April 2016

While our current students are busy with their studies, future Anteaters are eagerly waiting to start their college careers. In fact, many took to social media to share their tears of joy, hopes and dreams, and sheer excitement after finding out they had been accepted into their top-choice university. You can view a collection of these posts on our Storify page. Last weekend, we invited thousands of our newly accepted Anteaters to explore the campus at our annual Celebrate UCI open house and Wayzgoose student festival. For some, it was a first opportunity to visit the Irvine campus and see what the Anteater family is all about.

Providing opportunities for low-income physics students

UCI is proud to be a leader in serving low-income, first-generation and underrepresented students. Recently, our university was honored with a $1 million award from the National Science Foundation that will fund at least 60 scholarships for low-income, high-achieving physics students. The program intends to increase the graduation rate of such students and improve academic success in introductory courses in mathematics and physics. This grant builds on a range of efforts undertaken by the School of Physical Sciences to ensure opportunity and success for all talented scientists.

National Science Foundation awards UCI $1 million for physics scholarships 

Historian wins Guggenheim Fellowship

Heidi Tinsman
As a Guggenheim Fellow, Heidi Tinsman will research a book on Chinese labor and masculinity in 19th-century Latin America.

UCI is celebrating the achievements of Heidi Tinsman, professor of history and affiliated faculty member in the Department of Gender & Sexuality Studies, who recently received a prestigious Guggenheim Fellowship. It is one of 175 bestowed by the John Simon Guggenheim Memorial Foundation and sought by nearly 3,000 applicants. Those selected for the midcareer award are talented artists, writers, scholars and scientists who are making tremendous strides in their fields of expertise. Professor Tinsman is an expert in gender, labor, transnational and world history. She will use the Guggenheim Fellowship to support her research for a book on Chinese labor and masculinity in 19th-century Latin America. Congratulations, Professor Tinsman!

UCI historian wins Guggenheim Fellowship 

eSports program

A recently conducted survey revealed that 72 percent of UCI students identify themselves as gamers. I’m thrilled to share that in an effort to bolster UCI’s interdisciplinary scholarly work in virtual environments and computer games and enhance the student experience, UCI will launch an official eSports initiative this fall. eSports is a booming cultural phenomenon with national and international competitions drawing millions of viewers across the globe and professional gamers earning lucrative salaries, endorsement deals and sponsorships. UCI eSports aims to attract some of the best gamers from around the world and provide a platform for our academic programs in computer game science, digital arts, computer science, engineering, anthropology, law, medicine, and neuroscience and behavior to advance research and inquiry related to gaming. The program also involves partnerships between UCI and the local eSports industry, which is sponsoring a new, state-of-the-art arena with high-end gaming computers and several academic scholarships for students on the official team. UCI eSports received prominent news coverage from ESPN, Fox Sports, Forbes and other media outlets. We’re tremendously excited to be a leader in this growing industry and area of study that will inspire bright students and passionate scholars.

UCI to launch first-of-its-kind official eSports initiative in fall 

Anteaters in the Olympics

UCI is known for having a terrific water polo program, so it should come as no surprise that our coaches are among the best in the nation. This year, UCI women’s water polo coach Dan Klatt ’01 will go to the Summer Olympics in Brazil as the assistant coach of the U.S. women’s water polo team. This is the second time the 2004 water polo Olympian will attend the games with the team, which won its first gold medal in the 2012 Olympics in London. You can follow Coach Klatt and Team USA on the UCI Athletics website in August. Congratulations and good luck, Coach Klatt!

Health and medical research

One of the most important things we do at UCI is participate in innovative research that can be used to improve lives. Recently, a team of researchers at UCI was awarded $8 million by the U.S. Department of Defense to aid in the development of a new vaccine for Q fever, a highly infectious agent common in livestock and considered to be a public health threat and potential bioterrorism weapon. The project is led by investigators Philip Felgner, adjunct professor of medicine, and Aaron Esser-Kahn, assistant professor of chemistry, who will work together to identify proteins that may be effective as a vaccine and develop synthetic agents to boost and control the body’s immune response to these proteins. Their dual method may help create additional vaccines important for general public health and the military.

In the Department of Radiation Oncology, Professor Charles Limoli and his colleagues are investigating isolated, microscopic stem cell vesicles that may provide a safer way to rehabilitate brain regions damaged by cancer radiation treatments. Often, patients who undergo radiotherapy for brain tumors suffer from learning and memory loss that can affect their quality of life. Professor Limoli’s team found that transplanting stem cell microvesicles not only helped restore cognitive function, but reduced inflammation and protected neurons in rats. The new method holds promise for those seeking to utilize the benefits of stem cell treatment while reducing the risk of rejection by the body’s immune system or promoting the growth of existing tumors.

Recently, 29 current and five incoming UCI graduate students were awarded National Science Foundation Graduate Research Fellowships. Additionally, 55 UCI graduate students received honorable mentions. The fellowships offer three years support for STEM-based research projects, including an annual stipend of $34,000 and a $12,000 cost-of-education allowance to a recipient’s institution. This year’s cohort was selected from nearly 17,000 applicants.

Remembering Jean Aldrich, UCI’s inaugural first lady

Jean Aldrich, with her daughter Liz Toomey
Jean Aldrich.

Close to home, the UCI community is mourning the loss of Jean Hamilton Aldrich, the wife of founding Chancellor Daniel G. Aldrich Jr. She died last month at the age of 96. Jean Aldrich was one of the first people to visit the site of the future UC campus on the rolling hills of the Irvine Ranch. Over her countless years of service to UCI, she watched the campus and the city of Irvine blossom into a bustling hub of knowledge. She was a firm believer in making a difference in her role as first lady, and one of her initial actions at UCI was to establish a Town and Gown organization to ensure that the university would develop as a vital part of the surrounding community. Jean Aldrich left a lasting impression on each person she met. She was an unwavering advocate, cheerleader and friend of the university who remained actively involved at UCI throughout her life. Our sincerest condolences go out to her children, Dan, Liz and Stuart; her seven grandchildren; and her 16 great-grandchildren.

Jean Aldrich, founding first lady of UCI, dies at 96 

Lauds & Laurels

Each year we recognize the talented, dedicated and influential Anteaters who are making a difference on campus and in our community at the UCI Alumni Association’s Lauds & Laurels celebration. This year’s top honor, the Extraordinarius award, will go to Senior Vice Provost for Academic Affairs Michael P. Clark, M.A. ’73, Ph.D. ’77. An alumnus from the School of Humanities, Senior Vice Provost Clark previously served as interim provost and executive vice chancellor. He has been a champion of UCI for more than 30 years and has played a significant role in the establishment of the School of Law and numerous programs, as well as the hiring of exceptional faculty across the campus. Since its inception in 1971, the Lauds & Laurels ceremony has recognized more than 750 members of the UCI community. The event raises more than $100,000 in student scholarships annually. I hope you will join me in celebrating this year’s award recipients May 12.