What is Blue Plate Research?

Blue Plate Research is an event series from Utah State University that is focused on sharing easy-to-understand well-being research with Utah health advocates, statewide stakeholders, and the public.

Featured Event

Animals to autism: The science of social bonds | Dr. Sara Freeman | January 27, 2023 at 11:30 am

Dr. Gregory Madden Headshot

RSVP for the Jan 27 Event

What can animal brains teach us about people? How do the social bonds of certain animal species inform our understanding of ourselves?

Learning why some animals develop “attachment relationships” when most species don’t can provide insights into human relationships and our brains, and might even offer another piece of the puzzle to understand disorders such as autism.

At the next USU Blue Plate Research, hosted on January 27 from 11:30 a.m. to 1 p.m. at Gallivan Hall in downtown Salt Lake City, Dr. Sara Freeman will discuss her research in animal neurobiology and the impact the oxytocin system has on social function.

The event will feature a 30-minute presentation by Dr. Freeman, live question-and-answer session, and free lunch for all attendees. RSVP today to reserve your spot!

The hormone oxytocin, sometimes nicknamed the “love hormone”, provides a positive feedback loop in the brain, and research findings point toward the important role it plays in forming attachment relationships and neural development.

Social bonds in animals develop in many of the same ways they do in humans: two individuals participate in common activities, share food, groom each other, split parenting responsibilities, or show distress when they’re separated, for example.

While it’s far too early to say the number of oxytocin receptors in a person’s brain are a cause of autism, evidence seems to indicate at least some connection. This could be an opportunity to develop treatment options for individuals who want them.

Presented by Utah State University and sponsored by Regence BlueCross BlueShield of Utah, Blue Plate Research is an event series that is focused on sharing easy-to-understand well-being research with Utah health advocates, statewide stakeholders, and the public.


Past Events

What is the series like?

The events will be hosted in-person at Gallivan Hall in downtown Salt Lake City, with a presentation featuring our presenter sharing their research and how it's applicable to the everyday lives of people in Utah, followed by a live question and answer session. The presentation portion will be between 20-30 minutes, while the Q&A session will run anywhere from 30 minutes to an hour.

Why should I attend?

Health and well-being is a top issue of concern among Utah citizens and leaders, but finding reliable perspectives on these key issues can be challenging. As the state's only land-grant institution, Utah State University has a mandate and responsibility to share data-driven discoveries with the general public. At Blue Plate Research you'll receive tools and insights on Utah's health and well-being that aren't overly-hyped and marketed, but are real and usable.

Instead Podcast

If you're interested in more research stories from Utah State University, check out the Instead podcast, available wherever you get your podcasts. Produced by the USU Office of Research, INSTEAD highlights researchers, their stories, and the impact their work is having in 30-minute conversations.

Episodes typically feature presenters from our upcoming events or other researchers who are knowledgeable about trending topics.