Board of Visitors
Members Host Outreach Visit in Abilene
BoV members Charles Ivey and Bill Wright, Jr., of Abilene hosted
McDonald Observatory Director David L. Lambert and Dr. Karl Gebhardt,
the Herman and Joan Suit Professor of Astrophysics in the Department of
Astronomy at The University of Texas at Austin, for a whirlwind day of
high-school and university talks and media interviews in Abilene on
January 25, 2013.
The West Texas Science Center (of which Ivey is Board Chair and
Wright is a Director) and the Abilene Chapter of the Texas Exes were
co-sponsors of the visit, working closely with Gaile B. Thompson, the
Executive Director of Secondary Education for the Abilene School
Charles Ivey; Bill Wright, Jr., and David Lambert in Abilene
A full day and evening were planned by Ivey and Wright, and Wright’s
assistant Amanda Jones worked out the scores of details needed.
During the morning of January 25, Karl Gebhardt spoke about black
holes, dark energy, and dark matter to groups of science students at
Abilene’s Academy of Technology, Engineering, Math and Science (ATEMS)
magnet high school, where he was hosted by Thompson and teacher Jaime
Tindall. Gebhardt then spoke at Cooper High School, where he was hosted
by Principal Karen Muñoz and Administrator of Instruction Amelia Sibert,
along with physics teachers Laurie McAnally, M.D., and Jim Reeves. While
at Cooper High School, Gebhardt was interviewed by reporters from two
That morning, David Lambert made a presentation on the origin of the
elements in water to a packed assembly hall at Abilene High School,
where he was introduced by Instructional Specialist Gustavo Villanueva.
After lunch that day, Lambert gave a presentation to physics
students at McMurry University, where he was hosted by Professor of
Physics Wayne Keith. A photographer and reporter from the Abilene
Reporter-News covered the event. At the same time, Gebhardt was
presenting a talk at Hardin-Simmons University, where he was introduced
by Professor Patrick Miller.
Kathleen Strong, representing the Texas Exes Chapter, made it
possible for Lambert to move from place to place in keeping with the
intricate schedule; Charles Ivey provided the transportation for
Gebhardt, and McDonald Observatory Development Manager Joel Barna also
helped with logistics. Texas Exes Chapter President Paul Serrell
coordinated contacts with the newspaper and television stations.
After a dinner with Board of Visitors members and guests from the
community, including Strong and Serrell at the Cypress Street Station
restaurant’s historic downtown location, the events of the day were
capped off by Karl Gebhardt’s well-attended public lecture at Abilene
Christian College’s Walling Lecture Hall. Gebhardt was introduced by Dr.
Rusty Towell, Chair of the ACU’s Department of Engineering and Physics.
Karl Gebhardt speaking at Abilene Christian University
Charles Ivey (who earned a Ph.D. from The University of Texas at
Austin in the 1960s and who was the first Chair of Abilene Christian
University’s Physics Department) later estimated that Gebhardt and
Lambert had interacted with 1,000 students and members of the public
during the day.
Says David Lambert, “The remarkable efforts by Bill Wright and
Charles Ivey and all the people they brought together made for a very
stimulating, very successful day of outreach for science education. We
thank these wonderful Board of Visitors members, the Texas Exes, the
West Texas Science Center, and the people of the Abilene community.”
Coverage of the events can be found at:
Black Holes and Dark Matter
[Joel W. Barna]