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Welcome UC Merced Supporters

February 13, 2009


University Friends Circle Lunch – Feb. 25
“Yosemite – Its Wonders Revealed”

The University Friends Circle (UFC) will meet at 11:30 a.m. Feb. 25 at the Merced Golf & Country Club. Yosemite National Park Chief Ranger Steve Shackelton will share his experience working in the majestic public park. The UFC was formed to provide a forum for UC Merced staff and faculty and their partners to engage in open discussion and interact with members of the surrounding communities. For information or to RSVP for the lunch, contact Special Events at (209) 228-7787. The cost is $15 including lunch.

MTS Lecture Series – Feb. 19

The Mind, Technology and Society Lecture Series, made possible by a generous gift from the Glushko-Samuelson Foundation, brings experts in cognitive science, computer science and philosophy from around the globe to UC Merced.

Upcoming speakers:
Feb. 19 - Tania Lombrozo, UC Berkeley, Casual and Explanatory Pluralism
Feb. 26 - David Thau, UC Davis, Reasoning About Biological Taxonomies
March 5 - Brandon Fitelson, UC Berkeley

Talks are held on Thursdays at 3 p.m. in Room 120 of the Classroom & Office Building. For information, contact Evan Heit or visit http://cogsci.ucmerced.edu.

Human Rights Film Series

The School of Social Sciences, Humanities and Arts has joined with Amnesty International to host a Human Rights Film Series. Film screenings begin at 7 p.m. each Friday in February and are free and open to the public. The following films will be screened:

Today, Feb. 13 – “To See if I’m Smiling” (COB 116)
Friday, Feb. 20 – “Youth Producing Change” (COB 116)
Friday, Feb. 27 – “Underground Undergrads: UCLA Undocumented Immigrant Students Speak Out (California Room)

For information, contact Robin DeLugan.

Merced Symphony to Perform on Campus

Arts UC Merced Presents … will sponsor the spring concert of the Merced Symphony. Titled “Masterworks,” the concert will begin at 7:30 p.m. March 21 inside the Lakireddy Auditorium. Tickets are $5 for UC Merced students and $25 for all others. For information, contact Gail Benedict at (209) 228-4566.


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


UC Merced Students Light the Way with Senior Challenge Idea

Heather Poiry and Anne MahacekWhen seniors Heather Poiry and Anne Mahacek heard that campus administrators were looking for students to submit proposals for a Senior Challenge project, the duo stepped up to the plate to pitch a bright idea.

Poiry and Mahacek, both mechanical engineering majors, proposed to develop a kinetic walkway. When stepped on, the device converts the energy from a person’s footsteps into electricity. In their proposal, the students wrote that upon completion, the walkway could be used during the university’s commencement ceremony in May. Electricity generated by the footsteps of graduating students who walk on it as they receive their degree will power blue and gold LED lights at the front of the stage.


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

The San Joaquin Valley UC Alumni Network Spring Reception with the Chancellor will be held on Tuesday, April 21, from 5:30 to 7 p.m. on campus. The Spring Reception recognizes UC alumni and will honor the UC Merced Class of 2009. Tickets are $20 and proceeds will benefit the Class of 2009 Class Gift. For more information, contact Alumni Affairs Coordinator Stefani Martinez Madril at (209) 228-ALUM.

If you’d like to learn more about SJV UC Alumni Network events, please complete a contact form.


Spring Reception – April 30

Chancellor’s Associates members are invited to attend the Chancellor's Associates Spring Reception on Thursday, April 30, at the Chancellor’s residence. The evening will feature a special presentation by award-winning science fiction author Kim Stanley Robinson. He is one of the most accomplished and popular writers working in science fiction today and was named a Time Magazine "Hero of the Environment" in 2008. His three-series Mars novels in the 1990s – Red Mars, Green Mars and Blue Mars – were critically acclaimed international bestsellers.

For more information, contact (209) 228-RSVP or specialevents@ucmerced.edu.

Chancellor’s Associates – South Valley

We are pleased to be launching the Chancellor’s Associates – South Valley chapter. For more information, contact Jesse Arreguin at (559) 241-6594.


It’s with deep appreciation and gratitude that we extend the membership of renewing Chancellor’s Associates donors to Tim and Lisa Dylina, Alvin and Lynda Osborn, Joel and Elizabeth Wallace, David and Christine Long, Curtis and Gaye Riggs, Kenneth and Patricia Grossman, James and Sabra Abbate, Michael and Lori Gallo, Lee and Ann Andersen, Mike and Jeanne Salvadori, Robert and Suzanne Carpenter, Pete and Vicki Bandoni, Janine Falasco, Hugh and Connie Codding, Hugh and Norma Flanagan, Kevin Browne and Sherrie Spendlove, and new members Roger Bales and Martha Conklin and Hans and Inger Bjornsson.

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.


Total amount of proposals in January:

Total amount of awards in January:

Total amount of awards from July 1, 2008 to January 30, 2009:



UC Merced Researchers Land $8.2 Million in Awards and Grants

Research AwardsFaculty researchers at UC Merced have secured $8.2 million in research grants and awards during the first half of the 2008-09 fiscal year.

The funds, received between July 1 and Dec. 31, 2008, represent 54 different projects. Federal, state and private funding brought in to the university is typically used to hire student research assistants, purchase supplies, equip laboratories, fund travel, pay salaries and conduct day-to-day research activities.

The $8.2 million is on par with the amount of funds received during the first six months of the 2007-08 fiscal year. Last year's full-year total was $16.3 million.

Applications Hold Steady

ApplicationsMore than 10,000 students have applied to UC Merced for Fall 2009 admission, which is on par with last year’s application numbers.

The campus’ incoming freshman class is expected to total about 1,080 this fall, the largest in the university's five-year history. Expansion of the campus will continue at a modest rate consistent with available resources.

As of Jan. 22, UC Merced had received a 31 percent increase in the number of applications from prospective domestic graduate students compared to last year and an 11 percent increase in applications overall.

Medical School Planning Continues

Planning for a medical education program leading to a School of Medicine at the UC Merced is continuing. Consultants with the Washington Advisory Group completed a report that identifies a series of steps that will be considered with other strategies designed to propel UC Merced and the San Joaquin Valley toward the goal of an independently-accredited medical school.

UC President Mark Yudof authorized development of an undergraduate program at UC Merced to attract exceptional students to study the health sciences and he approved the campus to plan for medical education and research programs in conjunction with an existing UC medical school. UC Merced will continue to work in concert with faculty, academic partners at sister UC campuses, potential clinical partners and the UC Office of the President to develop a plan that is feasible, meets the needs of the Valley and state and meet accreditation requirements as well as uphold the quality of the University of California.

Chancellor Kang said, "While the timetable for a fully accredited, completely independent medical school is difficult to predict at this time due to the State of California’s dire financial situation, the UC Merced School of Medicine will come to fruition."

ECEC Building Installation

ECEC Building InstallationDespite heavy fog and the forecast of rain, the Early Childhood Education Center (ECEC) building was successfully installed in January near the main entrance of campus, right off Lake Road.

Construction crews are working diligently to ensure the much-anticipated facility will be completed in time for summer. The center will accept children 6 weeks to 5 years of age.

Well before the center’s “bobcat kittens” will arrive, community members and organizations are already showing strong support through philanthropic and volunteer opportunities.

On Jan. 9, ECEC Director Danielle Waite and Development Officer Terisa Rose gave the Merced Sunrise Rotary Club a sneak preview of the building design and layout, and the programs they have planned. In true Rotarian spirit, the group put “service above self” by pledging to donate several items the center still needed and committing their time to continue to help the ECEC as it evolves. If you or your organization is interested in supporting the center, contact Terisa Rose at (209) 228-4109.

For information and updates, visit the Center's Web site.

UC Merced Partners with South Korean Research Institute for Exchange Program

UC Merced has forged a partnership with the Gwangju Institute of Science and Technology (GIST) in South Korea.

On Feb. 2, Chancellor Steve Kang met with a delegation that included GIST President Jung-Ho Sonu. The two signed a five-year academic cooperation agreement to explore faculty, student and staff exchanges, joint research projects, academic collaboration and other projects.

During their visit to UC Merced, Sonu and two GIST faculty members – Yung Joon Yoo and Hee Chul Choi, professors in GIST’s life sciences and environmental science and engineering departments – met with administrators, toured the campus and learned about the university’s research programs and institutes, including the Sierra Nevada Research Institute.

GIST is a research-oriented graduate school established by the South Korean government in 1993. The South Korean government’s Ministry of Science and Technology provides full financial support to students in order to produce scientific technologists with advanced leadership skills.


Physiologist Receives $1.78 Million Grant from the National Institutes of Health

Rudy OrtizSchool of Natural Sciences professor Rudy Ortiz has obtained a $1.78 million research grant from the National Institutes of Health (NIH) to study how prolonged fasting and sleep apnea has affected the physiology of Northern elephant seals.

The five-year grant is from the NIH’s National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute. A team of researchers lead by Ortiz will study how the mammal’s physiology adapted and evolved so that they can endure prolonged fasting periods and sleep apnea without experiencing detrimental health consequences.

“The idea behind our research is to reveal how the mechanisms (elephant seals) have developed to help us better address questions in human medicine,” Ortiz said.

Cognitive Scientist Elected to International Board

Michael SpiveyProfessor Michael J. Spivey has been elected to the Cognitive Science Society Governing Board. Spivey, who served as the Cognitive Science Program director at Cornell University before joining the UC Merced faculty in July 2008, will serve on the board until 2014. Created as a nonprofit professional organization in 1979, the society sponsors and annual conference, publishes the journal Cognitive Science, and promotes interdisciplinary research. Board members are nominated and voted on by their peers throughout the globe.

Spivey’s area of research expertise is the integration of linguistic and visual input.

Peek-a-Boo More Than Child’s Play for Researcher

Though not every child gets the same chance at a strong start in life, psychologist Jan Wallander believes every effort should be made to ensure children have the tools necessary to be the best they can be.

Wallander is a part of a collaborative effort to train mothers in developing countries to interact with babies born not breathing. Labeled “asphyxiated at birth,” these infants are at risk of a variety of developmental disorders such as brain damage, intellectual disability, cerebral palsy and neurological defects.

“Most of these infants will grow up just fine, but others will not,” Wallander said. “The goal of our initiative is to increase the numbers of those who develop normally.”


Grad Student Assists With Technology-Driven Coral Reef Research

Shinichi SunagawaAs scientists monitor the health of coral reefs around the world, graduate student Shinichi Sunagawa recently helped conduct research that involved an innovative piece of technology called the PhyloChip.

“The PhyloChip can help us distinguish different coral diseases based on the microbial community present,” according to Sunagawa, doctoral student in the School of Natural SciencesQuantitative and Systems Biology program. “This is important because we need to learn more about what’s killing coral reefs, which support the most diverse ecosystem in the oceans.”



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