Building Bridges Across Nations

Have you ever wondered how Amazon knows what products might pair well with your most recent purchase? Or how Netflix knows what you should watch next? They use recommender systems. Two students from Mexican universities spent their summer learning all about these complex systems at UC San Diego.

The students were part of the new Summer Internships for Mexican Students program at the Computer Science and Engineering department. Department Chair Dean Tullsen says he started the program in part to create a pipeline that brings top students from Mexican universities to UC San Diego. In this installment of the Summer With CSE series, Tullsen explains why he felt it was important to create that connection with schools in San Diego’s backyard.

You will also meet four student researchers as they work on two separate projects. While one pair studied recommender systems, the other took on machine learning. They helped figure out ways to improve research on hyperdimensional computing, which is meant to mimic the way the human brain functions. While their work was varied, all four were inspired by the experience.

Watch Summer With CSE: SIMS -The Summer Internships for Mexican Students Program

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The New World of Work

“It’s all about the talent,” says Mary Walshok, PhD, Associate Vice Chancellor for Public Programs and Dean of Extension at UC San Diego. “Regions that are developing people across the spectrum of employment opportunities – not just rocket scientists but welders – are regions that have much more competitiveness.” How does where you live stack up and how do you develop the skill set to succeed in the modern global job market? On this edition of Job Won, Walshok joins host Phil Blair to discuss the need for job seekers, as well as cities, to embrace adaptability, the impact of project-based learning, and how to effectively bundle your skills.

Watch The New World of Work: Regional Competition, Adaptability, and Modern Skill Sets with Mary Walshok – Job Won

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The Future of Single-Payer Health Care in California

Health care is one of the hottest issues in California politics. Last year, state lawmakers shelved a controversial single-payer bill. So, what’s next? California State Assembly Member David Chiu sat down with Dr. Andrew Bindman at UCSF to discuss the complex realities of health care reform.

Chiu represents the 17th Assembly District, which covers eastern San Francisco. He’s also one of eight members of the Select Committee on Health Care Delivery Systems and Universal Coverage, formed in the wake of the failed single-payer bill. Chiu and his colleagues on the committee have proposed 16 bills aimed at increasing health care access for Californians. But, he says there is still a long way to go to achieve universal coverage.

Just over 93 percent of Californians currently have health insurance. Chiu says getting that number to 100 percent, would cost billions of dollars. Switching all Californians to a single-payer system, would cost an estimated $400 billion a year – $200 billion of that needed from new taxes. And, Chiu says the cost is just one major challenge. There are also legal hurdles, including the need for federal tax waivers, which he calls a non-starter under the current administration. But, that doesn’t mean single-payer is dead in California. Chiu talks about the impact the upcoming election could have, and who he thinks should really be leading the conversation.

Watch The Landscape for Health Care Reform in California

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Guns, Obesity, and Opioids

They may not seem related, but Dr. Sandro Galea, Dean of the Boston University School of Public Health, says we can approach guns, obesity and opioids in the same manner: population health. Dr. Galea breaks down the key concepts of population health – a relatively new field – during the inaugural Colloquium on Population Health and Health Equity at the UCSF School of Medicine.

Dr. Galea argues guns, obesity and opioids are the three epidemics of our time, and three of the main reasons life expectancy is declining in the United States. They also share three key characteristics: They are important, costly health concerns. They are complex. They are resistant to simple solutions. The key to overcoming these challenges Dr. Galea says, is using the population health approach.

He lists nine principles of population health, but focuses on four, including the concept that small changes in ubiquitous causes of health problems can have a greater impact than big changes to rare causes. Dr. Galea uses the example that while much has been done to curb the overprescription of opioids, the epidemic continues to grow. That’s because other options, like synthetic opioids, have become more widely available. Dr. Galea says that’s where population health comes in – finding ways to improve health on a large scale, and addressing epidemics from every angle.

Watch Guns, Obesity, and Opioids: A Population Health Science Approach to Contemporary Concerns

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The Future of Food and Agriculture in the Face of Climate Change

California is the top agriculture-producing state in the country, and that big business presents big challenges. California Department of Food and Agriculture Secretary Karen Ross addressed many of the key issues during a speech presented by UC Berkeley’s Goldman School of Public Policy.

Secretary Ross talks at length about the impact climate change has already had on the state’s resources and the effects we can expect to see in the future. She says prolonged droughts, like the one California just escaped, will become more common. But, we can also expect more severe flooding. Ross says the state needs to take a big-picture approach to water and land management in order to mitigate future disasters. But, she says there is hope. Agriculture accounts for just eight percent of greenhouse gas emissions in California, compared to 30 percent worldwide. Ross says her department and private farmers are working on ways to bring down greenhouse gas emissions from agriculture in California, and she hopes their progress can serve as a model for sustainable farming worldwide.

Following her speech, Secretary Ross covers everything from immigration reform to the future of agricultural careers in a fascinating Q&A moderated by her former colleague, Executive Director of the Berkeley Food Institute, Ann Thrupp.

Watch California Department of Food and Agriculture Secretary Karen Ross

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