SC 206: The Impacts of Climate Change. Part 3 – Extreme Events. Class presentations available.

As our planet warms, humankind must discover solutions to global ecological problems before it is too late. We are being impacted by changing temperatures on land and in the ocean, changes in sea level and acidity, increasingly frequent extreme weather events, biological extinctions, and more. Please join OLLI for the third in a series of classes on the impacts that a changing climate is driving. During this semester’s sessions we will focus on extreme events.  Specific research assessments for mega-storms, increased large storm frequency, flooding, drought, wildfires, cold and heat waves, erosion and mudslides and infrastructure impact will be addressed.

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SC 205: Big Data. Class presentation available.

It is estimated that 90 percent of all the world’s data has been generated in the last two years. This data can be either used or abused. In this course, we will discover how we can extract useful information from this digital fire-hose. The term Big Data describes the tasks of storing, processing, and analyzing extremely large amounts of data previously unavailable, ignored, or unable to be processed by older technologies.  Big Data is distinguished not only by its huge volume, but also by the concurrent presence of disparate data types and much faster data capture rates.  We will review how Big Data is collected, stored, analyzed and searched, and explore its implications in fields ranging from manufacturing to Constitutional rights and national security.

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Happiness 101. Class presentation available.

This class will explore the concept of happiness from the perspectives of ancient philosophers, world religions, indigenous cultures and contemporary psychologists and philosophers. Happiness is a complex value with cultural, religious, ethnic, social, and interpersonal dimensions. Class enrollees will discuss their own definitions of happiness.

The following questions will form the outline for class discussions:

  • What are the roles of age, gender, marriage, religion, and state of health in achieving happiness?
  • What are the roles of income, wealth, education and social status in achieving happiness?
  • What values, thoughts, and general behaviors enhance personal happiness?
  • Can a person who has experienced many adversities be happy?
  • Do the political and economic conditions in a country affect its citizens’ sense of happiness?

On the premise that the achievement of happiness is a combination of chance, random circumstances, and deliberate personal choices, class participants will identify how they can enhance their happiness. Continue reading

SC 204 – The Internet of Things. Class presentation available.

By 2020, it is expected that 30 billion devices will be connected to each other through the Internet. That’s an average of five connected devices for every person on the planet. Your body will be monitored 24/7; advertisers and the government will know exactly where you are every second of the day. This “Internet of Things” or “IoT” is happening now and will transform your life as our devices become truly “smart.”

First, we will hear about commercial applications from Lantronix, a local company pioneering in early IoT. Then we will visit researchers at UCI’s California Institute for Telecommunications and Information Technology (Calit2). For the past decade, Calit2 has been developing IoT applications to improve our lives.

Wednesday, March 1: Lantronix: An IoT Real Life Application
Presenter: Daryl Miller, VP of Engineering, Lantronix

Class Presentation: UCI2017-IOT-NoVideos

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SS 308 DEMOCRACY AND EMPIRE: Hellenistic Greece from Alexander the Great to Cleopatra VII. Class presentation available.

Hellenistic Greece from Alexander the Great to Cleopatra VII

This course will explore the history, culture, and art of post-classical Greek antiquity, focusing on the period between two of the most studied and renowned figures of the ancient world: Alexander the Great and Cleopatra VII. We will learn and analyze how the ancient world changed with Alexander and his successors, emphasizing the political, social, and cultural transformations; changes in the religious landscape; and formation of the state.  We will also discuss the legacy of the Hellenistic world as an integral part of our intellectual heritage.

Presenter: Andromache Karanika,

Associate Professor of Classics, UC Irvine. Professor Karanika received her Ph.D. at Princeton and has published numerous articles on Homer, women’s oral tradition, lament, pastoral poetry, and, recently, the treatment of Homer in Byzantine literature. She is the author of Voices at Work: Women, Performance, and Labor and also co-authored a textbook on Modern Greek.  She is currently working on a book of wedding songs and poetics and the interactions of lyric and epic. She teaches a wide range of courses at UC Irvine from ancient mythology and history to medical humanities and the Humanities Core Curriculum.

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SC 203: The Pentarius Deep Dive Project and the Future of Technology. View class presentations and class video lectures.

Presenter: Chris Welsh is a real estate entrepreneur, technology investor and advisor, and explorer. Born and raised in Newport Beach, Chris is an instrument aircraft, seaplane, glider and helicopter pilot, and licensed U.S. Coast Guard Captain. His tech advisor positions include companies in material science, online resources, and apps. He is also an advisor to two investment syndicates.

Wednesday, March 1: The Pentarius Project – Raw Ocean Exploration

The Pentarius Submarine is designed to dive to 36,000 feet – it can reach anywhere in the ocean. From initial missions to document chemical munitions dumpsites, to chasing giant squid and exploring the deepest trenches, Pentarius has an ambitious schedule of dives ahead. In the first class, the project’s developer and pilot, Chris Welsh, will talk about each of these topics, the knowledge gained and ramifications of the effort, and the technology of the submarine that makes it all possible.

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SC 201 THE WORLD, ITS RESOURCES AND HUMANKIND: Part 2. Class presentations available.

The world’s natural resources are necessary for human life and the development of civilization. The location of these resources has always fashioned our history and dictated the economics of the time, which cast the politics that color our way of life. Understanding this helps explain what happened in the past and our world today.


This is Part 2 of the series of eight lectures over two semesters (Part 1 was in Fall 2016). We will address: the physical location of natural resources, the historic events caused by their exploitation, the related economic problems, the ensuing politics, and the waste management issues created. Continue reading

SC 212 – The Addictive Brain. Class presentations available for viewing.

Eighty million Americans can be considered addicts. Each of us probably knows someone who has been affected, or we may have been addicts ourselves (for example, with cigarettes or coffee). The convergence of psychology and neuroscience has led to a new understanding of the specific changes in the brain that are associated with addiction. These lectures will describe the changes that chemicals or behaviors have been shown to induce in the brain that result in the hallmarks of addiction: abuse, dependence and craving.

January 3: The basics of addiction, the neuroscience of reward, chronic drug use and the reward system

January 10: The genetics of addiction, how drugs affect the brain, cravings for coffee and cigarettes

January 17: Alcohol, marijuana, methamphetamine and cocaine

January 24: Opioids, street drugs and prescription medications

January 31: Gambling, junk food, pornography, and video games

Class Presentations:






Presenter: (Via Great Courses DVD):

Thad A. Polk, Ph.D., Professor in the Departments of Psychology and Electrical Engineering and Computer Science, University of Michigan

Developer/ Discussion Leader:

John B. Bush, Ph.D., Chemistry, University of California, Berkeley. John is an OLLI STEM Committee member and has taught many popular OLLI classes.


SC 214 – GEOLOGY OF NATIONAL PARKS: Part 1 – The Far West. Class presentations available.

DVD Lecture with Discussion

The 100-year-old U.S. National Park System is one of America’s treasures. Join us in the first of a multi-semester series of classes addressing the geology of the National Parks, focusing this semester on the far western continental United States. Each DVD lecture will provide an account of the human significance of the region, as well as a description of the geological phenomena that are responsible for its interesting features. There will be time for questions and discussion in each class session, led by members of the OLLI STEM Committee. The last week of the class, we will be joined by Mark Bordelon, an OLLI favorite local geologist, for a lecture specifically about Joshua Tree National Park.

Friday, January 6: Grand Teton National Park (earthquakes, glaciers, landslides), Glacier Bay and Kenai Fjords Alaska National Parks (plate tectonics, glaciers, remnants of erosion)

Class Presentations:




Friday, January 13: Yosemite National Park (valley formation, volcanic activity, glaciers, streams and rivers), Sierra Nevada Area National Parks (glaciers, gold, water, sequoias)



Friday, January 20: The San Andreas Fault Area National Parks (tectonic activity, faulting, uplift), Denali Area Alaska National Parks (crustal collisions, faulting, mountain building, micro-plates)

Class Presentations:



Friday, January 27: Mark Bordelon, The Geology of Joshua Tree National Park (crustal collision, zonal geology, volcanic plutons, remnants of erosion)


Ford Cochran (via Great Courses DVD), Geologist and Program Director, National Geographic Expeditions

Mark Bordelon, Adjunct Geology Professor, Irvine Valley College

Class Presentation:


Developers/Discussion Leaders:

John Bush and Gary Oberts, OLLI STEM Committee members


Fridays, January 6, 13, 20 and 27

10:00 AM – 12:00 Noon


The Irvine Station-Onken

SC 213: SYNTHETIC BIOLOGY. Class presentations available.

This class is Part 1 of a planned multi-part series on Synthetic Biology. We will discover how DNA can be engineered and how the technology can be used to modify organisms producing saleable products.

Wednesday, January 4: Basic Molecular Biology of DNA: provides background information and an explanation of terms and concepts necessary to understand subsequent classes. This session will answer the questions, what is DNA, where is it found, what is its purpose, how is it formed, how does it duplicate, and how does it transfer information to make proteins?

Class Presentation: olli-intro-dna-presentation-1

Presenter: Steve Wunderly, Ph.D., synthetic organic chemist with a background at Beckman Instruments in the fields of Nuclear Detection (liquid and solid scintillation counting) and molecular biology (automating DNA synthesis and sequencing). Steve is an OLLI STEM Committee Member.

Wednesday, January 11: Genetic Manipulation: presents details of how genetic changes are made to DNA in the context of living organisms. Historically, genetic manipulation of plants and animals occurred slowly by selective breeding and nuclear irradiation of seeds. In modern times, direct laboratory gene editing methods accelerated this process. In the last year a precision method of genetic manipulation called CRISPR has made the process even less expensive and faster.

Presenter: Chang Liu, Professor, UCI Department of Biomedical Engineering.

Class Presentation: ccl-continuing-education-lecture

Professor Liu’s research is in the field of synthetic biology, chemical biology, and directed evolution using advanced, genetic engineering methods. He earned his Ph.D. at The Scripps Research Institute.

Wednesday, January 18: Synthetic Biology.  What is Synthetic Biology? We will explore this concept through examples of some of the many ways research into genes and mechanisms of natural organisms are used to create cost-effective products that benefit mankind.

Presenters: Nancy DaSilva, PhD, CalTech; Sheryl Tsai, PhD, UC Berkeley;

Alon Gorodetsky, PhD, CalTech; Chang Liu, PhD, Scripps, UC Berkeley

Class Presentations: 



Developers: Phil Friedel, Vern Roohk


Wednesdays, January 4, 11 and 18

2:00 – 4:00 PM


The Irvine Station-Onken

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