Science Club explores ‘reality’


Last updated 2/21/2023 at Noon


When we open our eyes, are we perceiving reality? Why did we fail to agree on the color of “The Dress” that went viral in 2015? Have you ever glanced at a ticking clock and noticed the second-hand suddenly freezes for a split second?

Neuroscience research suggests that the brain evolved to make rapid, best-guesses about the objects in our environment, rather than create a one-to-one representation of the world. Through stories and demonstrations, Dr. Mark Pitzer will discuss some of the effects of this strategy and how our visual system can highlight some objects, delete others, and alter our conscious awareness.

“Seeing the Big Picture: How the Brain Manipulates Our Visual World” will be the topic when Dr. Pitzer speaks at The Belfry on Tuesday, February 28, for the first winter lecture in the 2023 Frontiers in Science series.

A neuroscientist at the University of Portland, Dr. Pitzer has worked for the last 25 years to better understand and treat diseases of the brain, including Parkinson’s and Huntington’s diseases.

Dr. Pitzer is also an award-winning teacher who uses the findings from the fields of learning and neuroscience to invoke enduring enthusiasm, curiosity, and deep learning in his college students.

“Students play an essential role in all aspects of my research, from generating research questions to the publication of findings,” Dr. Pitzer said. “They learn how to conduct rodent brain surgeries, to measure a wide variety of behaviors, to cut and stain brain sections, analyze tissue under the microscope, measure changes on MRI scans, statistically analyze data, and write up the results.”

Known for his engaging presentations, quick wit, and ability to explain complicated concepts with a light touch, Dr. Pitzer brings that teaching expertise to his public lectures as well.

The Sisters Science Club will welcome Dr. Pitzer to The Belfry as part of an evening event hosted by longtime science educator Rob Corrigan. Social hour begins at 6 p.m. with light fare, beer, and wine available from the bar.

At 7 p.m., Sisters High School students will make a short presentation before the lecture about their upcoming field trip to the labs at the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center in Seattle, a program restarted this year after the pandemic hiatus.

Following the lecture, the Sisters Science Club will offer a lively and loving tribute to cofounder Cal Allen, who died unexpectedly earlier this year. Short remembrances will be offered by David Hiller, Carol Wall, and Rima Givot, along with a photo gallery showcasing his commitment to science education throughout Sisters Country.

Admission is $5; teachers and students are admitted free. The Belfry is located at 302 E. Main Ave., Sisters.

For more information on the event and on the Sisters Science Club, email [email protected]


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