Four people have been selected to receive UC Irvine’s most prestigious honor, the Medal, which annually confers lifelong recognition on those who have made exceptional contributions to the university’s mission of teaching, research and public service.
“These individuals have been instrumental in shaping the future for our campus and community,” said Chancellor Michael Drake. “They are leaders, advisers and innovators, and we look forward to honoring them for their outstanding service and contributions.”
This year’s honorees:
Anthony James is a Distinguished Professor of Microbiology & Molecular Genetics at UCI, where he earned his bachelor’s and doctorate degrees in biological sciences. An internationally known biologist, he leads a global effort to develop new methods of controlling dengue fever transmission by mosquitoes. Funded by a $19.7 million grant in 2005 from the Foundation for the National Institutes of Health, the endeavor is among 43 groundbreaking research projects to improve health in developing countries that are supported by a $436 million grant from the Grand Challenges in Global Health initiative, launched by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.
James’ research interests include the molecular biology of insect vectors of disease, the genetics of vector competence, malaria and dengue fever. In 2006, his team created a genetically engineered mosquito highly resistant to the most prevalent type of dengue fever virus.
He has earned a number of honors for his research. In 2006 he was elected to the National Academy of Sciences, and in 1994 he was named a fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science. James received the UCI Alumni Association’s Lauds & Laurels Distinguished Alumnus Award in 2004 and the Burroughs Wellcome Fund’s New Initiatives in Malaria Research Award in 2000.
Fariborz Maseeh is a worldwide expert in micro-electro-mechanical systems, or MEMS. After earning a doctorate in engineering from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), he founded IntelliSense in 1991. It was the first company to specialize in the custom design, development and manufacturing of next-generation MEMS devices – tiny, computer-controlled chips used in products from cardiac pacemakers to aircraft landing gears. When IntelliSense was acquired in 2000, Maseeh established the Massiah Foundation, whose mission is to make transformational investments in education, science, healthcare, and the arts and humanities.
Maseeh is the founding benefactor of UCI’s Samuel Jordan Center for Persian Studies & Culture in the School of Humanities and the Claire Trevor School of the Arts. It is the first interdisciplinary center in the University of California system dedicated to Persian studies not based in a department of Near East or Middle East studies.
In addition to serving as a UC Irvine Foundation trustee and supporting numerous program areas, including engineering, medicine and intercollegiate athletics, he sits on advisory boards of several engineering schools. These include UCI’s The Henry Samueli School of Engineering, MIT, University of Southern California and Portland State University’s Maseeh College of Engineering and Computer Science. Maseeh was also instrumental in establishing the Teaching and Research Award at The Henry Samueli School of Engineering. He has received a number of awards, including Ellis Island Medal of Honor, Computer Town Gold Medal and Portland State’s Simon Benson Award among others.
William Parker is chair of UCI’s Department of Physics & Astronomy and former vice chancellor for research and dean of graduate studies, serving from 2000 to 2006. He joined the faculty in 1967, two years after the university opened. His research interests include superconductivity, macroscopic quantum effects in superconductors, low temperature physics and fundamental physical constants, and his work on the electronic properties of metals has led to a greater understanding of fundamental physics.
Parker’s administrative service began in 1975, when he became assistant vice chancellor for planning and programs. He was named associate executive vice chancellor in 1984 and helped create the Irvine Campus Housing Authority – the organization responsible for the development of University Hills, a highly regarded national model for faculty and staff housing communities.
Parker has continued to teach physics throughout his administrative career. His research efforts, classroom work and community service have earned him many honors and awards, including the Lauds & Laurels University Service Award in 1980; awards for outstanding teaching from the School of Physical Sciences in 1979 and 1983; the Lauds & Laurels Extraordinarius Award in 1989; and the Daniel G. Aldrich Jr. Distinguished University Service Award in 2008.
Laurel Wilkening was third chancellor of UCI, serving from 1993 to 1998. A renowned planetary scientist and expert on comets and meteorites, she served on several NASA committees and boards during the 1990s.
During her five-year tenure, the campus received its first two Nobel Prizes, contributed more than $1 billion per year to the local economy, completed 250,000 square feet of construction, and increased private, state and federal funding. Wilkening’s goal to move UCI into the ranks of America’s top 50 research universities was realized in 1995, and the campus was invited to join the prestigious Association of American Universities the following year.
Wilkening was instrumental in the creation of University Research Park. While chancellor, she asked the UC regents to review and approve a proposal to lease 85 acres of undeveloped campus land to the Irvine Company for the creation of the research park – now a national model for collaboration between the private sector and university researchers. She also played a key role in increasing the number of Regents’ Scholarships for transfer students by 60 percent, in cooperation with the campus’s Academic Senate.
In addition, the Center for Educational Partnerships was established during her tenure to enhance campus outreach to K-12 schools and community colleges. Since retiring in 1998, Wilkening has remained active as a board member for the Planetary Society, the University of Arizona’s Commission on the Status of Women and various environmental groups.
Hosted by the University of California, Irvine Foundation, the Medal awards ceremony – “A Celebration of Stars” – is the campus’s largest fundraiser and one of Orange County’s premier events. This year’s event will be held 5-10 p.m. Saturday, Oct. 3, at the Bren Events Center and will be chaired by Gary Singer ’74 and his wife, Melanie. It will feature a reception and formal dinner, medalist tributes and entertainment from the Claire Trevor School of the Arts. Past medalists, who include Nobel laureates, Pulitzer Prize winners and industry leaders, also will be highlighted. Event proceeds support key programs, including Regents’ Scholarships and graduate fellowships.
For information on tickets or sponsorships, call 949-824-9801.
About the University of California, Irvine: Founded in 1965, UCI is a top-ranked university dedicated to research, scholarship and community service. Led by Chancellor Michael Drake since 2005, it is among the fastest-growing University of California campuses, with more than 27,000 undergraduate and graduate students, 1,100 faculty and 9,200 staff. The top employer in dynamic Orange County, UCI contributes an annual economic impact of $4.2 billion. For more UCI news, visit www.today.uci.edu.
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