50 Voices of the Future: Margaret Leinen on advances in oceanography

leinen50voiceIn honor of UC San Diego Extension’s first 50 years, 50 Voices of the Future asks thought leaders about the trends, breakthroughs and social advances they foresee over the next 50 years.

As much as we know about our planet’s ocean, it contains countless mysteries we have yet to solve, countless secrets we have yet to decipher. Dr. Margaret Leinen, director of Scripps Institution of Oceanography at UC San Diego, notes that “we have more images of Mars than we do of the bottom of the ocean.” Advances in technology, she says, will allow us to peer into the ocean’s distant past in order to forecast its future changes and the implications of those changes for the planet as a whole. “That ability to really see the ocean, and what’s in the ocean, and to see it changing in front of us, is probably the most exciting development in our field,” she says.

 Why is the work you do important?

I’m an oceanographer. The ocean covers 70 percent of the planet. It is the absolute driver of global climate. The ocean moderates the climate and keeps us from having really great temperature extremes. All of the precipitation originally comes from the ocean. The ocean is a huge food source for everyone and a major food source for 2 billion of the poorest people on the planet. Virtually all the goods that we think of as the basis for trade – big things like lumber and cars, small things like electronics — are transported over the ocean. Then of course there’s national defense – the Navy is a major player in defense. Then there are other things like the quality of the environment that makes swimming, diving, surfing, and sailing possible. Oceanographers look at all of those aspects. They look at how the ocean works, they look at the ecosystems within it, they look at techniques to be able to determine how the ocean is changing, they look at fisheries, they look at coastal issues like water quality, sea-level rise, etc. So it’s the sum of all those very important roles that oceanographers play.

What are the influential/exciting developments happening in your field now and why?

The ocean has been one of the most under-observed parts of the earth. We have more images of the surface of Mars than we do of the bottom of the ocean. But that’s changing. New systems are being developed that are autonomous and that have great capability of collecting and transmitting data. Even more important are new technologies for being able to get a global picture of the ocean itself – the interior of the ocean. We now have four thousand autonomous floats moving around the ocean every day, and every day about a fifth of those floats report back on profiles they’ve taken of the entire upper 6,500 feet of the ocean. We have a picture of the temperature, the salinity, the currents of the ocean that is so much more detailed than ever before as a result of ten years of these measurements. This new technology is completely revolutionizing oceanography. There are also new instruments for biology, enabling us to look at the genomics of the ocean, the microbiology of the ocean. The field is exploding so fast in capability that it’s hard to even keep track of. That ability to really see the ocean, and what’s in the ocean, and to see it changing in front of us, is probably the most exciting development in our field.


What’s the next big thing?

It’s hard to under-sell how important our new knowledge of the microbiology of the ocean is. In the last decade our understanding of microbes and viruses has completely changed our thinking. We now know that the genetic make-up of microbes holds keys to what the ocean was like in the past. Someone just described it this way: The earth’s history — since the time that there was an ocean — is written in the DNA of the microbes of the ocean in a language that we never knew and that we still don’t know how to speak.

How big an impact will your field play in shaping the future of the San Diego region and beyond?

San Diego is a coastal town, has a huge economy related to the ocean – trade, tourism, fishing, Navy – and the region itself is very much a part of that. Even the biotech part of the San Diego economy has not yet profited by our understanding of all of this ocean biology. I think oceanography will play an incredible role in shaping the evolution of the biotech industry here, unveiling marine molecules related to new drugs or novel compounds that do interesting things that we need done. I think oceanography will also shape the future of San Diego in how we deal with sea-level rise and how we deal with pollution in our waters; oceanography is at the heart of that.

Hop into your time machine…what does the future look like for this field in 50 years?

Oceanography will be even more interdisciplinary than it is now. This year we hired eight new faculty who have fully joint appointments with other parts of the university – the School of Medicine, the School of Engineering, the departments of anthropology, biology, and global policy and strategy. We need closer relationships with all of those fields to be able to attack the big questions and problems that we want to look at over the next decades. Also, our field will be saturated with technologies for observing the ocean that we don’t even know about now

Leinen is featured on UC San Diego’ Extension STEAM Channel as part of series The Constellation: Sally Ride Science Conversations. She discusses her career, leading the University of California’s delegation to the Paris Climate Conference and the impact of the new Research Vessel/Sally Ride.

50 Voices of the Future: Todd Hylton on the rise of robotics

50v_toddhyltonIn honor of UC San Diego Extension’s first 50 years, 50 Voices of the Future asks thought leaders about the trends, breakthroughs and social advances they foresee over the next 50 years.

San Diego has the potential to become what scientist Todd Hylton calls “Robot Valley.” Hylton, executive director of UC San Diego’s Contextual Robotics Institute, believes the region has all the ingredients to become the nation’s leader in robotic innovations: great universities, a critical mass of private researchers and a fantastic location. Hylton has been working in robotics and related technologies for many years – most recently at the San Diego startup Brain Corporation and the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) before that. He predicts dramatic near-term advances in the way robots impact our daily lives, from how we drive to how we maintain our health. One day, he says, there might even be a widespread demand for so-called “humanoids” – robots that look like people. How humans might respond to a world filled with humanoids is, of course, anyone’s guess. “If the robot is not too human, people like it,” Hylton says. “If the robot is very, very human, people like it. If it’s in-between, it seems creepy.”

Why is the work you do important?

There are lots of practical needs in which robots or intelligent machines could make a big difference. Consider just the example of health care. As people get older, we’d like to help prevent falls. Having a house that’s smart enough turn on the lights for you, a walker that’s smart enough to come to you and tell you when you’re about to step over something, a machine that can look at the way you’re walking and try to anticipate that you might be having problems and alert caregivers or medical personnel – all of these things seem within our grasp but they’re not yet available.

What are the influential/exciting developments happening in your field now and why?

Perhaps the most exciting one is the rebirth of artificial intelligence in some new forms. You can see it everywhere. Self-driving cars, for example. These cars are going to have all these artificial-intelligence abilities on board that will enable them to do the things they need to do to drive themselves. Sensors and computing hardware and a lot of pieces you need to build robots have gotten really cheap. Also, some of the advanced sensors, the laser sensors, are coming down in cost, too, as the volumes go up, driven by applications like cars and other things. So there’s a lot of cool stuff going on. Of course, we do worry about robots displacing humans in various jobs. In the Robotics Institute at UC San Diego, it’s not simply an engineering-driven institute; it’s a collaboration of engineering and the division of social sciences. We need to be conscious of how the robots are going to influence and interact with the humans. That’s where the social scientists live, that’s their work. There are challenges going forward if we are able to automate much of the work we do now, which is what technology essentially always does. Historically, people have always reorganized themselves in a way where the technology provides tools that make them more capable. One would, of course, like the disruption to be as modest and the transition as smooth as possible. We certainly worry about those things.


What’s the next big thing?

The next big thing in the field of robotics is robots that have a more complex understanding of their world and that develop a larger understanding of the context of the environment that they live in. And that includes things that happen over a long period of time. They don’t do that now. And that’s partly why we named the institute the Contextual Robotics Institute. The idea is that the robot needs to understand the context of the situation it’s in.

How big an impact will your field play in shaping the future of the San Diego region and beyond?

We would like San Diego to become Robot Valley. We’re working very hard to engage people outside the university. A large fraction of my job is finding industry partners, creating research partnerships with them, and making sure that we are educating the kind of people that they’ll want to hire. There are quite a few companies in the area, small and large, working in the field, so a large part of what I’m trying to do is stitch those pieces together. We have all the parts here – we’ve got the great universities, we’ve got the intellectual capital, we’ve got the industry around it, we have a great location. So we have as good a shot of doing it as anybody.

Hop into your time machine…what does the future look like for this field in 50 years?

We’ll have machines that work in the real world without humans having to tell them what to do all the time. We can have cars that talk to each other, that pick us up, that talk to the airplane to tell us when we can get on the airplane. We’ll have sensors that tell us, your blood pressure’s too high so you need to change your diet. There’s so much low-hanging fruit that it’s sometimes hard to figure out where to start.

Hylton recently shared his insights into the rise of robotics at the Game Changer lecture that was put on by Collaboratory for Downtown Innovation (CDI), which is a partnership between UC San Diego and the Downtown San Diego Partnership. The mission of CDI is to build stronger connections between tech entrepreneurs in Downtown San Diego and UC San Diego and other research institutions on the Torrey Pines Mesa. You can find out more here.

50 Voices of the Future: Anthony Davis on musical innovation

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In honor of UC San Diego Extension’s first 50 years, 50 Voices of the Future asks thought leaders about the trends, breakthroughs and social advances they foresee over the next 50 years.

Anthony Davis’ cutting-edge operas exude all the drama and power of the art form, while exploring relevant and often charged topics. At UC San Diego, the celebrated composer/pianist is a music professor in Integrative Studies and Composition. His eight operas (he is working on his ninth) include “X, The Life and Times of Malcolm X,” “Five” (about New York’s Central Park Five) and “Wakonda’s Dream,” (about a resilient Native American family). “Lear on the Second Floor,” which premiered at UC San Diego in 2013, is one of his several smaller-scale operatic works.

Davis also writes chamber, choral and orchestral music and leads workshops for the New York-based American Composers Orchestra. He frequently tours as a solo pianist, especially in Europe, and recently performed with acclaimed jazz trumpeter Wadada Leo Smith, his longtime musical compadre. Davis’ collaborators at UC San Diego include playwright Allan Havis and contrabassist Mark Dresser, both fellow professors. Davis has been a music instructor at UC San Diego’s Jazz Camp since it began 15 years ago. He calls the camp a “wonderful experience.”


(1) Why is the work you do important?

My work, particularly in opera, has transformed the medium by creating pieces with political impact and synthesizing different traditions. I’m integrating jazz, classical and longer, extended forms. How I approach text and setting words to music is part of my innovation as composer.

Taking on politically charged issues is an important role that opera can play. My colleagues and I are working to make opera immediate and visceral, to create a different intimacy than grand opera.

(2) What are the influential/exciting developments happening in your field now and why?

One is the use of electronic media, using computers to merge sound effects with music. With synthesizers, we can create a sound world that affects the audience before the baton drops.

There are other innovative forms of storytelling – taking the linear approach out of it and looking at issues from various points of views. Rap and hip hop have influenced the way we approach rhythm and text. We are bringing improvisation into opera.

25ccabucsandiegopublicationserikjepsen(3) What’s the next big thing?

I’m interested in the idea of creating opera using telematics, which enables performers to collaborate in several locations at once. It’s not just the theatrical event but also includes using video projection. Pieces can be presented simultaneously allowing multiple perspectives.

(4) How big an impact will your field play in shaping the future of the San Diego region and beyond?

I don’t think it’s regional, although San Diego is emerging as a cultural center. The work I do looks at the country and the world. Nothing is limited to region now. What happens here happens around the world.

The work we do is very important in this hostile political environment. There’s a threat to our democracy. As artists, what we create sounds an alarm against oppression.

I worry that there will be assaults on the advancements that have been made over the last 20 years. We are looking at a period of great turmoil and ugly confrontations. As artists, we can galvanize people and help them realize what is at stake.

(5) Hop into your time machine…what does the future look like for this field in 50 years? How can individuals/companies get prepared for what’s next?

Who knows? It’s all up for grabs. If we are going to surrender to racist, misogynist forces within our society, we could get pessimistic. The stakes are high. In 50 years, we could be an open society welcoming ideas from people with different backgrounds or a repressive society that has reverted to our awful past. It’s not a given that in 50 years we will be in a better place than we are now.

UCSD Jazz Camp is a five-day summer program designed for intermediate to advanced level jazz musicians, ages 14–adult. UC San Diego Extension also offers a variety of Performing Arts courses in Singing, Guitar, Piano and more, for adults.

50 Voices of the Future: Ed Abeyta on preparing students for success in college and beyond

edabeyta50voiceIn honor of UC San Diego Extension’s first 50 years, 50 Voices of the Future asks thought leaders about the trends, breakthroughs and social advances they foresee over the next 50 years.

As the job market changes, so, too, must education. The impact of technology has an immense impact not only on our everyday lives but on learning and teaching as well. Innovation is pushing the idea of personalized education in order to support students’ individual talents and abilities. It’s a concept Ed Abeyta has supported for many years. As the assistant dean for community engagement and director of pre-collegiate programs at UC San Diego Extension, Abeyta has worked to provide students opportunities to prepare themselves for success in college – and beyond.

(1) Why is the work you do important?

Never before has it been so important to inspire the next generation to prepare for jobs that don’t yet exist in the workforce. We used to ask children what they want to be when they grow up, but today we should be asking them what big problem they wish to solve and how we can provide the tools they will need to solve it. My work seeks to implement sustainable approaches to connect UC San Diego resources to the community we serve. Some examples include test preparation, STEAM, short for science, technology, engineering, arts and math, educational programs, lower division college courses, parent college preparation workshops and much more.


(2) What are the influential/exciting developments happening in your field now and why?

More than ever, we are learning that each student has unique talents and abilities. Our job as educators is to unlock the genius in each student through assessment tools, like the Strengths Finder, which helps identify specific talents and skills. A funny thing happens when students learn about their own unique talents and then are able to connect those talents with a vision of what they’d like to do with their lives. Already San Diego Unified School District Superintendent Cindy Marten has taken the lead in making sure this approach is integrated into our local district. Our pre-college department has been a key partner in this effort by hosting training and development sessions for teachers and counselors.

 (3) What’s the next big thing?

So much effort has been put into providing Advanced Placement (AP) courses for high school students to elevate the level of their education. We believe there is an opportunity to provide more practical skills by offering students the ability to earn a professional or specialized certificate in emerging STEAM disciplines. This approach enables students to receive not only their diploma but also a certificate in an applied skill area. More than ever we need to provide transformational experiences for young adults to be inspired and create a sense of vision for their future.


 (4) How big an impact will your field play in shaping the future of the San Diego region and beyond?

Our efforts are strategically disruptive in an attempt to explore new approaches to support our school districts and industry partners in our community. A number of years ago we added the arts to STEM, which has already made an impact on education not only here but throughout the country. This effort has shaped how our teachers approach education in the classroom via project-based learning. In addition, a strategic pre-college strategic approach to learning enables us to provide access to many talented young adults – regardless of their economic situation or background.

 (5) Hop into your time machine … what does the future look like for this field in 50 years? How can individuals/companies get prepared for what’s next?

Fifty years from now UC San Diego will continue to be the world command center and think tank for solving tomorrow’s problems and producing students who are not only intelligent but important members of our civic society.

To find out more about UC San Diego Extension’s pre-college programs, visit http://precollege.ucsd.edu/.

50 Voices of the Future: Mike Stevenson on the craft of brewing

mikestevensonIn honor of UC San Diego Extension’s first 50 years, 50 Voices of the Future asks thought leaders about the trends, breakthroughs and social advances they foresee over the next 50 years.

Craft beer has been the fastest growing sector of alcoholic beverages in the nation, and with 130 breweries, San Diego County is considered a capital for beer connoisseurs. For many, brewing starts as an experiment in hopes of turning a passion into a quaffable product. A goal Mike Stevenson found himself achieving when he, and cofounder Ben Fairweather, opened Culver Beer Company in early 2015. Stevenson gained hands-on brewing experience through apprenticeships at brewpubs in Germany and Italy, received a Brewing certificate from UC San Diego Extension, and worked with Twisted Manzanita and White Labs where he gained valuable knowledge about yeast, fermentation and quality assurance.

(1) Why is the work you do important?

For one, craft beer has allowed for manufacturing jobs to exist in America again and people enjoy consuming local products. As an industry, we were fortunate to grow at the same time the farm-to-table movement really took off. People find value in knowing that what they are purchasing is helping support their local economy.

(2) What are the influential/exciting developments happening in your field now and why?

With the craft beer boom, there has been a dramatic shift affecting every aspect of the brewing industry. We’ve moved out of the Budweiser-dominated beer world where there was a limited choice of raw materials and only a few buyers, to now, where we are close to reaching 5,000 small independent breweries nationwide. The landscape has clearly changed. Barley farmers have started growing flavor rich varieties, which we have not seen before, maltsters are producing all sorts of new types of malted barley to brew with and hop growers keep coming up with crazy new strains to help fuel the IPA craze. Most bars, restaurants and pubs have increased their tap real estate to allow for a larger variety of beers and a lot of them strive to keep local craft beer on tap.

(3) What’s the next big thing?

Good question. I think the big bitter IPAs are slowing down in popularity and people are starting to explore other styles. Sour beers have grown into a nice niche market and some breweries in town only cater to this style of beer. Vanilla Cream Ales, Peanut Butter Stouts and other flavor filled beers have helped put their respective breweries on the map and they have seen awesome growth because of them. Our lagers and Belgian styles do just as well as our IPAs in our tap room and we plan on continuing to produce these styles as we try our hand at new ones. We need to find that one beer that will pay the bills and hit the market hard, and we have a few good contenders. I think rapid growth year over year will also begin to slow down as smaller guys come into the marketplace and push pressure upwards.

(4) How big an impact will your field play in shaping the future of the San Diego region and beyond?

San Diego has become an epicenter of brewing worldwide. We get plenty of out-of-town visitors in our taproom and their itineraries include the normal tourist activities followed by stopovers at local breweries. There are over 130 breweries in San Diego County, so almost anywhere you go you’re a short drive away from a brewery. I know plenty of brewers who started their brewing career in San Diego and have had wonderful opportunities to work around the country and world because they had a San Diego brewery on their resume. The recent Great American Beer Festival further solidified San Diego’s status as a craft beer hub, bringing home 18 of the 68 medals awarded to California breweries.

(5) Hop into your time machine … what does the future look like for this field in 50 years? How can individuals/companies get prepared for what’s next?

Beer has been around since civilization began. In 50 years, this craft beer phase will be another chapter in a brewing textbook. History has been repeating itself as of late with larger breweries starting to purchase smaller brands to add to their “craft portfolio.” I think we will see a lot more consolidation in the industry like we did in the 50s, 60s and 70s. However, I think we will see a large number of breweries remain small, catering to their local customer base. We are located in a business-dense area and serve as a pub for the local working-class people, who as they have always done, like to enjoy a beer after work. I think in the near future supply chains will get tighter and materials (hops) will be harder to source as the bigger guys lock down their contracts. The best advice I can give is to make good beer and get to know your regulars in the tasting room.

Interested in becoming a craft brewer? Learn more about UC San Diego Extension’s Brewing Certificate here.

50 Voices of the Future: Elizabeth Komives on keeping humans healthy

komives50voiceIn honor of UC San Diego Extension’s first 50 years, 50 Voices of the Future asks thought leaders about the trends, breakthroughs and social advances they foresee over the next 50 years.

Despite all the medical advances in history, we still know remarkably little about disease. “We only know the causes of probably 20 diseases out of the thousands of things people suffer from,” says UC San Diego’s Elizabeth Komives. “And that’s because we don’t understand how the system works.” Komives, a professor of chemistry and biochemistry who runs the school’s biophysics research lab, has spent years studying the proteins contained in our cells – research that is critical, she says to understanding how the human body functions as a whole. Future advances in this field, she believes, will make it that much easier to fight disease and keep humans as healthy as possible.

Why is the work you do important?

My philosophy is that you can’t understand how to intervene in a system that you don’t understand. There have to be people – and I am one of these people – who do basic research. We don’t know how even the simplest cell inside our body actually does what it does. Every cell in a human body has exactly the same genes in it. But every cell does something different. Your hair cells are completely different from your liver cells, which are completely different from your lung cells. And we don’t even know what all the proteins are or how they’re modified in any cell – yet. So how can we know how to intervene effectively to change these functions – to stop a cancer cell or make a good cell grow better or prevent a particular drug’s side effects – when we simply don’t know how they work yet? I’m working at the very basic level of trying to understand how these proteins interact with each other, how they work together, who binds with who to create which functions when, so we don’t make the mistake of plowing forward with practical applications on a system we don’t yet understand. When a patient says, “I have X symptoms,” our research will help a doctor be able to say, “Oh, that’s because this protein is malfunctioning or this other protein is malfunctioning.”

What are the influential/exciting developments happening in your field now and why?

My lab has discovered some incredibly interesting things that proteins actually do. It’s very cool. We watch these proteins move with all different kinds of experiments and we go, “Oh my God, look at what this thing is doing.” And you never would have guessed it. But you can see it in the experiments. And it’s amazing. And that’s just one protein. And we have 6,000 different proteins in every cell and so we have so much yet to learn about how nature has evolved these proteins to do the functions that need to be done in our normal functioning biology

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Ensemble of thrombin structures that best represent the NMR-derived residual dipolar couplings

 

What’s the next big thing?

To me, the next big thing in our field is increasing diversity. I am a firm believer that the lens through which you look at your experimental results is a personal lens, and a person’s background and training and family and life experiences provide a different viewpoint of what you see what you actually get an experimental result. This is why it’s very important to me that we can no longer tolerate the white, over-40, male scientist as the only acceptable lens. I am trying my best to promote diversity among scientist and that’s what I’ve been trying to do with the Research Scholars program that’s part of UC San Diego Extension’s Academic Connections Summer program, which targets students from underprivileged backgrounds, from underrepresented minority groups and girls who maybe feel they won’t be popular if they’re a nerd.

How big an impact will your field play in shaping the future of the San Diego region and beyond?

Up until about 10 years ago everybody thought that drugs had to be small organic molecules and now that view has completely changed. Every year, there are many drugs coming on the market that are actually proteins. And so our understanding of how proteins work is going to be super-critical for this explosion of alternative therapies and better treatments for diseases. Both in biotech and in the pharmaceutical industry, this explosion is happening, and San Diego is I think third in the U.S. for those industries, behind only San Francisco and Boston. So I’m really looking forward to training future scientists who will work in the San Diego area and also having closer relationships with companies on the Mesa so they understand what we’re doing.

Hop into your time machine … what does the future look like for this field in 50 years? How can individuals/companies get prepared for what’s next?

 With improved physics, we will be able to actually watch single proteins move inside cells. Right now we still cannot do that. That will enable us to truly understand the function of proteins in their native environment, as individuals. Right now, we’re targeting drugs to the average behavior of proteins, but it may be that one of these proteins is the outlier and that one is the problem. And so if we can’t visualize them individually, we can’t know.

Komives works with UC San Diego Extension on its Research Scholars program, which is part of its pre-college Academic Connections Summer program. The program allows students to work alongside world-renowned faculty researchers in such fields as chemistry, biochemistry, biology and nanotechnology.

 

 

50 Voices of the Future: Blair Thornley on finding artistic inspiration

blairthornley50-2In honor of UC San Diego Extension’s first 50 years, 50 Voices of the Future asks thought leaders about the trends, breakthroughs and social advances they foresee over the next 50 years.

The best artists tend to share this in common: they follow their own instincts, their own voices, rather than succumbing to a singular obsession with how to please an audience. Blair Thornley is a big believer in creating things that “come from the heart.” She is an award-winning illustrator, painter and animator whose work has garnered a national following and appeared in publications such as The New York Times and Vanity Fair as well as prominent ad campaigns. She lives in North Park and has taught classes at UC San Diego Extension, among other places. She looks for inspiration wherever she can find it – and one source happens to be her students. “I love being able to interact with young people and see how they’re thinking and how they problem-solve with their art,” she says. “And it keeps me on my toes.”

Why is the work you do important?

I feel that art reaches people on maybe a spiritual level or a deeper level to communicate one person to another and I feel that is important for our culture – for people to feel encouraged and hopeful by feeling connected to others. I think writing and music and acting and all of those things do very much the same thing. And visual art, when it’s from the heart, reaches other people, and that’s why I think it’s important.

See a sampling of Blair’s work at instagram.com/blairthornley.

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What are the influential/exciting developments happening in your field now and why?

The web and social media are changing everything. It has changed the field of illustration – it’s gutted the market and made illustrations very cheap and made it very hard to make a living as an illustrator. I think visual art has become fast and cheap. On the Internet, it’s too easy to lift something and use it. Many people who have not studied art can sample other people’s work and shove it together and call it art, too. Most illustrators that I know don’t do it full-time anymore because of those changes. Young artists need to start fighting for their rights when it comes to copyright issues.

The good side of social media and the digital world is that now I can look online and find other artists that I wouldn’t have found otherwise. I do that all the time on Instagram – I find wonderful artists around the world who are inspiring, and I wouldn’t have found them otherwise. Also, computer advances have helped. With Photoshop, you can do brilliant things. I use it to scan and clean up and send work, but what’s really great is I can make a gigantic poster of my artwork pretty cheaply, I can self-publish books, I can send my work to a gallery with very high-resolution and very quickly. It’s easier to get my art out into the world. And when I put it on Instagram, I’m connecting with the outside world right away and getting feedback right away. If you don’t find a way through social media to get your work out, then you absolutely disappear.

What’s the next big thing?

Artists really need to do work that’s personal and comes from their heart, not to repeat themselves to make money, not to be derivative of other people’s work to make money, but to really develop themselves and keep exploring and experimenting and do their very best in whatever visual medium they’re working in to be really true to themselves. I don’t think that’s new. That would have been my advice 100 years ago, too. I don’t know what the next big things is other than that each person as an artist has to go out and figure that out every day. Artists have the responsibility to reinvigorate themselves on a very regular basis.

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How big an impact will your field play in shaping the future of the San Diego region and beyond?

San Diego is a little bit like an open canvas. If somebody wanted to do something dramatic, they could go ahead and do it. There are artists and architects in town doing interesting things. I’m in North Park, where there’s a lot of young people, and that’s very exciting. Many of the new places are very creative. They’re kind of hand-made places. It’s not The Gap and it’s not corporate, which is exciting. It’s quite amazing. I never expected it. Want you really want is young people coming in and trying new things.

Hop into your time machine…what does the future look like for this field in 50 years?

Whether it’s today, in 10 years, in 50 years, the best artists will always be true to themselves. Whether you’re drawing or painting, make it sincere, and always try new things and do it from your heart. Don’t do what you think other people want to see – because that’s just death.

Learn more about Blair Thornley and the courses she teaches on our website, and explore other Art areas such as Art History, Children’s Book Writing & Illustration, Fine Art, Illustration, and Studio & Decorative Arts.

50 Voices of the Future: Stacey Pennington on revitalizing East Village

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In honor of UC San Diego Extension’s first 50 years, 50 Voices of the Future asks thought leaders about the trends, breakthroughs and social advances they foresee over the next 50 years.

San Diego’s Downtown is in the midst of an urban renewal as it looks to transform itself into a hub for innovation, culture and community connections. Stacey Pennington, a principal at SLP Urban Planning, has long been a driving force in the effort to revitalize the Downtown neighborhood. Currently, Pennington is part of the team working on Makers Quarter, a six-city block mixed-use district in the East Village that aims to create a vibrant economic and residential neighborhood that will power the region’s prosperity for generations to come.


Why is the work you do important?

As an urban planner, I have the opportunity to help shape the future of cities and the built environment, more specifically focusing on the East Village neighborhood in Downtown San Diego and Makers Quarter. The future of the built environment really drives and helps shape the quality of people’s lives and the opportunities that the next generations will have to fulfill their goals and dreams. That, paired together with issues of sustainability and our nation’s infrastructure and growth patterns over the past several decades, makes the field of urban planning even that much more significant.

What are the influential/exciting developments happening in your field now and why?

The rapid transformation of how we live our day-to-day lives with the influence of technology affects us in many ways. And professionally, it affects the world of urban planning, design, building and architecture. Technology has created a field of interest within urban planning relating to smart cities, which has many layers but is a very scalable concept. It relates just as much to the future of unmanned vehicles as it does to how the region plans for systems of transportation, energy and communication.

Those two things interact with the broader city and urban environment where potentially the mechanisms behind everything can speak to one another. That’s very exciting, especially as it relates to goals of sustainability because of the efficiencies and energy use that can otherwise be measured and improved.

Another exciting development is the increasing importance of civic involvement and how cities are planned, designed and built, all while incorporating the application of human centered design principles.

What’s the next big thing?

One of the great things about urban planning is its’ diversity – an urban planner can be focused on the scale of a region, city or block and through the lens of transportation + mobility, open space + connectivity or community engagement, among many other areas. One thing that I have been very focused on is shifting away from traditional models for community engagement, which might include a series of town hall style meetings on a particular topic, towards a much more interactive and iterative approach known as Tactical Urbanism, where ideas and concepts are ‘tested’ in an interim nature and, the ones that work, shape the future, while the ones that don’t, we learn from early. This approach is instrumental to many of the scales of urban planning and is just now getting broader traction throughout the City and Region. I really see the next big thing being a gradual and incremental transition towards a more thoughtful and genuine model for civic engagement that can be applied across multiple scales, whether it is similar to the approach taken in Makers Quarter, at the scale of six blocks in Downtown, or at a much broader, infrastructure driven scale.


How big an impact will your field play in shaping the future of the San Diego region and beyond?

I see urban planning through a very holistic lens where it’s incredibly intertwined with issues like economic development – I believe that it will be one of the most important fields in determining the future of our region. The strength of San Diego’s innovation economy and it’s potential to grow heightens the importance of creating environments for it to flourish. While we are known for our beauty, we are also creating a rich and diverse Downtown environment suited to provide the infrastructure, culture, education, open space and density needed for a promising future.

Hop in to your time machine … what does the future look like for this field in 50 years? How can individuals/companies get prepared for what’s next?

The future will be intertwined with technology in ways that we can’t even begin to imagine. In the future, I think urban planning will follow a similar trajectory for the role it played many decades ago. I think the same pattern will continue and it will intensify and be expedited. Urban planning went from being an integral but separate field, and today it’s incredibly intertwined with all issues on every scale. I think that 50 years from now, the way people live their lives and the central role of technology and the growth of cities will be completely intertwined.

We have a wide range of Environment & Sustainability offerings. Learn more about the UC San Diego Extension Urban Planning & Preservation courses and programs on our website. 

50 Voices of the Future: Kirby Brady on analyzing regional economic trends

kirby_50voicesIn honor of UC San Diego Extension’s first 50 years, 50 Voices of the Future asks thought leaders about the trends, breakthroughs and social advances they foresee over the next 50 years.

Fantastic weather and world class beaches aren’t the only things that make San Diego attractive. The region is also a leading center for innovation and entrepreneurship and provides a range of economic opportunities for global business as well as a diverse makeup of residents who help offer a uniquely rich cultural experience. “It’s truly a world class city,” said Kirby Brady, director of research at the San Diego Regional Economic Development Corporation (EDC). In this role, Brady analyzes regional economic trends to help shape her organization’s efforts to expand a wide variety of industry sectors while supporting the talent pool that drives their success.

1. Why is the work you do important?

As a native San Diegan, I take pride in educating people on the tremendous economic assets and opportunities unique to this region. It is my hope that in conducting quality research and getting it into the hands of leaders and decision makers, we can help to shape the future of the region in a sustainable way that enhances our global competitiveness and economic prosperity.

2. What are the influential/exciting developments happening in your field now and why?

I believe the most influential developments are population growth and our changing demographics. The San Diego region is projected to increase by about one million people by the year 2050. Most people are surprised to learn that the majority of this growth is natural or “homegrown,” meaning existing residents having children, and so on. Not only that, but we’re also in the midst of a major demographic shift due to the substantial aging population. This growth, coupled with the rapidly changing demographic dynamics, is ushering in a whole new set of challenges for regional decision makers. Where can we build new housing? How do we enhance our transportation system to meet the mobility needs of a growing and diverse population? How do we ensure we are able to retain the talent we are graduating each year from our educational institutions? How do we attract and retain firms to grow our economy?

3. What’s the next big thing?

Big Data. It’s already a big thing, but I believe every aspect of life as we know it will be influenced by Big Data in the future – from healthcare and medicine to transportation and decision-making in government and businesses. For example, the use of predictive analytics in the field of medicine will allow doctors to tailor medication and treatment plans to any person on the planet based on their unique DNA. In the transportation field, Big Data will allow for a better understanding of how people travel – whether it is by bus, train, bike or car – and allow us to better understand travel patterns and the demand for different routes to alleviate congestion on the roads. These types of technologies are widely prevalent and in use today, but it’s going to play an even larger role in the future.

4. How big an impact will your field play in shaping the future of the San Diego region and beyond?

Every day we work with businesses to make sure they have the resources they need to thrive in the region. We’re actively promoting San Diego as a place to work, live and do business. At the end of the day, we’re focused on growing the regional economy and bringing good jobs here. So in a sense, our economy is like a garden; we’re planting the seeds and tending to it tirelessly to make sure it flourishes and remains healthy in the future. I believe the work we do, including telling San Diego’s story and conducting valuable research, is absolutely influential in shaping the region’s future, but our success and influence ultimately depend on working collaboratively with local government, community leaders and empowering citizens in the decision-making process.

5. Hop in to your time machine… what does the future look like for this field in 50 years? How can individuals/companies get prepared for what’s next?

The speed at which the world around us is changing is astonishing. At the very least, in 50 years we’re going to have a lot more people on this planet. These changes will undoubtedly bring challenges, but I also believe we have a tremendous opportunity to shape the future. The difference in whether or not we are successful as a society depends largely on how well we plan ahead. In San Diego, we’re still writing our story – and I would say the best way to prepare for the future is to embrace change. Get involved with the planning process in your community. Stay engaged, and let’s educate the next generation about the importance of public participation.

The San Diego Regional Economic Development Corporation’s mission is to maximize the region’s economic prosperity and global competitiveness. The often work with other non-profits like UC San Diego Extension to encourage and support the local workforce in pursuing their educational and professional goals.

 

50 Voices of the Future: Jon Schwartz on the impact of empowering the aging population

jonschwartz

In honor of UC San Diego Extension’s first 50 years, 50 Voices of the Future asks thought leaders about the trends, breakthroughs and social advances they foresee over the next 50 years.

San Diego is in the midst of an aging explosion. As those in the baby boomer generation continue to age, the senior population is growing at a faster pace than the total population in the country. According to Aging and Independent Services, the 60-74 year old community will increase by an average of 130 percent by 2030. Jon Schwartz, the marketing director for Seacrest Village Retirement Communities, understands firsthand the impact this group could have on our community. Although concerns have been raised about providing adequate assistance to seniors, he believes there’s an opportunity to empower those who are entering their senior years.

  1. Why is the work you do important?

Our government, media and culture are nervous about the explosion in elderly people and the burdens this may place on society. Concerns regarding access to adequate transportation, increased health care expenditures, lack of affordable housing and a cut in social services are all issues that we should be worried about. However, at the same time, this age revolution is an incredible opportunity for society. Never before have we had so many healthy, wealthy and wise older adults capable of making incredible differences in the world. As we grow older we become wiser, more philanthropic, more empathetic and are less likely to engage in violence and crime. Our motivations shift; mentorship and being a positive role model become imperative. Therefore, the work we do in exposing these skills is critical in making the world a better place.

  1. What are the influential/exciting development happening in your field now and why?

I believe the most influential development happening in our field is the fact that 10,000 Baby Boomers turn 70-years-old each day. This generation will redefine the way we age. No longer are the “golden years” meant for just leisure. Everything from housing, transportation and medicine will improve as a result of this generation.

  1. What’s the next big thing?

I believe technology and medicine will continue to exponentially improve. In terms of technology, we can expect to see improvements in the home to enable individuals to remain safe and comfortable. Today in Japan, the amount of seniors needing care exceeds the amount of caregivers able to provide this care. Therefore, they have begun using robots to supplement care. For example, they are used as medication reminders and to serve as companions. I anticipate this happening in the western world in the coming years.

In terms of medicine, we will continue to see incredible advancements in a race to extend healthy years in life. Many companies, funded by deep pockets and brilliant minds, are working on giving us all more healthy years. I believe they will achieve this through personalized medicine and customized nutrition. One day, everyone will have their genome sequenced, allowing clinicians to provide targeted therapies specific to our DNA.

  1. How big an impact will your field play in shaping the future of the San Diego region and beyond?

The field of aging will place a monumental role on the future of San Diego. In the year 1900, average life expectancy in America was just 47 years old. Today, average life expectancy in America is 78. In just over 100 years we have gained an extra 30 years of life, which I feel is one of the most remarkable achievements in the 20th century. To me, history will prove that the 21st century will be remembered for the incredible things that society does in those extra 30-plus years of life. As global aging continues to surge, we will soon reap the benefits of millions upon millions of more educated, wealthy and healthy seniors than the previous generation. We will see the elderly use their time, wisdom and compassion to make the world a better place in ways that we have never seen.

  1. Hop in to your time machine … what does the future look like for this field in 50 years? How can individuals/companies get prepared for what’s next?

I think in the next 50 years our society will continue to improve on providing opportunities for seniors to expose their talents and wisdom. I imagine there will be more inter-generational structures in the work place and in housing. I anticipate a greater percentage of seniors working, volunteering and being incredible assets to their community. This will all come about as our most disruptive age related diseases: dementia, heart disease and cancer, will have better therapies.

Jon Schwartz is the director of marketing at Seacrest Village Retirement Communities. He has been a featured speaker at the Osher Lifelong Learning Institute at UC San Diego, a membership program for adults over the age of 50 who want to be part of a learning community with peers.