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March 25, 2010


News Blog


Alumni Affairs Welcomes New Student Trustees

The UC Merced Office of Alumni Affairs is proud to welcome the newest Collegiate Alumni Foundation (CAF) student trustees.

Alumni Association on Facebook

For all the latest UC Merced news and to reconnect with fellow UC Merced Alumni, join the UC Merced Alumni Association Facebook Fan Page.


To find out what’s happening on the UC Merced campus, visit events.ucmerced.edu.

Psychological Sciences Talk Series – March 31

An eclectic talk series designed to bring in a variety of approaches and research topics of interest to psychological sciences. Talks begin at noon.

March 31 – Kristin Lagattuta, UC Davis, Willow Room (COB 322)

April 7 – Barbara Rogoff, UC Santa Cruz, COB 263

April 14 – Amanda Adams, CSU, Fresno, Willow Room (COB 322)

For information, contact Kristi Imberi-Olivares.

MTS Lecture Series – April 1

The Mind, Technology, and Society welcomes Stanford University electrical engineering Professor Bernard Widrow, who will speak April 1. Sponsored by the Glushko-Samuelson Foundation, the talks are free and open to students, staff, faculty and the general public. The lectures take place at 4 p.m.in KL 232.

April 8 – Wayne Wright, UC Irvine, logic and philosophy of science

April 15 – Mark Johnson, University of Oregon, philosophy professor and Institute of Cognitive and Decision Sciences

For information: jyoshimi@ucmerced.edu or visit cogsci.ucmerced.edu.

University Friends Circle Lunch – April 6

Members of the University Friends Circle (UFC) will meet for its official business meeting 11:30 a.m. to 1 p.m. April 6 at the Merced Golf and Country Club, 6333 North Golf Road. This month’s highlight topic will be student programs and achievements.

The UFC provides a forum for UC Merced staff and faculty, and their families, to engage in open discussion and interact with members of the surrounding communities. The cost, including lunch, is $20. For information on joining the UFC or to RSVP: Christine Howe, (209) 228-4190.

Research Week — April 12 through 16

Research Week photoResearch Week, UC Merced’s annual celebration of student and faculty research, returns bigger and better than ever. The ever-popular Research Poster Competition will be April 13, as will the Vital and Alice Pellissier Distinguished Speaker Series. This year’s Pellissier speaker is Mark Aldenderfer, the new dean of the School of Social Sciences, Humanities and Arts. A new addition to Research Week this year is the third annual Sigma Xi Spring Symposium on April 15, traditionally held later in the semester. The symposium will focus on the topic of Global Change Science and Governance.

Center for Research in the Humanities and Arts – April 14

The Center for Research in the Humanities and Arts presents the Brown Bag Lunch Series. UC Merced philosophy professor Jeffrey Yoshimi will speak at noon April 14 in the Willow Room (COB 322) on "Phenomenology and Cognitive Science."

For more information or future event listings.

Science and Engineering Lecture Series – April 17

The spring semester program of the Frontiers of Science and Engineering lecture series will continue April 17 with a presentation by Professor Jay Sharping titled “Femtotechnology: One Million Times More Cool Than Nanotechnology.” Femtotechnology uses ultrashort laser pulses for applications in signal processing and biophotonics. The talk will be held at the Castle Challenger Learning Center, 3460 Challenger Way, in Atwater. The lectures begin at 10 a.m. and are free of charge and open to the public. The final lecture of the series will be given by David Ardell on genomics on May 15.

For more information, e-mail Professor Lin Tian.

Arts UC Merced Presents … Bobcat Family Art Show

The fourth annual UC Merced Bobcat Family Art Show runs through April 30. Paintings, sculptures, mixed media pieces, photographs and digital media art by UC Merced students, faculty, staff and their immediate families will be exhibited in the Kolligian Library.

For information, contact Gail Benedict at (209) 228-4566.


Total amount of awards in February:

Total amount of awards from July 1, 2009 to Feb. 28, 2010:



Stimulus Funds Laser Study of Earth’s Processes

Qinghua GuoQinghua Guo, a professor in the UC Merced School of Engineering, is heading up a project that will use airplanes equipped with lasers and high-tech GPS equipment to answer many pressing questions about our planet’s physical, chemical and biological processes and the ways in which they interact.

Most of the $935,457 grant from the National Science Foundation funding the project will go toward the contracting of flights that will use Light Detection and Ranging (LiDAR) technology on the NSF’s six Critical Zone Observatories (CZOs). Guo is leading the project with the help of fellow UC Merced professor Roger Bales, director of UC Merced’s Sierra Nevada Research Institute.

The Earth’s Critical Zone is the area that stretches vertically from the groundwater to the lowest layer of the atmosphere. Over the past three years, the NSF funded the formation of six CZOs across the United States – including one operated by UC Merced in the Southern Sierra Nevada – that would serve as natural laboratories where top scientists across several disciplines study the many processes that occur within the Critical Zone.

“The goal of the CZOs is to build a network to advance interdisciplinary studies of Earth surface processes and foster collaboration among scientists and engineers from different disciplines,” Guo said. “This LiDAR data will replace the existing data, which is incomplete, outdated and insufficient in resolution and scale.”

Guo’s project will provide scientists throughout the CZO system – and, eventually, the public at large – with remarkably detailed, three-dimensional images of the ground, vegetation and other layers that will help lead to greater understanding of erosion, weathering, soil formation, water movement and nutrient transport.

UC Advocates Gain Attention at Capital

Student rallyIn an attempt to draw attention to increasing fees and steep budget cuts, earlier this month UC advocates held protests throughout California at the various UC campuses, as well as at the State Capitol in Sacramento.

Students and alumni from all of the UC campuses held a rally at the steps of the Capitol and visited legislators during the UC Student Association's annual March 1 lobby day. The group’s goal was to bring attention to the effects of state budget cuts on campus communities and advocate for an increase in allocation of state funds to the university.

“We hope the rally and march had some impact,” said Juan Carmen, president of Associated Students of UC Merced. “It seemed there were some very important people in the Capitol that day. Our regional representatives understand the issues affecting the UC and how it's impacting the progress of UC Merced, but they seemed split on what they were going to do in terms of the budget and alternative sources for funding."

Find out more about UC's advocacy efforts at www.UC4CA.org.


Tiny Sustainability is Professor’s Focus

Jennifer LuEngineering professor Jennifer Lu is working on new technology that would use incomprehensibly small materials to convert natural and mechanical vibration into energy at a higher percentage than existing devices. Such technology could eventually pave the way for iPods that replenish their own energy while you walk and pacemakers that power themselves by way of a patient’s own beating heart.

With a team of five students and a recent grant from the Department of Defense’s Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA), Lu is working to create a three-dimensional piece of nanotechnology that would feature an array of nanoscale cantilevers, rather than the single rod used in so-called one-dimensional devices. That will allow it to convert energy at a much higher percentage.

“If you can harvest the thermal and mechanical energy generated by household appliances, acoustics, environmental vibration and muscle movement, that energy can be used to power any number of small devices,” Lu said. “Then you don’t need to use electricity anymore.”

In the pacemaker example, the beating of the heart would cause the tiny beams in the device to bend. The strain created by that bending would then be transformed into energy that could be stored and used to power the pacemaker.

Around 60 percent of the devices soldiers use run on batteries, Lu said. If those devices instead ran on their own power supply, the cost and inconvenience of using batteries could be eliminated. So could the cost of powering motion sensors, which could eventually create and store their own energy.


Alumni Volunteer to Promote Peace Abroad

AlumniTwo UC Merced alumni are pursuing what promises to be an adventure of a lifetime.

Jackie Shay and Socorro Composanto (2009) are the first UC Merced graduates to sign up for the Peace Corps. Their decision to help the world reflects the university’s commitment to instilling a sense of community service in its students.

While studying at UC Merced, Shay came across an informational workshop that was organized by the Career Services Center. She had been interested in the Peace Corps since childhood.

“It rekindled the flame,” Shay noted. “I remember thinking, ‘This does feel right for this time in my life.  This is definitely what I need to be doing.’”

Camposanto started thinking about the Peace Corps when she was 17 years old. She went to her first informational workshop at UC Merced when she was a freshman. Having never traveled outside the country before, it took her longer to decide whether to join.

Both women are good friends and graduates of the Class of 2009; Shay with a degree in biological sciences, and Camposanto with one in conservation biology.  Although they are pleased to start their 27-month journey in Morocco together, their different disciplines will take them in separate directions.

Shay will work within the rural health community program, while Camposanto’s role will be centered on environmental issues within the area.

“I am really excited about the Peace Corps,” Camposanto said. “I think it’s perfect for anyone who is curious about what’s out there in the world.”


Chancellor's Associates Spring Reception – April 29

Chancellor's Associates enjoy the annual spring reception at the Chancellor's residence.Chancellor's Associates are invited to attend the Chancellor's Associates Spring Reception April 29 at the Chancellor’s residence. It will provide an opportunity to network with the Chancellor and Mia Kang, fellow Chancellor’s Associates and hear from UC Merced students and faculty. We encourage you to bring a guest to this special event.

For information on joining the Chancellor’s Associates, contact Terisa Rose at (209) 228-4109.

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