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December 16, 2011


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Get Involved This Year

Whether you’re a community, faculty or staff member who attended a UC, a UC Merced graduate, or a current student, you are encouraged to get involved with your local alumni association in 2012.

San Joaquin Valley UC Alumni Network

Since 1999, the San Joaquin Valley UC Alumni Network has gathered local UC alumni to support the growth of a new UC in Merced. Instrumental in the campus’ launch, the network focuses its time on performing outreach to area educators about the value of a UC degree, supporting local UC students and advocating for the UC system. The network’s next meeting is 4:30 p.m. on Jan. 3 and will include a special presentation by Encarnacion Ruiz, UC Merced’s director of admission and outreach. For information, visit alumni.ucmerced.edu/sjvuc.

UC Merced Alumni Association

UC Merced graduates are automatically members of the UC Merced Alumni Association and are entitled to alumni benefits and services. In addition to coordinating networking events for alumni throughout the year, the alumni association also highlights alumni successes and promotes opportunities for alumni to stay connected to UC Merced. For information, visit alumni.ucmerced.edu/alumni.

Collegiate Alumni Association

UC Merced students are invited to get involved with the Collegiate Alumni Association by making a collegiate pledge and taking advantage of special opportunities to network with alumni and the Merced-area community. Visit alumni.ucmerced.edu/caa to learn more and make your collegiate pledge today.

Alumni Highlight

Sanjeev Chahal, '09

Sanjeev ChahalAfter earning a degree in psychology and sociology from UC Merced, Sanjeev Chahal, ’09, moved to Los Angeles to pursue his dream of performing. He now works as a dancer, choreographer and stage director in the Bay Area.

Chahal said he would not be the artist he is today without his education from UC Merced.

“I’m utilizing the writing, researching and leadership skills I honed at UC Merced,” said Chahal. “My classes taught me how to read people and how to study people, and I incorporate that into my art. It makes my artistry deeper, deep into the mind and soul of my audience.”

Chahal — who has always loved performing — started UC Merced’s first dance group, Dance Coalition (D-Co). The group continues to allow dancers to collaborate based on their love of performance.

"UC Merced single handedly changed the course of my life. The idea of hard work, plenty of determination, and a grand vision were constantly reinforced,” Chahal said. “I strongly believe that without the pioneering experience of UC Merced, I would not be where I am today.”


Impact: Critical Research in the Sierra Nevada
Impact video
View on YouTube


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


Energy Speaker Series

The i4energy Spring Speaker Series, held at noon every Friday through April 22 at UC Berkeley, will be shown simultaneously by video broadcast in room 100 of UC Merced’s Science and Engineering Building. The series includes researchers from the Center for Information Technology in the Interest of Technology (CITRIS), which includes UC Merced, UC Berkeley, UC Davis, UC Santa Cruz, the California Institute for Energy and the Environment (CIEE) and Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory.

University Friends Circle
– Jan. 10

The University Friends Circle (UFC) will meet from 11:30 a.m. to 1 p.m. Tuesday, Jan. 10, at the Branding Iron Restaurant. Juan Meza, dean of UC Merced's School of Natural Sciences, will present “Computational and Applied Mathematics: Building Blocks for a Stronger Economy.”

The cost, including lunch, is $20 for members and $25 for non-members. For information on joining the UFC or to RSVP by Jan. 5, email ufc@ucmerced.edu or call 209-384-8811.

The UFC's mission is to inspire and maintain strong relationships between the UC Merced community and the communities of the San Joaquin Valley through activities that promote social and intellectual interaction, programs of service and fundraising initiatives that support UC Merced scholarships.

“An Evening of Song with Jenni” — Jan. 21

Soprano Jenni Samuelson returns to UC Merced for "An Evening of Song with Jenni."

The show begins 7:30 p.m. Saturday, Jan. 21, in the Dr. Lakireddy Auditorium.

The concert will feature pianist Dennis Brown, as well as special guests Geoffrey Mulder on violin, John Albano on guitar, Stephen Mouillesseaux, a tenor, and Jessica Spencer, a soprano.

The program will be wildly varied and will include musical theater selections by Rodgers and Hart, medleys from Gershwin’s folk-opera "Porgy and Bess" and Bernstein’s "West Side Story," special arrangements of contemporary favorites including “What a Wonderful World” and “Somewhere Over the Rainbow,” as well as several comedic pieces.

Tickets are on sale now.


Chancellor’s Associates Holiday Social Highlights

Chancellor's Associates holiday social

On Dec. 1, Chancellor's Associates enjoyed an evening of delicious food, networking and beautiful music by Laura Porter and Claudia Shiuh with Fresno Harp Music.

For information on joining the Chancellor’s Associates, UC Merced’s annual giving society, contact Lisa McMullen at 209-228-4202.


Total amount of awards in November:

Total amount of awards from July 1, 2011 to Nov. 30, 2011:




Could Thinning Forests Increase Water Runoff?

Sierra forest

Scientists believe thinning forests could enhance water runoff from the Sierra Nevada.


Runoff from the Sierra Nevada, a critical source of California’s water supply, could be enhanced by thinning forests to historical conditions, according to a report from a team of scientists with UC Merced, UC Berkeley and the Environmental Defense Fund.

The team proposes to test the hypothesis that forest-management strategies that use thinning to reduce fire risk and maintain the historical mix can also increase water yield and extend the snowpack in the Sierra Nevada.

The scientists suggest that by selectively reducing the number of trees — which use large amounts of the water received through precipitation — the amount of water that is released from the forest as runoff could increase. This enhanced runoff could make things easier for farmers and water managers statewide.

As part of the Sierra Nevada Watershed Ecosystem Enhancement Project (SWEEP), the scientists plan to reduce forest density in test areas and examine the impacts on water runoff, forest health and other ecosystem services, and provide a template for broader forest management in the Sierra Nevada.

The thinning of forests, which are much denser now than in past centuries, is already a common practice to reduce the risk of wildfires. The scientists also believe thinning can be done in ways that enhance the forests’ overall ecological health.
[Read more]

Conference to Help Youth Connects Research, Community Groups

Conference photo

Jonathan London, director of the UC Davis Center for Regional Change and assistant professor in UC Davis' Department of Human and Community Development, gives a talk during the Building Healthy Youth conference at UC Merced.


About 180 people attended a conference at UC Merced that connected researchers with community members working to improve the lives of the San Joaquin Valley's young people.

The Dec. 2 conference, "Building Healthy Youth in Merced County: Community Engagement and Scholarship," showcased successful research and evidence-based programs that can promote positive youth development in Merced County. It was organized by the campus' Chancellor's Task Force on Community Engaged Scholarship and sponsored by the Building Healthy Communities initiative.

"We want to foster community-engaged scholarship," psychology Professor and task force Chairman Jan Wallander said. "We think this can help solve the challenges the area faces."

Presenters from other UCs and nonprofit organizations talked about youth arts programs, collaborations between school districts and community organizations, restorative justice, wilderness and academic programming, and 4-H engagement.

Campus Fulfilling Mission to Give Back

From spearheading canned food drives to collecting toys for underprivileged children, UC Merced students, staff and faculty are giving back this holiday season.

A group of UC Merced students spent the week before Thanksgiving collecting canned food for local needy families. About 30 Kappa Sigma fraternity members gathered nonperishable food items as part of the organization’s community service efforts. In preparation for the food drive, the fraternity members passed out flyers throughout Merced neighborhoods the week prior to collection.

“Our group feels that doing a canned food drive is a way to give back to the community that has given us so much,” said student Jeremy Ho, who serves as the fraternity’s public relations representative. “Knowing that the holidays were right around the corner, we decided that it was a great time to give back, especially to families in need during the hard economic times.”


Professor Shares Research Findings at Conference

Teenie MatlockCognitive science Professor Teenie Matlock was presented with the Young Investigator Award and also gave a talk at this year’s Sigma Xi Annual Meeting and International Research Conference, held in Raleigh, N.C. Other Sigma Xi award recipients included former U.S. astronaut Kathryn Sullivan and North Carolina Congressman David Price.

Matlock was given Sigma Xi’s 2011 Young Investigator Award for excellence in research. Her talk, "The Science of Language and Thought,” discussed how subtleties in language, even at the level of grammar markings, can dramatically influence how people perceive actions, form opinions and make decisions.

Sigma Xi is an international research organization founded in 1886 to honor excellence in scientific investigation and to encourage a sense of companionship and cooperation among researchers in all fields of science and engineering.

The Young Investigator Award is given to one recipient in all scientific fields per year. It acknowledges scientists for achievement in interdisciplinary research and the ability to communicate the significance of their research to the general public.


Family Provides Inspiration for Graduate Student

Jesus Luna

Jesus Luna, a graduate student with an emphasis in Biological Engineering and Small-scale Technologies (BEST), initially transferred to UC Merced in 2006 and earned a bachelor’s degree in biological sciences in 2008.


Growing up in the village of Juchipila in central Mexico, Jesus Luna knew exactly what he would do some day.

“When I was 3 or 4 years old, I told my mom I would be a scientist,” Luna said. “I told her I would discover something to cure disease.”

With several aunts and uncles succumbing to heart disease, Luna knew where he wanted to focus his studies. Today, he is pushing the boundaries of tissue engineering as a graduate student at UC Merced.

Luna’s parents came to California’s Central Valley, where they picked grapes and tended vineyards. Jesus stayed in Mexico, where he excelled in school. As his parents sacrificed, Luna advanced, eventually earning admission to the University of Guadalajara.

“It was really hard for them to support me in college,” he said. “They were sending about half of their salary so I could go to school in Mexico.”
[Read more]

Students Win National Marketing Scholarship

Winning students and advisors

Undergraduates Stephanie Badillo, Lauriano Bucio and Joselyn Delgado use concepts learned from advisors S.A. Davis and Mark Harris to win the Hispanic-Serving Institutions Scholarship Competition.


A group of UC Merced undergraduates was one of five teams honored during an awards dinner in Washington, D.C., last month for submitting a winning proposal in a marketing competition.

Last spring, the students — Joselyn Delgado, of Los Angeles, Lauriano Bucio, of Long Beach, and Stephanie Badillo, of San Diego — entered the $100,000 Hispanic-Serving Institutions (HSI) Scholarship Competition sponsored by Sam’s Club, a national retail business. Participants had to develop a plan to increase the company’s visibility in Latino populations.

The scholarship competition was open to students enrolled at universities with an HSI designation from the U.S. Department of Education. To earn that status, a school must have a Hispanic student population of at least 25 percent. UC Merced and UC Riverside are the only University of California campuses with an HSI designation. HSI schools are eligible for federal funding, grants and programs.

Winning was a great surprise, the students said, because they heard about the competition from an advisor during final exams week, and the contest’s deadline was only days away. With little time to spare, the trio worked quickly and pulled together a marketing plan in about three days.
[Read more]



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