Even with the recent rains, Los Angeles continues to face an unprecedented water crisis. A six-year drought has altered the local landscape: over 100 million trees have died statewide, reservoirs remain below capacity, and groundwater is being depleted at an alarming rate. Yet at the same time, the city is taking dramatic steps to conserve natural resources, reduce usage, and prepare for a changing climate. LA is transforming its relationship with water—and that’s largely thanks to the Earth Science that’s being conducted right in our backyard.

In this special program for de LaB’s Making LA series, we’ll get a first-hand look at how design, science, and policy are working together to change the way Angelenos see water. We’ll see how scientists are mapping and measuring our groundwater using satellite data. We’ll discover how design-thinking, human-centered design, empathy, and ethnography is changing drought analysis. We’ll learn how studying climate trends is helping the city imagine a future where water scarcity is the norm, not the exception.

Here are the three speakers we’ll hear from:

Jessie Kawata is Creative Strategist and Lead Industrial Designer at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California. Her passion for science led her to NASA where she helped to pioneer their very first in-house design and art studio. With a background in product design from ArtCenter College of Design and an MBA experience at INSEAD, Jessie has been able to spearhead the integration of design-thinking, creative methodologies, and research strategy into early space mission concepts as a lead in NASA JPL’s Innovation Foundry. In addition, Jessie has led anthropology studies for Kennedy Space Center, research investigations for a NASA drought indicator proposal in support of the National Climate Assessment, co-led an interplanetary mission concept involving high-def cinematography,  and is currently working on a mission concept investigation about robots on Venus. When she is not staring into space, Jessie teaches part-time at ArtCenter and loves to sail tall ships with the LA Maritime Institute.

Laura Faye Tenenbaum is an Innovator in Science Communication and a member of the Earth Science Communications Team at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory, where she is responsible for creating content for the climate website Global Climate Change: Vital Signs of the Planet and the Earth Right Now blog. She develops interactive new media products to engage and educate students, teachers, and professionals in climate and environmental science. Her team won five Webby Awards, the Internet industry’s highest honor, for Best Science Website and Best Green Website. She has also held a faculty position in the Physical Science Department at Glendale Community College for the last 13 years. Her goal is to bring science, multimedia and education together to attract a highly motivated and enthusiastic new generation that will be ready to take on the huge environmental challenges we face.

Dr. Michael Gunson is currently the Manager of the Global Change & Energy Program and the Project Scientist for the Orbiting Carbon Observatory (OCO-2). His research interests have primarily focused on the physical and chemical processes of the Earth’s atmosphere using space-based instruments. Most recently, through OCO-2 he has been examining ways in which atmospheric measurements of carbon dioxide can help resolve questions as to the sources and sinks of this gas at the surface and how these inform carbon cycle science.

Screen Shot 2013-11-11 at 9.17.20 PM

This is the ninth event in our series Making LA: Connect, Flourish, Thrive, Prosper. Following up on our 2014 Making LA conference, these events will look at issues in the areas of TransportationWaterDensity and Community with the goal of bringing designer- and artist-driven solutions to those issues to life. In this way, we hope to turn the original Making LA conference into a long-term call-to-action and turn in-person inspiration into four real-world solutions for the city. Making LA is made possible by support from the National Endowment for the Arts. Want to sponsor an upcoming event? Learn more.