subsistence strategies, and organization of prehistoric societies in northeast Asia and northwest North America.
Your Inner Fish
SC11 Session II: April 2, 9, 16, 23
Tuesdays 10:45 - 12:00 noon
Fish are our ancestors and this class will explore that fishy aspect of our past. We’ll see how our very anatomy is fish-based, and how that anatomy has been interconnected with human ecology and behavior across half a billion years. Before our first peeks above water virtually all of our basic anatomy, physiology, and behavior were already molded by evolution. Fish already knew about child rearing, social status, complex learning, pair bonding, attachment to groups, jealousy, wild sex and the rest, and among them were even soles. We’ll follow these ancestors, asking why and how they moved out of water, learned to run, and even climb trees. The fossil record documents that well. Our place as humans in the tree of life is but a tiny bud on the thick limb of fish evolution. It is a story from our deepest past, replete with momentous philosophical and supernatural implications, which contains the core evidence about our evolution. What a shame to go through life missing out on this ‘born-again’ fish version of yourself.
Instructor Dale Guthrie, retired professor of biology at UAF, has had a lifelong interest in human evolution, prehistory, art, and religion. He has published many articles and books on these subjects.
SC12 Session II: April 5, 12, 19, 26
Fridays 10:45 am - 12:00 noon
We residents of “Beringia” are still learning about our own especially fascinating supercontinental region of planet Earth. Although “Beringia” was originally conceived by Eric Hultén in the 1930s, his concept has greatly expanded in space and time as a result of continuing research and discoveries during our lifetimes. You needn’t be a geologist or biologist to enjoy discussions of how scientists reconstruct the long prehistory of this region. Two or more guest presenters will help illustrate the often amusing twists and turns of scientific inquiry into Beringia.
Instructor Dave Norton specializes in being a generalist and Beringia-phile. He has been a researcher and instructor associated with various parts and academic specialties of the University since 1967.
Fishes of the World
SC13 Session II: April 4, 11, 18, 25
Thursdays 6:00 - 7:15 pm *Location: UA Museum of the North
A broad survey of global fish diversity is presented within the framework of the evolutionary history of this species-rich group of vertebrates. In this course we will learn about how many fish forms are out there today, what is a species, which forms are abundant and which are rare, how groups of species are placed in distinct categories, where we find all these species and groups and why they are not evenly distributed across the globe. In other words, the course is an introduction to the taxonomy, systematics and biogeography of fish lineages.
Instructor Andres Lopez is Curator of Fishes at the UA Museum of the North. Dr. Lopez studies the evolution of fishes, their diversity and distribution.