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


September 13, 2006



Web Site

To better serve you, we have developed a protected Web site for the UC Merced Foundation Board of Trustees. The Web site contains all pertinent information regarding the Foundation including initial and final packet materials for Board meetings. As of the next meeting, only the Executive Committee will continue to receive a hard copy of the initial packet; all Board members will receive a hard copy of the final packet. Please visit the site at trustees.ucmerced.edu. Contact Mary Widger at (209) 228-4401 or via e-mail at: mwidger@ucmerced.edu for login information.

A Letter From John Garamendi

Dear UC Merced Foundation Trustees and Foundation Diplomats:
We look forward to seeing you at the next UC Merced Foundation Board of Trustees meeting, Wednesday, Oct. 11, at UC San Francisco – Mission Bay. We have an exciting day planned, including tours, meetings, a Foundation Diplomats activity and an evening VIP reception. We greatly encourage everyone to attend and bring their spouses.

Here are some important details:

Transportation and Lodging
For your convenience, round-trip transportation will be provided from Merced to the Mission Bay facility in San Francisco. Additionally, a small block of rooms has been reserved at the Hotel Diva for those who wish to stay overnight (special nightly rate is $169). Call (800) 553-1900 for a reservation, and mention UC Merced.

VIP Reception
In the tradition of inviting prominent corporate/foundation leaders to the VIP reception for an introduction to/continued stewardship with UC Merced, we again request your submittal of VIP names and contact information. If you have provided names in the past, we will draw from these unless otherwise requested. Please contact Special Events at 209-724-4416 or specialevents@ucmerced.edu with names.

Finally, please confirm your attendance for Oct. 11. You may return the pre-paid R.S.V.P. card enclosed in your initial packet, or call (209) 228-4416, or e-mail specialevents@ucmerced.edu. If you are unable to attend in person, you are encouraged to participate via teleconference as it counts as full attendance.

I look forward to seeing you on Oct. 11 in San Francisco!

John Garamendi
Vice Chancellor, University Relations



As part of the Oct. 11 Mission Bay meeting, Foundation Diplomats will meet informally for a no-host lunch in the “pub,” the Campus Café, from 11:15 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. Diplomats will tour Genentech Hall between 1 and 2 p.m., and the Diplomats business meeting will take place from 2-2:45 p.m. in the Fisher Banquet Room West, first floor. Diplomats are welcome to participate in development focus meetings from 3-4:15 p.m. Diplomats who do not wish to participate in the focus meetings may participate in a campus tour or shop in the campus bookstore. Diplomats are invited to observe the UC Merced Foundation Board Meeting at 4:30 p.m., and join the VIP reception at 6 p.m. For more information, please contact Patricia O’Connor at (209) 228-4461 or poconnor@ucmerced.edu.


Auditorium Dedication

The opening of classes signals the beginning of a new season of Chancellor’s Associates events. The first event will be the official dedication of the beautiful Dr. Lakireddy Auditorium on Oct. 14. Members of the Chancellor’s Associates will be invited as special guests to this gala event. Invitations will be mailed soon.


A special thank you to all our Chancellor’s Associates members who, through their donations and participation, have made the campus’s premiere support group such a great success.

We welcome back renewing members Anthony Allegretti; Jesse Brown and Kathleen Childress; Tim and Lisa Dylina; James and Lucile Edmonson; Richard and Alice Escola; John and Colleen Garamendi; Urla Garland; Bettylou George; Loren Gonella and Andra Greenwald; Alan and Georgina Hoffman; Michael and Betty Hoyt; Pope and Jane Lawrence; Dave and Christine Long; Michael and Marian Mason; Barry and Jeanne McAuley; Marge McAuley; Gail and Jack McCullough; Kara and Greg Parle; Thakor and Kalavati Patel; Richard Piper; Allen Rutledge and Sue Rutledge; Don Stewart, Jr.; Carole Whitehill; Carol Whiteside; and David and Holly Zacharias; and new member Adam Nathanson.

Additional information is available by contacting Associate Vice Chancellor for University Relations Mike Campbell at (209) 228-4402 or by e-mail at mcampbell@ucmerced.edu.

Gymnasium Expansion Campaign

The Joseph Edward Gallo Recreation and Wellness Center is scheduled to be completed at the end of October. The facility looks terrific and our students are very anxious to use all the exercise options that will be available.

Many of our Chancellor’s Associates have contributed to make the expansion of the Joseph Edward Gallo Gymnasium a reality. The gymnasium is really a multipurpose facility designed to accommodate intercollegiate sports in the future and intramural and club sports and concerts, distinguished speakers, ceremonies and a wide variety of social events.

A special celebration to recognize all the donors to the campaign is being planned for mid-November.



The Ma Kelley Memorial Shootout is planned for Friday, Oct. 27, at Stevinson Ranch Golf Club. The tournament benefits competitive sports at UC Merced and features a three-person scramble, followed by a dinner and live auction.

Some of the live auction highlights: A behind-the-scenes tour of Yosemite, including dinner for six at the Ahwahnee and lodging at the Yosemite Lodge, along with amazing golf packages from around the state.

For more information, contact the Campus Recreation office at (209) 381-6309, or e-mail David Dunham, director of campus recreation and athletics, at ddunham@ucmerced.edu.



UC Merced Professor’s Research Could Change U.S. History

Manuel M. Martín-Rodríguez
Manuel Martín-Rodríguez’s research is scheduled to be published this fall.

A centuries-old work of literature, an international hunt for documents long thought lost, a race to reveal information – no, it’s not the next “DaVinci Code.”

Still, the research Manuel M. Martín-Rodríguez has been doing could rewrite portions of American history.

Martín-Rodríguez could have spent the past two summers sipping mojitos on sunny Spanish beaches. Instead, the literature professor was holed-up in Spanish and U.S. libraries and archives, digging through 400-year-old documents.

No one had been able to reveal many details about an author thought to have disappeared into obscurity. Historians said the information couldn’t be found.

But Martín-Rodríguez found it, and he’ll publish his findings this fall.

Gaspar de Villagrá, a Spaniard born in Mexico around 1555, served as a captain on a Spanish military mission to explore and settle what is now New Mexico. Villagrá wrote an epic poem describing his journey for the King of Spain.

Villagrá’s historical epic, printed in 1610, is actually the first published history of any portion of the United States, pre-dating John Smith’s “A Description of New England.” Villagrá’s “History of The New Mexico” and his short residence in the future state also makes him our country’s first poet – a title that has long been accorded to Anne Bradstreet for her work that began in 1650.

“Everyone believed Villagrá had disappeared and that no one was reading his poem,” Martín-Rodríguez said. However, he documented more than 200 references to the epic – a number that has increased since an English translation in 1992.

The poem is embraced by Spaniards, Mexicans, Americans in general and Chicanos in particular as a work of literature they each claim as their own. It’s also loved by many New Mexicans, and Gov. Bill Richardson has proposed making it the state poem.

Among the documents Martín-Rodríguez found: original, 16th century university records; evidence of Villagrá’s political life; Villagrá’s will, dictated the day before he died in 1620; and a list of his assets, which included a ream of blank paper and many printed books.

“History of The New Mexico” ends with a plea to the king to let Villagrá rest before he writes the second half of the tale, it’s anyone’s guess what that paper would have been used for.

Or perhaps the second part was written, and remains to be discovered by another researcher someday.


China Trip Strengthens Global Partnership

Baby panda sleeps
A baby panda sleeps in a Chengdu panda reserve.

UC Merced faculty – former Chancellor Carol Tomlinson-Keasey; Acting Dean of Graduate Studies, Vice Chancellor for Research and SNRI Director Samuel Traina; Professor Martha Conklin; Provost Keith Alley; and Professor Ruth Mostern – spent the end of August and beginning of September in China attending an education conference and to strengthen ties with Chinese partner universities and national parks.

The trip was part of the 10+10 Program, a concerted effort for the University of California’s 10 campuses to partner with 10 prominent Chinese research universities. The goal is to increase research, education and faculty and student exchanges.

The chancellor and others arrived in China Aug. 24, but the chancellor returned just before her last day, Aug. 31. Others stayed through Labor Day.

The chancellor attended a celebration for Sichuan University’s 110th anniversary, which was also attended by the Chinese minister of education. Traina said that would be like the U.S. secretary of education coming here. The Chinese government is interesting in putting some money into the 10+10 program, Traina said.

Sichuan University and Jiuzhaigou National Nature Reserve are in the Sichuan Province in southwest China. Chengdu, the capital, is the home of the Giant Panda Research Base, as well as the university.

China temple
Visitors saw the ancient and colorful temples of China.

The visit was organized by the UC Office of the President. UC President Robert Dynes and UC Santa Barbara Chancellor Henry Yang also took the journey.

UC Merced faculty took part in an educational conference, along with people from University of Paris X, University of Glasgow, Bremen University of Applied Sciences, Beijing University and Arizona State, which co-sponsored the conference with Sichuan University.

“There are endless partnership possibilities involved with Sichuan University, whether it is working on hydrological issues, solar energy or historical irrigation systems,” the chancellor said. “We are beginning to cement those directions with faculty interactions on specific research projects, and our graduate students can work easily in both cultures.”

Jiuzhaigou National played a large role in this trip. Traina, Alley, Conklin and Yosemite National Park Superintendent Mike Tollefson visited the park to strengthen ties with the researchers there who study the same issues that are critical in Yosemite: Climate change, hydrology, environmental stewardship and resource management.

“There are a lot of areas where we all can learn from interaction,” Traina said. “We’re two different cultures facing the same issues. There’s a real value in comparative studies, because they help us understand each park better.”


New Digs for Science and Engineering Faculty

Science and Engineering building

During the latter part of August, as crews installed landscaping and groups all over campus worked to prepare for the new academic year, a key constituency had an extra big job to do. But it was a job well worth their efforts – moving into their new offices and labs in the Science and Engineering Building.

Faculty offices and research labs located on campus will make faculty-student interactions more convenient and more frequent.

Carefully planned locations for faculty groups should also facilitate interdisciplinary research efforts. For example, faculty associated with the Sierra Nevada Research Institute are all located in one area, rather than being separated by school.

And although instructional laboratory spaces on the first floor were available last year, faculty now have a chance to set up their research labs on the upper floors, allowing them to avoid long drives to and from Castle and focus their work hours on their research and teaching duties.

“I can’t tell you how happy we are to have all the faculty on campus,” Dean Maria Pallavicini of the School of Natural Sciences told the audience at UC Merced’s second annual convocation ceremony on Sept. 1.


Strong Foundations, New Horizons in Computer Science and Engineering

Alberto Cerpa
Marcelo Kallmann
Shawn Newsam
Alberto Cerpa
Marcelo Kallmann
Shawn Newsam

UC Merced’s founding faculty in Computer Science and Engineering are adeptly finding the balance between offering a firm footing in the basics for students and exploring new horizons in their field.

Professors Alberto Cerpa, Marcelo Kallmann and Shawn Newsam have diverse research interests, but all three of these young professors bring innovative ideas and fresh perspective to the development of UC Merced’s teaching and research programs in their field.

Cerpa specializes in sensor networks for environmental applications, and envisions using the same principles to help improve efficiency in buildings and energy systems. His work has great potential for collaborations with UC Merced faculty in those fields. He also introduces students to open source computing in UC Merced’s innovative Linux teaching lab.

Kallman’s expertise lies in creating realistic animation of complex movements. He collaborates with faculty in the cognitive science program to examine how the brain learns and then reproduces motion. He recognizes that his work will apply to the burgeoning field of computer game development and hopes to offer students a good background for working in that arena.

Newsam works in advanced image recognition techniques, striving for a day when image databases will be searched based on the content of images rather than on keyword descriptions. His work also lends itself well to interdisciplinary collaboration with biologists and environmental scientists.

All these professors reach out to students not just in the classroom, but through research opportunities for undergraduate and graduate students.


Sensor Networks Spotlighted in Next Castle Lecture

Professor Alberto Cerpa of the School of Engineering presents “Sensor Network Challenges in the Twenty-first Century,” the latest installment in the Frontiers of Science and Engineering Lecture Series, on Saturday, Oct. 14. Be in the Challenger Center for Space Science Education auditorium at 10 a.m. to learn about how sensor networks help scientists learn about rivers and other environmental phenomena or regulate heating and energy systems, not to mention what makes these networks challenging and fascinating to study and develop.

The Sierra in Contrast: Painting, Photos, and Pottery on Display in Fresno

The UC Merced Fresno Center and Fresno Community ArtReach invite visitors to view “The Sierra in Contrast,” the latest art exhibit in the Fresno Center at 550 E. Shaw Ave., across from the Fashion Fair Mall. Paintings by Heather Anderson, photography by Heidi Vetter and pottery by Geoffrey Spach will be on display from now until Nov. 3. Community ArtReach is a fine art exhibit sponsored by UC Merced and the UC Office of the President with the support of participating artists and community volunteers. It is presented as a public service to San Joaquin Valley residents. For more information, please call (559) 241-7510.


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