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Welcome to UT Mic/Nite!

Next Event:
Thurs, November 16, 2023

Social Hour: 5:30pm
Program: 6:30pm
Location: Relix Variety Theatre


Patrick Grzanka,
Mic/Nite Coordinator


Twice a year, the Office of the Provost hosts Mic/Nite, a “Pecha-Kucha Powered” social gathering designed to enhance the intellectual, interdisciplinary, and cultural life of the faculty and staff at UT Knoxville.

One of the challenges in a large university community is working across the silos that often separate disciplines. Mic/Nite offers an opportunity to build bridges and foster a deeper appreciation of the many facets of a large, comprehensive university. Presentations offer a cross section of the intellectual life of UT Knoxville and provide an opportunity for social interaction among faculty and staff who may not otherwise have the opportunity to interact with each other.

For the Event:

We remind our guests that UT Mic/Nite is an event for UT faculty and staff and is not open to students or the general public. [Partners are welcome.] Relix Variety Theatre is located at 1208 N Central St, Knoxville, TN 37917. Parking is available behind the venue on Anderson Avenue and on surrounding streets.

Free pizza and a cash bar are available.

Please complete the RSVP form by Friday, March 17.

RSVP for Mic/Nite on March 22, 2023


What is Pecha-Kucha?

Pecha-Kucha is a simple presentation format that features twenty images displayed for twenty seconds each. The images automatically forward as the presenter talks. To learn more, visit the Pecha-Kucha FAQ. Samples are posted on the Pecha-Kucha Presentations page.

The format originated in Tokyo, Japan. It was first introduced in 2003 and has spread to more than 400 cities around the world. The format allows presenters to depict and describe everything from urban design or economic theory to a series of photographs. Mic/Nite is held in cooperation with PechaKucha Night Knoxville, which was started in 2011 to encourage intellectual and cultural dialogue. Mic/Nites are special interdisciplinary events that facilitate dialogue between university faculty and staff by showcasing the academic pursuits of the campus.

Explore Pecha Kucha events from around the world: PechaKucha 20×20 – Official Site | PechaKucha 20×20 – Knoxville | PechaKucha 20×20 – FAQ


Spring 2023 Topics

Research Data Management: Making Physical Collections More Findable, Accessible, Interoperable and Reusable

Wade Bishop, PhD, Associate Professor, Research Data Management Coordinator; School of Information Sciences 

Research data management entails appraising, preserving, storing, and transforming digital objects to enable reuse beyond the original data collector. With the move toward scientific data becoming as open as possible and aligned more with the FAIR Data Principles to be machine-actionable, researchers across domains must add steps to their workflows to adjust to this changing research enterprise. Physical collections present their own unique challenges to making their data findable, accessible, interoperable, and reusable. Legacy and born digital data can be transformed and combined with other datasets and lead to new knowledge created in tandem with machines. The key to unlocking these potential discoveries in the exact sciences is to understand the current status of digitization of collections and gain knowledge of the best practices to move the entirety of tangible objects onto a functional cyberinfrastructure. The presentation reviews findings from a study of research data management of physical collections across a variety of sciences.

Watch Wade Bishop’s Presentation:

How to Hide in Plain Sight 

Stephanie A. Bohon, PhD, Professor and Head of Sociology  

In this talk, I explore a concept I call nefarious invisibility—the outcome of intentional processes whereby actors purposefully manipulate existing systems to create outcomes that are unacceptable to that system’s members.  In contrast to invisibility that results from erasure, such as invisible labor, nefarious invisibility allows unpopular policies and positions to effectively “hide in plain sight” under the cover of already-normalized, legitimate structures. To illustrate this, I explore how an anti-immigrant activist with strong ties to white supremacist organizations leveraged her academic credentials to gain editorship of a prominent scholarly journal with the intent to shape the conversation around immigration, give legitimacy to racist nativist voices, and to stop US immigration reform. Furthermore, I’ll explore how she managed to use the structures we have built in academia to hide her activities for more than a decade, and how she was finally stopped by one brave assistant professor.

Watch Stephanie Bohon’s Presentation:

The Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse: Assignments and Evaluation in the Age of Chatgpt

Phillip Daves, PhD, Associate Professor of Finance 

I logged on to Chatgpt last month after its grand unveiling. Instead of asking it to summarize no-arbitrage asset pricing theory or generate the plans for a desktop nuclear fusion device, I asked it to write a 12-bar blues song based on that day’s New York Times headlines. It did, and it wasn’t bad! For something more structured I asked it to write a haiku poem about my niece’s bearded dragon lizard. The result was charming!  

The experience, however, caused me to think, and re-think, about what constitutes original work, what is skills and concept acquisition, how or whether to evaluate those in a way that I can reasonably expect to be reliable, and fundamentally, why I test my students. In this talk, I’ll discuss my conclusions on testing and evaluation and changes I’ve made and intend to make in my senior-level course.  

It’s Getting Hot in Here: Community-level Approaches to Addressing Extreme Heat 

Jennifer M. First, PhD, Assistant Professor, College of Social Work

Climate change has gripped the planet, and the past three decades have been the hottest on record. Cities and urban spaces are subject to even hotter temperatures because of heat-absorbing surfaces (e.g., asphalt, brick), limited vegetation, and heat-producing factors from vehicles and building energy use. In response to these challenges, a team of researchers at the University of Tennessee has been developing and testing community-level approaches for mitigating and adapting to extreme heat. Dr. Jennifer First will provide an overview of these approaches and discuss a citywide heat mapping campaign that involved volunteer citizen scientists to map areas in Knoxville, Tennessee, where excessive heat occurs.  

Watch Jennifer First’s Presentation:

Even the Birds Benefit from Diversity 

Todd M Freeberg, PhD, Professor and Associate Head of Psychology, Director of the College Scholars Honors Program of the College of Arts & Sciences 

In our own species, diverse groups can often make better decisions than more homogeneous groups of individuals. The same generality may hold for non-human animal groups. In this talk, I will review some of this growing evidence of how diversity matters for species ranging from bees to non-human primates. I will focus on some recent studies students and I have carried out in songbird species, including Carolina chickadees and tufted titmice, which show that more diverse mixed-species groups are better able to solve novel feeder tasks than more homogeneous groups. These findings from both human and non-human animal studies support the general notion that diverse groups often have a wider range of cognitive skills they can bring to problem solving compared to homogeneous groups. As long as there is effective communication among group members, these ‘diversity bonuses’ may be universal to living organisms.

Watch Todd Freeberg’s Presentation:

Unfree Food: Chocolate Production and Slave Labor in Early America 

Chris Magra, PhD, Professor of Early American History, Director of the Center for the Study of Tennesseans and War, Department of History 

My new project on the mass production of chocolate will be the first book-length examination of the carceral dimensions of the early American food system. Settlers used confinement and exploitation to refine large quantities of chocolate in early America. They built chocolate works and sourced cocoa beans from tropical plantations for these manufacturing centers in the eighteenth century. Settlers then confined enslaved Africans in North American chocolate works and forced them to mass-produce chocolate for little or no compensation. Historians who study farming and food production in early America have been slow to study unfree foods, the foods produced directly or indirectly through convicted, indentured, or enslaved labor. Most of this scholarship has focused on free foods, the foods cultivated on small farms with free labor. The emphasis on free foods especially underpins the idea that European settlers made America great on their own. 

Watch Chris Magra’s Presentation:

Understanding Prenatal Substance Use and Newborn Withdrawal in Appalachia

Jennifer Miller, PhD, RN, Assistant Professor of Nursing 

Every 15 minutes in the United States, a baby is born who will experience withdrawal due to prenatal substance exposure. These exposures may be prescription, prescription misuse, or illicit in nature. The national incidence of newborn withdrawal is around 8 per 1000 birth hospitalizations. In rural areas, those numbers surpass 23 per 1000 birth hospitalizations. Newborns with prenatal substance exposure often experience withdrawal including combinations of symptoms of the central nervous system (i.e., high pitched, inconsolable crying and minimal sleep following eating), autonomic nervous system (i.e., increased respiratory rate and sneezing), and the gastrointestinal system (i.e., vomiting and loose/watery stools). Current understanding of newborn withdrawal is based primarily on research in newborns from urban areas. There is a gap in understanding newborn withdrawal in rural areas. In this presentation, I will discuss two studies that explore withdrawal in newborns from Appalachia as we begin to fill the gap. 

Image courtesy of Marco Verch Professional Photographer 

Watch Jennifer Miller’s Presentation:

Why are Eggs so Expensive?

Andrew Muhammad, PhD, Professor and Blasingame Chair of Excellence in Agricultural Policy 

Egg prices have been the subject of recent news reports and articles including major publications like the Wall Street Journal, The New York Times, and The Economist. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, retail egg prices in the U.S. surged from $1.79/dozen in December 2021 to $4.25/dozen in December 2022, which is an increase of 138%. The price of eggs has increased significantly more than food prices overall raising a very important question: Why are eggs currently so expensive? We don’t have to resort to conspiracy theories to explain the recent surge in egg prices. One could never rule out nefarious actions or collusion on the part of suppliers. However, economic factors adequately explain the current situation, even beyond the oft-cited cause – unprecedented bird loss due to avian influenza (bird flu). 

Watch Andrew Muhammad’s Presentation:

Smart Hybrid Manufacturing: Combining Additive Friction Stir Deposition, Structured Light Scanning, and CNC Machining  

Tony Schmitz, PhD, Professor and ORNL Joint Faculty 

This presentation describes the integration of three complementary technologies to enable hybrid manufacturing. First, friction stir additive manufacturing is applied for solid-state deposition of the aluminum preform that contains the desired part geometry. Second, structured light scanning is used to measure the preform. A coordinate system is assigned to the measurement using the build plate (or other) features/fiducials and this result is used as the stock model for the computer-aided manufacturing (CAM) toolpath generation. The build plate is then transferred to the computer numerically controlled (CNC) milling machine to achieve the designer’s intent for geometry, accuracy, and surface finish using the tool paths and optimized machining parameters. Example geometries are presented and measurements of the final part are provided, including microstructure.

Watch Tony Schmitz’s Presentation:

A Longitudinal, National Exploration of Superintendent Turnover and Gender and Racial Gaps

Rachel S. White, PhD, Assistant Professor, Educational Leadership & Policy Studies 

Gender and racial disparities among professionals in the highest positions of power in the American workforce have resulted in women and persons of color being vastly outnumbered in many important decision making areas of American life. American K12 public schools are no exception: the superintendency—the most highly paid, and arguably the most powerful decision making position in K12 education—is dominated by white males. Yet, understanding the magnitude of and variation in inequities in access to the superintendency, and avenues through which these inequities may be reduced (e.g., hiring, mobility) have been primarily limited to conjecture. Given the federal government does not collect data on superintendents, I established a national, longitudinal superintendent database. In this presentation, I share analyses of superintendent turnover, mobility, and gender gaps across time, district characteristics, and states; as well as preliminary results of a pilot study using machine learning to better understand superintendent racial gaps. 

Watch Rachel White’s Presentation:

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