La Jolla News Nuggets

La Jolla High School Theater Arts Department performs selections from its upcoming musical, ‘The Addams Family,’ at La Jolla Open Aire Farmers Market, Jan. 26.

UC San Diego on alert for students infected with Coronavirus

In the wake of the first U.S. case of a pneumonia-like virus that has killed at least 81 people in China, UC San Diego told its students by e-mail to report to a student clinic if they’ve visited Wuhan, China in the past 14 days and develop a fever with cough or difficulty breathing. (UCSD has one of the largest Chinese populations in American higher education.)

The campus “always sends out a message like this when there is a global health concern,” Dr. Stacie San Miguel, director of medical services at UCSD Student Health Services, told The San Diego Union-Tribune. “Some people are nervous. We want them to know that we’re here and that we know how to deal with pneumonia and infections and that we can get them to a higher level of care if they need it.”

Scientists are exploring whether the virus — dubbed 2019-nCoV by the World Health Organization — can be spread by human-to-human transmission. That also would be a source of concern at UCSD, which has a population of about 65,000 people on an average day, including 15,000 who live in student housing.

About 5,600 UCSD students come from China, and many recently returned to campus for the start of the winter quarter. The school’s faculty routinely travels between San Diego and China for research and conferences. Many Chinese parents relocate to San Diego to support their children while they’re at the university. China’s Fudan University operates a think tank at the university.

La Jolla High theater students perform at farmers market

The La Jolla High School theater arts department performed musical numbers on Jan. 26 at the La Jolla Open Aire Farmers Market — including a duet by students Marshall McInerney and Ava Alabisa — from their upcoming stage interpretation of “The Addams Family.”

The show takes the stage 7 p.m. Jan. 31, Feb. 1, 7 and 8 in Parker Auditorium at La Jolla High, 750 Nautilus St. Tickets are $10 and $15.

MCASD awarded $750,000 grant

The Museum of Contemporary Art San Diego (MCASD) has received $750,000 in federal matching funds from the The National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH). This Infrastructure & Capacity Building Challenge grant will support construction of the current expansion of the museum’s La Jolla campus — a project whose estimated building costs rose from $55 million in 2016 to $95 million last year.

“We are honored to be the recipient of NEH grant funds that will go toward the transformative expansion of our La Jolla flagship,” said MCASD director/CEO Kathryn Kanjo. “This is a message to the country that San Diego is home to an important cultural site in MCASD.”

The expansion, led by architect Annabelle Selldorf, will quadruple the gallery’s interior space while also creating stunning outdoor gathering spaces, including seaside terraces and an art park. The museum is expected to reopen some time in 2021. On Jan. 14, NEH announced $30.9 million in 2020 grants supporting 188 humanities projects in 45 states and the District of Columbia.

Controversial La Jolla book signing canceled

A discussion and book-signing with “American Dirt” author Jeanine Cummins — scheduled to take place at Warwick’s on Monday, Jan. 27 — was canceled.

This latest in a string of cancellations came amid a controversy over the book, which some critics have accused of being riddled with cultural stereotypes about Mexico and the struggles of migrants.

Left Banks Books in St. Louis, which canceled a similar event with Cummins, explained in a statement that “posts on social media, calls to our venue partners and others were made insisting we cancel the event.” Those criticisms, the statement said, “felt like a challenge to do better.”

St. James by-the-Sea church needs funds for new pipe organ

St. James by-the-Sea Episcopal Church has announced a $3.5 million fundraising campaign for a new pipe organ, scheduled to make its debut at Christmas 2021.

The new organ — which has already been purchased — will replace its old Austin organ, which in 2017 was diagnosed as beyond repair. The following year, the church hired the renowned firm of Rosales/Parsons Organ Builders to design, construct and install its new musical centerpiece.

“The majestic sound of the organ has welcomed people to St. James by-the-Sea for nearly a hundred years,” said music director Alex Benestelli. “We live out our faith as Christians in artistic expression, and nothing speaks more deeply to the soul than powerful, spirit-filled music.”

Removal of the Austin organ is now underway, and construction of the Rosales/Parsons organ will begin in July 2020.

The $3.5 million pricetag includes the cost of the organ itself, preparations to the building, and an endowment for maintenance and education. Donations are welcome at any level. The church phone number is (858) 459-3421.

Algae soothes G.I. blues at UCSD

The world’s most exhaustively studied algae, chlamydomonas reinhardtii, has been found by UC San Diego researchers to improve human gastrointestinal issues associated with irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) such as diarrhea, gas and bloating. Results of the project are published in the Journal of Functional Foods.

“People have been looking at this algae for decades, but this is the first study to show what many of us have suspected — it’s good for you,” said principal investigator Stephen Mayfield, a professor in UCSD’s Division of Biological Sciences. “This is exciting because it demonstrates a clear benefit.”

The results showed that participants who suffered from a history of frequent gastrointestinal symptoms reported significantly less bowel discomfort and diarrhea, significantly less gas or bloating and more regular bowel movements.

At this point, the researchers are unclear about how the algae accomplishes these benefits, but believes they can be traced to a bioactive molecule in algae or perhaps a change in gene expression of gut bacteria caused by algae consumption.

Pacific Coast sees shark attacks up

There were five authenticated, unprovoked shark attacks reported from the Pacific Coast of North America during 2019, according to the nonprofit Shark Research Committee.

Although none were fatal, this brings the total number of unprovoked shark attacks occurring along the Pacific Coast during the 21st century to 113 — that’s six times the 20th-century average of slightly more than one per year.

Four of the attacks were recorded in California, one in Oregon. The Great White Shark was either positively identified or highly suspect in all five attacks. For more information, visit

Passport center now offers more services

The Public Information & Passport Services Counter has consolidated its services and will now serve as a resource center for: 1) passport application processing; 2) City services and department directory information; 3) City Council meeting information; 4) public notary services; 5) appeals processing; and 6) City documents online and microfiche research. It is located in the lobby at the City Administration, 202 C St. in downtown San Diego.

Free City water conservation 2020 calendar

The City’s 2020 Kids’ Poster Contest Calendar — featuring winning San Diego student artwork about water conservation — is available for free. “The children’s artwork in these calendars is fantastic, and helps present the importance of reducing water use,” said City Public Utilities Department director Shauna Lorance. “I encourage San Diegans to pick up a calendar and learn about water conservation all year.”

Copies are available, while supplies last, at all City of San Diego Public Library branches and Rec Centers.