Life in the Late Triassic in Wyoming; How Glaciers Move; Rural Medical Training–The Stats, The Need, The Future; Six Ways to Reduce Your Risks for Alzheimer’s

Explore the Unknown!


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26 May 2021


Hi WN@TL Fans,


Chronology does not a history make, I learned early on as a child of a history teacher. Conversely, later on I learned that while getting the sequence straight isn’t the whole story, if you flub the order of events then it’s pretty hard to assign cause and effect:  the former generally needs to precede the latter.


Historians pursue various kinds of evidence to nail down the temporal lineup.  Calendars and chronologies, archives and repositories, correspondence and newspapers, public records and private journals, supernovas and solar eclipses, first-person testimonials and second-hand reports— these and more all play a role in sleuthing out the sequences and aligning the co-incidences of the human timeline.


For folks who work in deep time, including cosmologists and paleontologists, determining chronology also means finding or inventing a chronometer. Cosmologists especially leave me in the dust.  The universe is 13.7 billion years old?  Sure thing, but what kind of astronomical stopwatch tick-tocks in such aeons?  Likewise, how do geologists fashion an earthly timepiece from rocks?  Stratigraphy, radioactive decay, and isotope ratios are asymptotic to majic in my book, and the calculations leave me in awe.


Thus the diarist in me is looking forward to this week’s talk:  it’s great to have puzzles, and it’s even more intriguing to have the parsing of the pieces to align in time as part of the challenge.


On May 26 Dave Lovelace of the UW Geology Museum and Dept of Geoscience will share his recent work on fossils from the Late Triassic of Wyoming.  His is a saga how basically of puzzle pieces: each piece is a story, but as each piece is put together a broader picture is formed of Life in the Late Triassic, including how we know WHEN in time our rocks are, and why knowing that is important.

Bio:  Dave Lovelace is a vertebrate paleontologist specializing in Triassic-aged rocks of the Rocky Mountain West (252-201 million years ago). He joined the UW Geology Museum team as a research scientist after completing his PhD at UW-Madison’s Department of Geoscience in 2012. Dave combines the study of ancient bones, trackways, and soils to build a picture of what ecosystems looked like 230 million years ago — when the first mammals, turtles, crocodiles, lizards, dinosaurs, and birds evolved. Since becoming a member of the museum team, Dave had made several exciting discoveries including: the oldest known turtle tracks in the world, two mass-death-assemblages of Late Triassic amphibians, and the oldest dinosaur tracks in Wyoming.



On June 2 Professor Luke Zoet of Geoscience will slide back to WN@TL with the latest drift on “How Glaciers Move” based in part on his two recent papers in Science (2020) and in Science Advances (May 14, 2021).


Description: While glaciers are often thought of as static bodies of ice infamous for melting, steady glacial movement is constantly at work. Many of Earth’s largest glaciers are flowing into oceans, and the rate at which they contribute to sea level rise directly depends on their speed of flow. We will discuss how glaciers physically flow, the various factors that impact those processes, and resulting speeds.

Bio: Luke Zoet is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Geoscience, who holds an appointment in Geological Engineering, and the American Indian Studies Program at the University of Wisconsin-Madison.

His primary field of research focuses on understanding the physics of glacier motion through field observation, laboratory experiments, numeric modeling and theoretical analysis. His work sits at the intersection of glaciology and glacial geology. He uses a variety of geophysical and geological methods to explore glacial processes in modern glaciers as well as landforms left behind by Pleistocene glaciers. He also works on coastal processes using a range of instruments and new field and modeling techniques to estimate bluff stability and nearshore sediment transport processes.






On June 9 Laura McDowell of Obstetrics & Gynecology will be here to delve into an issue of importance across many communities in Wisconsin, especially to those of us who grew up in small towns an hour or two from a cluster of specialists.  She’ll be speaking on “Rural Medical Training: The Stats, The Need, The Future.”


Bio: (Extracted from written in 2017) “Not everyone can claim to be the first in the nation, but since Laura McDowell, MD, joined the University of Wisconsin Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology in June, she can. McDowell is the first-ever rural resident in the first-ever dedicated, sanctioned rural obstetrics and gynecology residency program in the country.  McDowell got to know both the joys and challenges of rural life growing up in Minnesota and Iowa. She attended the University of Minnesota for undergrad and medical school. “Ever since starting medical school I have been committed to practicing rural medicine,” she says. (McDowell pursued a rural training track in medical school.) “I am excited that there is now an opportunity to do so in ob-gyn training.”

“Over the next four years, McDowell will spend about 80 percent of her training time in Madison, experiencing high-volume and specialty training alongside the six other UW Ob-Gyn residents. The rest of the time, McDowell will rotate through collaborating rural hospitals in Portage, Monroe, Watertown, Ripon and Waupun. Hartenbach describes the rural training program as “residency-plus.”

““The rural rotation is a little bit more about giving our residents the smaller community experience so they’ll have the confidence to take those jobs when they graduate,” Hartenbach says. “There’s a fear of not being around specialists all the time. We hope to teach doctors when to refer, when to know that your hospital or your community doesn’t have the resources to take care of, say, a premature delivery.”

“So how does McDowell feel about making history as the first rural ob-gyn resident in the country? “I am very grateful for the honor of being the first rural ob-gyn resident and I know it comes with a lot of anticipation,” she says. “I intend to make the most of learning from my patients and mentors on how to be a better physician and better serve rural communities.””





Remember, we now meet by Zoom, since we can’t gather all in one room.


Hope to see you soon at Wednesday Nite @ The Lab!


Tom Zinnen
Biotechnology Center & Division of Extension, Wisconsin 4-H