University of California, Riverside

Palm Desert Center


Events and Programs at UCR Palm Desert

Enjoy the 2017-2018 academic year with great lectures, films, and programs to interest, inspire, and intrigue inquisitive minds of all ages. Most events are held in our auditorium; exceptions are indicated below. RSVPs are highly encouraged. All pre-registered guests will be seated first. 

School of Medicine lecture series

Mental Health
6 p.m. Wednesday, Feb. 14

Discover how clinical care and trials at the UCR School of Medicine are finding new ways to support and promote mental health and well-being – as well as identifying, diagnosing, and treating mental illnesses, including depression, anxiety disorders, substance abuse and schizophrenia. RSVP now! 

Wild Coachella

Green Fire
6 p.m. Tuesday, Feb. 6

Join us for a free film screening of the documentary, "Green Fire," which explores the life and legacy of famed conservationist Aldo Leopold ("A Sand County Almanac") and his land ethic philosophy. RSVP now! 

Arts and Letters Series 2017-2018

Arts & Letters is a free series that invites the community to spend time with today's most influential authors through interviews and personal readings. Conversations are facilitated by Tod Goldberg, the program director for UCR Palm Desert's Low-Residency MFA in Creative Writing and Writing for the Performing Arts.

6 p.m. Jan. 18, 2018: Panio Gianopoulos 
  • Panio Gianopoulos is the author of the story collection, How to Get Into Our House and Where We Keep the Money, and the novella, A Familiar Beast. His stories, essays, and poetry have appeared in Tin HouseNorthwest ReviewSalonThe Rattling WallChicago Quarterly ReviewBig Fiction, The Brooklyn Rail, Catamaran Literary Reader, and the Los Angeles Review of Books. RSVP now!

6 p.m. Feb. 7, 2018: Janet Fitch
  • Janet Fitch's first novel, White Oleander, a #1 bestseller and Oprah's Book Club selection, has been translated into 24 languages and was made into a feature film. Her second novel, Paint It Black, hit bestseller lists across the country and has also been made into a film. Her latest book, The Revolution of Marina M., is a sweeping historical saga of the Russian Revolution, as seen through the eyes of one young woman. RSVP now!

6 p.m. April 4, 2018: Attica Locke
  • Attica Locke is a writer and producer for the hit TV show, Empire. Her first novel, Black Water Rising, was nominated for an Edgar Award, an NAACP Image Award, as well as a Los Angeles Times Book Prize. Her second book, The Cutting Season, is a national bestseller and the winner of the Ernest Gaines Award for Literary Excellence. Pleasantville was the 2016 winner of the Harper Lee Prize for Legal Fiction. Her latest, Bluebird, Bluebird, has been called “an exhilarating, timely novel about the collision of race and justice in America.”  RSVP now!

6 p.m. May 2, 2018: Ivy Pochoda
  • Ivy Pochoda is the author of the critically acclaimed novel Visitation Street, chosen as an Amazon Best Book of the Month, Amazon Best Book of 2013, and a Barnes & Noble Discover Great New Writers selection. Her writing has appeared in The New York TimesThe Wall Street JournalThe Los Angeles Review of BooksThe Huffington PostSelf, and House & Garden. Her first novel The Art of Disappearing, was published by St. Martin’s Press in 2009. She has a BA from Harvard College in Classical Greek and an MFA from Bennington College in fiction. RSVP now! 

Art Exhibition 


Art on the Edge celebrates 10 local artists who employ mixed media techniques to explore unusual and different ways of expressing their visions of the world. Artists featured are: Marie Burdick, Connie Collins, Nancy Frey, Cindy Mason, Diane Moore, Sonja Price Ravet, Nancy Rizzardi, Kathleen Scoggin, Alicia Siegler, Sylvia Smith. 

Native American lecture series

THE INDIAN MEDICAL SERVICE 6 p.m. Tuesday, Jan. 23, 2018

This presentation, in partnership with the Agua Caliente Cultural Museum, will discuss the work of the medical division of the Office of Indian Affairs during the early twentieth century before any Indian Health Service existed. Speaking will be Clifford Trafzer, a distinguished professor of History at the University of California, Riverside, where he is the current holder of the Rupert Costo Chair in American Indian Affairs.  RSVP now!

Deep Canyon lecture series 2017-2018

6 p.m. Thursday, Feb. 8, 2018

Natural history, ethics, and aesthetics: why should we care about nature?

The diversity of life on earth is under serious threats from human-related causes, and science plays well-known roles in solving this problem. Dr. Harry Greene will describe how natural history enhances appreciation for organisms and environments, thereby influencing value judgments that ultimately underlie all conservation.  Dr. Greene will describe how an 18th century philosopher’s distinction between “beauty” and “sublime” can be used in the context of Darwin’s “descent with modification,” then illustrate this approach with frogs, snakes, African megafauna, Texas Longhorns, and California Condors. RSVP now! 

6 p.m. Thursday, March 8, 2018

The Value of Citizen Science for Urban Ecology and Invasive Species Research: Examples from the Reptiles and Amphibians of Southern California (RASCals) Project. 

Increasing urbanization and the impacts of invasive species are two of the greatest threats to biodiversity. Dr. Greg Pauly will discuss the use of citizen science to assess how reptile and amphibian species are responding to urbanization across Southern California and reveal some of the many recent discoveries of nonnative species resulting from these citizen science efforts. RSVP now! 


Public Art Documentary Series 2018 

In partnership with the City of Palm Desert Public Art Department, this series features many memorable community works from all over the globe. These free movies are screened on the third Thursday of the month at 6 p.m. and are open to the public.

6 p.m. Jan. 25, 2018: Levitated Mass
  • Levitated Mass follows the story of a rock star; the artist behind the sensation; a $10 million, 22-city tour; and the international media storm that ensued—but not in the way you might expect. Prominently displayed outside the Los Angeles County Museum of Art, renowned and reclusive land artist Michael Heizer’s Levitated Mass gained worldwide recognition during its installation in 2012. Over the course of ten nights, a 340-ton solid granite boulder crawled through Southern California neighborhoods on a 294-foot-long, 206-wheeled trailer, drawing tens of thousands of people, hundreds of camera crews, and cell phone shooters alike to document its journey. The film will be followed by a Q&A with Steven Biller, art writer and consultant for California Desert Arts Council. RSVP now! 
6 p.m. Feb. 15, 2018: Visual Acoustics
  • Narrated by Dustin Hoffman, Visual Acoustics celebrates the life and career of Julius Shulman, the world’s greatest architectural photographer, whose images brought modern architecture to the American mainstream. Shulman, who passed away in 2009, captured the work of nearly every modern and progressive architect since the 1930s including Frank Lloyd Wright, Richard Neutra, John Lautner and Frank Gehry. His images epitomized the singular beauty of Southern California’s modernist movement and brought its iconic structures to the attention of the general public. This unique film is both a testament to the evolution of modern architecture and a joyful portrait of the magnetic, whip-smart gentleman who chronicled it with his unforgettable images. The film will be followed by a Q&A with John Vuksic, principal, Prest Vuksic Architects Palm Desert. RSVP now!

6 p.m. March 15, 2018: Electric Earth: Doug Aitken
  • Artbound explores the life and work of visual artist Doug Aitken and the installation of his “Underwater Pavilions,” interactive sculptures installed underwater in a marine dive park at Catalina Island. Q&A following the film with Matthew Crotty, director of production, KCETLink. RSVP now!

6 p.m. April 19, 2018: Brillo Box (3 Cents Off)
  • In 1969, Lisanne Skyler’s parents bought an Andy Warhol “Brillo Box (3¢ Off)” sculpture for $1,000. An exact replica of a shipping carton for Brillo soap pads, Warhol’s Brillo Boxes were at first dismissed by the art world. But 40 years later, with Warhol’s reputation as a contemporary art visionary long secured, the same piece sold for more than $3 million at a record-breaking Christie’s auction. Blending a humorous family narrative with Pop Art history, Brillo Box (3 Cents Off) explores the ephemeral nature of art and value, and the decisions that shape a family’s history. Afterward enjoy a discussion with Mara Gladstone, associate curator at the Palm Springs Art Museum. RSVP now!

UCR Center for Ideas and Society lecture series 2018 

This free lecture series is part of UCR's Center for Ideas and Society Disciplines in Dialogue program that engages public audiences in conversation with two academics from different disciplines, offering distinct perspectives on a single topic. 

6 p.m. Wednesday, Jan. 17:  Electing Leaders 
  • Discussing risks inherent in the democratic process will be Shaun Bowler (political science) and Alec Haskell (history). THIS LECTURE HAS BEEN POSTPONED. PLEASE STAY TUNED FOR THE NEW DATE.
6 p.m. Wednesday, Feb. 21: Worrying
  • This lecture by Emily Rapp Black (creative writing) and Kate Sweeny (psychology) will address worrying about risks and the risks of worrying. RSVP now!
6 p.m. Wednesday, March 21: New Experiences
  • Bella Merlin (theatre) and Rachel Wu (psychology) will explore new experiences and learning at any age. RSVP now!
6 p.m. Wednesday, April 18: Tinkering With the Earth
  • Take a dive into the ethics of tinkering with the Earth with Francesca Hopkins (environmental sciences) and Jade Sasser (gender and sexuality studies). RSVP now!

Are We Alone?

The search for alien life defines a new era of space exploration. Learn how scientists hope to find life beyond Earth, and explore what that means for humanity. 
6 p.m. Tuesday, Feb. 13: NASA Astrobiology: Celebrating 20 Years

Speaker: Timothy Lyons, distinguished professor of biogeochemistry, Department of Earth Sciences, and director, Alternative Earths Astrobiology Center. Dr. Lyons will describe how he and other UCR scientists are using their latest discoveries about the evolution of early Earth to guide NASA’s search for life elsewhere in the universe—and how this effort builds on 20 years of Astrobiology at NASA. Following the lecture, volunteers from the Alternative Earths Astrobiology Center will host a hands-on science experience called “Sensing the Universe,” where you can taste the center of the galaxy, hear a quasar, and much more. RSVP now!

6 p.m. Tuesday, March 13: Craters, Collisions, and Cosmic Catastrophes 

Speaker: Simone Marchi, principal scientist, Southwest Research Institute, Boulder Colo. Dr. Marchi will describe how the rocky surfaces of the Earth, moon, and Mars provide "snapshots" of the bombardment history of the inner solar system—which in turn can tell us about the early history of these planets as life was first evolving. RSVP now!

6 p.m. Tuesday, April 17: Cassini’s LegacySaturn’s Secrets Revealed 
Speaker: Trina Raysenior science systems engineer at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, and Deputy, Cassini Science Planning and Sequencing Team. Trina Ray will highlight the most exciting discoveries of NASA’s 20-year mission to Saturn, including astrobiological discoveries from two of its 53 known moonsIce-encrusted Enceladus, with its geyser-like jets spewing water vapor and ice particles from an underground ocean, has become a promising lead in our search of worlds where life could exist. And on Mercury-sized Titan, rippling sand dunes and hydrocarbon seas hide a liquid ocean of water and ammonia, both essential biological molecules. RSVP now!





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General Campus Information

University of California, Riverside
900 University Ave.
Riverside, CA 92521
Tel: (951) 827-1012

Department Information

UCR Palm Desert Center
75080 Frank Sinatra Drive
Palm Desert, CA 92211

Tel: (760) 834-0800
Fax: (760) 834-0796

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