Thursday, Nov. 14, 2013
Our Twist on Research
Wonder how research happening at UC San Diego translates into real-world benefits? UC San Diego’s annual Founders’ Symposium offers short, interactive presentations by innovative faculty members and graduate students who are taking creative approaches to solving some of society’s most pressing challenges.
Founders’ Symposium is an annual event that highlights world-changing initiatives conducted by UC San Diego researchers.
Click on the speakers’ names below to learn more.
Connecting the Disconnected:
Taking the Online Learning Revolution Offline
In recent years we’ve seen an explosion of Internet-based educational content and learning opportunities, but with two-thirds of the world not having access, and more with unreliable or low bandwidth connections, whom are we leaving behind? The Foundation for Learning Equality—which includes undergraduates, graduates, and faculty from UC San Diego—is working to bridge the digital divide to help make universal education truly universal.
About Jamie Alexandre
Jamie Alexandre is a doctoral candidate in the Department of Cognitive Science, advised by Division of Social Sciences dean Jeff Elman. He is co-founder of several educational technology platforms, including thisCourse, ESL Genie and KA Lite. He received his bachelor’s degree in cognitive science from Simon Fraser University in Vancouver British Columbia, Canada, in 2006 and a master’s degree in cognitive science from UC San Diego in 2009. Alexandre’s curiosity about the world and passion for learning were kindled through his time spent as a child at a Waldorf school in Canada, while his love for technology and tinkering were fostered at home, surrounded by machines he could take apart, put back together, and learn to program, with patient support from his parents. He has brought those two interests together by leveraging technological solutions to improve global access to learning opportunities, especially within disadvantaged and isolated communities. Through his work with an inspiring team at the Foundation for Learning Equality, Alexandre hopes to help bring the online learning revolution to the 65 percent of the world that is still offline.
Decoding Our Microbial Planet:
From Habitats to Human Health
Genome and genome-enabled technologies have revolutionized our ability to explore the frontiers of organismal biology. The application of these contemporary techniques to the environment is providing new opportunities to decode the diversity and complexity of microbial life, the largest reservoir of biodiversity on our planet. A newfound appreciation of this diversity is delivering new insights into previously undiscovered microbial metabolisms and chemical products that impact human health and planetary homeostasis. In this talk I will discuss the power and the promise of environmental “omics” research and present ongoing research at UC San Diego that is exploring the sources and the sinks of microbially produced organic contaminants in the marine environment.
About Eric Allen
Eric Allen is an associate professor of marine biology and molecular biology at the Scripps Institution of Oceanography and Division of Biological Sciences at UC San Diego. He is a faculty affiliate of the Scripps Center for Oceans and Human Health, which studies natural chemicals known as halogenated organic compounds, or HOCs, emerging contaminants found naturally in common seafood as well as man-made chemicals that accumulate in human breast milk. His lab investigates the genomics of environmental microorganisms using high-throughput DNA sequencing approaches and bioinformatic tool development. A primary focus of this research is the discovery and genetic manipulation of microbial biosynthetic pathways involved in the synthesis of marine natural products such as omega-3 polyunsaturated fatty acids. Allen received his undergraduate degree in biology from the University of Oregon and his doctorate in marine biology at UC San Diego. As a National Science Foundation Postdoctoral Fellow in microbial biology at UC Berkeley, Allen conducted early research in the emerging field of metagenomics and the biology of extremophilic microorganisms.
Building a Bigger Brain
Jacopo Annese will unveil the plans for a new UC San Diego-based structural map of the human brain that will provide researchers worldwide with 2-D and 3-D images containing unprecedented levels of detail. The new map will be based on novel neuroimaging methods developed by Annese and his team and will leverage current digital and web technologies to enhance remote access and interaction. The proposed UC San Diego-based digital model of the human brain will be the reference template for mapping the results of multiple studies under the BRAIN Initiative (Brain Research through Advancing Innovative Neurotechnologies) announced by the Obama administration in April 2013.
About Jacopo Annese
Jacopo Annese is an assistant professor in residence in the Department of Radiology. He is a computational neuroanatomist whose formal training stems from a wide background in the biological sciences and the neurosciences. He is experienced in neuroanatomical and histological techniques, as well as computer-aided microscopy and morphometry by image analysis, and has designed novel techniques for the quantitative study of neurological structures with MRI and histology. Annese received his bachelor’s degree in biology and master’s degree in zoology from the University of Rome. He obtained a master’s degree in neurological sciences at University College London and completed the doctoral program in cognitive neuroscience at Dartmouth College. Annese has received the prestigious Dana Foundation Brain Imaging Award and was twice nominated for the Science Educator Award (Society for Neuroscience) and the AAAS Early Career Award for Public Engagement with Science.
Envisioning Global Citizens:
The Construction of Multiracial Societies in the Americas
Racial pluralism has been a prominent feature in the history of the Americas. This talk considers how the racial construction of American societies reflected a series of political and social negotiations and accommodations. Colonial Mexico as well as the United States and Brazil during the World War II era serve as case studies. Dana Velasco Murillo examines the ways that indigenous peoples under Spanish colonial rule maintained their indigenous heritage as they embraced urban civic identities. Jessica Graham discusses how and why the Axis Powers’ anti-U.S. propaganda campaign in Brazil affected the conversation about racial inclusion in the United States.
About Jessica Graham
About Dana Velasco Murillo
Dana Velasco Murillo is an assistant professor in the Department of History at UC San Diego. Her research interests center on the intersections of colonialism with gender, ethnicity and identity formation in early Latin America. She specializes in the social history of colonial Mexico, particularly the responses of indigenous peoples to Spanish rule. Velasco Murillo received her doctorate from UCLA and was an assistant professor of Latin American history at Adelphi University and UC Presidential Postdoctoral Fellow at UC Irvine. She is on the executive committee of the Rocky Mountain Council for Latin American Studies, and her research has received support from a variety of institutions and fellowships, including an American Philosophical Society Franklin Research Grant and the Conference on Latin American History Lewis Hanke Post-Doctoral Award.
Cosmochemistry Can Save Lives
How do scientists who study Martian meteorites know what the atmosphere of the Red Planet was like hundreds of millions of years ago? Morgan Nunn Martinez will talk about how analyzing water from ancient rocks that survive the fiery entry through our atmosphere from Mars, the moon and the asteroid belt is crucial to understanding how life evolved in our solar system. She and her colleagues recently uncovered a new chemical reaction on tiny particulates in the atmosphere that could allow scientists to infer from ancient rocks what the atmospheres of Earth and Mars looked like when those planets were young. She will also explain the significance of these and related discoveries in our everyday lives.
About Morgan Nunn Martinez
Morgan Nunn Martinez is a doctoral candidate in the Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry, working in the lab of Mark Thiemens. Her research involves extracting and analyzing water in extraterrestrial samples. She has measured the oxygen isotopic composition of water bound in meteorites from asteroids and Mars and rock and soil samples from the moon and these studies will be used to refine theories of how water formed and was distributed throughout our solar system. Martinez grew up in South Carolina and Georgia and received a bachelor of science in chemistry from the Georgia Institute of Technology.