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Kraw Lecture Series on Science and Technology
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The Kraw Lecture Series in Silicon Valley is made possible by a generous gift from UC Santa Cruz alumnus George Kraw (Cowell ‘71, history and Russian literature). The lecture series features acclaimed UC Santa Cruz scientists and technologists who are grappling with some of the biggest questions of our time.

These talks are free and open to the public

Our Kraw Lecture Series is so fantastic, we want to bring it right to you via live streaming. If you aren’t able to join us in person the night of the event, you can now stream the lectures and join in the conversation via online comments.

Hunting for infection, one molecule at a time

October 22, 2020

Virtual Lecture

Our COVD-19 response series continues, this time with a look at hardware solutions. Healthcare professionals need to be able to get diagnoses quickly, rather than sending samples offsite to be processed and waiting for the results. Professor Holger Schmidt’s lab is developing technology that could give doctors compact instruments that can deliver test results quickly and onsite. This optofluidic technology, invented in his lab, uses small silicon chips to guide light to either optically excite individual molecules or collect them for electrical detection with a nanopore. This allows physicians to assess if an infection is present, and how strong it is. These “labs-on-a-chip” detect viral RNA, antigens or antibodies, and count the molecules one by one, creating great promise for rapid, low-cost, and accurate testing for coronaviruses and other diseases. This is another example of the advances and promise of the research on integrated devices and nanopores taking place at UC Santa Cruz.

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CCOVID-19: Tracing the evolution of the virus genome

September 24, 2020

Virtual Lecture

COVID-19David Haussler, Distinguished Professor of Biomolecular Engineering discusses the role of the open source SARS-CoV-2 genome browser in tracing the evolution of the COVID-19 virus with Assistant Professor of Biomolecular Engineering Russ Corbett-Detig and Postdoctoral Researcher Jason Fernandes. Join the conversation to learn how this work impacts each of us.

August 27, 2020

Virtual Lecture

Hunting for infection, one molecule at a time

Our COVD-19 response series continues, this time with a look at hardware solutions. Healthcare professionals need to be able to get diagnoses quickly, rather than sending samples offsite to be processed and waiting for the results. Professor Holger Schmidt’s lab is developing technology that could give doctors compact instruments that can deliver test results quickly and onsite. This optofluidic technology, invented in his lab, uses small silicon chips to guide light to either optically excite individual molecules or collect them for electrical detection with a nanopore. This allows physicians to assess if an infection is present, and how strong it is. These “labs-on-a-chip” detect viral RNA, antigens or antibodies, and count the molecules one by one, creating great promise for rapid, low-cost, and accurate testing for coronaviruses and other diseases. This is another example of the advances and promise of the research on integrated devices and nanopores taking place at UC Santa Cruz.




Holger Schmidt Holger Schmidt is the Narinder Singh Kapany Chair of Optoelectronics and a professor of electrical and computer engineering at UC Santa Cruz. He also serves as associate dean for research for the Baskin School of Engineering and director of the W.M. Keck Center for Nanoscale Optofluidics. His research interests include single molecule detection and analysis in optofluidic devices, hollow-core waveguide photonics, atomic spectroscopy on a chip, nano-magneto-optics, and spintronics. Schmidt’s awards include NSF Career Award (2002), Keck Futures Nanotechnology Award (2005), and the Engineering Achievement Award from the IEEE Photonics Society (2017). He is a fellow of the Optical Society of America (2014), IEEE (2017), and the National Academy of Inventors (2019).

Alexander Wolf Alexander Wolf serves as dean of the Baskin School of Engineering and is a distinguished professor in the Department of Computer Science and Engineering at UC Santa Cruz. Professor Wolf received M.S. and Ph.D. degrees from the Department of Computer Science at the University of Massachusetts, Amherst, before joining AT&T Bell Laboratories in Murray Hill, New Jersey. He was a professor at the University of Colorado, Boulder, University of Lugano, Switzerland, and Imperial College London, UK. Professor Wolf’s research interests span the areas of distributed systems, networking, and software engineering. He is a fellow of the Association for Computing Machinery, IEEE, and British Computer Society, and a member of the Computer Research Association board of directors and the American Association for Engineering Education public policy committee.

Jul 23, 2020

Virtual Lecture

COVID-19 Diagnostic Testing

The UCSC Molecular Diagnostic Lab, led by Jeremy Sanford, Olena Vaska, and Michael Stone, performs coronavirus tests for the UCSC Student Health Center and other medical providers in the Santa Cruz community. The lab’s rapid turnaround time is essential to patients and the community in order to combat the spread of COVID-19. A significant increase in testing capacity is considered essential to ensure public health and safety now that there is a loosening of the “shelter in place” orders.

Covid-19 virus

Jun 30, 2020

Virtual Lecture

Marm Kilpatrick, COVID-19

Marm Kilpatrick will give a broad overview of the vast scientific literature on COVID-19 including mechanisms of transmission; high and low risk activities; fatality, including impacts on different ages and people with pre-existing conditions; challenges in understanding current levels of transmission & what this means for relaxing lockdowns; and how to interpret models & projections. He will highlight what he thinks are the biggest remaining questions and why they are difficult to answer. He will also, outline what almost all epidemiologists have outlined as the best strategy moving forward that allows us to both prevent widespread transmission and disease and also allow significant economic activity, and why we didn’t implement this 3 months ago and what still hinders us now.

Covid-19 virus

Apr 28, 2020

Virtual Lecture

Rebecca DuBois, Viruses & Vaccines

Professor Rebecca DuBois studies how viruses cause infections and identifies weaknesses that can be targeted with vaccines and antiviral therapies. All human viruses must be able to attach to their target cell and transfer their genetic material inside the cell. The virus surface proteins that carry out these entry steps are the same proteins that our immune system can recognize and inactivate. DuBois and her team use an integrated toolkit of structural biology, biochemistry, virology, and immunology to investigate this molecular warfare between humans and viruses. This research provides a foundation for the development of next-generation vaccines.

Anne Kapuscinski

Mar 19, 2020


Anne Kapuscinski, Cultivating Leaders and Solutions for Coastal Sustainability

Professor Kapuscinski will speak about the new Coastal Science and Policy graduate program which has attracted a highly diverse student body. She will also talk about her team’s research on ecological aquaculture, applying circular economy principles to shift the world’s fastest growing food sector to sustainability. This graduate program and her research both pursue scalable solutions to benefit people and coasts from land to sea. Both also emphasize systems thinking, interdisciplinary approaches, and science-practice collaborations.

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Natalie Batalha

Feb 25, 2020

Astrobiologist Natalie Batalha

Natalie Batalha made Time magazine’s list of the 100 most influential people on Earth. She has discovered approximately 4,000 new planets—some of which may turn out to be capable of supporting life. She was recently elected to the American Academy of Arts & Sciences.

Interior of the driving car

Oct 28, 2019

Adam Millard-Ball

Mean Streets—Self-driving Car Gridlock?

Self-driving cars are poised to create the largest upheaval in transportation planning since the arrival of the automobile. Join the conversation on October 28.

Self-driving cars are coming to your neighborhood, and your commute, but what are the downsides to this intersection of technology and human behavior? Adam Millard-Ball is at the forefront of efforts to identify problems before they hit our streets. His latest research reveals that autonomous vehicles will snarl inner-city traffic by “cruising” to avoid paying hefty fees to park. Previous work suggests that these risk-averse vehicles will create a pedestrian utopia that will slow urban traffic to a crawl.

Anthony Aguirre

Jun 18, 2019

Anthony Aguirre

Where Did it All Come From, and Where is it All Going?

he physical universe, Aguirre will argue, is made of matter (or energy) and of order (or information). Aguirre will trace the 13.8 billion year history of this matter/energy told by modern cosmology, as it has developed into ever-more sophisticated order and structure: galaxies and their arrangement, stars, planets, life, and very recently and locally, civilization. The survival of civilization—and life itself—through the coming century is not assured, but if it continues, what could its future look like over thousands or millions of years? No one knows, but touring topics from fundamental physics to the nature of intelligence, Aguirre will lay out some of the possibilities.

We are delighted to announce the addition of an open house for our SVLink Incubator–Accelerator to our June 18 Kraw Lecture. SVLink serves nearly 20 UC and UC Santa Cruz-affiliated early stage startups at our Silicon Valley campus. There, they receive mentorship and entrepreneurial support in developing proof-of-product, identifying addressable markets, and engaging potential customers and angel investors. SVLink is just that—a link between the innovative UC Santa Cruz research and the market engine of Silicon Valley. Join us from 4:30–7 p.m. to meet our entrepreneurs and learn about their exciting new businesses. Then stick around for the Kraw Lecture.

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Seal with electronic tags

Apr 16, 2019

Daniel Costa & Caroline Casey

From the Beach to the Sea: How Technology Enables Us to Understand Marine Mammals

Daniel Costa, a pioneer in the development and use of electronic tags, will discuss how advances in technology that allow precise tracking of marine mammals’ movement leads to better understanding of their behavior and their response to climate impacts on habitats. Ph.D. candidate Caroline Casey studies the evolution of communication between male northern elephant seals. Vocalizations, which are used to drive off would-be rivals, have changed over generations from geographic dialects to individualized and more complex calls.

Sandra Faber with president Barrack Obama

Mar 19, 2019

Sandra Faber

Cosmic Knowledge and the Future of the Human Race

Modern astronomy is telling us the story of our cosmic origins—how the Galaxy was assembled, how the Sun and Earth were formed, and where the chemical elements came from that comprise our bodies. We can now use this knowledge of our cosmic past to predict our cosmic future, and it looks bright ahead. We humans have been given the most precious gift of all, cosmic time—nearly a billion years of it. The challenge is clear: what will we do with it? National Medal of Science winner Sandra Faber will describe how the profound insights of cosmology are shaping the new Earth Futures Institute at UC Santa Cruz, which is grappling with this cardinal question.

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Angela Brooks

Feb 20, 2019

Angela Brooks

New Approaches to Treating Cancer Through RNA Analysis

Angela Brooks, an expert in the analysis of RNA sequencing data, is studying the role of RNA splicing aberrations in cancer. RNA splicing is an editing process that enables one gene to produce several different protein molecules. Mutations in the genes that regulate splicing are common in cancer cells. To investigate the effects of these mutations, Brooks and her team are developing the experimental and computational tools needed to directly assess the RNA output of cancer cells and understand how changes in RNA processing affect cell function. This research could lead to novel approaches for treating cancer and other diseases in which splicing is abnormal.

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Dreamer Vocalnos

Jan 23, 2019

David Deamer

Assembling Life: How Can Life Begin on Earth and Other Habitable Planets?

Our knowledge of how life on Earth began is incomplete. While some pieces of the puzzle are firmly established by the laws of chemistry and physics, there is still conjecture about what the Earth was like four billion years ago, based on reasonable extrapolations from observing today’s Earth. David Deamer’s research tests the hypothesis that hydrothermal fresh water pools associated with volcanic land masses are a plausible site for life to begin. Deamer will discuss how conditions in volcanic regions like Kamchatka, Iceland and Hawaii could yield clues about the origin of life in a fresh water environment—and implications for the search for life on Mars and icy moons like Enceladus and Europa.

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Human eye

Dec 5, 2018

Roberto Manduchi and Jared Duval

Universal Access & Serious Games—Technology, Disability, and Social Good

Universal access is the goal of assistive technology, which seeks to enable everyone, disabled or not, to communicate and participate in society. By beginning with an understanding of the physiology, psychology, and sociology of disability, UC Santa Cruz researchers are developing technological solutions that are accessible, practical, and human-centered.

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Colliding neutron stars

Oct 9, 2018

Ryan Foley

Shining Light on Gravity: Sometimes All that Shimmers IS Gold

In 1916, Albert Einstein predicted the existence of gravitational waves, a radiant form of energy similar to light, but caused by gravity. On August 17, 2017, a new kind of gravitational wave source was detected—two colliding neutron stars. Professor Ryan Foley will tell the harrowing David vs. Goliath story of how his small team of young, diverse scientists using a tiny telescope beat bigger teams with larger telescopes to make this incredible discovery.

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Beth Shapiro

Sept 20, 2018

Beth Shapiro

Bugs, Bones, and Ancient DNA

A leader in the field of ancient DNA, Shapiro uses genetic material recovered from the remains of plants and animals that lived long ago to study evolution and explore how species and ecosystems have changed over time. She isolated the oldest DNA yet recovered—from a 700,000-year-old horse bone—as well as the oldest viral DNA and RNA. By “sequencing the dead,” we gain an understanding of how species, populations, and ecosystems changed, leading to better decisions about how to use limited resources to preserve and protect species and ecosystems in the face of current climate change.

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Student in the lab

Jun 19, 2018

Data Security, Data Privacy, and You

How UC Santa Cruz is Influencing Information Security for Companies and Consumers

Our digital data—how it is kept safe, and who has access to it—is a topic of shared concern these days. From the latest security breach alert, to targeted Facebook ads, to the privacy updates flooding our inboxes, we’re inundated with news about our data security and privacy. Our panelists, including Aleatha Parker-Wood (Ph.D. ‘14) of Symantec, Assistant Professor Abhradeep Guha Thakurta—and recently added, Assistant Professor Benedict Paten, and graduate student James Hughes—will help us break down the issues and discuss what’s on the horizon in a conversation moderated by Alexander Wolf, Dean of the Baskin School of Engineering at UC Santa Cruz.

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Stem cell

Apr 3, 2018

Daniel Kim, Camilla Forsberg, and Lindsay Hinck

Stem Cells–Friends or Foes? How Stem Cell Research Informs the Origins of Cancer

Researchers at UC Santa Cruz are harnessing the power of stem cells to understand the molecular underpinnings of diseases such as cancer, ALS, autoimmune diseases, and anemia. While stem cells’ ability to regenerate tissues holds promise for breakthroughs, stem cell therapies also carry a risk of causing cancer. Join us for a discussion of how to balance the promise with the risk and a glimpse of what stem cell research offers the future.

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Terri Williams with her seal

Feb 27, 2018

Terrie Williams

The Untamed Brain: Lessons in Human Cognitive Health from an Unexpected Teacher—Wild Whales

Despite remarkable advances in medical technology, we are only beginning to understand how our brain works. By moving from clinical settings and traditional animal models and into the wild, Williams’ lab is exploring how the mammalian brain is able to function flawlessly during variable stress and exercise levels, as well as during exposure to extreme environments. How diving dolphins and narwhals of the high Arctic avoid cerebral injury is changing our view of brain neuro-protection, and offering unique clues about preserving human cognition following stroke and concussive injuries, and indicating a potential neural basis for mass strandings by whales.

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Jan 31, 2018

Hosted by Dean Alexander Wolf, Baskin School of Engineering and Assistant Vice Chancellor Mohamed Abousalem, Industry Alliances & Technology

Commercialization: Innovators

From research to patents and products: UC Santa Cruz faculty and students are an innovation powerhouse. Their inventions and research breakthroughs deliver social and economic benefits to our local—and global—communities. On January 31, we will hear from three professors whose research is driving real-world innovation in early-stage startups:

  • Holger Schmidt, Professor of Electrical Engineering, Narinder Singh Kapany Chair of Optoelectronics and the Associate Dean for Research, Baskin School of Engineering
  • Nader Pourmand, Professor of Biomolecular Engineering
  • Richard E. Green, Assistant Professor of Biomolecular Engineering, Co-director of the Paleogenomics lab

Treehouse drawing

Dec 5, 2017

UC Santa Cruz Treehouse Cancer Initiative

Making Precision Medicine Personal for Kids: How Researchers and Doctors are Giving New Hope to Kids with Cancer Using Big Data Genomics

There are several truisms about childhood cancer: it tends to be aggressive, differs from adult cancers, and when treatments fail, time runs out quickly. Precision medicine powered by big data becomes personal when university researchers and doctors team up. The Treehouse Cancer Initiative at UC Santa Cruz uses comparative cancer genomic analysis to help doctors treat kids with few options. Learn more about how a new project partnering our Treehouse researchers with Stanford doctors is bringing new hope to families.

Featuring members of the UC Santa Cruz Treehouse Cancer Initiative:

  • Olena Morozova, co-founder
  • David Haussler, co-founder
  • Isabel Bjork, director
  • Lauren Sanders, Ph.D. student

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Carrie Partch

Nov 1, 2017

Carrie Partch

Circadian Rhythms: When Our Biological Clocks Go Bad…

Carrie Partch joined the UC Santa Cruz faculty in 2011. In her lab, Partch recently identified a gene that suppresses circadian rhythms in cancer, allowing tumor cells to escape daily controls on cellular growth. Now her lab is developing new therapeutic strategies that leverage circadian control over physiology to improve human health. She just received the 2018 Margaret Oakley Dayhoff Award from the Biophysical Society for her ground-breaking combination of biophysics and cell biology.

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Harry Noller

Jun 22, 2017

Exploring Biology’s Dark Matter: RNA

Recognizing Harry Noller, winner of the 2017 Breakthrough Prize

Noller, professor emeritus of molecular, cell, and developmental biology, recently received the 2017 Breakthrough Prize in Life Sciences for his discoveries about ribosomes, the tiny structures of the cell that Noller calls the “mothership of life.” His insights are taking us right to the brink of understanding the very origins of life on the planet.

From his unexpected discovery of the role RNA plays in the functioning of the ribosome has grown the world’s premier center for RNA research. The 16 research labs that comprise the UC Santa Cruz Center of Molecular Biology of RNA are forging new discoveries in the treatment of diseases like rheumatoid arthritis and cancer and developing new technological tools to advance the sciences.

Noller will be joined on stage by three Center researchers, Jeremy Sanford, Susan Carpenter, and Daniel Kim, who will discuss their work in the frontiers of molecular biology and the implications of RNA research on treating diseases and saving lives.

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Mark Akeson

May 16, 2017

Mark Akeson

Sequencing DNA from Remote Villages to the Space Station: The Nanopore Revolution

Akeson is a professor of Biomolecular Engineering at UC Santa Cruz. He earned his B.A. in History from UC San Diego, and his Ph.D. in Soil Microbiology from UC Davis, then came to UCSC following a post-doctoral fellowship at the National Institutes of Health. Akeson is one of the pioneers of nanopore sequencing and leads the UC Santa Cruz nanopore group. The nanopore group has made important advances in nanopore sequencing technology by analyzing DNA molecules directly from the nucleus of eukaryotic cells. Nanopore technology brings modern genomics out of the lab and into the field—think Ebola or Zika outbreaks—with tremendous potential for human health.

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Jonathan Fortney

Mar 22, 2017

Jonathan Fortney

How Common is the Earth? The Discovery and Characterization of Rocky Planets Around Other Stars

Fortney is an astrophysicist who focuses on understanding the structure and composition of planets in our solar system and “exoplanets” around other stars. He has been involved with NASA’s Kepler spacecraft since its prime mission. He is also one of 15 principal investigators for a new NASA initiative, the Nexus for Exoplanet System Science (NExSS), which is a quest to find life on planets around other stars. Fortney is one of four new participating scientists NASA has chosen for the last phase of the Cassini Mission to Saturn, as the spacecraft dives between the planet’s rings and its atmosphere to collect unprecedented data.

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Each lecture will be videotaped and archived here.

Questions? Contact UC Santa Cruz Special Events or (831) 459-5003.


Thursday, October 22, 2020
5:30 p.m.


Virtual Event