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March 2018 - ATX Fun - Austin-San Antonio Fun, Travel & Educational Opportunities

American Airlines Opening New Routes to South America

American AirlinesWhile none of its new routes originate at Austin ABIA, American Airlines’ additions may still be interesting to Austin travelers. New South American destinations include Buenos Aires and Cordoba (Argentina), Oaxaca (Mexico), Pereira (Colombia) and Georgetown (Guyana).

Unexpectedly, the frequency of flights by American Airlines to Caracas (Venezuela) is also increasing.

American Airlines has always had a strong position in Latin America, and these changes add to that. A possible tie-in to LATAM (formerly LAN) may be involved. Pizza In Motion and Wandering Aramean report and analyze the new routes.

See details here and here.

Lucrative New Credit Card from Chase Bank

Applying for credit cards can bring thousands and thousands of frequent flyer miles.The frequent-flyer community is excited about a new offering from Chase: the Chase Ink Cash business credit card. This new card has a sign-up bonus of $500 after spending $3000 in 3 months, and is a no-annual-fee card!

Under certain circumstances you can convert the $500 bonus into 50,000 Ultimate Rewards points, which may be used to purchase up to $750 worth of air travel or converted into frequent-flyer miles.

You can read more about it at Deals We Like  and MileValue.

This card is subject to Chase’s 5/24 rule, but does not contribute to it because it is a business card.

This offer is truly worth doing.

Austin to Bermuda Just $379 Round-Trip

American AirlinesBermuda is an island in the Atlantic Ocean, several hundred miles east of South Carolina. The national language is English.

Scott’s Cheap Flights has found Basic Economy fares on American Airlines / Delta of just $379 round-trip.

Bermuda has no rivers or natural lakes, so all water is harvested from rainfall. When you go, notice that every house and commercial building has a white roof that drains into a cistern…that is its only source of water!

Search for your vacation date pairs on Google Flights, and enjoy your visit!

How to Get the Bonus Miles and Points You Should from Credit Card Signups

Applying for credit cards can bring thousands and thousands of frequent flyer miles.The fastest way to get a big pile of airline miles and hotel points is by applying for credit cards. Some credit cards offer 25,000, 50,000 or even more frequent-flyer miles or hotel points just for applying and spending some money on the card.

But the different banks that offer such cards have some arcane rules. This blog post from is a very good starting point for learning what you need to do to get your miles and points.

See Gorillas in Rwanda Cheap

Secret Flying has found airfares from Phoenix to Kigali, Rwanda, for only $815 round-trip. These are available for certain date pairs in April and May, 2018.

The airlines involved on this multi-stop itinerary are JetBlue and Qatar Airways.

I have a friend who visited a gorilla place in Rwanda and she was very positively impressed. She brought back some photos of the gorillas, taken at very close range.

See the details here.

Austin to Paris or Amsterdam $468-$525 r/t

The Eiffel Tower, Photo by Miles
The Eiffel Tower, Photo by Miles

Fly from Austin to Paris or Amsterdam just $468 to $525 round-trip with a “Priceline Express Deal.” The name of the airline will be hidden until you purchase the deal.

Click for the EscapeATX deal.

Flights October to January 2019. 7-day minimum stay. Note that this does not include the usual 24-hour cancellation privilege.

Expand Your Brain for Free at UT

UT’s Environmental Science Institute publishes a weekly email listing campus environmental science and sustainability events. To be added to the email list, just visit the website or email the Institute.

To show the breadth and depth of the topics offered, here is the list of events for this week:

Monday, March 19
IB Seminar
Peter Chesson, University of Arizona

Hosted by Caroline Farrior, Peter Chesson of the University of Arizona will give a talk on

“Replacing the Local Community Concept in Ecology”
Moffett Molecular Biology Building (MBB) Room 1.210 @ 3:00 – 4:00 pm

Wednesday, March 21
Otis Lecture: Environmental justice, racism, and health disparities
Sacoby Miguel Wilson, PHD
Environmental racism is a pervasive issue that leads to environmental injustice and health disparities. The social work profession is increasingly becoming involved in environmental justice issues as they are intrinsically connected with social justice. In the 2018 Otis Lecture, Sacoby Miguel Wilson will discuss the intersection between race, place, hazards, vulnerability, and disasters. He will also discuss how to use citizen-science approaches to help address environmental justice and health issues, and how to use community-engaged research to “inpower” populations impacted by environmental injustice.
Sacoby Wilson, PhD, is an associate professor with the Maryland Institute for Applied Environmental Health and Department of Epidemiology and Biostatistics, School of Public Health, University of Maryland-College Park. Wilson has over 15 years of experience as an environmental health scientist in the areas of exposure science, environmental justice, environmental health disparities, community-based participatory research, water quality analysis, air pollution studies, built environment, industrial animal production, climate change, community resiliency, and sustainability. He works primarily in partnership with community-based organizations to study and address environmental justice and health issues and translate research to action.
UTIG Brown Bag Seminar
Dr. John Kappelman
Please join us for UTIG’s first floor seminar for next week’s Brown Bag Seminar. Dr. John Kappelman will be talking about the geology of Northwestern Ethiopia in a lecture entitled “Hard rock to soft rock and (nearly) everything in between: Explorations with drill, hammer, and trowel in northwestern Ethiopia.”
J.J. Pickle Research Campus 10100 Burnet Road, Bldg. 196/ROC Seminar Conference Room ROC 1.603 @ 12:00 – 1:00 pm

Thursday, March 22
Research Colloquium: Changes in Time Use and Their Effect on Energy Consumption in the United States 
Dr. Ashok Sekar presents, “Changes in Time Use and Their Effect on Energy Consumption in the United States.” Research colloquiums are a series of brown bag events held on Thursdays from 12:15-1:30 p.m.
Sid Richardson Hall (SRH) Room 3.122 @ 12:15 – 1:30 pm
IB Faculty Recruitment Seminar
Dr. Elizabeth Hobson, Santa Fe Institute 
Hosted by Mike Ryan, Dr. Elizabeth Hobson of the Santa Fe Institute will lead a talk on “Understanding the evolution of social knowledge through conflict.”
Norman Hackerman Building (NHB) Room 1.720 @ 2:00 – 3:00 pm
DeFord Lecture Series  
Jackson Geosciences Building (JGB) Room 2.324 @ 4:00 – 5:00 pm
Dean’s Scholars Distinguished Lecture Series
Dr. Carole Baldwin
The Dean’s Scholars Distinguished Lecture Series is excited to welcome Dr. Carole Baldwin, renowned marine biologist and Curator of Fishes at the Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History!
If you could dive to depths below shallow coral reefs, what would you see? Do reefs and their inhabitants persist or do shallow reefs transition into deep-sea life? Join us as Dr. Baldwin describes her exploration of Caribbean depths down to 1,000 ft. using a state-of- the art manned submersible. Too deep to access using scuba gear and too shallow to be of interest to deep-diving submersibles, depths just below shallow reefs have been overlooked by science. Yet, they may be home to the most diverse underexplored ecosystems in the ocean.
Eight years into directing the Smithsonian’s Deep Reef Observation Project (DROP), Dr. Baldwin explores the biodiversity, eco-evolution, and long-term changes on Caribbean deep reefs, ecosystems that may play a significant role in the survival of declining shallow reefs globally. Through DROP, Baldwin and her team have discovered a plethora of new fish and invertebrate species and documented the first case of invasive lionfish preying on unknown biodiversity. Co-author of One Fish, Two Fish, Crawfish, Bluefish-The Smithsonian Sustainable Seafood Cookbook, Baldwin promotes making wise seafood choices, such as invasive lionfish, that are good for the ocean.
This event is free and open to the public!
Visitor Parking is available at the Brazos Garage, 210 E Martin Luther King Jr Blvd, Austin, TX 78712
All minors must be accompanied by an adult.
Student Activity Center (SAC) Ballroom @ 5:00 pm

Friday, March 23
UTIG Seminar Series
David Talmy, MIT
David Talmy is a research scientist at MIT in the Department of Earth, Atmospheric and Planetary Sciences. He is a part of the MIT Darwin Project, an initiative to advance the development and application of novel models of marine microbes and microbial communities, identifying the relationships of individuals and communities to their environment, connecting cellular-scale processes to global microbial community structure. His talk is titled:
What controls virus dynamics in global ocean microbial ecosystems?
Viral infection in microbial ecosystems influences carbon and nutrient flow throughout the global ocean. In this presentation, simple biophysical and metabolic controls on viral interactions with bacterial and algal hosts will be considered. These insights will be used to explore virus dynamics in a microbial ecosystem model, embedded in a global ocean general circulation framework. The model predicts virus abundance patterns qualitatively consistent with large-scale variation in ocean color, and primary productivity. Results will be presented from a case study in the North Atlantic, exploring competition among viruses that infect the marine calcifier Emiliania Huxleyi. The coupled framework is a base on which to consider virus impacts on global carbon cycling and biogeochemistry.
J.J. Pickle Research Campus 10100 Burnet Road, Bldg. 196/ROC Seminar Conference Room ROC 1.603 @ 10:00 – 11:30 am
BBE Seminar
Elinor Lichtenberg, UT
Elinor Lichtenberg of UT will be giving a talk on “Alternative Food Handling Tactics and Exploitation of Pollination Mutualisms: Bumble Bee Nectar Robbing Decisions”
Moffett Molecular Biology Building (MBB) Room 1.210 @ 12:00 – 1:00 pm
Environmental Colloquium
Drs. Greg Okin & Paolo D’odorico
Dr. Greg Okin, UCLA: Professor with research interests in geomorphology, plant-soil interactions, arid environments, nutrient cycling, spatial modeling, and remote sensing. Professor Okin teaches courses in Physical Geography, Soils, and Remote Sensing.

Dr. Paolo D’odorico, UC Berkeley: Professor with research focusing on the role of hydrological processes in the functioning of terrestrial ecosystems. Through the analysis of the soil water balance he has highlighted important nonlinearities in the coupling between soil moisture dynamics and plant water stress, biogeochemical cycling, land-atmosphere interactions, plant community composition, and soil susceptibility to wind erosion.

Liberal Arts Building (CLA) Room 0.128 @ 3:00 – 4:00 pm