2019/2020 Science Lecture Series

Spring 2020 Lectures

Lecture Dates: February 19; March 11 and 27; April dates TBD

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.

Dr. Katherine Thompson-Peer, UC Irvine
Topic: Recovering after injury: can nerve cells regenerate dendrites?
Wednesday, February 19, 2020 @ 6:00 PM in SM 313

Watch Dr. Thompson-Peer’s Lecture - Here

In order for your nervous system to function, individual nerve cells must receive, process, and send signals to each other.  The part of a nerve cell that receives information is a highly branched structure, called the dendrite arbor, that acts as the antennae for the cell.  Neurons can be injured in a variety of ways, including spinal cord injury, traumatic brain injury, stroke, and neurodegenerative disease.  While much is known about why neurons can or can’t regenerate the part of the cell responsible for sending signals to other nerve cells after it has been injured, almost nothing is known about whether or how nerve cells regenerate the dendrite arbor responsible for receiving input.  Without functional dendrites, neurons can’t detect sensory cues and can’t get stimulated by other neurons.  In this talk, Dr Thompson-Peer will talk about her work asking fundamental questions about whether neurons have the potential to regrow these essential structures after they have been injured, and to what extent regeneration perfectly or imperfectly recreates that which has been lost.


David Otaguro, Sr. Staff Software Engineer at Google Irvine
Topic: Google Scale
Wednesday, March 11, 2020 @ 6:00 PM

In his current role as a Sr. Stafff Software Engineer at Google, Mr. Otaguro is a tech lead for a suite of big-data visualization and data exploration tools. His primary focus has been on the design and architecture for tools that allow fast, interactive exploration over arbitrary very large data sets. He has been involved with the design and implementation of the systems used by Google to know what data it has, to track the lineage of that data, the user interfaces used to query and explore it, and a set of libraries and tools used across google to do visualization and analysis of that data. He is a strong proponent of agile development practices, usability engineering, and the art and practice of building strong organizations.


Dr. Katrine Whiteson, Assistant Professor Dept of Molecular Biology & Biochemistry
Associate Director, UCI Microbiota Initiative
Topic: May the Fiber Be with You: Assessing Gut Microbiome to a High Fiber Diet Intervention

Due to the current COVID-19 situation and to ensure social distancing to reduce the spread, Dr. Whiteson's science lecture has been canceled and will be rescheduled for a later date.  Thank you for your understanding.

As access to processed foods has increased in the past century, intake of dietary fiber has decreased precipitously.  The dietary shifts have a direct impact on the gut microbiome by preferentially selecting for microbes capable of utilizing dietary nutrients. Dr. Whiteson will discuss their study where they ran a fiber-rich dietary intervention in the context of a course-based undergraduate research experience (CURE) with 20 undergraduate participants and studied the impact on their microbiomes.  "Eat food, not too much, mostly plants." Michael Pollen


Topic: TBD
Early April 2020 CANCELED


Topic: TBD
Late April 2020 CANCELED




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