Following state and local guidelines, the Fleet Science Center building will be temporarily closed effective July 7, 2020, until further notice. Summer Camps, Virtual Activities and Craveology will continue to operate.
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Sharp Minds

The First Monday of Each Month

UPDATE: Until further notice, Sharp Minds Lecture will be moving into the digital space. Please, see individual event description for information on time and registration.

Sharp Minds Lecture Series for Adults - Online

Join local scientists to learn about a variety of topics as they share their latest research in a friendly and exciting environment. 



Date: July 6

Time: 7 to 8 p.m.

Cellular Recycling in Aging and Disease:  The Importance of Taking Out the Trash

Join Dr. Malene Hansen from the Sanford Burnham Prebys Medical Discovery Institute as she discusses her research on the biology of aging. Aging is a fundamental biological reality that is familiar to all of us. But how do organisms age at the molecular level? Several genes and processes have been identified that affect the rate of aging, many of which play important roles in age-related diseases like cancer and neurodegeneration. One particular biological process is of interest to the Hansen lab, namely our cell’s ability to recycle old and damaged components, much akin to how we humans recycle waste in our homes and communities. In particular, the Hansen lab is interested in understanding how this basic cellular process, called autophagy (for ‘self-digestion’) changes with age, and contributes to aging and age-related diseases. Using a combination of genetic, cytological and biochemical approaches in the genetically tractable model organism C. elegans, a microscopic and short-lived soil nematode, as well as in mammalian cell culture, Dr. Hansen and her team focus on unraveling how our cells use cellular recycling to maintain their health, and how it is involved in aging and age-related diseases. 

Location: Virtual through Zoom Webinar, the link will be emailed to everyone registered the day of the event. 

Cost: $5-20; The Fleet Science Center is happy to provide tiered pricing to make this event affordable, while also allowing attendees to support the Fleet if they can, making it possible for the Fleet to offer programs like these.  

Date: August 3

Time: 7 to 8 p.m.

The Surprising Beauty of Mathematics: Why it's hot in High Dimensions

Join us this month as Dr. Deanna Needell, professor of Mathematics at UCLA, takes us on a tour of the mathematics of high dimensional space. She will take the audience on a journey from basic geometric ideas we all take for granted in our three dimensional world to the concept of high dimensional space and what happens to those geometries there. For example, one can draw a dot in one dimension, a circle in two dimensions, build a sphere in three dimensions, but what is next? What does a fourth dimension mean, and what do things look like there? Prof. Needell loves the surprises one finds around every corner in mathematics, and also uses these concepts in her applied research, where she applies mathematics to many settings, from medical imaging to faster cell phone communication. 

Deanna Needell earned her PhD from UC Davis before working as a postdoctoral fellow at Stanford University. She is currently a full professor of mathematics at UCLA. She has earned many awards including the IEEE Best Young Author award, the Hottest paper in Applied and Computational Harmonic Analysis award, the Alfred P. Sloan fellowship, an NSF CAREER and NSF BIGDATA award, and the prestigious IMA prize in Applied Mathematics. She has been a research professor fellow at several top research institutes including the Mathematical Sciences Research Institute and Simons Institute in Berkeley. She also serves as associate editor for IEEE Signal Processing Letters, Linear Algebra and its Applications, the SIAM Journal on Imaging Sciences, and Transactions in Mathematics and its Applications as well as on the organizing committee for SIAM sessions and the Association for Women in Mathematics.

Location: Virtual through Zoom Webinar, the link will be emailed to everyone registered the day of the event. 

Cost: $5-20; The Fleet Science Center is happy to provide tiered pricing to make this event affordable, while also allowing attendees to support the Fleet if they can, making it possible for the Fleet to offer programs like these.  

Date: September 7

Our Dynamic Microbiomes and the Brain

Our lifespans are ever-increasing, but our healthspans are not, leading to long periods of unpleasant and expensive suffering with chronic conditions. Many of these conditions have recently been linked to the microbiome, via advances in DNA sequencing technology and software to interpret those sequences. We change our microbiomes every day through the foods we eat, the environments we experience, even the people we live and work with. The implications of these changes in the microbiome for our health are just beginning to be understood. And many of the effects are systemic: what happens in the gut doesn’t stay in the gut, and your gut microbiome can affect your liver, your joints, and even your brain. Through the American Gut Project and the Microsetta Initative, the largest crowdsourced and crowdfunded citizen-science project yet conducted, we now know about the microbiomes of many types of people, from the healthiest (student-athletes, centenarians) to the sickest (cancer patients, ICU patients, those with depression, those with C. diff). Amazingly, diet has an especially profound effect on our microbiomes, often outweighing the effects of disease or medications. This raises the prospect of a system for real-time analysis of our microbiomes that helps guide our daily decisions in a way that optimizes our microbiomes for extending our health-span.

Rob Knight is the Director of the Center for Microbiome Innovation at UC San Diego, where he is a Professor of Pediatrics, Bioengineering, and Computer Science & Engineering. He co-founded the Earth Microbiome Project, and The Microsetta Initiative/American Gut Project, which is among the largest crowdfunded science projects of any kind to date. He has spoken at TED, written three books and over 600 scientific articles, and in 2017 he won the Massry Prize, often considered a predictor of the Nobel prize. His work combines microbiology, DNA sequencing, ecology and computer science to understand the vast numbers of microbes that inhabit our bodies and our planet.

Tickets will go on sale soon!

Date: October 5

Getting a Clue:  The Science Behind Crime Scene Reconstruction

At a crime scene, every item of evidence tells a story.  Crime Scene Reconstruction is the art of listening to those stories and using them to develop a scientifically sound theory as to how the crime occurred. Join Toniann Rebick, a San Diego Police Department Criminalist specializing in Forensic Firearms Analysis and Crime Scene Reconstruction, to discuss the ways in which science is used to analyze, interpret, and ultimately solve real life murder mysteries.

Date: November 2

Title and write up will be posted soon!

Date: December 7

Pancreas and Diabetes

Detailed information will be posted soon!



The Women Pioneers of Space Science
Behind every great space program is a woman — lots of women, actually: astronomers, engineers, programmers, project directors. Join award-winning science fiction author and space historian Gideon Marcus for a special presentation on the hidden figures who ushered in the dawn of space science, from Henrietta Swan Leavitt to Katherine Johnson.

Under Pressure: How the Body Uses Force to Function
Aristotle defined five senses: sight, smell, taste, hearing and touch.  These are simply a selection of the senses that are most obvious to you - but there are so many more!  These five senses detect external stimuli, but you also have many ways of detecting internal stimuli. You are aware of some internal senses, like balance and proprioception, but others are used to actively monitor your body for important functions every day, and you never even realize. Many internal senses rely on a single stimulus: force.  Whether it be your heart beat, your churning stomach or your filling bladder, your nervous system detects force and tells the body to react appropriately. The mechanisms behind how this happens are still a new area of study. Dr. Marshall from Scripps Research will tell you about how you feel inside and why it matters to your health. 

Alzheimer’s disease and Editing the DNA Blueprint of Brain Cells
Alzheimer’s disease (AD) is the most common cause of dementia. No effective medicines currently exist to treat it, which is partly due to our incomplete understanding of the human brain. Recent research has identified an editing process called “somatic gene recombination” (SGR), which can alter genes within a brain cell. Disruption of this process may underlie Alzheimer’s disease. Knowledge of how SGR works is providing opportunities for near-term treatment of Alzheimer’s disease using existing FDA-approved medicines that have decades of safety data, providing a new option for patients.

From Rare Gene Mutations to Personalized Treatment of Autism
The August Sharp Minds lecture will explore genetic links to autism. Our speaker, Dr. Jonathan Sebat, leads the lab that was the first to identify rare mutations as a major cause of autism. The discovery of hundreds of new genes has revealed critical information about the development of autism and has prompted new efforts to create personalized treatments for autism.

Quantum Mechanics: Mysticism or Science?
Probably, most of what you’ve heard about Quantum Mechanics is wrong. For example, reality is not subjective and we don’t get to choose our own reality. However, particles do exist in many places at once, distant particles are “connected” and experimental measurements do alter outcomes, though in a more subtle way than is often said. This talk will shine light on the implications of experience and the reality of quantum mechanics.

Prolonged sitting time impairs your health and reduces your life span - Get Up, Stand Up!  
The developed world enables us to spend a lot of time sitting down. On average, people of all ages spend at least half of their waking time sitting, with older adults spending the most time sitting. Sedentary time and sitting are associated with poor health outcomes and death. Interestingly, these risks are independent of guideline levels of exercise (150 minutes/week). Growing evidence suggests that changing your sitting patterns to effectively improve your health can be simple. Join us as Dr. Dorothy Sears tells us about the negative impact of sitting time on health and what you can do to reduce that. Spoiler alert – she’s not going to recommend exercise!



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