Blakely "Blake" Barron, a Santa Barbara City College professor of biological sciences, has been selected by his peers to present the college’s 35th Annual Faculty Lecture on Wednesday, March 12.
Delivering the lecture is considered the highest honor bestowed on a faculty member each year.
The March 12 presentation, titled “Sex, Drugs and Rock & Roll: Sensations and Rhythms of Life,” will take place at the SBCC Sports Pavilion on the East Campus at 2:30 p.m. followed immediately by a reception. Before the lecture, starting at 1:30 p.m., there will be a variety of interactive biology exhibits presented by SBCC students. The event is free and open to the community.
Professor Barron will discuss how some forms of life have always found a way to survive and give rise to new species, despite even catastrophic events, during Earth’s history. How is this continuum of life maintained? The study of living things, biology, addresses this and it is a field broad in scope that encompasses realms from the very small (molecules) to the very large (ecosystems).
The lecture will begin with a review of the importance of sex.
“Genes provide the blueprints for the incredible adaptations seen in creatures from the tiniest microorganisms to the most massive of beasts," Barron said. "The passing of these genes from one generation to the next is key to the common connection between all life forms. Sexual reproduction is at the heart of this evolution.”
Genes code for the proteins that provide for many of the adaptations seen in organisms.
“Because proteins have such a strong influence on cell conditions, they are often the targets of drugs," Barron adds. "Drugs are specific molecules with precise effects. Our modern understanding of life is based on studies of the vast assortment of the molecules that comprise cells. The drugs that people take both clinically and recreationally are simply examples or variants of certain biologically active molecules. Our current ability to manipulate these molecules and cellular pathways is already extraordinary and will continue to expand in the future.”
Professor Barron will end his lecture with a discussion of how some molecules and cells function in sensory organs. This explains why so many people enjoy music such as the genre of rock and roll, he said. An animal’s ability to effectively sense its environment is paramount to survival.
“Be it the waves of reflected light that allow a falcon to successfully hunt its prey to the thrashing guitar riffs of a great rock and roll song, an animal’s senses help it ‘understand’ the world," h said. "Despite all the diversity of life’s molecules and species, there are patterns and rhythms in the natural world — we are all connected.”
About the Lecturer
Barron was raised in Ventura County. After graduating from Moorpark High School in 1986, he attended UC Santa Barbara and earned a bachelor of arts degree in physiology and cell biology in 1991. He earned his master of arts degree in biological science with an emphasis in comparative physiology in 1996 and knew that, while research was indeed fascinating, a career focused on teaching was his desired goal.
Barron was hired as an adjunct faculty member of the SBCC Department of Biological Sciences in 1996 and was hired as a tenure-track professor at SBCC in 1998. Having taught a range of 14 biology majors and non-majors courses has provided Barron with a breadth of knowledge that he continually integrates with new scientific discoveries to share with his students.
He enjoys being involved in multiple aspects of campus life and has served on the Faculty Academic Senate and as a member of the One Planet faculty. He also has been both biomedical sciences coordinator and Biology 100 coordinator. Barron serves as department chair for biological sciences and on the STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics) Transfer Program Faculty Workgroup.
In 2011-12, Professor Barron was recognized with a SBCC Faculty Excellence Award. Of all his professional accomplishments, he says he is most proud to be the faculty advisor for the dedicated student explorers in the SBCC Biology Club since fall 2008.
Residents of Ventura, Professor Barron and his wife, Janet, are the parents of two sons, Eli and Lucas.
— Joan Galvan is a public information officer for SBCC.