Past Seminars

April 2023

Naren G Kumar (Optometry & Vision Science): Antibiotic resistance and intracellular adaptation of Pseudomonas

Ruwan Thilakaratne (Epidemiology): Shades of risk: how safe are artificial food colors for kids?

Watch the recording of the April 2023 seminar on YouTube

January 2023

Jason Cheng-Hsiang Hsu (Electrical Engineering and Computer Sciences, UC Berkeley): Beyond our usual fridge magnets: a new building block for future computing hardware

Elle Barnes (Joint Genome Institute, Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory): Salamanders get by with a little help from their (microbial) friends

Watch the recording of the January 2023 seminar on YouTube

November 2022

Emma Turtelboom (Astronomy, UC Berkeley): A Zoo of Exoplanets and the Search for Another Earth

Jenna Tan (Chemistry, UC Berkeley): Silicon and Beyond: Exploring Semiconductor Processing and Applications

October 2022

Navya Pothamsetty (Public Health, UC Berkeley): Representation in Research: Who we study and why it matters

Nico Ciccia (Chemistry, UC Berkeley): Chemical Recycling and Upcycling of Plastic Waste

Watch the recording of the October 2022 seminar on YouTube

September 2022

Elliot Reynolds (Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory): Particle Physics, the Higgs Boson, and the Theory of Everything

Victoria Chevée (Molecular and Cellular Biology, UC Berkeley): From barcoded groceries to barcoded bacteria: tracking Listeria from guts to brains

Watch the recording of the September 2022 seminar on YouTube

August 2022

Chandler Sutherland (Plant and Microbial Biology, UC Berkeley): It’s not easy staying green: Understanding Plant Immune Systems

Monica Donegan (Environmental Science, Policy, and Management, UC Berkeley): Plant Disease Evolution across California: Surviving Cold Winters

Watch the recording of the August 2022 seminar on YouTube

July 2022

Alisha Menon (Electrical Engineering and Computer Sciences, UC Berkeley):  Augmented Prosthetics through Multi-Level Control

Additional resources:

Gregory Mohl (Institute for Neurodegenerative Diseases, UCSF): Untangling Tau to Understand Dementia

Additional resources:

Watch the recording of the July 2022 seminar on YouTube

June 2022

Magan Powell (Chemistry, UC Berkeley): Metals in biology: The star players driving many of life’s essential processes

Additional resources:

  • Lippard, S.J.; Berg, J.M. Principles of Bioinorganic Chemistry; University Science Books, 1994.

José Adan Arevalo (Integrative Biology, UC Berkeley): The Aging Mitochondria: Losing the Powerhouse of your Cells

Additional resources:

Watch the recording of the June 2022 seminar on YouTube

May 2022

Silu Wang, PhD (Evolution and Ecology, UC Davis): Speciation in Birds: A Time Travel

Additional resources:

  • Speciation in Birds 2008 by Trevor Price

Devon Comito (Integrative Biology, UC Berkeley): A bird’s eye view of behavior and physiology: How zebra finches cope with stress

Additional resources:

Watch the recording of the May 2022 seminar on YouTube

April 2022

Xi Chen (Helen Wills Neuroscience Institute): Aging gracefully: cognitive aging and brain health

Natasha Abrams (Astrophysics): Black Holes: The Most Fascinating Zoo in the Universe

Additional resources:
1) Here’s some information on the Event Horizon Telescope (EHT) and how they imaged the black hole
2) Beautiful black hole accretion simulations visualizations
3) Cool visualizations from LIGO about black hole mergers

Watch the recording of the April 2022 seminar on YouTube

March 2022

Guy Nir (Astronomy): Life on Other Planets

Additional resources:
1) Conway’s Game of Life (
2) A Simpler Origin for Life – Scientific American
3) CICLOPS – Official Source of Cassini images of Saturn, its rings & moons
4) Far-Off Planets Like the Earth Dot the Galaxy – The New York Times (
5) Kepler and K2 Missions | NASA

Shivani Upadhyaya (Plant and Microbial Biology): Algae as small oil factories

Additional resources:
1) Algae to fuels video
2) Paper about the identification of various pathways

Watch the recording of the March 2022 seminar on YouTube

February 2022

Adam Schieferecke (Molecular and Cell Biology): Good Viruses: Powerful Tools Deliver a Next Generation of Life-Saving Medicines

Additional resources:
1) Gene therapy (Medline Plus)

Reem Almagati, OD (Vision Science): Cerebral Visual Impairments: A Childhood Brain-Based Visual Impairment

Additional resources:

Watch the recording of the February 2022 seminar on YouTube

January 2022

Kirsten Virster (Integrative Biology): “Sharing is Caring: how gene exchange from viruses to insects
lead to protection from predators”

Additional resources:
1) David Quammen’s book “The Tangled Tree” is a great, accessible book about how horizontal gene transfer has changed our understanding of evolution.

Rebecca Whitman (Mathematics): “Redwood, Oak,…Acyclic?: Describing Mathematical Trees”

Additional resources:
1) One of my favorite sources of math puzzles is Ted Ed’s Riddles series. This one (Time Travel Riddle) is a great puzzle that makes substantial use of graphs.
2) The book “The Fascinating World of Graph Theory” by Benjamin, Chartrand, and Zhang is an interesting general-audience introduction, but can be hard to find.

Watch the recording of the January 2022 seminar on YouTube

November 2021

Michelle St. John and Emilie Richards (Integrative Biology): “Evolution: Stranger than Fiction
Investigating how weird traits arise using behavioral, morphological, and genetic approaches”

Additional resources:

Watch the recording of the November 2021 seminar on YouTube

October 2021

Dr. Eric Knudsen (Helen Wills Neuroscience Institute): “Getting lost in thought? How the hippocampus maps the unseen world in our heads.”

Additional resources:
1) The Curious Case of Patient H.M. – A brief history of how the hippocampus was first implicated in human memory (
2) Edward Tolman – a brief biography of Tolman’s work and contributions to psychology and academic freedom (American Psychological Association)
3) Lynn Nadel talks about cognitive maps – co-author of 1978’s influential book the Hippocampus as a Cognitive Map at UC Berkeley, 2014
4) Cognitive maps – Brain Inspired podcast interview with Tim Behrens

Daniel Brethauer (Astronomy): “CSI: Supernova, the Death of a Star”

Additional Resources:
1) Cosmos by Carl Sagan (Book)
2) How the Universe Works (TV series)
3) Zooniverse – a citizen science project where it teaches you how to identify certain things and what they are, then gives you real data and asks you to help identify them

Watch the recording of the October 2021 seminar on YouTube

September 2021

Maya Samuels-Fair (Integrative Biology): “Moss Animals? The Secret Lives of Overlooked Ocean Creatures”

Additional resources:
– Introduction to Bryozoa
A bryozoan twitter feed: @BryozoanNhm
– (Advanced) “Bryozoan basics” by Dr. Carl Simpson
Tide pool map in the San Francisco Bay Area to explore and find bryozoa shell/fossils

Scott Garner (Chemistry): “Quantum chemistry in service to modern X-Ray Science

Additional resources:
A link from NASA about how X-Rays can be used in many different scientific pursuits
– Department of Energy: about supercomputers
– An information source about the ALS at LBL above the city of Berkeley

Watch the recording of the September 2021 seminar on YouTube

August 2021

Anna Scharnagal (Integrative Biology): “Friendships Across Space and Time: Looking at Plants and their Microbial Partners”

Jennifer Cummings (UC Berkeley and UCSF BioEngineering): “Can I Pick Your Brain? Computational Methods for Brain Network Analysis”

Additional resources:
– The Man Who Mistook His Wife for a Hat by Oliver Sacks is a classic book about different case studies in neuroscience
An article about Google’s new project to map 50,000 neurons in the human brain, with a link to the interactive 3d model
A great short video about how MRI works

Watch the recording of the August 2021 seminar on YouTube

July 2021

QinQin Yu (Physics): “Chance in Microbial Evolution”

Additional resources:
– QinQin’s group’s research website with descriptions about their research
– Khan Academy video and article about genetic drift
– Computer simulation of genetic drift
– Veritasium episode about the E. coli Long Term Evolution Experiment

Elizabeth Dresselhaus (Physics): “Surprising properties of tiny, imperfect conductors: A short, electron-guided summer vacation to the quantum realm”

Additional resources:
– “More is Different” article by Philip Anderson
– Videos on quantum mechanics by 3Blue1Brown on Youtube
– Kurzgesagt video on Quantum Computers

Watch the recording of the July 2021 seminar on YouTube

June 2021

Teena Bajaj (Comparative Biochemistry): “Building a Stronger Postman: Improving the messenger RNAs (mRNAs)”

Daniel Murnane, Ph.D. (Computational Research Division, LBNL): “Cat, Dog or Higgs Boson? Can we train AI to recognize particles and save the future of fundamental physics?”

Additional resources:
Graph Neural Networks in Particle Physics
List of resources for machine learning in particle physics

Watch the recording of the June 2021 seminar on YouTube

May 2021

Evan Groover (Plant and Microbial Biology): “Sequester This!: A Critical Look at Humanity’s
Hopes of Removing CO2 from the Atmosphere”

Additional resources:
Carbon dioxide removal primer

Claire Magnani (Chemistry): “Nucleotide Mimics: Can Synthetic Chemists Imitate Nature to Make New Therapeutic Medicines?”

Additional resources:
Napoleon’s Buttons: How 17 Molecules Changed History by Penny Le Couteur

Watch the recording of the May 2021 seminar on YouTube

April 2021

Kaitlin Allen (Integrative Biology): “Elephant seals: Are they nature’s SCUBA divers?”

Additional resources:

Valle Ojeda, Ph.D. ( QB3 – California Institute for Quantitative Biosciences ): “A day in the life of the green alga Chlamydomonas reinhardtii

Additional resources:

Watch the recording of the April 2021 seminar on YouTube

March 2021

Steven Hanna (Chemistry): “Chemical Recycling of Plastics”

Additional resources:

– NPR Planet Money “So, Should We Recycle?”

Clarissa Bhargava (Towle) (Materials Science and Engineering): “From chocolate to steel: The materials science behind everyday life”

Additional resources:

Watch the recording of the March 2021 seminar on YouTube

February 2021

Mattina Alonge (Integrative Biology): Juggling Sickness, Self-care, and Parenthood : A bird’s eye view”
Michael Manoharan-Valerio (Molecular and Cell Biology): “Part of Me or Pathogen? How can you T(c)ell?”

Watch the recording of the February 2021 seminar on YouTube

January 2021

Priya Garg (Mechanical Engineering): “Effect of Moisture Content and Fuel type on Emissions”

Additional resources:

Wildfire News 
– Primary literature: Role of Composition and Particle Size on the Toxicity of Wildfire Emissions
– Primary literature: An examination of fuel moisture, energy release and
emissions during laboratory burning of live wildland fuels

Mallika Bariya (Materials Science and Engineering): “Sweat It Out – What can molecules in sweat tell us about our health?”

Additional resources:
– 2-min summary on recent activity in the field of sweat sensing on NPR’s All Things Considered
– A short article on Mallika’s group’s work on the Berkeley News website
– Mallika’s research group’s publications website, with direct links to their papers on sweat sensing

Watch the recording of the January 2021 seminar on YouTube

December 2020

Syamantak Roy (Chemistry): “Perils of Rising CO2 Levels in the Atmosphere and Approaches to Mitigate It”

Dillon Acker-James (Electrical Engineering and Computer Science): “Small Robots Making Big Changes”

Additional resources:
Overview of microelectromechanical systems (MEMS)

Watch the recording of the December 2020 seminar on YouTube

November 2020

Kristin Barker (Environmental Science, Policy, and Management): “Wolves, elk, moose, and… people?! Changing wildlife behavior in the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem”

Additional resources:
Is the Wolf a Real American Hero? (NYT)

Kiera Wilhelm (Chemistry): “How we use T cells to protect our health, even if we don’t quite understand them”

Watch the recording of the November 2020 seminar on YouTube

October 2020

Justin Ondry (Chemistry): “Seeing Atoms Using an Electron Microscope”

Additional resources:
1) Electron microscopy for the biosciences
2) Electron microscopy in materials science
3) A history of electrons microscopes (from a manufacturer’s point of view)
4) An electron microscope interactive tutorial

Sarina Patel (Earth and Planetary Science): “Earthquake Warnings, Predictions, and Forecasts – A Status Update of What’s Possible”

Additional resources:

1) Download the MyShake app (which delivers early warning in CA too!) 

  • You can share your experiences if you felt an earthquake and become a citizen scientist where your device acts as an earthquake sensor, contributing to valuable data collection! 

2) Reading about the Haywired Scenario, which depicts a possible outcome of a major earthquake on the Hayward Fault in the East Bay
3) Look through the UCERF3 earthquake forecast for California.
4) To prepare your family and your home for an earthquake, you can review the Seven Steps to Earthquake Safety

Watch the recording of the October 2020 seminar on YouTube

February 2020

Nathan Brown, “Glowing Diamonds, growing mountains, and sand memory: Learning about landscapes with luminescence
Elements Magazine: Luminescence Dating

Louise Hansen, “Looking at Proteins: Unruly cells and their machinery
Khan Academy on Macromolecules and Proteins (article)
World Economic Forum: Tracking molecular signatures to sense cancer in single cells (Amy Herr) (video)
Geraldine Hamilton: Body parts on a chip (Ted Talk) 

January 2020

Monica Ellwood-Lowe, “Language development, sensitive periods, and the adaptive brain”

Nick Choksi, “The first supermassive black holes in the Universe”

December 2019

Winter holiday! We’ll be back in 2020!

November 2019

Kathy Shield, “Fun Facts About Francium, Fermium, and Other F-Elements”

Akshay Pattabi, “Switching Magnets with Laser Pulses: How Fast Can a Magnet Switch?

October 2019

Marco Lobba, “Gene Therapy and You: Advances in CRISPR Therapeutics”

Justin Ellin, “Of Small Particles and Big Misconceptions: Discussing the Myths, the Risks, and the Implications of Low Dose Radiation”

September 2019

Elena Leib, “Lifelong Learners: Brain Plasticity and the Science of Learning Across the Lifespan”

Sophia Ewens, “Brewing Biofuels: how scientists use microbes to make alternative fuels”

August 2019

Daniel Frost, “Seeing with seismology: Earth’s core is on the move

Nicholas Huang, “The Growth of Galaxy Clusters and Fundamental Physics” (movie 1, movie 2)

July 2019

Tina Sing, “Why isn’t old age inherited? Studying gametogenesis to understand cellular rejuvenation

June 2019

Yijing Gao, “Stop Bullying: Brain Pathways that Reinforce Aggressive Behaviors”

Maura Liévano, “Getting Along: Cooperation and Conflict Among Incarcerated Adults”

May 2019 

Memorial Day Holiday!

April 2019 

William Hawley, “The Earthquake Prediction Predicament”

Claire Doody, “Preparing for a Hayward Fault Earthquake

Jenna Tan, “Microscopic investigations: using single molecules to bridge chemistry and art

March 2019

Jonathan Liu, “Decoding the blueprints of life with synthetic biology and physics

Ethan Dlugie, “Counting to Infinity and Beyond”

February 2019

Kristopher Kennedy, “No brain required: learning and decision-making in microbes”

January 2019

Ella Hartenian, “Viruses reveal the secrets of biology”

Moon Choi, “The re-emergence of vaccine-preventable diseases”



Daniel Araujo, “The role of microglia in brain health”


Catherine Cannizzo, “Mathematics and Geometry: A mirror into the 6-dimensional world”

Aaron Brookner, “Invariants and Cheating at Puzzles”


Heidi Maija-Lina Wipf, “Vherbalisms and Social Networking in the Botanical World”

Betsabé D. Castro Escobar, “On the trail of the calabash trees : tracing the uses and evolution of an ancestral plant”


Alexa Nicolas, “Secrets in Soil: Reducing Greenhouse Gases”

Nick Spano, “The Last Ice Age”


Gabe Fierro,“Smart and Secure Buildings or: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Internet of Things”

Laura Brink,“Can machines learn like a human?”


Pratima Satish, “Chemistry without test tubes: using simulations to understand nature”

Katie Deeg, “Fighting climate change with nano-sized sponges”


Jasmine Hughes, “Forces in Cancer: Why a disease and a star sign share a name”


Kevin Doxzen, Innovative Genomics Institute,“CRISPR: from Biology to Technology”


Vetri Velan, “Dark Matter: a Cosmic Mystery”

QinQin Yu, “The Great North American Eclipse: how we will get three minutes of darkness during the day”


Avi Flamholz, “Hot house history: Understanding the greenhouse effect from classic experiments”

Clarke Knight, “It’s Getting Hot in Here: A Plant’s Survival Guide”


Madeleine Jensen,“The diversity inside us: microbes and how they shape who we are”

Rachel Adams, “Shrooms in rooms: understanding how the fungi (and bacteria) in our living spaces affect our health”