Spotlight on Science.

The Newport Beach Public Library Foundation is pleased to present a new program, Spotlight on Science. The program features extraordinary and renowned scientists who will shed light on innovative and exciting research in the sciences. This season’s spotlight will focus on Artificial Intelligence and the latest scientific research

Padhraic Smyth

Artificial Intelligence: A New Era for Science?

Padhraic Smyth, PhD.
Professor – Department of Computer Science, UCI

Wednesday, November 15, 2023, 7:00pm
Doors open at 6:30pm

Dr. Smyth is a Distinguished Professor in the Department of Computer Science at UCI. He has published over 200 papers on machine learning, artificial intelligence and pattern recognition. He is the founding director of the UCI Center for Machine Learning and Intelligent Systems. He has received research funding from NASA, Google, Qualcomm, Experian and consulted with Samsung and AT&T. Few people are more qualified to talk to us about the future of Artificial Intelligence and its impact today.

Eric Rignot

Tracking Ice and Water in a Changing Climate with AI

Eric Rignot, PhD.
Professor – Earth System Science, UCI

Isabella Velicogna, PhD.
Professor – Earth System Science, UCI

Wednesday, March 20, 2024, 7:00pm
Doors open at 6:30pm

Drs. Rignot and Velicogna are professors in the department of Earth Science at UCI, and are senior scientists of NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory.

Both of them are world-renowned glaciologists who study the effects of global climate change on polar ice sheets. Their research uses satellites to understand the dynamics of glacier ice in Antarctica, Greenland, Alaska, and Patagonia. Dr. Rignot is a recipient of the NASA Exceptional Scientific Achievement Medal.

Dr. Velicogna was honored with Joanne Simpson Medal from American Geophysical Union for her trailblazing research.

Brett Sanders

Digital Tools for Projecting Coastal Erosion and Flooding

Brett Sanders, PhD.
Professor – Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering, UCI

Wednesday, May 15, 2024, 7:00pm
Doors open at 6:30pm

Dr. Sanders is a professor of Civil and Environmental Engineering at UCI. His focus is on developing simulation technologies to identify flooding and erosion dynamics of coastal system to ultimately help affected communities’ access and integrate these technologies into usable information to create better policies for management. He will enlighten us on his latest research findings and how utilizing big-data can help mitigate flood risk. 

Program Details

Held in Friends Room at Central Library, 1000 Avocado Avenue, Newport Beach, CA 92660
Limited Seating

The upcoming construction of Witte Hall will temporarily disrupt parking in the main lot of the Central Library with limited spaces available. There are additional parking located in the Civic Center parking structure.

Additional Parking

7:00pm – 8:30pm || Doors open at 6:30pm
Free Event


Contact Director of Programs Kunga Wangmo at 949-717-3818 or

2023-2024 Spotlight on Science Committee

Bruce Clark
Karen Clark
Randy Heyler, Chair
Barbara MacGillivray
Greg MacGillivray
Janet Ray
Walkie Ray