Scholars Notebook March 2015


Tracking Fish Forwards and Backwards Using High-Tech Tools


Dr. Dewar at Work
(Photo permission from Heidi Dewar)

Dr. Heidi Dewar, Fisheries Research Biologist at NOAA Southwest Fisheries Center in San Diego, is an expert on large pelagic fish, including tunas, sharks and swordfish. Her research has focused primarily on physiology, migratory patterns and habitat use. 

Dr. Dewar will discuss the importance of tracking the movement of individual specimens, which informs population structure, habitat use and potential sources of mortality and is critical to management, conservation and understanding basic biology. She will discuss the high tech tools that she and other scientists use to accomplish this. These include ever more sophisticated electronic tags for forward tracking in time, and analysis of complex chemical signatures of captured individuals. These tools are used to perform backward tracking in time, determining such things as the oceanographic region the fish had been in and the time frames involved. 

Together these tools help to address complex questions about fish in their natural environment, and to better manage complex international fisheries and predict potential changes in abundance and distributions with climate change.


Memories, Memories, Memories

We are beset with thoughts about MEMORIES and the MEMORIES themselves. They are a treasure trove, Pandora’s Box, the glue that holds us together, entry to our mind, our history, identity, self. Most of us view memories as accurate depictions, replays of our experience, and that of others. We assume that our recollections are permanent, fixed. But then, we experience some blurring, fragmenting, or losing of reminiscences--observed in others or ourselves. 

Personally, I was jolted into thinking about the fragility of memory by reading a journal article just last December, viz.,“The adult brain makes new neurons and effortful learning keeps them alive”. The article asserts that the brain produces thousands of new neurons, nerve cells, in the hippocampus each day throughout life. However, in testing animals, researchers discovered that a significant number of the hippocampal neurons die within a few weeks unless the laboratory animals experience a specially designed form of training, in which their learning is new, effortful, and successful. 

With successful training, many of the recently generated cells in the hippocampus are rescued, differentiated into neurons, and form synapses. They generate action potentials, firing, as they are incorporated into the existing architecture and functional circuitry of the adult animal brain. Other research demonstrates functional neurogenesis in the adult (mouse) hippocampus. WOW!   

 Amazing discoveries, but what are the limits in terms of animal age, viability of the new cells, etcetera? And, most importantly, are these discoveries applicable to humans and our memory systems? Anyway, what do we know about human memory systems, their flexibility, viability, stability, and the effects of training on preserving human brain structures, memories, cognitive functioning? I really wish that there were information on this topic. 

Well, be careful what you wish for!! Because, another journal just came in the mail with an article on “Cognitive Shields, Investigating Protections Against Dementia”. This article reports important research about the relation between signs of dementia in human post-mortem brains versus the same people’s lifetime absence of dementia symptoms which leads to a research review of ways in which various conditions may serve as mental buffers to help people maintain memory later in life. 

This research report and my own literature search goes beyond the space and focus of this column, so, please stay tuned for next month’s musings on this topic. It will continue to provide a glimpse into various conditions – physical activity, cognitive training, learning experience, biochemical, genetic – which may affect humans mental functioning in later life. Will we remember to have a look at next month’s Newsletter to see if we continue this discussion? After all, memories are not just a receptacle of the past and present, but an entry to the future as well. 

With best wishes,

Sue R. Rosner


Colloquy Cafe

Tentatively, Colloquy Café will meet on the third Wednesday of the month, March 18, at 1:30 at the Vi. Please contact Mary Ellen Stratthaus for confirmation.

Culture One

Culture One will meet on Tuesday, March 17th, at the Vi, 2 – 4 PM, to discuss two study group ventures. First, we will compare notes on the CARTA February 20th Symposium, “How Language Evolves,” preparing to view the program video when released in April. 

Second, we will preview the groundbreaking material of the upcoming CARTA Symposium, “Human-Climate Interactions and Evolution: Past and Future,” to be held Friday, May 15. It deals with the controversy of how planet climate change may have influenced human evolution and considers how and when humans became a force of climate change. 

It also presents the intriguing idea that the planet has entered a new geological phase, the Anthropocene, or age of humans. This raises questions regarding the human transition from apelike ancestors in Africa to its current planetary force, as well as the future prospects of world climate, ecosystems, and our species. We invite you to join us in researching this material and sharing it with others in SDIS and the community. 

Contact Sue R. Rosner,, for information and meeting plans.  

Culture Two

The Culture Two Study Group expects to conclude its attention to India Calling by Anand Gibidharadas at its next meeting, 1:30 PM, Friday March 27. 

Following that, the group’s attention will remain on India but it will use a different text for background reading, one with a more macro focus, actually a series of essays in a book titled Reimagining India. 

Contact Sam Gusman at for further information or to learn about attending meetings of this group.

Film Group

The Film Group will meet Wednesday, March 4 at 10:00 a.m. at the home of Barbara Heckler to view the 1962 drama To Kill a Mockingbird.  Based on Harper Lee’s novel of the same name, it is considered one of the best films ever made.   Contact Barbara at for information about attending.

Literature Group

The Literature Group’s next meeting will be on Friday, April 10th, at Marcus Klein's. Nancy Cohen will lead us in a discussion of W. Somerset Maugham’s Moon and Sixpence.  We meet at10:30 a.m. and eat lunch afterwards.  We all bring our own "brown bag" lunch; the host provides dessert.  We welcome new members!  If you would like to come, please give Marcus Klein a call.


The next meeting of the Neuroscience Study Group is scheduled for Thursday, April 2, at 3 pm at the apartment of Bea Rose at the Vi. The reading assignment is Damasio"s Self Comes to Mind, Chapters 7 and 8 in part III—where Damasio promises to reveal all.  

Visitors are welcome; however due to the constraints of space, it would be wise to call Bea Rose first to ensure a place,


Saturday, March 21, 2015
1:30 –3:30 PM

Free and Open to the Public

Room 111A,
Chancellor’s Complex
UCSD Campus

Free Parking in the 
Gilman Parking Structure

This event, like all monthly meetings of SDIS, is free and open to the public. A question/discussion period follows the talk. The Chancellor’s Complex is a low building opposite the large Price Center at the end of Myers Drive, which runs north from Gilman Drive.


Breakfast Roundtable

Breakfast Roundtable meets Monday, March 16, at Coco’s, 9:30 to 11 for breakfast and roundtable discussion. Coco’s is located in University City at the intersection of Genesee and Nobel Drive in the Costa Verde shopping Center. To make a reservation, contact Barbara Heckler at by the Saturday prior to the meeting. Don’t hesitate to email at the last minute – we’ll make space! 

Supper with Scholars

Now meets on the 2nd Thursday of every month at 6 pm at Humphreys La Jolla Restaurant, 3299 Holiday Court, La Jolla. Meals from the menu (see are Dutch Treat. If you plan to attend the March meeting, please RSVP to Dorothy Parker ( stating whether you are coming alone or bringing friend(s).  (In future months, you should RSVP to Dave Parker.)

The next two meetings are on March 12 and April 9.

Group discussion is based on suggested topics that have particularly interested the attendees in the last month. If possible, we select a question that can be addressed from the viewpoints of the various areas of expertise of the participants, which are ordinarily quite diverse, ranging from the humanities to natural sciences to social sciences to various professions. If some subject has particularly interested you during the past month, please suggest it.—

Dave and Dorothy Parker

Study Groups
Times, Sites, Contacts

Colloquy Café
March 18, 2015 (tentative)
At the Vi
Contact: M.E. Stratthaus

Culture One
March 17, 2015
At the Vi - Signature Room
Contact: Sue Rosner

Culture Two
March 27, 2015
Contact: Sam Gusman

Film Group
March 4, 2015
10 a.m.
At Barbara’s home
Contact: Barbara Heckler

Literature Group
April 10, 2015
Host: Marcus Klein

Science Group
April 2, 2015
3 p.m.
At Bea’s home at the Vi
Contact: Bea Rose