OLLI @Berkeley's monthly newsletter                        
MAY 2010

Table of Contents
Online Energy Course
Tahéima Program (June 12-19)
Faculty Profile: Chelsea Specht
Interest Circles for the Summer
Summer Writing Courses
OLLI Annual Fund
The Lunch Bunch
Exploratorium Field Trip
OLLI Partner Announcements
Give the Gift of Learning
OLLI Website

Donate to OLLI

Events Calendar

Find OLLI on Facebook
OLLI @Berkeley Staff
Susan Hoffman

Program Coordinator:
Aileen Kim

Program Assistants:
Marisa Cadena Belski
Satya Levine

OLLI @Berkeley
University of California
1925 Walnut St #1570
Berkeley, CA 94720-1570
tel. 510.642.9934
fax  510.642.2202

Course Evaluations

By now you should have received one email per OLLI course with a link to fill out a course evaluation survey. Your feedback is essential to helping us continue to build and grow our program.

To those who have already filled out their survey(s), thank you! If you have been waiting until the end of the term, please take a few minutes to complete the survey now. For your reference, the emails were sent on April 28 with the subject line "Course Evaluations" followed by the title of the course.

If you have any questions, please contact the office at 510.642.9934.
Online Energy Course: Summer 2010

"The Energy Challenge," an online course with The New York Times
June 1-August 31, 2010

Facilitated by UC Berkeley Professor Dan Kammen -- named by Secretary of State Hillary Clinton as one of the first clean energy fellows for the Western Hemisphere -- this exciting online course invites you to explore today's hottest environmental and policy issues related to energy. Access New York Times articles on renewable energy, the world oil market, nuclear energy, biofuels, and more. Converse with fellow classmates around the world. This course costs $250.

Tahéima Wellness Resort and Spa

Rejuvenate Body and Mind:
Visit Mexico with OLLI @Berkeley
June 12-19, 2010

EARLY BIRD DISCOUNT: $200 off until May 15!

Spend a week at Tahéima Wellness Resort and Spa near Puerto Vallarta, Mexico and participate in courses taught by top Berkeley faculty and their colleagues in Mexico. Learn about regional political, environmental, and economic issues. Enjoy local culture and wildlife. Exercise your mind as well as taking advantage of Tahéima's full range of spa services, fitness and wellness classes, healthy dining, and more for your body. Prices start at $1,400 per person.

Download a flyer | Read more
More information: 510.642.9934
Reservations: 1.866.978.7140* toll-free
*Note updated phone number

Faculty Profile:  Chelsea Specht

Chelsea Specht is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Plant and Microbiology at UC Berkeley. She and her husband, UC Berkeley environmental scientist Patrick O'Grady, will be joining the OLLI faculty at Tahéima, giving talks, leading field trips, and available for conversations on the subject of environmental science and biodiversity in Mexico.
What drew you to biology initially?
I've always loved nature and natural history. As a child I was constantly collecting salamanders, snakes, frogs, fish -- anything we could find and keep as a pet in our backyard terrarium. In college I was pre-med, thinking that if you liked biology, you naturally became a doctor. I had the fortunate experience of participating in undergraduate research and ultimately completing and publishing an honor's thesis. This exposure to research science opened my eyes to the possibility of pursuing science as a career.

How have your research interests evolved?
My first research experience was in neuroscience and pharmacology. While I was working in a pharmacology lab at Johns Hopkins, I read an article on drug discovery via ethnopharmacology. I was very attracted to the idea of traveling to the tropics, working with indigenous cultures to study the plants that they used for various medical purposes, then bringing those plants back to the lab to perform detailed pharamacological research on the active compounds found in those plants. I entered graduate school with the goal of being an ethnopharmacologist, but on my first trip into the field I realized that my interests lay elsewhere. Rather than being interested in the medicinal properties of the plants, I was mostly interested in understanding the biological diversity of the tropical forests. I found myself completely captivated with learning the names of all the plants and understanding how they were related to one another. I shifted my focus to the study of plant systematics and evolutionary biology, initially just trying to understand basic phylogenetic relationships -- or the 'family tree' of different plant lineages. My research is now focused on studying the processes that lead to plant diversification and evolution, from the genetic pathways underlying floral development and its evolution to the molecular biology of plant 'behaviors' such as carnivory and thermogenesis. I also spent three years working for the World Wildlife Fund in Bolivia, and I have a strong interest in the application of evolutionary biology research to conservation and management decisions.

How did you get started working in Mexico and what are you doing there?
As a graduate student most of my work focused in South America, but the plants that I worked on are found as far north as Mexico so I have been in contact with herbaria and research institutes in Mexico since the mid-1990s. Since moving to California, I have become interested in the biogeography and patterns of species diversity of the desert and Mediterranean climates of western North America, spanning California and northern Mexico. I have an ongoing collaboration with Dra. Victoria Sosa at Instituto de Ecología (INECOL) to investigate the species and population level diversity in various monocot species such as native onions (Allium), the 'desert spoon' and 'pony tail palms' (Dasylirion and Nolina) and millas (Milla), and work with her students to study population genetics of native Mexican orchids and cycads.

What are you looking forward to exploring with the OLLI group at Tahéima?
I'm looking forward to focusing on the harnessing of biodiversity to generate food, clothing, and shelter. I am particularly interested in how more locally-applied farming practices actually enhance the genetic diversity of crop species, while monoculture and pressure from international markets have forced farmers to use specific varieties, effectively eliminating genetic diversity and opening up crops to potential eradication by disease. As Mexico is the origin of domestication of many of our more interesting crops (corn, beans, squash, agave), it is a perfect place to discuss the importance of genetic diversity within a crop species and the impact of large scale farming on the maintenance of variety.

Interest Circles

This summer OLLI @Berkeley is offering a broad selection of Interest Circles, including:
  • Rethinking the Holocaust
  • History of Feminism in Three Waves
  • Economics
  • Writing the Short Play
  • Writing Prose and Poetry
  • Literature: "Wuthering Heights" and "Don Quixote"
  • Reading and Discussing Proust
  • Poetry Reading and Discussion
  • Shakespeare Out Loud and Ruminated
  • Short Stories of the Magical and Fantastic: Borges, Stevenson, Calvino, and others
  • New Direction? New Career?
  • East Bay Lunching Adventures
Visit our website to read full descriptions and find out how to sign-up.

Interest Circles are a benefit of OLLI membership. All-inclusive and annual memberships cover the summer term. Others may contact the office (510.642.9934) to become a Summer 2010 member for $25. You will receive an OLLI student ID with your membership.

New members are welcome!

Summer Writing Courses for Experienced Writers

Next Draft Writing
with Joan Holden

Have you shown your memoir, novel, play, or poetry--full of hope--to friends or editors, only to receive a lukewarm response? In this low-stakes, supportive setting, we will never ask, "Is this any good?" but always, "How could this be stronger?" Share your responses to each other 's work, and learn basic lessons on rewriting that Holden has gained from 40 years of writing and producing plays.

Course dates: June 1, 14, 21, and 28 (Mondays)
Time: 5:00-7:00 p.m.

Course fee (including OLLI membership for Summer 2010): $140
A minimum enrollment of 10 writers will be required to run the course.
Choosing Our Words: Exploring Language in Memoir
with Deborah Lichtman

We will continue our exploration of autobiographical writing by looking closely at the use of language.  How do writers capture their voice and project meaning in writing through style, rhythm, imagery, and even syntax? During four class meetings, we'll investigate these issues while we continue to emphasize personal pieces. The instructor will integrate class presentations and discussions, excerpted readings, and in-class writing exercises that focus on these topics.

Course dates: July 12, 26; August 9, 23 (Mondays)
Time: 5:00-7:00 p.m.

Course fee (includes OLLI membership for Summer 2010): $140
*This course is confirmed and there are limited slots available. Sign-up now to ensure your place.

Space is limited! Sign up by May 21 by calling the OLLI office at 510.642.9934.
OLLI Annual Fund

The Annual Fund is a critical part of OLLI's operating budget, and allows us to expand our program in exciting ways, including increasing our course offerings and holding classes in the David Brower Center and at Freight and Salvage. Our partners at UC Berkeley and the Osher Foundation look to the Annual Fund as a measure of member commitment, and for that reason we have set a fundraising goal of 100% participation. In light of the economic situation, we have lowered our fund target from $75,000 to $55,000, which leaves about  $5000 to go! Join the more than 180 households who have contributed to the 2009-10 Annual Fund. We want everyone to say "I contributed." Click here to learn more or to make a donation.

The Lunch Bunch
by Lucille Poskanzer

New Amsterdam Coffeeshop
1952 University Avenue, between Milvia Street and Martin Luther King Way
Berkeley, CA  94704
Just a short walk away from the Freight and Salvage OLLI venue is this fairly new, funky, and very friendly storefront shop. It is located in a newly developing small area of very personal and artisanal small shops, restaurants, and cafes. The menu has pastries, huge sandwiches big enough for TWO people to share, big salads, and really delicious coffee. Prices are very low. Atmosphere is quiet outside of busy lunch times, and you can sit and read undisturbed. This is not the place for a crowd, but if you are one, two, or three, it's great.

OLLI at the Exploratorium

OLLI at CSU East Bay presents

Exploratorium: Green Architecture
a field course

Monday, May 17, 9:00 a.m.-2:00 p.m.

Just what is green architecture? How do ordinary consumers and institutions relate to it? Join Professor Jill Johnsen, Ph.D. lecturer in physics at CSUEB, and a Bay Area-wide OLLI symposium to explore green architectural ideas for constructing homes and public buildings to lower energy costs. (Bus transportation to the symposium and lunch are included. Pick-up points in Walnut Creek and Emeryville.)

$40 for OLLI members/ $55 for non-members
(Pre-registration is required)

Download the flyer for full details
and information on how to register

OLLI @Berkeley Partner Announcements

Join Marin Theatre Company (MTC) from Oct 15-18, 2010 for the 2nd Annual Theatre Tour to the Oregon Shakespeare Festival (OSF).
  • Play discussions with MTC's Producing Director Ryan Rilette
  • Intimate breakfasts with actors from the OSF Acting Company
  • 3 nights at Ashland Springs Hotel. within walking distance to the Festival
  • Farewell dinner at one of Ashland's finest restaurants
  • Round trip transportation by bus
$799 double occupancy and $1049 single occupancy
Special $50 discount per person for a limited number OLLI participants!
For details: download a flyer
MTC contact: Helen Rigby, helen@marintheatre.org
OLLI member contact: Deborah Goodman, goodman@comcast.net

Give the Gift of Learning
Share the joy of learning -- give someone a gift certificate for an OLLI @Berkeley membership and course.

Contact the OLLI office at 510.642.9934.