Three Scripps-Led Panels in Consideration for SXSW 2019

Voting now open through Aug. 30

Scripps Institution of Oceanography at UC San Diego has three panels in consideration for the 2019 SXSW Interactive Conference. Held in Austin, Texas, the annual conference explores what’s next in the worlds of technology, film, culture, and music, with the interactive track drawing more than 70,000 attendees and 2,000 panels. The 2019 conference will take place March 8-17.

Three panels proposed by Scripps delve into topics including the future of ocean robots to understand a changing environment, the scientific and social repercussions of Hurricane Maria in Puerto Rico, and the mobilization of surfers-turned-citizen scientists to collect oceanographic data using a high-tech surfboard fin.

Each panel is collaborative and features a range of speakers including Scripps scientists, esteemed researchers from collaborating institutions, and journalists/reporters from influential outlets.

Earlier this year, Scripps made its first appearance at SXSW 2018 with a panel focused on novel technology used by scientists to study coral reefs around the world.

In preparation for next year’s conference, all three panels are now open for online voting through Aug. 30. The voting, along with input from SXSW staff and advisors, determines the final panel selection.

To cast a vote for the 2019 panels, voters must create a free SXSW login and then select the “Vote Up” button on their desired panel’s page.

Full details for each panel and links to vote are included below.

Getting Communities Stoked on Science

We stand the best chance at protecting the resources we cherish. Surfers are an ideal community because water quality and coastal preservation are critical to their lifestyle. Smartfin is rallying a community of surfers by equipping surfboard fins with Internet of Things sensors—creating an opportunity to understand how our coasts are changing due to sea-level rise, ocean acidification, and more. Other citizen science projects have found success by engaging with communities that love wildlife, fauna, space and more. This panel will discuss the citizen science movement, advancing technology to solve issues like climate change, and getting passionate communities stoked on science.


  • Phil Bresnahan, Research Engineer, Scripps Institution of Oceanography at UC San Diego

  • Shannon Waters, Smartfin Project Manager, Surfrider Foundation

  • Dawn Wright, Chief Scientist, Esri

  • Lauren Ellis, Producer, Seeker

Voting link:

Island Trauma: Hurricane Maria's Impact on Science

Scientists studying the societal disruption of climate events became their own subjects in 2017 in the wake of Hurricane Maria. This panel, featuring members of the Puerto Rico Climate Change Council, will examine the scientific repercussions of the hurricane, impacts to local scientists in the throes of relief efforts, the social vulnerability of the disaster response, and what we can learn about Puerto Rico’s future by looking at coastal environments of the past.


  • Isabel Rivera-Collazo, Environmental Archaeologist, UC San Diego/Scripps Institution of Oceanography

  • Elvira Cuevas, Ecologist, Universidad de Puerto Rico

  • John Sutter, Senior Investigative Reporter, CNN

Voting link:

Ocean Robots to the Rescue

Did you know a network of nearly 4,000 robots is bobbing up and down in the world’s oceans making measurements that had never been available before? Other ocean robots are helping us understand the climate and national security impacts of a melting Arctic and Antarctic. And soft robots can now mimic eels, fish and plankton so scientists can better study the real thing in the wild. Instrument development in the ocean is advancing and allowing scientists to better understand and solve myriad problems facing our changing planet. This panel will hear from ocean roboticists on where we are now, and where the future will take us.


  • Jules Jaffe, Research Oceanographer, Scripps Institution of Oceanography at UC San Diego

  • James Bellingham, Director, Center for Marine Robotics, Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution

  • Jyotika Virmani, Sr. Director, Planet & Environment, XPRIZE

  • Matt Simon, Science Writer, WIRED

Voting link:

Sign Up For
Explorations Now

explorations now is the free award-winning digital science magazine from Scripps Institution of Oceanography. Join subscribers from around the world and keep up on our cutting-edge research.