Extension Cybersecurity Instructor: Sony Attack is “the First Strike”

12-19-14 THE INTERVIEW, GRAPHIC2Cybersecurity expert Sameh El Naggar, a UC San Diego Extension instructor, doesn’t hesitate to describe the cyberattacks on Sony Corporation as “the Pearl Harbor of cybersecurity.”

“We have been attacked and this is the first strike,” said El Naggar, a computer consultant and training specialist at San Diego-based Teradata Corporation. Such cyberattacks, he said, hold the potential to negatively impact “every aspect of our economy and way of life.”

To further his point, El Naggar cited the sophisticated cyber attack in 2007 that virtually shut down Estonia, a country in the Baltic region of Northern Europe. Effected targets included government operations, banks, ATMs, and media outlets, as well as private accounts.

“Sony was very lax in their cybersecurity,” said El Naggar. “I’ve heard that the password for Sony’s top executive was close to being as simple as SONY123. They didn’t really care about security. They didn’t take it seriously. To me, that’s one of the reasons they were targeted.”

Sameh El Naggar: "We have to protect ourselves. We don’t want this to happen again.”

Sameh El Naggar: “We have to protect ourselves. We don’t want this to happen again.”

Sony Pictures canceled the release of “The Interview,” a theatrical movie based on the fictional assassination of North Korea’s leader. The decision was made after threats from hackers that broke into Sony’s computer system and threatened mass attacks on theaters that screened it, as well as theater-goers.

On Dec. 19, President Obama adverred that the hackers are North Korea-based. The movie had been set for a Christmas Day release.

“As a nation, we definitely need to beef up our cybersecurity in every regard,” said El Naggar, “including our water supplies, our electrical grids, ATMs, etc. If we’re not careful, they could shut down major parts of our economy. We have to protect ourselves. We don’t want this to happen again.”

El Naggar has 10 years of international cybersecurity experience, as well as expertise in developing and teaching courses in network and system design.

His next Extension course is UNIX Shell Programming, a nine-week course that starts Jan. 22. The Professional Certificate for UNIX Systems Administration includes a six-session course on UNIX Systems Security Fundamentals, starting March 3.



The Pulse: “Initiatives to Protect the Elderly”

A monthly series of conversation on healthcare issues

Topic: “How It All Turned Out: The Residential Care Facilities for the Elderly Reform Act of 2014”

Host: Leslie Bruce, Director, Healthcare Leadership and Community Outreach, UC San Diego Extension

Guest: Aaron Byzak, MBA – Founder of Hazel’s Army


Aaron Byzak updates the reforms he initiated to protect the elderly living in Residential Care Facilities. His passion stemmed from fatal injuries that his grandmother had suffered in such a facility.  He founded Hazel’s Army, named after this grandmother which became a mighty force in his advocacy efforts.

Twelve of the seventeen bills he’d initiated in the California Legislature became law but more work remains to be done. Byzak talked about what’s next in the campaign to make residential care facilities for the elderly safer and more accountable.


  • “When my grandmother died due to negligence, neglect and abuse at her assisted living facility in 2013, the facility paid a mere $150 penalty. That was the maximum according to California law. They’d have paid more if they’d parked in her handicapped parking spot. Now, thanks to passage of AB 2236, we’re adding a couple of zeros to the fine.”

Extension’s Alumni Change the World Scholarship: “I Want to Add Value to Myself”

Gerardo Ameriel Jaimes: "At UCSD, I had the freedom to pursue the kind of classes and subjects that was interested in.”

Gerardo Ameriel Jaimes: “At UCSD, I had the freedom to pursue the kind of classes and subjects I was interested in.”

Gerardo Ameriel Jaimes takes immense pride that he’s the first member of his family to earn a college degree.

As the most recent winner of UC San Diego Extension’s quarterly Alumni Change the World Scholarship, Jaimes gives thanks to his parents, who immigrated to the U.S. from Mexico more than 20 years ago, when he was only 3 years old.

“I wanted to fulfill their dream that I would earn a college education,” said Jaimes. “That’s been my dream, too.”

With the $5,500 scholarship, he will continue his educational pursuits by earning Extension’s Professional Certificate in College Counseling.

“I want to add value to myself, as well as learn things I don’t know,” said Jaimes, who earned a UC San Diego ethnic studies degree in 2013.

His academic journey began several years ago with his involvement in Extension’s Academic Connections program while attending San Diego’s Madison High School.

Under the direction of Extension’s Edward Abeyta, Academic Connections connects promising local high school students with college-level subject matter courses that are led by graduate students in a wide array of academic disciplines.

“That’s where I first learned about the college experience and what it takes to get there,” said Jaimes. During his high school years, he took the bus from his home in Southeast San Diego to attend Madison while Lincoln High was being re-built.

Going to UC San Diego “helped me find my passion,” he said. “I didn’t really know what I wanted to be. I had to figure myself out. At UCSD, I had the freedom to pursue the kind of classes and subjects I was interested in.”

“Gerardo’s compelling story is at the heart of our mission,” said Abeyta, director of Extension’s K-16 programs, including Academic Connections. “We’re proud to honor him and equally grateful to everyone who applied.”

In Jaimes’ current role as an instructor at College Apps Academy, a program within Reality Changers, a San Diego-based social services agency, he helps high-school seniors prepare for college and beyond.

“I like to tell my students that going to college gave me the vocabulary to explain what’s really going on,” he said, “not only in my life but all around us.”

Alumni Change the World Scholarship:

Awarded on a quarterly basis, UC San Diego Extension’s Alumni Change the World Scholarship is open to all persons who have earned a bachelor’s degree or a graduate degree from any University of California campus, including UC San Diego.

The qualifying requirement is purposely broad, and can range from cultural enrichment to regional economic development. Extension seeks to reward alumni who demonstrate the promise and potential to improve the quality of life in the San Diego region and beyond.



That’s One Smart Puppy (and Kitten): Talking Dogs and Cats Offer Science Tips

Rich Wargo: “We want to pique the curiosity that drives the study of science. Plus, it’s a fun way to learn.”

Rich Wargo: “We want to pique the curiosity that drives the study of science. Plus, it’s a fun way to learn.”

What do cute puppies and kittens know about science?

Plenty, if you’re talking about the puppies and kittens in “Smart Puppy and Friends,” a new series of lighter-side learning videos produced by UCSD-TV’s Rich Wargo and UC San Diego physics professor Ivan Schuller.

Aimed at school-age youngsters – plus adults eager to learn science basics – the five 60-second videos blend clever, kid-friendly scripts with the magic of animatronics to simulate “talking” animals, much like the 1995 movie “Babe.”

In this case, the animals are puppies and kittens.

“I want kids to not be scared of science,” said Wargo, UCSD-TV’s science producer. “I want them to feel the same way I feel about it — as fascinating.”

Ivan Schuller (left) and Rich Wargo

Not Too Serious: Ivan Schuller (left) and Rich Wargo

For example, two of the scientific concepts are magnetism and quantum tunneling.

“I actually didn’t know what caused magnetism until I did this project,” said Wargo, a 20-year producer at UCSD-TV who readily admits he’s not a trained scientist. “We want to pique the curiosity that drives science. Plus, it’s a fun way to learn.”

Wargo voices the kitten, which he describes as similar to Sylvester, the bratty cat created by famed animator Mel Blanc. Wargo’s 17-year-old daughter, Alice, does voiceover for the puppy, who’s more akin to a savvy Lassie.

Currently posted on YouTube, the videos have a certain distinction, says Wargo.

“There are a zillion hits on puppies, but I haven’t seen any other YouTube videos with puppies that talk intelligently about science.”

The series is the latest project produced by Not Too Serious Labs, a spin-off collaboration between Wargo and Schuller. Their previous video productions include When Things Get Small, a 2006 Emmy-winning series aimed at youngsters with an interest in learning about basic science concepts.

The videos were funded by grants from the American Physical Society and the Materials Research Society.

“I believe it’s good to present general science with a warm and fuzzy feeling,” said Schuller. “I’ve always been interested in the many ways we can introduce the principles of science to a wider audience than just scientists.”

Teaching Teachers: “We’re Able to Freely Acknowledge and Embrace New Ideas”

Morgan Appel: "Those who go into education, they don’t pursue it as a profession -- it’s more of a calling."

Morgan Appel: “Those who go into education, they don’t pursue it as a profession — it’s more of a calling.” Photo by Erik Jepsen, UC San Diego Staff Photographer


Walking into Morgan Appel’s office is like going back to the ’50s with a nudge into the ’60s.

Appel, director of Educational Programs at UC San Diego Extension, revels in his surroundings: Original vinyl 45s adorn the walls, along with black-and-white photos of the likes of Chuck Berry and the Beatles, with faded copies of bygone magazines Life and Holiday within easy reach. An olive green rotary-dial phone rests on his desk.

Amid high school yearbooks from the ’40s, ’50s and ’60s – not all his – there are posters of cigarette and chewing gum ads, and one of actress Kim Novak, a personal favorite.

Bow-tied and bespectacled, Appel often wears blue jeans with the cuffs rolled up above black-and-white saddle shoes, a fashion statement that surely would please “The Fonz.”

“I once asked my wife if I could build a time machine at home,” said Appel. “She suggested that I build a time capsule in my office, which I did eight years ago when I first moved in. I happen to love nostalgia and for me, these items capture a history of optimism in design.”

A graduate of UC Irvine, where he later became a senior faculty associate for that institution’s School of the Arts, Appel takes pride in his specialty: teaching teachers within Extension’s credential programs.

Since joining UC San Diego Extension in 2006, he has served as the Educational Studies department’s chief academic and administrative officer. He supervises four full-time program representatives, 100 instructors, and over 5,000 students per academic year.

In addition, Appel is currently teaching the following Extension courses:

1) As a teacher of teachers, what’s your ultimate goal?
I believe in providing teachers with robust opportunities to address both the cognitive and sociological issues they must deal with every day. We view our program as an opportunity to give them an expresso’s shot worth of creativity, and provide them with a sanctuary, a place where educators can come and involve themselves in something meaningful, something they can truly make their own.

2) What’s your view of the educational models of recent years?
For too long, we’ve seen creativity sapped from the educational experience. It’s been too weighted down by standardized tests and other forms of accountability.

3) In your view, what were the biggest impediments to good teaching and good learning?
There was far too much emphasis on standardized testing, or as I call it, “drill and kill.” We failed to provide opportunities to help our teachers and students grown in metacognitive ways.

4) What makes UC San Diego’s educational program distinctive?
I’ve worked in any number of universities in my career. But this is a place where we can do what we do in a way that we’re not beholden to rules and regulations. Instead, we’re able to freely acknowledge and embrace new ideas and new strategies. It’s an exciting place to be. The advent of new technologies, the idea that it’s OK to do cross-disciplinary work, makes it all that more exciting.

5) What do you hope your students come away with?
All of our programs are designed to be a totally individualized experience. What we hope to do is model that experience in a way that teachers feel liberated and empowered to take that spirit back into the classroom.

6) That sounds like a reasonable teaching model…
Well, for decades, it had to be done in a clandestine way. You had to sneak it in, between the fixed curricula.

7) What are the motivating factors for those who want to become teachers?
Those who go into education, they don’t pursue it as a profession — it’s more of a calling. Without having that mind-set, I don’t think anybody would willingly subject themselves to the environment to which teachers subject themselves. Plus, toss in the idea that every March, you have to worry about being laid off.

8) How would you describe your theory of teaching?
Put it this way: The statue of David was always David before Michelangelo began chiseling. There are amazing things to be found when you dig a little deeper. We want to provide educators with a diverse palate of ideas and strategies, so they can uncover their own masterpiece.

9) How does your program inspire that spirit of creativity?
We find that the really innovative spirit, the transcendent ideas, come from each other. They are out there every day in their classrooms. They use each other as mutual sounding boards and shoulders to cry on. The end product of that synergy is quite stunning.

10) What are the intangibles that make you most proud of your department?
I have to say that I’m surrounded by amazing people who make it happen. I’m talking about our programming staff, each of whom has an incredible passion for our collective endeavor.


Fit to Teach Fitness Trainers: “Exercise Should Be Something You Desire to Do”

Fabio Comana: "What I emphasize is standing as much as I can – instead of sitting."

Fabio Comana: “You don’t have to go to extremes to see improvement in your health and fitness.”



Born and raised in the southern African nation of Zambia, Fabio Comana found his life’s calling in sports — first as an international-caliber rugby player and later, as a fitness and exercise expert.

Comana has taught UC San Diego Extension courses for nearly 10 years, augmenting his role as a San Diego State University faculty member, where he also coached men’s rugby for several seasons.

Rather than “get-in-shape” classes, his courses are geared toward those who aspire to be professional exercise trainers.

Previously an exercise physiologist with the San Diego-based American Council on Exercise, he also serves as academic coordinator for Extension’s Professional Certificate program in Fitness Instruction and Exercise Science.

Comana currently teaches the following Extension courses:

1) What exactly is the physiology of exercise?
It’s a curriculum that’s designed to prepare the majority of our students for a transition into the health and fitness field. So the word “physiology” simply means learning about what happens to the human body under the acute stress of exercise. Hopefully, it’s positive stress.

2) What made you choose fitness as a career?
I’ve been an athlete all my life. My parents first put me into competitive sports when I was 5. Members of my family, we all competed in sports and for me, it was rugby. I always wanted to find ways to improve my own performance, so I gravitated toward my conditioning and my nutrition. Along the way, I discovered that I really like helping other people. Eventually, it became my calling.

3) What’s the biggest lesson you hope exercise trainers convey to their clients?
A lot of times, people think they have to do all these extreme, really crazy workouts, to achieve some kind of desirable outcome. That’s simply unrealistic because a) they’ll probably not keep up with the program, and b) you don’t have to go to extremes to see improvement in your health and fitness. You don’t have to kill yourself. Moderation is the key.

"Ask, listen, understand, and respond"

“Ask, listen, understand, and respond”

4) What’s your mantra as an instructor?
I like to use these four key words: Ask, listen, understand, and respond. Much like in the medical field, too often we keep telling people what they need to do, instead of listening to what their personal goals are.

 5) What’s your personal workout routine?
People say to me, wow, you must go the gym five or six times a week. But I’ll probably do a traditional workout for, say, 45 minutes, maybe four times a week at the most. What I emphasize is standing as much as I can – instead of sitting. I’m actually standing right now while I’m talking on the phone.

 6) How about a few more small tips on office fitness?
Every time the phone rings, create a tiny habit: Tell yourself to stand up for at least five minutes. Or do a quick 10-minute stretching workout. I try to squeeze in little exercises, fit in a few little moments wherever and whenever I can throughout the day.

 7) How would do advise someone to deal with the “guilt” of not being able to exercise as often as they’d prefer?
All of our lives are already so crazy. I believe exercise should be something you desire to do, not that you feel obligated to do. I’d love to spend 90 minutes in the gym every day, but I don’t have that kind of time. So I prioritize. Four times a week is plenty for me.

 8) What makes a great physical fitness trainer?
Someone who can listen and be responsive to what a person desires.

 9) What’s the most unhealthy food that you crave, your guilty pleasure?
Mine is salty foods like French fries and potato chips. But I don’t feel guilty about eating them as long as it’s in moderation.

 10) So what’s worse for us – salt, fat or sugar?
For the longest time, we thought it was fat. But a lot of the new research coming out now points to sugar as the biggest culprit. When you look at the addiction we have for the sugar that’s in all of our foods, it’s totally ridiculous.

Project Management Workshop: Emphasis on Crucial Role of “PM” in Life Sciences

Biotech Project Management Workshop attendees listened intently.

Biotech Project Management Workshop attendees listened intently. (Photo by Felicia Murray)

UC San Diego Extension and the San Diego Biotechnology Network (SDBN) co-hosted the “Global Biotechnology Project Management Workshop and Networking Event” on Nov. 17.

Held at Green Flash brewery, the first-time event featured local biotech project managers who spoke about project management (PM) challenges and opportunities within the life science industry.

Yves Theriault, founder/president of the California Institute for Performance Management and an Extension instructor, began the presentations with an overview of the importance of project management.

He highlighted the need to define and measure performance metrics. The success of the organization, he said, ultimately depends on the performance and multidirectional alignment of individual projects.

Theriault also spoke about the need for PM in traditional discovery or research and development groups, including academic labs.

Kevin Tays, Associate Director of Project Management at Janssen Research & Development, spoke next about successful project initiation.

Tays said setting an early strategy is crucial for the drug development projects he manages, including considering the target patients, indications, efficacy, safety, value/pricing, and dosing. He added that he must also include strategies for emerging global markets.

Tays said that at Janssen, their 250 project managers can be “your best friend” as they have a unique view of the project they manage and can give important insights to the rationale behind projects and their goals.

Steve Linton, recently Director of Project Management at Halozyme, discussed stakeholder and risk management. He emphasized the importance of building trust in order to get buy-in from all stakeholders.

Jenny Chaplin, Development Director at Pfizer, spoke about the soft skills — communication, friendliness, and cooperation — needed for successful PMs. She pointed out that the global component of today’s life science projects increases the need to communicate well, flexibly and appropriately.

In her closing remarks, Locke Epsten, Extension’s Director of Corporate Education, made a point to re-emphasize soft skills in successful project management.

In early 2015, Extension will again partner with SDBN to present the Biotech/Pharma Project Manager’s Toolkit. Take our short survey to learn more and receive a $50 discount.

To schedule a consultation about project management, management or life science training for your organization, contact Locke Epsten.

– Mary Canady


Examining Alzheimer’s Disease: “We Try to Find the Black Box”

12-1-14 GRAPHIC 2, ALZHEIMER'S DISEASEThe oncoming epidemic of Alzheimer’s disease is staggering to consider. It will have an enormous impact on our personal lives, our communities, and our collective healthcare.

In his ongoing series of UCSD-TV interviews, titled “On Our Mind,” host Dr. William Mobley talks with experts about treatment options, innovations in research, and much more.

Here are two recent interviews:

Stem Cells and Alzheimer’s Disease
Can stem cells be a weapon in the fight against Alzheimer’s disease?

UC San Diego professor of cellular and molecular medicine Larry Goldstein, director of the stem cell program, joins Dr. Mobley to discuss how stem cells work and what possibilities they may unlock.

Quotable: “It’s a matter of using stem cells to tease out what I call the ‘black box’ of Alzheimer’s disease. What I mean is, when you see a plane crash, you see the pattern of wreckage on the ground. That has minor amounts of information.

“But what’s most important is what happened when the plane became committed to crash. To understand that, we try to find the black box, which tells us what went wrong in the cockpit before the crash. …

“In Alzheimer’s, the key is knowing what causes a brain cell to malfunction during the disease. … That’s what we use the stem cells for.”

Neuroimaging Advances for Alzheimer’s Disease

What insights into Alzheimer’s disease can cutting edge imaging techniques reveal?

UC San Diego associate professor of radiology James Brewer, who directs the Imaging Core for the Alzheimer’s Disease Cooperative Study, joins Dr. Mobley to discuss the latest technologies to study the progression of the disease.

Quotable: “I’m much more optimistic. … We’re learning much more about the process of the disease. We’re learning so much more about the molecules that need to be targeted. We’re learning more about the genetics. … We’re seeing the development of therapeutics that may actually help us start to slow this disease. This is a super-exciting time.”





The Pulse: Suicide Prevention Expert “Pulls Back the Layers”

STAN COLLINS, GRAPHIC 1A monthly series of conversations on healthcare issues

  • Topic:Leading Edge Strategies in Suicide Prevention”
  • Host: Leslie Bruce, ‎Director, Healthcare Leadership and Community Outreach, UC San Diego Extension
  • Guest: Stan Collins, suicide prevention expert


Stan Collins, a nationally-known suicide prevention specialist, has spent the last 14 years educating more than 500,000 adults and youth about how they can help prevent suicide.

In 2001, he testified before a U.S. Senate Subcommittee on the topic of youth suicide. He currently works as a consultant to numerous organizations in the field, focusing on technical assistance in creation and implementation of suicide prevention curricula and strategies.


  • “A lot of times when you hear reports of suicide in the media, it’s portrayed as this ‘inexplicable’ thing that happened, as with Robin Williams. No one could imagine why he could’ve done this. But when you pull back the layers a bit, you find out there was a history of substance abuse, possibly a mental illness diagnosis, also a possible diagnosis of a serious terminal illness.”


MOOC Presenter Ramanathan Honored as Leading Global Thinker

YOUR HOLINESS: Scripps Institution of Oceangraphy's Veerabhadran Ramanathan met with Pope Francis in May.

YOUR HOLINESS: Scripps Institution of Oceangraphy’s Veerabhadran Ramanathan met with Pope Francis.

Scripps Institution of Oceanography scientist Veerabhadran Ramanathan – profiled as the cover story of UC San Diego Extension’s Summer 2014 catalog – has been recognized by Foreign Policy magazine as one of the 100 Leading Global Thinkers of 2014.

The distinguished professor of climate and atmospheric sciences was cited for promoting dialogue with religious and political leaders to advance environmental stewardship.

Ramanathan was among four world-renowned UCSD scientists featured in “Climate Change in Four Dimensions: Scientific, Policy, International, and Social” – an online course offered earlier this year by Extension.

The Massive Open Online Course (MOOC) drew an estimated 15,000 students from around the world.

Ramanathan has achieved significant breakthroughs in the understanding of the effects of aerosols – particularly air pollution – on climate. In May 2014, at the personal invitation of Pope Francis, he hosted a first-ever papal conclave devoted to reversing global climate change.


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