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Welcome to this edition of UC Merced Update, providing you with an inside look at recent campus news and developments.


February 15, 2008



Be An Advocate-UC Day March 4

UC Day logo, UC goes green

Join University of California alumni and friends at UC Day 2008 at the state capitol on Tuesday, March 4. The festivities will begin on Monday, March 3 with a special dinner in Sacramento for UC Merced alumni, friends and legislative staff.

UC Day provides an opportunity for alumni, friends and campus leaders from all ten UC campuses to come together each year to discuss the university's priorities with state legislators. This year’s theme is “UC Goes Green.”  No previous advocacy experience is needed.

For a list of the day’s events or if you are interested in being an advocate at UC Day, please contact Shannon Blackwood at (209) 228-4401.



Visitor Center to Welcome Campus Guests

Visitors Center

The brand-new Visitor Center offers prospective students, their families and other guests a one-stop source for information about UC Merced and the surrounding community.


UC Merced has opened its Visitor Center on Scholars Lane, between the California Room and the Yablokoff-Wallace Dining Center.

The Visitor Center will serve as a one-stop source of information for campus visitors as they enter the university. It will contain a plethora of information about UC Merced and the surrounding community and will serve as a spring-board for campus tours led by UC Merced undergraduate students that highlight the campus and campus life.

The center is an important addition to the campus, because it offers prospective students, their families and other guests a centralized location – close to visitor parking – that is well-marked and easy to identify.

The Visitor Center will host bi-weekly workshops for students interested in transferring to UC Merced, which will provide presentations customized to their specific needs. The center also offers guests greater accessibility to staff for personal question-and-answer sessions.

UC Merced Receives Record Number of Applicants for Fall 2008 Semester

More than 10,000 students have applied to UC Merced for fall 2008 admission. The number of applications is 15.4 percent higher than last year’s. With a 13.2 percent increase over last year, the campus has the fourth-largest gain in the UC system in freshman applications. Transfer applications increased by almost 37.7 percent.

As of Jan. 28, UC Merced had received double the number of applications from prospective graduate students compared to last year. More than 290 students applied for graduate-level admission, 162 of whom were international applicants. As of this time last year, the campus had received 120 graduate applications.

Research Grants, Donation Dollars Flowing to Support UC Merced

Faculty researchers at UC Merced have been awarded nearly $8.4 million in research grants and awards during the first half of the 2007-08 fiscal year, the largest six-month total since the university began research operations in 2003. Last year's full-year total was $12.2 million.

"Rapid growth in the value of faculty research grants is a direct reflection of the quality of UC Merced's growing faculty and the importance of the work they are doing," said Samuel Traina, acting vice chancellor for research and dean of graduate studies.  "Global competition for scarce research dollars is very intense.  We are extremely pleased that our faculty is developing the kind of proposals that society values and wants to support." 

Additionally, fundraising is up by 82 percent in the first six months of the 2007-08 fiscal year. From July 1 through Dec. 31, 2007, UC Merced and the UC Merced Foundation received $6.7 million in gifts and grants from private sources, compared with $3.7 million during the same period a year earlier.

The number of gifts has also increased with 779 individuals, corporations and foundations contributing to support a wide range of activities, from academic priorities to scholarships, compared to 606 this time last year.

"Our sincere thanks go to our generous donors who understand the importance of making gifts toward education and continue to support this university in unprecedented ways," said Chancellor Steve Kang. "As we are faced with limited, even reduced, state funding, it is increasingly important that we continue to attract private gifts and grants to support scholarships, research, programs and facilities."



New Grant for Physicist Will Allow Deeper Understanding of Nature’s Chaos

Kevin Mitchell



A UC Merced physicist has new funding from the National Science Foundation to help deepen our understanding of the complicated patterns of nature. Professor Kevin Mitchell's CAREER Award – a prestigious grant for young researchers – will support his work on chaos with a total of $400,000 over the next five years.

Mitchell’s project, “Chaotic Transport: From Fundamental Theory to Applications in Atomic Physics,” proposes using mathematical, theoretical and computer tools to examine how those extremely complex patterns might manifest in three systems.

“Chaos is actually sort of a misleading term for what we study, because it makes people think it’s impossible to understand,” Mitchell said. “Actually there’s lots of structure in chaotic systems, beautiful structure. We just need to use the right tools to understand it.”

“This project really spans the range of my interests,” Mitchell said. “It makes the links between mathematical physics and fundamental mathematical theory to applications in experimental systems.”

He said it’s gratifying for a theoretical physicist like himself to see those connections.

His proposal to NSF also included an educational component – a requirement from the CAREER program that encourages scientists to ensure that their work serves the public as well as the academic community. Mitchell plans an outreach program leveraging UC Merced’s K-12 education contacts through California Teach and the Science and Math Initiative as well as his relationship with the Higher Education Consortium of Central California.

“We’ll coordinate visits by grad students, professional physicists, and faculty like me to high school classrooms, sharing with students in the Central Valley that physics is not just something you have to get through in high school -  it’s a field with career potential, something that real people do,” he said.

He also hopes to bring groups of students to visit UC Merced for events like Research Week, coming up in early March this year.

“My goal is to widen the pipeline for Valley students coming to UC Merced,” he said. “I hope that personal contact makes the difference to encourage them to pursue a career in science.”



Valley Native Making Her Mark in Stem Cell Engineering

Alicia Blancas

Bio-engineering Ph.D. student Alicia Blancas hopes her work with stem cells will change the way heart surgery is done.


When you think of a young woman who’s spent most of her life in the San Joaquin Valley, you might not picture a Ph.D. bioengineer.

Fresno native Alicia Blancas is bound to change that.

Blancas chose to study biology because she was inspired by an Advanced Placement teacher at Edison High School. A California State University, Fresno, grad, she arrived at UC Merced in time for its 2005 grand opening to pursue a Ph.D. with Professor Kara McCloskey.

Last spring, she won a fellowship from the National Institutes of Health underwriting her research on ways to induce embryonic stem cells to become endothelial cells – the types of cells that line our blood vessels. If she’s successful, her research could contribute to transplant technologies that don’t require harvesting grafts from other parts of the body for bypass surgeries, as doctors do now. [more]



UC Alumna Creates Endowment To Benefit UC Merced Students

Beverlee Sieghold Antoine with family and Mia Kang

Legacy donor Beverlee Sieghold Antoine with her family and Mia Kang.


As a UC alumna and former Los Banos High School teacher, Beverlee Sieghold Antoine knows the importance of a quality education first-hand. Antoine has chosen to leave a legacy at UC Merced with a donation of $100,000 to establish the Beverlee Sieghold Antoine Scholarship Endowment Fund.

“I chose to establish a scholarship at UC Merced that will benefit the young men and women of the San Joaquin Valley,” Antoine said. “It is an honor for me to be a part of this exciting new campus.”

Antoine, who was born and raised in Berkeley, graduated from high school at the age of 15 and attended college with a $1,000 gift from her father supplemented by a part-time job at the campus book store. She graduated from UC Berkeley with a teaching credential in 1935 and began her career teaching underprivileged adults how to read and write.

She later moved to Los Banos and taught high school English and drama for several.

After living in the San Joaquin Valley for more than 70 years, Antoine felt inspired to demonstrate her fondness for the area and her strong belief in education with a gift to support UC Merced students.

“As a graduate of Cal and a former Los Banos teacher, I have had a lifelong passion for education,” Antoine said.

The fund will provide low-income students with the opportunity to achieve their education goals through scholarships awarded annually to two undergraduate students in the School of Social Sciences, Humanities and Arts.

“Need-based scholarships are vitally important to continue to attract high-achieving students who might not otherwise be able to afford to attend UC Merced,” said John Garamendi Jr., vice chancellor for university relations. “Beverlee’s extremely generous gift will empower the university to further support our students.”

Donor Gives Campus Radio Station a Boost

UC Merced may be one step closer to having a student-run radio station on campus, thanks to a donation from the Jane and Marc Nathanson Family Foundation.

The $6,000 gift gave UC Merced the seed funding needed to submit a non-commercial FM station license application with the Federal Communications Commission in October. The Nathanson Family Foundation’s contribution helped to cover the professional fees associated with preparing the FCC application.

“The FCC will only award one license in the Merced region, so the selection process will be highly competitive,” said Christian Ayeni, vice president and co-founder of the campus Radio Club and junior at UC Merced. “To have the chance of being awarded the sole license, we needed professional assistance in preparing the application. We are thankful for this generous gift.”

The Nathanson family has a deep history in broadcasting. Don Paul Nathanson first published Radio Showmanship Magazine in 1940 and bought his first radio station in Wyoming in 1952.

His son, Marc Nathanson, founded Falcon Communications, the nation’s 10th largest cable television operator, at the age of 28. In 1999, he sold the company to Charter Communications and remains vice chairman of the company's board. He is also chairman of Mapleton Investments, LLC, Mapleton Capital Management and Mapleton Communications.

Marc’s son, Adam, is the founder and president of Mapleton Communications. That company operates 40 radio stations in small and midsized markets across the Western United States, including Radio Merced’s five stations.

Ayeni said the Nathanson family and Radio Merced have been very supportive of UC Merced and its goal to start a radio station.

“We believe in radio and training young men and women in this field. An FM station at UC Merced is a great way to accomplish this goal,” stated Adam Nathanson.

Ayeni anticipates receiving a decision about the campus radio station’s licensing later this year. In the meantime, the Radio Club and service learning class continue to concentrate on what is needed to get the station up and running.



New Trustee on UC Merced Foundation Board

The UC Merced Foundation Board of Trustees is pleased to welcome Greg S. Pruett as its newest member. Pruett has nearly 27 years of experience in communications and public affairs. As senior vice president of corporate relations for PG&E Corp., he manages all communications efforts for the corporation and its primary subsidiary, Pacific Gas and Electric Co. Before joining PG&E, Pruett was vice president of communications and marketing for the American Gas Association.



Save the Date: Chancellor's Associates Spring Reception May 1

Chancellor’s Associates members, please plan to attend the Chancellor's Associates Spring Reception Thursday, May 1, at the Chancellor’s residence. Don’t miss an opportunity to network with fellow Chancellor’s Associates members, Chancellor and Mia Kang and UC Merced staff.  More information will be mailed out in the next few weeks.


Our appreciation is extended to our renewing Chancellor’s Associates donors Nancy Goodban and Kenji Hakuta and first time donors Geoff and Josie Fox, Huey and Jim Lee and Nancy Deavours.

A special thank you to all our Chancellor's Associates donors who, through your annual contributions and participation, have made the campus' premier donor group such a great success. Joining the Chancellor's Associates is your opportunity to demonstrate the commitment that you have to UC Merced and its mission of academic and research excellence. Your involvement makes a personal impact on the future of our community. Please consider becoming a Chancellor's Associate donor by making your gift today.

For more information on becoming a Chancellor's Associates member, please contact Victor Mitre, director of annual giving programs, at (209) 228-4297. 



Lunar New Year Festival Feb. 23

Lunar celebration dance



The Chinese Student Association and the Vietnamese Student Association are planning UC Merced’s second annual Lunar New Year festival for Saturday, Feb. 23. This all-day event in the Dining Center quad will welcome students, faculty, staff, families and the community to campus for a celebration of Asian cultures in recognition of the actual Lunar New Year, which occurs Feb. 7.

Research Week Speaker, Poster Contest in Early March

UC Merced Research Week logo

UC Merced’s second annual research celebration will be held March 4-6.

A pillar of the Research Week tradition will be a competition for student research posters, with cash prizes for the best graduate and undergraduate research posters. The poster forum begins at 10 a.m., Tuesday, March 4, in the Joseph Edward Gallo Recreation and Wellness Center gymnasium.

In the other founding event of research week, Vital and Alice Pellissier Family Distinguished Speaker Series will bring its second guest to campus Wednesday, March 6. Leonard A. Herzenberg, immunologist and geneticist at Stanford University, invented the fluorescence-activated cell sorter (FACS) which revolutionized the study of cancer cells and is the basis for purification of adult stem cells. Professor Herzenberg’s public lecture will begin at 7 p.m. in the Dr. Lakireddy Auditorium, following a reception at 6 p.m. on the main floor of the Kolligian Library. RSVP to specialevents@ucmerced.edu.

For more information, visit the Research Week site or contact the Office of Research at (209) 228-4429.

Library Hosts ‘liberARTE’ exhibit

Chicano poster

LiberARTE, an exhibit of Chicano activist posters and artwork by Xico González, will be on display through March 7 on the fourth floor of the Leo and Dottie Kolligian Library at UC Merced.

González exhibited works were produced between 2005 and 2007 while he was a candidate in the Master of Fine Arts program at UC Davis. González was on campus early in February, when he facilitated a workshop on the subject of activist art as part of the National Association of Chicana & Chicano Studies Regional Foco Conference.

The exhibition is open to the public during the library’s normal business hours, which are from 8 a.m. to midnight Monday through Thursday; 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. Friday; noon to 6 p.m. Saturday and noon to midnight Sunday.

For more information, contact Professor Robin DeLugan, exhibition sponsor.


Other events:

Feb. 18: President’s Holiday (UC Merced closed)



• Total amount of proposals this month: $13,952,365
• Total amount of awards this month:  $287,194
• Total amount of awards from July 1, 2007 to January 31, 2008: $8,368,983


Contact Us

We want to hear from you. Do you have a question or comment about your UC Merced Update? Is there a campus-related topic or issue you’d like us to address? Or would you like to unsubscribe? Please contact Brenda Ortiz by e-mail bortiz@ucmerced.edu or call (209) 228-4203 with your questions, feedback and requests.

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