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Salk Offers Free Community Events During Science Festival

The Salk Institute wil host several free public events in collaboration with the inaugural San Diego Science Festival (SDSF), which takes place at various locations throughout the county during the month of March.

Planned as a multicultural and multidisciplinary celebration of science, SDSF highlights a wide range of scientific topics through interactive activities, lay presentations and stage shows coordinated by more than 125 business and research organizations.

Five principal investigators from the Salk Institute will participate in the festival's Nifty Fifty Program, which features San Diego's top researchers who will share their experience and passion for science at area middle and high schools in an effort to inspire the scientists of tomorrow.

Joanne Chory, professor and director of Salk's Plant Molecular and Cellular Biology Laboratory, is among the event's Nifty Fifty speakers representing Salk who will present at the Options School in Chula Vista on March 13. A Howard Hughes Medical Institute investigator, Chory studies the mystery behind how plants compete for and respond to sunlight in their effort to grow and survive. Plant biologists' understanding of this process has great importance on a global level, she says.

"If we want to feed over 9 billion people by the year 2050, then understanding the basic mechanics of plant growth is required," Chory says. "This knowledge will ultimately lead to our ability to increase the amount of crops that are produced, such as wheat, corn and rice, while decreasing the need for pesticides."

Fred H. Gage (San Elijo Middle School, March 10; and Poway High School, March 24), Terry Sejnowski (El Capitan High School, March 24) Geoff Wahl (Lincoln High School, March 27), and Inder Verma (La Jolla Country Day, March 10) will also participate in the Nifty Fifty Program.

Students who want to learn first-hand about science's most exciting discoveries will have the opportunity to sit with Salk's Interim President Roger Guillemin on March 30 at Escondido High School during the Lunch with a Laureate Program. The meetings offer individuals the opportunity to have an informal discussion with Nobel Prize-winning scientists.

The Salk Mobile Science Lab will also have an activity booth in Balboa Park where the public will be invited to perform DNA extractions from wheat germ at the Science of You Expo Day, the festival's culminating event on April 4.