Student loan forgiveness could help more than 40 million
S1: San Diego students celebrate college debt forgiveness.
S2: This is Joe Biden bringing Christmas in August to Americans.
S1: I boring Cavanaugh with MJ Perez. This is KPBS Midday Edition. A one on one with San Diego Unified Superintendent Lamont Jackson.
S3: I believe we were able to focus on the task at hand of keeping our students and our staff safe and healthy during this worldwide pandemic.
S1: We asked KPBS listeners if they think there's an invasion at the southern border and the Art of Science Finding Beauty in Research. That's ahead on KPBS Midday Edition.
S2: Millions of Americans are learning today that up to $20,000 of their student loan debt is being erased. $10,000 in relief comes for people who make less than $125,000 a year. Federal Pell Grant recipients will get the full $20,000 of student loans erased. The announcement also included word that the government is delaying repayment of all student loans for a final time through December of this year. Here to talk more about the plan is Thad Couser , professor of political science with UC San Diego. Welcome back to Midday Edition. Thanks for having me. So what did President Biden announced today ? Who does it include ? And more importantly , who does it not include ? Right. So President Biden announced debt relief for college or graduate school for over 40 million Americans. And the relief that he proposed will will completely clear the federal debt load of about 15 million of those recipients. Now , there are some limits. So Joe Biden wanted to make sure that this wasn't seen as a giveaway to the rich. He wanted to have it targeted at people who are still struggling to repay those student debts. And so it affects married couples making 250,000 or less or individuals making $125,000 or less. So the idea here is if you went to law school or business school with your loans and you're doing really well , making well under the six figures , you're not getting relief. But others who used it , especially for college educations and careers that are not paying more than 125,000. They will get a good portion of their federal debt cleared from the books. Giving students debt relief was a Biden campaign promise. Does this action today fulfill that promise ? He fulfilled the promise of making a major student debt relief. He didn't talk in the campaign about limiting it to people with with lower incomes. And so he may get some criticism from the left , but but also this helps him avoid criticism from a lot of people who would say , well , this is this is really helping the rich. So even though it didn't follow every letter of of his campaign pledge , and even though it's not as generous as the debt relief programs or proposed by Bernie Sanders and by Elizabeth Warren in the primary , it's one that marks a moderate political path that's been Joe Biden's political path all along. And so he's hoping that it appeals to the voters who sent him to office. Let's talk about the political implication as well as the financial implication for him and Americans. Yeah , this is this is Joe Biden kind of bringing Christmas in August to Americans and hoping that they'll still remember this come November 8th when the midterm elections come. So this is very much like Donald Trump making sure that his name was on the stimulus checks that voters got in advance of the 2020 election. This is President Biden trying to deliver something concrete and tangible at a time when voters are not happy about the economy , not happy about his record and wanting to see him do something to help struggling Americans. That's what he's hoping to deliver and he hopes it will pay off in votes in November. So many people being helped or younger. How will this impact the economy and voters moving forward ? We have a big away train coming in November. The hope here is that these younger voters and you know , it's not just people right out of college. Some of these some of this debt load carries through to people later in life. The hope is that this will galvanize younger voters who are who have been , who generally sit out the midterms at higher rates than older voters. This is Joe Biden trying to bring a core constituency that might vote for the Democrats. But there are political risks in this. Right. So there are you know , there are progressives who are disappointed that it's not a bigger debt relief package. And there are Republicans who are criticizing this as as a giveaway to the college educated that doesn't do anything for blue collar workers and something that might lead to further inflation. So he's going to face some attacks on the far left and on the right. But his hope is that enough moderate voters , especially enough young voters , will be pleased with this package. And remember that come November , there are many Americans , including yours truly , who are suffering with lots of student loans. If it sounds too good to be true , sometimes it is. Is this too good to be true ? Well , for some people , it's not good enough because it doesn't fully wipe away everyone's college loans. It focuses on people with lower incomes now and on the families that took out Pell Grants who are in these are generally lower income families. So it's really focused on some people and completely wiping away the debt of 15 million others. It will be not enough for. But at the end of the day , it's similar to the policies that Joe Biden and the Democratic Congress passed a couple of weeks ago with the Inflation Reduction Act. Right. It pushes some funds. Put some pain on the taxpayers who are going to have to foot the bill for these. But there's no one who's a big loser. And there are a lot of winners in in both the policies past and the Inflation Reduction Act. And in this , with the costs of that dispersed over across all taxpayers , that's a political formula that Joe Biden hopes will be a winner. So the announcement included another delay in repayment of student loans that will expire at the end of December. Can we believe that this will be the last extension and what happens in January ? Yeah , that may depend on the pandemic , right. We've seen the pandemic continue and the economic struggles of Americans continue. And so we've seen politicians across the nation and in Washington , D.C. continuing to use their emergency authority , which Joe Biden invoked in order to do this and to to use the the idea of we need to take these extraordinary steps during the pandemic because it's still with us. That's extending until 2023. The question is , will that still be a justifiable political rationale , justifiable economic rationale when we try to move out of the pandemic into the long term in American politics. What is your suggestion for someone who has student loans right now ? What should they do following this announcement ? Well , I think they could reach out to whoever the holders of that loans. All of those companies that serve as the middleman are retraining their customer service staff in order to to go up with to to give them advice about the full details. And I think those are the folks they should reach out to. I've been speaking with Thad Couser , a professor of political science at UC San Diego. Thad , thank you. Thanks for having me. The San Diego Unified School District starts the fall semester Monday. The state's second largest district is led by Dr. Lamont Jackson , who begins his first full school year as superintendent. Dr. Jackson has been with the district more than 30 years , working as a teacher and coach. Principal of three middle schools. Chief Human Resources Officer for the District. And most recently , area two. Superintendent and. Oh yeah. He was a student and graduate of San Diego Unified back in the day. Dr. Lamont Jackson joins us now. Dr. Jackson , it is always a pleasure to talk with you and welcome to Midday Edition.
S3: Thank you for having me , and thank you for sharing that introduction.
S2: Dr. Jackson , you were a leader who got the brunt of the COVID pandemic and consequences that impacted your school community as interim superintendent and eventually the permanent appointment in March. Bring us up to date. What is the plan for COVID protection this school year ? There is no longer a mask mandate.
S3: The work we did was a collective effort to ensure that our communities were safe and that we could reduce community spread. And so all of our mitigations that we put in place from our ventilation systems to our filters , to our masking , to our testing , even to our mandated vaccines for our staff were all part of making sure that we kept our students and our communities safe and healthy. While we are recognizing that this virus is going to be with us. We will continue to monitor the progress of COVID 19 and what it's doing in our community , and we will be prepared to shift and move accordingly. We have recently , as you know , moved away from a district wide mask mandate to really focus on what's happening at our schools. We realize that a lot of data is able to be captured at our school sites. From our attendance metrics , we are able to determine if COVID is impacting our students. With our home tests , we're able to make adjustments and decisions school by school. And so I'm really excited about maintaining our focus on the health and safety of our children. Which leads to your second question around monkeypox. And we know that it's important for us to stay very close to this this disease and make sure that we have things in place for making sure that we can keep our , for example , our our mats clean for wrestlers , because we know that this is something that is transmitted through close contact , the sharing of towels and materials like that. And so we want to make sure that we're following all of the health guidance when we are putting things in place to keep our students and our staff healthy.
S2: We know that all of the challenges from school closings to virtual learning have affected the mental health of children.
S3: We know that even pre-pandemic , the mental wellness of our students , the social emotional wellness of our students was important. And I think it was exacerbated by the pandemic and the fact that our students and our staff members weren't able to connect with families. They weren't able to connect with their friends. They weren't able to connect at school with with colleagues and peers. And we know that there was a great deal of isolation. And so it was it was only exacerbated. And so last year , we committed to $30 million in a three year plan for mental health focused on making sure that we had mental health clinicians at all of our secondary school sites , that we had mental health clinicians at our elementary school sites at least once every five days. So once a week we're going to increase that. Also focusing on the teaching of social emotional learning and professional development for our educators so that they are prepared to support our students. And we also recognize the importance of counseling. And so we've increased counseling , supports district counselors at our school sites , and so we're really moving in the right direction. Of supporting our students and really articulating what our plan is and also putting money towards those efforts.
S2: So the new California late start law is now in effect for middle and high schools. How are you preparing for that ? It does affect so many of your families and their morning routines.
S3: You know , it's not just this year that we've been preparing. This goes back a couple of years where we started having conversations with our secondary leaders , with our communities , and we started to pilot the healthy start or the later start times at our secondary schools. And so we've learned a great deal from transportation to what this meant for our parents , who have multiple drop off points when they have multiple children in the family. And I think we're poised. I think the pilot year gave us an opportunity to talk to our leaders and really let them talk to the community and really what this meant for our educators , what this meant for our students and our families , and also what this means for our athletic programs and our extracurricular programs as we move into the healthy start times.
S2: Mr. Superintendent , remind us of your personal motto from last year.
S3: One is that the spirit of a boon to an African proverb , which means that I am because we are. And what that suggests is that there are so many people who have poured their lives into my being , who I am. And I think it's my responsibility to show up in that way in my full , authentic self and create the conditions for others. Which leads to my second grounding point , which is Steven Covey's eight habit , which is find your voice and help others find theirs. This year will be about belonging. It will be about equity. And it will be about our children thriving and our staff thriving so that we can become what we have set out to do. And that is the best public school system across the nation.
S3: I say my own sadness and a great deal of joy. We were able to drop off my son at Long Beach State , where he is pursuing a career in opera. He sings opera and was able to get a scholarship. And so we're really excited. But a little bit of sadness , I have to say.
S2: Well , congratulations to him.
S3: My wife doesn't sing. And so all credit to to my son , who had a very strong voice , verbal voice , and is developing his choir voice. But it was it was all of him who said that he was interested in pursuing choir and that he was moving away from athletics , which is probably what I was pushing him into doing. And so if there is a message for parents is we need to get out of the way of our students and let them find their voice because magic will happen. Sorry , I get a little choked up.
S2: I have been talking with Dr. Lamar Jackson , superintendent of the San Diego Unified School District. Thank you for joining us and see around campus , Dr. Jackson.
S3: Thank you so much.
S1: This is KPBS Midday Edition. I'm Maureen CAVANAUGH with M.G. Perez in for Jade Hyneman. A recent NPR poll has found a majority of Americans now believe the U.S. is experiencing a , quote unquote , invasion at the southern border. The findings also suggest that ideas about migrants smuggling , fentanyl and other misconceptions have led to a decrease in support for immigrants. While the poll surveyed Americans across the country , we wanted to hear what people living in San Diego County thought about this increasing , politicized issue. The majority of our listeners responded that they did not believe that there is an invasion at the southern border. Here's what listener Natalia Vilardi Rodgers thinks about the issue.
S4: I think that word invasion is a very polarizing word. I don't think it's helpful at all. And I think it mischaracterizes what's happening at the border. I think there's really a humanitarian crisis that's happening internationally. We have climate change and people fleeing from catastrophes , really , whether it's hurricanes or earthquakes or war. Now we have all kinds of things that are happening that are displacing people. You overthrow a dictator somewhere and then all of a sudden you have an unstable country. And what are those people going to want to do ? They're going to want to go to a stable country and they find any means necessary to get there. So I think that the more our world becomes unstable , the more people are going to try and find a way to get through and succeed and get by. So I don't think it's a very helpful word. I think what we're really looking at is an international crisis.
S1: And here's what listener Merrill Beau Beal had to say.
S2: Well , I think that the use of the word invasion is not accurate. It gets the reactions that it's getting from many people because the whole country is going this type of thinking , which is really started by our former President Trump and those of us close to the border. I think we really do know otherwise.
S1: Here's another comment from listener Stephanie Buck Wiser.
S2: You could say.
S4: That there is an emergency. You know that there is staffing crisis , that there are huge problems.
S2: But the problem itself , not.
S4: Being a the humans that are rife , it is how it is being handled logistically. There is not enough staff if the people there are not treated well , if there are not enough judges to see the cases , then I believe , yes , there is an emergency , but it is.
S2: Not that we're being invaded , it's just that we don't.
S4: Know exactly how to handle it best.
S1: Now , conversely , one listener who wished to remain anonymous did agree to some extent with the findings of the poll as to whether or not the nation faces an invasion of migrants at the southern border. He writes , quote , The border states are being flooded. Illegal aliens are dying in trucks. Drugs do pour over the border and 2 million border apprehensions and counting. Another listener agreed and wrote , quote , Absolutely , it's an illegal invasion. We have immigration laws that are not being enforced and it's leaving us vulnerable. Joining us now to take a deeper look at this issue is Greg Prieto , an associate professor of sociology at the University of San Diego , specializing in Mexican immigration , police and Border Patrol and social movements. And Greg , welcome to Midday Edition.
S2: Thank you so much for having me , Maureen.
S1: Now , as some of our listeners remarked , the very word invasion is provocative. Obviously , Russia's aggression against Ukraine is an invasion.
S2: But even while invasion may be an inflammatory and empirically poor characterization of what's happening there , the expressive effect of this language to use long time border scholar Joe Heyman's word is more important to politics than its empirical accuracy. So when we view it this way , it doesn't really matter whether the word invasion is accurate. It matters because it reinvigorates a conservative constituency for whom immigration are long standing political lightning rods.
S1: The people who see this as an invasion perceive immigrants who enter illegally as a threat.
S2: But what I'll say today is that that idea is false. So the three major threats , as I see them , are that immigrants bring crime , they lower wages , and they take more than they contribute in taxes. And we know based on years , decades of scholarship , that in all three of those areas , these are untrue. But of course , these are symptoms of a deeper tradition that. Deeper of American tradition of xenophobia. This is old is America itself. So whether we're talking about Chinese , Irish , Germans , Mexicans or Central Americans today , this idea that immigrants are invading us is tied to this longer tradition of American exclusion of immigrants. And I think what we need is an alternate vision , one that really tracks more closely to the reality of immigration. And I think that's one where we understand immigrants and refugees as contributors.
S2: So if we start with the encounters data that we have seen in the news lately , we see that indeed encounters that is , apprehensions plus expulsions are as high as they've been in 20 years. The July 21 figure of almost 200,000 then approaches but doesn't exceed the March 2000 figure. 220,000. But the data for encounters only goes back to 2020 , when the Customs and Border Protection created the category. So if we look at apprehensions which go back to 1925 , we see a similar story. Apprehensions hit 1.65 million in 2021 , and that approaches. But it doesn't exceed the all time high figure in 1986 of 1.69 million. And all through that period , right through the eighties , the late nineties and the early 2000s , we regularly see apprehension figures exceeding 1 million per year. So as with encounters , the story here is the same. These numbers present a challenge , but it's a challenge we faced before.
S2: I think what I would say is that most migrants that are attempting to cross the border are looking for the economic opportunity and the stability the number of your listeners have already highlighted.
S2: We actually know that the reverse is true , that immigrants , especially in the first generation , commit less crime , the native born. And this is for a variety of reasons. But the most important of which are these sort of protective factors. Right , that immigrant communities have , and they have it in this unique way. This is the notion that immigrants are a self-selected group of folks seeking legitimate economic opportunities. And what this lends credence to is this other perception , this other characterization of immigrants that I think is much more accurate , which is that they are contributors. I wrote a book on exactly these myths a couple of years ago , and on the cover of the book I put a picture of a young lady who I had the opportunity to work with in graduate school. Her name is Nisei Gonzalez Cierra. And in this picture , she's standing in a strawberry field in Santa maria , California , with both of her parents , and she's wearing her graduation regalia. And you say incredible student. She got her B.A. from UCLA and she got her M.A. from Brown and returned to her home community to teach elementary school. And I think this picture is so powerful because it shows us exactly what is possible when we allow immigrants to live in the light of the law and the contributions that they make , not just to the American economy , but to our society in general.
S2: I think you're right that we're living through a very polarized political moment. But there is always hope. And I think the hope begins with tapping into coming face to face with immigrants and their stories. So we could talk about the numbers , the myths , the literature all day long. But I think the most important thing for people to see are those neighbors , are those classmates , are those co-workers , are those parishioners who are immigrants themselves and who have long contributed in a variety of ways to our communities. And so that gives me hope , the ability for us to turn to those with whom we are already living and recognize the humanity and the shared goals of peace and prosperity that we're all reaching for.
S1: Much of this problem stems from America's broken immigration system.
S2: Where I do see more hope , though , is in piecemeal reform. So instead of pursuing comprehensive immigration reform , breaking that package down into piecemeal legislation , that might might be more readily adopted by legislators. So , for instance , if we were to isolate DOCA recipients , that is , children who are brought to or immigrants who are brought to the United States as children. This is a piece of legislation that enjoys widespread. Public support and may have a better chance of making it through not just the House , but our deeply polarized Senate. So I think there are some short term solutions and short term strategies that could be adopted to implement some , if not all , immigration reform. But again , I think this starts with a cultural shift. That means seeing immigrants not just as threats , as you mentioned. Right , but really as contributors , which I think is much closer to the real story.
S1: I've been speaking with Greg Prieto , an associate professor of sociology at the University of San Diego. And Greg , thank you so much.
S2: Thank you , Maureen.
S1: The effort to bring down the death rate in San Diego County jails has been most recently focused on stopping the flow of drugs into the facilities. Of the 15 people who've died this year in custody. Five are believed to have died from drug overdoses. This week , the Citizens Law Enforcement Review Board or Club officially recommended to the sheriff's department that in addition to current inmate drug searches , everyone entering county jails , including deputies and jail staff , should be searched or scanned for drugs. The sheriff's department has already indicated it disagrees with the recommendation. Joining me is Paul Parker , executive officer of Club. And Paul , welcome to the program.
S2: Good morning , Maureen. Thank you for having me.
S2: Their research has indicated that drugs are getting into the jails through the incarcerated persons themselves and also perhaps through the mail. Those are the top two ways that the department believes these substances are entering the detention facilities. But what we contend is there is no data about employees. Staff , contractors. Have they played a role in getting drugs into the facilities ? And that's what we'd like the department to address.
S2: We don't think that anyone should be off limits. No one.
S2: So we believe that obviously that may not be appropriate , of course , for staff members or contractors. But metal detectors , physical searches or pat downs , just like you would have at the airport , should not be off limits.
S1: Now , Club has already recommended that kiosks containing naloxone , known also known as Narcan , can be made accessible to inmates. That's the emergency treatment for drug overdoses.
S1: And the review board has also recommended expanding the use of drug sniffing dogs inside jails.
S2: Not , will , not , must , not shall , but may be used to sniff anybody entering a detention facility. Anybody currently in a detention facility to include staff , which includes deputies and civilian personnel and contractors for the county.
S1: So that doesn't sound like a very strong acceptance of that recommendation.
S2: It is accepted. However , we would like to see it say ciao or must or will.
S1: Now , the San Diego County Board of Supervisors is authorizing the sheriff's department to boost pay , to retain and attract more personnel. Do you think that will help to keep more inmates safe ? Absolutely.
S2: We believe that the department needs additional funding. At least it's my belief that they need additional funding to get the equipment , to look at the technological advances that are out there , to get additional body scanners , to look at things like wristbands or Fitbits that can monitor the health and welfare and vital signs of incarcerated persons. They definitely need the money. It's our understanding that the morale at the sheriff's department , specifically inside of the detention facilities , is at an all time low. I think that's evidenced by the fact of all the mandatory overtime that is occurring there. So I think that anything that the department can do to attract folks and to retain folks needs to be done , and we fully support that.
S1: Now , in reference to Clare's recommendation that all people entering county jails be searched or scanned for drugs , the sheriff's department says that over the years they've found that inmates are bringing in the drugs , not anybody else , as you referenced earlier.
S2: But have they looked at staff ? Have they looked at , if that's even a possibility , that staff or contractors or county employees are introducing these substances into the population ? They're going to their responses are they're going to follow the data. And we understand that. So if all you're looking for is how you're compiling your data , then that would make sense. But if you're not looking for it or addressing it , then you have no data from which to look and from which to make decisions.
S2: I believe our relationship is collaborative. However , I believe the clerk can only be as effective as the Sheriff's Department allows us to be. We can make recommendations all day long. We can independently investigate cases all day long. But unfortunately , we're advisory only. And so , therefore , the department truly controls how effective we can be by whether they implement our recommendations or not. It's my hope that the department continues to seriously evaluate our recommendations and implements the ones that can minimize or reduce deaths in custody.
S1: I've been speaking with Paul Parker , executive officer of Club. And Paul , thank you very much.
S2: Thank you , Maureen.
S1: Once a reliable stronghold for Republicans , Orange County has been a contested battleground for congressional races in recent election cycles. This year is no different. KQED politics correspondent Marisa Lagos takes a look at one district in northern Orange County that Democrats are hoping to.
S4: Flip better next time. It's a hot summer night. And Democratic congressional candidate Jay Chen has just arrived at the Garden.
S1: Grove Police.
S4: Station , where the city is hosting its National Night Out , an annual event interconnecting law enforcement with their community.
S2: So I'm a lieutenant commander in the Navy Reserves and a community college trustee at San Antonio.
S4: College , about 15 minutes away in a target parking lot in the city of Westminster. Republican Congresswoman Michele Steele is doing the rounds at that city's national night out event.
S2: Behind the beach. I see you do. Wow.
S4: Wow. Mr. Steele won in 2020 in what was then a district where Republicans had a registration advantage. But redistricting has completely reshaped the area she's running to represent. No longer dominated by the more conservative coastal cities , the new 45th District stretches as far east as Breyer and includes Cerritos and Los Angeles County. Democrats have a five point registration advantage.
S2: It's anyone's election to win or lose.
S4: Jodi Obama is a political science professor at Cal State Fullerton who's been watching O.C. politics for more than two decades. Obama says despite the registration numbers , Chen has a challenge ahead. Steele is well known in Orange County. She served time on the board of Supervisors and along with her husband , has been active in GOP politics here for decades , Balmer says. But she's also a staunch conservative. Just this summer , she voted against same sex marriage and contraception access , and she's co-sponsor of a bill that would ban all abortions at the federal level.
S2: So I think she reflects the old district.
S4: However , the district has fundamentally.
S2: Shifted so that very few people who will be voting in November have had.
S4: Michelle Steele as.
S2: An incumbent congresswoman.
S4: That gives Chen a lieutenant commander in the U.S. Navy Reserves , a small business owner , and the president of a local community college board. An opening in this purple county , Obama says. If Michelle Steele can frame the question that she.
S2: Is a moderating vote against a Biden. AOC.
S4: AOC. Agenda.
S4: She has an advantage. If Jake Tan can get his biography , you know , an intelligence officer in the Navy.
S2: A Harvard graduate , that's a biography that really appeals to a lot of Orange County voters.
S4: When she's campaigning , Steele says she underscores her votes against tax increases and government spending and support for harsher criminal penalties and police. Voters , she says , are angry this year about inflation , gas prices and crime. And it's not just Republicans , she says. No party preference or NPP voters are also mad.
S5: Usually NPR , like Holt , kind of quiet about who they're going to vote and stuff now. And it's totally different. Is it ? You know what ? I need somebody who can take care of the economy , time and other stuffs.
S4: But Chen's not trying to change the subject. He's leaning into a different framing when he talks about pocketbook issues.
S2: You know , I want to make sure that we bring down costs. Talk more inflation. You know , there's a lot of price gouging going on right now. We've got Chevron and Exxon. They've made $30 billion in profits in the last quarter. That's much more than they ever made before. While we're paying record high prices at the pump.
S4: One thing both candidates like talking about is their own family stories. Steel was born in Korea and grew up in Japan. Chen's parents are Taiwanese and moved to the Midwest before Chen was born. Both are hoping those backgrounds will help them connect with voters in a district that's more than one third Asian. Emory's Alagoas and Orange County.
S1: This is KPBS Midday Edition. I'm Maureen CAVANAUGH with M.G. Perez in for Jade Hyneman. The Art of Science Contest was created to highlight the beauty that can emerge during scientific research. This year , the UC San Diego Library partners with the San Diego Natural History Museum for an exhibit showcasing the winners. KPBS arts reporter Beth ACCOMANDO spoke with UC San Diego metadata librarian Abigail Pennington about creating the contest and what its goals are.
S4: Abigail , before we start talking about this exhibit , I do want to ask you about your job because Amita data librarian sounds very interesting and not quite clear about exactly what that is. Yeah , there are different types in facts , and but I work strictly with researchers and research data. The workflow is me and a small team of curators meet with researchers and find out all about their data. How big is it ? How should we organize it so it will be accessible in a way to other researchers and reasonable ? And then after that , I take information. They give us what we call metadata. So the description of metadata is data about data , but it's descriptive information. And so it's things that you would think of like titles and what are the file names and how do you want to refer to that file with a title ? Who created the data and how was it created ? Were there any software packages that went with it , that kind of thing. So we want to expose all of that to the end user to make it easy for them to reuse the data and potentially use it in their own work and reproduce the data. So there's a range of things , but it's all these research outputs that so many times now are digital. And that's great because now we can preserve them for years and years. And you are currently involved in this contest , an exhibit called The Art of Science. So explain what that is. Oh , this is a very exciting opportunity , I think , for researchers to connect with the public. So we invited researchers to submit images of their work and in particular to create a caption that describes their work in a way that's accessible to non researchers. When we did this , you know , it was exciting because we have so many amazing images in our repository already. That was kind of the spark for all this. And then came along our opportunity to partner with the Natural History Museum in San Diego and a way to exhibit the prizewinning images. And so I think this is a great partnership because they do this every day. They take science and they make it understandable , accessible to the average visitor. And that's what we want to do is is provide opportunities for researchers to explain their research in a way that viewers can understand it. Since these are beautiful , I think they capture our attention and they make us want to dig a little bit deeper and say , hey , what's going on with this image ? What's the science behind this ? And I think that that's exciting. I think this is a time when we want researchers to be able to explain their work in a way that we can understand , because there are some heavy issues out there right now with climate change and the pandemic and and how can we learn from these researchers and what they're doing and see perhaps what's on the horizon , what's the potential therapies for medical research , that kind of thing ? So I think it's it's an exciting way to both see these stunning images and to communicate with the public. So was there something in particular that sparked your desire to do this ? Yeah , we have a collection in our repository called Cell Image Library , and these are images that come from the Center for Microscopy on campus. We are a service that provides sort of a safety net for all these images. There are tens of thousands of them. And so we've been ingesting them over time. And once they're in the repository , I review all the images and I get to discover the amazing things that go on. And they are beautiful. I mean , at first , don't don't know what you're looking at. And then you read that it's some bacterium with a certain type of dye injected into it. Or you see something that can be challenging , like this is a breast cancer cell. But what first caught your eye is that this is this is beautiful. So there's a lot going on there. And it's been really fun to help curate that collection because of this. And how long has this contest been going on ? Yeah , this is our second year and our first year partnering with the San Diego Natural History Museum. I think that we have been able to raise the visibility of both the contest through April Green and Nikki Keller Palos were in library communications , and because of the exhibit , I think we have a broader reach with the community and I think I hope that it excites people on campus to participate more in the future. So in terms of this being a contest , what would an entry be like and. How is it judged ? How do you consider ? How do you determine what the art of science is and how the two connect ? Yeah , so there's two elements. So the image , we say that it should have aesthetic excellence. And we kind of expand that a bit by saying it might be captivating , stunning or otherwise visually interesting as well as scientific or having scientific or technical interest. And then , like I said , the caption , it needs to be a one line caption that tantalizes audiences , inspiring them to learn more about the research. And it should be in clear , concise language. Those are the guidelines for the judges. So there was there were two ways that an image could be selected for a prize. So the first using this criteria was used by the judges , a panel of judges that is composed of faculty members and senior academic staff and then administrators on the campus. And the second way a prize could be won is through open voting. And that's where we invited anyone on campus , anyone with the link , really net visitors and members to vote for their favorite image. And that's what we call the open voting favorite prize. And so where can people actually find the exhibit ? Is it at both locations ? It is. It's at the not in the on the first floor and it is in the Wang Avery library breezeway. Yeah , we're excited about showing it there. There's also a digital version of the exhibit that people can visit any time , and that will stay up over the years. And we will that has both the 2021 winning images as well as this year's images. And we will continue to add the winning images for each year there. And in looking at these submissions and what is one. Has there been anything that really kind of surprised you or grabbed you ? Yeah , there were definitely times when what I thought was a most amazing image. For instance , we had a very up close image last year of Drosophila , the fruit fly where you could see the little hairs on the ends of its legs. And my first response was , Oh , was it repulsed ? But as I looked at it more and more , as I was processing everything , I just fell in love with it. And I had hoped it would do really well. So that was a surprise that people it didn't grow on people. My favorite image from this year is the bacterial flowers. So that is a submission from one of the faculty scientists and it's quite beautiful. It really is a stunning image that does look like flowers and shows the interaction between two types of bacteria. And who is this contest open to any researcher on campus ? From undergraduates all the way up to project scientists and researchers. And we really try to do a lot of outreach to undergraduates. We wanted to see see what they would share. And they were invited to include works from their classes. And we wanted to really encourage them to participate. So open to any researcher. And we welcomed all those images , really excited to see them. Well , I want to thank you very much for talking about the art of science. Oh , thank you so much for having me.
S1: That was Beth ACCOMANDO speaking with Abigail Pennington. The winning works of the Art of Science are on display now through October 24th at the UC San Diego Library , Wong , Avery Breezeway and on the first floor of the San Diego Natural History Museum in Balboa Park.