The “Crossroads of Ideas” campus lecture series will kick off the spring 2017 season with a talk from the new Wisconsin Institute for Discovery (WID) Director Jo Handelsman on the worldwide threat of declining soils.
Handelsman’s talk, “A world without soil: Can we preserve this precious resource?” will be held at 7:30 p.m. on Thursday, Feb. 16, in the De Luca Forum of the Discovery Building, 330 North Orchard Street. The series is free and open to the public.
A longtime University of Wisconsin-Madison professor of plant pathology and bacteriology, Handelsman began this month as the new WID director. She returned to Madison from her most recent role as the associate director for science in the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy.
Handelsman will address some long-term challenges to soil, a complex system upon which much of life on Earth depends. Iowa topsoil, for example – believed to be the deepest and most fertile in the world – is eroding at more than twice the rate that it is being replenished. About one third of all soils on Earth are in a degraded state, and replacing even a centimeter of soil can take up to 1,000 years.
Crossroads is the signature monthly public lecture series sponsored by all three entities in the Wisconsin Discovery Building — WID, the Morgridge Institute for Research and the Wisconsin Alumni Research Foundation.
The talks cover thought-provoking public issues from scholars across the UW-Madison landscape. Past lectures have covered everything from Wisconsin’s rural-urban political divide to the new economy of street food markets.
Other upcoming spring 2017 talks include:
- Tuesday, March 14, 7:30 p.m.: “The Math Behind the March Madness Tournament,” by industrial and systems engineering Associate Professor Laura McLay.
- Tuesday, May 9, 7:30 p.m.: “Mapping Fatefulness,” by sociology Assistant Professor Alice Goffman.
Evening event parking is available in campus parking lots 20, 80 and 17, all less than a block from the Discovery Building. Visit the campus map for details.