UCSB researchers share their expertise on topics in science and engineering

They encompass groundbreaking research and innovative technology (GRIT), from Alzheimer genes to ocean exploration to whether and how acetaminophen influences our perception of other people.

These are GRIT Talks, a lecture series presented by UC Santa Barbara’s Office of Summer Sessions. The annual program gives researchers at UCSB an opportunity to share their expertise in engineering, neuroscience, psychology, biology, computer science, mathematics, earth science and geography.

The talks are free and open to the public.

On Thursday, June 30, Kenneth Kosik will address Alzheimer’s disease in “Stalking an Alzheimer Gene Mutation in the Far Mountains of Colombia” at 5 p.m. in Hatlen Theater. Kosik is the Harriman Professor of Neuroscience Research in UCSB’s Department of Molecular, Cellular and Developmental Biology and co-director of the campus’s Neuroscience Research Institute.

Geochemist David Valentine will follow in a talk co-sponsored by UCSB’s Carsey-Wolf Center. Valentine, a professor of earth science, will discuss “Ocean Exploration — From Genes to Geology” at 7:30 p.m. Tuesday, July 5, in UCSB’s Pollock Theater. His talk will highlight scientific discoveries made possible through the combined use of manned submarines and remote-controlled and fully autonomous underwater vehicles. The discoveries range from bizarre viruses to waste dumpsites to geologic features that emphasize the power of exploration for discovery.

Another talk co-sponsored by the Carsey-Wolf Center will feature Kyle Ratner, an assistant professor in the Department of Psychological and Brain Sciences, on the topic “Can Acetaminophen Influence How We Perceive Other People?” While the over-the-counter medication is generally used to reduce fever and pain, a growing body of research suggests the drug has broader psychological implications.

Ratner will discuss his research that examines the effects of acetaminophen on social group biases in person perception. His talk will begin at 7:30 p.m. Thursday, July 7, in the Pollock Theater.

“The Office of Summer Sessions is very proud of the increasing popularity of the GRIT Talks series since its inception in 2013,” said Acting Director James Ford. “Our collaboration with Carsey-Wolf Center, now in its second year, to bring two of the talks to Pollock Theater is evidence of the series’ growing audience base. We look forward to continuing our commitment to summer academic enrichment and cross-campus collaboration.”

Other lectures in the series include Ben Zhao, a professor of computer science, on “Identity, Privacy and Security in the World of Mobile Devices”; Denise Montell, the Duggan Professor Molecular, Cellular and Developmental Biology, on “Near Death Experiences at the Cellular Level”; Paul Atzberger, an associate professor of mathematics on “The Hidden Role of Mathematics and Computation in Scientific Discovery and Engineering”; and Keith Clark, professor of geography, on “Mapping the Great Indoors.”

Each of these talks will begin at 5 p.m. in the Hatlen Theater.

The series began June 28 with chemical engineering professor Michelle O’Malley discussing “What Gut Microbes Can Teach Us About Sustainability.”

More information about the GRIT Talks series can be found at

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