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Upcoming Colloquia

Most Sackler colloquia are held at the Arnold and Mabel Beckman Center, in Irvine, California.

Drawing Causal Inference from Big Data

March 26-27, 2015; Washington, D.C.
Organized by Richard M. Shiffrin, Susan Dumais, Mike Hawrylycz, Jennifer Hill, Michael Jordan, Bernhard Scholkopf and Jasjeet Sekhon

This colloquium will focus on the exponentially growing explosion of collected information about complex systems, colloquially referred to as “Big Data,” and the ability to draw causal inference from increasingly large data sets, most of which are not derived from carefully controlled experiments. Although correlations among observations are often easy to obtain, causality is much harder to assess and establish, partly because causality is a vague and poorly specified construct for complex systems.  Speakers during the colloquium will ask such questions as:  Will access to massive data be a key to understanding the fundamental questions of basic and applied science? Or does more data generally confound analysis and decrease the ability to draw valid causal inferences?

Improving Our Fundamental Understanding of the Role of Aerosol-Cloud Interactions in the Climate System

June 23-24, 2015; Irvine, CA
Organized by John Seinfeld, Kimberly Prather, Ian Kraucunas, Raymond Teller and Edward Dunlea

This colloquium will bring together scientists from a wide range of disciplines related to aerosols in the climate system to examine the questions of why has it been so difficult to constrain the role of aerosols in determining the Earth’s cloudiness, and what can be done to make better progress moving forward.  The timing of the colloquium will be after the release of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change’s Fifth Assessment Report, so there will be an opportunity to look back across the history of all five IPCC reports and probe why the uncertainties related to clouds and aerosols remain the largest of any other.

The meeting will bring an interdisciplinary perspective to the question of how to best make progress in constraining the overall uncertainty associated with aerosol-cloud interactions resulting in a thought-provoking discussion that examines the field as a whole and provides important details on the significant direction changes that need to be made.

Digital Media and Developing Minds

October 14-16, 2015; Irvine, CA
Organized by David Meyer, Pamela Hurst-Della Pietra and Jane Brown
Co-sponsored by the Institute of Digital Media and Child Development

As new media are being adopted by young people at record speeds, some researchers and social commentators are beginning to discuss the potential effects of their use in medical terms, eg. asking whether toddlers’ neural pathways are being transformed, whether school-children’s mental capacities for focused attention are being diminished by structural brain changes, and whether teens are suffering from “Facebook depression” or video game “addiction”  via dopamine pathways.

The purpose of the colloquium is to a) identify and report on state-of-the-art research on the impact of digital media on developing minds; b) establish a dialogue between medical researchers and those in the social sciences who study media effects, educators, funders and industry and c) set the agenda for future research needed in order to maximize the benefits and minimize the risks to children and teens in the digital age.

The colloquium marshals the talent of neuroscientists, developmental psychologists, child development experts, pediatricians, media effects specialists, social scientists, experts in informatics and computer sciences, public health and environmental health scientists, educators  and child advocacy groups.   In addition, we will invite policymakers and funders to participate in Challenge Question (breakout) sessions.

In the Light of Evolution X: Comparative Phylogeography

January 8-9, 2016; Irvine, CA
Organized by John Avise and Francisco J. Ayala

Human-environment interactions in population and ecosystem health

March 14-15, 2016; Washington, D.C.
Organized by Alison Galvani, Lord Robert May, Simon Levin, Burton Singer, Madhur Anand and Chris Bauch

Gene Regulatory Networks and Network Models in Development and Evolution

April 12-14, 2016; Irvine, CA
Organized by Eric H. Davidson, Ellen V. Rothenberg and Douglas H. Erwin



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