Celebrating Cultures

In the past forty years several of America’s largest cities have made or renewed a commitment to support public art and performance, whether by creating new spaces or by adapting existing venues. Public art (or civic art) is seen as a vital component for enhancing urban life and contributing to a healthy community by providing residents with a commonality of experience.

This installment of the Helen Edison Lecture series brings together three innovative curators who have created change-making public arts programming in Houston and Los Angeles. Moderator Jonathon Glus, Director of City of San Diego Commission for Arts and Culture, leads the panel in discussing their mission to boost government and audience engagement, as well as some of the practical considerations and implications – financial, logistical, political – of contemporary arts production/presentation in high-volume public spaces.

Marc Pally, Independent Curator based in Los Angeles, discusses the Santa Monica Glow Festival, a dusk-to-dawn arts event on the beachfront which attracted over 150,00 people in 2008, 2010 and 2013. Susanne Theis, Program Director of Houston’s Discovery Green Urban Park, outlines the history and purpose of the 12-acre park in the heart of downtown Houston, which opened in 2008. Karen Farber, Executive Director of the Cynthia Woods Mitchell Center for the Arts, discusses her organization’s interdisciplinary collaboration with the University of Houston in inviting leading artists and creative thinks to the UH campus for workshops, public presentations, exhibitions, and performances.

Though differing in the nature and scope of their activities, the three curators share a common commitment to public art and performance as a unifying force in increasingly diverse communities. They extol the benefits of investment in civic art as including:

• Economic growth and sustainability
• Attachment and cultural identity
• Artists as contributors to society and the local economy
• Social cohesion and cultural understanding

The curators hope their experiences will encourage other towns and cities to explore and celebrate their own local cultures.

Watch — Contemporary Art and Performance in Public Spaces

Editing the Code of Life

You may not know what clustered regularly interspersed short palindromic repeats means, but when you see or hear the word CRISPR it all takes on new meaning, thanks to the efforts of UC Berkeley’s Jennifer Doudna and her collaborator Emmanuelle Charpentier, who developed this revolutionary method of genomic editing.

Her work has literally changed the world with her research, with tremendous benefits for the future of humankind and the planet.

The discovery of CRISPR-Cas9 genetic engineering technology has changed human and agricultural genomics research forever. This genome-editing technology enables scientists to change or remove genes quickly and with extreme precision. Labs worldwide have changed the course of their research programs to incorporate this new tool, creating a CRISPR revolution with huge implications across biology and medicine.

This talk marks the occasion of Doudna receiving the UC San Diego Scripps Institution of Oceanography’s 2019 Nierenberg Prize for Science in the Public Interest.

Watch — Editing the Code of Life: Into the Future with CRISPR Technology with Jennifer Doudna – 2019 Nierenberg Prize for Science in the Public Interest

Bracing for Fire When the Wind Blows

As recent events have shown, strong winds can spell disaster, even without the presence of fire. But when a fire does occur, the ALERTWildfire camera network deployed across the region provides rapid confirmation of emergency wildfire 911 calls, situational awareness, and in the worst-case scenarios, real-time data to help sequence evacuations.

ALERTWildfire is a consortium of three universities: University of Nevada at Reno, UC San Diego, and University of Oregon. During the past three fire seasons (2016-2018), ALERTWildfire provided critical information for over 600 fires, including the Woolsey, Lilac, Wall, Whittier, Thomas, Tule, Woodchuck, Earthstone, Truckee, Draw, Snowstorm, Hot Pot, and Emerald fires; a 2016 arson spree in Lake Tahoe; and hundreds more.

Join Neal Driscoll to learn how California is using technology to help firefighters and improve public preparedness during wildfire disasters.

Watch — Bracing for Fire When the Wind Blows

Unlocking the Mysteries of the Brain Through Stem Cell Research

Inside a lab at the Sanford Consortium for Regenerative Medicine, researchers are doing something truly remarkable. They are growing tiny versions of developing human brains in order to study everything from Alzheimer’s disease to the Zika virus. Alysson Muotri is the co-director of the UC San Diego Stem Cell Program and leads the team researching brain organoids. He recently sat down with Dr. David Granet on Health Matters to discuss the endless possibilities of his research.

Muotri’s organoids are often referred to as “mini-brains,” but they are far from what that name might suggest. The organoids are grown from stem cells, which are harvested from living tissue, such as skin cells. Researchers give those stem cells instructions to become neural cells. Eventually they form tiny clusters of neural cells, about the size of a pea. Those clusters have been shown to exhibit some of the same characteristics of developing human brains, including firing electrical signals in specific patterns. But, the organoids do not contain every type of brain tissue, and have no vascularization.

Despite the differences with the human brain, organoids have proven useful in understanding and treating disease. One of the major successes of Muotri’s research was finding and testing an existing drug to treat mothers infected with Zika virus. The drug can prevent the disease from being passed to the baby and causing microcephaly. Muotri is hoping his lab will continue to have success using the organoids as an effective brain model to find more cures, and provide a deeper understanding of brain development and disease. And, his work isn’t limited to Earth. Muotri recently launched his organoids into space for a groundbreaking study.

Watch — Using Stem Cells to Research the Brain – Health Matters

Bone Health: Beyond Supplements

“This is what I learned when I thought I knew everything already about healthy eating and living,” says Vicky Newman, MS, RDN. Her informative talk goes beyond the basics of calcium intake for bone health to highlight the importance of a healthy diet combined with physical activity. Learn about the exercises that increase weight bearing and strength in addition to activities to improve your balance. Get insights into what a bone-healthy diet looks like and how to work with your doctor to minimize medications that could be taking a toll on your bones.

“Boosting Bone Health to Prevent Injury and Speed Healing” marks the 2019 return of the Stein Institute for Research on Aging lecture series to UCTV. For more with Vicky Newman, and to view the complete archive of lectures, visit https://uctv.tv/stein/.

Watch — Boosting Bone Health to Prevent Injury and Speed Healing – Research on Aging