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Sharp Minds

Explore Exciting Topics With Local Scientists and Researchers

Sharp Minds Lecture Series  

Start the month the smart way, by attending a Sharp Minds lecture at the Fleet Science Center. At Sharp Minds, you’ll hear from local scientists about their latest research and discoveries in a friendly, inviting environment. These lectures address hot topics on the first Monday of every month and are held in the Heikoff Giant Dome Theater. Lecture is free with a general admission ticket or a Senior Monday ticket.


March 6

10:30 to 11:30 a.m. Lecture

Noon Documentary: Turtle Odyssey

Topic: Using New Technologies to Combat an Ancient Plague

Why is tuberculosis, such an ancient disease, still with us?  In the past two decades, scientists have made extraordinary progress toward ending the global tuberculosis pandemic, but like many other things, COVID-19 reversed these gains, putting goals to end TB by 2030 seemingly out of reach. How can we regain momentum? We can think about adapting COVID diagnostic innovations for tuberculosis screening and diagnosis worldwide.


Sophia Georghiou, M.S., Ph.Dd | Molecular Epidemiologist
Georghiou is a molecular epidemiologist who holds a master’s degree in molecular biology from San Diego State University and a doctorate in global the University of California, San Diego. She is a senior scientist at the Foundation for Innovative New Diagnostics (FIND), a World Health Organization collaborating center for laboratory strengthening and diagnostic technology evaluation. She joined the tuberculosis program at FIND in 2016 and her work has informed WHO review and global guideline development group meetings, as well as technical documents for the use and implementation of tuberculosis and drug-resistant tuberculosis diagnostics.

April 3

10:30 to 11:30 a.m. Lecture

Noon Documentary: National Parks Adventure

Topic: Gene Therapy in the Age of CRISPR

Rather than taking a pill every day for the rest of your life, what if you could get a single injection that would cure your disease forever. This is the promise of CRISPR gene therapy. In this talk, Mammoth Biosciences bioinformatician Julia Nussbacher, Ph.D., will explain what CRISPR is and how scientists are hoping it can fundamentally change how we treat genetic diseases. 


Julia Nussbacher, Ph.D. | Bioinformatician, Mammoth Biosciences
Nussbacher is a California native who earned her bachelor of science degree in biochemistry from Brown University, her doctorate in biomedical science from the University of California, San Diego School of Medicine, and completed post-doctoral work at The Genomics Institute of the Novartis Research Foundation. She has worked for six different biotech companies in the Bay Area and San Diego and is currently a bioinformatician at Mammoth Biosciences in San Francisco, where she helps identify the efficacy and specificity of novel CRISPR proteins to treat disease.

May 1

10:30 to 11:30 a.m. Lecture

Noon Documentary: Great Bear Rainforest

Topic: Blue Carbon Ecosystems: A Natural Climate Solution

In this presentation, WILDCOAST will discuss the importance of wetlands as a natural climate solution and how the nonprofit environmental organization is restoring, researching, and encouraging policy to conserve these ecosystems. For example, blue carbon is carbon removed from the atmosphere through photosynthesizing plants and algae in coastal and marine ecosystems, such as coastal wetlands. When wetland plants die, they become buried and decompose at a much slower rate than terrestrial ecosystems do, resulting in the carbon they have sequestered being stored for hundreds or even thousands of years. In addition to removing and storing atmospheric carbon, coastal wetlands buffer coastlines from flooding, improve water quality through natural filtration, and increase biodiversity. 


Angela Kemsley | Conservation Director, WILDCOAST 
Kemsley is the conservation director of WILDCOAST. She manages WILDCOAST's natural climate solutions program in California, leading blue carbon ecosystem restoration, carbon sequestration studies, and climate action planning.  


Carlos Callados | Blue Carbon Conservation Coordinator, WILDCOAST
Carlos Callado is the Blue Carbon Conservation Coordinator at WILDCOAST based in San Diego, CA. Carlos is the field coordinator for WILDCOAST’s U.S. Blue Carbon Program, where he oversees the research, restoration, and advocacy of blue carbon ecosystems in Southern California. He holds the title of visiting scholar at Scripps Institution of Oceanography where he collaborates with partner organizations and researchers to better understand the carbon storing power of blue carbon ecosystems. From 2018-2020 he was an intern on WILDCOAST’s conservation team. He also volunteered as a research assistant at Scripps Institution of Oceanography. B.A. Environmental Policy, UC-San Diego. 

June 5

10:30 to 11:30 a.m. Lecture

Noon Documentary: Dream Big

Topic: Tumor Immunology - How Studying Immune-Tumor Cell Interactions Can Lead to Novel Therapies

In 2018, the Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine was awarded for pioneering work that laid the foundation for cancer immunotherapy. And indeed, in the past decade, immunotherapy has given researchers, clinicians, and patients new hope in the fight against cancer. But what does it mean exactly, immunotherapy? And why is this not (yet) a universal remedy for all cancer types? Tanja Eisemann, Ph.D., will give insight into the field of tumor immunology that will explain the mechanism, power and challenges of immunotherapy in cancer.


Tanja Eisemann, Ph.D. | Postdoctoral Researcher at the Sanford Burnham Prebys Medical Research Institute
Eisemann is a cancer biologist who is specialized in brain tumor biology and tumor immunology. She is originally from Germany, where she graduated from the German Cancer Research Center in Heidelberg. At the Sanford Burnham Prebys Medical Discovery Institute in La Jolla, Eisemann is exploring approaches to enhance the patient’s own immune system to detect and destroy cancer cells.

July 3

NO lecture and movie in observance of the July 4 Holiday

August 7

10:30 to 11:30 a.m. Lecture

12 noon show: A Beautiful Planet

Topic: TBA, Speaker: Michael Frazier, Jacobs School of Engineering, UC San Diego


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