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April 17, 2009


“Transitions: Portraits of UC Merced Founding Students”

Transitions portrait by Roger J. Wyan

An exhibition of photography by Roger J. Wyan will be on display at the Leo & Dottie Kolligian Library through June 18. The exhibition is free and open to the public. For more information: Roger Wyan at (209) 383-0171.

Distinguished Cognitive Scientist Discusses Body's Role in Intelligence – April 21

UC Merced’s Spring 2009 Distinguished Cognitive Scientist is Linda B. Smith of Indiana University. Smith, who is known as a pioneer in the area of dynamic systems and cognitive development, will deliver a public lecture, “Could We be Smart if We Did Not Have a Body?” at 6 p.m. April 21 in the California Room. The event will be preceded by a brief reception at 5:30 p.m. in the same room. Funded by a gift from the Glushko-Samuelson Foundation, the Distinguished Cognitive Scientist Award is bestowed upon a respected researcher in the field twice a year.

For information: Teenie Matlock or Michael Spivey.

University Friends Circle Lunch – April 22

“Student Life at UC Merced”
Members of the University Friends Circle (UFC) will meet at 11:30 a.m. April 22 at the Merced Multicultural Arts Center. 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: Special Events. (209) 228-7787. The cost is $15, including lunch.

MTS Lecture Series – April 23

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:
April 23 - Craig McKenzie, UC San Diego
April 30 - Stephen Nicholson, UC Merced

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

Arts UC Merced Presents Showcases Students, Staff and Families

Chanita Intawan's artworkApril is busy for Arts UC Merced Presents. On April 18, the annual Bobcat Family Art Show will kick off in the Leo & Dottie Kolligian Library. The exhibition, which runs until May 15, features works of art by UC Merced students, staff, faculty and their family members.

Later in the month, students will be front and center at “Debut,” an evening performance of student art and entertainment. Held in the Dr. Lakireddy Auditorium on April 23, the event will begin at 7 p.m. and be followed by a brief reception. The event is free to UC Merced students with ID; general admission is $8. For more information: Gail Benedict. (209) 228-4566.

UC Merced Hosts African Black Coalition Conference May 1-3

UC Merced will host the Sixth Annual African Black Coalition (ABC) Conference from May 1 through -3. More than 550 students from nine University of California campuses are expected to attend the event. Featured activities include a high school outreach day, guest speakers and workshops. The conference kicks off at 8 a.m., Friday, May 1. The ABC’s goal is to address social and academic issues facing students of color at UC campuses. For more information: Shavon English, (209) 228-4258.

Frontiers Lecture Series – May 16

UC Merced adjunct physics professor Wil van Breugel will speak at the May 16 Frontiers of Science and Engineering Lecture Series. Van Breugel’s talk, “Astrobiology: What is Life and Where is It,” starts at 10 a.m. at the Castle Challenger Center auditorium, 3460 Challenger Way, Atwater. The lecture is free and open to the public.


As we gear up to Commencement on May 16, when UC Merced’s first full class of seniors will graduate, the Office of Communications is highlighting members of the Class of 2009 on the event’s Web site. Check the site often for more student profiles, in addition to other event-related updates.

Injury Leads Student to Pursue True Calling

Erik OlstadErik Olstad was a political science major attending school in Fresno when he had an accident that changed his life.

While snowboarding in 2004, he fell and seriously injured his back. The accident left him with compressed vertebrae and bedridden for three weeks. When he was finally able to walk, traveling even a few feet was painful and exhausting.

He moved back home to Merced so his parents could help during his recovery. Unable to drive, needed his father to shuttle him back and forth from Merced to Fresno three times a week so he could attend classes.

The experience, he said, prompted him to do some soul-searching.

He took to heart advice he’d heard time and again: Do what you love. When he thought about what he loved, the answer came quickly: Working with animals. That epiphany started a chain of events, which included applying to UC Merced.


UC Alumni Spring Reception – April 21

Chancellor Steve Kang is delighted to welcome all UC alumni to the San Joaquin Valley UC Alumni Network Spring Reception on Tuesday, April 21 at 5:30 p.m. Tickets are $25 and proceeds will benefit the Class of 2009 Class Gift. If you’d like to learn more about SJV UC Alumni Network events, please complete a contact form. To purchase tickets

Class of 2009 Gift: Leave a Legacy, Build an Amphitheater

As its gift to the university, the Class of 2009 wants to build an amphitheater. The 55,000-square-foot Little Lake Park Amphitheater is envisioned to accommodate up to 1,500 people in an open-access setting for both academic and social events. Members of the community are asked to make a contribution by purchasing an engraved brick that is planned to be installed in a walkway or pavilion at the entrance to the park. The class must raise $50,000 by May 1 in order to move forward with the project. Support the 2009 graduating class by designating your gift to this tremendous endeavor.

The UC Merced Alumni Association will unveil the Class of 2007 gift to the university – a bronze statue of the Golden Bobcat mascot – at Bobcat Day on April 18 at 11:30 a.m. Please join us for this festive occasion!

As UC Merced prepares for its fourth commencement ceremony, we would like to congratulate the graduates of the class of 2006, 2007 and 2008 on celebrating their anniversaries, respectively, as members of the UC Merced Alumni Association. Go Bobcats!

For more information: Alumni Affairs Coordinator Stefani Martinez Madril at (209) 228-ALUM.


Total amount of proposals in March:

Total amount of awards in March:

Total amount of awards from July 1, 2008 to March 31, 2009:



First Lady Thrusts UC Merced into National Headlines

First Lady Michelle ObamaThe White House announcement that First Lady Michelle Obama had accepted the UC Merced Class of 2009’s invitation to speak at Commencement on May 16 has made headlines throughout the nation.

UC Merced students actively sought out the First Lady as commencement speaker by writing letters to Mrs. Obama, her office, and her friends and family.

“This is a coup for UC Merced’s first full graduating class,” said senior Yaasha Sabba, who is also president of the Associated Students of UC Merced. “Mrs. Obama has validated the efforts and ambitions of our student body.”

About 500 students from the Class of 2009 are expected to participate in Commencement. Tickets will be required to attend Commencement, with priority given to graduates and their families.

To date, UC Merced is the only university commencement where Mrs. Obama will speak.

UC Merced Brings Stem Cell Instrumentation Foundry to Campus

Science & Engineering BuildingUniversity officials have relocated the Stem Cell Instrumentation Foundry, funded by the California Institute for Regenerative Medicine (CIRM), to the Science & Engineering Building on campus. The facility, anticipated to cost about $7.5 million, will be supported with $4.36 million from CIRM through its Major Facilities Grant program.

UC Merced Executive Vice Chancellor and Provost Keith Alley said that the change in project location results in a superior facility relative to the original proposal. The facility’s original proposed location was the university’s Castle facility in Atwater. The new location places the foundry in close proximity to research laboratories of stem cell faculty, leverages resources on campus and facilitates access of students for instructional laboratories.

With the new plan approved, construction is expected to begin this fall with the facility ready for research and instruction in October 2010.


Natural Sciences Professor Receives Stem Cell Research Grant

Michael ClearyWhen using a stem cell to create a new cell, scientists need to know how the original cell behaves in its normal environment. That, in turn, helps researchers determine how closely the new cell matches the original it was meant to replace.

The challenge: to examine cell behavior or gene expression, scientists need to isolate the specific cell they want to study. Cell isolation, however, is extremely difficult to do with the current tools available and can produce skewed data.

UC Merced School of Natural Sciences professor Michael Cleary hopes to change that. He received a $483,000 grant from the California Institute for Regenerative Medicine to develop a research method known as RNA Analysis by Biosynthetic Tagging RABT).Enhancing RABT as a research tool can help other stem cell researchers "more effectively define the types of stem cells they are working with, the type of cells they want to make and how effectively they can generate specific cell types," Cleary said.

Art Historian Receives Fifth Annual Frost Essay Award

ShiPu Wang, assistant professor in UC Merced's School of Social Sciences, Humanities and Arts, has received the 2008 Patricia and Phillip Frost Essay Award for his article, “Japan against Japan: U.S. Propaganda and Yasuo Kuniyoshi’s Identity Crisis.”

The award was bestowed upon Wang by the editorial board of American Art, the Smithsonian American Art Museum’s scholarly journal, which published his article in its Spring 2008 issue.

According to the Smithsonian, the Frost Award recognizes excellent scholarship in the field of American art history by honoring an essay that advances the understanding of the history of the arts in America and demonstrates original research and fresh ideas.


Research Week 2009 Poster Winners Announced

Poster competitionUC Merced celebrated Research Week on campus the first week of April. Winners of the annual student poster competition were announced as the week drew to a close. Leily Kiani won first place in the undergraduate competition for “Dispersive Broadening of Ultrafast Optical Pulses from a Femtosecond Laser.” Justin Matthews won first place in the graduate competition for “Effects of Facial Prominence on Predicted Job Performance: A Gender Disparity in Predicted Negative Behavior.” A list of all winners can be found here.


Polsby Family Donates 7,000 Books to UC Merced Library

UC Merced students and faculty have the family of Nelson W. Polsby to thank for a recent infusion of books on politics at the Leo and Dottie Kolligian Library.

Linda Polsby, wife of the late political scientist, and their daughter, Emily, donated his entire book collection to the library last spring.


Bobcats Hosts Big, Bad Wolf and Friends

Little Red Riding Hood opera

Last month, a generous donation from Niki and Kurtis Upton gave 3,000 local elementary school pupils their first chance to see live opera.

"Little Red Riding Hood" Opera in the Schools, a collaboration between UC Merced and the Merced County Office of Education, was created to give kindergartners through third-graders a taste of the magic, majesty and humor of opera. The 45-minute mini-opera by Seymour Barab, starred Jenni Samuelson, Curtis Nelson and Heidi Waterman in a adaptation of the fairy tale classic in which the scary wolf is transformed into a comic character and taught important lessons about life.

The fun and colorful set filled the Dr. Lakireddy Auditorium stage, which was loaned by the university for the week of performances.

The score, performed by Patrice Stribling-Nelson on the campus’ new Steinway baby grand, was written with children in mind and was entertaining enough to keep event the youngest audience members enthralled.

Samuelson, a Merced native who coordinated the effort, knows the opera well as a performer and director with the Cinnabar Opera's outreach program in the Bay Area.

"I have seen first-hand how positively children respond to this vibrant art form, Samuelson said. “It is a delight for me to be part of a similar program in my own hometown."


The UC Merced Foundation Board of Trustees will meet on campus June 9 through 10. Trustees and diplomats are invited to attend a special dinner on June 9 followed by morning meetings on June 10.

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


Award-Winning Science Fiction Author to Speak – April 30

Chancellor Kang with Chancellor's Associates membersChancellor's Associates members are invited to attend the Chancellor's Associates Spring Reception on Thursday, April 30 at 6 p.m. 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.

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


It’s with deep appreciation and gratitude that we extend the membership of renewing Chancellor’s Associates donors to Todd and Carrie Bender; Shivarama and Meenakshi Bhat; Pericles and Jana Cezar; Geoffrey and Josephine Fox; Thomas Grave and Kara Middlebrooks; Alan and Georgina Hoffman; Christopher and Stefani Madril; John and Ellen Price; Marilynn Shannon; James and Andrea Sofranek; Donald Stewart Jr. and Kelly Pirtle; and Donald and Betty Stewart. We graciously welcome new members Scott and Maria Smith, Robert Stewart and Armando Quintero.

Chancellor's Associates are a diverse group sharing a common dedication to UC Merced. Chancellor’s Associate members are invited to take part in many exciting events happening on campus. For information on joining the Chancellor’s Associates, contact Terisa Rose at (209) 228-4109.

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