Convergence Issue 18

Page 1

The Magazine of Engineering and the Sciences at UC Santa Barbara


Issue: 18 | Summer 2014


A Delicate Mystery


Powerful imaging sheds light on the subtle but debilitating neuron damage accompanying traumatic brain injury


26 Briefs

Convergence Convergence The Magazine of Engineering and the Sciences at UC Santa Barbara Issue Eighteen, Summer 2014 Editor-in-Chief: Melissa Van De Werfhorst Creative Director: Peter Allen Design & Layout: Ian Barin Writers: Julie Cohen, K.M. Kelchner, Sonia Fernandez, Shelly Leachman, Rachelle Oldmixon Artwork & Photography: Peter Allen, Ian Barin, Spencer Bruttig, Sonia Fernandez, Melissa Van De Werfhorst Editorial Board: Rod Alferness, Dean, College of Engineering; Pierre Wiltzius, Dean, Division of Mathematical, Life and Physical Sciences, College of Letters and Science; Frank Doyle, Associate Dean of Research, College of Engineering


Live Feed into the Body


Drought Adaptations


The Birds and the Bees

Game-changing device monitors a patient’s drug metabolism in real time


Cellular Cascade of Color


In Cryptography We Trust

Squid cells use a dance of water and proteins to control color change

Ecological resilience when the global dry and hot trend hits home

Physicists demonstrate the science of flocking and swarming

Scientists explore the future of bitcoin and computer security

Special Thanks: Allena Baker, George Foulsham, UCSB Office of Public Affairs






20 Goodbye to Droop


Living Story of Social Graphs


The Delicate Mystery of Brain Trauma


Geometry could be the key to visualize and mine massive amounts of real time data from social media networks

The Free Electron Movement

Plasmonics researchers are using nanostructures to harness ultraviolet and infrared light to power new technology


Solid-state lighting researchers elucidate the cause of LED efficiency droop, opening doors to the LED lighting revolution

Powerful imaging sheds light on the subtle but debilitating neuron damage that leads to traumatic brain injury


An Entrepreneurial Education

UCSB’s Technology Management Program prepares students for the business of technology through education and good old-fashioned competition

The Magazine of Engineering and the Sciences at UC Santa Barbara


Convergence interviews electrical engineering professor Luke Theogarajan about bionic eyeballs and stealthy drug delivery


Q & A: Luke Theogarajan

Issue: 18 | Summer 2014


Issue: 18 | Summer 2014


Cover Image

Artwork by Peter Allen Concept illustration of research by psychological and brain sciences doctoral student Matt Cieslak, who reconstructs white matter connections in the brain using diffusion spectrum MRI.

Page 30


Letter from the Top



Dean of the College of Engineering

Dean of Science, College of Letters & Science

On the following page of this issue of Convergence magazine,

At the start of 2014, an announcement was made by President

there is a quote by one of our research leaders on campus, Professor

Obama and the US Department of Energy that UCSB research-

Craig Hawker. When asked in a discussion, “Why do you think

ers, including professor Umesh Mishra, are partners in the Next

UC Santa Barbara’s research partners renew their investments

Generation Power Electronics Manufacturing Innovation Institute,

year after year?” he replied: “Sometimes it is the question that’s

a $140 million investment in 25 partners with the goal of boosting

the most important aspect of a research project.”

research in wide bandgap semiconductor-based power electronics.

We asked him to elaborate. “Having that question defined is

This past winter, the US Army Research Office renewed their

absolutely critical and worth its weight in gold. To frame the prob-

$48 million investment with the UCSB Institute for Collaborative

lem in the best possible way and, in a way, working backward from

Biotechnologies, extending a decade of highly successful, unclas-

the product while engaging our research partners,” said Hawker.

sified basic research. Deemed “20 years ahead of their time,” ICB

“That’s where we at UCSB excel as researchers.”

researchers examine complex biological systems and engineer

In the past year, engineering and the sciences has celebrated

synthetic materials inspired by natural models. The partnership

the renewal of several successful interdisciplinary partnerships,

has produced more than 500 publications and supported hundreds

and the results speak for themselves. Renewing their $6 million

of graduate students.

investment for an additional four years, the Mitsubishi Chemical

What does it mean for a university dedicated to both research

Center for Advanced Materials at UCSB has produced more than

and academics? We think it means opportunity – for all our stu-

100 patent applications, with an average patent cost that is two-

dents, faculty, and researchers alike. Science and engineering

thirds that of a technology company. The relationship is both

breatkthroughs at UCSB are made possible by our investors and

effective and beneficial for the students, post-docs and faculty

partners. Great things are happening the lab, the field, and the

engaged in groundbreaking materials research.

classroom every day by the people who have chosen to study at UCSB because of our dedication to opportunity.






Live Feed into the Body by Sonia Fernandez

of Psychological & Brain Sciences, could take

demonstrated exquisite selectivity and flexibility

the guesswork out of drug dosing and allow

in that the device is only sensitive to the target

physicians to individually tailor prescriptions.

even when administered a cocktail of drugs.”

Doctors and pharmaceutical companies can

Called MEDIC (Microfluidic Electrochemical

“For the first time, we can see how the body

generally determine reasonable drug doses

Detector for In vivo Continuous monitoring),

for most patients through testing and trials.

the palm-top instrument can determine — con-

MEDIC is still in early clinical stages. But it

However, the efficacy of a treatment relies on

tinuously and in real time — concentrations

is opening doors of opportunity that Soh can

maintaining therapeutic levels of the drug in

of specific molecules in tiny amounts of whole

already see. In the short term, the device can

the body, a feat not easily accomplished.


not only provide the kind of data necessary for

processes specific molecules,” said Ferguson.

“Current dosing regimens are really quite

MEDIC is a microfluidic chamber lined

critical advances in drug therapy, he said, but

primitive,” said Plaxco, professor of chemistry

with gold electrodes from which artificial DNA

also help new drugs clear rigorous clinical trials,

and of biomolecular science and engineering

strands called aptamers — extend. When target

thanks to data that will enable individual dosage

at UC Santa Barbara. They rely on a patient’s

molecule comes in contact with a drug-recog-

adjustments. More sophisticated diagnostics are

age or weight and are unable to account for

nizing aptamer, the strand wraps around it,

possible with sensors that can target disease

specific responses over time. Drug levels may

delivering electrons from its tip to the electrode

indicating molecules. Several types of sensors

be influenced by patients’ metabolisms, foods

at the aptamer’s base. The tiny jolt of current

can be stacked for multiple target monitoring.

they eat or other drugs. When coupled with the

signals the presence of the molecule.

The continuous feedback loop would prove

primitive state of current dosing algorithms,

“The device worked incredibly well,” said

invaluable for diseases that could use contin-

this variability can become dangerous for drugs

Kippin, whose lab tested MEDIC. The test

uous, automatic infusions of drugs, such as

with narrow therapeutic ranges.

results were “remarkable,” he said, considering

diabetes or cancer.

the complexity of the samples tested. “The mea-

“In the long term, we could use this feedback

researchers Tom Soh and Scott Ferguson from

surements were highly sensitive to doses that are

to control broken biological systems,” Soh said.

the Department of Chemical Engineering;

clinically relevant and could be maintained for

Plaxco; and Tod Kippin from the Department

several hours,” Kippin continued. “Further, we

However, a device developed by UCSB


Concept illustration of MEDIC’s microfluidic chamber.


Drought Adaptations by Shelly Leachman

California being in the clutches of drought is nothing new. There were droughts in prehistoric times, so-called “megadroughts” that strangled the state some 1,000 years ago, and more recent extreme dry periods in the late ’70s and early ’90s. This time around, however, California has more than 38 million residents and is grappling with a troubling trend that’s in play around the world: global warming. “It’s not just that there is low precipitation but low precipitation in a warming climate,” said Frank Davis, director of the UC Santa Barbarabased National Center for Ecological Analysis and Synthesis. “The combination of warm and dry has a lot of ecological impactions. It puts greater physiological stress on, for example, forest trees. Also, when it’s dry and warm, we start to see really strong impacts on fresh-water systems, like those that spawn salmon. Being really dry plus warm is a one-two punch.” And it’s not just California, or the western U.S. In fact, it’s not just North America. Parts of South America, South Africa and Australia are all in the midst of droughts of their own, seeing essential crops decimated, pastures drying up and livestock dying. “The issue has been raised: Could this be linked to global warming?” said Leila Carvalho, an associate professor of geography and co-principal investigator of UCSB’s Climate Variations and Change research group. “You can’t say one event is related to global warming; that doesn’t SUMMER 2014 | UCSB

make sense. What does make sense is to say that

of a population that in California alone now

because the planet is warming, we are seeing

numbers above 38 million residents. As needs

more conditions for this type of event to occur.

for water grow ever greater, so too do the poten-

And these events may become more frequent.”

tial threats to its supply.

As stores of water in the West are reduced

“This is something that we just have to con-

— whether by usage in drought, evapotranspi-

front increasingly,” said Davis, who is also a

ration in heat or both — warming temperatures

professor of ecology and conservation plan-

also see the snowpack on the wane. The two

ning at UCSB’s Bren School of Environmental

phenomena together could put extreme strain

Science & Management. “I’m not ready to say it’s

on water supplies, which holds implications for

the new normal, but I am ready to say we really

ecosystems, industries and people alike.

need to be thinking about risk management

Even at their most severe, the droughts of

— and we need to do so in an aggressive and

decades and centuries past did not occur in

systematic way in order to build more resilience

tandem with today’s degree of temperature

into all these systems.”

change or have to contend with the demands 7


The Birds and the Bees

Speakers used examples of dynamic organiza-

the collective behavior of insects such as aphids

by Julie Cohen

tion at various scales — from the coordinated

and locusts. He also led a hands-on demonstra-

patterns of behavior of groups of animals to the

tion of collective animal movement, getting two

Birds flock. Bees swarm. These are just two of the

complex hierarchical structures found inside

audience groups to emulate a milling pattern

many remarkable examples of collective behav-


used by both fish and ants.

ior found in nature. Both were explored at UC

“Instead of thinking of atoms and molecules,

Jeffrey Guasto, assistant professor of mechan-

Santa Barbara’s Kavli Institute for Theoretical

think about units that are able to generate their

ical engineering at Tufts University, revealed

Physics (KITP) in “The Physics of Flocking:

own motion, such as bacteria,” said conference

how marine bacteria with single tails are able

From Cells to Crowds,” a one-

to change the direction of their

day workshop for high school

movement by buckling the hook

science educators.

that attaches the tail to the body.

Physicists have been able to

He also demonstrated how the

capture flocking behavior by

shapes of waves moving along

modeling birds as tiny flying

sperm tails allow those cells to

magnetic spins that align with

turn while swimming.

their neighbors according to

Xavier Trepat, a group

simple rules. Thanks to these

leader at the Institute for

successes, flocking has become

Bioengineering of Catalonia in

a paradigm for the behavior of

Barcelona, Spain, demonstrated

living and non-living systems

how his work is beginning to

where a large number of indi-

inform scientists’ understanding

vidually driven units exhibit

of important biological func-

coherent organization at larger

tions, such as wound healing,


morphogenesis and collective

Such systems include sus-

cell invasion in cancer.

pensions of swimming bacteria,

“We want to expose physics

layers of migrating cells, long

or science teachers to physicists

biopolymers driven by proteins in the cell cytoskeleton and collections of synthetic microswimmers. Physicists, biologists and mathematicians are using statistical physics to model the complex behavior of these varied systems and to identify unifying principles. The KITP workshop introduced teachers to the rapidly developing field of active matter. 8

coordinator Cristina Marchetti, the William R. Kenan Professor of Physics at Syracuse University. “If you have a very dense suspension of bacteria swimming in fluid, they can exhibit all kinds of collective behavior.” Andrew Bernoff, mathematics department chair at Harvey Mudd College, talked about

on the cutting edge of research,” says Greg Huber, deputy director of KITP and a professor in UCSB’s Department of Physics. “We want to give them an opportunity to learn from top physics researchers in an intense environment, and that’s what we provide in this one-day workshop.”


Cellular Cascade of Color

inside the lamellae to change drastically due

as the density — inside the lamellae and outside,

by Julie Cohen

to the expulsion of water, which shrinks and

which is really the outside water environment,

dehydrates the lamellae and reduces their thick-

is the same,” said Daniel E. Morse, a professor

Two years ago, an interdisciplinary team from UC Santa Barbara discovered the mechanism by which a neurotransmitter dramatically changes color in the common market squid (Doryteuthis opalescens). That neurotransmitter, acetylcholine, sets in motion a cascade of events that culminate in the addition of phosphate groups to a family of unique proteins called reflectins. This process allows the proteins to condense, driving the animal’s color-changing process.

ness and spacing. The movement of water was

in UCSB’s Department of Molecular, Cellular

demonstrated directly using deuterium-labeled

and Developmental Biology and director of the

heavy water.

campus’s Marine Biotechnology Center/Marine Science Institute.

Now the researchers have delved deeper to uncover the mechanism responsible for the dramatic changes in color used by such creatures as squids and octopuses. The latest research shows that specialized cells in the squid skin called iridocytes

“There’s no optical difference so there’s no

contain deep pleats or invaginations of the cell

reflection. But when the proteins consoli-

membrane extending deep into the body of the

date, this increases the refractive index so the

cell. This creates layers or lamellae that operate

contrast between the inside and outside sud-

as a tunable Bragg reflector. Bragg reflectors are

denly increases, causing the stack of lamellae

named after the British father and son team who more than a century ago discovered how periodic structures reflect light in a very regular and predicable manner. The researchers created antibodies to bind specifically to the reflectin proteins, which revealed that the reflectins are located exclusively inside the lamellae formed by the folds in the cell membrane. They showed that the cascade of events culminating in the condensation of the reflectins causes the osmotic pressure SUMMER 2014 | UCSB

When the acetylcholine neurotransmitter is washed away and the cell can recover, the lamellae imbibe water, rehydrating and allowing them to swell to their original thickness. This reversible dehydration and rehydration, shrinking and swelling, changes the thickness and spacing, which, in turn, changes the wavelength

to become reflective, while at the same time they dehydrate and shrink, which causes color changes. The animal can control the extent to which this happens — it can pick the color — and it’s also reversible. The precision of this tuning by regulating the nanoscale dimensions of the lamellae is amazing.”

of the light that is reflected, thus “tuning” the color change over the entire visible spectrum. “Initially, before the proteins are consolidated, the refractive index — you can think of it 9

Courtesy Bitcoin


In Cryptography We Trust

associate professor of computer science at

founding faculty of the UCSB’s inaugural cryp-

by Shelly Leachman

UCSB. “Bitcoin is unique in that it was the first

tography research group.

to prove it could be done. It’s likely going to be

“Bitcoin is a very intriguing idea in the sense

With implications for computer security, busi-

the first to be regulated and widely accepted

that cryptography is trying to replace trust,” said

ness, the economy and our culture, predicting

— and it will probably dominate the market.

Lin. “It is using mathematics to replace trust,

the future of bitcoin, the so-called “crypto-cur-

“Bitcoin has a lot of technological benefits

which is kind of a radical idea, but it makes

rency,” is practically a cottage industry all its

that fundamentally change how people use

sense from a high level. A bank is not a magic

own. Pervasive media coverage and public

money, and that’s what’s interesting to me,”

fortress. It also uses databases, has doors, is

debates about its worth (both literally and fig-

Zhao added. “It is a potentially world-changing

connected with the Internet.”

uratively) have become de rigueur for today’s

disruptive technology.

“If there were a metric to compare it to the

prevailing digital tender, which is alternately

Based and built on cryptography, bitcoin is

banking system, I think bitcoin would win,”

characterized as a revolutionary innovation on

as troubling as it is intriguing. Can it survive

added Tessaro. “I suspect it’s probably easier to

par with the Internet or a flash in the pan that

long-term in the face of cyberattacks and rap-

break into the local bank. The general problem

can’t possibly survive.

idly changing technology?

with electronic cash is making sure that you

“You can find other algorithms, different

Only time will tell, assert cryptographers

versions that work on the same mathemat-

Huijia “Rachel” Lin and Stefano Tessaro,

ical principles as bitcoin,” said Ben Zhao, an

assistant professors of computer science and


don’t spend the same money twice. And the Bitcoin network is designed to prevent that.”


About our Contributors

Connect with UCSB College of Engineering and Division of Mathematics, Life and Physical Sciences on social media



Julie Cohen

Shelly Leachman

has written for decades about science, engineering,

is a senior writer in UCSB’s Office of Public Affairs &

technology and medicine for a variety of international

Communications. She is an award-winning former

publications and websites from the perspective of journalism

newspaper journalist who has covered education, crime,

and public relations. This experience helped her land her

culture, social issues, media and technology and more.

dream job as science writer for UCSB’s Office of Public Affairs and Communications.

Rachelle Oldmixon is a self-professed science nerd who often wonders why

Sonia Fernandez

she had to choose just one area of science to study. With

is a writer who has written for several newspapers, magazines

her MA from UCSB’s own Psychological & Brain Sciences,

and websites for the last decade on a wide range of topics,

Rachelle has begun a career in science communications.

from government issues, water politics, business and medicine

She is currently working as a science co-host on Al Jazeera

to arts, history, travel and culture. Science and technology are

America’s TechKNOW.

among her favorites.


K. M. Kelchner

Melissa Van De Werfhorst

received her PhD from UCSB’s Electrical and Computer

is the Marketing Manager for UCSB College of Engineering

Engineering Department in 2012 and worked as a

and the editor of Convergence magazine. She has an

postdoctoral researcher in the UCSB Materials Department

education in and a strong affinity for science,

until 2013 investigating growth of nonpolar GaN-based

both real and fictional.

materials. She currently lives in Portland, Oregon where she works in the semiconductor industry. @KK_PhD

Visit The UCSB Current at for daily headline news in science, engineering, and technology at UC Santa Barbara The University of California, in accordance with applicable Federal and State law and University policy, does not discriminate on the basis of race, color, national origin, religion, sex, gender, gender expression, gender identity, pregnancy, physical or mental disability, medical condition (cancer relatead or genetic characteristics), ancestry, marital status, age, sexual orientation, citizenship, or service in the uniformed service. The University also prohibits sexual harassment. This nondiscrimination policy covers admission, access, and treatment in University programs and activities. Inquiries regarding the University’s student-related nondiscrimination policies may be directed to the Office of Equal Opportunity & Sexual Harassment/Title IX Compliance, Telephone: (805) 893-2701.




with Professor

Luke Theogarajan Interview by Sonia Fernandez


Before joining the faculty at UC Santa

as biomedicine and energy efficiency, thanks

Bioengineering emphasis for College of

Barbara’s College of Engineering, Luke

to collaborations with various researchers on

Creative Studies biology majors. He has also

Theogarajan lent his circuit designing

campus. His work has earned him four pat-

received a Northrup Grumman Excellence

expertise to Intel for five years as part of the

ents and prestigious recognition, including

in Teaching Award in 2011 and was named

Pentium 4 design team. An electrical engi-

the 2010 NIH New Innovator Award and a

outstanding faculty member in the electri-

neer by training, Theogarajan has a Ph.D. in

2011 NSF Career Award.

cal engineering department for four years

electrical engineering and computer science

Theogarajan, who heads the Biomimetic


from Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

and Nanosystems Group, is a found-

Convergence interviewed Theogarajan

However, his talents aren’t limited to the

ing faculty member for UCSB’s Center

about his work and the many applications

world of computers. Theogarajan’s research

for Bioengineering, and designed the

that have come from it.

interests have applications in fields as diverse

undergraduate curriculum for a new


C: What are the main areas of research in which you’re concentrating right now? LT: I can broadly classify my work in two areas. One is in biomedical engineering, and the other one is in high-speed communications, which actually grew out of some research I was doing in biomedical engineering, but fundamentally, neural interfaces is the one thing that I’ve dedicated my life to. C: You started your work with neural interfaces before you came to UCSB; tell us what kind of work you’ve done. As a graduate student at MIT, the main work I did there was to develop an electrical implant that goes inside the eye and stimulates the retina, eventually sending information to the brain. In the middle of my Ph.D., I changed direction. I realized that if a visual prosthesis of any significance is going to be developed at some point there has to be a different interface to the nervous system. It cannot be electrical, because the power required for the distance the current needed to travel would generate too much heat eventually leading to cell death. Current implants have limited number of electrodes to

a sufficient amount of potassium ions local to

and membranes. We developed a system where

around 64-100, which pales in comparison to

the neuron, it will actually make the neuron fire,

we take a very thin inorganic membrane about

the 140 million photoreceptors in the eye. So

because it upsets the chemical balance. So the

30 nanometers thick and drilled very tiny

if you are using a limited number of electrodes

question then was: How do you actually make a

holes using a focused electron beam, creating

then it is imperative that you know the precise

device that can uptake potassium from the body

a structural ion channel scaffold. Once we had

relationship between electrical stimulation and

and release it on command? You have to make

the structural motif, we needed to enable the

the neural code sent to the brain, which has not

a system that almost mimics a real living cell.

functionality of recognition. What we’re doing

What is fundamentally needed for a chemical

now is to attach a recognition molecule in the

What we’ve been trying to concentrate on

prosthesis is a scaffold by which you can mimic

interior of the pore so it selectively moves things

is a chemical interface, because if you deliver

neurons. You want to make artificial channels


been deciphered yet.



Q&A with Professor Luke Theogarajan

C: Your research into biomimetic materials

detection. We try to thread the DNA through

electronic chip larger just for interfacing the

has had other applications as well.

these holes and look at the amount of current

cost goes up exponentially and the yield drops

Originally, when I was doing my Ph.D, I had to

that they can block. You can also tell other char-

dramatically. So to circumvent this we take a

figure out a way to make a synthetic molecule

acteristics like protein folding and misfolded

very small chip and make it look very large at

that behaved like a lipid, so I made a polymer

Alzheimer’s proteins using the same technique.

a reduced cost, enabling the coupling to the

system based on previous research that was

One key issue in these detection platforms

microfluidics. The same technology can be used

done by others, and I modified it to the purposes

is the baseline background current can dwarf

for integrating electronics and photonics, which

that I needed. That ended up having interest-

the change in ionic current due to the biomol-

is how I started working with John Bowers, who

ing properties that are useful for drug delivery.

ecule. Because we have a strong expertise in

is known around the world for his expertise in

We just published a paper about making very

electronics, we built a new electronic platform

optics and photonics.

modular blocks using “click” chemistry, which

that can distinguish very small changes on very

is a popular way of coupling polymers together.

large backgrounds.

C: Your work in biotechnology actually benefitted John Bowers’ work in energy efficiency?

We are also studying how these polymers

Finally, if a useful system is to be designed,

interact with the innate immune system.

a way of coupling the sensor, the electronics

Tell us more about that.

Anytime a drug delivery system is introduced

and the microfluidics are necessary. Each of

Yes, I realized that if you use a photonic wafer

into your body, the first thing your body’s going

these domains operate in a different length

rather than a dummy silicon wafer like we

to do is recognize whatever you put in and take

scale: the nanoscale, microscale and macro-

did with our bio-related work, then very inti-

it out of circulation. You have to impart a stealth

scale, respectively. However, if you make an

mate connections can be made between the

property to anything you do in drug delivery so

photonics and electronics. This enables very

it avoids detection. Using a complement activa-

short electrical interconnects and thus lowers

tion assay, we proved that yes, if you use these

the power of the system, which is essential for

materials, you’re going to get stealth behavior,

energy efficient communications. We also have

provided you don’t use certain types of copper

a grant with DARPA on electronic/photonic

coupling chemistry. Craig Hawker [UCSB pro-

integration to implement advanced communi-

fessor of materials and chemistry] was a real

cation systems using electronics coupled with

source of inspiration. I was completely brought

photonics. John has been a great mentor to me,

up in a different field; I’m a formally trained

he’s a fantastic guy.

circuit designer. The ion channel work can also be applied to

C: You mentioned that you were essentially

the field of single molecule detection, especially

dedicated to creating neural interfaces. Aside

DNA sequencing. We have married the world

from the visual prosthesis work and bio-

of electronics (i.e. CMOS) with the nanopore

mimetic cell membrane, what else are you

(a tiny hole in an insulating membrane) and by

working on?

monitoring the ion current flowing through this

We’re also working neural recording arrays for

membrane one can perform single molecule

brain implants, to help paraplegics or people



with neurological damage. For example if the

the brain, so it develops inflammation. One of

learn? We have a multiuniversity collaboration

connection between the brain and motor func-

the things we’re trying to do is make some arrays

(MURI), funded by the Air Force headed by Tim

tion is damaged one can record from the brain

that do not have this shearing, using materials

Cheng and Dimitri Strukov, who is an expert

and then stimulate the muscle or control a

that are soft and flexible. We have developed a

in memristor technology (memory resistor – a

robotic arm, partially replacing lost function.

flexible polymer array with soft electrodes, and

resistor that remembers). We want to use the

One of the big problems in this area is that

are starting a collaboration with the Department

memristor as a learning synapse and use that

these implants are made of silicon or stainless

of Bioengineering at UC San Diego to test them.

synapse to create artificial circuits that behave

steel. However, the modulus of the electrode is

The last question we ask is: how do you mimic

like neural system and does tasks of recognition.

so stiff, because it has to withstand the pressure

brain function? How do you make circuits

of implantation, that micro shearing happens on

behave like a brain? How do you make them





Living Story of Social Graphs UCSB engineering researchers turn to geometry in their quest to map social networking data in real time By Sonia Fernandez From flash mobs at the local mall to trending

Which is why UC Santa Barbara professors

Their project, titled Social Network Analysis:

activist hashtags, social networks have quickly

of computer science Ben Zhao, Subhash Suri

Geometry, Dynamics and Inference for Very

integrated themselves into modern human life

and Heather Zheng, along with electrical and

Large Data Sets (SNAG-IT), was awarded a

and become a tool for instantaneous global

computer engineering professor Upamanyu

$6.2 million grant from the U.S. Department of

communication. Every day, an estimated 700

Madhow, have teamed up for an ambitious proj-

Defense’s Defense Advanced Research Projects

million people (out of billions of registered

ect that not only aims to further understand

Agency (DARPA). SNAG-IT’s obvious chal-

users) worldwide are weighing in on the top

social networks but also creates a means for

lenge – considering the sheer size of the network

social networking sites, swaying others, making

analyzing them as they happen. It will provide a

and the enormous amount of information – is

decisions and forming relationships in a con-

deeper comprehension of an increasingly “real”

unraveling data in real time,.

stant torrent of information.

virtual world, as well as ways to monitor or pre-

To help Zhao and colleagues in this task, they

While it’s true that we can analyze the com-

vent viral outbreaks, both in the real world and

have partnered with information technology

plexity of networks, given time, the deluge

online, or track systems like transportation or

giant Hewlett-Packard, the project’s primary

of data is too massive, too complex and too

biological protein networks.

contractor, which is researching and building

time-consuming for current technology to sort

scalable graph processing systems.

in real time. SUMMER 2014 | UCSB

17 17

“When you look at Facebook, or LinkedIn or

instance. Other information deemed relevant

Twitter, you’re talking about networks of more

can also dictate the node’s positioning or inter-

than a billion people,” said Zhao, who leads the

action with other nodes around it.

four-year project. Traditional algorithms devel-

The group is also interested in teasing out

oped and proved near-optimal decades ago no

data that is not explicitly mentioned from the

longer apply, he said. Developed for smaller sets

flow of information: inferred associations from

of data, current algorithms scale poorly when

professional affiliations or shared skill sets, for

the amount of data skyrockets.

instance, or implicit relationships from timing

To compound the problem, social networks are based on constantly changing relationships,

of events — not just the presence of a connection, but also its quality.

which affects what kind and how much profile information can be seen by others. Meanwhile, some people gain popularity, others lose clout, and events have immediate impact on topics of cyberspace discussions and real-life decisions.

“Geometry is a powerful way of visualizing complex relationships.” - Subhash Suri

For example, a LinkedIn profile page could

necessary to analyze such vast amounts of data

tip a company toward hiring a certain individual

“We seek to develop a systematic framework

at a meaningful speed. Even now, queries for

if his or her list of connections was popu-

for teasing out information from spatiotem-

profiles on current social media websites like

lated with influential people in the industry.

poral patterns of activity on social networks,”

LinkedIn, for instance, return precomputed,

Conversely, an offhand comment, a change

Madhow said. “As one example, by correlat-

sometimes days-old information, which may

of profile picture, even a “like” could lose a

ing the timing and volume of activity with the

or may not reflect up-to-the-moment devel-

user friends, connections or followers — and

timing of a class of external events, for exam-

opments, the scientists say.

therefore influence in the social network, and

ple baseball games, it may be feasible to make

As an example, Suri said, take GPS naviga-

opportunities in real life.

inferences about a user’s interests, such as, is

tion systems, with main roads and side roads all

he or she a baseball fan? Furthermore, such

plotted out in relationship to the driver’s coor-

The power of geometry

inferences can be strengthened and extended by

dinates, and measurements taken and relayed

To understand this modern kind of dataset,

examining the patterns of activities for groups

continuously via satellite as directions are sent

the researchers are using an ancient system:

of linked users. As another example, by look-

to the driver while he moves from one location


ing at the spatiotemporal spread of a rumor,

to the next.

“Geometry is a powerful way of visualizing complex relationships,” said Suri, who specializes in computational geometry.

can one make systematic statistical inferences about its source?” But dealing with massive — and rapidly

“Road networks are large graphs that people are just now getting comfortable with in terms of real-time response,” he said.

User profiles can be plotted as points —

growing — amounts of sometimes seemingly

But road information relayed via GPS is

nodes — on a coordinate space, with distance

disparate information is no small feat, and

minuscule and simple compared to the quan-

and dimension representing relationships, for

current technology does not have the power

tities that flow through networks like Facebook



thought leaders and communities; and poten-

“It becomes a mathematical problem,” said

tially even predict events, whether it’s the next

Zhao, who specializes in modeling and mining

Internet meme or the next Arab Spring.

massive graphs as well as analysis of social net-

At the same time, these complex data structures have to be condensed into as small

It also becomes a laborious process in which

a dimensional space as possible to allow for

they take a “brute force” approach to get to the

rapid computations while sacrificing the least

ground truth: Run lengthy computations with

amount of accuracy.

the preexisting data and see how close they get

“We are going to have errors,” Zhao said,

with their algorithms. Computations for even a

explaining that capturing a data structure with

small, 20,000-node network can run for weeks.

up to 100 dimensions or more — depending on

Ultimately, however, the result will be pow-

how comprehensive the social network is trying

erful programs, applications and systems that

to be with its users — into a small number of

can run fast, compute enormous amounts of

dimensions that can be visualized in a graph

data and do it with today’s machines, with all

“fundamentally just cannot be done perfectly.”

the physical constraints they face.

and LinkedIn, with profile views, public and

Some nodes in the data may just be out of place,

private interactions, status updates, evolving

he said.

relationships, responses to external events,

The intensity of information will also make

timing of communication and constant changes

it more difficult for people to lie about their

over time.

cyberselves, Zhao said, because even if a person

“Current systems simply limit the power of

changes his or her information in one sense, the

the queries you can execute. LinkedIn for exam-

other dimensions, relationships and inferences

ple does not let you query more than three hops

drawn from those associations still exist.

away from yourself,” Zhao said. “Others simply

“In a practical sense, it’s very difficult to

limit functionality. For example, you cannot yet

mislead the data in a meaningful way,” he

search for all users on Facebook while sorting

said. “Unless you move your location, change

by social distance away from you. Enabling that

your job and change your circle of friends, that

would significantly improve your chances of

closeness with certain people or things will still

finding friends you already know, especially


those with common names.”

To evaluate and validate these algorithms and models, the group will be using preexist-

Breaking down complex data structures

ing datasets from previous projects, the largest

Enter modeling and algorithms, meant to

of which is a 40 million-node graph of ano-

efficiently and elegantly describe and approxi-

nymized user profiles from a Chinese online

mate behaviors; reveal elements like influential



works and Internet communities.

“The intensity of information will also make it more difficult for people to lie about their cyberselves.” - Ben Zhao The research could also lead to uses in other fields. For instance, the high-speed computing and real-time capacity could be used to observe transportation systems and biological protein interaction networks. The algorithms would prove useful in the monitoring and possible prevention of viral outbreaks, both biological and online. Such research into the complex dance of social media networks can provide a foundation from which social scientists might study a variety of behavior patterns and interactions in an increasingly “real” virtual world. 19 19


Once elusive, solar-to-fuel conversion is looking like gold in a UCSB lab. By Sonia Fernandez


robust and efficient way to harvest solar energy

physical chemistry and materials. For decades,

and turn it into fuel. Unlike solar-to-electricity

plasmons — the collective oscillation of con-

applications, where conventional photovolta-

duction electrons — have been studied and used

Without it, life would be nothing like it is now.

ics have made great strides in efficiency and

in applications such as enhanced spectroscopy,

Modern technology’s ability to generate, manip-

affordability in the decades since their inception,

for instance, or to detect molecules adhering

ulate, sense, and convert light has resulted in

developing a technology for sustainable solar-

to surfaces. However, it was the specific social

man’s capacity to do everything from stay up

to-fuel conversion processes has been elusive,

context, which in this instance is the urgent

past sundown to communicate across vast dis-

until now.

concern to develop alternative energy resources,

tances, even to see into the distant past of the universe or deep into our bodies.

“Such devices have been made by many researchers in the past, using conventional

that spurred the group into considering plasmonics as a source of non-fossil fuel energy.

At UC Santa Barbara, researchers continue

semiconductor materials,” said Mubeen. “The

to find novel ways of using light — in both

problem is, when highly efficient semiconduc-

the visible and invisible spectra — to address

tors, such as silicon or gallium arsenide, are in

In conventional photovoltaics, sunlight hits

man’s growing need for energy and hunger for

an aqueous environment, they photocorrode,

semiconductor material, one side of which is

information. Through the combination of plas-

and stop working after a few minutes.”

electron-rich, while the other side is not. The

Harnessing excited electrons

monics and nanotechnology, researchers have

There have been some inroads made in the

photon, or light particle, excites the electrons,

been able to capture a storable form of energy

solar-to-fuel quest using semiconductors based

causing them to leave their positions, and create

from visible and invisible parts of the spectrum.

on metal oxides, like titanium, for instance.

positively-charged “holes.” The result is a cur-

Manipulating this electromagnetic energy could

These semiconductors don’t fail as readily the

rent of charged particles that can be captured

allow researchers to develop new technology

silicon-based types, but the tradeoff is that they

and delivered for various uses, including power-

for power generation and imaging.

absorb only the ultraviolet portion of sunlight —

ing lightbulbs, charging batteries, or facilitating

about four percent of the spectrum — so their

chemical reactions.

A new way of harvesting the sun’s energy

efficiencies are highly limited. Meanwhile, the

In the technology developed by Moskovits

In a little water-filled vial in UC Santa

search for a viable means of converting the Sun’s

and his team, it is not semiconductor materials

Barbara chemistry professor Martin Moskovits’

energy into fuel intensifies, as concerns over

that provide the electrons and venue for the

laboratory, a tiny disc may hold the key to our

the environmental drawbacks of using fossil

conversion of solar energy, but the surface of

pressing present and future fuel needs. When

fuel mount.

one of the world’s most well known and pre-

illuminated by the sun, this disc — no bigger

Enter gold, one of the Earth’s most stable and

cious metals.

than one’s fingertip — is capable of breaking the

conductive metals. Resistant to corrosion, it can

“When certain metals are exposed to visible

chemical bonds of water, producing hydrogen

be placed in many aqueous solutions without

light, the conduction electrons of the metal can

and oxygen, thus directly storing sunlight as

disintegrating, or otherwise reacting. Enter also

be caused to oscillate collectively, absorbing a

usable fuel.

an entirely new application for plasmonics.

great deal of the light,” said Moskovits. “This

“This pursuit has been growing for more

“We have been working on plasmonic mate-

than 100 years,” said postdoctoral researcher

rials for many years in other contexts,” said

However, these excited, “hot” electrons

Syed Mubeen, of the ongoing search for a more

Moskovits, whose research emphasis is in

are very short-lived, lasting only about ~ 10


excitation is called a surface plasmon.”


Plasmonic Technology

Left to right: Syed Mubeen and Joun Lee, postdoctoral researchers in chemistry; Nirala Singh, chemical engineering graduate student; Professor Martin Moskovits.


femtoseconds (~ 1014 seconds) before

also included chemistry postdoctoral

appropriate nanostructured design so

they relax.

researcher Joun Lee, chemical engi-

that before these electrons decay as

To get an idea of just how briefly

neering graduate researcher Nirala

heat you use them to do useful chem-

these electrons stay hot, imagine a

Singh, materials engineer Stephen

ical reactions,” Mubeen said.

stretch of beach that’s 20 feet long by

Kraemer, and chemistry professor

The result is an array of gold

20 feet wide by five feet deep. That’s one

Galen Stucky — turned to the very

nanorods, each rod measuring 80 to

second. Ten grains of sand would be

tiny world of nanostructures.

100 nm in diameter and 500 nm in

comparable to 10 femtoseconds.

“These hot electrons tend to travel 6

length. Ten billion of these nanoreac-

“The question was, can you capture

~10 meters per second, which means

tors can occupy one square centimeter.

these electrons effectively and put

they could travel at least a few tenths

Six hundred of them lined up side by

them to useful work?” said Mubeen. To

of a nanometer before decaying as heat.

side would span the diameter of an

do this, the Moskovits team — which

The challenge was to come up with an

average (clean) human hair.


▶ Artist’s concept of nanometer-size metallic wires and metallic particles embedded in semiconductors, as grown by Dr. Hong Lu.

Each nanorod is capped with a layer of

provides the opportunity to scale up for rela-

“If the last century of photovoltaic technol-

crystalline titanium dioxide decorated with

tively little cost, even with an expensive metal

ogy has shown anything, it is that continued

platinum nanoparticles. A cobalt-based oxida-

like gold.

research will improve on the cost and efficiency

tion catalyst was deposited on the lower portion of the array, and the entire arrangement is submerged in water.

of this new method - and likely in far less time Quest for efficiency Currently, efficiencies for this plasmonic

than it took for the semiconductor-based technology,” said Moskovits.

When the negatively charged hot electrons,

technology are at about .25 percent, which is

“In view of the recentness of the discovery,

excited by sunlight, oscillate, they travel up the

comparable to silicon semiconductor-based

we consider .25 percent to be a ‘respectable’

rod, through the titanium dioxide layer and are

photoprocesses almost a century ago. And,

efficiency,” he said. “More importantly, we can

captured by the platinum nanoparticles, caus-

plasmonic technology is still more costly than

imagine achievable strategies for improving the

ing the reaction that splits water molecules.

that for conventional semiconductors.

efficiencies radically.”

Meanwhile, the positively charged “holes” left

“We still have a lot of work to do,” said Mubeen,

behind by the excited electrons head down-

ticking off a list of ideal qualities that would

ward to the oxidation catalyst to form oxygen.

make nanostructured plasmonic materials

Meanwhile, in another lab on the UCSB

According to their study, hydrogen production

competitive with conventional semiconduc-

campus, researchers Hong Lu, Art Gossard

was clearly observable after two hours, and

tors. “We need to test cost-effective plasmonic

and Mark Sherwin have performed a feat that

the nanorod array proved to be the durable

metals, so we can make fuels cheap enough.

may provide a wide array of applications, from

visible light-harvesting device sought by the

We need to re-engineer the system design to

more efficient solar cells to higher-performance


be more efficient.”

telecommunications to enhanced imaging and

Catching the (invisible) wave

“The device operated with no hint of failure

Copper and silver are being eyed as alterna-

for many weeks,” Moskovits said. Additionally,

tives to gold, and an efficiency of 5 percent or

It comes in the form of a compound semicon-

according to Mubeen, the use of nanostructures

more is one of the early targets for the research.

ductor of nearly perfect quality with embedded


sensing technologies.


Plasmonic Technology

semimetallic nanostructures, and it capitalizes

with the element antimony (Sb), the researchers

incorporating different materials have been

on the manipulation of the infrared (IR) and

embedded the resulting compound — erbium

studied for years — a technology UCSB pro-

terahertz (THz) range of the electromagnetic

antimonide (ErSb) — as semimetallic nano-

fessor and Nobel laureate Herbert Kroemer

spectrum. These invisible areas of the spectrum

structures within a semiconducting matrix of

pioneered — a single crystal heterostructured

gallium antimonide (GaSb).

semiconductor/metal is in a class of its own.

— with longer wavelengths and lower frequencies than the naked eye can sense — offer much

When IR light hits the surface of this

ErSb, according to Lu, is an ideal material

in the way of information they can provide.

semiconductor, electrons in the semimetallic

to match with GaSb because of its structural

However, the development of instruments that

nanostructures begin to resonate — that is,

compatibility with its surrounding material,

can take advantage of their range of frequencies

move away from their equilibrium positions

allowing the researchers to embed the nano-

is still an emerging field.

and oscillate at the same frequency as the infra-

structures without interrupting the atomic

red light — preserving the optical information,

lattice structure of the semiconducting matrix,

but shrinking it to a scale that would be com-

each atom aligned with the matrix around it.

Bridging optics and electronics To cope with the demands of today’s

patible with electronic devices.

“The nanostructures are coherently embed-

information technology — more data, faster

“This is a new and exciting field,” said Hong

ded, without introducing noticeable defects,

transmission, better energy efficiency —

Lu, project scientist in materials and in elec-

through the growth process by molecular beam

researchers have been turning to optics, using

trical and computer engineering. But the

epitaxy,” said Lu. “We can control the size, the

IR light to transmit information.

ability to translate optical information into

shape and the orientation of the nanostructures.”

electronic data is only one benefit of this unique

The term “epitaxy” refers to a process by which


layers of material are deposited atom by atom,

However the transition between optics and electronics is a difficult one because they operate at vastly different scales, with electron confinement possible in spaces far smaller than light

or molecule by molecule, one on top of the ‘A new kind of heterostructure’

other with a specific orientation.

waves. The size gap between the technologies

In the world of semiconductors, structural

“It’s really a new kind of heterostructure,” said

have been a hurdle for scientists and engineers

quality is of utmost importance: the more regu-

Arthur Gossard, professor of materials and elec-

trying to integrate the two with a circuit that

larly repeating and aligned — “flawless” — the

trical and computer engineering.

can take advantage of the speed, capacity and

arrangement of atoms in the semiconductor’s

energy efficiency of optics with the compact-

crystal lattice is, the more reliable and better

ness of electronics for information processing.

performing the device in which it will be used

Here plasmonics plays a vital role, by pro-

will be.

Seeing things in a new light The semiconductor’s ability to capture and manipulate IR and THz range light opens doors

viding the highly sought bridge between the

Generating these perfect structures is no

into better imaging and sensing, as the embed-

two technologies. Key to this technology is the

minor feat. Any mismatch in size or alignment

ded nanostructures/nanowires offer a strong

use of erbium (Er), a rare earth metal that has

becomes magnified and could result in cracking.

broadband polarization effect, filtering and

the ability to absorb light in the visible as well

The difficulty becomes even greater when incor-

defining images with IR and THz signatures.

as infrared wavelength, and has been used for

porating different atoms, which may be desired

In addition to the thermal signatures that are

years to enhance the performance of silicon in

for their properties, but not so for their poten-

captured by infrared cameras, traces of chemi-

the production of fiber optics. Pairing erbium

tial to result in defects. While semiconductors

cals found in explosives and illegal narcotics can



Materials researcher Hong Lu peers down one of the many chambers of a molecular beam epitaxy (MBE) instrument.

“For infrared imaging, if you can do it with controllable polarizations, there’s a lot of information there.” - Art Gossard be sensed using the semiconductor. Terahertz wavelengths, which occupy the space between infrared and microwave frequencies, can penetrate a variety of materials, including the human body, opening up the potential for high resolution imaging without the danger posed by higher energy x-rays. The researchers have already applied for a patent for these embedded nanowires as a broadband light polarizer. SUMMER 2014 | UCSB

“For infrared imaging, if you can do it with

of the project, all of whom decided to combine

controllable polarizations, there’s a lot of infor-

their efforts and their expertise into one study.

mation there,” said Gossard. The researchers credit the collaborative

“I think what’s really special about UCSB is that we can have an environment like that.”

nature between departments on the UCSB

Researchers on campus are also exploring

campus for this multidimensional breakthrough.

the possibilities of this technology in the field

“One of the most exciting things about this for

of thermoelectrics, which studies how tempera-

me is that this was a ‘grassroots’ collaboration,”

ture differences of a material can create electric

said Mark Sherwin, professor of physics, direc-

voltage or how differences in electric voltages

tor of the Institute for Terahertz Science and

in a material can create temperature differences.

Technology at UCSB. The idea for the direction

Renowned UCSB professors John Bowers (solid

of the research actually came from the junior

state photonics) and Christopher Palmstrom

researchers in the group, he said, grad students

(heteroepitaxial growth of novel materials)

and undergrads from different laboratories and

are also investigating the potential of this new

research groups working on different aspects

semiconductor. 25



Goodbye To Droop Case Closed. Researchers discover the science behind the mystery of efficiency droop. By K.M.Kelchner The ordinary light bulb is an innovation so

A team led by professors James Speck and

does what it should. As you apply more and

extraordinary that a sudden brilliant idea is

Claude Weisbuch from the Center for Energy

more current, the LED doesn’t emit a propor-

called “a light bulb moment.”

Efficient Materials (CEEM), along with collab-

tional, increasing amount of light. The LED

Credit for inventing the first incandes-

orators at École Polytechnique in Paris, have

actually becomes less efficient the harder you

cent-style light bulb often goes to Thomas

developed a technique to tackle possibly the

turn up the juice. The efficiency, for lack of a

Edison, but even that wasn’t a light bulb moment.

most difficult technological mystery of LED

better word, droops.

In fact, his patent for an improved electric light

research: efficiency droop. Their recent discov-

came after 75 years of hard work by several sci-

ery could have exciting implications in terms

entists and engineers, all scrambling to find the

of how we understand and use this new way to

best way to run an electrical current through a

make light.

filament and get it to glow.

Just like Edison’s tricky filament, though, the

Luminaires based on light-emitting diode

devil is in the details.

The challenge of LED droop LED droop is a challenge for LED bulb designers who want to squeeze the most light out of each chip, especially if they want to replace the incandescent light bulb, which despite being

(LED) technology already are 10 times

It is widely known that incandescent bulbs

more energy-efficient and last 20 times

are terribly inefficient light sources; 90 percent

longer than old-fashioned Edison-

of the electrical energy goes toward generating

“Efficiency droop has been the biggest prob-

style bulbs. Today, researchers

heat and only 10 percent goes to making light.

lem for blue LEDs for a long time,” explained

in the Materials Department

An LED generates light a completely different

Shuji Nakamura, a professor of materials and

at UC Santa Barbara are

way, by passing electric current through layers

co-director of the Solid State Lighting & Energy

working hard to get even

of semiconductor material called a diode. In

Center at UCSB. While still a researcher in

more bang for the

a perfect LED, every electron passing through

Japan in the late 1990s, Nakamura was the first

buck from these

the diode would release its energy in the form

to demonstrate a modern blue LED using an

of light. It would generate no heat at all.

electrically injected diode made from a semi-

high-tech light sources. SUMMER 2014 | UCSB

In a real LED, however, not every electron

really inefficient happens to be really bright and really cheap.

conductor called gallium nitride (GaN). 27

Goodbye to Droop

Since then, Nakamura has played an important role in seeing these tiny light emitters go mainstream for white lighting. According to Nakamura, solving the enduring efficiency droop problem could have a huge impact on reducing the cost of LED bulbs, which still sell for more than $10 apiece. For years, the exact cause of efficiency droop has been hotly debated. LED manufacturers have engineered workarounds for the droop problem, but the answer to the mystery lies in fundamental science. How a single electron generates light at all involves some magic of quantum physics. Albert Einstein won the Nobel Prize in 1921 for explaining the so-called photoelectric effect. The concept comes down to this: If you want ▶

to get as much light out of an LED as possible,

UCSB researchers Justin Iveland and Professor James Speck.

you must account for all the electrons. UCSB professor Chris Van de Walle and

The Paris connection

Still, the experiment was quite complex. To

his research team theorized in 2011 that LED

Justin Iveland, a materials graduate student

start, the samples had to be carefully prepared

droop can be blamed on misbehaving electrons.

who worked on this project for the past two

and subjected to a very high vacuum. The equip-

Instead of releasing their energy as light as they

years, joked that the most important piece of

ment had to be aligned just so to detect Auger

should, some electrons traveling through the

lab equipment was the trans-Atlantic airliner

electrons, which have a unique high-energy

diode transfer all their energy to another elec-

that let him travel to Paris to collaborate with

signature. The hardest part of all, according to

tron. Think of billiard balls colliding in a game

researchers in the Laboratoire de Physique de

Weisbuch, was “getting everything right.”

of pool. These pesky energetic electrons are

la Matière Condensée at École Polytechnique.

Not only was the measurement successful in

called hot electrons or Auger electrons. The

“This kind of experiment takes experience,”

detecting Auger electrons, but the more elec-

more Auger electrons you have, the less light

said Weisbuch, distinguished professor of mate-

trons pumped through the LED sample, the

you get. There have been several experiments

rials at UCSB and a faculty member at École

more Auger electrons they measured. The emer-

trying to prove the existence of Auger electrons


gence of Auger electrons directly corresponded

in LEDs, but measuring them directly has been

Weisbuch enlisted his colleagues Lucio

with the onset of LED efficiency droop. They

Martinelli and Jacques Peretti to help because,

call this kind of discovery unambiguous, which

Very recently, professors Speck and Weisbuch,

as he put it, they have more than 30 years of

is perhaps a nicer way to say, “We told you so.”

along with their collaborators, have managed to

experience taking the kind of careful electrical

“Based on our data and analysis, it offers direct

directly measure Auger electrons for the first time.

measurements this experiment required.

nearly impossible.


proof that Auger is the dominant mechanism Convergence

LED emitting light under forward bias in an ultra high vacuum chamber allowing simultaneous electron emission energy. Photo credit: École Polytechnique, Ph. Lavialle

for GaN-based LED droop,” explained Professor

SSLEC, added: “Professor Speck and Professor

himself said, “Genius is 1 percent inspiration,

Speck, the Seoul Optodevice Chair in Solid State

Weisbuch’s groundbreaking experimental ver-

99 percent perspiration.” This is a testament to

Lighting at UCSB. “It’s the first direct measure-

ification solves one of the greatest mysteries of

the hard work that scientific discoveries and

ment of Auger electrons in any semiconductor.

light-emitting diodes. Now that we understand

technological innovations often require.

The result provides a direct pathway to mitigate

the fundamental process, we can focus on ways

In a few more years, the ordinary light bulb

droop and the Auger process.”

to solve it through novel LED device structures

will be a thing of the past, and our options will

and designs.”

be bigger, brighter and cheaper — all thanks

Materials Professor Steven DenBaars, Mitsubishi Chemical Chair in Solid State

The past 20 years have seen rapid develop-

Lighting and Displays and co-director of

ments in LED technology, but as Thomas Edison


to contributions made in research labs around the world and right here at UCSB. 29



The Delicate Mystery of Brain Trauma To detect the subtle but debilitating damage from mild traumatic brain injury, scientists at UC Santa Barbara are peering into neuron networks with high-powered imaging and analysis. By Rachelle Oldmixon

At 29, John*, an active police officer and part-

personality changes. He asked to be removed

problem is that cognitive symptoms of mTBI are

time graduate student, was in a car accident.

from active patrol. Back at his desk, he found

vague and offer little tangible evidence for common

Despite the impact to John’s head, a hospital CT

that even the standard paperwork proved

imaging techniques to detect neural damage.

scan revealed no damage to his brain. He was


released from the hospital and told he should

“If a patient with a concussion and lingering

John’s case is among hundreds of thousands

cognitive trouble goes in for a conventional brain

like it — incidents of people who suffer mild

scan, there’s less than a 3 percent chance of seeing

After several months, however, John (not his

Traumatic Brain Injury (mTBI) after an auto

something on the MRI,” said Dr. Scott Grafton,

real name) still had not recovered. He sought

accident, during high-impact sports or on the

co-director of the Institute for Collaborative

help for numbness in his toe and complained

battlefield. Most people recover from an mTBI

Biotechnologies and a professor of psychological

of severe memory problems for the courses he

incident within a few weeks.

and brain sciences at UC Santa Barbara.

recover fully.

had taken since entering his master’s program.

But 10 percent do not recover and, for those

Grafton hypothesizes that mTBI-related

He had difficulty making decisions, found it

people, the symptoms worsen to the point of

brain damage evades common hospital imaging

hard to maintain attention, and noticed subtle

chronic, life-debilitating cognitive deficits. The

techniques because the damage is occurring at


*Name changed to protect privacy. 31

the level of individual neural connections rather

related to the triggering event. Because of this,

possibility that mTBI is an issue of connectivity

than in larger brain areas.

medical experts must rely on the symptoms

tissue in the brain. Currently, the magnetic res-

He believes the long-term symptoms associ-

that soldiers will admit, such as memory loss

onance imaging (MRI) technology commonly

ated with mTBIs may be the result of “shearing”

surrounding their time in combat, irritability,

found in hospitals and clinics is most useful for

of the neurons. In order to investigate this pos-

difficulty concentrating, and a loss of interest

finding lesions or the sources of strokes. Some

sibility, Grafton and his team are developing a

in previously enjoyable activities.

techniques available in hospitals have been cal-

new brain-imaging technique that will allow

While PTSD is technically a psychological

doctors to see neural connections with greater

disorder that can improve with time and ther-


apy, mTBI is physiological in nature. An early,

The detection of mTBI may, however, lie in

accurate diagnosis of mTBI may be the only

the finer — and more complicated — details

way to help doctors provide optimal therapies

of neural connection.

The problems of misdiagnosis The complaints associated with chronic

ibrated to find small hemorrhages, down to a few millimeters in size.

from an early point. Visualizing white matter

mTBI are similar to those surrounding Post-

“The U.S. military is interested in screening

Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD), which is

for mTBIs, but this would require a full cog-

Essentially, when the brain experiences a

misdiagnosed often, and particularly among

nitive baseline examination of every soldier

trauma in the form of a blow to the head, the

veterans who have seen active combat.

before each deployment and when they return,

thinner neural connections are damaged. These

Between January 2000 and March 2011,

which is prohibitively expensive,” Grafton said.

thinner connections exist where the projections

more than 163,000 mTBIs reportedly were

This has left our military in a quandary:

from a distant area of the brain reach their

incurred by U.S. military personnel on active

Requiring cognitive exams for every soldier

target and fan out to connect to many other

duty, usually the result of blows or jolts to the

would be too costly, but, without pre-injury

areas of the brain.

“The white matter is like train tracks connecting many different cities. But for brains, the connections are between different modules of the cerebral cortex. And there can be lots of tracks connecting any pair of modules. No matter where we are in the white matter we can test if the normal connections are present or not.”- Dr. Scott Grafton head. About 10 percent of those people — more

measures, minor dips in cognitive function or

“Think of a cable with a lot of wires. In the

than 16,000 — were reported to have developed

minute abnormalities on a brain scan could be

middle it’s nice and tight, all packed together.

cognitive deficits from mTBI.

explained away as low-average cognitive ability

But at the ends, the cables splay out in different

or artifacts from the machine.

directions and hook back together again. That

Despite how common it is, a PTSD diagnosis


is seen by many soldiers as a sign of weakness,

Grafton is addressing the intricate mTBI

and many will deny experiencing symptoms

diagnosis problem by investigating the

is where the tearing probably occurs,” Grafton explained. Convergence

Fewer or damaged synaptic connections to certain brain regions would result in impaired communication among areas of the brain.

quite sensitive enough to visualize the thinner

DSI scans were collected and more importantly,

neural connections.

in the way the information is analyzed.

To address this, Grafton’s lab team, in collab-

Because there are billions of places in the

With the use of Diffusion Tensor Imaging

oration with research teams at the University of

human brain where the axons of those neurons

(DTI), it is possible to visualize the brain’s white

Pittsburgh and at Siemens, utilize a technique

cross, each DSI scan produces several gigabits

matter, which consists of axon bundles. DTI,

called Diffusion Spectrum Imaging (DSI) that

of data — requiring a new level of data com-

also known as diffusion MRI, is an imaging

was first invented at Massachusetts General

putation power.

method that uses the diffusion of water through

Hospital by Van Wedeen.

the brain to map the white matter.

While it takes about five times longer to scan

Necessity breeds the reinvention of data analysis

The problem with DTI is that each person

than DTI, DSI more accurately maps where the

has a different pattern of connectivity, so it’s

fibers of axons cross — the architecture of tissue

To meet the need, Grafton and graduate stu-

almost impossible to know where to start ana-

— based on where water is and how it moves.

dent Matt Cieslak have completely reworked

lyzing the information. Additionally, DTI is not

Their research involved improving the way the

how DSI data is analyzed.



The Delicate Mystery of Brain Trauma

Currently in DSI, axon bundles are tracked by starting with two different areas of gray

and the lead recruiter of patients for the mTBI

and to add functionality. It will take some time

study with UCSB.

and a carefully designed clinical trial to test

matter. The bundles, or white matter, found

“This study has tremendous implications for

the final version of these tools. The utility of

between the two areas are then counted and

our population of mild traumatic brain injury

diffusion spectrum imaging coupled with the


patients; there has been no way to characterize

custom analysis tools for diagnosing mTBI will

or predict which patients will have more pro-

require this larger-scale effort.

Grafton and Cieslak have found, however, that axon bundles don’t cross neatly. Instead, the

longed symptoms,” said Delio.

For mTBI patient John, an early diagnosis

bundles can pass through one another, dividing

More than 15 patients suffering from cog-

could have made a huge difference. A year later

into smaller axon cables and weaving through

nitive deficit related to mTBI have volunteered

when he received a proper diagnosis, he was

one another before rejoining into the original

to participate in Grafton’s ongoing study. Their

able to develop coping mechanisms to make it

bundle. Rather than tracking axon bundles

injuries have been the result of a range of events,

through graduate school. With significant help

indirectly, Grafton’s team decided a new ana-

including skateboarding accidents, sports inju-

from friends, family and his professors, John

lytical program was needed that could trace an

ries and car crashes.

was able to finish his graduate degree. But in

axon bundle along its pathways. Grafton’s new statistical analysis allows researchers to visualize the ends of the bundles, where the axons splay out and shearing is more likely to occur in patients with mTBI. Once the theory behind the statistical program was developed, Grafton saw a need for several additional functions. They needed the ability

“This study has tremendous implications for our population of mild traumatic brain injury patients; there has been no way to characterize or predict which patients will have more prolonged symptoms.” - Philip Delio

to view multiple scans at once, for starters, to

John’s case, he still finds cognitive tasks difficult that were once simple. If cognitive exercises started soon after an mTBI incident can improve the brain’s ability to recover lost function, then early diagnosis could mean the difference between debilitation and hope for recovery. Grafton’s new analytical method could lead to a better outcome from chronic brain injury and mental debilitation

allow researchers and doctors to compare scans

“Patients with seemingly severe injuries often

from the same brain or among patients with

make remarkable recoveries, while some with

similar injuries.

apparently mild injuries may have persistent

for tens of thousands of people.

deficits for month or years, or permanently,” Translating research into real help Grafton and his team work with Dr. Philip Delio, medical director of stroke services at

Delio said, adding that this research will “be imperative in helping to predict functional outcomes and recovery.”

Santa Barbara Cottage Hospital. Delio eval-

Lacking initially detectable brain damage,

uates many of the patients who are brought

the mTBI patients are ideal candidates to test

to Santa Barbara Cottage Hospital, a level II

the sensitivity of the new analytical program.

trauma center that sees thousands of brain-in-

Grafton has also begun distributing the

jury patients every year. Delio is a neurologist

analysis tools to other laboratories across the country in an effort to evaluate its potential



◀ From left: Mechanical engineering graduate student Nick Zacchia; mechanical engineering associate professor Megan Valentine; and Tim Thomas, U.S. military veteran and VIBRANT program summer intern from Pasadena City College - working at a fluorescence microscope.

Can mTBI trigger a pathway for more serious disease?

either loss of adhesion or loss of transport leads to neurological defects,

Zooming in to the cellular and molecular levels, Dr. Megan Valentine of

including Alzheimer’s and other types of dementia.”

the department of mechanical engineering is exploring whether force-

Valentine wonders if impact-force injury can, in essence, trigger these

based neural damage can be attributed to molecular-level changes on

other disease pathways that are otherwise thought to be attributed to

and within neurons.

genetic predisposition.

Valentine is investigating possible changes to the individual neurons

In 2013, Valentine was one of three UCSB engineering professors

after force-based damage. Her research team applies controlled stress

to be awarded a prestigious National Science Foundation Early Career

via magnetic fields to the neural cells to see how they react, identify and

Award. The award keeps her research going for at least four years and

repair the impact – and whether there are short-term and long-term

includes an outreach component that creates education and research

connections to neural health.

opportunities for students.

Their challenge is to develop new tools that work at smaller length scales and higher force ranges — that is, tools sensitive enough to detect molecular-level changes after a force is applied. “We’re miniaturizing magnetic tweezer technology to apply forces inside these cells,” Valentine said, “and at the same time introducing high-resolution optical imaging to capture what happens in a split second.” Valentine’s study keeps tabs on the neuron’s changes over time to see

Aptly enough, Valentine’s program brings in and involves students who are military veterans. “The program is a nice intersection between outreach and research because veterans in particular understand the seriousness of these types of injuries,” she said. Employing all the proper tools and modalities, Valentine sees great promise in the research.

how a single-force event — a traumatic brain impact, in theory — changes

“There is a diversity of adhesion proteins on neurons, and they’re very

a neuron’s behavior and properties over the long term. Her research

sensitive to mechanical signaling.” she said, adding that if cell adhe-

further addresses the question: Are young people who are exposed to

sion governs the ways in which axon bundles are formed and intersect,

TBI in turn predisposed to early-onset dementia diseases?

understanding these molecular-level mechanics could be another key

“Neuron adhesion and cargo transport are important for healthy

to understanding why and how any traumatic brain injury takes its toll.

nervous systems,” Valentine explained. “There are other diseases where SUMMER 2014 | UCSB




An Entrepreneurial Education Science and engineering students suit up for the high tech business world through UCSB’s Technology Management Program. by Sonia Fernandez When optoelectronics graduate student Jared

“My graduate research work with Professors

Hulme attended a Technology Management

Ram Seshadri, Steve DenBaars, and Shuji

Program lecture about UC Santa Barbara

Nakamura led us to combine phosphor mate-

technologies that were available to license, he

rials with laser excitation,” explained Denault.

left inspired to explore how solid state lighting

This highly promising research formed “the

research could be commercialized.

basis of our motivation,” she added, to enter

“After seeing last year’s New Venture Competition finals, I decided I wanted to be

Lighting Technologies.

a part of the program,” commented Hulme.

“I have found inspiration in this research

TMP’s New Venture Competition is an annual

because of the far reaching impacts that light-

business competition for student teams to try

ing has on the world, and the associated global

their hand at commercializing new or existing

energy reduction that can be made possible

technology, much of it stemming from campus

through this type of research,” said Denault.

research efforts in science and engineering.

◀ Laura Johnson, graduate student at the UCSB Bren School of Environmental Science & Management, presents her team’s start-up, Salty Girl Seafood, at the 2014 New Venture Competition finals. Salty Girl Seafood, which took home second place in the Market Pull category and a People’s Choice Award, is a sustainable seafood distribution company that bypasses the traditional supply chain to ship seafood directly from fishermen to restaurants and markets. SUMMER 2014 | UCSB

the competition with a company called Fluency

Denault and Hulme joined forces with eco-

Hulme connected with materials graduate

nomics major Daniel Moncayo, and their team

student Kristin Denault, who was research-

went on to place second in the competition,

ing high efficiency laser diode lighting in

taking home seed money for a newly established

the solid state lighting lab of Professor Ram

technology venture.

Seshadri, co-director of the Materials Research

“We expect our technology to be well received

Laboratory. Like Humle, Denault was interested

in a market estimated to be worth $3 billion,” com-

in taking the technology to market.

mented Moncayo.


An Entrepreneurial Education

TMP has been the birthplace for many student-run startups, several of which they can now showcase as multi-million dollar success stories in a spectrum of technology industries. Fueled

For mentors, TMP is sometimes a way to watch the evolution of technology, as students tackle old problems with new insights.

by students fired up about their innovations, and guided by

Morgan Pattison, whose consulting firm specializes in high-efficiency

mentors with experience in the marketplace, TMP has helped

lighting, mentored a team of engineering seniors, Taylor Umphreys,

spawn dozens of successful UCSB-founded businesses in its 14

Siddhant Bhargava, Arshad Haider, and Ben Chang. Their team, Brightblu,

years on campus. Before considering the techpreneur world, the three co-found-

proposed a Bluetooth-based home automation system that could be controlled with a smartphone.

ers of Fluency Lighting Technologies took advantage of TMP’s

“I encouraged them to make it something cost-effective and easy to

course offerings and lectures available to students. Denault

use,” said Pattison. The problem with current automated lighting systems,

completed TMP’s Graduate Program in Management Practice

he said, is that they tend to be complicated and unwieldy, affordable

concurrently with her graduate education in materials.

only to large buildings. Compatibility with legacy circuitry, such as in

“The three of us have also attended several of the TMP

a home, was a problem.

Executive-At-the-Table round table discussions and

“The idea for me was to see where the concept would go and I wanted

seminars,” Denault said. “We have really found TMP

these guys to spend time on the technical issues,” he said. His job was

to be a great source of help and guidance through

to guide their creative power as someone who was familiar with the

this whole process.”

practical realities of the market.

TMP’s academic offerings and student business compe-

They ran with the concept and refined the technology, but they didn’t

tition are led by UCSB professors and lecturers with business

stop with lighting solutions. In the process they demonstrated that the

acumen and experience under their belts who impart knowl-

device — a smartplug — could not only control lights, but could also

edge to students over six months of courses and seminars. The

work with other appliances. In essence, they designed a smartplug that

curriculum covers everything a “techpreneur” could dream

turns any power outlet into an intelligent outlet that users can control

of: business ideas and models, intellectual property and pat-

from a smartphone.

ents, marketing, finance, operations, and how to find start-up

After taking home People’s Choice at the New Venture Competition,

investors. The results for participants are a broader network,

the team landed a top spot at the 2012 Plug and Play Expo, scoring major

concrete business plans, working prototypes, and polished

networking opportunities in the Silicon Valley. Today, their original


prototype has evolved into a product called Zuli. They used Kickstarter

Though not exclusive to tech majors, students in science

to successfully fund their expansion.

and engineering are drawn to the program, which aims to pre-

To test themselves against the reality of a startup experience, stu-

pare them to perform as business leaders in global technology

dents can take courses like “Creating a Market-Tested Start-up Business

teams. Their curricula encourage cross-disciplinary teamwork

Model,” taught by Steve Zahm, president of Santa Barbara-based Procore

between the hard sciences, economics, marketing, and other

Technologies, Inc., a cloud-based construction management software

disciplines to bring balanced perspectives and talents.


◀ Kristin Denault, materials graduate student and co-founder of Fluency Lighting Technologies. 38

Advice from seasoned pros

“Tech entrepreneurs often confuse a technology with a product, and a product or service with a business,” said Zahm. “Conducting a thorough Convergence

▶ Team Shadowmaps won over 2014 NVC judges with urban geolocation improvement technology that combines GPS data with algorithms that correct for building satellite shadows. Pictured: Andrew Irish (electrical engineering graduate student), Danny Iland (computer science graduate student), Dayton Horvath (chemistry graduate student), and Jason Isaacs (electrical and computer engineering postdoc).

and detailed market validation process — in

on long-term productivity and less on short-

investors to believe in them, and then persuade

other words, getting out and talking to potential

term survival. For this eventual need, McKee

the public to trust their products.

customers and partners before launching the

co-teaches “The Entrepreneurial Leadership of

Which is why a strong purpose plays an

product and company — is the one key step

Teams and Talent” with Deb Horne, who is also

important role in the life of a tech entrepreneur.

for designing a successful business model.

in human resources.

For James Rogers, creator of aPEEL

Once that business model has been validated

“Experience has shown that entrepreneurs are

Technologies, Inc., there were two purposes.

by actual market and customer feedback, then

typically focused on the technology, product or

He wanted to own his own business and he

you can move forward.”

service and give little thought to the legal side of

wanted to create something that could have a

As the venture matures, like any company,

a start- up, including hiring and compensating

positive impact on peoples’ lives. He found a

there will be growing pains. If the business is

employees,” said Horne. “The class is designed

way to fulfill both purposes in the world’s first

successful, roles change and goals evolve.

to provide an awareness of the legal compliance

organic preservative, a spray-on post-harvest

issues they face when starting up and running

coating that preserves the freshness — and thus

a business.”

extends the shelf life — of produce.

“Start-ups have fewer formal rules, are nimble, flexible and more organic in their organizational structure – there are roles rather than formalized jobs – people tend to do more than one thing,” said Kathryn McKee, human resources

“In the U.S. we throw out up to 20 percent Entrepreneurship with a purpose

of the produce that we harvest. And we use 80

In the world of new technology ventures, the

percent of our fresh water in the United States

waters can be a little choppier, the navigation

to irrigate,” said Rogers, who earned his PhD

As the venture grows, so does the need for

a little more uncertain. Not only are startups

in Materials at UCSB.

the company’s leaders to keep the focus more

inventing new things, they have to convince

expert and TMP lecturer.



An Entrepreneurial Education

◀ A $5,000 Elings Prize was awarded to a team by method of random drawing at the 2014 New Venture Competition, prefaced by words of experience by Virgil Elings that “success in business is fifty percent hard work and fifty percent dumb luck.”

Through the development of a thin film composed of molecules extracted from plants, strawberries that go fuzzy the next day will be good for several more, and in the future leafy greens could stay leafy and green for far longer. From growers to grocers, it means better sales and less waste overall. Much of this support he received from TMP, starting with the first entrepreneurship classes led by John Greathouse. “I think TMP is like a series of lighthouses that warn you where you’re going to crash. They don’t tell you where to go; they tell you where not to go,” he said. There might be ideas that take too much time and energy, or it might be the wrong time to take money from a certain investor, he said. 40

research that requires new thought and practices concerning industry and market applications,” said Dave Seibold, UCSB professor and director of the TMP Graduate Program in Management Practice. “For example, technological or com-

aPEEL Technology and its organic edible

ponent innovations that disrupt traditional

spray coating took home the top spot at the

models to increase efficiency and production

2012 New Venture Competition.

or open new markets.”

Not satisfied with helping the agriculture

Seminars such as “Thinking Out of the

industry on the home soil, Rogers is actively

Box” and “How Do Things Work?” are taught

researching ways to bring the technology to

by TMP lecturer Virgil Elings, a UCSB physics

developing countries, where not only are shrink-

professor turned wildly successful techpreneur,

age and spoilage major issues in places with

even before tech entrepreneurship became the

hot weather and lack of refrigeration, but also

vogue. Elings co-founded Santa Barbara-based

biotic stressors — infestations and infections

Digital Instruments in 1987, which brought the

by bacteria, fungi and parasites. For this work

first commercially-available scanning probe

Rogers was awarded a $100,000 grant from the

microscopes to market — including the Atomic

Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation under its

Force Microscope and the Scanning Tunneling

Grand Challenges Explorations Initiative, for a


proposal that paved the way for a coating that

“Virgil has a passion for helping students,”

would not only prevent shrinkage but also act

said Rod Alferness, dean of the College of

as a camouflage, keeping the fruit or vegetable’s

Engineering. “His workshops are effective

surface from being recognized as a food source.

because they’re hands-on, very cross-disci-

For the next crop of young innovators con-

plinary, and the student-teacher model is wide

sidering entrepreneurship, Rogers offers this

open.” Elings, a renowned entrepreneur and

advice: Get started. Do anything.

lifelong advocate of learning by doing, is known for eschewing traditional learning models for

Learning to innovate Not all students who enter TMP are looking to be the next big startup. A common thread between the program curricula is encouraging students to keep their minds in innovation mode. “Innovation-related skills are vital because we’re frequently working with game-changing

the head-first approach.

“Innovation-related skills are vital because we’re frequently working with game-changing research that requires new thought and practices concerning industry and market applications.” - Dave Seibold Convergence

▶ Inogen founders Brenton Taylor, Alison Perry, and Byron Myers

This approach, and the deceptively simple

“The class was much more focused on the

Management program in 2015. This intensive

questions Elings asks his students, engages

‘hows’ and ‘whys’ as opposed to the ‘whats’ that

master’s degree program will be the first of its

both student and teacher, giving participants

we could be studying,” said Benji, a former TMP

kind at UCSB and is intended for exceptional

the kind of mental calisthenics needed to train

student. “I learned not only a lot about how the

students in science, engineering, or quantitative

for the fast pace and often unpredictable envi-

things we covered really work, but also some

social science backgrounds with a “demon-

ronment of a technology-based business career.

better questions to ask when trying to learn

strated potential for leadership,” explained

more about anything.”

Bob York, professor of electrical and computer

“TMP gave me a chance to teach a course where the subject matter is just a medium

Despite (or perhaps, because of) their

for thinking about things,” Elings said. “The

unconventionality, his seminars are a tremen-

“This program will propel students with

material was not constrained and could cover

dous hit with both engineering and College of

advanced technical qualifications to successful

everyday things and very technical things.

Creative Studies students at UCSB. Students

careers as business leaders and entrepreneurs.”

Two of my favorite simple problems for the

often cited Elings’ seminars as the best classes

said York. “We’re empowering UCSB scientists

students to think about were ‘How does a play-

they ever had.

and engineers to become leaders and innova-

ground swing work?’ and ‘How does an ice skater gain speed?’ We went from swings to relativity in one course and I learned as much as the students.” SUMMER 2014 | UCSB

engineering and Chair of TMP.

tors. I think that’s a big step, and important one.” Next-gen technology, next-gen leadership Expanding their current offerings, TMP

Learn more at

will launch a new Master of Technology




Jae C. Hong/Associated Press

UCSB Heals United For the UC Santa Barbara community of students, faculty, and staff, the

service at Harder Stadium for George Chen, Katherine Cooper, James

tragic events of May 23, 2014 will never be forgotten. The death of six

Hong, Christopher Ross Michaels-Martinez, David Wang and Veronika

UCSB students was devastating to the entire campus and to our alumni

Weiss. The news of the tragedy had traveled the world, and “We Stand

and supporters who put their faith and pride in UCSB. The following

with UCSB” tributes were organized at every University of California

weeks were some of the most difficult we have experienced; the mourning

campus. Thousands of UCSB alumni broadcast their #GauchoStrong

on campus was palpable.

support on social media and through the UCSB Alumni Association.

Then, something quite amazing happened amidst sorrow. The commu-

Hundreds of people gathered at an Isla Vista beach for a Paddle Out

nity at UCSB came together to support one another in a collective spirit

Memorial, on surfboards and rafts, holding hands in a giant chain as

that was beyond moving. As official letters were promptly issued from

flowers drifted into the Pacific Ocean.

the Deans and the Chancellor addressing concerns and communicating

This June, we celebrate our graduating seniors who have worked

important details about safety and support, thousands of us gathered in

incredibly hard for their education and their careers. They leave UCSB

Isla Vista for a candlelight vigil. The student community mobilized to

knowing grief, but also knowing solidarity. For students whose gradua-

build memorials and organize events. Counselors and academic advisors

tion is yet to come, UCSB is a stronger and more connected place today.

opened their doors on weekends and after hours to support students

In response to requests by the UCSB community, alumni, and our

– in part because spring finals week, already a challenging time, was

donors, a scholarship fund has been established in the names of the vic-

fast approaching. Resources were made available to every person on

tims. The fund supports student scholarships, as well as counseling and

campus to process and heal, and to prepare ourselves for the aftershocks

academic assistance resources at UCSB. To donate, visit

of mourning.

This is our message of gratitude to everyone who has stood beside

There was an awareness among us that it didn’t matter how long we

UCSB after the tragedy, and has joined us in remembering six students

worked into the night, or which classes were postponed, or what meetings

who had tremendous potential and embodied the wonderful qualities of

we had to cancel – we were going to get our UCSB community through

a Gaucho: hard work, community involvement, fun spirit, and positivity.

this heartbreaking time.

Thank you, UCSB.

Perhaps the largest gathering of people in the history of UCSB took place a few days later as more than 20,000 people attended a memorial SUMMER 2014 | UCSB

From Deans Rod Alferness and Pierre Wiltzius, on behalf of the staff and faculty of UCSB Engineering and the Sciences. 43

University of California Santa Barbara Santa Barbara, CA 93106-5130

Nonprofit Organization U.S. Postage PAID Santa Barbara, CA Permit No. 104

Convergence The Magazine of Engineering and the Sciences at UC Santa Barbara Located just over 20 miles off the coast of Southern California, Santa Cruz Island is the largest of the chain known as the Channel Islands. Countless UCSB researchers owe their careers, in part, to Santa Cruz Island. “It’s like what Southern California looked like a hundred years or more ago,” said Lyndal Laughrin, director of the UCSB Santa Cruz Island Reserve. Drought-resistant chaparral gives way to pine trees at elevation, endemic manzanitas spread across the landscape and native grasses are returning after decades of ranching and wine making. The scenery is vast and breathtaking, virtually unchanged from what the native Chumash witnessed in their millennia of existence on the island. The island’s geography makes it a strategic place to study a diversity of sea-dwelling life forms. Meanwhile, endemic species, cut off from their mainland counterparts for generations, have taken different evolutionary routes, earning the island comparisons to the famed Galapagos. Article and photography by Sonia Fernandez

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