University of California, Riverside

The EDGE Institute

EDGE Lectures & Events

Science Lecture Series

EDGE Events

2018 EDGE Events

February 28: 

2017 EDGE Events

November 30: Wilbur W. Mayhew Endowed Chair in Geo-Ecology

Marilyn Fogel, a professor of Earth Sciences, was appointed the inaugural holder of the Wilbur W. Mayhew Endowed Chair in Geo-Ecology at a Nov. 30 symposium and naming ceremony at the Alumni & Visitors Center.

The symposium included remarks from Chancellor Kim A. Wilcox, CNAS Dean Kathryn Uhrich, David Oglesby, chair of the Department of Earth Sciences, and invited speakers from UCR and various other institutions.

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This chair, endowed by an anonymous donor, honors Mayhew’s pioneering work and creates a legacy in his honor. In the 1950s, Mayhew at UC Riverside and his colleague Ken Norris at UCLA, along with many others, were the driving forces behind the creation of the University of California’s Natural Reserve System, which comprises more than 30 field sites for teaching and research throughout the state.

The reserves continue to provide scientists and students with vast tracts of unspoiled natural resources for field studies. Mayhew retired from teaching in 1989 and from the Natural Reserve directorship in 1990. He continued to live in Riverside with his wife, Corinne, until he passed away on September 19, 2014.

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As the Wilbur W. Mayhew Endowed Chair in Geo-Ecology, Fogel will lead UCR’s EDGE Institute, where she will guide research on global environmental change and crises the world is facing today. Fogel’s more than 40-year research career has concentrated on tracing ecological and geochemical processes on Earth and in planetary materials and environments using stable isotopes of biologically relevant elements.

Fogel’s research demonstrates that we can learn a lot about our past, present, and future world through the vast reservoir of the remains of living organisms beneath Earth’s surface – from predictions about climate change into the next century to understanding how life on the planet began and the ancient organisms that once lived here.

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Chancellor Wilcox presented Fogel with a plaque acknowledging her as the inaugural Wilbur W. Mayhew Endowed Chair in Geo-Ecology. He also acknowledged the attendance of Mayhew’s daughter Laurie Brower and grandson Eric Mayhew. 

Full article featured on Inside UCR here.

 May 5: EDGE Institute's Graduate Interdisciplinary Research Symposium

On Friday May 5th, the EDGE Institute hosted It’s first event since Dr. Marilyn Fogel was named EDGE director. The 2017 EDGE Student Graduate Symposium featured keynote guest speaker Jan Amend, Professor at the University of Southern California and the Director of the NSF Science and Technology Center for Dark Energy Biosphere Investigations (C-DEBI). Jan’s talk was titled “The Biosphere Beneath the Ocean Floor” where he highlighted some recent findings on the microbiology in young basalt near mid-ocean ridges and related them to key geochemical and geophysical characteristics of marine sediments on a global scale. About 100 faculty, Staff and students from different departments attended this symposium.

On behalf on Mr. Michael Devirian, the EDGE Institute supported three graduate students studying in the areas related to global climate and environmental change and the associated changes to ecosystems with $800 scholarships in 2017. The following students received the award: Lorena Villanueva-Almanza, Johnathan Nye, and Elizabeth Deyett. An additional three scholars received the EDGE Institute research award, those graduate students were: Michelle Zill, Marissa Giroux and Eleinis Avila-Lovera. 


Science Lectures

In 2014, the CNAS Science Lecture series highlighted EDGE with the following presentations on the topic of life in a changing environment.

2014 EDGE Science Lectures

January 22: HAIR: The History of Animals Using Isotope Records

Thure Cerling, University of Utah

Thure Cerling, a pioneer in using isotope records of hair, bones, and teeth and a leading expert in the evolution of modern landscapes, including modern mammals and their associated grassland ecologies. A distinguished professor of geology and geophysics at the University of Utah, Cerling studies Earth surface geochemistry processes and the geological record of ecological change. His lecture will discuss his research on how hair shows the isotope physiology and diets of modern mammals as well as the history of diets of different mammalian lineages extending over millions of years. He will also discuss how the composition of human hair reflects the region where a person lives.

Lecture Slides Lecture Video

March 5: The Deep History of Life

Andrew Knoll, Harvard University

Fossils of shells, bones, tracks and trails record a history of animal evolution more than 600 million years in duration.  Earth, however, is some four and a half billion years old, prompting the question of what kinds of life characterized our planet’s youth and middle age. Harvard University’s Andrew Knoll, a professor of Earth and planetary sciences best known for his contributions to Precambrian paleontology and biogeochemistry, addressed this question in his EDGE lecture.

Lecture Slides Lecture Video

April 2: What's for Dinner? Molecular Signatures of Plants, Animals, and Water in Early Human Habitats

Kate Freeman, Pennsylvania State University

Kate Freeman, a geoscientist renowned for her research in organic geochemistry, isotopic biogeochemistry, paleoclimate, and astrobiology gave an EDGE lecture that highlighted the detective work needed to understand biomarker and isotope signals of plants and water in the past, and what they tell us about environmental resources such as water, food, and shelter available to our forebears.

Lecture Video

April 9: How Fracking Impacts Our Water: The Pennsylvania Experience

Sue Brantley, Pennsylvania State University

Fracking, the hydraulic fracturing technology by which shale rocks are fractured by a pressurized liquid to release oil and natural gas, is controversial with proponents citing an increase in domestic oil production and lower gas prices, and opponents voicing environmental concerns and worries over small tremors that have sometimes followed fracking. Susan Brantley, a distinguished professor of geosciences at Pennsylvania State University, discussed fracking’s impact on water in this lecture.

Lecture Slides Lecture Video

April 22: Curiosity's Mission of Exploration at Gale Crater, Mars

John Grotzinger, Cal Tech

John Grotzinger, Fletcher Jones Professor of Geology, has been involved in several planetary missions. He is currently the lead scientist for the Mars Science Laboratory mission that launched the Mars Curiosity Rover in 2011. He is also a participating scientist for the Mars Exploration Rovers and for the HiRISE camera onboard the Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter. He presented a talk on the goals of the Mars exploration, the role of water throughout Mar’s geologic history, and the sedimentologic studies of Mars.

April 23: Global Warming 36 Million Years Ago: What It Means for Us

Scott Wing, Smithsonian Institution

Scott Wing, curator of fossil plants in the Department of Paleobiology at the National Museum of Natural History (part of the Smithsonian Institution) uses fossil plants to reconstruct past climates and local environments. His lecture analyzes what past global warming means for our changing climate.

Lecture Slides Lecture Video

April 29 & 30: Islands as Models for Understanding Human-Environment Interactions

Peter Vitousek, Stanford University

Oceanic islands like the Hawaiian Archipelago have long been recognized in biology as model systems for understanding evolution and speciation, and more recently as models for understanding ecosystem structure and functioning.  Other communities have studied the adaptive radiation of human societies on islands (without using that terminology).  Islands also offer remarkable opportunities to evaluate the interaction of ecosystems and human societies - as societies develop, intensify agriculture, and become more socially and culturally complex.  Vitousek’s lecture examines island societies that faced the necessity of a transition to sustainability earlier and more starkly than continental societies and how features of both land and culture influenced their success in making this transition.

May 13 & 14: Ecosystems

Whendee Silver, UC Berkeley

Grasslands cover approximately 30% of the terrestrial land surface and 50% of the land area in California. This large land area and the propensity of grassland vegetation to store carbon (C) in soils suggest thateven low rates of C sequestration could result in a significant sink of atmospheric CO2. In this EDGE Lecture,Whendee Silver, a UC Berkeley professor who researches ecosystem ecology and biogeochemistry, presented her findingsthat using composted organic material on rangeland soils as a mechanism to increase C storage and decrease greenhouse gas emissions sequestered new C that would more than offset emissions from cattle or half of the commercial and residential energy sector for the state. The compost-amended fields had significantly higher net primary productivity, water-holding capacity, and fertility than the control plots.

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