Talks and Lectures

Nat Talks, made possible with support from presenting sponsor The Downing Family Foundation and media partner KPBS, feature museum staff and outside experts speaking on an array of topics, including the latest in scientific research, history, conservation, and the natural world.

Climate Change Series
New for 2021, The Nat and Climate Science Alliance are collaborating to offer a series of evening talks and daytime lessons around climate change. Taking place each quarter, these events dive into the complex topic of our changing climate. The more we know, the better we can respond to what is happening. Join and be empowered.

Purchase tickets by clicking on the link associated with each event. To view recoded talks and lectures, visit our YouTube playlist. Please note that all talks are offered in local time (PST/PDT).

Upcoming Events


The Wonderful Journey of the Cannabis Plant

Tuesday, April 20, 2021 6 PM

Humankind has been cultivating and breeding Cannabis (family Cannabaceae) for fiber, food, medicine, and intoxication for the last 10,000 years. But in the last 100 years, its legal status has led to some drastic changes at a genetic level.

Those changes include an extraordinary acceleration in new high Tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) and Cannabidiol (CBD) varieties. Dr. Todd Michael is a research professor in the Plant Molecular and Cellular Biology Laboratory at the Salk Institute. Leveraging cutting-edge genome mapping technology, he and his team have traced the origin and mechanism of high THC and CBD in the cultivars found in the United States today. Curiously, the results also reveal a tie to an ancient example of a naturally genetically modified organism (GMO).

Note: you do not need to purchase tickets and do not need a Zoom account to attend the talk. Please consider supporting The Nat by selecting the $12 suggested ticket price at checkout.

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State of Biodiversity: A Biodiversity Roadmap for California

Thursday, April 22, 2021 9 AM

The final session in our series of State of Biodiversity webinars will cover a variety of initiatives that are underway to study, conserve, and protect California’s biodiversity.

Dr. Hollis Woodard will talk about bumble bee biodiversity in the state, the status and trends of some of our species, and some of the projects being undertaken by her group and others to try to conserve them. Christa Horn will discuss the potential for seed banking in plant conservation and California Plant Rescue's efforts to conserve the botanical diversity of our state. Dr. Amy Vandergast will speak broadly about the protection of genetic diversity and its place as a fundamental component of biodiversity protection. Dr. Amber Pairis will share her work on the Resilient Restoration project, which strives to promote Tribal resilience by developing knowledge and supporting actions that enhance persistence of cultural practices with a focus on preserving the ecosystems and plant species that are integral to Tribal communities.

This is the last in a series of four 90-minute webinars that compose this year’s State of Biodiversity Digital Symposium. Learn more about the Symposium

El idioma oficial de la reunión será el inglés. Habrá interpretación simultánea español. Inscríbete para una fecha o para toda la serie.

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Nat Talk Climate Series: Trees are Hot. Too Hot.

Wednesday, June 23, 6 PM

One of the most noticeable effects of climate change on trees is growth and mortality. Other effects are less obvious and require a multidisciplinary approach to be detected. For example, what does drought have to do with tree sexual reproduction? More than you might think. 

From reproduction to the plant-microbial interactions needed to survive, the effects of climate change are both glaring and subtle. In this talk, Assistant Professor Dr. Lluvia Flores-Renteria from San Diego State University will present the evident and less evident effects of climate change on plants and explain the importance of looking at both genetics and environmental factors. She will also share the approaches scientists use in order to provide recommendations to land managers and emphasize the need to include local communities in the preservation of our plant communities. The Nat is also pleased to offer this same talk with Lluvia in Spanish on July 7.

This is the summer edition of our climate change series. Throughout 2021, The Nat and Climate Science Alliance invite you to a crash course on the impacts of climate change in our region. These talks will take place seasonally and dive into the astoundingly varied consequences of our changing climate. The more we know, the better we can respond to what's happening. Join and be empowered.

Note: RSVP link coming soon. You do not need to purchase tickets and do not need a Zoom account to attend the talk. Please consider supporting The Nat by selecting the $12 suggested ticket price at checkout.




Nat Talk Climate Series: Fueling the Burn

September 2021

After a wildland fire burns through chaparral and coastal sage scrub, non-native grasses are the first to come back. These invaders are flammable and “flashy” fuels, often spreading flames faster than native plants in future burns. Even worse? As climate changes and these fires become more frequent, flashy grasses only expand further. So what can we do? Turn our eyes to the skies. 

Using satellite imagery, Krista West of San Diego State University maps grasses in Southern California shrubland ecoregions. This research helps us better understand the effects of climate change on shrublands, the consequences of grass invasion, and how these changes might affect the fire regime. Firefighters, geographers, ecologists, planners, and community members use the data to determine areas that may require mitigation or wildland restoration strategies before the start of a new wildland fire. Learn all about it in this special Nat Talk.

This is the fall edition of our climate change series. Throughout 2021, The Nat and Climate Science Alliance invite you to a crash course on the impacts of climate change in our region. These talks take place seasonally and dive into the astoundingly varied consequences of our changing climate. The more we know, the better we can respond to what's happening. Join and be empowered.

Note: RSVP link and a date will be announced soon. You do not need to purchase tickets and do not need a Zoom account to attend the talk. Please consider supporting The Nat by selecting the $12 suggested ticket price at checkout.




Nat Talk Climate Series: Rising Waters

December 2021

Whether you love or hate the feeling of sand between your toes, there’s no denying that the ocean and beach define San Diego’s identity. But our iconic coastline is threatened by climate change. To learn more about the changes we can expect and ways we can make our coastline more resilient, join our winter climate change talk with Laura Engeman from the Center for Climate Change Impacts and Adaptation and California Sea Grant at Scripps Institution of Oceanography. 

This is the winter edition and final talk of our climate change series. Throughout 2021, The Nat and Climate Science Alliance invite you to a crash course on the impacts of climate change in our region. These talks take place seasonally and dive into the astoundingly varied consequences of our changing climate. The more we know, the better we can respond to what's happening. Join and be empowered.

Note: RSVP link and a date will be announced soon. You do not need to purchase tickets and do not need a Zoom account to attend the talk. Please consider supporting The Nat by selecting the $12 suggested ticket price at checkout.