La Jolla News Nuggets: Ballfield and bike path cleanups; library festival and art exhibit; more

Children and parents clean up the baseball fields at Memorial Community Park in Logan Heights.
Children and parents from La Jolla Youth Baseball and San Diego American Little League clean up the run-down youth baseball fields at Memorial Community Park in Logan Heights.
(K.C. Alfred / The San Diego Union-Tribune)

La Jolla baseball players and others pitch in for ballfield repairs

Several La Jolla Youth Baseball league officials, parents and players joined San Diego American Little League families at Memorial Community Park in Logan Heights on Jan. 16 for an all-day field makeover session.

The group pulled weeds, picked up trash, repainted the bleachers, replaced rotting wood in the dugouts, used a tractor and rakes to refurbish the soil on the infield and carved new lines between the bases.

San Diego American Little League has been practicing and playing for years on run-down ballfields ravaged by age, neglect, disrepair and vandalism.

Scott Blumenthal, president of La Jolla Youth Baseball, read a San Diego Union-Tribune story published Nov. 14 about San Diego American’s woes at Memorial Park and decided to help.

“The article hit a nerve with us,” said Blumenthal, whose LJYB Pony league has about 500 players. “Our league has its house in order, so we’ve been looking for opportunities to help others in our baseball family, and that extends beyond our league. Anytime a member of our overarching baseball family needs a lift, we can chip in to help out. We had some time and it turned out to be a great event for our kids and families.” — The San Diego Union-Tribune

Bike path cleanup team seeks annual permit

Under the auspices of La Jolla Parks & Beaches and with financial support from the La Jolla Kiwanis Club, the team behind the occasional cleanups of the Fay Avenue Bike Path is pursuing an annual right-of-way permit to facilitate cleanups as needed, rather than the large-scale cleanup events that have been taking place.

La Jolla volunteer Debbie Adams told the LJP&B group during its Jan. 24 meeting that if the annual permit is granted, “volunteers, with some professional help, will be able to work year-round on three [key] areas to achieve brush clearing, invasive plant removal, erosion control and revegetation. We’re very excited to work year-round because there is always more to do and there is always volunteer power.”

LJP&B Vice President Brenda Fake said that approach will allow for “work to get done that you are not having to redo every year; there will be some forward movement.”

Status reports will be provided at future LJP&B meetings as they become available.

La Jolla Library holds International Festival

Visitors to La Jolla/Riford Library's International Festival learned about various countries Jan. 29.
(Katia Graham)

La Jolla/Riford Library held an International Festival on Jan. 29, with teenage “tour guides” from Muirlands Middle School, La Jolla High School and The Bishop’s School representing Indonesia, China, Thailand, Ireland, South Africa, Italy, Brazil and India and offering information to guests about the various countries.

The festival was a result of Crystal Li’s winning multicultural-appreciation pitch at the library’s October “Pitch Your Passion” event. Youth services librarian Katia Graham said she hopes to make the festival an annual tradition and highlight different countries each year.

New art exhibit opening at La Jolla/Riford Library

Friends of the La Jolla Library will present a new exhibit called “You Gotta Have HeART” beginning Monday, Feb. 7, at 7555 Draper Ave. There also will be an artists reception at 3:30 p.m. Thursday, Feb. 10.

The exhibit will feature a Valentine’s Day theme with a salute to local artists Scottie Brown, Patricia Jasper Clark, Nora Dewey, Lynne Schulnik, Cherry Sweig, Richard Warner, Toni Williams and Jeff Yeoman.

GoFundMe campaign raises $57,000 for local yoga instructor

In less than 10 days, a GoFundMe campaign raised more than $57,000 for a local yoga instructor diagnosed with Stage 4 stomach cancer. The fundraising campaign, launched by Steve Hart, owner of Riffs Yoga Studio in Bird Rock, is intended to help offset the costs of hospital bills, medication, food, medical accessories, treatments and guidance for Hart’s fiancée, Karina Gerschler.

After a tumultuous journey that included months of physicians being “stumped as to why her symptoms were getting worse and worse,” Gerschler was diagnosed with stomach cancer and started a 40-day chemotherapy treatment. She is now resting at home, but “we still have a very long path in front of us, and your support of this journey is beyond appreciated and fills us with optimism and faith,” Hart wrote on the GoFundMe page.

To view or contribute to the campaign, visit and search for “Karina’s Journey With Cancer.”

UCSD discovers driving force of huge cyclones on Jupiter

Shortly after entering orbit around Jupiter in 2016, the spacecraft Juno captured images of huge cyclones whirling in geometric patterns at the planet’s poles, an unexpected finding that dazzled scientists.

Jupiter’s poles cannot be seen clearly from Earth. The existence of the cyclones was discovered when Juno became the first probe to go into polar orbit around the gas giant.

A new study led by UC San Diego reveals another surprise: The cyclones are sustained by moist convection, the term for water vapor that rises and turns into a cloud. It’s very similar to the process that feeds cyclones on Earth, a starkly different world.

Earth has land. Jupiter does not. Earth has oceans composed of water. Jupiter has what scientists describe as a large ocean composed of hydrogen.

Even so, “the turbulence we see on Jupiter looks just like what we see here,” said Lia Siegelman, a postdoctoral researcher at UCSD’s Scripps Institution of Oceanography in La Jolla. She is the lead author on a Jan. 10 paper in the journal Nature Physics that describes the phenomenon.

“It’s quite fascinating to see something like this on a planet that is so far away,” Siegelman said. Jupiter currently is more than 530 million miles from Earth. — The San Diego Union-Tribune

St. James by-the-Sea white elephant sale postponed

The 90th annual white elephant sale at St. James by-the-Sea Episcopal Church in La Jolla has been postponed due to the current surge of the COVID-19 coronavirus. The sale had been scheduled for Feb. 11-13.

St. James will no longer accept donations until a new date has been determined. Donors are asked to hold donations until collection resumes.

Monetary contributions can be made at For more information, email

La Jolla scientists’ technique could shortcut vaccine and therapy development

Scientists at Scripps Research in La Jolla have devised a method that may be able to shortcut one of the big steps in modern vaccine development.

The researchers, whose work appeared in Science Advances on Jan. 19, said they showed that they could use high-resolution, low-temperature electron microscopy (cryoEM) to rapidly characterize antibodies — elicited by a vaccine or infection — that bind to a desired target on a virus at an atomic level.

The scientists are now refining their technique to optimize its speed and usability and are applying it to several areas: to rapidly evaluate human antibody responses to experimental HIV vaccines; develop antibody-blocking treatments for autoimmune diseases; and discover antibodies that could therapeutically hit other protein targets on cells.

Salk Institute gets new chairwoman and executive director of research

Marna Whittington, former chief executive of Allianz Global Investors Capital, has been elected board chairwoman for the Salk Institute for Biological Studies in La Jolla.

“I am honored to step into this role as we begin our five-year Campaign for the Future to expand our capabilities and advance science across the institute,” Whittington said in a statement. “And I am proud to be a part of a board that has a collective commitment to supporting Salk’s esteemed faculty as they strive to find solutions to the most significant challenges impacting human health.”

Whittington was elected to the board in 2005 and had served as vice chair since 2016.

The Salk Institute also announced the appointment of Julie Auger as executive director of research operations. Auger will oversee all shared scientific resources at the institute, including the scientific technology cores and animal research. The position reports to the chief science officer for the institute.

Lifeguard tryouts set for Feb. 24-26

Interested in becoming a lifeguard? The San Diego Fire-Rescue Department will hold tryouts Feb. 24-26 at Ventura Cove in Mission Bay.

Tryouts must be scheduled two weeks in advance.

Bay and ocean lifeguards perform rescues, administer first aid, warn swimmers of dangerous water conditions, enforce beach regulations and ordinances, clean and maintain lifeguard equipment, operate rescue boats and emergency vehicles, give information to the public, maintain records, write reports and perform other duties as assigned.

Pay starts at $17.75 an hour. To get an interview, candidates must be able to swim 500 meters in 10 minutes.

For more information, call (619) 221-8844 or visit

— Compiled by La Jolla Light staff