UT has many outstanding traditions. Some may promote various philanthropic causes, while others focus more on esoteric disciplines. One thing is certain; the opportunity for connectivity at UT is immeasurable, and often overwhelming.

In the 1930s, as UT professors observed the expansion of academic departments, as well as the broadening scope of scientific disciplines, they felt it necessary to establish a means by which teachers and students could stay in touch with one another and current research. Consequently, the "Knoxville Science Club" was formed in 1933. There are no records of who these individuals were. Indeed, unbeknownst to them, an invaluable tradition was being created that would last for 80 years, as of the year 2013.

Currently known as the UT Science Forum and held every Friday at 12:00 p.m., Dr. Mark Littmann is one of the men keeping the wheels turning.

"There's all this wonderful research going on within our campus, as well as outside through our affiliates," Dr. Littmann said. "Of course, you have money being put into UT by both the state and federal government, and what better way for people to see where it's going."

This sense of a broader community amongst varying scientific fields is perhaps one of most important aspects of the Science Forum. Students and faculty alike can acquire untold facets of knowledge and form their own ideas for potential careers or projects by attending these. There is no charge, and the content is geared toward the public, meaning one doesn't need to be a scientist to understand the material presented.

Today at noon, Dr. Alison Boyer of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology will present some of her current research, which involves the extinction and conservation of tropical island birds. Her primary work is based on the island of New Caledonia of the South Pacific. Dr. Boyer further echoed the opinions of the Science Forum originators.

"A lot of students are unaware of what's going on outside the classroom, and these forums are a great way to start thinking about potential research projects with faculty and peers. It's a useful tradition that can open our minds to new ideas."

Her presentation will include studies regarding the history of bird extinctions, and how best to prevent future extinctions due to human impact. Her study, like the forum itself, combines multiple scientific disciplines to frame pungent new insights.

Next Friday, Nov. 16, Professor Rob Heller of the College of Journalism and Electronic Media will present on the history of photojournalism. From tropical bird conservation to photography, one may easily observe the incessant diversity propagated by the forum.

Dubbed "A Brief, Yet Incomplete History of Photojournalism," Professor Heller's talk will span from the ancient origins of imagery to modern-day photography and photojournalism. Topics of interest will range from the technical aspects of photojournalism, to the history of reproducing photos in print.

"I'm excited to present this lecture to a scientific audience, when what I'm doing combines science with art," Heller said.
The Science Forums take place every Friday from 12:00-1:00 p.m. in room C-D of Thompson-Boling Arena — next to the cafeteria. More information can about this event and upcoming events http://research.utk.edu/forum.