July 24, 2017
People are not petri plates: Why antibiotics fail
Abstract: Patients are frequently given the wrong antibiotics to treat bacterial infections, but it is not the physician who is at fault. The standard antibiotic test used worldwide is flawed since it is based on how well drugs kill bacteria on petri plates — not how well they kill bacteria in the body. We have developed an “in vivo” antibiotic test that mimics conditions in the body. Drugs that pass the standard test often fail to treat bacterial infections, whereas drugs identified by the “in vivo” test are very effective. These drugs have been overlooked because they failed standard tests, despite being inexpensive, nontoxic and readily available at local pharmacies. Our findings call for an overhaul of standardized drug testing which hasn’t changed in more than 50 years.
Bio: Dr. Mahan received a B.S. degree in Biochemistry and M.S. degree in Genetics from the UC Davis; and a Ph.D. in Genetics from the University of Utah. He was a NIH post-doctoral fellow at Harvard Medical School where he began his work on the molecular mechanisms of infectious disease. His research is focused on discovering the molecular and pathogenic mechanisms underlying microbial infection, antibiotic resistance, and immunity — with the applied goal of making new medicines to combat disease. Dr. Mahan joined the UCSB faculty in 1993. Dr. Mahan shared the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) Newcomb-Cleveland Prize for the outstanding paper published in Science. He is a recipient of an American Cancer Society Junior Faculty Research Award; Beckman Young Investigator Award; Harold J. Plous Award; and Faculty Distinguished Teaching Award. Dr. Mahan was Co-founder and Director of Remedyne Corporation, a biotech company in Santa Barbara, California.
July 19, 2017
Complexity and Robustness: How biology, ecology, and technology balance tradeoffs in an uncertain world
Abstract: Do complex systems exhibit fundamental properties? This talk looks at tradeoffs between robustness and fragility that occur in biological, ecological, and technological systems that are driven by design, evolution, or other sorting processes to high-performance states which are also tolerant to uncertainty in the environment and components. This leads to specialized, modular, hierarchical structures, often with enormous “hidden” complexity, with new sensitivities to unknown or neglected perturbations and design flaws. Such systems are robust, yet fragile! Understanding these tradeoffs gives insights for environmental policy, healthcare, and technologies.
July 17, 2017
From Bitcoin to central bank digital currencies
Abstract: In 2013 the price of Bitcoin surged to over $1100 causing central banks around the world to take notice. Four years later, the price of Bitcoin is twice as high as its previous peak and central banks around the world are exploring the benefits of issuing crypto-based digital representations of fiat monies, more commonly known as central bank digital currencies. Rod Garratt, UCSB Professor of Economics, describes his work on a project to build a proof of concept for a wholesale interbank payment system that facilitates payments of central bank digital currency using a distributed ledger.
Bio: Rod Garratt holds the Maxwell C. and Mary Pellish Chair in Economics at the University of California Santa Barbara. He has served as a Research Advisor to the Bank of England, a Technical Advisor to the Bank for International Settlements and is a former Vice President of the Federal Reserve Bank of New York. During his time at the FRBNY he co-led the Virtual Currency Working Group for the Federal Reserve System and he currently consults for Payments Canada and R3 on Project Jasper: a proof of concept for a wholesale interbank payment system built on Corda -- a distributed ledger platform for financial services. Garratt received his undergraduate degree from the University of Waterloo and his Ph.D. from Cornell University. He is an Associate Editor of the Journal of Financial Market Infrastructures, the Journal of Network Theory in Finance and the Journal of Public Economic Theory.
July 12, 2017
Ocean acidification and other stories – overcoming climate anxiety at a time of global crisis
Abstract: Seven and a half billion humans are changing the way we relate to the oceans because they are being transformed by excessive activities of our growing human population. In this fast-changing world, marine animals and plants must adapt fast to a warmer and corrosive environment as ocean acidification, pollution and deoxygenation continue. This global crisis is causing humans to be anxious about the safety of our oceans for recreation and as a source of food. In this talk I will discuss how humans can contribute to ameliorate current ocean problems and eventually return the oceans to a more sustainable state.