Science Lecture Series-Spring 2019

Spring 2019 Lectures

Lecture Dates: Wednesday, 6 & 27 February, 13 March, Friday 12 April and Wednesday 24 April

Lectures are open to the public and admission is free. Each program includes activities and prizes! Seating is first come, first served - so arrive 15-20 minutes early.

The Science Lecture Series is a forum designed to give students and the Saddleback College community the chance to meet renowned scientists and industry leaders and learn about their area of expertise. This series provides an opportunity to explore an astonishing range of topics with scientific value, including emerging technologies and advancements in research. Each 1.5 hour program includes an introduction of the guest speaker followed by the featured lecture and ends with an open forum discussion in which audience members are encouraged to ask questions of the guest speaker.

Watch lectures on local cable Ch.39 SCTV or online (Show Search: "science").
Recorded lectures are available 1-2 weeks after event date.

Topic: Targeting the Cause of Cystic Fibrosis: Recent Progress

Wednesday 6 February 2019 @ 6:00 PM in SM 313

Dr. Brian Bear, Associate Director Cystic Fibrosis Research Vertex Pharmaceuticals


Watch Dr. Bear's Lecture - Here

Cystic fibrosis is a rare, genetic disease that affects ~89,000 children and adults in the US and Europe.  Treating the underlying cause of the disease has potential to improve lung function and slow down pulmonary decline in patients.  The discovery of two classes of molecules used in the treatment of cystic fibrosis, as well as a future perspective, will be presented.


Topic: Why and How We Are Trying to Design a Vaccine for HIV/AIDS

Wednesday 27 February 2019 @ 6:00 PM in SM 313

Dr. William Schief, Department of Immunology and Microbiology, The Scripps Research Institute

Watch Dr. Schief's Lecture - Here

Though HIV/AIDS makes few headlines these days in the United States, the epidemic continues raging worldwide, especially in developing nations where many people do not have access to expensive anti-HIV drugs. Approximately 1.8 million people become infected with HIV each year (nearly 5,000 per day), and for many of those people this infection is a death sentence: approximately 1 million people die each year due to HIV/AIDS. The only truly sustainable global solution is to develop a vaccine that prevents HIV infection. Vaccines have controlled or eliminated many terrible diseases and have probably saved more lives than any other medicine in history. The major challenge to making an HIV vaccine is that HIV is not just one virus. Because HIV mutates rapidly in every person it infects, there are millions of different strains of HIV circulating the globe right now, and an effective vaccine will need to protect against most or all of them. Despite this massive challenge, over the last 10 years the HIV vaccine field has undergone a renaissance that has increased our hopes that a vaccine can be developed. The field has produced an explosion of knowledge about antibodies that can neutralize diverse strains of HIV -- so-called "broadly neutralizing antibodies".  This talk will describe how we are attempting to design a vaccine that can elicit HIV broadly neutralizing antibodies and protect humans against this deadly pathogen.


Topic: Sea level rise from melting ice sheets: How does it work, what do we know, and what can we do about it?

13 March 2019 @ 6:00 PM in SM 313

 Dr. Eric Rignot, Donald Bren Professor and Chair of Earth System Sciences, University of California Irvine

Watch Dr. Rignot’s Lecture – Here

Glaciers and ice sheets in Greenland and Antarctica, and other parts of the world, are melting as a result of climate change from human-induced emission of greenhouse gases. While the rates of melt are small, they changed by one order of magnitude over the last 40 years and will likely increase rapidly in the next 40 years. We are on pace for 1 m sea level rise by the end of the 21st century but the actual change will depend on the rate at which climate is warming up and the rate at which ice sheets will undergo catastrophic decay, both of which are affected by uncertainties. As we will only run this experiment once, it is important to put the recent changes in the context of the longer term (paleo record) and what physics dictates. In that context, the current climate regime is unsustainable and commits ourselves to multiple meters of sea level rise in the coming centuries. A reduction of the rate of decay of polar ice is possible but entails a massive curbing of our greenhouse gas emissions and the usage of carbon sequestration techniques to bring back carbon concentrations in the atmosphere to levels comparable to the 1980s.

Topic: Anatomical and physiological mechanisms underlying variation in biomechanics and performance in “chameleons”

Friday, 12 April 2019 @ 10:30 AM in SM 313

Dr. Christopher Anderson, Assistant Professor of Biology University of South Dakota


Watch Dr. Anderson’s Lecture - Here

The manner in which animals move and perform in their natural environment can have a profound impact on their survival and fitness. Many animals have therefore modified aspects of their biomechanics to perform more optimally in the specific habitats that they occupy. These modifications are often in the form of anatomical or physiological specializations that alter their mechanics or performance. Variation in limb length among species living on branches of differing diameters or shifts in the temperature sensitivity of physiological rate processes among populations living at different latitudes are common examples of such specializations. This talk will explore some of the anatomical and physiological mechanisms by which “chameleons” have specialized to perform a variety of daily functions. Focusing first on true chameleons, we will look at the explosive performance that characterizes their ballistic tongue projection, as well as anatomical specializations of the skeleton that allow them to inhabit more or less arboreal habitats. We will then transition to research on “American chameleons” (anoles) and how variation in muscle contractile physiology helps shape locomotor performance, as well as how different muscles are tuned to perform different tasks. Using an integrative framework that includes techniques such as high-speed videography, micro-CT scans, in vitro muscle contractile experiments and behavioral trials, this talk will illustrate some of the functional basis for how these animals have specialized to perform in their natural environments.


Manya - The Living History of Marie Curie

Wednesday 24 April 2019 @ 6:00 PM in SM 313


Susan Marie Frontczak, Storysmith: Living History Presenter


In dramatizing the life of Manya Sklodowska, Susan Marie pays homage to their shared Polish heritage. She, too, enjoyed school, and promotes awareness that sound academics can be a path to outstanding achievement.  As a child, Susan read of Marie Curie’s perseverance in discovering and purifying the element radium.  This, in part, inspired Susan to major in Engineering.  With this program Susan pays tribute to the world of science, where she worked for fourteen years as an engineer and manager before pursuing full time storytelling.  It is her aim to reveal the human behind the scientist, while placing Marie Curie’s life and accomplishments in a memorable historical context.

Storysmith® Susan Marie Frontczak plays in theaters, corporations, universities, libraries, and festivals internationally.  She has given over 400 presentations as Marie Curie across 34 of the United States, Canada, and Europe.  The filmed version of her shorter Marie Curie program, Humanity Needs Dreamers: A Visit with Marie Curie will soon be available for distribution though sponsorship.  See  Frontczak also presents as Frankenstein author Mary Shelley, dancer Irene Castle, humanitarian Clara Barton, humorist Erma Bombeck, and humanitarian Eleanor Roosevelt.

Special thank you to the Associated Student Government of Saddleback College for sponsoring the Science Lecture events since 2010.

We would like to acknowledge Dean Art Nitta and members of the MSE Division for all their support. Particular thank yous go to the members of the Science Lectures committee who develop this program for the benefit of our students. We believe these efforts will inspire students to further explore the myriad of academic and career opportunities in the sciences.

Science Lectures committee members:
Dr. Tony Huntley, Ms. Karen Kelley, Professor Steve Teh, Dr. Christina White and Dr. Jim Zoval

To request future lecture topics, please e-mail Steve Teh