Lectures & Learning Opportunities

Check back often as events will be added to the website frequently — right up until Homecoming weekend!

Understanding Your Vision Problems: Truths and Misconceptions

Friday 10 a.m.11 a.m.  

People have developed explanations, myths, and superstitions about vision problems for millennia. This lecture will reveal the true causes of vision problems, answering such questions as, “Why am I nearsighted?” and “Why do my parents need reading glasses?” Other topics explored include: “Are carrots really good for my eyes?”; “Is it bad to read in the dark or sit too close to the television?”; and “Can eye exercises help my vision?”

Speaker(s): 
Patsy L. Harvey '79, O.D. '81, M.P.H. '83
Clinical Professor; School of Optometry

Patsy L. Harvey received her O.D. and M.P.H. from UC Berkeley. She currently teaches at the School of Optometry, including courses on myths, mysteries, and discoveries in medicine; systemic diseases; vision impairments; and geriatrics. 

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Viruses Reveal the Secrets of Biology

Friday 10 a.m.11 a.m.  

Viruses are master manipulators, and those that persist for long periods of time are extraordinarily well-adapted to coexisting with their human and animal hosts. This lecture will explore how these minute agents are able to take control of a highly sophisticated cell with only a small set of genetic instructions. We will discuss what they need in order to multiply, and how studying them provides new insights into the inner workings of our own cells.

Speaker(s): 
Britt Glaunsinger
Associate Professor and Howard Hughes Medical Institute Investigator, Department of Plant and Microbial Biology

Britt Glaunsinger leads a biomedical research laboratory that investigates how viruses, particularly those that persist in an infected individual for long periods of time, interact with the infected cell in order to multiply. The primary focus of her research is to understand how herpes viruses hijack or redesign components of the host cell to express their genes. Glaunsinger’s research has been recognized by awards from the Burroughs Wellcome Foundation, the W.M. Keck Foundation, the UC Berkeley Prytanean Women’s Honor Society, and the Howard Hughes Medical Institute. She was named a 2015 UC Berkeley Miller Professor and the 2017 UC Berkeley Class of 1963 Endowed Chair. More information about her research group can be found at glaunsingerlab.berkeley.edu.

Sponsored by: 
Prytanean Women's Honor Society
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Earthquake Warning: New Technology to Reduce This Critical Threat

Friday 11:30 a.m.12:30 p.m.  

Earthquakes pose a critical threat to people and infrastructure in the San Francisco Bay Area and in many other parts of the world. By combining advances in earthquake science with new communication capabilities, it is now possible to provide warning of coming earthquake shaking. Warnings of a few seconds to a few minutes can be used to take cover under a sturdy table, to slow and stop trains, and to isolate hazardous machinery and chemicals at work — and to thereby reduce damage and injuries. We will discuss how the seismic network in California is now generating warnings and the path to public alerts (ShakeAlert.org). We will also demonstrate a new technology that uses smartphones to detect earthquakes that could provide warning around the world (Myshake.berkeley.edu).

Speaker(s): 
Richard Allen
Professor and Chair, Earth and Planetary Science and Director, Seismology Lab

Richard Allen is an expert in earthquake alerting systems, developing methodologies to detect earthquakes and issue warnings prior to shaking and tsunamis. His group uses seismic and GPS sensing networks and is experimenting with the use of a global smartphone network called MyShake. Testing of the ShakeAlert warning system for the U.S. west coast is currently underway. Allen’s group also uses geophysical sensing networks to image the internal 3D structure of the Earth and constrain the driving forces responsible for earthquakes, volcanoes, and other deformation of the Earth’s surface. His research has been featured in Science, Nature, Scientific American, the New York Times, and dozens of other media outlets around the world. He has a B.A. from Cambridge, a Ph.D. from Princeton, and was a postdoctoral fellow at Caltech.

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The Gulf States: Vive La Revolution or Vive La Counterrevolution?

Friday 11:30 a.m.12:30 p.m.  

The Gulf states seemed impermeable to the 2011 Arab uprisings but saw regional developments as both threat and opportunity. Bartu will discuss the Gulf states and Saudi Arabia, Oman, UAE, and Qatar in particular and their roles in an ongoing struggle for the heart and soul of a region. 

Speaker(s): 
Peter Bartu
Lecturer, International and Area Studies

Peter Bartu teaches political transitions in the Middle East and North Africa, the Gulf states, and international organizations and global governance. In 2011 he was a member of the UN’s stand-by mediation team and worked in Benghazi and Tripoli during the Libyan revolution among other assignments in Djibouti, Iraq, and Malawi. In 2008–09 he led a team that produced a seminal 500-page report on the disputed internal boundaries between the Arabs and the Kurds in Iraq, including Kirkuk. From 2001–03 he was a political advisor to the UN special coordinator for the Middle East peace process, based in Jerusalem. Bartu has worked as a foreign policy advisor in the Australian Prime Minister’s Department and held other appointments with the UN in East Timor in 1999 and in Cambodia from 1991–93. He has a Ph.D. in history from Monash University.

Sponsored by: 
Center for Middle Eastern Studies
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Travels, Travails, and Triumphs 1962–2017

Friday 11:30 a.m.12:45 p.m.  

Where have we been? Where are we headed? What successes and challenges have we faced? Come hear four illustrious and thoughtful members of our class reflect on their years since graduating. Attorneys, a doctor, a vintner, and authors share some of their most memorable, difficult, and rewarding experiences since Cal. Our permanent class president, Brian Van Camp, will channel his best “Dave Garroway/Charlie Rose,” for the interview. It promises to be a fun peek into the last 55 years of four fascinating classmates.

Speaker(s): 
Dottie Ahlburg Johnson ’62

Dottie Johnson, president emeritus of the Council of Michigan Foundations, has been the director of two Fortune 500 companies, chair of the W. K. Kellogg Foundation, and an advisor on philanthropic matters to Presidents Clinton and G.W. Bush.

Stu Gordon '62, J.D. '65

Stu Gordon is founding partner of Gordon & Rees, one of California’s leading litigation law firms. He is also a “dead-serious restaurateur,” investing in dozens of upscale California eateries, a Builder of Berkeley, and a Bay Area community volunteer par excellence.  

H. William Harlan '62

Bill Harlan owns and developed Harlan Estate and Bond Wines, for which he has received many outstanding awards, as well as Meadowood Resort in Napa Valley.

Brian Van Camp '62, J.D. '65

Brian Van Camp is a former Superior Court Judge and current arbitrator, recipient of the Cal Alumni Association’s Award of Excellence in 2000, and an occasional clarinet and tenor sax player.

Geoff Wong '62

Geoff Wong is an attorney in Sacramento with his J.D. from the McGeorge School of Law at University of the Pacific. He is the author of two published books about Cal A Golden State of Mind and Golden Daze.  Wong is a community activist, third generation Cal alumnus, volunteer, and a one-time “River Boat Captain!”

Sponsored by: 
Class of 1962
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The Role of the Cal Alumni Association Today

Friday 12:30 p.m.1:30 p.m.  

Learn about the role of CAA as it pertains to students, including the programs and networks that are being introduced to foster community and relationships between students and alumni. The importance of creating and fostering networks, both for students and alumni, cannot be stressed enough. Using existing programs and new technology to structure these connections among alumni and students provides opportunity and insight for all Cal Bears.

Speaker(s): 
Clothilde V. Hewlett ’76, J.D. ’79
Executive Director, Cal Alumni Association

Clothilde V. Hewlett was a partner in the national law firm Nossaman LLP and, prior to that, was a partner in the global law firm K&L Gates LLP. As a partner, she focused on government contracting, crisis management, major appropriations, policy analysis, and diversity. She is a specialist in public policy, was a registered state and federal lobbyist, and has served under three different governors of California. She has served as interim director of the State of California’s Department of General Services and undersecretary of the State and Consumer Services Agency for the State of California, among other posts.

Sponsored by: 
Order of the Golden Bear
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Blown Across the Sea: Glass Along the Maritime Silk Road

Friday 2 p.m.3 p.m.  

This lecture will highlight the results of underwater surveys of a 2,000-year-old shipwreck uncovered off the coast of the small fishing village of Godavaya, Sri Lanka. The ship’s cargo of glass ingots, among other objects, will be the starting point of a discussion on the movement of glass raw materials and finished objects along the intertwined maritime and overland trading networks commonly referred to as the Silk Road. In particular, the talk will focus on the implications of this evidence for archaeological analysis of early patterns of globalization. 

Speaker(s): 
Sanjyot Mehendale Ph.D. '97
Chair, Tang Center for Silk Road Studies

Sanjyot Mehendale teaches on Central Asia in the department of Near Eastern Studies. An archaeologist specializing in cross-cultural connections of early Common Era Eurasia, her Ph.D. work focusing on the archaeology of Eurasian trading networks. Recent research and writing projects have been supported by various grants including a fellowship from the National Endowment for the Humanities to create a publicly accessible database of the ivory and bone carvings uncovered at the early Common Era Kushan site at Bagram (Afghanistan). In 2007, Mehendale became a consultant to the National Geographic Society and the San Francisco Asian Art Museum to help structure the Afghanistan: Hidden Treasures from the National Museum, Kabul exhibition and contribute to the accompanying catalogue. Since 1996, she has conducted archaeological research in Sri Lanka, looking into first millennium CE maritime connections across the Indian Ocean.

Sponsored by: 
Tang Center for Silk Road Studies
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Cutting Edge and Cutting Costs

Friday 2 p.m.3 p.m.  

New University Library initiatives explore emerging research technologies and new programs to cut textbook costs for Berkeley students. Find out what the newly renovated fourth and fifth floors of Moffitt have to offer and learn about the library’s role in digital literacy, makerspaces, student technology services, and open educational resources!

Speaker(s): 
Jean Ferguson
Learning and Research Communities Librarian

Jean Ferguson connects with students and programs at UC Berkeley to advise on new library spaces and services. Prior to joining Cal in 2015, she spent 10 years at the Duke University Libraries as head of research service, helping to create The Edge, a center for data, digital humanities, and digital scholarship. Ferguson has an M.S. in library science from the University of North Carolina, an M.S. in information science from Ball State University, and a B.A. from Augustana College.

Cody Hennesy
E-Learning and Information Studies Librarian

Cody Hennesy leads the UC Berkeley Library’s digital literacy initiative, wherein he focuses on the intersection of emerging technologies, scholarly research methods, and student learning. Prior to his five years at Cal, he worked as the systems and services librarian at California College of the Arts in Oakland. He has an M.L.I.S. from San Jose State University.

Rachael G. Samberg
Scholarly Communication Officer, UC Berkeley Library

Rachel Samberg is responsible for copyright and other IP and licensing rights education for Berkeley scholars, and advises about scholarly publishing options, open access publishing, and research impact. She is also a national presenter for the Association of College and Research Libraries’ workshop series “Scholarly Communication: From Understanding to Engagement.”  She has a B.S. from Tufts University, a J.D. from Duke University School of Law, and an M.L.I.S. from the University of Washington. 

Sponsored by: 
University Library
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How Dogs Make Us Human

Friday 2 p.m.3 p.m.  

This richly illustrated lecture focuses on the very long history of our species’ relationship with our best friends. Much of the talk will be devoted to dogs in the great art of the Western world and especially to the interests of artists in the dog’s gaze — how dogs look. The broader context is the co-evolutionary development of dogs and human and, more specifically, Darwin’s intense interest in canines generally and in his beloved Polly in particular. Cats will not be entirely ignored.

Speaker(s): 
Thomas W. Laqueur
Helen Fawcett Distinguished Professor of History

Thomas Laqueur began teaching at Berkeley in 1973 after studying at Swarthmore, Princeton, and Oxford. A specialist in the cultural history of modern Europe, Laqueur is a founding editor of the journal Representations and a former director of the Doreen B. Townsend Center of the Humanities. His work — translated into fifteen languages — has focused on the history of popular religion and literacy; on the history the body, alive and dead; and on the history of death and memory. His most recent book, The Work of the Dead: A Cultural History of Moral Remains, was published by Princeton in 2015. He also writes regularly for the London Review of Books, the Threepenny Review, The Guardian, and other journals. In 2007, Laqueur won a $1.5 million Mellon Distinguished Humanist Award.

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Origins of the Frontier and American Western Myth

Friday 2 p.m.3 p.m.  

The American frontier and the Old West have been indelible elements of American culture, history, and even politics. But how did the concept of “The Western” emerge and why has it endured? This presentation will take the audience on a journey to answer those questions, and to learn how the Western still impacts American society — all accompanied by images of America’s past and present.

Speaker(s): 
Nadesan Permaul B.A. ’72, M.A. ’73, Ph.D. ’90
Adjunct Faculty, Political Science and Rhetoric

Nadesan Permaul received his B.A., M.A., and Ph.D. at Berkeley in political science. He retired as an administrator at Berkeley after a 34-year-career. Permaul has taught in political science, rhetoric, and sociology over the course of 25 years with a focus on American culture, history, and politics. He is a past president of the Cal Alumni Association, having served from 2003–05.

Sponsored by: 
Class of 1972
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Berkeley Connect: The Magic of Mentoring

Friday 3:30 p.m.4:30 p.m.  

A large research university like UC Berkeley can be an amazing place to get an undergraduate education; it can also feel impersonal and overwhelming. Seven years ago, Berkeley set out to address this problem by establishing a pioneering mentoring program called Berkeley Connect, and the results have been astounding. Learn how this mentoring model is transforming the undergraduate experience by increasing the confidence and sense of belonging of thousands of students each semester.

Speaker(s): 
Maura Nolan
Associate Professor of English and Director, Berkeley Connect

Maura Nolan is the founding director of the Berkeley Connect mentoring program, began in 2010 as a pilot project in the English department and now serving students across the university. A scholar of late medieval English literature, Nolan is the author of John Lydgate and the Making of Public Culture (Cambridge University Press, 2005). Prior to joining the Berkeley faculty in 2005, she taught at the University of Notre Dame.

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Free Speech: Status and Solutions

Friday 3:30 p.m.5 p.m.  

The Class of 1967 Symposium will examine the past and future of the Free Speech Movement on campus. Explore what has happened in the 50 years since the birth of the movement from alumni who were on campus at the time and from faculty experts.

Sponsored by: 
Class of 1967
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Special MENA Salon: The Middle East in 1982

Friday 3:30 p.m.4:30 p.m.  

Every Friday during the semester, the Center for Middle Eastern Studies hosts an informal coffee hour and guided discussion about current events in the Middle East and North Africa, open to all and free of charge. In honor of the 35th reunion of the Class of ’82, we will convene to look back at the events and repercussions of this critical period in the region’s history. Join faculty, students, and members of the community to discuss the Israeli invasion of Lebanon, the aftermath of the Iranian Revolution, the Iran-Iraq War, the early years of Reagan’s foreign policy, and more.

Speaker(s): 
Emily Gottreich '89
Chair of Center for Middle Eastern Studies

Emily Gottreich is the chair of the Center for Middle Eastern Studies, associate adjunct professor of history and international and area studies, and chair of the undergraduate major in Middle Eastern studies at UC Berkeley. Between 2009 and 2013 she served as president of the American Institute for Maghrib Studies. Gottreich received a Ph.D. in history and Middle Eastern studies from Harvard in 1999, an M.A. in Middle Eastern studies from Harvard in 1992, and a B.A. in Middle Eastern studies from Berkeley in 1989. Her research focuses on Moroccan Jewish history and Muslim-Jewish relations in broader Arab-Islamic contexts.

Julia Choucair-Vizoso
Vice Chair of Center for Middle Eastern Studies

Julia Choucair-Vizoso received a Ph.D. in political science from Yale in 2016, and an M.A. in Arab studies and a B.S. in foreign service from Georgetown in 2004. She was previously editor-in-chief and associate at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace in Washington, D.C.  She studies comparative politics with interests in nondemocratic institutions, network theory, and the contemporary Middle East.

Sponsored by: 
Center for Middle Eastern Studies & Class of 1982
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The Next Generation of 3D Printing and Advanced Manufacturing

Friday 3:30 p.m.4:30 p.m.  

This presentation will introduce simulation technologies being developed for new additive manufacturing processes such as 3D printing — technology still in its infancy, yet potentially crucial to the goals of several industrialized countries. Within the last decade, the economic importance of advanced manufacturing has come to the forefront, with the objective of developing superior products — such as surface structures and coatings — that can be made at lower overall cost. This session will demonstrate the advanced modeling and computation required to make such futuristic manufacturing a reality.

Speaker(s): 
Tarek Zohdi
Chancellor's Professor of Mechanical Engineering, Will C. Hall Endowed Chair, Computational and Data Science and Engineering Program Chair

Tarek I. Zohdi received his Ph.D. in 1997 in computational and applied mathematics from the University of Texas at Austin and his habilitation in general mechanics from the Gottfried Leibniz University of Hannover in 2002. His main research interests are in computational approaches for advanced manufacturing and material design. He has published over 140 archival refereed journal papers and five books. He has been the recipient of many awards, including the Zienkiewicz Prize and Medal in 2000, awarded once every two years to one post-graduate researcher under the age of 35 for research which contributes most to the field of numerical methods in engineering; and the 2003 Junior Achievement Award of the American Academy of Mechanics. He was elected president of the of the United Stated Association for Computational Mechanics in 2012, and served from 2012 to 2014. 

Sponsored by: 
Class of 1977
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There Goes the Neighborhood: The Challenge of American Immigration

Friday 3:30 p.m.4:30 p.m.  

This conversation will take on the state of American immigrant integration in the 21st century: beyond fiery debates online, in the media, and on the political stage over immigration, ordinary people in communities across the United States confront this integration daily. Some deal with incorporating newcomers into their communities; others are adjusting to life in a new country. What works and where are the challenges we must confront? Research shows significant progress in integration over time and across generations, whether we examine income, education, or English language ability. We also find some problems: immigrants are healthier than those born in the United States and are less likely to commit crimes, but these benefits disappear with their US-born children. As we grapple with the reality of immigration and the changing nature of American identity, how can we build on the best of American values and immigrants’ promise? 

Speaker(s): 
Irene Bloemraad
Professor of Sociology, Co-founder of the Berkeley Interdisciplinary Migration Initiative

Irene Bloemraad’s research examines how immigrants become incorporated into the political and civic life of their adopted countries and the consequences of their presence for politics and understandings of citizenship. Her workhas been published in journals spanning sociology, political science, history, and ethnic/migration studies. She is the author or co-editor of the Oxford Handbook of Citizenship, Rallying for Immigrant Rights, Civic Hopes and Political Realities, and Becoming a Citizen: Incorporating Immigrants and Refugees in the United States and Canada. In 2014 and 2015, Bloemraad served as a member of the U.S. National Academy of Sciences committee reporting on the integration of immigrants into U.S. society.  She believes that excellence in research and teaching go hand-in-hand and is the proud recipient of multiple Cal teaching and mentorship awards.

Ali Noorani ’96
Executive Director of the National Immigration Forum

Ali Noorani leads the National Immigration Forum, an advocacy organization promoting the value of immigrants and immigration. Growing up in California as the son of Pakistani immigrants, he quickly learned how to forge alliances among people of wide-ranging backgrounds, a skill that has served him well as one of the nation’s most innovative coalition builders. Noorani is a lifetime member of the Council on Foreign Relations, holds an M.P.H. from Boston University and is a B.A. from Cal. He lives in Washington, D.C., and is the author of There Goes the Neighborhood: How Communities Overcome Prejudice and Meet the Challenge of American Immigration.

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