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Discovery!Thursdays is a new partnership between Madison Public Library, UW-Extension, UW-Madison, and the Wisconsin Alumni Association, which aims to educate Madisonians about scientific research happening in the Madison community. Discovery!Thursdays provides a community science series to go hand-in-hand with Wednesday Nite @ The Lab, the weekly public science series offered every Wednesday night, 50 times a year, on campus at the Biotech Center.

The events, intended for a general adult audience, will occur at a different Madison Public Library location each week. Each event will begin with a presentation about 45 minutes in length, followed by a question and answer period.

Upcoming events include:

Fungal Spores: Nature's Ultimate Colonists, with Michael Botts
April 21, 6:30 pm, Sequoya Library, 4340 Tokay Blvd, 266-6385
The fungal kingdom represents some of the most diverse and abundant life on our planet. A common feature of fungi is their ability to produce tough, specialized cells called spores. Spores are remarkably resistant to harsh conditions, optimized for long distance dispersal, and most importantly, spores are able to resume growth once favorable conditions are encountered. The germination of fungal spores is a complex biological process, and for fungal pathogens, germination of pathogenic spores has broad implications for human health.
Michael Botts is currently a graduate student in the Department of Biomolecular Chemistry at University of Wisconsin-Madison, where he is in the home stretch of completing thesis research on the properties of spores from the human fungal pathogen Cryptococcus neoformans.

Energy Detectives: Practical Ways to Save Money and Energy, with Sharon Jaffe
April 28, 6:30 pm, Alicia Ashman Library, 733 N. High Point Rd., 824-1780
Energy Conservation makes it possible to use fewer resources, decreasing our ecological footprint and can also save money at home. However, energy conservation requires behavioral changes that can be difficult to achieve without effective education. Participants will engage in hands-on investigative activities that use science process skills like questioning, problem solving, and communicating, focusing on adult learning through practical and interactive activities.
Sharon Jaffe is a Ph.D. candidate in the Atmospheric and Oceanic Sciences Department and is currently completing an internship project through the Delta program on research, teaching, and learning.

Beyond Genes: What Is 'Epigenetics' and Why Does it Matter?, with Dana Huebert Lima
May 5, 6:30 pm, Goodman South Madison Library, 2222 S. Park St., 266-6395
Biomedical research has learned a lot about how DNA mutation can lead to various types of disease, but recent research is uncovering new ways in which diseases occur even if there are no issues with the DNA. Learn what DNA looks like and how it works to guide organisms' health and development, as well as ways in which genes are regulated to create different organisms and cell types and how this regulation allows cells to respond to changes in their external and internal environments.
Dana Huebert Lima is a graduate student in the Program for Cellular and Molecular Biology at UW-Madison. Her research focuses on how yeast cells modify the expression of each of their 6000 genes in order to survive changes in their external environment.

Trillions & Trillions: The Future of DNA Sequencing and Proteomic Analysis at the UW Biotechnology Center, with Tom Zinnen
May 12, 6:30 pm, Hawthorne Library, 2707 E. Washington Ave, 246-4548
The Biotechnology Center's second-generation and now third-generation DNA sequencing machines, used in tandem with UWBC's four different types of mass spectrometers, enable life scientists to dive deeper into the flow of genetic information and protein expression, leading to both astonishing new insights and baffling new puzzles concerning the orchestration of biomolecules, living cells and human beings.
Tom Zinnen leads the BioTrek Outreach Program of the UW-Madison Biotechnology Center and of UW-Extension Cooperative Extension. In 2000-2001 he was as a Congressional Science Fellow and served on the staff of the House Committee on Agriculture.

Primate Center Research and Animal Care, with Jordana Lenon
May 19, 6:30, Meadowridge Library, 5740 Raymond Rd., 288-6160
This event will address research and animal care at the University of Wisconsin-Madison Primate Center, followed by hands-on learning activities for participants and ample time for questions and discussion.
Jordana Lenon, B.S., B.A., is an outreach specialist with both the Wisconsin National Primate Research Center and the Stem Cell & Regenerative Medicine Center at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. Ms. Lenon has worked in biomedical and stem cell research outreach and education since the mid-1990s.

Additionally scheduled topics throughout the summer include stem cell research, quantum computers, piezoelectric fibers and more. For more information, or to find out about additional programs as they are scheduled, visit


  • Marc Gartler, Madison Public Library, 246-4548
  • Tom Zinnen, UW Biotechnology & UW Extension, 265-2420