2010 - 2011

Prof. Dimitar Sasselov: "On Completing the Copernican Revolution"

When Nov 02, 2010
from 08:00 PM to 10:00 PM
Where Chester New Hall, Rm104
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Dimitar Sasselov

Prof. Dimitar Sasselov
Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics

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What is the nature of life and is there life on other planets? It took us 450 years from the realization that Earth is a planet to discovering Earths orbiting other stars. We are just beginning to understand the diversity of planets like our own and their origins. Now astronomy and biology could combine to tell us something new about our place in the universe.

Prof. David Linden: "Love, Sex and Brain Evolution"

When Nov 30, 2010
from 08:00 PM to 10:00 PM
Where Burke Science Building, Rm-147
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David Linden

Prof. David Linden
The Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine, Neuroscience

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Humans are truly the all-time twisted sex deviants of the mammalian world. I'm not saying this because some of us get turned on by the sight of automobile exhaust systems, the smell of unwashed feet, or the idea of traffic cops in bondage. Rather, I mean that the most prosaic aspects of sexual activity in humans are far outside the mainstream of behavior for most of our closest animal relatives. How did it come to be this way? The spectrum of human amorous and sexual behavior is wide and deeply influenced by culture, but we all share certain evolved neural substrates that guide this central aspect of our humanity.

Dr. David Deamer: "Systems biology, synthetic biology and the origin of life"

When May 10, 2011
from 08:00 PM to 10:00 PM
Where MDCL-1305/1307
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David Deamer

Dr. David Deamer
UC Santa Cruz, Biomolecular Engineering

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Synthetic life, defined as life that did not arise from preexisting life, spontaneously emerged when the first cell-like structures assembled from mixtures of organic molecules on the early Earth. These structures, referred to as protocells, exhibited certain properties of living systems and represented evolutionary steps toward the first forms of cellular life. 
Driven by the forces of natural selection, those first cells evolved into the biosphere we inhabit today. In my talk I will describe how we can learn about the origin of life by fabricating protocells in the laboratory.

Speaker backgroundDavid W. Deamer is a Research Professor in the Department of Biomolecular Engineering and Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry at the University of California, Santa Cruz. His undergraduate B.Sc. degree was in Chemistry, at Duke University, Durham NC (1961) and his Ph.D. in Physiological Chemistry from the Ohio State University School of Medicine (1965). Following post-doctoral research at UC Berkeley, he joined the faculty at UC Davis in 1967. In 1994 he moved his laboratory to UC Santa Cruz. 
Prof. Deamer's research interest concerns the process by which cellular life arose on the Earth nearly four billion years ago. This involves studies of meteorites that contain organic carbon compounds, and self-assembly of complex lipid-protein structures that exhibit some of the properties of life. A second research area is concerns DNA transport through nanoscopic pores in membranes. This work focuses on developing an instrument that can analyze nucleic acids as individual molecules.