February 2020

We are now halfway through the Winter Quarter, and the campus is buzzing with activity. Undergraduate students are preparing for midterms and starting work on their term papers; graduate students are forging their professional paths; the faculty are pursuing new knowledge in their offices and laboratories, and passing on existing knowledge in classes large and small; our healthcare providers are helping people across all of Orange County and beyond; and the staff are, as always, excellently keeping the whole place running.

Record applications

Fall 2020 Applications infographic

We receive a lot of acclaim each year for the excellence of the education we provide and the opportunity we offer – in 2019 alone UCI was named the No. 1 college in the country by Money magazine, and Forbes ranked UCI No. 1 among America’s public universities for best value – but to me the most important recognition comes from our state’s graduating high school seniors. This past fall, for the second year in a row, UCI received the most applications of any UC campus from California’s college-bound students. Additionally, UCI was the top choice for first-generation college students and those from low-income families and underrepresented groups – also for the second consecutive year. Overall, we received the second-largest number of applications in the entire nation, confirming our status as a public Ivy.

UCI again receives most applications in UC system from state’s high school seniors 

Alumni spotlight

Megan Braun
At UCI, Megan Braun served two terms as ASUCI president, played goalie on the women’s water polo squad and was named the Lauds & Laurels Outstanding Undergraduate Student of 2010.

I always encourage students to make the most of their time here, to engage with all facets of the university experience. Megan Braun, who earned her bachelor’s degree in history in 2010, certainly did so. Among other accomplishments, she helped organize the school’s first Guinness world record (a massive dodgeball game), twice served as president of the Associated Students of UCI, played goalkeeper on the women’s water polo squad, and participated in the Olive Tree Initiative. Oh yes, she was also named a Rhodes Scholar (our first). Small wonder she was proclaimed the Lauds & Laurels Outstanding Undergraduate Student of 2010. Since she left UCI, Ms. Braun earned a master’s in international relations from Oxford University, a law degree from Yale University, and law clerkships with the U.S. departments of State and Justice. Currently a law clerk for Supreme Court Chief Justice John Roberts, she recently made news when she staffed Chief Justice Roberts during the just-concluded impeachment trial. An active Anteater alumna, Megan Braun is bringing great credit to her alma mater. I look forward to all she will accomplish in the years to come.

UCI’s impeachment connection 

Faculty honors

Kai Wehmeier, professor of logic and philosophy of science and a mainstay of the School of Social Sciences for the past two decades, has been named a 2019 recipient of the Humboldt Research Award. Granted by the Alexander von Humboldt Foundation in Germany, the honor recognizes outstanding academic researchers “whose fundamental discoveries, new theories, or insights have had a significant impact on their own discipline and who are expected to continue producing cutting-edge achievements in the future.” Professor Wehmeier’s research applies techniques from mathematical and philosophical logic to investigate notions fundamental to contemporary theoretical philosophy and formal semantics, including necessity, identity, and the compositionality of linguistic meaning. The honor includes a €60,000 cash prize (equivalent to about $65,000) and the opportunity to spend up to one year collaborating on a long-term research project with colleagues in Germany.

Horst Hahn, Distinguished Visiting Professor in the Department of Materials Science and Engineering within The Henry Samueli School of Engineering has been elected a fellow of the National Academy of Inventors. The distinction, the highest accorded solely to academic inventors, goes to those who have demonstrated a prolific spirit of innovation with outstanding inventions that have made a tangible impact on quality of life, economic development and the welfare of society. Professor Hahn’s research involves investigating defects and diffusion in metals and ceramics, nanostructured and amorphous materials, tailored and tunable properties of nanostructures, energy materials, printed electronics and high entropy materials. With Professor Hahn’s election, there are now nine NAI fellows in the Samueli School.

Late last year Pramod Khargonekar, vice chancellor for research and Distinguished Professor of electrical engineering and computer science within The Henry Samueli School of Engineering, received the 2019 Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE) Control Systems Award in recognition of his outstanding contributions to robust and optimal control theory. In particular, he played a key role in developing a powerful state-space-based theory for H-infinity optimal control, which helps ensure robustness of control design for critical processes in a variety of industries, including aerospace, automotive, manufacturing and processing. In another testament to his stature among electrical and electronics engineers, Professor Khargonekar was asked by his peers to serve on the editorial board of the Proceedings of the IEEE, the flagship journal in the fields of electronics, electrical and computer engineering, and computer science.

Congratulations to Professors Wehmeier, Hahn and Khargonekar!

Susan and Henry Samueli College of Health Sciences

Rendering of the Susan and Henry Samueli College of Health Sciences
Located on the corner of Bison and California avenues, the landmark 9-acre health sciences complex will feature new homes for the Susan and Henry Samueli College of Health Sciences and the Sue and Bill Gross School of Nursing.

I am delighted to share the news that we will start construction later this month on two new buildings that will comprise the centerpiece of the Susan and Henry Samueli College of Health Sciences. Located at the corner of Bison and California avenues adjacent to the UCI Research Park, the buildings will house the college, the Susan Samueli Integrative Health Institute, and the Sue & Bill Gross School of Nursing. There will also be a pad for a future School of Pharmacy & Pharmaceutical Sciences building. Designed to foster interaction among health researchers, clinicians, faculty from other UCI schools and units, and expert staff, the complex will include classrooms, research labs and collaborative meeting spaces. It will connect with the Gavin Herbert Eye Institute and the School of Medicine’s Biomedical Research Center. This project would not be possible without the visionary support of Susan and Henry Samueli, and Sue Gross and Bill Gross, and once again I thank them for their enduring partnership with UCI that is bringing our goal of leadership in integrative health to fruition.

UCI to start construction on Samueli College of Health Sciences complex 

Leonardo was right

Salvator Mundi is the most expensive painting in the world, a portrait of Jesus holding in one hand a clear orb, widely considered to be by Leonardo da Vinci. But there always been a bit of doubt about the attribution because the fabric behind the orb is not distorted and Leonardo, who studied optics, was too good a scientist to have made such a mistake. Michael Goodrich, Chancellor’s Professor of computer science in the Donald Bren School of Information & Computer Sciences, enlisted two colleagues, Assistant Professor Shuang Zhao and his Ph.D. student Marco Zhanhang Liang, to investigate. Using their skills with a physics-based graphics technique, they proved that if the orb were hollow and in the right position, there would be no distortion. This does not prove that Leonardo painted the masterwork, but it does show that if he was the artist, he certainly knew his optics.

Orange County’s top doctors

UCI Health is the most important provider of healthcare in all Orange County, serving a region of nearly 4 million people in Orange County, western Riverside County and southeast Los Angeles County. It is unrivalled in the scope of its reach, the breadth of its expertise, and the talents of its physicians. The Orange County Medical Association named more than 170 UCI Health doctors to its 2020 Physicians of Excellence list. More physicians from UCI were honored than from any other health system in Orange County. This year, UCI Health also received an 11th consecutive top grade for patient safety from The Leapfrog Group and was listed among America’s Best Hospitals for the 19th year in a row by U.S. News & World Report. As the region’s only academic medical center we are the hospital of choice for the treatment of serious and complex cases.

Our work in human health and medicine has a profound and immediate effect on the people in the communities around us. People come to us when they are at their most vulnerable; they turn to us to make their lives better, and the outcomes of our efforts have the greatest effect on those lives. I hope no one reading this message ever needs our healthcare services, but rest assured, they will be there if you do. Congratulations to our 2020 Physicians of Excellence – the best of the best!

More than 170 UCI Health doctors among 2020 Physicians of Excellence in Orange Coast magazine