By Dan White, UCSC Newscenter
Expect a day of unexpected convergences, wild ideas, and surprising discoveries at TEDxSantaCruz 2015: Radical Collaboration, a time to explore interdisciplinary learning and across-the-lanes thinking.
The all-day event, which starts at 9 a.m. on April 24 at the Rio Theatre, will feature a line-up of speakers from a wide variety of disciplines challenging themselves, casting aside their differences, and sharing their findings with the audience. General admission is $70. The cost for UC Santa Cruz students is $35.
The event, which is a featured part of UC Santa Cruz’s 50th anniversary Alumni Weekend, is a local, self-organized version of the popular TED program that gathers leading thinkers, makers, and artists to share their innovative ideas. UC Santa Cruz is a major sponsor of the 2015 event.
One of the day’s featured speakers is David Haussler, scientific director of the UC Santa Cruz Genomics Institute and director of the Center for Biomolecular Science and Engineering.
His work has spawned a global cancer research project, a project to map the genome of 10,000 animal species, and programs in computer science, mathematics, microbiology, and medical research.
Haussler, who led the first team to map the human genome, is a brilliant example of “radical collaboration,” said event co-organizer Suz Howells, UC Santa Cruz campaign operations associate. UC Santa Cruz, thanks in large part to his leadership, she said, has become “an open-source hub for scientists all over the world collaborating every day in the fight against cancer and other diseases including Ebola.
“The audience should also expect some surprises from Bruce Damer, a research associate at the UC Santa Cruz who works with professor David Deamer, chair of the Biomolecular Engineering Department. The two have brought their unique perspectives to such issues as space exploration and the origin of life on Earth.
Damer said their collaboration is “radical” in the sense that Deamer is a chemist by training, while Damer is a self-described “computationalist.”
In 1985 David Deamer found that compounds extracted from an Australian meteorite form membrane-bounded compartments the size of bacterial cells. This discovery led to their collaborative studies on a proposed new scientific model of the origin of life on the Earth nearly four billion years ago. Damer noted that many of the organic building blocks of life are present in asteroids.
At TEDx he will describe a novel spacecraft that can retrieve small asteroids to sample them for science. Damer will also show how this same spacecraft can provide refueling stations for sustainable spaceflight in the human exploration of Mars and beyond.
Collaboration comes in many guises. This will be clear from listening to Barbara Rogoff, UC Santa Cruz distinguished professor of psychology, who studies the cultural aspects of learning and collaboration among children and spent more than three decades researching child development in the Mayan town of San Pedro in Guatemala. She has written four award-winning books, including her latest, Developing Destinies: A Mayan Midwife and Town.
Radical collaborations can take on musical forms, too. The jazz vocalist Ed Reed is a retired health educator who was a heroin addict for 40 years, imprisoned four times, and in dozens of treatment programs before he got into recovery. Reed received an unusual honor when online jazz critics named him a “No. 1 Rising Star” at 86 years old. He will be on hand to share his inspiring story.
The audience will also hear from UC Santa Cruz Games and Playable Media master’s program director Brenda Romero, who designs games that turn some of history’s most tragic lessons into interactive, emotional experiences. For decades, Romero has been a major figure in the field of game design. Famous for her work on the role-playing series Wizardry, she’s also known for her work on Def Jam: Icon, Playboy: The Mansion, and Dungeons & Dragons: Heroes. Inspired by her daughter in 2008, she began work on her non-digital series, The Mechanic Is the Message, dedicated to expressing difficult subjects through interactive media. Train, a game derived from the events of the Holocaust, won the Vanguard Award at Indiecade in 2009.
Other contributors include:
• Daniel Costa, professor of ecology and evolutionary biology at UC Santa Cruz, who researches the adaptations of marine mammals and seabirds to life in the marine environment; he will talk about how an accidental collaboration with a researcher in Oregon has led to using elephant seals to map the ocean floor in Antarctica and discovering that the ice shelf was melting from below.
• Flora Lu, an associate professor of environmental studies at UC Santa Cruz who has worked in the Ecuadorian Amazon since 1992, studying the impacts of ecological, economic, and cultural change among native Amazonian communities;
• David Dennis, a Microsoft product manager, philanthropic photographer, and former public school teacher for at-risk kids;
• Mark Heinlein, who will talk about poetry and collaboration;
• Robert Singleton, a UC Santa Cruz alumnus, who will talk about civic participation and democracy as encouraged by his technology startup Civinomics;
• Jim Tamm, president of RC Group, an international consulting/training company improving organizations by building more collaborative work environments. He is on the faculty of the International Management Program at the Stockholm School of Economics, the Management Education Program at NASA, and the Leadership Academy of UC Santa Cruz, and he wrote a book about the art of radical collaboration.
• Barry Sinervo, UC Santa Cruz professor in the Department of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology, who will speak about a collaborative project that shines a light on mass extinction;
• Matt Beaudreau, alias “Education Dude,” vice principal at Adventure Christian School in Roseville and a teacher trainer with the Center for Teacher Effectiveness, will give a presentation in conjunction with UC Santa Cruz alumna Christine Hutton, who taught biological sciences at Kirby School and whose recent work focuses on taking what we know about “neurodiversity” and the different ways that students learn and using them to custom-design challenging curriculums tailored to their needs;
• Community organizer Bez Maxwell, who will draw from her experience as a certified life and relationship coach and CEO of OneTaste SantaCruz, which teaches a partnered sexuality practice designed to bridge the gap between mindfulness and sexuality.
For a full lineup and more information, visit the TEDxSantaCruz website.