November 2019

This is a very hopeful – and anxiety-filled – time of the year for California’s high school seniors. Many tens of thousands of accomplished students will spend the coming weeks completing and submitting their applications in hopes of becoming an Anteater. Last year, UCI received more than 117,000 applications, a compelling confirmation that our beautiful campus is a premier destination for those seeking world-class academics, accomplished faculty and endless opportunities to learn, develop and grow.

Faculty honors

Professor James Hicks, chair of the Department of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology in the School of Biological Sciences, has been named a 2019 Fellow of the California Academy of Sciences. An integrative animal physiologist, his research focuses on vertebrates and spans several groups (from fish to humans) providing a unique evolutionary perspective into circulation and respiration and seeks to discover not only differences among organisms, but also the unifying principles shared by diverse organisms. His published papers cover topics ranging from the evolution of the vertebrate heart to physiological responses to abiotic factors. He is an elected Fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science.

Dr. Enrique Lavernia wears two hats. As provost and executive vice chancellor, he is UCI’s chief academic and operating officer, providing outstanding leadership for the academic and organizational functioning of the campus and the advancement of the university’s missions in research, teaching and service. He is also a Distinguished Professor of materials science and engineering within The Henry Samueli School of Engineering, where he maintains an active laboratory. A member of the National Academy of Engineering, he has received many honors for his groundbreaking research – he has published more than 600 journal and 200 conference publications and been awarded 11 patents – the most recent of which is the 2020 Acta Materialia Gold Medal Award, an international honor that recognizes demonstrated leadership and outstanding contributions to the field of materials science and engineering.

Dr. Robert H. Liebeck, an adjunct professor in the Department of Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering within The Henry Samueli School of Engineering, has been elected to the International Air and Space Hall of Fame. He is a world-renowned authority on aerodynamics, hydrodynamics and aircraft design, and is a member of the National Academy of Engineering. Most noted for his development of airfoils to make wings more efficient, which have become known as “Liebeck Airfoils,” he is also recognized as one of the founding fathers of the Blended Wing Body aircraft.

Congratulations to Professors Hicks, Lavernia and Liebeck on these signal honors. We are proud to count you among our faculty.

Education grant

Professor Mark Warschauer of the School of Education has been awarded a $4 million grant by the U.S. Department of Education to study ways to improve the teaching of computational thinking to culturally and linguistically diverse students in U.S. public schools. The project will work in partnership with Santa Ana Unified School District and two other school districts to develop and evaluate a computer science instructional intervention – consisting of a curriculum and professional development – appropriate for fourth-grade Hispanic students. Over the project’s five-year span, the collaboration will work directly with more than 4,000 students. Professor Warschauer founded and is director of the Digital Learning Lab, which uses cutting-edge approaches for better understanding students’ learning processes, from pre-school to graduate school, as well as to design and develop new tools and resources to improve digital learning opportunities. The development and diffusion of digital media are transforming the terrain of learning in both higher education and K-12 schools. The use of digital media in education is also dramatically expanding the amount and types of data available to analyze teaching and learning processes.

Mark Warschauer to Lead Team on $4 Million EIR Grant 

Alumni features

UCI School of Education alumna Megan Smith received the highest award given by the U.S. Government to K-12 math and science teachers – the Presidential Award for Excellence in Mathematics and Science Teaching. She was selected for the award based on her distinction in the classroom and dedication to improving math education. A double Anteater, she graduated with a B.A. in psychology and social behavior and a minor in educational studies before obtaining her master’s degree from the UCI School of Education. Ms. Smith teaches fifth grade at Lincoln Fundamental Elementary School, a magnet school in the Corona-Norco Unified School District. She was honored at the White House and spent the week of October 14 in Washington, D.C. as a guest of the National Science Foundation, participating in awards events and professional development opportunities.

The 2019 Diana Forsythe Prize has been awarded to informatics alumna Lilly Irani, Ph.D. ’13, for her book, Chasing Innovation: Making Entrepreneurial Citizens in Modern India. The Diana Forsythe Prize celebrates the best book or series of published articles in the spirit of Diana Forsythe’s feminist anthropological research on work, science, or technology, including biomedicine, and is awarded annually by the American Anthropology Association. Dr. Irani, now an associate professor of communication and science studies at UC San Diego, based the book on work conducted at UCI for her Ph.D. dissertation, Designing Citizens in Transnational India. The citation described her book as “a fearlessly ambitious work of scholarship that weaves together history, ethnography, and critique of a seductive vision of entrepreneurial citizenship.”

Earlier this month our nation celebrated Veterans Day, remembering all those who have served in our military. Many UCI students, faculty and staff have proudly served our nation in uniform, and that tradition continues, as Coco Goodson demonstrates. One of the greatest athletes ever to attend UCI – she is the only two-time All-American in the history of the women’s soccer program – she played professionally for several years before returning to UCI to complete her degree in 2015. She then volunteered for the U.S. Army, where she is currently a 2nd lieutenant in the fabled 82nd Airborne Division, the elite of the elite among airborne troops and fittingly known as “The All-Americans.” She credits the leadership and discipline she learned as a UCI athlete as integral to succeeding in her army duties. Coco Goodson has traded her UCI uniform for an airborne patch, and she embodies the very best of our campus and our country.

UCI Athletics will be hosting its second annual Salute to Heroes Game on December 7th as the men’s basketball team hosts Cal Baptist. Local veterans and military service members will be honored during a special pregame ceremony. More information can be found at the Salute to Heroes page.

KUCI 50th anniversary

KUCI, UCI’s on-campus FM radio station, is celebrating its Golden Anniversary this month. Originally broadcasting from dorm rooms as a very low-power AM station, it switched to FM and officially went on the air in October 1969 with (most likely) the song “Sugar, Sugar” by the Archies. Today it is an around-the-clock broadcaster of talk and music, UCI basketball and baseball games, campus concerts, marquee speakers and celebrity interviews, with a signal that reaches much of Orange County and, via, the entire world. Congratulations to the KUCI deejays and staff, past and present, who have been picking them up and putting them down (disc jockey slang for playing records) for 50 years. The campus is looking forward to seeing KUCI evolve over the next half-century.

Happy 50th, KUCI 

Innovation in medical education

The UCI School of Medicine enjoys an enviable reputation as a national leader in the use of technology in training the next generation of physicians. Nine years ago, it became the first school in the nation to equip each incoming student with an iPad preloaded with medical textbooks, course outlines and handouts, slide presentations, and other essentials. The school has also experimented with Google Glass and AliveCor’s ECG device, as well as investing in high-fidelity simulations. Now, thanks to the generosity of a grateful patient and her family, this year’s incoming medical students have each been given Butterfly handheld ultrasound devices. The cellphone-like units use a novel ultrasound-on-a-chip technology to make handheld portable ultrasounds cheaper and more accessible. The mission is not just to make it easier to use ultrasounds in the ways they’re already used, but also to change the status quo – using ultrasounds in areas of medicine where they formerly would have been impractical. This is yet another example of how UCI is transforming healthcare training and delivery for the 21st century.


Viridiana Chabolla is making history. A student at the UCI School of Law, she is one of the plaintiffs suing to prevent the closure of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, or DACA, program. Ms. Chabolla, who has lived in the United States since she was a small child, now has legal residency through marriage, but she is continuing the fight on behalf of the more than 700,000 other young people who face the possibility of being deported from the only country they have ever known. The case was argued before the Supreme Court earlier this month and is now awaiting the court’s decision.

Brilliant Future campaign

Last month we announced the Brilliant Future fundraising campaign, which over the next few years will raise $2 billion in private support and meaningfully engage 75,000 of our alumni. In a remarkable gesture of support for the campaign, two-time Anteater alumna Kristen Monson, who earned a bachelor’s degree in economics in 1982 and an MBA in 1986, has pledged $1.5 million in legacy giving to the Paul Merage School of Business, bringing her campaign commitment to the school to more than $3 million. Ms. Monson previously named the third floor terrace of the Merage School’s new building. She made her career as an executive at PIMCO and was honored as the Merage School’s commencement speaker in 2016. With this challenge gift, Ms. Monson calls on all alumni and stakeholders within the Merage School community to consider their impact through estate giving. Thank you, Kristen Monson, for your steadfast support of the university and the Merage School.

UCI alumna pledges $1.5 million in legacy giving to Paul Merage School of Business 

Honor for Scott Brooks

Scott Brooks always played bigger than his 5 feet, 11 inches height should have permitted. As a senior in 1986-1987, he led our men’s basketball team and the entire West Coast in scoring with an average of 23.8 points per game and was second in the nation in three-pointers, averaging four a game. After his collegiate career, he played 10 seasons (1988-1998) in the NBA, playing for the Philadelphia 76ers, Minnesota Timberwolves, Houston Rockets, Dallas Mavericks, New York Knicks and Cleveland Cavaliers, winning the NBA championship in 1994 with the Houston Rockets. Named the 2009-2010 NBA Coach of the Year after leading the Oklahoma City Thunder to a 50-win season, he is currently the head coach of the Washington Wizards. He was inducted into the UCI Hall of Fame in 2001. A dedicated Anteater, his annual Scott Brooks Invitational Golf event donates all its proceeds in support of UCI’s student-athletes. On Saturday, November 30, it will be Scott Brooks Day at the Bren Events Center. The men’s basketball team will play Eastern Michigan, and at halftime Scott Brooks will receive the rare honor of having his number retired. Congratulations, Scott, on this well-deserved honor!


Happy Thanksgiving holiday! For many, it’s their favorite time of the year, and I hope you enjoy relaxing with family and friends. I am very thankful for your participation in the life of this university. Our mission would not succeed without your unwavering support.

If you’re staying on campus over the holiday break, UCI Dining is offering a special “Friendsgiving” dinner on Friday, November 29, at Brandywine Dining Commons in the new Middle Earth Towers. Turkey, ham and all the trimmings will be served from 4:30 p.m. to 8:00 p.m., so bring your friends and enjoy a great holiday meal.