Quiz Bowl and Speaker Highlight Double Virtual Oxford Science Cafe

Audience participation event, lecture scheduled for March 16 and 25 via Zoom

Staci Bilbo, professor of psychology and neuroscience at Duke University, will lead the second Oxford Science Cafe presentation for the month, on March 25. Submitted photo

OXFORD, Miss. – Two separate events – including a science-focused trivia contest – will make up the virtual Oxford Science Cafe for March at the University of Mississippi. Both events, sponsored by the Department of Physics and Astronomy, are free and open to the public.

The first event will be a quiz bowl in which participants – including the audience – can test their knowledge of science trivia in a battle of wits. This event begins at 6 p.m. March 16 and will be hosted by resident quizmaster Gavin Davies, UM assistant professor of physics and astronomy.

The second program will be a March 25 presentation by Staci Bilbo, professor of psychology and neuroscience at Duke University. Bilbo’s talk, which begins at 5:30 p.m., is “The Mind-Body Connection and the Secret Life of Your Immune System.”

“Activation of the immune system via illness, poor nutrition or a stressful environment in youth can alter early brain development and impact adult mood, physical health and ability to think, and can influence health outcomes like obesity and drug use,” Bilbo said. “Understanding how the immune system interacts with the body and brain to produce these results guides our ability to lessen their harm.

“Social factors like poverty, pollution and addiction contribute to activation of the immune system. Thus, it is also important to work with communities to dampen the devastating influence of these social factors on the growing brain.”

Topics to be addressed during the 45-minute webcast include research in an animal model examining the impact of combined environmental stressors during pregnancy on offspring mental health outcomes.

“In addition, I’ll talk about how these impacts may be mitigated by targeting the immune system,” Bilbo said.

To view both Science Cafe programs, visit https://olemiss.zoom.us/j/97568315885.

For more information about the Department of Physics and Astronomy, visit https://physics.olemiss.edu/.