image image image image


Lectures are held at Back Bay Science Center from 7:00-9:00PM on the first wednesday of every month.  December will not have a lecture series.
600 Shellmaker Rd.
Newport Beach, CA 92660

2017 Dates: 

January 4th, "Water Quality Monitoring in the Newport Bay Watershed" with Michael Mori

Michael graduated from the University of California, Santa Barbara in 2014 with a Master's degree in Environmental Science and Management from the Bren School. Specializing in water resources management, his group thesis investigated the flow of plastic and trash from the Los Angeles and San Gabriel River watersheds to the ocean. He now works at Orange County Public Works' Environmental Resources division, monitoring storm water and runoff water quality.

February 1st, "Community Based Restoration:Changing the World TOGETHER", Nancy Caruso

"Community Based Restoration: Changing the World TOGETHER"  with Nancy Caruso. Nancy is a Virginia native with a B.S in Marine Biology and has made a career of aquaculture and education.  After attending college at Florida Institute of Technology, Nancy began her career in aquaculture in Mississippi, where she created and marketed one of the first aquaponics systems sold in schools in the USA and eventually ended up in California.  Her love for the ocean and extensive background in chemistry eventually landed her a position at the Aquarium of the Pacific, which at the time, was just being built.  During her four years at the Aquarium Nancy worked in the water quality lab and then became an aquarist, caring for the exhibits and the animals.

Wanting to do more conservation work within her community, Nancy left the aquarium to eventually direct a program to restore Southern California’s decimated kelp forests.  With help from magazine and newspaper articles, as well a television and radio, Nancy has helped to bring the message of the importance of kelp forests along our coast to millions. The Orange County Ocean Restoration Project has taught 5000 students how to grow giant kelp in their classrooms that was planted in the ocean by 250 trained volunteers and now there are giant kelp forests in areas that had been barren for more than 25 years.  To continue her work, Nancy started a non profit organization called Get Inspired!.  By partnering with Hubbs SeaWorld Research Institute, Nancy started “Seabass in the Classroom” .  With this program, she continues to restore the kelp forest ecosystem by teaching kids to grow white seabass in their classrooms which are released into the restored kelp forests.  This year, she launched the Green Abalone Restoration Project, an ambitious 10 year project to spawn, grow out, and outplant 100,000 green abalone with the help of thousands of children in schools, public aquariums, museums, and educating hundreds of thousands about abalone biology, ecology, and their history in California.

Get Inspired! is dedicated to inspiring stewardship and curiosity for the natural world through the exploration of science.  In 2010, Nancy started KelpFest, an annual event in Laguna Beach to celebrate the kelp forests with 2000 people in attendance.  In 2009, Nancy started a program called Science Expeditions which takes kids out into the “field” to learn real scientific sampling and research techniques and complete original research.  These programs take kids to places like Yosemite, Joshua Tree, and Channel Islands National Park and also teaches kids how to do underwater field research on scuba.  More recently, Nancy brought aquaponics into schools to reconnect students to their food and to aquaculture.  She is teaching aquaponics techniques to the community and in 16 area schools including 1500 students.

March 1st,  “Evaluation of two outreach tools: an educator program and a mobile touch tank,  
in reducing visitor impacts in rocky intertidal ecosystems.
with Parth K. Jhaveri.

Rocky intertidal habitats in urbanized settings, such as in southern California, are heavily perturbed by human visitors through the deleterious activities of trampling, handling, and collecting. To protect rocky intertidal biota, certain locations have been designated as Marine Protected Areas (MPAs) yet MPA status has been suggested to be ineffective as public knowledge or compliance of regulations can be low and regulations do not protect flora and fauna from the impacts of handling and trampling. This study compared outreach methodology within two organizations, the City of Newport Beach and Crystal Cove State Park, in order to quanitify the efficacy of different outreach approaches, such as the use of docents and the ISOpod mobile aquarium.  Parth Jhaveri has a Master's degree in Biology from Cal Poly Pomona, with an emphasis in Marine Ecology.  He is currently working with NOAA as a graduate researcher, studying green sea turtle abundance in the San Gabriel River.  In his previous research at Cal Poly Pomona studied anthropogenic impact on the intertidal area, on the digestive tracts of prickleback fish and bonnethead sharks,  as well as research on the effects of human visitation on shorebird abundance.

April 5th,  “Wildlife Management in the Santa Ana River Watershed and Beyond with Richard Zembal

B. A. in Biology, pre-med, Loyola University, Los Angeles.

M. A. in Biology, California State University, Long Beach.

Community College Teaching Credentials held in Biology and Ecology.

Recovery Permit from US Fish and Wildlife Service and state MOU from California Department of Fish and Wildlife to work independently on southern California endangered and threatened species including the Light-footed Clapper Rail, Belding’s Savannah Sparrow, Least Bell’s Vireo, Southwestern Willow Flycatcher, California Least Tern, Southwestern Snowy Plover, Stephen’s Kangaroo Rat, San Bernardino Kangaroo Rat; permits also cover many additional biologists. Master Bird Banding Permit; Migratory Bird Salvage Permit allow the collection and preparation of scientific specimens for educational purposes; collections include approximately 250 specimens.  RZ is a recognized authority on southern CA wetlands, wetland species, and endangered species and gives frequent talks, training sessions, and leads field trips for variety of groups, NGOs; authors numerous reports and studies annually, supports student research, and Wildlife Agency field efforts; reviews articles on-call for publication on various subjects. Past Endangered Species Recovery Team Leader and then member; past Recovery team chairperson for the combined Coastal Endangered Species Recovery Team for Southern California. Worked for the US Fish and Wildlife Service for 20+ years; teaches Natural History at Saddleback College.

May 3rd, "Native Americans and Native Plants", Stephen O'Neil

The Native American Uses of Local Plants of Orange County” with Stephen O'Neil. The Native Americans of Orange County, the Acjachemen (Juaneño) and the Tongva (Gabrielino), made the natural landscape their own, integrating the landforms, plants and animals, with their social world and mythology.  Of special importance were the many and varied plants that are equally indigenous to Orange County.  The varieties of grasses, herbs, shrubs and trees in the many plant communities ranging from the ocean itself, the Back Bay estuary, creeks, foothills and mountains allowed for equally varied economic (food, medicine and construction), ceremonial and ideational uses.   The importance of plants is reflected in village and geographical place names as well as their presence as character is sacred narratives and legends.  This presentation will include a short walk through the Science Center's garden to observe several of the plants first-hand. Stephen O’Neil has almost thirty years of experience as a cultural anthropologist in California. He has researched and written on ethnography, archaeology and history, concentrating on the Ethnohistory of southern California tribal peoples. He has expertise in the use of mission records for the study of population and social networks, and is familiar with ethnobotany, family reconstruction, and rock art. O’Neil also has archaeological experience in excavation and survey, mostly on Native American prehistoric sites, but also Spanish, Mexican and American period adobe structures. He has published in the Journal of California and Great Basin Anthropology, the Pacific Coast Archaeological Society QuarterlyNews from Native California, and the Society for California Archaeology Newsletter on topics ranging from village place names, to cosmology and medicinal plants.

June 7th, "Native Plants", Melissa Neuman

The remaining 2017 speakers will be posted soon! To be added to our email list and receive monthly invitations, please email

Reservations recommended, please call: 949-644-3037 or

Not appropriate for under 12 years old. Attendees need to be prompt; FRONT GATE OPEN 6:30-7:15 PM.