Nebraska Shark Week? Seriously?
On the surface, the idea of linking teaching, research and outreach from the landlocked University of Nebraska–Lincoln with Discovery Channel’s annual Shark Week celebration is an eye roller. But, when you dive past quips about the Great Navy of Nebraska and our sea of prairie grasses, you’ll find the concept isn’t so shallow.
The history of Nebraska and most of the Midwest is rooted in the sea. Around 100 million years ago, the vast majority of the Cornhusker State rested at the bottom of the Western Interior Seaway, a massive body of water that split North America. Sharks patrolled those waters, battling with long-necked plesiosaurs and carnivorous mosasaurs in pursuit of each other and ancient fishes.
Remnants of those fantastic creatures (and many others) can be discovered in the Toren Gallery of Ancient Life and the Mesozoic Gallery within the University of Nebraska State Museum at Morrill Hall.
To launch Nebraska Shark Week, we’re showcasing a discussion with Matt Joeckel, Nebraska’s state geologist and a professor of natural resources. In the video story, Joeckel discusses the Cornhusker State’s history under the ancient sea. You can also learn more in this report by Michael Voorhies, a vertebrate paleontologist and retired professor/curator in the NU State Museum.
The burgeoning frenzy of shark-centric stories circling Nebraska Today will take big bites into research topics and student entrepreneurship opportunities alongside fun nibbles from the Dairy Store and Sheldon Museum of Art.
We’ll examine John Benson’s work tagging Great White sharks off the west coast; talk with Tim Wei about hydrodynamics and if humans will ever match the speed of sharks in the water; and goggle-up to see Dennis Alexander’s use of lasers to create metal surfaces that mimic natural patterns, including shark skin.
Ali Tamoyal and Prahalada Rao will cruise in to talk about cutting-edge 3-D and bio-ink printing technology that has the potential to craft replacement tissue and bone for trauma victims — including the handful of people annually bitten by sharks.
And, on July 27, University Communication officially launches Faculty 101, a podcast featuring the teaching, research and creative activity of Nebraska faculty. The first episode delves deeper into Benson’s ongoing research as a wildlife biologist. Faculty 101 will be available on most podcast providers, including Stitcher, iTunes and Spotify.
While Chief Brody may express some doubts, we're pretty sure our boat is big enough. Hopefully you'll come aboard for this end-of-summer excursion. It's going to be a fun ride.
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Director of Internal Communication
Editor, Nebraska Today