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August 19, 2011


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Summer Fun Celebration
– Aug. 22

Help welcome UC Merced’s newest class of students to campus on Aug. 22. Cheer them on as they cross Scholars Lane Bridge and walk through the Beginnings sculpture to embark on their journey at UC Merced. Alumni are encouraged to wear their “Journey” T-shirts and share their UC Merced stories with our newest students. For more information, visit alumni.ucmerced.edu/summerfun.

First Alumni Association Board Named

Eleven alumni have been selected to represent UC Merced’s first Alumni Association Board. Visit alumni.ucmerced.edu/alumni-association-board to findout more about each member. UCMAA by-laws require 12 members for the board, so the current 11 will pick the final member at the first board meeting during homecoming festivities on Saturday, Oct. 22. If you’re interested in the position, email alumni@ucmerced.edu.

Alumni Highlight

Alumnus Pursuing Merced-Area Research Before Pursuing Medical Degree

Raman NazariRaman Nazari (’10) has completed his first year at Columbia University, his dream school, pursuing a Master of Public Health degree with a focus on epidemiology.

He’s staying connected to Merced, though, returning in Fall 2011 to fulfill thesis and practicum requirements for his MPH through the Alliance for Community Research and Development.

Stay Connected

Update Your Contact Info

We’d like to keep in touch with you. Update your contact information and let your friends know by posting the following on Facebook or Twitter:

I’m building the UC Merced Alumni Network! Update your contact information to do your part in building the network, too – (link to http://alumni.ucmerced.edu/alumni/update-contact-information).

You’re on it; we’re on it. Let’s connect on it. You’ll learn the latest information about UC Merced and your fellow alumni.


Impact: Sustainable Students Making a Difference
Impact video
View on YouTube


Go to events.ucmerced.edu to find out what’s happening on campus now.


Energy Speaker Series

MTS Lecture Series

Psychological Sciences Talk Series

Athletics Kick-Off Tailgate
– Sept. 24

UC Merced Athletics will host a Kick-Off Tailgate at 4 p.m. Sept. 24 before the Women’s Volleyball home game against California State University, San Marcos starting at 5 p.m. The event is open to the public. Tickets: $30 for game and tailgate; $25 for tailgate only. For information: Marnee Chua, 209-228-4132.

University Friends Circle
– Oct. 4

The University Friends Circle (UFC) will meet from 11:30 a.m. to 1 p.m. Oct. 4 in the California Room on campus. Chancellor Dorothy Leland will give a campus update and Vice Chancellor for Student Affairs Jane Lawrence will talk about the latest news in her area, including Career Services.

The cost, including lunch, is $20. For information on joining the UFC or to RSVP, email ufc@ucmerced.edu or call 209-756-0590.

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 community.

Renowned Singing Group to Perform on Campus – Oct. 8

The Whiffenpoofs of Yale University, the oldest and best known a cappella group in the United States, will perform at 7:30 p.m. Saturday, Oct. 8, in the Dr. Lakireddy Auditorium.

Tickets can be purchased at art.ucmerced.edu/whiffenpoofs. They cost $20 for general admission, $15 for UC Merced faculty and staff (with a valid ID) and $10 for UC Merced students (with a valid ID) and children under 12.

The group consists of 14 of the best male singers from Yale University's senior class. They most recently appeared on television in Sing Off, as well as Saturday Night Live, The West Wing, The Today Show and 60 Minutes.

The show is sponsored by Arts UC Merced Presents.

15th Annual Ma Kelley Memorial Shoot-Out – Oct. 21

Enjoy a friendly game of golf on one of California’s top-ranked courses, Stevinson Ranch, while supporting UC Merced Athletics. Proceeds from the Ma Kelley Memorial Shoot-Out golf tournament have netted more than $100,000 for the UC Merced Athletics program since 2005 and have awarded three students with the Ma Kelley Female Athlete of the Year title.

The Ma Kelley Memorial Shoot-Out golf tournament and dinner are the only annual fundraisers that support UC Merced’s Athletics program. This year, the fundraisers are critical in UC Merced’s inaugural season of competition in the National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics’ California Pacific Conference.

The “Building Future Champions” celebration dinner will be Oct. 20 at the home of Kevin and Cindy Kelley, and golfers and non-golfers alike are encouraged to buy their tickets early. Tickets are $50 each and will include a special guest appearance.

Golf entry deadline is Oct. 14. For information, including registration and sponsorships, visit recreation.ucmerced.edu/Ma_Kelley_Golf, or contact Marnee Chua at 209-228-4132.


Total amount of awards in July:

Total amount of awards from July 1, 2010 to July 31, 2011:




UC Merced Begins New Year with More Than 5,000 Students


On Aug. 25, UC Merced will begin its seventh year of instruction.


With student enrollment expected to top the 5,000 mark this fall, faculty research projects winning major grants and making national headlines, and intercollegiate athletics about to begin, UC Merced officially begins its seventh academic year Aug. 25.

“We’ve definitely turned an important corner in our development,” said Chancellor Dorothy Leland, who succeeded Steve Kang as UC Merced’s top administrative officer on July 1. “After many years dedicated to building a strong foundation, attracting great people and putting excellent academic and research programs in place, our young campus is rapidly emerging as a significant force for change at a critical time in California history.”

Destiny Montellano, a sociology major from Los Angeles, agrees.

“More people are coming to UC Merced, and its prestige will grow as well,” she said. “It’s definitely beautiful, with a lot of nature at your fingertips.”

Medical Education Program Serves San Joaquin Valley

Medical Education students
View the Video

Five students were selected to be part of the UC Merced San Joaquin Valley Program in Medical Education.

Five students have become medical pioneers by being accepted into the inaugural cohort of the UC Merced San Joaquin Program in Medical Education.

The five students participated this summer in a weeklong orientation session in the San Joaquin Valley.

UC Merced and UC Davis announced in late 2010 a partnership to begin educating medical students in the Valley. A gift to UC Merced from the United Health Foundation in 2006 is helping to fund the new program.

The students accepted into the program are:

Sidra Ayub, of Modesto, graduated from UC Davis

Kelly Fujikawa, of Fowler, graduated from UC Berkeley

Agustin Morales, of Salinas, graduated from UC Santa Cruz

Randell Rueda, of Fresno, graduated from UC Merced

Christina Thabit, of Bakersfield, graduated from CSU Long Beach

"The San Joaquin Valley-PRIME represents the University of California's efforts to expand medical education and train physicians who will care for residents in underserved parts of the state, including our Valley,” Chancellor Dorothy Leland said. “In addition, it is one component of UC Merced's multifaceted approach to researching and addressing complex human health issues."

Climate Change to Increase Yellowstone Wildfires

An increase in wildfires due to climate change could rapidly and profoundly alter the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem, according to a new study authored by UC Merced Professor Anthony Westerling.

The study by Westerling and his colleagues — which will be published online this week in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences — suggests that the expected rising temperatures caused by climate change could increase the frequency of large wildfires in Yellowstone to an unprecedented level.

The projected increase in fires would likely cause a major shift in the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem, with fewer dense forests and more open woodland, grass and shrub vegetation. The change could happen by 2050, Westerling posits, with forests becoming younger, the mix of tree species changing and some forests failing to regenerate after repeated fires. This would affect the region’s wildlife, hydrology, carbon storage and aesthetics.

“What surprised us about our results was the speed and scale of the projected changes in fire in Greater Yellowstone,” Westerling said. “We expected fire to increase with increased temperatures, but we did not expect it to increase so much or so quickly. We were also surprised by how consistent the changes were across different climate projections.”
[Read more.]

Golden Bobcats Hire First Varsity Coaches

John Sykes

John Sykes

Allen McCreary

Allen McCreary

Spencer Castro

Spencer Castro


UC Merced has hired John Sykes as men's basketball coach, Allen McCreary as women's volleyball coach and Spencer Castro as cross-country coach. They are the first coaching hires for the budding sports program, which will join the National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics this season.

All three have local ties. Sykes is a Merced native who played basketball at Merced High School and coached the Golden Bobcats' club team the past two years, while McCreary is originally from Atwater and is a former assistant coach at Merced College and head coach at Hughson High. Castro was born and raised in the Yosemite foothills northeast of Merced and was a star athlete at Sonora High School before running track and earning a bachelor’s degree at Stanford.
[Read more on Sykes and McCreary.]
[Read more on Castro.]
[More information on game schedules, players and more.]


Cap-and-Trade Trumps Carbon Taxes

A cap-and-trade system is more likely than a carbon tax system to trigger the adoption of clean energy technologies, according to a study by UC Merced Professor Yihsu Chen. The study also found that the volatile pricing of a cap-and-trade system could lead to earlier adoption of clean technology by firms looking to hedge against carbon cost risks.

The study used economic models based on a framework of real options to determine the optimal timing for a coal-burning firm to introduce clean technologies using the two most commonly considered policies — cap-and-trade, in which carbon emissions are capped and low-emission firms can sell excess permits to high-emission firms; and carbon taxes, which employ a fixed monetary penalty for per-unit carbon emissions.

“To our knowledge, there has been no formal study based on real options that compares the investment timing of these two instruments,” Chen said. “In our view, cap-and-trade offers ‘carrots’ while taxes offer ‘sticks.’ Cap-and-trade induces firms to explore profit opportunities, while taxes simply impose penalties to turn clean technology into a less costly option.”
[Read more.]

Study Shows Urban Rail Reduces Carbon Monoxide Air Pollution

Two UC Merced professors found that Taiwan saw a meaningful reduction in air pollution after an urban rail system opened in 1996.

"Despite the importance of the transportation sector for air pollution, little work has examined the air pollution effects of transportation infrastructure directly," Professors Alexander Whalley and Yihsu Chen wrote in the paper. "This paper seeks to fill the gap by examining the effects of one major type of transportation infrastructure — urban rail transit — on air quality."

Researchers have disagreed about whether investment in urban rail infrastructure would improve air quality by taking cars off the road or harm it by encouraging more travel. The UC Merced study, "Green Infrastructure: The Effects of Urban Rail Transit on Air Quality," helps to answer that question. It has been accepted for publication in the "American Economic Journal: Economic Policy."

Whalley is an economist in the School of Social Sciences, Humanities and Arts (SSHA). Chen is an environmental and energy economics professor with a dual appointment in SSHA and in the School of Engineering. The research is an example of UC Merced faculty members taking an interdisciplinary approach to creating new knowledge.


Engineering Service Learning Links Students with Community

More than 500 students took part in a lesson by UC Merced's EPICS Team Get S.E.T.


Mix up a few buckets of goo, and what do you have?

A messy and fun science lesson for local schoolchildren — courtesy of UC Merced students who help the community through an innovative engineering service learning program.

The UC Merced students who offer the gooey “Oobleck” lesson are part of Team Get S.E.T. (Science, Engineering and Technology), one of several groups working with nonprofit organizations through the Engineering Projects in Community Service (EPICS) academic program.

Oobleck is a concoction of water and cornstarch named for the green sticky goo in the Dr. Seuss book “Bartholomew and the Oobleck.”

“The service learning program at UC Merced connects student partners with the local and regional organizations that need our enthusiasm and engineering expertise,” said E. Daniel Hirleman, dean of the School of Engineering. “And our students benefit as much as the clients.

They have a chance to learn a lot about education, engineering and how their chosen profession is one that helps people.”
[Read more.]



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