Sea Star Wasting Disease Update 2017

32822The years from 2013 through 2015 witnessed the largest non-commercial marine mass mortality event on record (as of 2013) as up to 96% of all Ochre Sea Stars on the coasts of California and Oregon perished. This created a ‘natural experiment’ and an opportunity to study genomic changes in wild populations with unprecedented detail. Rather than observing only the aftermath — usually the case in such catastrophes – a team of researchers from UC Merced is reconstructing the population and genetic consequences of this epidemic outbreak of sea star wasting disease. The team measured the abundance and genetic variation of Pisaster ochraceus (the Ochre Sea Star – a keystone species) in the year preceding mass mortality. They then repeated sampling of adults and juveniles in subsequent years, measuring population dynamics and genomic shifts during and after the disease outbreak. At a time when marine diseases and mass mortalities are on the rise, this study documents the impact of little-known wildlife diseases and potential trajectory of recovery in a keystone marine species.

Learn more and watch: Sea Star Wasting Disease Update 2017

New GRIT Talks from UCSB

842Get an up-close look at ground-breaking research and innovative technology from UCSB. Geared towards the community, these talks present the best minds from UCSB covering a wide-range of topics in science, medicine, technology and more. Check out these recent programs:


The Challenges That Society Brings to Engineering Designs
Understand the unique challenges that surface when seeking to design and control physical infrastructure such as transportation networks, power grids and data centers.

Why Antibiotics Fail – People Are Not Petri Plates
The standard antibiotic test used worldwide is based on how well drugs kill bacteria on petri plates — not in the body. Drugs that pass the standard test often fail to treat bacterial infections, whereas drugs identified by the “in vivo” test are very effective.

How Biology, Ecology, and Technology Balance Tradeoffs in an Uncertain World
Do complex systems exhibit fundamental properties? This talk looks at tradeoffs between robustness and fragility that occur in biological, ecological, and technological systems.

From Bitcoin to Central Bank Digital Currencies
Rod Garratt, UCSB Professor of Economics, describes his work on a project to build a proof of concept for a wholesale interbank payment system that facilitates payments of central bank digital currency using a distributed ledger.

Overcoming Climate Anxiety at a Time of Global Crisis
Debora Iglesias-Rodriguez discusses how humans can contribute to improving current ocean problems and eventually return the oceans to a more sustainable state.

The Remarkable Learning Abilities of the Human Brain
Greg Ashby studies how people learn new categories of objects. By mapping the neural networks, scientists have been able to identify many important and surprising differences in how we learn.

The Future of Computer Science: The Rock We Tricked Into Thinking
Explore the state of the art in computing and how the demands for energy efficient and intelligent systems is driving the creation of entirely new approaches to the problem.

The Math of Swarming Robots, Superconductors, and Slime Mold
Explore the mathematics underlying systems of interacting agents and how such systems can be analyzed using an age old scientific technique: what happens if we poke it?

Check out these programs and more on UCSB’s GRIT Talks.

The Water Wars Have Begun

32822The Water Wars are coming – and according to Executive Producer Lynne Kirby, they’re already here.

Concerned about what her daughter would drink in the years ahead, Kirby became passionate about water conservation issues. She knew water was going to be a big issue in the decades to come – that water would be the “oil” of the 21st century.

She pitched the idea of making a documentary of the coming water wars to Alex Gibney, an investigative documentary filmmaker of films about Scientology, WikiLeaks, Enron and others. According to Kirby, Gibney’s the kind of guy who says, I’m coming after you… and you’re going down… and we’re going to peel back the onion and expose you.

Gibney then approached National Geographic who had been looking for a water project and the rest is history. Water & Power: A California Heist unfolds like a real-life version of the 1974 film noir Chinatown and uncovers the ruthless exploits of California’s notorious water barons, who profit off the state’s resources while everyday citizens endure a debilitating water crisis.

Watch Water & Power: Discussion of Documentary with host and UCSB Professor of Film & Media Studies, Constance Penley, and Executive Producer Lynne Kirby to hear more behind-the-scenes stories about this incredible documentary.

Confronting Climate Change

8232Rosina Bierbaum, formerly of President Obama’s Council of Advisors on Science and Technology (PCAST) and an Adaptation Fellow at the World Bank, shows how climate change will affect all regions and sectors of the economy, and disproportionately affect the poorest people on the planet. Therefore, improving the resilience, adaptation, and preparedness of communities must be a high priority, equal to that of achieving deep greenhouse gas reductions and rapid development and deployment of innovative technologies, as well as altered planning and management strategies in the coming decades to achieve a sustainable world.

Watch Confronting Climate Change: Avoiding the Unmanageable, Managing the Unavoidable with Rosina Bierbaum – 2017 Keeling Memorial Lecture

To see more programs from this series, click here.

Cropping Systems and Cows – New from Sustainable California

Sustainable California brings you more programs about how we use, support and interact with California’s natural assets.

8232With an over 700 percent increase in productivity in the last century, the California tomato industry represents 95 percent of all processing tomatoes produced in the US. That boom in productivity is due in no small part to UC Agricultural Extension efforts with California farmers. Learn more about conservation tillage – where cover crops or crop residue is left to decay aiding the bio-activity and water retention of soils, reducing or even eliminating costly or artificial inputs and improving the sustainability of this important crop. Watch Conservation Tillage Tomato Cropping Systems

8232And for a fun change of pace – if you’re out and about on California’s trails during your summertime adventures, there’s a chance you just might come across livestock enjoying the California landscape. A Year in the Life of a Cow, the third in the Sharing Open Spaces With Livestock series gives you a fun look at the life of a cow, so you’ll have a better idea what’s going on with that herd – winter, spring, summer or fall.