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William Eddy Lecture Series

Zach Umperovitch, Contraption Master | Friday, April 28 2023

Zach Umperovitch is the world's leading authority on building machines inspired by Rube Goldberg designs. These intricately connected structures are all about transferring energy from one form to another in order to accomplish a simple task and spark some humor along the way. After building his unique machine for the Fairbanks Museum, Zach Umperovitch explains the genius of Rube Goldberg and the intricacies of his project. With images and video to illustrate his work, this tour of the physics that underpins the machine and the humor that guides his inspiration will be revealed. Once he’s explained what’s in place, Zach will set his contraption in motion!

Zach will begin planning and building his machine on Saturday, April 22, using materials from the Fairbanks Museum’s vault – including some objects from Fred Mold’s Hall of Science! He’ll incorporate everyday objects in this one-of-a-kind machine to span the length of the main gallery. The installation continues through the week with items added daily. Visit while he builds to ask questions and offer suggestions and be part of the construction process.

Art and Architecture: Designing the Tang Science Annex | October 7, 2022

rendering of the Tang Science Annex at the Fairbanks MuseumMeet the architects from Vermont Integrated Architecture for an in-process stroll through the Tang Science Annex. This behind-the-scenes presentation starts with a tour of the construction site followed by an outdoor presentation. Learn about the underlying design, vision, and challenges to constructing Vermont's demonstration mass timber building.

Night Sky: Science and Wonder | April 20, 2022

You're invited on a journey through the cosmos with Mark Breen, director of the Lyman Spitzer Jr. Planetarium, and Mariama Jones, science educator at the Fairbanks Museum. Your guides take you on a tour of astronomy events, such as solar and lunar eclipses, and their significance in different cultures. Mark Breen's decades-long observations inform this discussion of stars, planets, constellations and other observable night sky features, while Mariama Jones brings a social perspective that includes myths, legends, and attitudes that shape our understanding of what's beyond our horizon. Both speakers came to astronomy from different paths, and they offer tips for observing -- from events to tools -- that make it easy to go far.

Watch their lively exchange on KATV!

Vermont's Changing Climate | May 5, 2021

If one thing is for certain in Vermont, it is that the weather is always changing. But understanding our climate, or the changes in environmental conditions that occur over long periods of time, is often more difficult to grasp. Is Vermont affected by climate change? How do we experience it, and what does it mean for the facets of society that make this state unique? We hosted 2 discussions focused on the science of climate change in Vermont and the importance of studying climate and its impacts on wildlife, rivers, agriculture, recreation, and our own communities. 

Dr. Lesley-Ann Dupigney-Giroux, Vermont State Climatologist and UVM professor, draws on her career in climatology to explore what climate change means for Vermont and Vermonters. 

A panel discussion  focused on the science of climate change included 

  • Dr. Lesley-Ann Dupigny-Giroux – Vermont State Climatologist
  • Dr. Janel Hanrahan – Chair of Atmospheric Sciences at NVU
  • Dr. Ryan Rebozo – Director of Conservation Science at the Vermont Center for Ecostudies

Moderated by Jane Lindholm, host of Vermont Edition and creator of the But Why? podcast on VPR

Elizabeth Kolbert William Eddy Lecture Series Presenter at the Fairbanks Museum October 2015

William Eddy Lecture Speakers

  • Ed Koren: Ed Koren is known for conveying visual satire through his distinctive illustrations, many of them published in The New Yorker magazine (2019)
  • Abdi Nor Iftin: Call Me American - author and interpreter reflects on the journey from war-torn Somalia to northern New England (2018)
  • Sonam Wangchuk, engineer and educational reform advocate, winner of the 2016 Rolex Award for Enterprise (2017)
  • "Allies & Invaders" - Lectures and guided field program with experts from Dartmouth College and regional forestry services (2017)
  • Billy Collins, former US Poet Laureate and best-selling author (2016)
  • John Abele, co-founder of Boston Scientific, "Search for the USS Grunion" (2016)
  • Elizabeth Kolbert, Pulitzer Prize winning journalist and author of The Sixth Extinction: An Unnatural History (2015)
  • David Macaulay, writer and illustrator of The Way Things Work (2014)
  • Calvin Trillin, writer and commentator (2014)
  • Dr. Geoffrey West, Distinguished Professor at the Sante Fe Institute (2013)
  • Nancy Abrams and Joel Primack, authors of The New Universe and the Human Future (2012)
  • Michael Specter, The New Yorker staff writer (2012)
  • Rob Mermin, founder of Circus Smirkus (2011)
  • Steve Curwood, host and executive producer of "Living on Earth" (2011)
  • Katy Payne, director of the Elephant Listening Project (2010)

The William Eddy Lecture Series was established in 2010 by Bill and Pam Eddy to challenge the ways we think about our place in the world by bringing nationally-known speakers to Vermont. Themes for this series have focused on creativity, communication, society and natural history. Each presentation has sparked discussion, reflection and a chance to re-imagine our habits of thinking.

Bill Eddy taught in the Environmental Program at the University of Vermont from 1977 through 1998. Prior to that he held positions with the New York Zoological Society, the Conservation Foundation, and the African Wildlife Foundation. He made some 25 trips to East Africa where he began work in the early '60's as director of education for the Tanzania National Parks. There he developed one of the first public awareness programs in Africa devoted to the conservation of wildlife. Subsequently he was asked to develop similar programs for the national parks of Kenya and Uganda. Between 1982 and 1986 he worked with the Rendille tribe, a remote group of camel-raising nomads living in the northern desert of Kenya, to develop culturally appropriate ways to help them understand their own role in the spread of desert.

It was in the course of such work that he became interested in the role which language and culture play in shaping peoples' perception of their environment.  As a film maker he has produced several Swahili language documentaries on wildlife conservation which have been seen by literally millions of viewers throughout East Africa. His work with the International Division of the U.S. National Park Service has involved him in many projects covering a wide range of environmental concerns in India, Nepal, and Sri Lanka.  Peace Corps invited him to help them develop programs to increase environmental awareness and understanding in a number of African, Central American and Caribbean countries, and to design training programs for Peace Corps volunteers to help them to "see" their own environmental biases before they began working with other cultures.