The Moab Festival of Science was almost canceled this year due to the upheaval caused by the COVID-19 pandemic. Instead of throwing in the towel, organizers decided to put another great event together with the same goal as in years past: to connect and inspire citizens and visitors of southeastern Utah with the joy of science, the importance of regional research and the thrill of scientific discovery.
This is the fifth year of the event which kicks off on Wednesday, Sept. 16, and runs through Sunday, Sept. 20. It will include both in-person and virtual events, including scientist-led walk-and-talks, an online science trivia game, interviews with researchers and more. Event organizers say a full itinerary will be posted on the Moab Festival of Science website, www.moab-scifest.org, ahead of the festival’s start. (It was not posted yet as of press time).
Festival organizer Erika Geiger said that the schedule was pulled together quickly, but said the committee of scientists behind the festival has planned some great events.
For example, the Moab Festival of Science and ecologist Kristina Young of Science Moab will present a panel discussion titled “Rethinking Science in the Southwest: Creating an inclusive science to address human health & environmental change.”
Panelists are Alyssa Abbey, PhD, a geologist and team member with The Biota Project; Sergio Avila, MS, a wildlife biologist and Outdoors Program Coordinator at the Sierra Club; and Daisy Purdy, PhD, a social scientist and founder of the Inclusive Community Cooperative.
The panel will discuss how inclusive and community-focused science, community-values, and Indigenous knowledge are addressing human health and environmental change in the Southwest region. Panelists will share efforts happening in the Southwest and beyond that use science and community engagement to meet the needs of local communities and surrounding ecosystems. This event will be held on Zoom and simulcast on the Science Moab Facebook page and YouTube on Friday, Sept. 18 from noon to 1 p.m. (Zoom link: https://zoom.us/j/94620214104. Webinar ID: 946 2021 4104).
Another planned event is a geology walk-and-talk by National Park Service interpretive ranger Will Leggett. Leggett and a group of up to 15 participants will hike along Moab’s Old Mail Trail above Mill Creek to discuss how geologic forces forged Moab’s unique landscape. Registration through the Festival of Science webpage will be required for this event.
Cara Lauria, biological science technician with the U.S. Geological Survey will lead a hike near the north end of the Pipe Dream bike trail and discuss biology, identification, and conservation of biological soil crusts.
There are also plans for a screening of the film “Pollinators,” a virtual star party, a trivia night hosted on Zoom, and a birding walk at the Scott and Norma Matheson Wetlands Preserve. For more details, go to www.moab-scifest.org.