April 2017

Spring quarter is in full swing at UCI. It’s a season that brings new life and energy to our campus as graduating seniors eagerly count down the weeks until commencement. But as the class of 2017 looks away from campus, high school seniors and transfer students from across the state (and around the world) look toward UCI as a beacon of exciting new possibilities and an opportunity for success. Newly admitted undergraduates have been sharing their unbridled joy at getting into their top-choice school on social media, and we can’t wait to welcome them to campus this weekend at Celebrate UCI, our annual open house.

For many incoming Anteaters, attending a university will be a family first. In fact, more than half of our current undergraduates are first-generation college students. Recently, UCI was named No. 2 nationally on Times Higher Education’s list of “Golden Age” universities and, reaffirming the incredible power of a college education to change lives, one of the top universities in the nation for propelling students into the middle class by The New York Times. We are honored to be recognized as an engine of social mobility and strive to help all of our students attain their goals.

Newkirk Center named home of National Registry of Exonerations

Brian Banks (right)
In 2003, Brian Banks (right) was convicted of sexual assault and sentenced to six years in prison. He was exonerated in 2012, after the accuser admitted that she had lied. National Registry of Exonerations

Recently, UCI’s Newkirk Center for Science & Society was named the primary home of the National Registry of Exonerations, a joint project of our campus, the University of Michigan Law School and the Michigan State University College of Law. The internationally lauded registry is sourced entirely through public information and features data and analyses on every known exoneration of innocent defendants convicted of crimes in the U.S. since 1989. The registry plays a dynamic role in research and teaching across multiple disciplines, including literary journalism, law and criminology. We are proud to be entrusted with this important repository of information that will enrich the work done by our students and faculty to change and improve the justice system. You can watch a recording of the welcome celebration, featuring stories from wrongfully convicted individuals and academic experts, here.

UCI Newkirk Center for Science & Society named home for National Registry of Exonerations 

A solution to snake bites

professor Ken Shea (right) and doctoral student Jeffrey O’Brien
UCI chemistry professor Ken Shea (right) and doctoral student Jeffrey O’Brien have developed a broad-spectrum snake venom antidote. Steve Zylius/UCI

UCI researchers are the epitome of problem-solvers. When faced with a challenge, our brilliant faculty deliver innovative solutions to make a difference. Recently, UCI chemists in Professor Ken Shea’s research group developed an anti-venom to treat the effects of potentially fatal snake bites. They synthesized a material that binds to key protein toxins common to a wide variety of serpents, preventing venom from attacking red blood cells by sequestering the toxins on the surface of nanoparticles. Existing snake bite treatments can cost up to $100,000 and only work on venom from a small number of species. The UCI antidote is far more affordable, works on venom from a greater number of species and doesn’t require refrigeration – important factors considering that the majority of deadly snake bites occur in poor, rural parts of India and sub-Saharan Africa. The initial research, published in the Journal of the American Chemical Society, was supported by the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency, the National Science Foundation and the National Institutes of Health. Next steps for the team involve funding for clinical trials and product development.

Snake bit? UCI chemists figure out how to easily and cheaply halt venom’s spread 

Match Day

One of the great traditions in the School of Medicine is the annual Match Day ceremony in which graduating medical students learn where they’ll serve their residencies. Last month, 97 UCI students participated in the event, including engaged couple Krystal Jimenez and Miguel Alvarez-Estrada. The pair – enrolled in UCI’s Program in Medical Education for the Latino Community, a joint, five-year master’s-M.D. program designed to increase the number of culturally sensitive physicians who are linguistically prepared to serve diverse populations in the state – will begin their residencies July 1 at Scripps Mercy Hospital in Chula Vista. In all, more than two-thirds of the graduating class will fulfill their residencies in California, including 15 at UCI.

Student achievement

Students in UCI’s Minority Science Programs
Students in UCI’s Minority Science Programs participated in a research poster competition at the 2017 AAAS meeting.

Recently, four outstanding undergraduates from the Francisco J. Ayala School of Biological Sciences were recognized for their research presentations at the American Association for the Advancement of Sciences’ 2017 annual meeting: Betsy Juarez, winner in developmental biology, physiology & immunology; Nicholas Ramirez, honorable mention recipient in environment & ecology; Michelle Kalu, honorable mention recipient in medicine & public health; and Marlen Tagle Rodriguez, honorable mention recipient in technology, engineering & math. The students are part of the Ayala School’s Minority Science Programs, which provide underrepresented undergraduates with opportunities to conduct research funded by the National Institutes of Health and encourage the pursuit of biomedical careers.

UCI also is celebrating the success of 27 Anteaters awarded prestigious National Science Foundation graduate research fellowships. Each will receive an annual stipend of $34,000 and a cost-of-education allowance of $12,000. UCI has recipients in the School of Physical Sciences, the Donald Bren School of Information & Computer Sciences, the School of Education, the Francisco J. Ayala School of Biological Sciences, the Henry Samueli School of Engineering, the School of Social Sciences and the School of Social Ecology. Fellows were selected from 13,000 applicants. Congratulations to our talented students!

4 students in Minority Science Programs snag research awards at annual meeting of AAAS 

Art donated to School of Humanities

Across campus, you’ll find beautiful pieces of fine art on display in nearly every building, but perhaps none are quite as unique as those found in the School of Humanities. Over the past two years, the school has received $4.7 million in historical maps, botanical illustrations, watercolors and prints from such cartographers, scientists and artists as Daniel Giraud Elliot, Gerardus Mercator, Abraham Ortelius, John Ogilby, Pierre-Joseph Redoute and Albert Bierstadt. Works include depictions of birds by John Cassin; a Lewis & Clark diagram of the western U.S.; and Joan Blaeu’s engraving of Amsterdam from Atlas Maior, an important 17th-century collection of maps. Professors in history, comparative literature and art history have incorporated some of the artwork into undergraduate classes. Dean Georges Van Den Abbeele says that it has been an exceptional tool for showing his students how past representations of the world have shaped current perceptions.

Financial literacy

Pacific Life Foundation presents a $10,000 check toUCI’s Center for Investment & Wealth Management
Tennyson Oyler, president of the Pacific Life Foundation, presents a $10,000 check to Lee Anne Maki (center), associate director of UCI’s Center for Investment & Wealth Management, and Diane Ford, assistant director of corporate relations at The Paul Merage School of Business.

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.

Business school’s financial literacy program for teens gets $10,000 from Pacific Life Foundation 

Giving Day update

Last week, the UCI community came together to support our campus’s mission of teaching, research and public service. I am pleased to share that on our first-ever Giving Day, more than 1,600 Anteaters raised over $1.4 million for scholarships, groundbreaking research, medical services, academic and outreach programming, and more.

One major highlight of Giving Day was a $1 million gift from the estate of Christian Werner, UCI professor emeritus and former dean of the School of Social Sciences, to strengthen graduate student research and scholarship within the school. The funds will establish an endowment for graduate fellowships that will be awarded in the fall.

To all who donated to our cause, thank you. Together, we showed the world that when you rally behind a common goal, you can accomplish tremendous things. UCI is the fantastic institution it is today because of the goodwill of the entire Anteater community.