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Welcome UC Merced Supporters

January 23, 2009


University Friends Circle Lunch – Jan. 28
“Today’s Economy Plain and Simple: How We Got Here and Where We’re Going”

The University Friends Circle (UFC) will meet at 11:30 a.m. Jan. 28 at the Merced Golf and Country Club. Economics professor and County Bank Endowed Chair Shawn Kantor will speak to the current economic crisis. For information and to RSVP for the lunch, contact Special Events at (209) 228-7787.

MTS Lecture Series
to Focus on Thinking and Reasoning – Jan. 29

The Mind, Technology and Society Lecture Series has announced its spring schedule. Made possible by a generous gift from the Glushko-Samuelson Foundation, the lecture series brings experts in cognitive science, computer science and philosophy from around the globe to UC Merced. All talks are free and open to the public and take place at 3 p.m. Thursdays in Room 120 of the Classroom & Office Building.

This semester’s theme is thinking and reasoning. Faculty from New York University, UC Berkeley, UC Davis, UCSC, Stanford and UC San Diego will join with those from UC Merced to present research open discussion on their areas of expertise.

The lectures are always dynamic and allow members of the community to hear from accomplished experts in the field of thinking and reason. This semester’s series starts Jan. 29. For a complete schedule of lectures, visit http://cogsci.ucmerced.edu.

Lecturer to Kick-Off Spring Arts Program

Patrons of the arts will want to take note of Arts UC Merced Presents… UC Merced’s performance arts series promises a variety of events for those who crave a little culture. Artist-in-Residence Dipu Gupta will kick-off the spring schedule with an exhibit at the Merced Multicultural Arts Center from Feb. 5 through 28.

A visiting lecturer for the 2008-09 academic year, Gupta is a professional architect and scene designer. The exhibit, “Visualizing the Word: Scene Design and Drama,” will include scene designs by Gupta.

A variety of concerts and art exhibits are planned between now and May. Lecturer and talented vocalist Lorraine Walsh will perform March 7, the Merced Symphony will perform March 21, and the UC Merced Chorale will perform May 7. All concerts will take place on campus at the Lakireddy Auditorium.

SSHA, Amnesty International Partner in Film Series

The School of Social Sciences, Humanities and Arts has joined with Amnesty International to host a Human Rights Film Series next month.

The third-annual event, which is free and open to the public, will feature a film screening at 7 p.m. each Friday in February.

The following films will be part of this year’s series:
• “Letter to Anna” – Feb. 6, COB 116
• “To See if I’m Smiling” – Feb. 13, COB 116
• “Youth Producing Change” – Feb. 20, COB 116
• “Underground Undergrads: UCLA Undocumented Immigrant Students Speak Out" – Feb. 27, California Room (event will also feature guest speakers and book signing)

For information, contact Robin DeLugan.

Library Holocaust Exhibit Open Through Feb. 28

"The Holocaust: Genocide in History" will be on display on the third floor of the Kolligian Library through February.

The exhibit will include artifacts from a local World War II collector and some on loan from the Simon Wiesenthal Center and Museum of Tolerance in Los Angeles. For information, contact gherken@ucmerced.edu.


Feb. 16: President’s Day – UC Merced closed


ASUCM President Glad UC Merced Turned His Head

Yaasha SaabaSenior Yaasha Sabba didn’t plan to come to UC Merced, but the biological sciences major has made his mark since he first walked on campus as a freshman in 2005.

“When I first visited UC Merced, I had already committed to attending San Francisco State and had put down a deposit on an apartment. I walked on campus and what I saw was the library, housing and dirt – lots of dirt.”

But the San Francisco native also saw something else: possibilities. And those possibilities enticed him to walk away from his original plans and enroll here.


Here’s a look at the latest news from our Alumni Affairs Office:

• This month, the San Joaquin Valley UC Alumni Network launched a new registration form to make signing up online easy. The best part? Membership is free! For more information, contact Alumni Affairs Coordinator Stefani Martinez Madril at (209) 228-ALUM.


Total amount of proposals in December:

Total amount of awards in December:

Total amount of awards from July 1, 2008 to December 31, 2008:



UC Merced Researcher Lead Author of Study on Food Webs

Eric BerlowHow does the loss of one species affect other plant and animal life in a complex ecosystem? That was a core question behind a study co-authored by UC Merced research scientist Eric Berlow and published this month in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

Berlow and Ulrich Brose of Darmstadt University of Technology, Germany, lead a group of scientists who studied complex food webs – the feeding networks of plant and animal species that co-exist in an ecosystem. The scientists created hundreds of food webs using computers and compared statistical patterns against data collected from a field experiment. They found that the loss of a species can be predicted by simple factors such as species abundance, body size and the degrees of separation between them.

“The more complex the web, the simpler it was to predict the outcome,” said Berlow, director of the Sierra Nevada Research Institute’s Wawona Field Station. “It quantified just how small the natural world really is.”

Researchers to Develop Brain-Based Computer Chip

Chris Kello
Chris Kello

Paul Maglio
Paul Maglio

David Noelle
David Noelle

UC Merced is one of five universities working with IBM to design new computer circuitry that mimics the brain. IBM leads the “cognitive computing” project that was announced in late November and is funded by a $4.9 million grant from the U.S. Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA).

Co-leading the UC Merced group is Christopher Kello, associate professor of cognitive science, and Paul Maglio, UC Merced adjunct professor of cognitive science and senior manager at IBM Almaden Research Center. Also part of the UC Merced group is David Noelle, assistant professor in the schools of Engineering and Social Sciences, Humanities and Arts; and Marshall Mayberry, postdoctoral researcher in cognitive science.

The project includes engineers who are using nanotechnology to build neural circuits and an interdisciplinary team of scientists (neuroscientists, computer scientists and cognitive scientists) who are designing the circuits based on how brains work. The task for the UC Merced group is to design and create virtual environments (think “Second Life”) in which circuits can be trained and tested.

The six-phase project could take close to a decade to complete, and the research team – which also includes scientists from Stanford University, the University of Wisconsin-Madison, Cornell University and Columbia University Medical Center – must achieve specific milestones along the way to continue receiving DARPA funding. These milestones include demonstrations of perception, navigation, planning, and decision-making in virtual environments.


Student Engineers Score at Conference

NSBE studentsMembers of UC Merced’s National Society of Black Engineers (NSBE) brought home top honors from a recent regional conference. During the two-day conference, held at the Microsoft complex in Redmond, Wash., the team entered – and won – an academic competition, taking first place against teams from Stanford, USC, UCLA and Cal Poly San Luis Obispo.

The students who attended the conference – bioengineering majors Christian Ayeni, Anley “T” Tefera and Veronica Young and mechanical engineer Rebekah Johnson – were able to do so thanks to financial support from Pacific Gas & Electric. PG&E has a five-year partnership with the School of Engineering to support student recruitment and retention programs. Additional support was provided by the Office of Student Life and the NSBE organization.


Professor Sweats the Small Stuff Studying Microbes

Carolin FrankCarolin Frank recalled one of her earliest exposures to the world of science.

She was about 10 years old and lived in a rural area of Sweden. While she enjoyed reading comics and Pippi Longstocking books, there were other topics she found just as interesting, namely genetics and DNA.

“My dad is a doctor and my mom is a teacher,” said Frank. “My dad had these high school text books on genetics that I would read. I remember being interested in DNA and genes early on.”

Now, as an assistant professor in the School of Natural Sciences, she’s turned a childhood fascination into career and calling. Frank, along with husband David Ardell, joined the faculty a year ago.


Collegiate Alumni Foundation Benefits from Comcast Generosity

With about 130 alumni and counting, UC Merced doesn’t have the luxury of considerable alumni support. To compensate for that, Alumni Affairs Coordinator Stefani Martinez Madril has worked diligently to develop a model program that engages students from the moment they arrive on campus through opportunities like the Collegiate Membership Program, the San Joaquin Valley UC Alumni Network and the Collegiate Alumni Foundation (CAF).

The goal of the CAF is to teach and promote the philanthropic spirit to UC Merced students and alumni. CAF student trustees will use the interest earned from an endowment fund to provide philanthropic opportunities by awarding scholarships and grants. The first CAF scholarship recipient will be announced this semester. The CAF is developing a community grant project to help UC Merced student organizations find ways to enhance the university’s relationship with the community.

Comcast Cable recognizes the value of building a culture of philanthropy on university campuses and has made a $10,000 donation to establish the Comcast Collegiate Alumni Foundation Endowed Fund. The endowment will be used to support CAF scholarships and grants.

“For Comcast, being a vital part of a community means giving back to the critical projects and initiatives that will strengthen and define our community today and tomorrow,” said Len Falter, area vice president, South Valley Comcast Cable.

Comcast has also established two current-use funds. The first will help UC Merced begin to implement its CAF program in the 2008-09 academic year. The other will pay for an undergraduate or graduate student to attend a professional conference. The Comcast Scholarship will be awarded during the university’s annual Research Week in the spring.


Foundation Board Meeting Feb. 11

On Feb. 11, the Foundation Board of Trustees will meet on campus. The day's events will include a trustee and diplomats networking lunch and committee, focus area and full board meetings.

After lunch, Foundation Diplomats are invited to attend a progressive dessert while gaining a glimpse into the student experience, participate in a behind the scenes tour of the UC Merced Power Wall and enjoy afternoon tea. For more information, contact Stefani Martinez Madril at (209) 228-2586.

A reception will be held at 6 p.m. on the third floor of the Leo and Dottie Kolligian Library.

Hotel rooms have been reserved at the Hampton Inn at the special rate of $84/night. Please contact (209) 386-1210 and reference "UC Merced Board of Trustees."

More information will be mailed and posted to trustees.ucmerced.edu. Contact Shannon Runyon at (209) 228-4685 for more information.


Save the Date: Chancellor's Associates Spring Reception April 30

Chancellor’s Associates members, please plan to attend the Chancellor's Associates Spring Reception Thursday, April 30, at the Chancellor’s residence. It will provide an opportunity to network with fellow Chancellor’s Associates members, Chancellor and Mia Kang and UC Merced staff and faculty. Invitations will be mailed out in the next few weeks. For more information, call (209) 228-RSVP or e-mail specialevents@ucmerced.edu.

In March, we will be launching a Fresno Chancellor’s Associates chapter. For more information, contact Jesse Arreguin at (559) 241-6594.


It is with deep appreciation and gratitude that we extend the membership of renewing Chancellor’s Associates donors to: Theodore and Frances Geballe, Sally Landels, Keith and Jill Alley, John Garamendi and Colleen Denny-Garamendi, Maria Pallavicini and Guenter Fischer, Sam and Dena Traina, Jeff and Delores Wright, Jesse Arreguin, Ronald and Constance Brons, Eric and Carl Conley, Bert and Nancy Crane, Ray and Joan Dezember, Joe Sabo and Rose Eager Sabo, Bob and Bette Gaestel, Barry and Jeanne McAuley, Galen and Melba Miyamoto, Tim and Marilyn O’Neill, Carl and Linda Roland, Ivan and Bonnie Stinson, Sheryl and Roger Wyan, David and Holly Zacharias, Paul and Kathleen Zizza, Karen Bizzini, Art Kamangar, Marge McAuley and Richard Piper.

Chancellor's Associates are a diverse group sharing a common dedication to UC Merced. For information on joining the Chancellor’s Associates, contact Terisa Rose at (209) 228-4109.


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