Jumat, 28 November 2008
Kamis, 27 November 2008
Now in its 17th year, Buy Nothing Day is celebrated every November by environmentalists, social activists and concerned citizens in over 65 countries around the world. Over the years, Buy Nothing Day (followed by Buy Nothing Christmas) has exploded into a global movement, inspiring the world’s citizens to live more simply and buy a whole lot less.
On a slightly related note, the Bren school of Environmental Science and Management has two environmentally themed seminars next week:
Tuesday, Dec. 2, 200812:30 - 1:30 p.m. in Bren Hall 1414
Professor Ramprasad Sengupta
Centre for Economic Studies and Planning, Jawaharlal Nehru University , New Delhi , India
High Economic Growth, Equity, and Sustainable Energy Development of India.
Wednesday, Dec. 3, 2008 4:00 - 5:00 p.m. in Bren Hall 1424
Miriam Haran, PhD
Former Director General, Israeli Ministry of the Environment Head, MBA Environmental Management Program Ono Academic College Kiryat Ono, Israel
Financial Meltdown Does not Slow Global Warming: The Environment in Israel
Senin, 24 November 2008
In honor of this possible anniversary (or not), enjoy these YouTube clips. You've probably seen the first one. The second one won a lot of advertising awards. Both of them misrepresent evolution in several important ways but that's part of the fun.....
The second step would be to actually reconstruct the deciphered DNA code back into intact DNA once again. One way would be to “reverse engineer” the DNA of a close living relative species until it is similar to the known sequence of the extinct species. So far this has not been possible because of the sheer numbers of base pairs (perhaps half a million) that would need to be modified. But researchers are hopeful that techniques will be available soon to modify up to 50,000 sites at a time. The extinct species’ DNA would then be inserted into an egg of the living relative and incubated in that relative until birth.
How would your students react if it were to be announced one day that an extinct human such as a Neanderthal had been reverse engineered and then born to a modern human or a primate mother?!
Sabtu, 22 November 2008
For example single stream recycling (where all recycling is collected in one bin) is becoming increasingly popular because collection costs are lowest and new technology allows some quite efficient sorting of materials at the depot. However recycling agencies discovered that the less restrictive you make the instructions - the more you collect. ie if you say 'All plastics' you collect a lot more (of ALL kinds of plastics) than if you say only 'Plastics #1 and #2' and if you say something like 'Only #1PETE and #2HDPE blow molded plastic jugs and bottles' you collect least of all because people get confused and end up chucking a lot more in the garbage. But the truth is that in many areas there is ONLY a market for the aforementioned #1 and blow molded#2. So they collect everything but then end up chucking away everything else so that they can get more of #1 and #2. Confused? Try persuading your friends that in most cases they are better off throwing away plastics (at least of #3 and greater), even if their recycling company collects them, because putting them in the recycling devalues the value of the recycling.
This does differ a bit from place to place and depends on your local collection agency and what the local market is for recycling products. I was reminded of this because New Scientist had an article this week on 'Dumb eco-questions you were afraid to ask' that covers a few of these recycling issues. Including the popular, and much debated pizza box question. I'm not sure why they call them dumb though, most of these are pretty good questions.
Coincidentally Popular Mechanics had an article on 'Recycling Myths: Popular Mechanics Debunks 5 Half Truths about Recycling' this month which contains some useful ecomomic information about the recycling industry.
Kamis, 20 November 2008
There are six separate pages (plus some extras) and each is an entertaining and informative read.
Rabu, 19 November 2008
Herbal extracts of Ginkgo remain popular as a memory enhancer, even though previous scientific evidence showed that Ginkgo just doesn’t enhance memory. So don't expect this latest finding regarding dementia to put much of a dent in Ginkgo’s annual sales of over $200 million. Good marketing apparently trumps good science.
Selasa, 18 November 2008
Anthro has a teaching/reference collection of skeletal material of vertebrates that is largely focused to the interpretation of human habitation sites, but the collection and associated courses can be invaluable to students interested in questions of hard-part anatomy of vertebrates.
- Sabrina Curran - Human Evolution, paleoecology, skeletal morphology
- Steven Gaulin – Evolutionary psychology
- Anabel Ford – Ethnobotany and El Pilar
- John Tooby – Evolutionary Psychology
- Susan Stonich – Ecological anthropology
- Amber Vanderwarker - Ethnobotany
Biomolecular Science and Engineering
The Interdepartmental Graduate Program in Biomolecular Science and Engineering epitomizes the highly interdisciplinary approach to research and education that is the hallmark of UC Santa Barbara. In this context BMSE offers a unique mix for graduate training and research at the frontiers of Biochemistry, Molecular Biology, Bioengineering and Biomolecular Materials. The BMSE Program may be for graduates, but an examination of Faculty research pages will lead you to some laboratories working on the forefront of materials and nano-technology where you might find a research option. See particularly:
- Cherie Briggs (EEMB)
- Deborah Fygenson (Physics)
- Jamey Marth (MCDB)
- Jean Carlson (Physics)
- Dan Morse (MCDB)
- Megan Valentine (Mechanical Engineering)
The Bren School of Environmental Sciences and Policy
The Bren School is technically a graduate program. However, there are some good biological folk there, and if you can talk your way in, so much the better:
- Patrica Holden (Microbial Ecology),
- Bruce Kendall (quantitative ecology of plant and animal populations),
- John Melack (Aquatic systems)
- Frank Davis (Biogeography, plant ecology)
- Hunter Lenihan (Restoration ecology, marine ecology)
- Carla D'Antonio is interested in invasive plants and general questions of plants in the human sphere - and is a neat person.
- David Cleveland - Ethnobotany,
- Oliver Chadwick – Soils
- Jordan Clarke – Hydrology
The department has several mass spectrometric facilities focused upon paleoclimatology recorded by isotopes of Carbon, Oxygen, strontium and others. These isotopes can be used to track other things too. The Paleontological Collections. Ostensibly part of the Museum of Systematics and Ecology, but housed in PSB South. Largely focused upon invertebrate fossils, particularly of the last 60 million years of southern California.
- Bruce Tiffney – Paleobotany
- Stan Awramik – Origin and early history of life, astrobiology
- Susannah Porter – Origins of animals, invertebrate paleontology
- Andre Wyss – Vertebrate Paleontology, origin of pinnipeds, biogeography
- Rachel Haymon – Life on deep sea vents
- David Valentine – microbial biogeochemistry
- David Lea - Really a geochemist, but with spectacular abilities with isotopes and CCS friendly.
Extraordinary strengths in remote sensing; both in the use of existing technology and the development of new technologies. Very important for any research involving widespread geographic coverage.
- Remote sensing: Keith Clarke, Dar Roberts, others.
- Biogeography: Dar Roberts.
- Hydrology (with Geology): Hugo Loaciaga, Ed Keller
- Global Climate: Catherine Gautier, Joel Michaelson & others
- Plant ecophysiology: Chris Still
The Evolutionary Psychology program has strong ties to the Neurobiology Research Institute. People include:
- Aaron Ettenberg (Behavioral Pharmacology)
- Tod Kippen (Neuroscience and Behavior)
- Karen Szumlinksi (Neuroscience and Behavior)
- Ben Reese (Developmental Neurobiology)
The sixteen faculty in the area of Biochemistry center around the common themes of bio-organic and bio-inorganic reaction mechanisms, protein-nucleic acid recognition, nucleic acid structure and dynamics, and membrane transport. They can offer expertise in a number of experimental tools such as Xray diffraction, computer graphics and computational analysis.
Beyond standard library resources, UCSB hosts the "Map and Imagery Library" (MIL) in the first floor of the SEL wing. This is a national repository, and has both digital and paper images of just about any kind of geographic reference you could want. This includes:
- Topographic maps
- Geologic Maps
- Maps & volumes summarizing vegetation, climate, hydrology, cultural and other features;
- Aerial photographs from landsat down to old plane-flown photographs.
- And much more!
The Marine Science Institute (MSI), established at the University of California, Santa Barbara in 1969, is the focus for marine, coastal zone, and freshwater research; marine policy studies; and educational outreach in marine science. MSI administers and supports research projects involving faculty, professional researchers, technical staff, graduate students, and undergraduate students from 14 disciplines. There are a LARGE number of researchers associated with the MSI who are not faculty in one of the biology departments – and many are very student friendly. Some specific faculty to check out include :
Carrie Culver, Tom Dudley, Jenny Dugan, Mark Page, Dan Reed, Kevin Lafferty and Milton Love (See especially Milton Love’s web page – it’s cool!). A complete list of MSI associated faculty can be found here.
PISCO (Partnership for Interdisciplinary Studies of Coastal Oceans) is a large, long-term, ecosystem research and monitoring program that involves Santa Barbara and three other West Coast campuses (Oregon State, Stanford and UCSC).
Cheadle Center for the Study of Biodiversity and Ecosystem Restoration (CCBER)
Located under the south end of the stadium. Used to be the Museum of Systematics and Ecology in EEMB, now independent. Houses the plant and animal collections of the University. Hosts a range of research projects, particularly concerning biodiversity and the reclamation of local ecosystems. Very strong programs in outreach to local school children. Check out their internships.
National Center for Ecological Analysis and Synthesis (NCEAS)
An outstanding international think tank on anything ecological and a lot evolutionary. It is a cross road of visiting scientists, in house researchers and periodic work groups who have access to a series of immense computerized databases that allow researchers to seek out explanations for gross patterns in Nature. Many UCSB faculty and graduate students participate, and there are frequent opportunities to work as paid data-collectors or enterers. NCEAS is located on State Street, in the center of the Paseo Nuevo. Note that they have a Thursday lunch seminar that hosts internationally known scholars.
The UC Natural Reserve System.
The UC System is unusual (not quite unique) in owning its own set of natural reserves dedicated to instruction and research. Each reserve is selected as representative of an important ecosystem in California. Most are managed by resident scientists. All are available for visitation or research with proper initial approval (signing of waiver forms indicating respect of the property, etc. ). Each Reserve has its own web site, and most list past research conducted on the Reserve. A good way to see who is doing what.
UCSB has one on campus (Coal Oil Point Note particularly here that Cristina Sandoval (director of Coal Oil Point) is an active researcher who interacts with undergrads) and two nearby (Sedgwick Ranch & Carpinteria Salt Marsh). We also manage the Santa Cruz Island Reserve, the Kenneth S. Norris Rancho Marino Reserve near Cambria, the Sierra Nevada Aquatic Research Lab in Bishop, and the Valentine Camp on the eastern face of the High Sierra.
Channel Islands National Park (And the Channel Islands National Marine Sanctuary)
The National Park Service manages several of the Channel Islands, and is interested in supporting research on them. Most of their voucher specimens come to Museum of Natural History
Lotusland Botanic Garden
Located in Montecito, Lotusland occupies 38 acres, much planted with exotic plant species in striking array. Lotusland has the world's third largest collection of cycads, and outstanding collections of Agave, Aloe and cool-tolerant palms. The garden is looking to become increasingly involved in research.
Santa Barbara Botanic Garden
Nearly a century old, the garden focuses upon native Californian plants. It has an outstanding living collection arranged by habitats, and a good library and herbarium focused in native flora. The Garden has a long-standing reputation for research into native Californian plants, and the biogeography of the Channel Islands. Research students interested in botany would do well to explore this.
Santa Barbara Museum of Natural History and Sea Center.
The Museum of Natural History is likewise nearly a century old, and has an established research reputation. It has internationally-recognized collections of living Mollusca and bird egg shells, and a very strong collection of marine invertebrates of the Santa Barbara Channel. Other collections include an excellent collection of mammals, particularly marine mammals, of southern California, a wide range of fossil whale material, a decent insect collection, and collections of particularly Pleistocene fossil marine and terrestrial organisms. It hosts active researchers working on - Marine Mammals Krista A. Fahy, Michelle L. Berman, - Marine octopods, F. G. Hochberg - Marine gastropods, Henry Chaney - Marine Mollusca, Paul Valentich Scott - Entomology - Michael Caterino - see his spectacular site on the California Beetle project, Ethnobotany, Jan Timbrook and Vertebrate Biology, Paul Collins.
Santa Barbara Zoological Gardens
The Zoo is mostly dedicated to the culture and reproduction of living, endangered, taxa. However, while they might not take kindly to dissecting a living animal, they certainly offer opportunities to examine behavior, and who knows what else might be worked out.
USC Wrigley Marine Science Center, Catalina Island
For those of you with marine interests, a local (SoCal) resource is the Wrigley Marine Science Center on Catalina island, run by USC. It offers research opportunities and summer courses.
Senin, 17 November 2008
Kamis, 13 November 2008
Next week's EEMB seminar speaker will be Dr. Michael Dickinson, professor of bioengineering at the California Institute of Technology. Michael's research merges behavioural ecology and bioengineering to study how flies perceive and navigate their environment. His work (and talks) are very exciting and has resulted in his being awarded a prestigious MacArthur Foundation prize (a very big deal). For more information on Michael's research, check out his page at Caltech.
This talk will be on Monday at 4pm in Psych 1924 (note venue change).
I have heard Michael talk many times and can assure you that this will be a great talk. Strongly recommended for all, regardless of your interest in flies, flight or stuff.
Apparently a young couple could not conceive because the woman had had a hysterectomy. So they used in vitro fertilization (IVF) to produce their embryos, which were then implanted into the young woman’s 56-year-old mother.
My class took quite an interest in the many and varied reproductive possibilities raised by modern IVF techniques. They understood the obvious benefit, which is to enable some infertile couples to have children of their own. They also quickly grasped that it could also be used (in combination with preimplantation genetic diagnosis) to choose a child’s sex, to avoid having a child with certain genetic disorders, or even to cure an older sibling of a genetic disorder (See the Current Issue in Human Biology 5th ed., pp. 396-397). But they didn’t come up with this scenario!
Rabu, 12 November 2008
Michel Kulbicki is based at the Insitut de Recherche pour le Développement in Perpignan, France. He was originally trained in biology and fish ecology at the Institut National d'Agronomie de Paris and Oregon State University. After four years of work on tuna fisheries and echointegration, he came to reef fish ecology in 1985. He was then based in New Caledonia where he worked until 2004. During his stay there, he had the opportunity to conduct fieldwork in New Caledonia, French Polynesia, Tonga and Fiji. His major interests lie in linking the characteristics of reef fish assemblages (e.g. species composition, functional groups, trophic or size structure) to factors at various spatial scales, from local (reef type, fishing pressure, coral cover) to regional (island size, island type, degree of isolation). He is also interested in developing better methods to survey reef fish and in associating information on fish obtained via underwater visual censuses with information on the environment obtained via remote sensing.
Seminar Title: Macro-ecology and understanding the large scale functioning of reef fish assemblages in the Pacific
Abstract: The regional species and functional diversity of reef fishes determines to a significant extent the local species and functional diversity of these fishes in the Pacific. As regional diversity is related to large scale factors such as island size and connectivity, distance to the biodiversity center, latitude, these factors also play a role on the distribution and composition of local reef fish diversity. Amongst the life history traits, (adult) size follows gradients linked to island size and connectivity. Species range is also found to be correlated to species (adult) size and larval duration and is also correlated to island size and connectivity. Colonizing ability can be as well related to (adult) size (finding mates, reproductive capacity, resource limitation). These findings explain why on small isolated islands the proportion of large species is higher than on large connected islands in the Pacific. One of the major consequence is the shape of the diversity-biomass relationship which presents a steeper slope on small isolated islands but reaches lower values of biomass because of lower diversity. The implications for management are important, in particular this shows how small islands will be far more fragile to fishing than larger or well connected islands. These findings may find applications in other systems where "ecological islands" exist.
Selasa, 11 November 2008
In the face of intense, well-organized opposition, government regulatory agencies have been reluctant to approve GE crops, including golden rice. The company holding the patent on golden rice eventually gave up, saying there was no money in it. It's still being studied in a few labs by humanitarian organizations such as World Food Day, but don’t expect to see it on grocery shelves any time soon. That's too bad, for golden rice really is a product that could help people in need, as opposed to just helping food producers and manufacturers.
Senin, 10 November 2008
Monday evening seminar (tonight) will be presented by Dr. Deborah Gordon from Stanford University. Her talk is entitled:
Ecology and behavior of Argentine Ants in California.
LOCATION: CCBER Classroom at Harder Stadium,
TIME: 6-7 PM
Minggu, 09 November 2008
A city of brittle stars off the coast of New Zealand, an Antarctic expressway where octopuses ride along in a flow of extra salty water and a carpet of tiny crustaceans on the Gulf of Mexico sea floor are among the wonders discovered by researchers compiling a massive census of marine life.
Sabtu, 08 November 2008
The Society of Undergraduate Biologists (
Research: SUB will strive to promote undergraduate research as both an essential part of an undergraduate’s education and as an asset to the scientific community. SUB will support those undergraduates already involved and will encourage those still yet to participate. Future goals: Obtaining special funding for undergraduate research; Undergraduate research seminars; Encouraging involvement in undergraduate research; Featuring UCSB research through the org. website and events.
Mentorship: The biology degrees offered by the CCS, EEMB and MCDB departments allow students to explore exciting educational challenges and opportunities. SUB will facilitate a system of mentorship in which undergraduates, throughout all four years of their degree, can look to others for advice in maximizing their experience at UCSB. Future goals: Graduate student-undergraduate student mentorship program; Promotion of departmental peer advisors; Events for incoming freshmen; Study group organization; Grad school admissions seminars. Communication: Science is a group effort. Communication is key. SUB will promote a well-informed undergraduate community by facilitating communication amongst undergraduates, between students and faculty, and between biology departments. Future goals: Promotion of departmental events (seminars, symposia, etc.); Undergraduate science-focused social events; Faculty-student events.
Kamis, 06 November 2008
Rabu, 05 November 2008
Chairman, Development Alternatives Group India President
International Union for Conservation of Nature
Tuesday, Nov. 18, 2008
12:30 - 1:30 p.m.
Bren Hall 1414
"The Importance of Including the Value of Ecosystem Services in Economic Calculations "
They suggest this leads to the possibility of cloning extinct species from the cells of frozen animals like mammoths. I've also heard the idea that being able to clone animals could lead to an ethical meat option for vegans and vegetarians (no animal would be harmed as the meat would be grown by itself in a lab).
Sabtu, 01 November 2008
Once consumers understand what the logo means and accept its underlying health assumptions, they can simply look for the logo on the front of the package. “Pattern recognizers” such as myself (who can’t find their favorite products in the grocery store if the manufacturer changes the packaging!) will appreciate the help in picking healthful foods. The logo is a green check mark in a square along with the words, “Smart Choices Program”. For a complete listing of the nutritional requirements to earn the Smart Choices label, visit the Smart Choices website. The logo should begin appearing on products in stores by the middle of next year.