Science Lecture Series-Spring 2018

Spring 2018 Lectures

Lecture Dates: 2 March, 16 March, and 20 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.

The Dr. Bayard H. Brattstrom Lecture:

Is Citizen Science the Next Revolution in Ecology and Behavior Research? 

2 March 2018 @ 10:30 AM in SM 313

Dr. Gregory Pauly, Associate Curator of Herpetology at the Natural History Museum of Los Angeles County and Co-director of the Museum's new Urban Nature Research Center

For centuries, natural history discoveries have been made by members of the public. The professionalization of natural history research is a relatively recent development. Professional scientists, however, are now recognizing that many questions, including understanding some of the greatest global threats to biodiversity, can only be answered through large-scale efforts in which professionals partner with members of the public. These new citizen science efforts can answer basic and applied research questions across the fields of ecology and behavior. I will demonstrate three ways in which, through the help of thousands of dedicated naturalists, the Reptiles and Amphibians of Southern California (RASCals) Project is allowing us to make discoveries that were not possible through other methods. These discoveries include 1) documenting and tracking invasive species, including how we can reduce these threats; 2) assessing how basic ecological processes like predation and parasitism vary along urban to rural gradients; and 3) documenting rarely observed natural history events such as mating behavior. Although this talk will focus mostly on reptiles and amphibians, the approach is applicable to millions of species and thousands of research questions; the next revolution in ecology and behavior research is here, and it needs you. 


On the Long Road: Applying the Scientific Method Towards Rewiring Touch

16 March 2018 @ 10:30 AM in SM 313

Dr. Samantha Butler, Department of Neurobiology and the Broad Center of Regenerative Medicine and Stem Cell Research at the David Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA


Recovering sensation after spinal cord injury or disease is an urgent unmet medical need and an objective that would immeasurably improve the quality of patients’ lives.  Although important progress has been made towards rewiring the motor circuits that will permit paralyzed patients to walk, very little progress has been made reestablishing the sensory circuits that permit patients to experience and react to their environment.  Using the framework of the scientific method, I will discuss our ongoing studies to understand first how these sensory circuits are established in the developing spinal cord, and second, how we are reapplying these mechanisms to derive sensory neurons from stem cells, the first key step in developing a cellular therapy.


Controlling Carbon 3D Shapes, Microstructure and Function
20 April 2018 @ 10:30 AM in SM 313

  Dr. Mark Madou, Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering, Biomedical Engineering, Chemical and Materials Science at UCI


Over the last two years we have learned how to manipulate not only 3D carbon shapes by pyrolysis/carbonization of patterned/structured polymer precursors but also how to control the internal carbon microstructure and its functionality.  The key to the latter is a precise control of the polymer precursor chains and the exact polymer atomic composition of the polymer before pyrolysis. Contradicting Rosalind Franklin, we have found that in this way we can graphitize even non-graphitizing carbons simply by applying mechanical stresses to align the polymer precursor chains and stabilizing them in position before pyrolysis.   Perhaps the most spectacular outcome of this work has been the recent demonstration of the conversion of PAN fibers through pyrolysis into a material that electrochemically behaves exactly like graphene doped with nitrogen. The latter material represents a very electroactive electrode ideally suited for energy and sensing applications. The current fabrication process for graphene doped with nitrogen is lengthy and complicated ours is a one-step simple process that is easily scalable.

Special thanks to the Associated Student Government of Saddleback College for sponsoring the Science Lecture events.

We would like to acknowledge Dean Art Nitta and members of the MSE Division for all their support. Particular thanks 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, Professor Steve Teh, Dr. Christina White and Dr. Jim Zoval

To request future lecture topics, please e-mail to