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September 21, 2012


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Merced Alumni Fall Fiesta – Sept. 29

Join fellow UC Merced alumni for a fun evening including a taco dinner, sand volleyball game and piñata drop. Representatives from Alumni Relations and Governmental and Community Relations will share brief campus updates and talk about how you can stay connected to your alma mater. Register online. Email alumni@ucmerced.edu or call 209-228-2586 for more information.

Alumni have many opportunities to reconnect with UC Merced each year through on-campus and regional events. View the events calendar.

Alumni Assist with Outreach in Southern California

Six UC Merced alumni have stepped forward to volunteer as part of our pilot alumni admissions volunteer program in Southern California. September and October are busy months for college admissions, and our dedicated alumni volunteers will help UC Merced be in multiple places at once. If you’re interested in helping out with admissions efforts in your area, email alumni@ucmerced.edu.

Alumni Highlight

Alumnus Part of Political Spirit on Campus

Justin DuckhamWhile UC Merced's student body is developing into a politically active group like its sister campuses, few actually know the roots of that political spirit.

A good place to begin is with Justin Duckham, '09, who was one of UC Merced's ambitious pioneers.

Studying for a degree in history with minors in philosophy and American studies wasn't enough to keep Duckham settled with the simple campus life that comes with a new university. As with every member of the inaugural class, Duckham cared deeply about how the campus developed and what interests were at stake. This led him to establish the campus’s first underground newspaper, known as the Fairy Shrimp Times. [more]


Impact: Racing Team Puts Classroom Lessons to the Test
Impact video
View on YouTube


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


MTS Lecture Series

Psychological Sciences Talk Series

Public Health Seminar Series

Frontiers in Science

CITRIS Speaker Series

Campus Brings Urban Dance Troupe to Merced Theatre — Sept. 29

DancerUC Merced presents the acclaimed Lula Washington Dance Theater in Merced on Sept. 29. Renowned for its mix of jazz, ballet and urban street styles, the troupe will perform at the Art Kamangar Center at the Merced Theatre.

The event starts at 7:30 p.m. at 301 W. Main St., Merced. Tickets are $15 general admission and $10 for students. They can be purchased online.

The dance performance is sponsored by Arts UC Merced Presents.

University Friends Circle Lunch — Oct. 2

The University Friends Circle meets for lunch at 11:30 a.m. Oct. 2 at the California Room on campus.

Presentations include "The Year Ahead," by Chancellor Dorothy Leland and "What It Means to be Green," by Richard Cummings, UC Merced principal planner in Physical Planning Design and Construction. A UC Merced green tour immediately follows the meeting. [more]

Ma Kelley Dinner and Memorial Shoot-Out — Oct. 19

Enjoy a friendly game of golf on one of California’s top-ranked courses, Stevinson Ranch, while supporting UC Merced athletics. To register for the 16th annual Ma Kelley Memorial Shoot-Out, planned for Oct. 19, or the Building Future Champions dinner on Oct. 18, contact George Kelley at 209-664-6400.

Show your support for UC Merced student athletes as they compete in their second season in the National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics.

Founders’ Day Celebration — Oct. 25

UC Merced will commemorate the 10th anniversary of its groundbreaking with a series of events on campus and in the city of Merced from Oct. 25 through 27.

Join us downtown for Market on Main from 5 to 9 p.m. Oct. 25, when we bring the campus to the community. [more]

Artists, Poets Collaborate on Mixed Media Project

Students in classes taught by Vanesha Pravin and Tonya Lopez-Craig created mixed-media projects that incorporate poetry and prints. The works are on display in the Leo and Dottie Kolligian Library. [more]


UC Merced provides unparalleled academic and staff opportunities, as well as opportunities for vendors and contractors who are helping to build the university. Check our online listings often.


Total amount of awards in August:

Total amount of awards from July 1, 2012 to August 30, 2012:



Humanities Center Expands Mission with Generous Gift

Susan Amussen

Professor Susan Amussen will serve as director for the UC Merced Center for the Humanities.


With the help of a $2 million gift, UC Merced's humanities center will support scholars in conducting interdisciplinary research, engaging the public and addressing issues critical to the San Joaquin Valley and California.

In keeping with developing an innovative 21st century learning environment, UC Merced has re-envisioned a humanities center's role within a university. The UC Merced Center for the Humanities will serve both the campus and the San Joaquin Valley community, and be structured so its interdisciplinary thematic focus changes every two years to respond to the concerns of the campus and region.

Faculty members will select the first theme this semester.

"Humanities at their core explore the human condition, and play a crucial role in preparing students for the challenges of citizenship," said Dean Mark Aldenderfer of the School of Social Sciences, Humanities and Arts. "This center will prepare students, expand research and, perhaps most importantly, serve as another link between the campus and San Joaquin Valley."

The generous private support of this center is a testament to the humanities' crucial role in preparing students for the challenges of social responsibility, both at home and in a global society. More than ever, California, the nation and the world need citizens who understand the languages, traditions, values and histories of other cultures.
[Read more]

Snowy, Sandy Research Explores Climate Change

Joey Blankinship

Postdoctoal researcher Joey Blankinship spreads black sand over snow in the Sierra Nevada to adjust the rate at which the snow melts.


From the white, sugary sands of Hawaii to the white, powdery slopes of the Sierra Nevada, Natural Sciences Professor Stephen Hart has his eye on climate change.

For the past two years, the professor, who’s affiliated with the Sierra Nevada Research Institute, has worked with student researchers at remote sites in the mountains. They manipulate the snowpack to see the effects of early snowmelt on the forest, from how it affects the nutrients in the soil and plant growth, to how greenhouse gases are emitted from the soil.

It’s all with the goal of designing better predictive tools, and they’ve gotten some surprising results.

Although Hart thought they’d find that the earlier the snowmelt, the more carbon dioxide would be released from the microorganisms in the soil — contributing to even more global warming — it appears to be just the opposite.

“The emissions are actually slowed down,” Hart said.

The researchers also found that earlier snowmelt has a longer-lasting effect than they had theorized — drier soil persisted for much of the summer growing season, impacting the forest plants’ growing season.
[Read more]

Student, Faculty Music Projects Enlivening Area Scene

Arnold Kim

Professor Arnold Kim released his first album The Yellow Hope Project, which is heavily influenced by old-school country, soul, blues and folk.


Professor Arnold Kim’s music couldn’t be more different than that of student-staff-alumni band Feeling Gravity’s Pull.

Kim’s The Yellow Hope Project work is heavily influenced by what he has been listening to for years – old-school country, soul, blues and folk. It’s quiet and confessional, moody and, well, kind of sad.

Feeling Gravity’s Pull, on the other hand, is loud, vivacious and post-punk-rocking.

What the two have in common, however, is UC Merced.

Both are contributing to the culture that’s growing up on and around the campus, contributing their talents among the many musicians, artists and writers calling UC Merced home these days.

Kim, one of the campus’s original faculty members, spent years recording demos in his home studio. But demos for what? He’s not trying to have a “music career.” He’s not even sure he wants to be seen – his picture is nowhere to be found on the packaging of the album he released this year.
[Read more]

Staff Members’ Invention Helping Reduce Campus Waste

Eric Scott and Matt Hirota

Staff members Matt Hirota (in the bin) and Eric Scott invented the round recycle/compost/ landfill containers that now stand in the Lantern Cafe area.


UC Merced’s library used to be one of the trashiest places on campus – patrons generated a lot more garbage than recycling.

But all that garbage led to an invention by two campus staff members that could help UC Merced reach the zero landfill waste portion of its Triple Zero commitment. The goal also includes having zero net energy and climate neutrality by 2020.

Eric Scott, associate university librarian for library operations, and Matt Hirota, the campus waste reduction/recycling coordinator, designed a three-section bin for recyclables, compostable material and landfill items.

Three stand in The Lantern, where students, faculty and staff use them every day.

And if Scott and Hirota have their way, not only will the invention be patented, it will be found in many other locations beyond UC Merced, too.
[Read more]

Women’s Soccer Team Kicks Off Season

Women’s Soccer Team

UC Merced’s first NAIA women’s soccer team


UC Merced’s first NAIA women’s soccer team is going to have a short season —five home games and nine away games.

That’s by design.

New head coach Megan Atoigue said this is the time to set the foundation for the campus’s inaugural women’s soccer program, and a chance for the team members to cement their commitment to the team.

“We need to get established,” she said.

Atoigue, who was hired in May, said she was already “recruiting like crazy” for next year, even as she was getting ready for the fall season that started this month.

UC Merced has had a club team for the past four years, but this is its first year having an NAIA-sanctioned women’s soccer team. UC Merced also added an NAIA-sanctioned women’s basketball team this year, too.

Some of the intramural players are returning to join the NAIA team, like Sunny Partington, a senior who’s studying human biology with plans to work in sports medicine.

“It’s a real honor to be part of an NAIA team,” Partington said. “I can’t wait to see how our competition is going to be this year.”
[Read more]

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