Science & Technology

Matters of the Heart or Brain? USU's Science Unwrapped Explores Social Bonds Friday, Feb. 25

Neurobiologist Sara Freeman is featured speaker for in-person, online public outreach event

By Mary-Ann Muffoletto |

USU neurobiologist Sara Freeman holds a coyote brain. She presents 'The Science of Social Bonds: From Animals to Autism' at Science Unwrapped Friday, Feb. 25, at 7 p.m. on the USU campus and online. All are welcome. (Photo: Nichole Bresee)

Social interactions are critical to nearly every aspect of human health, which has become readily apparent to many of us after nearly two years of lockdowns, social distancing, cancelled travel and curtailed gatherings.

“We’re social beings who crave social connections,” said Utah State University neurobiologist Sara Freeman. “Loss of this contact leads to loneliness, grief and increases our risk of mental and physical distress.”

Freeman studies what happens in the brain as people form social bonds, including bonds strong enough to commit ourselves to one significant other. She also explores why some people experience challenges in forming social attachments.

Freeman presents “The Science of Social Bonds: From Animals to Autism” at USU’s Science Unwrapped at 7 p.m. Friday, Feb. 25, in the Emert Auditorium, Room ESLC 130, of the Eccles Science Learning Center on campus. Admission is free and all ages are welcome.

Freeman’s Feb. 25 talk will also be livestreamed via AggieCast from the Science Unwrapped website, and will be recorded and posted to the same website for continued viewing convenience.

Guests at the in-person event are encouraged to wear masks and to observe socially distanced seating in the Emert Auditorium.

Due to continuing pandemic conditions, Science Unwrapped is not currently offering in-person learning activities following the talk.

“As we did during our 2020-21 series, we’re offering video learning activities, created by our student and community volunteer groups, on our website,” says Greg Podgorski, associate dean for undergraduate studies and services in the College of Science and Science Unwrapped chair. “Each month, we’ll assess conditions to determine whether or not it’s safe and possible to return to in-person, post-talk learning activities.”

Established in 2009, Science Unwrapped is a public outreach program of USU’s College of Science.

The continuing schedule for Science Unwrapped’s 2021-22 “Science on the Horizon” series is:

Friday, Feb. 25:The Science of Social Bonds: From Animals to Autism,” Sara Freeman, neuroendocrinologist

Friday, March 18: “What Goes Up, Must Come Down: Cleaning Up the Atmosphere with Geology,” Katie Potter, geoscientist

Friday, April 1: “Electric Avenues: Advancing Sustainability through Powered Infrastructure for Roadway Electrification (ASPIRE), Regan Zane, electrical engineer

For more information, call 435-797-3517, visit the Science Unwrapped website or view the ‘Science Unwrapped at USU’ Facebook page and Twitter profile.

For the time being, Science Unwrapped is not holding in-person learning activities following each monthly talk, but will continue, on its website, to offer video learning activities created by student and community volunteer groups.


Mary-Ann Muffoletto
Public Relations Specialist
College of Science


Greg Podgorski
Associate Dean for Undergraduates, Science Unwrapped Chair
College of Science

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