Inaugural UP Summit Brings Together Researchers and Policymakers, Features Center Director and Research Affiliates

On May 17, UC San Diego hosted the inaugural UP Summit as part of one of their research themes: “Understanding and Protecting the Planet”. The event offered an opportunity for UCSD researchers to interact with attendees — political leaders, elected officials, agency and tribal representatives, non-profit partners and philanthropic supporters — and showcase how UCSD research is being applied to solve environmental issues in our local community. The Director of the Center for Climate Change Impacts and Adaptation, Dr. Mark Merrifield, was invited to lead the first panel on extreme weather, atmospheric weather and pollution. Many of the Center’s research affiliates were also featured as panel speakers or showcased at the event’s Expo.

The summit featured two panel discussions on key issues affecting Southern California. The first was moderated by Mark Merrifield, director of the Center for Climate Change Impacts and Adaptation at Scripps Institution of Oceanography, and addressed extreme weather and atmospheric rivers, which can bring most of California’s water supply in only a few weather events a year, and pollution transport via the oceans and atmosphere. The panelists—coastal oceanographer Sarah Giddings, atmospheric chemist Kim Prather, and project scientist Aneesh Submaranian of the Center for Western Weather and Water Extremes—are all Center research affiliates, and spoke on the how their research is interconnected, and where more research needs to be done to understand complex problems.

The second panel discussed issues on land—including concerns about what pesticides are doing to the honeybee population, climate change impacts to the region, and how improved collaboration between fire departments throughout the state has led to better wildfire monitoring and modeling. Moderated by Keith Pezzoli, who directs UC San Diego’s Urban Studies and Planning Program and the Bioregional Center for Sustainability Science, Planning and Design, panelists included Scripps climate scientists and Center research affiliates Dan Cayan and Kristen Guirguis, as well as ecologist James Nieh and data scientist Ilkay Altintas.

The approximately 100 attendees were able to see this science and technology in a hands-on expo. Expo stations included information on UC San Diego’s algae biotechnology innovations, demonstrations of LiDAR technology monitoring and tracking coastal cliff erosion in San Diego County, and instrumentation used in the ocean to measure waves and ocean temperature and monitor ocean coastal conditions.


The goal of this summit was not just to show off the work that was done, but to foster a dialogue between the researchers and the policy makers. The hope is that by learning more about what the science is capable of and what they community needs are, more solutions can be put into action to protect the planet for future generations.


Check out the UP Summit Video and download the Research Spotlights online at:

Read the full coverage of the UP Summit from UCSD here.


All photos taken by Erik Jepsen/UC San Diego Publications.