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Fall 2010 Courses


Molecules in Motion: Using Simulation to Understand Reality (watch video introduction)
We are surrounded by molecules and made of them, too. In this class, rather than investigating these molecules by running chemistry experiments, we will use computer simulation to explore why molecules act the way they do. We will look at molecules that help us breathe and molecules that react to reduce car emissions. We will also tour one of the computer facilities that researchers use to explore our world. A good understanding of algebra and geometry is highly recommended, and any knowledge of calculus and programming will be useful, but certainly not required.
Taught by: Debbie Audus, PhD student in Chemical Engineering

What Are Radio Waves, Really? The Science, Engineering, and Business of Radio (watch video introduction)
What do you think of when you heard the word radio? Do you imagine an old, bulky, smelly box? Do you imagine your car stereo? Do you think of your laptop or cell phone? These are all radios! In this class we will explore the science and history of radio waves. We will learn the mathematics of waves, electricity and electronics, the history of radio, and actually build and use radio receivers and transmitters! We will use concepts of algebra and trigonometry to understand radios and electronics.
Taught by: Andy Carter, PhD student in Electrical and Computer Engineering

Nanotechnology:  Using the Very Small to Solve the World's Big Problems (watch video introduction)
Nanotechnology or nanoscience deals with science and technology on the nanoscale (one billionth of a meter!).  It is a field that is rapidly developing and will be at the forefront of scientific and technological innovation in the 21st century.  The course will cover an introduction to nano, as well as it's past, present and future applications in green energy, electronics, materials science and medicine.  Each section will have a lecture and discussion on the days topic along with a lab which demonstrates the material we cover that day.
Taught by: Michael Isaacman, PhD student in Chemistry and Biochemistry

Juggling Space and Time: Einstein’s Relativity (watch video introduction)
Relativity is a fascinating aspect of physics that gives us a new way of looking at the world. We'll trace through the same ideas that led Einstein to formulate his theory as well as talk about what makes good scientific evidence and how the process of science works. Einstein's ideas overturned long held views, and fused space and time together into a dynamic entity - spacetime. Travel through time and travel through space are interrelated. Things that are moving near the speed of light are spatially distorted and time appears to move more slowly for them! We'll go through lots of examples of how this works, and talk through many of the apparent 'paradoxes' that crop up when making the transition from Newtonian to Einsteinian ways of thinking. We'll talk about general relativity - Einstein's theory of gravity that gives us black holes, gravity waves, and much more! This class will be discussion and concept based, but we will use some math so familiarity with high school algebra (eg. equation solving & graphing) and geometry is a must. If you're ready to experience a new and challenging way of thinking about the universe, then you'll enjoy this class.
Taught by: Kevin Moore, PhD student in Physics

The Future of Medical Technology (watch video introduction)
Stem cells, gene therapy, tissue engineering. How do they work? In this course, you will learn about a bunch of exciting new medical technologies. We pick look through my genetic data, and find out what diseases may affect me. And then, we will hear some horror stories about gene therapy experiments gone wrong. You will learn how traditional drugs are discovered, and why they're not always the best means for treating diseases. And also, we will talk about new kinds of drugs, like antibodies and nanoparticles. We will discuss stem cells and tissue engineering, techniques for fixing body parts or building new ones. We will briefly discuss healthcare policy, and a concept called P4 medicine. You can argue with me about ethics, try to ask questions that I can't answer, and explore my laboratory. Taking this course should help you choose a college major, and it will give you a sense of how to have a career in medical research, if that's what you want to do.
Taught by: Aaron Rowe, PhD student in Chemistry and Biochemistry


Winter 2010 Courses


The Ribonucleic Acid (RNA) World: Past, Present, and Future (watch video introduction)
RNA is one of the most ancient and versatile molecules involved in the emergence and sustainment of life.  The course is designed as an introduction to the biological molecule known as RNA.  We will explore the RNA World hypothesis and RNA’s role in the chemical origin of   life.  The course will investigate the three dimensional structure of RNA and show how it contributes to the numerous roles RNA plays within the cell.  Finally, the course will look at the future of RNA in medicine and nanotechnology.
Taught by: Wade Grabow, PhD student in Chemistry and Biochemistry

Surfing the Waves of Light and Matter: The Fundamentals of Quantum Mechanics(watch video introduction)
Step into a world where you can simultaneously be both dead and alive, where you can appear out of thin air, and where all it takes to walk through walls is a stroke of luck.  While this seems absurd, this is the physical reality of subatomic particles as governed by the theory of quantum mechanics.  We will take advantage of your experience catching waves as we explore the inner-workings of this intricate subatomic universe.  A strong understanding of algebra, geometry, and trigonometry is necessary to follow the course.  If you are not comfortable with these subjects but are still interested, expect to be challenged mathematically. Any additional understanding of physics and calculus will be useful.  Be prepared to leave the familiar world behind!
Taught by: Ann Hermundstad, PhD Student in Physics

The Science of the Very Small: Exploring Nanotechnology (watch video instroduction)
Nanotechnology is all around us: science fiction novels, computer chips, and even particles in sunscreen and makeup.   Nanotechnology provides fabulous opportunities for innovation, but many people have concerns about its side effects and ramifications.  In this class, we will learn what exactly nanotechnology is, how engineers are using it today, and what they hope it will accomplish in the future.  We will tour the UCSB nanofabrication facility, which processes scientists and electrical engineers use to design, fabricate, and test objects a thousand times narrower than a human hair!
Taught by: Evan Lobisser, PhD Student in Electrical and Computer Engineering

Field Biology for the Future(watch video introduction)
This course will provide an overview of the skills that field biologists, behavioral ecologists, and ecological immunologists need to conduct research. This course will combine field and lab techniques with some lecture material and group discussions. Students will learn how to identify some of the local Santa Barbara birds, mammals, and reptiles both in the field and in the lab, and will conduct behavioral observations in the field.  Students will also help trap wild birds and learn how to collect morphological data on them. Students will run an assay (test) to assess the strength of different birds’ immune systems and will learn how to develop and test predictions and hypotheses by designing and running an experimental study with live animals. Students should be prepared to hike over rough ground and go outside in any weather conditions.
Taught by: Loren Merrill, PhD student in Biology

Understanding a changing world – from molecules to ecosystems(watch video introduction)
Our lives are full of very complex biological-social systems that we often overlook, but that collectively play an enormous role in the earth's rapidly changing climate. Understanding and confronting the ecological challenges of the 21st century demands a citizenship that recognizes the inherently linked nature of our social and ecological systems. The purpose of this course is to develop fundamental concepts in human-ecological systems and how these systems relate to both global change and individual lifestyle. We will do this by scaling from molecular to ecosystem to global level energy fluxes in order to develop a meaningful scientific context to understand the complexities and considerations in calculating carbon costs.  The course will include a challenge for students to calculate their own carbon budget over the 5 week period
Taught by: Seeta Sistla, PhD student in Biology



Fall 2009 Courses


Mutants, Spirals, and Riots: The Mathematical Nature of Life (watch video in QuickTime)
Have you ever wondered where the shapes and patterns of sea shells came from, why zebras have stripes, how fish are able to school, or how mutants and freaks of nature lead to evolution? This course aims to discuss a recent revolution in biology: a concerted effort to quantitatively explain the living world around us. Using techniques from physics, chemistry, and mathematics, we will discuss some of the most beautiful and puzzling mysteries of the natural world, and discover simple rules that govern them. Expect lots of participation and activities. A good handle on algebra, geometry, and trigonometry is required to follow the course, and any experience with calculus will be helpful.
Taught by: Dan Balick, PhD student in Physics

Industrial Espionage
In this course we will perform mechanical autopsies (also called "teardowns") of consumer products in order to analyze their design. All students will participate in taking these products apart and figuring out the role and function of each component in the system. We'll have a great time!
Taught by: Juliana Bernal-Ostos, PhD student in Materials Science
and David Boy, PhD Student in Mechanical Engineering

Biology and Ecology of Infectious Diseases (watch video in QuickTime)
Do you find yourself glued to the T.V. when "House" or "Monsters inside of me" come on?  Are you worried about how bad is the Swine Flu, how you get it,  if a vaccine for it exists?  If the answer is "YES" to any of these questions then there is a class for you: The biology and ecology of infectious diseases. This course is brief preview of the growing field of the ecology of infectious diseases.  Each class session will introduce a “disease of the day,” by covering its biology, ecology, statistics,and history, followed by activities that further explore its intricacies.
Taught by: Alice Nguyen, PhD student in Biology

Rocket and Sock-It (watch video in QuickTime)
Students will learn and use engineering methods to model, design, build and test pressure-powered water rockets and structures for impact absorption (like vehicle crumple zones).  Students will have to learn and make use of concepts such as impulse, momentum, drag, and buckling, among others, while they develop skills in team problem solving, modeling, measurement, and experiment design.  Teams will compete in several categories for each challenge and will be judged on the extent by which they meet and exceed the design requirements.  These concepts, skills, and challenges are applicable to research taking place at UCSB today, more specifically, research conerning threat protection for military vehicles and personnel.
Taught by: Chris Hammetter, PhD student in Mechanical Engineering

The Big Picture: The Science of Cosmology (watch video in QuickTime)
This course aims to give students a brief introduction to cosmology, the scientific study of the universe. We will learn about the immense size, age and grandeur of the universe as well as how it works. If you've ever looked up at the night sky and wondered, what's up there? Or asked yourself, where did it all come from? This course is for you!
Taught by: Curtis Asplund, PhD student in Physics














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