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Spring 2017 Distinctive Voices Schedule of Events

Tuesday, January 10, 2017
Nutrition, Genetics and Age-Related Macular Degeneration

Video not yet available.

Age-related macular degeneration (AMD) is the leading cause of blindness in the United States.  The most common factor that increases the risk of AMD is increasing age.  However, environmental factors including cigarette smoking and nutrition also play important roles in the development of AMD.  This lecture will discuss specifically how researchers examined the role of diets and the use of nutritional supplements for the treatment of AMD.  Unlike other medical conditions, nutritional supplements are effective in reducing the risk of progression to vision-threatening AMD.  While the role of genetics may be important in AMD but the use of genetic testing in the treatment of AMD is not warranted.  These recommendations of nutritional supplements and genetic testing for AMD will be discussed.

Emily Chew, National Eye Institute, NIH and the Study Chair for Age-Related Eye Disease Study 2

Wednesday, January 18, 2017
Video: Brain power and brain health

Neuroscience research over the past several decades has revolutionized our understanding of the change processes in the brain that underlie the development and elaboration of our skills and abilities in younger life, and that account for their predictable, progressive decline at an older age. Neuroplasticity studies also provide us with important new insights into strategies for overcoming those losses, and for managing our brain health all across the span of our lives. Our goal is to explain how this science relates to YOUR health--and to explain how the great personal endowment of "brain plasticity" contributes to YOUR potential for continuous personal growth.

Michael M. Merzenich, University of California, San Francisco and designer of BrainHQ

Wednesday, February 15, 2017
Video: A deep sea hunt for evidence of dark life

If you want to find life on other worlds, then you may want to start by searching the deepest, most remote areas of our seafloor. At hydrothermal vents, high pressure and heat from volcanic activity transforms seawater into hot, mineral-laden water. These hot springs support thriving ecosystems that exist completely devoid of sunlight.  Chemical clues in hydrothermal vent fluids reveal the presence of a subseafloor biosphere, and recent exploration in the Arctic uncovers the nature of hydrothermal venting below meter-thick ice at the top of the world.
Jill McDermott, Lehigh University

Wednesday, March 15, 2017
Annual Seymour Benzer Lecture
Video: Microbial Control of Hosts

Microscopic beasts including viruses, bacteria, and fungi often associate with hosts to facilitate their spread and reproduction. Host-microbial interactions stretch back to the origins of cellular life. These alliances range from hostile to cooperative and from transient to permanent. We will explore the influence of microbes on their hosts and how they gain the ability to manipulate cell functions and organismal behavior. Understanding how microbes control hosts is helping unlock the secrets of our own biology and behavior.

Nels Elde, University of Utah

Wednesday, March 29, 2017
Video: La Zanzara Vitruviana: Synthetic Biology and Malaria

New technologies hold great promise for sustainable control of malaria parasite transmission by mosquitoes. The science of these technologies has advanced so quickly that the public understanding of their benefits and risks lags far behind. The challenge is to develop these new disease control methods while at the same time recruiting public support for the efforts.

Anthony James, Donald Bren Professor, Microbiology & Molecular Genetics School of Medicine, University of California, Irvine

Wednesday, April 26, 2017
Development of a plastic water bottle for sunlight-driven desalination

One in ten human beings does not have access to clean potable water, a number that the United Nations predicts will more than quadruple in the next 13 years, mostly due to population growth in developing nations. These water needs can be met by desalination of ocean water but that requires a capital investment exceeding one trillion U.S. dollars. Therefore, development of affordable technologies to desalinate salt water for human consumption and agriculture is important. Toward this, my group recently invented a process for sunlight-driven desalination that can theoretically generate potable water 20 times faster than the competing process of solar thermal distillation. Central to our approach is a mechanism for direct conversion of sunlight into ionic power that we have demonstrated using inexpensive and scalable sheets of plastic.

Shane Ardo, Assistant Professor, Department of Chemistry, University of California, Irvine


Wednesday, May 17, 2017
Quantum Computing: Revolutionizing computation through quantum mechanics

Since 1981 when Richard Feynman proposed a device called a "quantum computer" to take advantage of the laws of quantum physics to achieve computational speed-ups over classical methods, quantum algorithms have been developed that offer fast solutions to problems in a variety of fields including number theory, optimization, chemistry, physics, and materials science.  Quantum devices have also significantly advanced such that components of a scalable quantum computer have been demonstrated;  the promise of implementing quantum algorithms is in our near future.  This talk will reveal some of the mysteries of this disruptive, revolutionary computational paradigm and how it will transform our digital age.

Krysta Svore, Research Manager of Quantum Architectures and Computation (QuArC) Group at Microsoft Research

Wednesday, May 24, 2017
Earthquake Resilience of California’s Water Distribution System

California relies on a network of dams and aqueducts to store and transport water from the primary source areas (e.g., Sierra Nevada mountains and foothills) to usage areas (e.g., Central Valley farms and coastal urban regions). Southern California, in particular, relies on this infrastructure for 60% of its water, with the primary supply aqueducts importing from Owens Valley (eastern Sierra), Colorado River, and the California Bay-Delta Region. In this seminar, the presenter will define the meaning of resilience as applied to water systems. He will provide examples of stressing events in which the subsequent response demonstrated resilience (Los Angeles water system following Northridge earthquake) and did not (communities in New Orleans following Hurricane Katrina). He will then describe seismic threats to California’s water systems and opine upon critical system components with and without suitable resilience.

Jonathan P. Stewart, Professor and Chair, Geotechnical Engineering, Earthquake Engineering, Engineering Seismology at University of California, Los Angeles

In conjunction with the Koshland Science Museum, this event will include two space-limmited sessions before and after the lecture in which the audience will participate in a disaster exercise-game called Extreme Event.

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