Rachel Martin hasn’t lived on campus for more than a decade – not since her junior year at Arizona State University. This fall, however, the assistant professor of chemistry in the School of Physical Sciences packed up her belongings and moved into Arroyo Vista student housing. Did Martin suddenly miss dorm life?
Actually, she’s UCI’s faculty-in-residence at the new UCI International Village. She will live in the themed housing community with more than 100 students; about half are exchange students in the Education Abroad Program, the others students from the U.S. pursuing international studies.
Wearing blue jeans and surrounded by boxes of her belongings, Martin could be mistaken for a student – although her apartment, which she shares with her husband, is a long way from the typical dorm with its vaulted ceilings, spacious living and dining area, and large kitchen. Martin, who moved in at the end of August from an apartment in University Hills, won’t have to pay rent in exchange for her duties.
Will she bust keg parties?
“That’s not my job,” she says, laughing. Others take care of rowdy behavior. Her role is to plan activities that will foster a sense of community and help increase students’ knowledge of different cultures.
“This is a new position, so we’ll see what evolves,” she says.
So far she intends to hold seminars, talks by professors from various departments, movie nights featuring foreign films, dinners in which students prepare international cuisine, and even TV nights to watch Eurovision – a popular song contest similar to American Idol.
Martin, who got her doctorate in chemistry from Yale University in 2002 and whose research focuses on protein structure, also will help give students a global view of science-related topics.
“People might expect a humanities professor to live in the International Village,” she says. “But science is very international. You have to travel and interact with people around the world. I have collaborators in France and Sweden. And the big issues facing science are global in nature, like climate change and meeting worldwide energy demands.”
A UCI faculty member since July 2005, Martin will teach a new undergraduate class this spring called “Internationalism in Science” about global warming and other issues. Meanwhile, at Arroyo Vista, she’s involved in her own living experiment.
“At a large campus like UCI, it’s good for students to interact with the faculty,” she says. “It creates the small-school feel of a close community within a big university.”