Science Lecture Series wraps up in Palm Desert after triumphant 2024 return

PALM DESERT, CA - Dr. Elia Scudiero, Research Agronomist at the UC Riverside College of Natural & Agricultural Sciences (CNAS) gave a talk entitled "From Dirt to Data: Precision Insights for Sustainable Agricultural Systems" at the UC Riverside Palm Desert Center on Tuesday, May 14.

His lecture marked the final installment of the 2024 CNAS Science Lecture Series, the first time since the COVID-19 pandemic that the series returned to its original format as an in-person-only event.

Robert Allen 2024 Science Lecture Series

Since its inception, the Science Lecture Series has given CNAS scientists the opportunity to share their knowledge and research with UC Riverside students, alumni, faculty and staff, as well as local community members. The series is free and open to the public, giving local students and science enthusiasts a chance to learn about how CNAS scientists tackle pressing issues faced at the local, national, and global level. 

The 2024 lecture series focused on climate science, sub-atomic particles and sustainable agriculture and water management practices. The series kicked off in March 2024 with Dr. Robert Allen's presentation, The Escalating Climate Catastrophe, which discussed how and why the climate is changing and what can be done to avert climate catastrophe.

Barry Barish 2024 Science Lecture Series

Nobel laureate Dr. Barry Barish, Distinguished Professor and 2023 National Medal of Science winner, explored the discovery of the gravitational waves first conjectured by Einstein, and how they have become a powerful new tool for exploring and understanding our universe. His talk, Gravitational Waves: Unraveling the Mysteries of our Universe, was given in April 2024 in conjunction with the Frontiers of Physics celebration honoring Dr. Barish's contributions to science.

In the final lecture of the series, Dr. Scudiero discussed the problems of water scarcity and environmental degradation associated with intensive agriculture, as well as how field measurements, near-ground and remote sensing and data analysis can be used to aid the agricultural industry and preserve resources.

Dr. Scudiero chose the topic specifically to "engage with the local community, which is at the heart of one of the most important agricultural areas in Southern California."

Elia Scudiero Science Lecture Series 2024

"The growers out here are challenged by a lot of environmental conditions that are not so amicable to long-term sustainable agriculture," explained Dr. Scudiero. "Myself and other scientists are doing what we can to help them face the challenges they are facing both now and in the future."

An expert in digital agronomy, Dr. Scudiero also oversees CNAS' Digital Agriculture Fellowship (DAF), a 15-month research fellowship intended for undergraduate students to gain hands-on experience in agriculture and research.

"The Digital Agriculture Fellowship is an awesome opportunity because it's a program that encourages students in the sciences and engineering to use their talents to change the agricultural industry through the different projects the professors run," said Noel Salunga, Assistant Director for Student Success at the CNAS Undergraduate Academic Advising Center.

The 2024 Science Lecture Series also marked the first time lectures were hosted by the UCR Palm Desert Center. Established in 2005, the center serves as a base for UC Riverside research programs, hosts international academic conferences, and provides outreach efforts in local schools to promote and improve college-going rates in the Coachella Valley.

Peter Atkinson, Interim CNAS Dean, praised the 2024 Science Lecture Series for highlighting the work done in CNAS laboratories and the faculty's commitment to transforming lives through the discovery, communication and application of knowledge.

"The power of the faculty, the research they're doing," said Dr. Atkinson when asked what he enjoyed most about the lectures, "and their ease with which they communicate their work to the public."

When asked if he was excited to hear what the 2025 Science Lecture Series speakers had in store, he smiled. "Yeah, absolutely."

Information about the upcoming 2025 Science Lecture Series will be posted online at sciencelectureseries.ucr.edu in the months ahead. Stay tuned for more information!
 

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