Natalie Ciaccio, PhD

Title: “The Pharmacy of Genes: Drug Development for Genetic Diseases” with Natalie Ciaccio Ph.D. of Biomarin

Date, Time, Location: Wednesday, October 3rd, 2018; 7:30 – 8:30 pm at Terra Linda HS in San Rafael, Room 207

Description: TBA

Bio: Dr. Ciaccio is a Sr. Scientist working in Formulation Development at BioMarin Pharmaceutical, Inc. in Novato, Ca. Prior to joining BioMarin, Dr. Ciaccio completed her Postdoctoral training in the Department of Bioengineering and Therapeutic Sciences at the University of California San Francisco, where she explored the application of drug delivery technologies for sustained release of biologics. Previously, Dr. Ciaccio obtained her PhD in Pharmaceutical Chemistry from the University of Kansas, where she investigated mechanisms of protein degradation and aggregation. She obtained her BS in Pharmacy from Purdue University and spent three years working in Quality Control at Eli Lilly and Co., supporting insulin manufacturing prior to attending graduate school.

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Cinzia Perlingieri, Ph.D.

Title: “Mirroring Past and Future: How Cutting-edge Technologies Help us Unveil Ancient Worlds” with Cinzia Perlingieri Ph.D.

Date, Time, Location: Wednesday, September 26th, 2018; 7:30 – 8:30 pm at Terra Linda HS in San Rafael, Room 207

Description: Archaeology is the search for empirical data to answer such big questions as “where do we come from?” and “what does it mean to be human?” The way archaeologists study the past has changed dramatically over time. In collecting things for museums, we started to wonder where and when things happened. Later on, archaeologists became concerned with why and how cultures change, how people lived, if various cultures connected and how. In this lecture we will learn how modern, digital technologies have changed the way we study the past, and what we can discover using these new tools.

Bio: Cinzia Perlingieri received her Ph.D. in Archaeology at the University of Naples “l’Orientale”, Italy. She participated in her first archaeological project in Sudan, Africa, in 1989 as archaeologist and ceramic analyst. Her research focused on the archaeology of early states in northeast Africa (Egypt, Sudan, and Eritrea/Ethiopia), with a specialization in ceramic studies. During her travels in Africa and the Near East she experienced all aspects of archaeology and heritage, from excavation and survey of large cultural territories to the study and archiving of collections. She has been actively involved in numerous initiatives aimed at integrating digital technologies in the practice of Cultural Heritage. She was a member of the Board of Directors of the European initiative “EPOCH – The European Network of Excellence in Open Cultural Heritage”. Dr. Perlingieri co-founded a nonprofit based in San Rafael aimed at helping cultural institutions learn and adopt digital technologies for the preservation of the past. She currently works in the nonprofit sector.

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Welcome to the new Marin Science Seminar website

Welcome to the new Marin Science Seminar website! We’re happy to have finally migrated over to a mobile-friendly format, and this site will also allow us to have the blogging all in one place. Stay tuned for the Fall 2018 lineup and information about internship for the this coming academic year.

“Gnashing, Gnawing, and Grinding: The Science of Teeth” – An Interview with Tesla Monson of UC Berkeley

by Shoshana Harlem, Terra Linda High School

Dr. Tesla Monson studies mammals, especially their skulls and teeth. She is a researcher at UC Berkeley and has a BA in cultural anthropology, an MA in biological anthropology, and PhD in Integrative Biology. 

1. What made you want to study mammals?
Growing up in Washington State, I was always really interested in biological life, and particularly animals and plants. When I first learned about Paleolithic cave art in my undergraduate anthropology class, which is some of the oldest and most beautiful art, dated to more than 30,000 years ago, I became fascinated with the seemingly timeless question, “What makes us human?”, “What makes me, me?, “What makes humans unique from other animals?” And “What makes non-human animals different from each other?” Because these questions are focused on trying to place humans within the context of evolution and life on this planet, and because humans are mammals, I have been studying mammals ever since. But it doesn’t seem out of the realm of possibility that I will expand to other groups of living organisms within my career (such as birds, or even plants), because the same basic principles of evolution guide all life as we know it, mammalian and otherwise.

2. What are the best parts of your job?
There are many parts of my job that I love a lot. I love being able to travel all over the world to look at museum collections and share my research at conferences. I love collaborating with scientists, and being able to share my work with students and interested parties of all ages. And I definitely love the feeling of holding a multi-million year old fossil in my hand. But I think the best part of my job is being able to spend my days researching, and studying, and trying to answer questions that no one has ever answered before. There is no greater feeling than the feeling of discovery, that I have uncovered something, or shown evidence for something that no one else in the history of the world has ever shown. I love being able to use my brain every day to ask questions that interest me, not for money or for fame (because there’s not a lot of that in science), but because I am truly interested. For me, the best part of my job is getting to spend every day thinking with a free mind and a brain that belongs exclusively to me, and getting to contribute new information to the world, and to science, as I go.

3. What are the worst parts of your job?

Mammal Skull

There are many different aspects of hardship in science. I think that one of the worst things about my job right now is seeing how science, education, knowledge, and facts are under attack on a daily basis, not only from the general public but also from our government. This is extremely disheartening, but it makes what I do even more important, and it makes sharing that science with the public particularly crucial. One of the other worst things about my job is seeing how people of color, and women, and people from diverse backgrounds, have to face bias and discrimination in science, and in academia in general. Many studies have shown that having diversity in science only contributes to the overall quality of the science that gets done, and makes the science and the learning process better. We need more role models in science that come from diverse backgrounds and are invested in recruiting and training new generations of scientists that further contribute to that diversity. And we need to support our scientists from diverse backgrounds as they progress through their careers, because it’s always harder to do something when you are one of the first to do it. Again, that’s another reason that I feel that public outreach, and giving public lectures, and showing up as a role model, are so important.

4. What does it mean to be a scientist?

Mammal Teeth

This is a great question, and one that I am still not sure I know the answer to. I used to think that being a scientist meant doing research, and publishing, and that was it. But now I know that being a scientist goes so far beyond that. As I mentioned before, there are many hardships and obstacles in science, and some of those adversely affect some groups more than others. So I think that a big part of being a scientist is being committed to improving the discipline, through maintaining strong scientific ethics and integrity in science, and through recruiting new generations of people from diverse backgrounds into science. I also think that being able to communicate science to people outside of the discipline, whether they are other researchers, or just interested members of the public, it is a very important part of what it means to be a scientist. To this end, I have hosted and produced a radio talk on graduate student research, science communication, and the importance of diversity in science, that has been broadcasting for the last four years on KALX 90.7 FM in Berkeley and is available as a podcast. I am currently training new students to take over the radio program (The Graduates on KALX 90.7 FM), and I look forward to seeing how the new broadcasters develop as scientists and science communicators as they take over the show.

5. What current research are you working on?
My current research focuses on understanding the evolution of the skull and teeth in mammals, and particularly in primates. As I will talk about in my lecture, teeth are extremely important for all mammals, not only because they are essential for diet and what we eat, but also because they play important roles in behavior, health, and they are well-preserved in the fossil record. The skull is also very important because it contains the majority of our sensory organs (eyes, nose, ears, mouth), and one of the most important parts of any vertebrate, the brain. To conduct this research, I travel to museums across the United States and in Africa to look at museum collections of extant (recently living) and fossil mammals. I measure the skulls and teeth of these animals and use statistical analysis to better characterize how animals look different from each other, with the goal of understanding how variation evolved in mammals over the last 60 million years.

Want to learn more about Tesla Monson and mammals? Join us on Wednesday, February 28, 2018 at Terra Linda High School from 7:30 PM – 8:30 PM in Room 207!

http://marinscienceseminar.com/speakers/tmonson.html

Learn more at http://www.ucmp.berkeley.edu/index.phphttp://www.ucmp.berkeley.edu/about/profile.php?lastname=Monson&firstname=Teslahttp://grad.berkeley.edu/news/headlines/tesla-monson/

“Wild Worms and Mineral Mosaics” – An Interview with Jennifer Runyan of the Lawrence Hall of Science

by Shoshana Harlem, Terra Linda High School

Jennifer Runyan is a Science Communication Fellow and works for the Ocean Exploration Trust. She received BS in Marine Biology and an Environmental Studies degree. She explores the organisms and nutrients in the ocean and has went to many places such as the Gulf of California.

1. What made you want to study hypothermal vent communities?

I applied for a Science Communication Fellowship to be able to learn new ways to communicate science and thought exploring the deep sea and hypothermal vents would be a great way to go.

2.  What are the best parts of your job?

Working with people from diverse backgrounds and responsibilities on the ship, from video engineers, Remotely Operated Vehicle pilots, to the scientists.

3. What are the worst parts of your job?

The late night watch shifts can be a bit challenging for me to stay up for!

Mysterious Purple Orb

4. What organisms and nutrients do you find deep down in the ocean?

We have found many organisms from various types of tube worms, fish, octopi, deep sea jellies, and other invertebrates. We have found some very exciting organisms such as the mysterious purple orb, a dead whale fall, and the adorable googly eyed stubby squid. As for nutrients, it depends on the location and what kind of geological or biological activity is present.

5. What was your favorite deep sea adventure?

I enjoyed getting a chance to see the biological diversity of life around differing hypothermal vents within the Gulf of California.

Wednesday, January 17, 2018 at Terra Linda High School from 7:30 PM – 8:30 PM in Room 207
http://www.marinscienceseminar.com/speakers/jrunyan.html

Follow Jennifer Runyan’s deep sea adventures on https://nautiluslive.org/.

“The Fountain of Youth” – An Interview with Chong He of the Buck Institute, Novato

by Shoshana Harlem, Terra Linda High School

Dr. Chong He works at the Buck Institute in Novato. She received a PhD in Chemistry at Peking University. She studies the lifespan of worms and yeasts and solutions in how to improve their lifespan. One of her most recent discoveries was that ibuprofen can help yeasts and worms live a longer life.

1.       What made you want to study diseases and medicine?

My parents are medical doctors. My mom specializes in internal medicine and my dad is a surgeon. Growing up in a medical doctor environment, I became very interested in how the human body works. And that’s why I decided to study medicine and aging.

2.       What are the best parts of your job?

The best part of my job is that I can get to find answers to questions that no one else in the world knows how to solve. I get to be the first one in the world who can make discoveries to prove my hypothesis. This makes me feel very special.

3.       What are the worst parts of your job?

There are more failures than successes in scientific research.

4.       How does ibuprofen help create a longer life?


One of my aging animal models is yeast. When I gave yeast ibuprofen, it seems that ibuprofen makes the yeast uptake less nutrition, such as tryptophan, which is an amino acid that can help our body to make more protein. Even though our body needs tryptophan, too much might not be beneficial for longevity.
5.       How can life be extended?

The worm is another animal model commonly used by scientists to study aging. We can measure the health of worms by measuring how fast they can move. The movement decreases during aging. But when we fed worms ibuprofen, we found that ibuprofen can make old worms move faster. This made us think that ibuprofen might extend healthspan.

Want to learn more about Dr. Chong He and aging? Join us on Wednesday, January 31, 2018 at Terra Linda High School from 7:30 PM – 8:30 PM in Room 207!
http://marinscienceseminar.com/speakers/che.html




January – March 2018 at Marin Science Seminar

Marin Science Seminar starts up again January 17th. Join us this semester for Wild Worms, Exoplanets, The Fountain of Youth and more. Join us and learn! 🙂 http://www.marinscienceseminar.com/calendar.html#spring 

JANUARY

17: “Wild Worms and Mineral Mosaics: A glimpse into hydrothermal vent communities” with Jennifer Runyan of the Lawrence Hall of Science

24: “Exoplanets” with Warren Wiscombe of NASA-Goddard Space Flight Center

31: “The Fountain of Youth: Is it a Myth?” with Chong He of the Buck Institute

FEBRUARY

28: “Gnashing, Gnawing, and Grinding: The Science of Teeth” with Tesla Monson of UC Berkeley

MARCH

7: “The Marin Wildlife Picture Index Project” with Lisette Arellano of One Tam and Golden Gate National Parks Conservancy

28: “Name that Bloodsucker!” with Eric Engh of Marin-Sonoma Mosquito Vector

Flooded by Science and Sea Water: China Camp Sea Level Rise

Local Science for Teens & Community this Wed. 11/8 at Marin Science Seminar:

Flooded by Science and Seawater: 
King Tides and What they Can Tell us about Sea Level Rise at China Camp State Park

with Sarah Ferner of SF Bay National Estuarine Research Reserve – a program of NOAA and SFSU http://marinscienceseminar.com/speakers/sferner.html
Wednesday, November 8th, 2017
7:30 – 8:30 pm
Terra Linda High School, 320 Nova Albion, San Rafael – ROOM 207

The tidal marshes at China Camp State Park play a key role in helping scientists understand how marshes respond to sea level rise and how we can continue to protect them. In this talk, we will hear about what scientists have learned so far and how they are learning more through research right here in Marin. 

Sarah Ferner develops, leads, and teaches education programs for NOAA’s National Estuarine Research Reserve System in San Francisco Bay. As the Reserve’s first Education Coordinator, her job tasks are diverse – ranging from writing for publications and interpretive signs, to teaching teachers about new Next Generation Science Standards, to counting plants deep within Suisun Marsh, and more. Through it all, she likes to traverse the muddy transitions between water and land, and between science and education, following her passion for connecting people to nature through science. She is a certified California Master Naturalist. Previously, Sarah worked closely with the Chesapeake Bay-Virginia NERR as a Graduate Research Fellow where she studied the vegetation community change in a tidal freshwater marsh. Sarah received a B.A. in Biology from Carleton College and an M.Sc. in Marine Science from the Virginia Institute of Marine Science/College of William and Mary, and has over 15 years of experience teaching science to students, community members, and educators.

“When Parasites Kill” – An Interview With Stephanie Rasmussen, M.S.

By Rachael Metzger, Marin Science Seminar Intern 


Stephanie Rasmussenholds a Bachelor’s degree in Biochemistry and a Master’s degree in Biology from Dominican University of California and is coming to Marin Science Seminar Wednesday, October 18th, 2017 to speak about her research on malaria in Uganda.
Stephanie Rasmussen first became interested in biology as a high school student, but it was not until her freshman year of college that she learned what research was and thus realized her passion. Research sparked her fascination with lab work, which allowed her to test biological theories in a lab. Rasmussen decided to study biochemistry because she wanted to “have a deeper understanding of why different reactions happen inside cells to make them work correctly,” as well as to “help scientists, doctors, and other health professionals understand how and why different diseases make people sick.”
As a sophomore in college, Rasmussen worked in her graduate student advisor’s malaria lab. She volunteered in the lab all through her undergraduate years and continued to work in the lab after she graduated to get her Master’s degree in biology. Rasmussen’s passion is in studying human diseases; working in the malaria lab helped further her interest. Graduate school was when she started studying malaria parasites on location in Uganda. Rasmussen shares how this excited her, “I got to travel to a malaria endemic region, where I worked on parasites coming directly from malaria patients.”

Mosquitoes carry malaria (Source: scientistsagainstmalaria.net)
Today, Rasmussen’s lab works with people both in the USA and in Uganda. On the importance of teamwork she says, “I love all of my coworkers. Success in science is all about teamwork and collaboration.” She enjoys working with a diverse group of people that share similar interests and have a shared goal: reducing the malaria burden. She encourages anyone interested in pursuing biomedical research to make connections with those in the field, and to learn about the work they are doing. She emphasizes the importance of taking advantage of research opportunities in college, “The only way people can find out if they like it is to try it.”


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Stephanie Rasmussen is happy to answer any questions about research as a career at: Stephanie.rasmussen16@gmail.com

“Cyborgs! The Not-so-distant Future of Human-Machine Integration” Interview with Dr. Nuria Vendrell-Llopis

By Rachael Metzger – Marin Science Seminar Intern 

Dr. Nuria Vendrell-Llopis, a Postsdoctoral Fellow at UC Berkeley’s Brain-Machine Interface Systems Laboratory with a Master in Telecommunications Engineering specializing in Electronics from the Universitat Politecnica de Valencia, Spain, and a PhD in Biomedical Science, specializing in Cognitive and Molecular Neuroscience from KU Leuven, Belgium, spoke to Marin Science Seminar about her work with cyborgs.

Cyborg (Source: assets4.bigthink.com)


How did you first become interested in Telecommunications Engineering and Biomedical Science?

“I was a kid when my brother got the first computer in the house and I was amazed by it. I wanted to understand how it worked. At that moment in time I thought computers were (or soon would be) way smarter than humans. With time I focused more of my attention in electronics and signal processing so I started my Telecommunications degree in college. Believe it or not, back then I hated anything that had to do with biology. Computers were the future; biology was unimportant. One day in class, a professor brought the idea that there was a limit to the miniaturization of integrated circuits, and that the future of computers could well be bio-computers or quantum computers. That shocked me, quantum computers sounded interesting, but how could something as faulty and unreliable as biologic cells be better than silicon circuits? I didn’t want to believe him, so I started searching about the subject on my own, news journals at first, then more scientific journals… and I got hooked.”

Was there a specific time or person that sparked your interests?

“My parents. I know it sounds cheesy, but I see many adults annoyed by kids who are constantly asking questions. We should be fueling that curiosity, never cutting it down. My parents always answered no matter how silly the question was.”

Has studying around the world influenced your perspective on your work? If so, how?

“Not only on my work, on everything. Going to a different country, and I don’t mean visiting, I mean really living among them, changes the way you see even the smallest things. You see the flaws of your countryman, but you also have a greater appreciation of their strength. I think it is an opportunity for growth that any student should take given the chance.”
What is your favorite part about your job and studies?

“About my job, I like the constant interchange of ideas. I teach to students but I also learn from them. There is always something new, a new discovery, and a new tool. It is very dynamic, tiring sometimes, but never boring. It gets better when you think that your research may be helping thousands and thousands in the future. However, what I like the most about my job and my field in particular is that we are faced with the biggest mystery of our era, like nuclear energy and space discovery were before us. The brain is the new unknown and I would love to be one of those responsible in unraveling its secrets.”


What advice do you have for young people who would like to follow in your footsteps?

“Please DO! We need young people, and young ideas. Now, my advice would be, go to college, but go to college in Europe or Australia then get your PhD back in the USA. Do internships, try working in industry, come back to academia if you like. Move around, travel the world, engage with people from different cultures. Be open to new ideas, but critic nonetheless. Learn from each small thing and the most important part, never forget to enjoy the trip.”