January 2018

Happy New Year! Now that the winter holiday has ended and the students are back in class, the campus has come alive again. I’m confident that the energy and passion on display will make 2018 UCI’s best year yet.

Record number of applications

Fall 2018 applications infographic

We finished 2017 on a high note! In what has become a most welcome annual custom, we set a record for the number of applications we received for admission in fall 2018. An astounding 116,192 outstanding students applied, up from 104,000 the year before. In fact, we have seen our applications increase by an amazing 41 percent in the last five years, the largest percentage increase in the UC system. We ranked third behind our sister campuses in Los Angeles and San Diego in both total and freshman applications, and we led all UC campuses in the number of Chicano/Latino applicants. These numbers are testament to our offering a first-class education to our state’s best and brightest students.


Sweet 116,000! UCI again breaks undergraduate applications record 

High Latino graduation rates

UCI as a top performer in closing the Latino-white graduation gap.
A new report from The Education Trust ranks UCI as a top performer in closing the Latino-white graduation gap.

We also closed the year with yet more acclaim for being the U.S. university that does the most for the American dream. This time the recognition came from the Education Trust, a nonprofit advocacy organization, which compared graduation rates for Latino and white students at four-year public and private colleges and universities nationwide. UCI ranked in the top 10 for having the smallest gap between the two rates. In this regard, and in so many more, UCI is not only a Hispanic-serving institution, it is a Hispanic-thriving institution.

UCI named among top 10 universities improving Latino student outcomes 

New dean for law school

L. Song Richardson
L. Song Richardson. UCI Law

After a nationwide search, L. Song Richardson has been appointed dean of the UCI School of Law. Dean Richardson is an outstanding and much-lauded legal scholar in the areas of criminal law, criminal procedure, and law and social science. A Harvard College and Yale Law School alumna, and a member of our faculty since 2014, she previously served as senior associate dean for academic affairs and as interim dean. She is a bold and confident leader who will guide our law school’s continued ascendancy and will increase its impact on the region and the nation, and I am delighted she has accepted this new assignment.

L. Song Richardson named dean of UCI School of Law 

Faculty acclaim

December was a great month for public recognition of our outstanding faculty. Our students are fortunate to have such talented and innovative professors to guide their development.

Nicole Mitchell, professor of music in the Claire Trevor School of the Arts and perennial DownBeat magazine top flutist, and her Black Earth Ensemble’s latest album, “Mandorla Awakening II: Emerging Worlds,” was named the top jazz album of 2017 by The New York Times. The newspaper also cited Professor Mitchell’s other 2017 album, “Liberation Narratives,” and followed up with a long article about her, calling her “probably the most inventive flutist in the past 30 years of jazz.” You can learn more about this exceptionally talented and passionate musician and listen to some of her remarkable music here.

Eli Simon, Chancellor’s Professor of drama in the Claire Trevor School of the Arts and artistic director of the New Swan Shakespeare Festival, was named Orange County’s Man of the Year in Theater for 2017 by the Daily Pilot. A renowned teacher of acting and prolific director, Professor Simon created and oversees the Shakespeare festival, which each summer presents “Shakespeare Under the Stars” at the New Swan Theater on campus. The Shakespeare festival is a highlight of Orange County’s arts calendar each year.

Kyriacos Athanasiou, Distinguished Professor of biomedical engineering in the Henry Samueli School of Engineering and director of the Driving Engineering & Life-science Translational Advances @ Irvine lab, has been awarded the 2018 Savio L-Y. Woo Translational Biomechanics Medal by the American Society of Mechanical Engineers in recognition of his exceptional contributions to bioengineering. Professor Athanasiou, who primarily investigates the regeneration of cartilage in joints, was cited for his inventions, patents and translational successes in injecting directly into bone marrow.

Five faculty members were included in the latest roster of the world’s most influential scientific minds. The published works of these researchers were in the top 1 percent for most cited in their respective fields between 2005 and 2015, making each of them a global leader in that field. Congratulations to Steven D. Allison, associate professor of ecology & evolutionary biology; Satya N. Atluri, professor emeritus of mechanical & aerospace engineering; Syed Ali Jafar, professor of electrical engineering & computer science; Susan M. O’Brien, professor of medicine and associate director of the Chao Family Comprehensive Cancer Center; and Eric Rignot, professor of Earth system science.

Startup success

Michelle Khine, professor of biomedical engineering and chemical engineering & materials science, is scientific co-founder of a very promising startup. Using inventions developed in her lab, she and her colleagues founded Novoheart to develop a way to test new heart drugs on living human heart pumps in a lab, thus speeding new therapies into use and saving money. Novoheart has now opened its flagship location at UCI Applied Innovation to take advantage of access to strategic partners and to the unique and innovative technologies and talent at UCI. This is a terrific example of how UCI is actively pushing its ideas out into the world to make life better.

Less than a month into 2018, we’re already off to a great start! UCI is truly a remarkable place in which to learn, teach, explore and change the world.

Novoheart creates tiny heart-like structure with stem cells to test new drugs