High-impact science and cutting-edge teaching

UC Santa Cruz Alumni Weekend offers immersive Saturday seminars

Those who attend UC Santa Cruz’s upcoming Alumni Weekend April 26–28 can immerse themselves in cutting-edge science and get to the heart of innovative learning techniques during two special Saturday afternoon events on campus.

Returning Slugs can take in a fascinating series of talks about “high-impact science” from 1:30–4 p.m. on Saturday, April 27.

The event, featuring an all-star group of UC Santa Cruz physical and biological sciences faculty who are also alumni, will take place at the Physical Sciences Building on Science Hill.

Among the presenters are:

  • Natalie Batalha (Ph.D. ‘97, astrophysics), winner of UC Santa Cruz’s 2018 Alumni Achievement Award, who will talk about “Earth and the cosmos”
  • Associate professor of ecology and evolutionary biology Kristy Kroeker (Crown ‘01, marine biology), who will discuss “life and the environment”
  • Assistant professor of MCD biology Olena Morozova Vaske (postdoc, 2013–2016, biomolecular engineering), who will bring the audience up-to-date on “next-generation medicine”
  • Aura Alegra Eroy-Reveles (Ph.D. '08, chemistry), who will discuss science “teaching techniques for today”

“High-impact science at Alumni Weekend will explore the latest scientific advancements and research coming out of UC Santa Cruz,” said Ryan Kallabis, assistant communications director of physical and biological sciences.

Topics range from the fundamental forces that shape our Earth and the cosmos, biochemical interactions that lead to next-generation medicine, emergent effects that impact life and environmental change, as well as new science teaching techniques for today’s students. Talks will be followed by a reception featuring refreshments and recognitions of achievements by UC Santa Cruz’s departments, programs, and students.

Also on that Saturday afternoon, Jody Greene, professor of literature, feminist studies, and history of consciousness, and director of the Center for Innovations in Teaching and Learning (CITL), will lead a team of faculty, graduate students, and undergraduates in an  eye-opening discussion about “Radical Learning—the Heart of the UC Santa Cruz Experience.” The event takes place from 2–3 p.m. Saturday at the Humanities Lecture Hall.

Greene is  excited about this event. “I want people to know about all the changes we are making here in the classroom,” she said. “I have seen more changes on this campus in the past two years than during the previous 18. Things are really moving along.”

“At CITL, we are bringing research methods and cognitive science about how people learn, as well as social and behavioral science, to study conditions in which students can learn,” Greene explained.

Data science is helping professors figure out who is and who is not learning. The result, she said, is more dynamic teaching methods: “What is happening in higher education right now is a revolution to a learning-centered approach to education.”

This event will also be a great way for attendants to understand the bold educational vision of UC Santa Cruz since its inception, while introducing alumni to the innovative 21st-century approaches the campus is taking to ensure all students can thrive at UC Santa Cruz and leave with the tools to make change in society, Greene said.

Greene and her fellow presenters will emphasize the university’s history of active and activist teaching methods, its commitment to an education grounded in social justice, its ahead-of-the-times choice to have no grades and interdisciplinary departments, and its unique status as the only public research university in the country that was also founded as a kind of “alternative school.”

The event will include prominent learning scientists as well as undergraduates working on projects related to improving student learning. Participants will give lightning talks on what it takes for students to be outstanding learners in our 21st-century university.

The talk will be presented by the Center for Innovations in Teaching and Learning, the academic working group on Advancing Learning Sciences for a New Generation, and the Student Success Equity Research Center at UC Santa Cruz.