Monthly Message from Chancellor Howard Gillman
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
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.
A solution to snake bites
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.
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!
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.
In recognition of National Financial Literacy Month, I want to take a moment to share some of UCI’s efforts to ensure that students are well-informed and prepared to handle their finances. One example is the LIFEvest program in the Paul Merage School of Business, which provides free money management education to underserved high schoolers during the summer. Launched in 2011, LIFEvest has reached more than 200 teenagers from local school districts, teaching them how to prepare for college costs and how to set and achieve personal goals. Recently, it received $10,000 from Pacific Life Foundation as well as a separate endowment from Pamela Adams, MBA ’98 for student scholarships.
A number of UCI faculty are experts on finance, money and the economy. In the School of Social Sciences, the Institute for Money, Technology & Financial Inclusion partners with individuals around the world to study everyday uses of currency and the role technology plays in transactions, particularly among poor populations. Since the institute’s founding in 2008, researchers have conducted more than 140 projects in 47 countries. You can learn more about the IMTF’s work and that of several faculty members here.
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.
Chancellor Howard Gillman