UC Riverside Science Lecture Series Acquires Online Presence

Videos are accompanied by downloadable study guides for use in middle and high schools

Photo shows the audience at a science lecture.

RIVERSIDE, Calif. — If you missed the popular Science Lecture Series that the College of Natural and Agricultural Sciences (CNAS) at the University of California, Riverside hosted earlier this year, there’s relief: you can now watch them in their entirety online.

All four lectures are available on the college’s website and on YouTube.  Accompanying each lecture is a study guide, downloadable and printable, that teachers can make use of in their classrooms to assist students watching the video.

In the videos — each is approximately an hour long — the UC Riverside lecturers are introduced by a local middle school or high school teacher. Each video was shot in the university’s television studio before a class of middle- or high school students.

In the “Too Many People?” video, Richard Cardullo, a professor of biology, discusses how an increasing human population is impacting the planet. Cardullo has had a long-standing interest in the world population. He is particularly interested in the tension between increasing human populations, technology’s impact on stemming the impacts of that growth, and the ultimate carrying capacity of the planet.

“Our current rate of population growth is clearly unsustainable,” he said. “This is true whether you consider the availability of food, water or energy.”

In the video “What Hollywood Can Teach Us About Our Planet,” Jodie Holt, a professor of plant physiology and the associate dean of agricultural and natural resources, talks about the complex lives of plants.  Holt shaped Sigourney Weaver’s character as a botanist in Avatar and helped create and name plants for the film.  She also provided textual details for the game products the film launched.

“Opening minds about botany and the importance of plants is a particular passion of mine,” she said.  “Although I’ve taught botany at UC Riverside for many years, working as the botanical consultant on Avatar provided an opportunity to reach a much broader audience — millions globally.”

In the “What’s Your Carbon Footprint?” video, Louis Santiago, an assistant professor of physiological ecology, discusses many of the factors that contribute to our carbon footprint — such as how we travel, what we eat, what we consume and what we discard. He explains how a person’s carbon footprint can be computed and how we can measure our impact on our climate.

“The bottom line is we can all do something to reduce our carbon footprint,” he said.

And in the “Where Does Your Water Come From?” video, Daniel Schlenk, a professor of aquatic ecotoxicology, addresses what we will need to do in the future to maintain the quality and quantity of water we currently enjoy in California. He also provides an understanding of the unique aspects of water transport and generation.

“Water is necessary for life and western society has come to ‘expect’ clean water, but most of the world’s population does not have access to adequate drinking water,” he said.  “Not only do we in the west have adequate drinking water, we have enough to use ‘drinking water’ to groom our lawns and flush our sewage down the drain.  Let’s be thankful for the water we have.  Let’s cherish and conserve it.”

The videos of the lectures by Cardullo and Holt have appeared on UCTV, the University of California’s television station.  Santiago’s lecture will air on UCTV at 2 p.m., Sept. 17; Schlenk’s lecture will air at 2 p.m., Sept 24.

History of the Science Lecture Series and video program

The annual Science Lecture Series has been presented by CNAS since 2009. The Science Circle, a group of university and community members committed to advancing science in inland Southern California, provides support.

In summer 2011, an advisory committee made up of CNAS faculty, staff, and middle- and high school teachers from the Inland Empire met to discuss how the Science Lecture Series could have an impact on more of the educational community. The plan they devised was implemented for the 2012 series, titled “Earth 101.”

As had been done in past years, the Earth 101 lectures were first held in the University Extension conference rooms before a community audience. Subsequently, each speaker gave his or her lecture a second time, in the university’s television studio.

During the 2012 summer, the four speakers and the teachers collaborated on the study guides to accompany the videos.

Media Contact

Tel: (951) 827-6050
E-mail: iqbal@ucr.edu
Twitter: UCR_Sciencenews

Additional Contacts

Sara Clausen, College of Natural and Agricultural Sciences
Tel: (951) 827-5304
E-mail: sara.clausen@ucr.edu

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