Bone-eaters, Green Bombers, Ruby Seadragons and More!

The oceans are very big, very deep and their exploration continues to reveal strange new animals. Come along as Scripps Oceanography’s Greg Rouse reviews some of the more famous discoveries from the last century, and shares some recent amazing discoveries particularly focusing on California and the eastern Pacific Ocean. Find out about the bizarre bone-eating worms known as Osedax, the green bomber worm Swima, the enigmatic Xenoturbella, and recent work on the extraordinary Ruby Seadragon.

Watch Deep Discoveries in the 2000s: Bone-eaters, Green Bombers, Ruby Seadragons and More!

Cancer from an Evolutionary Perspective

Humans have a relatively high risk of developing cancer in their lifetimes. But cancer is not unique to humans. Across the tree of life, we can trace cancer vulnerabilities back to the origins of multicellularity. Cancer is observed in almost all multicellular phyla, including lineages leading to plants, fungi, and animals.

However, species vary remarkably in their susceptibility to cancer. And some organisms are much better at killing problem cells. Amy Boddy discusses how this variation is characterized by life history trade-offs, especially longevity. Interestingly, different species have evolved different ways to fight cell mutations that cause cancer. This may lead to a better understanding of cancer susceptibility across human populations.

Amy Boddy is an Assistant Professor in the Integrated Anthropological Sciences Unit and a Research Associate in the Broom Center for Demography at UC Santa Barbara. Boddy completed her PhD in molecular biology and genetics at the Wayne State University – School of Medicine in 2013. Her work uses applications from evolution and ecology to understand human health and disease. She uses a combination of genomics, computational biology and evolutionary theory to understand life history trade-offs between survival and reproduction across different levels of biological organization. One component of her research program examines how environmental cues, such as high extrinsic mortality, may guide resource allocations to cancer defenses and reproduction. Current cancer research topics include comparative oncology, intragenomic conflict, cellular life history trade-offs, and early life adversity and cancer outcomes later in life. In addition to her cancer research, she studies maternal/fetal conflict theory and the consequences of fetal microchimeric cells in maternal health and disease.

Watch Cancer Across the Tree of Life: New Insights into an Ancient Disease

Talking with Machines – Artificial Intelligence

With the vast amount of data available in digital form, the field of Artificial Intelligence (AI) is evolving rapidly.

If you’ve even been caught on a phone tree with a computer that doesn’t understand what you are saying, you’ll appreciate that scientists are trying to figure out how to teach machines to understand, to communicate and even be empathetic.

William Wang, Director of the Natural Language Processing Group at UCSB, summarizes the stunning achievements of Artificial Intelligence for the past decade and talks about the intersection of AI and language. He’s trying to build an empathetic conversational agent that can understand and generate human sentences with rich emotions.

Wang also looks at the challenges facing AI in the future and the work ahead of these researchers as they strive to keep improving AI and making it better for everyone.

William Wang is the Director of UCSB’s Natural Language Processing Group, and an Assistant Professor in the Department of Computer Science at UCSB. He received his PhD from School of Computer Science, Carnegie Mellon University. He has broad interests in Artificial Intelligence, Machine Learning, and Natural Language Processing. He is the recipient of a DARPA Young Faculty Award, an IBM Faculty Award, a Facebook Research Award, and an Adobe Research Award. He is an alumnus of Columbia University, and he also worked at Yahoo! Labs, Microsoft Research Redmond, and University of Southern California. His work and opinions appear at major tech media outlets such as Wired, VICE, Fast Company, The Next Web, and Mental Floss.

Watch Artificial Intelligence: What’s Next?

Building Bridges Across Nations

Have you ever wondered how Amazon knows what products might pair well with your most recent purchase? Or how Netflix knows what you should watch next? They use recommender systems. Two students from Mexican universities spent their summer learning all about these complex systems at UC San Diego.

The students were part of the new Summer Internships for Mexican Students program at the Computer Science and Engineering department. Department Chair Dean Tullsen says he started the program in part to create a pipeline that brings top students from Mexican universities to UC San Diego. In this installment of the Summer With CSE series, Tullsen explains why he felt it was important to create that connection with schools in San Diego’s backyard.

You will also meet four student researchers as they work on two separate projects. While one pair studied recommender systems, the other took on machine learning. They helped figure out ways to improve research on hyperdimensional computing, which is meant to mimic the way the human brain functions. While their work was varied, all four were inspired by the experience.

Watch Summer With CSE: SIMS -The Summer Internships for Mexican Students Program

Sustainable California

From the snowy watersheds of the Cascades and Sierras, to the world’s most productive agricultural valley and on to the sea, visit Sustainable California and see what your University, its people and friends are doing to find real-world solutions to maintain the sustainability and vitality of our state.

From cultivating soil biota to purify groundwater, to managing fish stocks, to collaborative management of our unique California landscape to laying the foundations of carbon free energy sources, see what California is doing to maintain its unique biodiversity, sustain the human and environmental health of our state and meet the 21st century challenges of global climate change.

Browse more programs in Sustainable California