2018 Provost's Lecture Series
April 20: Alexander Nehamas
Metaphors in Our Lives: "I Love You for Yourself"
Abstract: Friendship is one of life’s greatest gifts, but surprisingly difficult to define. Nehamas argues that friendship is an aesthetic, but not always moral, good. Like metaphors and works of art, friendships are inexhaustible and the people who matter to us always remain a step beyond the furthest point our knowledge of them has reached—though only if, and as long as, they still matter to us. Love for our friends shape who we are and who we might become.
Friday, April 20, 3 pm to 4:30 pm, Wang Center Theater
April 26: John P. Grotzinger
Curiosity’s Search for Habitable Environments at Gale Crater, Mars
Co-Sponsor: The Department of Geosciences
Abstract: The Mars Science Laboratory rover, Curiosity, touched down on the surface of Mars
on August 5, 2012. Curiosity was built to search and explore for habitable environments
and has a lifetime of at least one Mars year (~23 months), and drive capability of
at least 20 km. The MSL science payload can assess ancient habitability which requires
the detection of former water, as well as a source of energy to fuel microbial metabolism,
and key elements such carbon, sulfur, nitrogen, and phosphorous. The search for complex
organic molecules is an additional goal and our general approach applies some of the
practices that have functioned well in exploration for hydrocarbons on Earth. The
selection of the Gale Crater exploration region was based on the recognition that
it contained multiple and diverse objectives, ranked with different priorities, and
thus increasing the chances of success that one of these might provide the correct
combination of environmental factors to define a potentially habitable paleoenvironment.
Another important factor in exploration risk reduction included mapping the landing
ellipse ahead of landing so that no matter where the rover touched down, our first
drive would take us in the direction of a science target deemed to have the greatest
value as weighed against longer term objectives, and the risk of mobility failure.
Within 8 months of landing we were able to confirm full mission success. This was
based on the discovery of fine-grained sedimentary rocks, inferred to represent an
ancient lake. These Fe-Mg-rich smectitic mudstones preserve evidence of an aqueous
paleoenvironment that would have been suited to support a Martian biosphere founded
on chemolithoautotrophy and characterized by neutral pH, low salinity, and variable
redox states of both iron and sulfur species. The environment likely had a minimum
duration of of thousands to millions of years. Simple chlorobenzene and chloroalkane
molecules were confirmed to exist within the mudstone. These results highlight the
biological viability of fluvial-lacustrine environments in the ancient history of
Mars and the value of robots in geologic exploration.
What Darwin Didn't Know
Co-sponsored by the Department of Ecology and Evolution.
Friday, February 9, 7:30 pm, Earth & Space Sciences Building, Lecture Theater 001
April 5: Larry H. Spruill
Weapons of Our Warfare: Martin Luther King, The Gospel of Publicity and Photojournalism
Co-Sponsor: The Division of Undergraduate Education
Abstract: The lecture introduces a doctrine coined “The Gospel of Publicity” in which Dr. King used photojournalism and orchestrated dramatic nonviolent conflict as strategic protest weapons. It unveils King’s private views of cameras and photographs as essential tools in the war for racial equality. It illustrates how the modernity of his ideas and photojournalistic media messaging shaped the nation. The “Millennial King” is best remembered for his avant-garde mass media arsenal used to obtain stunning legislative and social reforms. The lecture narrates how King’s mastery of photography and publicity enables digital-age Americans to re-evaluate King not merely as a “Dreamer” but a radical voice for the unfinished goals of the “Founding Fathers”—“ to make the world anew.” It highlights select photographs from the Civil Rights canon establishing Martin Luther King as Twentieth Century America’s premier mass media communicator.
Thursday, April 5, 4 pm, Wang Center Theater
April 9: Sue Wessler
The Dynamic Genome Program: A Model for Bringing the Excitement of Authentic Research
into Foundational Laboratory Courses
Co-Sponsor: College of Arts & Sciences
Abstract: The University of California, Riverside (UCR) is one of the most diverse research universities in the country. More than half of the 5000 students in our College of Natural and Agricultural Sciences (CNAS) are supported by Pell grants, are members of underrepresented groups, and are first generation college students. To improve student persistence in STEM, CNAS has focused on two experiential interventions for first year students: (1) Learning Communities, designed to engage groups of 24 students with faculty, academic advisors and near-peer mentors, and (2) the Dynamic Genome course, an authentic research experience where UCR research faculty take ownership of a section and bring the excitement of their research labs to the classroom. The Dynamic Genome (DG) course is an alternative to the traditional Intro Bio Lab where learning communities are randomly assigned to one lab experience or the other.
Now in its sixth year at UC Riverside, DG is a hands-on bioinformatics/wet lab course that is taught in the state of the art Neil A. Campbell Science Learning Laboratory. First articulated in my HHMI Professor Program in 2006, the DG course was initially proposed as an undergraduate laboratory that replicated my research lab where students learned to navigate cutting-edge methodologies applied to eukaryotic genomes. UC Riverside has proven to be fertile ground for the rapid expansion of the DG course model to more than 550 students in 21 sections.
Monday, April 9, 4 pm to 5:30 pm, Student Activities Center Sidney Gelber Auditorium