Sunday, December 21, 2008

Federal Jobs II

Two separate announcements below for amphibian jobs in (1) Sequoia/Kings Canyon National Parks and (2) Yosemite National Park.
1. Sequoia/Kings Canyon National Parks
National Park Service is seeking up to six aquatic technicians for the 2009 summer field season in Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Parks (SEKI). All vacancies are GS-5 positions at $14.24/hr. The primary objective of these positions is to restore high elevation aquatic ecosystems, with a focus on enhancing mountain yellow-legged frog populations (Rana muscosa, Rana sierrae). Primary duties include backpacking to lake basins in park Wilderness, removing non-native trout populations from lakes and streams using gill nets and backpack electrofishers, and surveying populations of the mountain yellow-legged frog. Additional duties include following detailed protocols, recording environmental parameters, and communicating an overview of the project to park visitors. Emphasis is on field work in both team and individual settings. Work dates depend on timing of snowmelt, but are estimated to be from mid-June to late-September.

To be competitive for these positions, applicants must have 1) considerable backpacking experience in high elevation mountains, 2) the ability to hike safely across challenging on- and off-trail terrain, 3) the desire to work in remote Wilderness for weeks at a time, and 4) a strong commitment to conducting ecological restoration. Typical past employees have been upper-level undergaduates seeking degrees in aquatic biology/ecology or fish/wildlife programs, or had completed undergraduate or graduate degrees in these fields of study.

Interested applicants must apply through the USAJOBS website at The job announcement number is SEKI 228053. To retrieve the announcement, type this number in the keywords search window,click the search button, and follow the resulting link. To determine whether you qualify at the GS-5 level, see the "Qualifications & Evaluations" page. Applications must include a resume that contains contact information for at least three references, a completed questionnaire (shown in announcement), and a copy of your college transcripts (if you wish to be qualified based on experience and education). See the "How to Apply" page for specific details.

Complete application packages must be submitted by Tuesday, January 20,2009 to be considered for these positions. For general application questions, contact SEKI Personnel by emailing or calling 559-565-3752. For specific position questions, contact SEKI Aquatic Resources by emailing or calling 559-565-4273.

2. Yosemite National Park
The vacancy announcement below is for amphibian field positions at Yosemite National Park . Work will mostly involve field surveys for amphibians at Yosemite, though some surveys will be conducted elsewhere in northern California . There may also be opportunities to participate in related research on amphibian chytrid fungus and the pesticides. I will be hiring one or two 2-person field crews.

Successful applicants will have:
- experience conducting field research, preferably involving amphibians
- strong outdoor skills that include hiking, backpacking, camping in remote areas
- ability to work well with a field partner under challenging conditions
- experience with maps, PDAs, GPS, and orienteering
USGS will supply all research equipment, field supplies, and a government vehicle. Field crews will have a campsite at one of the park campgrounds. In some years, a cabin is available for a portion of the season (at no cost), but availability of cabins will not be known until after work begins.

If you apply, don't make it hard for me to hire you. Provide sufficient detail for me to evaluate your background and contact key people. Make sure to include names and current phone numbers (not just emails) for all supervisors and references. Applicants who provide a one-page resume or state that "references available by request" are not likely to be hired.

Please get in touch with me if you have questions or need additional information. Thanks.

Gary Fellers
Research Biologist
Western Ecological Research Center, USGS
Point Reyes National Seashore
Point Reyes, CA 94956

Federal Jobs #1

I'm going to post summer job announcements here as I hear of them. If you know of any I haven't posted please let me know. The jobs vary a lot in terms of whether they involve any actual research but I'll post anything that I think might make a good experience for a CCS Bio student.
The US Forest Service is looking for qualified field botanists and weed crews to work throughout California in summer 2009. Seasonal Botanists and Biological Science Technicians are needed for 3-6 months, with pay ranges from $11.34 to $21.65 per hour (GS-3 – GS-9, depending on experience). Government housing may be available.

Job descriptions and Qualifications: Botanists: Conduct field surveys for rare plants and map locations. Weed Crew: Locate and manually remove invasive plants. Exact duties will vary among duty stations, and may include greenhouse work. Desired skills include: plant identification using taxonomic keys, familiarity with California flora; use of GPS, topographic maps, and compass; operating vehicles on rough roads, good physical fitness; and willingness to work under difficult field conditions.

Qualifications: Minimum 1 year college for GS-3 Biological Science Technician. Bachelor’s degree in biology, botany, natural resources, range science, biology, or related area, with 24 semester hours in botany required for GS-9 Botanist.Over 18 years of age, and a U.S. Citizen Position

Locations (Anticipated number of positions) – Contact Person:

  • Eldorado National Forest - Placerville, CA (1 or 2 Botany) – Susan Durham: 530-642-5173
  • Inyo National Forest – Bishop, CA (1 Botany) – Kathleen Nelson: 760-873-2498
  • Klamath National Forest – Happy Camp, CA (1 botany);
  • Fort Jones, CA (1 Botany);
  • Yreka, CA (1 Weeds) – Marla Knight: 530-468-1238
  • Lake Tahoe Basin Unit– South Lake Tahoe, CA (2 Weeds; 3 Botany) – Cecilia Reed: 530-543-2761, Shana Gross: 530-543-2752
  • Lassen National Forest – Susanville, CA (2-4 Weeds; 2 Botany) – Allison Sanger: 530-252-6662
  • Mendocino National Forest – Willows, CA (1 Botany) – Lauren Johnson: 530-934-1153
  • Modoc National Forest – Alturas, CA (2 Botany) – Judy Perkins: 530-233-8827
  • Plumas National Forest – Oroville, CA (3-5 Botany); Quincy, CA (2 Botany) – Chris Christofferson: 530- 532-7473, Jim Belsher-Howe: 530-283-7657
  • Shasta-Trinity National Forest – Weaverville, CA (3-5 Botany); Mount Shasta, CA (3 Weeds/Botany) – Susan Erwin: 530-623-1753, Rhonda Posey: 530-926-9665
  • Sierra National Forest – North Fork, CA (2 or more Botany) – Joanna Clines: 559-877-2218 x 3150, Jamie Tuitele-Lewis: 559-855-5355 x 3352

To Apply: Apply in the automated Forest Service site, AVUE

Job Titles: Biological Science Technician (Plants); Botanist (Temp) Students: Continuing students are eligible for direct hiring under the Student Temporary Employment Program (STEP), and should submit applications directly to the Forest of interest. Contacts for each Forest are listed above.

Tuesday, December 16, 2008


From the Chronicle of Higher Education

Late to Rise Seems to Make Students Wise


When college students refuse to sign up for early-morning classes, parents and faculty members sometimes give them sermons or stale quotations from Benjamin Franklin. But those students might actually have the right instincts, says a new study by two economists.

The study, whose results appear in the December issue of the Economics of Education Review, found
that students earn higher grades in courses that are offered later in the day. The effect is small but unmistakable: For each hour after 8 a.m. that a class begins, students' average grades are 0.024 points higher, on a 4-point grading scale.

The most likely reason, the authors say, is sheer exhaustion. Nineteen-year-olds find plenty of reasons not to go to bed before midnight. And even when they get adequate sleep, adolescents' brains tend to fire up later in the morning than adults' brains.

The effect is partly counteracted when classes meet frequently. Throughout the day, but especially in early-morning classes, students earn higher grades in classes that meet three times a week than in classes that meet only once or twice. Over all, however, the time-of-day effect is stronger than the frequency effect.

The authors-Angela K. Dills, an assistant professor of economics at Mercer University, and Rey Hernández-Julián, an assistant professor of economics at the Metropolitan State College of Denver-analyzed more than 100,000 course grades that were earned at Clemson University in the fall of 2000 and the spring of 2001.

Because their cache of data was so vast, the authors say, they were able to deal with certain challenges that have confounded previous studies of course scheduling. For example, they say that
they were able to partly or entirely eliminate the possibility that professors grade more leniently in their late-day classes than in their break-of-dawn classes, or that the most difficult courses happen to be scheduled in the morning, or that stronger students are the first to register for classes and are thus more likely to enroll in courses that start later in the day.

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Campus lagoon Internship opportunity

Water Quality/Hydrology Internship:
I am looking for a student interested in working with me on the data and reports on the Campus lagoon water quality from studies we have completed, implementing follow-up studies, assisting with data monitoring for the larger study and, possibly, helping with modelling of water quality in the lagoon. I need a self-starter willing to do some independent research, collect water samples and collaborate with professors on campus. We have a stipend of $250 for Winter quarter and the possibility of additional funding should the candidate have more time to commit to the project.

Interpretive Sign Research Project Internship:

We are designing a sign to provide essential information about the ecological state of the UCSB Campus Lagoon related to geology, recent history and current ecological status. Looking for an independent person who can do research and is interested in interpretive signage and presentation. Skills in graphic design not required. Creativity a plus! Pays $250.

Both internships come with an expectation of ~ 6 hours per week commitment.

Post-fire biological research opportunities at Parma Park

Dear Professor or Colleague:
The 200-acre Parma Park burned in the recent Tea Fire. While the City of Santa Barbara is busy preparing for winter storms, we realize there may be exciting opportunities to observe post fire vegetation and community succession in the months and years to follow. Parma Park is currently closed to the public. If you are interested in bringing your class to observe, or have students interested in post-fire research (currently no City funding available), please contact me to discuss. There may also be post-fire research opportunities related to wildlife, water resources and geology.

Parma Park is a City of Santa Barbara Open Space park, located off Highway 192 (Stanwood Drive), east of the Sheffield Reservoir. The Park contains a diverse array of native plant communities and wildlife, along with unique assemblages of soil types, geology, steep terrain and tributaries to Stanwood Creek. Native plant communities at Parma Park include chaparral, oak woodland, riparian forest, coastal sage scrub, and remnant patches of native grassland. Non-native plant species also occur within the Park.

Please feel free to forward this email to any parties that may be interested.

Thank you,

Kathy Frye
Natural Areas Planner
City of Santa Barbara Parks and Recreation

Box 1990, Santa Barbara, CA 93102
PH (805) 897-1976

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

More research opportunities

Caltech is excited to announce two summer research opportunities available to
continuing undergraduate students. Questions about these programs can be
directed to Carol Casey at or (626) 395-2887.


The MURF program aims to increase the participation of underrepresented
students (such as African American, Hispanic, and Native American, females
who are underrepresented in their discipline, and first-generation college
students) in science and engineering Ph.D. or M.D./Ph.D. programs and to make
Caltech's programs more visible to students not traditionally exposed to

Eligibility: Students must be current sophomores through non-graduating
seniors and must be U.S. citizens or U.S. permanent residents. A minimum GPA
of 3.0 is required.

Support: MURF students will receive a $6000 award for the ten-week program.
Additional housing and travel support may be provided.

Application: Online applications are due January 12, 2009.

For more information, please visit


Caltech's Amgen Scholars Program is geared towards students in biology,
chemistry, and biotechnology fields. Some of these fields include biology,
biochemistry, bioengineering, chemical and biomolecular engineering, and

Eligibility: Students must be current sophomores through non-graduating
seniors, must be attending a four-year university, and must be U.S. citizens
or U.S. permanent residents. A minimum GPA of 3.2 is required.

Support: Amgen Scholars will receive a $5500 award, round-trip air
transportation, a generous housing allowance, and a food allowance.

Application: Online applications are due February 15, 2009.

For more information, please visit

Carol Casey
Associate Director
Student-Faculty Programs
California Institute of Technology
Mail Code 08-31
Pasadena, CA 91125
(626) 395-2887

Marine biodiversity undergrad research opportunity

For the fifth consecutive year, we will be running The Diversity Project, an NSF funded  research opportunity designed to increase participation of under-represented undergraduate students in the marine sciences. In collaboration between Boston University, Duke University, Old Dominion University and UCLA, students will integrate hands-on field research in the Coral Triangle with cutting edge genetic research. The project will explore the origins marine biodiversity in the Coral Triangle in an effort to improve conservation of this remarkable ecosystems. Students are fully funded for both living and travel expenses. Visit for more information and on-line application.

This research opportunity has been a remarkable personal and professional experience for the students who have participated.
Please encourage any students whom you believe would benefit from such an experience to apply. Applications are due January 15, 2009.

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Colloquium and Seminar

For those of you in the Biology colloquium remember that Wednesday is our final meeting and the ball is in your court. Please bring your final two assignments: the review of faculty web pages and the seminar review if you have not already submitted them. Be prepared to speak about your plan of action for finding a research position.

A last minute seminar:
Wednesday Dec. 3
9 AM in MSRB 1302
Shawna McMahon, PhD exit seminar
Seasonality of Arctic Soil Microbial Community Substrate Use.

Friday, November 28, 2008


I love Thanksgiving. As a foreigner I'm hardly expected to return home for the occasion, and as a holiday it has few expectations (especially if you observe Buy Nothing Day). So basically I get a really nice long weekend to catch up on stuff. I'm on my third book of the weekend, the third chapter of a textbook I'm reviewing and in between those endeavors I am catching up on a few websites I'd bookmarked to explore in more detail when I had time. One of these, that admittedly I bookmarked a long time ago, was Erik Ringmar's blog. Ringmar was a lecturer at the prestigious London School of Economics (or LSE), who got into trouble for his blog when he fairly openly criticized the school. The article in question, a report of an open day address, is actually rather refreshing for its honesty and hardly seems that critical to me. In a similar vein I found this post, of advice to prospective PhD students, to be worthy of mention. Do read right to the end though....

Thursday, November 27, 2008

Bren events next week

I hope you all had a good Thanksgiving. Don't forget tomorrow is Buy Nothing Day:

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

Monday, November 24, 2008


The website 'On this day in peace history' is noting today (Nov 24th) as the 149th anniversary of the publication of Charles Darwin's 'On the Origin of Species by Means of Natural Selection, or The Preservation of Favoured Races in the Struggle for Life.' Wikipedia, citing a Darwin biography by Adrian Desmond, has it going on sale on the 22nd of November (and selling out almost instantly). A random sampling of a couple of other websites suggests Wikipedia may be correct. Of greater certainty is the fact that in just a few short months, on February 12th, it will be the bicentennial of the birth of Charles Darwin. What better way to pre-celebrate Valentine's day? (Except by listening to the promising and bizarre combination of Patti Smith and Phillip Glass celebrating the work of Allen Ginsburg in Campbell Hall).

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.....

Coral reef seminar today

EEMB Seminar speaker today is EEMB's own Nichole Price. 
Nichole is giving her PhD exit seminar:
"Processes structuring benthic communities on a coral reef".
4pm, Monday, in the MSRB Auditorium.

Saturday, November 22, 2008

Dumb eco-questions you were afraid to ask

Not directly CCS Biology related but since sustainability is the theme du jour I thought I'd post this here in the hope that somebody might learn something. At UC Berkeley I worked with a lot of students on recycling projects as they investigated an interesting variety of topics from the economics of single stream versus mutliple stream recycling to the contribution of the homeless to the recycling industry. The message I came away with is that recycling is a complicated, constantly changing and sometimes counter intuitive industry.

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.

Thursday, November 20, 2008

What is Science?

Bruce pointed out this excellent set of webpages from a geology class at the University of Georgia on 'What is Science?'
There are six separate pages (plus some extras) and each is an entertaining and informative read.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

CCS Biology Colloquium Resources available outside the Biology Departments

The following is an incomplete list of resources available for research purposes outside of MCDB and EEMB, both on campus and otherwise in Santa Barbara.

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.

Biomolecular Science and Engineering (BMSE)
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:

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:

Environmental Studies

Department of Earth Science
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
  • 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
  • Hugo Loaciaga: Hydrology and Geology
  • Ed Keller: Hydrology and Geology
  • Keith Clarke: Remote Sensing
  • Jennifer King: Biogeochemistry, earth system science, global change, ecosystem ecology  
  • David Lopez-Carr: Human dimensions of global environmental change 
  • Joe McFadden: Land-use and land-cover change, biosphere-atmosphere interaction  
  • Dar Roberts:  Remote sensing of vegetation, geology, ecology, and ecophysiology   
  • David Siegel :  Interdisciplinary oceanography investigating physical, biological, optical and biogeochemical couplings on micro to ocean basin scales.
The Department of Geography hosts a wonderful resource, Spatial@UCSB, dedicated to visualizing and analyzing data in a 3D manner. They offer consultation on your data sets at specific hours.

The Evolutionary Psychology program has strong ties to the Neurobiology Research Institute. People include:
Psychology also contains many people who overlap in interests with MCDB:

Chemistry and Biochemistry
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.

    The UCSB Library
    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
    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, Uta Passow, Dan Reed, 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).

    Center for Bioengineering
    The Center for BioEngineering (CBE) is a hub for research and teaching at the interface of biology, engineering and physical sciences. It builds on UC Santa Barbara’s strengths in biophysics, biomaterials, biomolecular discovery, and computational and experimental systems biology, enabling fundamental scientific discoveries to be transitioned to applications in medicine and biotechnology.
    Some of the faculty involved with CBE who have not already been mentioned:

    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 Reserve & 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 -  Ethnobotany, Jan Timbrook, Vertebrate Biology, Paul Collins, Patricia Sadeghian - Nemertean worms - Invertebrate zoology (gastropods), Daniel Geiger

    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.

    Monday, November 17, 2008


    Foldit is a computer game that was released in May of this year that allows amateurs to compete against, and collaborate with, specialists to design protein structures. Introductory levels teach the general governing concepts that users must understand before moving on to design complicated, potentially useful molecules. This is an interesting example of the potential power of distributed computing. Human brains currently manipulate three dimensional structures much better than computers. It is hoped that by studying how humans solve puzzles better computer algorithms will be devised. The YouTube video below gives a nice overview of the game.

    Thursday, November 13, 2008

    How flies find stuff.

    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.

    Wednesday, November 12, 2008

    Reef fish seminar

    I would like to announce the following invited research seminar by Dr Michel Kulbicki of the University of Perpignan. The seminar will be presented in the main Auditorium of the Marine Science Institute Research Building on Tuesday, November 25th from 4-5PM and is sponsored by the Moorea Coral Reef LTER site.

    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.

    Monday, November 10, 2008

    Seminar this evening

    If your days are just packed then how about an early evening seminar?

    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

    Sunday, November 9, 2008

    Wonders of ocean life counted in massive census

    I'm not sure exactly why this is the lead story on the CNN website right now, slow news day?, but it's good to see some biology there.

    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.

    Saturday, November 8, 2008

    Society of Undergraduate Biologists

    I already posted this once but I'll give it another shout. Get involved now whilst the club is getting going and you can get in on the ground floor. One moment you'll be a community organizer and the next moment......


    The Society of Undergraduate Biologists (SUB) was formed by students at UCSB with the desire to promote widespread scientific communication both within the undergraduate biology community and between the students and the faculty members of the CCS, MCDB and EEMB departments. The organization will strive, alongside the respective biology departments, to foster a community of well-rounded and active scientists through its platforms of communication, mentorship, and the promotion of undergraduate research.


    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.

    Thursday, November 6, 2008

    REU site

    A couple of the students on Wednesday mentioned the National Science Foundation's Research Experience for Undergraduates program. NSF maintains an extensive website where you can find details of what the REU program is all about and allows you to list the sites by subject or state. The list of sites in the Biological Sciences is impressive. Many (most?) of the REU programs run over the summer so this is early notice of something you may want to consider for next summer.

    Wednesday, November 5, 2008

    Ecosystem services seminar

    Ashok Khosla
    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 "

    Scientists in Japan clone mice that had been frozen for 16 years

    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).

    Tuesday, November 4, 2008

    Go Godwit go

    There will always be a place here for the wonders of the biological world. I saw news this week of a report in the Proceedings of the Royal Society detailing the epic migration of the bar tailed godwit using data obtained from individual transmitters on birds. One female flew over 11,000km in a nonstop flight across the Pacific Ocean from Alaska to New Zealand.

    The bird's journey lasted more than eight days with no rest or food, and took it into a place in the record books. The bird would have flapped its wings non-stop for the entire journey and did not feed or sleep. The godwit shown above is, presumably, taking a well earned rest.

    Sunday, November 2, 2008

    Election day special

    Special Seminar:

    Dr. Ildikó Somorjai (postdoc candidate for Smith lab)
    Laboratoire Océanologique Université Pierre et Marie Curie Paris VI,
    Banyuls-sur-Mer, France

    Tuesday November 4th at 11:00, room 3137 Bio2

    Title: "On axes and allies: Wnt regulation from flies to amphioxus"

    Wednesday, October 29, 2008

    Blood Sucking Moth

    Okay, I'll take your Bird eating spider and raise you a Blood Sucking Moth. Just in time for Halloween. It's also on video, complete with classic scientific comment 'It's starting to hurt.'

    Also notice how they make it sound like a normal scientific experiment to offer human blood to moths. What sort of experiment was this?!!?

    Monday, October 27, 2008

    PhD finishing talk


    "Tau Regulates Kinesin-Based Transport By Modulation of Microtubule Structure"

    Presented by Austin Peck

    Hosted by Les Wilson and Stu Feinstein

    2:00pm October 31st

    MSRB (Marine Science Research Bldg) Auditorium

    Reception on the 2nd Floor Deck Immediately Afterwards

    Attire: Costumes preferred

    Why do neurons generate multiple isoforms of the microtubule-associated protein tau in a developmentally-coordinated manner? How does disruption of tau isoform balance in neurons cause neurodegenerative disease in humans? In this study, we used a kinesin-driven microtubule gliding assay as a molecular reporter for tau induced changes in intrinsic microtubule surface topography. We find that assembly of microtubules by either 3R or 4R tau differentially regulates gliding velocity, independent of tau concentration. We suggest that these different velocities reflect distinct tau-induced topographies intrinsic to the MT surface. Additionally we find that kinesin dramatically stabilizes microtubule dynamic instability, while both tau isoforms increase microtubule rigidity. Together, these tau-mediated effects upon structure and function may be critical for proper neuronal development and maintenance, and when impaired, could lead to neurodegenerative disease.

    Sunday, October 26, 2008

    Termites Helping the World?

    On Friday, in Intro Bio, Dr. Feinstein talked about beta linkages and their roles in plants. Beta linkages give atoms in plants a ribbon structure that allows for thousands of hydrogen bonds to be made. These linkages also create strength in plants, but humans lack the enzymes that break these bonds down. A symbiotic bacteria, that exists only in termites, is able to break these beta linkages and convert wood into energy. The mention of termites made me remember a recent article in The Atlantic that discussed this bacteria and its potential role in biofuel production. Termites, or rather the bacteria in termites, are able to extract "sugars, CO2, hydrogen, and methane with 90 percent efficiency." Researchers are now trying to find ways to achieve this efficiency in biofuel production.

    photo from wikipedia

    PhD finishing seminar (and 200th post)

    Ph.D. exit seminar:

    “Plant-soil feedbacks and native plant re-establishment on Santa Cruz Island

    Stephanie Yelenik

    advisor: Jonathan Levine

    Monday, October 27, 1PM, MSI auditorium

    Friday, October 24, 2008

    Change in the scheduled program

    Monday's EEMB seminar has been rescheduled. The speaker will now be Brad Cardinale speaking about “Effects of biodiversity on the functioning of ecosystems … one summary of, and vision for a paradigm."
    Monday October 27th at 4:00PM MSRB Auditorium

    If you are interested in the ecological/environmental/theoretical side of things this would be a good seminar to attend. Brad is a faculty member in EEMB.

    Thursday, October 23, 2008

    Eyewitness to global warming

    Not really ideal for the seminar assignment for the colloquium (we'd prefer you to pick a research presentation) but I thought many of you may be interested in this (free) event. One of the things I most enjoyed about about being an undergraduate (and a graduate, and a postdoc, and a faculty member) was interesting events like this. One of the factors that influenced our decision to return to Santa Barbara was the outstanding program that UCSB Arts and Lectures puts on every quarter.

    Monday, October 27, 2008 @ 7:30 PM, Campbell Hall

    Will Steger: Eyewitness to Global Warming

    The fourth person ever to reach both poles, Will Steger is known by many titles – educator, activist, photographer, and former Explorer-in-Residence for National Geographic. His monumental 1,200 mile expedition by sled and canoe between Russia and Ellesmere Island, Canada, earned Steger the prestigious John Oliver La Gorce Medal, awarded only 19 times since 1888, and placed him in the ranks of such pioneers as Amelia Earhart and Jacques-Yves Cousteau. Steger will present an visual account of the global warming induced changes that he’s witnessed firsthand in Arctic regions over four decades of polar exploration.

    Co-presented with The Will Steger Foundation.

    Wednesday, October 22, 2008

    Citation mapping

    We didn't get to demonstrate this very well today but I think citation mapping is a tool that could be useful and is certainly an interesting way to visualize the way that an individual paper fits into the larger scheme of things. Check out the online demo that shows some of the key attributes quite nicely. The only problem is that it currently doesn't seem to work quite as rapidly as their demo version. Still, it is just the beta version. Web of Science/Knowledge is changing quite rapidly these days and you can always click on 'what's new' on the right hand side of the homepage to see what the latest updates are.

    Spider eats Bird

    A guy in Australia caught the event on camera. Here is the article, and pictures. I have just conducted a survey which concluded that this is indeed awesomesauce.

    Monday, October 20, 2008

    CCS wireless network

    For the Biology Colloquium on Wednesday you will be using your laptops in CCS. This will require us to access the CCS wireless network. If you have not already utilized this then some instructions are below. Provided you have a UCSBnetID you should be able to access the wireless network but the instructions vary a little according to your operating system. The second link below takes you to a library website that explains the setup for different operating systems (both windows and mac). If you are 'computer challenged' you may want to turn up early to get your network configured correctly before we start.


    The CCS wireless is part of the "UCSB Wireless Web" network. Faculty, staff and students with a UCSBnetID can use this network.

    To gain access select the "UCSB Wireless Web" from the control panel that controls your wireless web access.

    Although we are not on the same network at the library, for your computer set-up the following instructions apply:

    Society of Undergraduate Biologists

    FINALLY! An undergraduate organization for ALL biology majors! The Society of Undergraduate Biologists (SUB) will be the main social and informational network for bio students, helping you to make the most out of your biology degree. (Look for us on Facebook!)

    INFORMATIONAL MEETING for 2008-2009 Come to our Open House! Hang out, snack, and learn about the benefits of being a SUB member! Learn about our other upcoming events!
    Wednesday, Oct. 22nd in Life Sciences Building Rm. 4307, 4:30-6:30 PM
    15 min Presentations at 4:30 and 5:30 PM

    Sunday, October 19, 2008

    PhD Comics

    If a picture is worth a thousand words than a well crafted cartoon is probably worth, oh about five or six hundred. Here, from PhD comics, are some gems on the scientific paper and the publishing process. Enjoy.

    Friday, October 17, 2008

    Farewell to Overhead

    I can't believe you're dead

    Is there a chance to get

    You back again tonight

    To shed your light

    From Farewell to Overhead by Monochrom

    For those of you who watched the last debate, or in fact the earlier debates, I would like to add one scientific clarification. This is an overhead projector. They used to be widely used to project images onto screens. Poorly used they have been the downfall of many a nervous presenter and, in darkened classrooms have probably put many a student to sleep. The advent of cheaper data projectors has resulted in a decline in the use of overhead projectors, although mathematicians still like them because of the ease with which you can write on them. You can get a used one on ebay for $20 or a new one for a couple of hundred. Check out this song that laments the decline of the OHP. Brilliant.

    This, on the other hand, is a Carl Zeiss Universarium. Although I don't think there is a song about it, and you can't buy one on ebay I would hazard to suggest that it has introduced millions to the wonders of astronomy and is a feature of leading planetariums worldwide. It will set you back several million dollars which doesn't seem that bad for something that can entertain, educate AND looks like a robot from the future.

    Oh and if you are wondering what I'm talking about, here's an article from Discover magazine referring to an earlier mention of this issue and a statement from the Adler Planetarium in Chicago.

    To be able to vote in the upcoming election you must be registered. In California, voter registration must be postmarked by October 20, 2008 - that's MONDAY. Here is a link to the California Secretary of State's information page.

    Thursday, October 16, 2008

    New CCS Bio book shelf

    Bruce has uncovered some old field guides and placed them on a new Biology bookshelf in Room 145. We will try to add to this collection through time. These books are to be USED! Please use them in the tradition of CCS, take them and use them but return them when you are done so other students can use them. If you have requests for guides to particular groups then let us know and we'll see what we can do. Although some of these books may be a little elderly some of these old guides are great. The names may have changed but the information and identification keys can be great.

    Low tides and x-rated gastropods

    There have been some nice low tides over the past couple of days and they will extend into the weekend. The best part, for us non-morning people, is that they are at a civilized time of day. It really is a joy to be down on the beach around sunset poking around in tidepools.

    Friday has a low of -0.5 at 6.32pm, Saturdays has a low of -0.3 at 7.38 and Sunday's is getting a bit late at -0.1 at 8.56pm.

    Anything below 0 is sufficient to reveal interesting tidepools and critters and with lows in the negative range the viewing is probably good for an hour or two before and after low tide. Your best bets are either right at Campus Point, or, better, Devereux Point (Coal Oil Point) and the area between there and IV. However the best spot, IMHO, are the reefs between Elwood Bluffs and Haskell's Beach (now better known as the beach by the Bacara resort). For a weekend outing you could cycle (or drive) west on Hollister until just before it crosses the railway and ends at the Freeway. Take the well signposted turn to Bacara resort. Go about half a mile down here to the public parking lot (free). You can leave your bike here and walk a hundred meters down to the beach. Turn left (East) and at a low tide you can walk for miles, largely in solitude. The tidepools start getting really good just past the two stubby piers you can see and keep getting better and better.

    Let us know what you find, or better, post some pictures. There's a really nice tide pool website at Santa Barbara City College with a great many of the beautiful pictures taken right by UCSB campus so these are the plants and animals you will see. Check out the 'Treasures' page. These are some of the organisms you might catch sight of with such a low tide.

    If any of you want to organize a group trip then just post a meeting time and place in the comments.

    The picture above is the best find from our last tide pooling trip - the California Brown Sea Hare - Aplysia californica. Each sea hare is both male and female, but they cannot fertilize their own eggs. Dozens pile up for sea hare orgies. They mate in lines and circles: each is male to the one in front and female to the one behind, so each is both a mother and a father. That is one x-rated gastropod....

    Cancer surveillance seminar

    UCSB Department of Geography Colloquium

    DATE: October 16, 2008
    TIME: 3:30 – 4:45 p.m.
    PLACE: Buchanan 1930

    SPEAKERS: Pierre Goovaerts and Geoffrey Jacquez, BioMedware Inc

    TITLE: New Geospatial Approaches to Cancer Control and Surveillance

    Recent and ongoing research at BioMedware has focused on the
    development and
    application of new GIScience and geostatistical
    methods in cancer control and
    surveillance. This talk will first give
    a brief overview of a geostatistical approach
    tailored to the
    analysis of both a real and individual-level health data. It will be

    used to map the risk of late-stage breast cancer diagnosis in
    Michigan, and to
    analyze lung cancer mortality in the southeastern
    United States in relation to
    shipyard asbestos, industrial activities,
    and other factors. A new meta-analytic
    approach to cancer
    clustering, called “Cluster Morphology Analysis” (CMA) will

    be discussed that relaxes assumptions of cluster shape. CMA has
    been shown
    in simulation studies to reduce false positives while
    maintaining statistical
    power and its application to pancreatic
    cancer mortality in Michigan will be

    Wednesday, October 15, 2008

    Neuroscience seminar this week

    Remember, I'm not posting details of all seminars here - check the links to the right for the regular EEMB, MCDB, CCBER and NCEAS events. I'll post seminars that might not be on this list PLUS those that I think would be good for a more general audience or anything else I think deserves a special shout out.

    Neuroscience seminar on Tuesday, October 21st at 3:30pm

    Professor Paul Martin, Director of the National Vision Research Institute of Australia, Victorian College of Optometry and University of Melbourne, will present a seminar this Tuesday afternoon at 3:30pm, in the Horvath Conference Room, Biological Sciences II, room 6141:

    "Nerve pathways and nerve signals that serve color perception in primates".

    Global handwashing day

    The first-ever Global Handwashing Day will take place on Wednesday, October 15, 2008. The UN General Assembly has designated 2008 the International Year of Sanitation, and Global Handwashing Day will echo and reinforce its call for improved hygiene practices. Global Handwashing Day will be the centerpiece of a week of activities that will mobilize millions of people in more than 20 countries across five continents to wash their hands with soap.

    If you are interested in raising money for charity or giving money to charity then it is interesting to consider where the best 'value for money' is. In terms of saving human lives charities that provide clean water and sanitation would have to rank very highly. For example, WaterAid, which has a nice website wherein I learned that today was Global Handwashing Day.

    Tuesday, October 14, 2008

    Special Bren event

    Advance notice for this one, it's a couple of weeks off.

    Stephen H. Schneider, Professor, Department of Biological Sciences Stanford University
    Monday, Oct. 27, 2008
    5:30 - 6:45 p.m.
    Broida Hall 1610

    "Global Warming: Is the Science Settled Enough for Policy?"

    Panel Discussion to Follow

    Dr. Schneider is the Inaugural Visitor in the Zurich Financial Services Distinguished Visitors Program on Climate Change

    Monday, October 13, 2008

    Two book recommendations from Bruce

    Steven Shapin
    The University of Chicago Press

    This is the book that I mentioned in the Colloquium as an excellent small summary of the origins of western (group) science. This is NOT about the origins of science - scientific thinking has been around since the first human decided to explore the Earth in a rational way. But notice he calls it the Scientific REVOLUTION - when science suddenly explodes. His basic thesis is as I explained, that the Christian ethos suggested (a) a rational creator, whose works (b) could be understood and thus be revered as a source of "natural religion" beyond the Bible, but only if humans (c) studied in groups to overcome human fallibility in understanding God's works. Thus this both sent humans to the natural world to study it (with the assurance of ultimate success) but made them do it as groups.

    To appreciate how much "science" existed in the rest of the world (although sometimes the author confuses technology with science) consult

    Lost Discoveries : The Ancient Roots of Modern Science--from the Babylonians to the Maya *
    Dick Teresi
    Simon & Schuster

    The collection of knowledge that is presented here is vast and fascinating - but this knowledge never pulled together in an explosive way the way knowledge of the natural world did in western Europe. By example, the Chinese had fossils figured out millennia ago - but it took a world view focused on the linear history of the Bible to result in a linear interpretation of Earth history & thus the importance of fossils as both biostratigraphic markers, and one of the strongest lines of evidence for evolution in the sense of the unrolling of increasing biological complexity through time. To the Chinese, fossils were just past life. Nothing more.


    * - Book recommendations link to, not because we endorse this company, or get any kind of kickback, but because the site contains a useful collection of both editorial and reader reviews.

    Sunday, October 12, 2008

    We live in a political world

    With the economy cratering and numerous foreign policy issues to talk about the two candidates for president have not spent much time addressing science in their debates, or in their speeches for that matter.

    A group called Science Debate 2008 called for a presidential debate on science that turned into a groundswell of support and over 3,400 questions were submitted that people wanted the candidates for President to answer about science and the future of America. This list was pruned down to 14 questions and both candidates (or more likely people from their staff) have answered them. You can view the answers side by side at the sciencedebate2008 website.

    This week New Scientist magazine asked 11 prominent scientists and thinkers what the top of their wishlist would be for a new president (Eleven things the next president should do for science).

    You might like to think how you would answer this before you look at the article. Or better still debate it with your friends. It's not hard to think of things but what is the priority? The answers are all short, from 50 to 100 words and vary quite widely.

    Friday, October 10, 2008

    So what?

    'The greatest challenge of science, its art, lies in asking an important question and framing it in a way that allows it to be broken into manageable pieces, into experiments that can be conducted that ultimately lead to answers. To do this requires a certain kind of genius, one that probes vertically and sees horizontally.

    Horizontal vision allows someone to assimilate and weave together seemingly unconnected bits of information. It allows an investigator to see what others do not see, and to make leaps of connectivity and creativity. Probing vertically, going deeper and deeper into something, creates new information. Sometimes what one finds will shine brilliantly enough to illuminate the whole world.

    At least one question connects the vertical and the horizontal. That question is "So what?" Like a word on a scrabble board, this question can connect with and prompt movement in many directions. It can eliminate a piece of information as unimportant or, at least to the investigator asking the question, irrelevant. It can push an investigator to probe more deeply to understand a piece of information. It can also force an investigator to step back and see how to fit a finding into a broader context. To see questions in this these ways requires a wonder, a deep wonder focused by discipline, like a lens focusing the sun's rays on a spot of paper until it bursts into flames.'

    From 'The Great Influenza' by John Barry.

    Wednesday, October 8, 2008

    CCS Biology Mid Residency Review- Phase 1

    Just a reminder that the CCS Biology Mid Residency Review process is underway. The faculty will be meeting with most of the second year students to assess progress, discuss research plans and generally get a collective sense of how we (faculty and students) are doing. If you are up for review, you should have received several email messages from me by now. We are trying to lock in the schedule for 18 students and 7 faculty, so please get back to me as soon as possible with your available times. Please do contact me if you have questions or concerns (

    MCDB Seminar on Thursday

    The MCDB Seminar on Thursday, October 9, 2009 (3:30 PM in Rathmann Auditorium - that's LSB 1001) will be presented by Dr. Bruce Goode, from Brandeis University. Dr. Goode earned his PhD here at UCSB with Dr. Stu Feinstein. He gives a terrific seminar, so try to make it if you can. With a seminar title of "Rise of the Actin Machines," how can you not attend?

    Monday, October 6, 2008

    The First Annual Bren PhD Student Research Symposium

    The PhD Students at THE BREN SCHOOL OF ENVIRONMENTAL SCIENCE AND MANAGEMENT , with generous support from the Graduate Division, University of California , Santa Barbara Present THE FIRST ANNUAL BREN PhD STUDENT RESEARCH SYMPOSIUM Friday, Oct. 17, 2008 10:30 a.m. - 7:00 p.m.
    Bren Hall 1414 Please note: Space is limited to the first 100 guests who register, and though space may be available at some of the talks, registration is required for the lunch and the reception. Those wishing to attend should check out the web page for a schedule and registration details. This is a great way to find out some of the things going on in the Bren School.

    Amongst others

    Monday @ 4pm in the MSRB Auditorium the EEMB Seminar will be given by Carolyn Kurle, a new postdoc in Brad Cardinale's lab here at UCSB.
    "Investigating trophic impacts of invasive rats on islands".

    Wednesday @11 am in MRL 2053 Deborah E. Leckband, PhD, Reid T. Milner Professor, Dept of Chemical & Biomolecular Engineering, University of Illinois @ Urbana-Champaign
    “Reading the Road Signs: Cell migration in Engineered Environments”

    Friday, October 3, 2008

    Introduce Yourself

    Okay, I know what you're thinking (actually I don't, so don't worry), you're thinking that you would like to post here and to be involved but you don't know how to get started.

    Well, inspired by a certain well known TV interview, why don't you tell us about your reading? Answer any or all of the following three questions in whatever detail you'd like (just don't say 'all of them'!).

    What is one print media source you use to read about science and biology?

    What is one electronic media source you use to read about science and biology?

    What is one media source you mainly read for fun that you occasionally learn useful things about science and biology from?

    I'll even take all the pressure off by going first:
    What is one print media source you use to read about science and biology?
    I'm a big fan of New Scientist magazine. They do have a pretty good website (although much of it is only accessible to subscribers) but the magazine itself is only about a buck an issue if you subscribe and makes for a pretty easy way to keep up with advances in all of science not just biology.
    What is one electronic media source you use to read about science and biology?
    ScienceDaily is a very useful source. It has its flaws but it's a great resource to find up to date research in areas that are a little outside your main interest.
    What is one media source you mainly read for fun that you occasionally learn useful things about science and biology from?
    I don't have time to constantly surf the web looking for the latest cool thing, amusing article or silly video so I rely on BoingBoing (a directory of wonderful things) to find them for me. Although I often go there for entertainment its surprising how often I come away with something more interesting. I'm currently mulling over the conservation implications of the mackerel economy in US prisons and the bizarre walking strategies of artificially evolved organisms.

    Wednesday, October 1, 2008

    Seminar tomorrow

    MCDB Seminar tomorrow, Thursday, October 2nd
    3:30 PM, Rathmann Auditorium (aka 1001 LSB)

    “Redundancy in Notch signaling: quality or quantity?”

    Raphael Kopan
    Professor of Developmental Biology
    Washington University School of Medicine, St. Louis
    Meet the Speaker Reception, Rathmann Auditorium
    Immediately Following Seminar

    I'm not going to post all the seminars but will try to start off posting quite a few at the start of the quarter and then selected ones thereafter.

    Stapelia gigantea

    Short notice but if you read this today you can use it as an excuse to go check out the glasshouses (between Noble Hall and Webb Hall)
    The Stapelia gigantea is on display at the Greenhouse in front of Bay 4 from now until 3 pm. The Stapelia is from Africa.  More info can be found at
    This is not the pointy smelly plant some of you thought it would be. It has a very nice star shaped flower and is unusual in its own right. It does attract flies.
    Joan Calder

    Sunday, September 28, 2008

    Monday seminar

    Putting a number of acronyms together in one sentence (see posting below) try this one:

    The EEMB seminar on Monday at 4:00 in the MSRB auditorium, will be Mercedes Pascual, a current visitor at NCEAS, discussing "Disease dynamics in a changing world."

    Actually that sounds kind of interesting. I'll probably be there......

    Here's a handy field guide in case this is your first college seminar.