UCI News

The body politic

Timothy Bradley brings ‘physics of life’ to the Academic Senate

by Hanan Eisenman, University Communications | September 4, 2007
The body politic

For ecology & evolutionary biology professor Timothy Bradley, research, teaching and getting involved in the community naturally go together.

Bradley has a long history of bringing intellectual knowledge to bear for the common good – experience that will serve him well as incoming chair of the Irvine Division of the Academic Senate. The faculty members who comprise the senate determine academic policy, set admissions standards and supervise course curriculum.

Such a role calls for an openness to ideas, an ability to engage others and a commitment to a greater purpose – all of which Bradley has demonstrated in the research field and the classroom.

For 10 years, he studied Mono Lake, assessing the ecological effects of rising salinity levels caused by the diversion of water by the Los Angeles Department of Water & Power. By the late 1980s, Mono Lake, although high in the Eastern Sierras, had become three times as salty as the ocean. Bradley examined whether organisms such as flies, shrimp and migratory shorebirds could survive in the increasingly salty water. His research was instrumental in the eventual protection of the lake, which is now on the road to recovery.

In the course of helping save a lake, Bradley shared many research adventures with his students.

“We were up to our knees in sulfurous mud, hiking across deserts or fast-flowing streams, sampling insects as we went. It was a real joy to work with students in the field.”

Since coming to UCI in 1979, Bradley has received a number of teaching awards, including the Excellence in Teaching Award from the School of Biological Sciences in 1999. His teaching success can be traced to his rare ability to present a subject that some students find inaccessible in a way that engages and surprises them, by revealing the functional principles that unite all living things. Bradley refers to such principles as the “physics of life.”

His talent for working with others should come in handy during his one-year tenure as Academic Senate chair, which began Sept. 1. Among his priorities:

  1. Build a successful foundation for several new schools and programs: “I want to see that our new school of law and programs in nursing science and public health begin on an appropriate and intellectually rigorous course.”
  2. Continue the tradition of shared governance at UC: “We have an excellent relationship with the administration. With the coming change of leadership of the UC system, continuing senate involvement will help ensure that the process of shared governance is preserved and enhanced.”
  3. Enhance campus life: “We are interested in the well-being of all university community members. We are committed to promoting a campus life that is exciting and interesting for everyone.”

“It’s a great honor to have been elected chair, and I hope to help guide UCI’s growth at this important juncture in the university’s progression,” Bradley says. “This growth will be essential in taking us to the next level of academic excellence.”