A crowd-surfing student
A crowd-surfing student enjoys Shocktoberfest ’10 festivities Oct. 15 at the Bren Events Center. Daniel A. Anderson / University Communications

In the past year, UC Irvine students, staff and faculty have stepped up in the face of continuing budget challenges and fee increases with innovation, drive and talent. The result? Research breakthroughs, national honors, global outreach, sports firsts — even a Guinness world record. Here are some top UCI stories from 2010. As always, it was quite a year.

Student activity
2010 was a year UCI students got busy: Members of the Olive Tree Initiative embarked on a 17-day Middle East journey in September, meeting with Israeli, Palestinian and Jordanian civilians, community leaders, politicians, scholars, activists, journalists and businesspeople with firsthand knowledge of the regional conflict. Their goal was to gain understanding beyond what’s available from indirect sources and the mainstream media and to spread this to others upon returning home. Mission accomplished. In November, the U.S. Center for Citizen Diplomacy — which promotes American involvement in humanitarian and diplomatic efforts abroad — honored OTI as a top citizen diplomacy program. … Students with UCI’s Global Brigades program went to Honduras to help locals install eco-stoves, latrines, water storage units and concrete floors. The low-cost improvements will go a long way toward preventing respiratory diseases and other illnesses spread by poor hygiene.

Who needs football when you rule in dodgeball? Nearly 1,750 students hurled 600 inflated rubber balls at each other with semi-malicious intent Sept. 9 in the Bren Events Center, setting a Guinness world record for the largest dodgeball game ever. … Irked by continued fee hikes and labor disputes, students played a huge role in the UC-wide “Day of Action” on March 4. In addition, they proved that the pen is indeed mighty during an Oct. 5 “Candidate Write-in,” urging Sacramento to support higher education as an investment in California’s future. … Fifth-year Asian American studies major Jesse Cheng began his one-year term as UC student regent July 1 and has galvanized student reaction to recent fee hikes. He’s the second UCI student to hold the position. … Sitara Nayudu became the first engineering major and the first woman of color elected Associated Students of UCI president. … And a tip of the old pint to Megan
C. Braun ’10, who became the first UCI grad to win a prestigious Rhodes
, which funds study at the University of Oxford in England.

Research news & breakthroughs
On the stem cell research front, UCI celebrated the May 14 opening of Sue and Bill Gross Hall: A CIRM Institute, the first Southern California facility dedicated solely to research, education and potential treatments involving stem cells. In October, Geron Corp. enrolled the first patient in the world’s first human embryonic stem cell clinical trial to treat acute spinal cord injury using a therapy created by UCI’s Hans Keirstead. And a treatment developed by Aileen Anderson and Brian Cummings of the Sue and Bill Gross Stem Cell Research Center in collaboration with researchers at StemCells Inc. will be the basis of the world’s first clinical trial using human neural stem cells to treat chronic spinal cord injury.

Seismologist Lisa Grant Ludwig discovered that earthquakes have rocked the powerful San Andreas fault far more often than previously thought, raising the specter of an even-more-imminent “big one.” … Civil & environmental engineer Maria Feng is working with two companies to build a prototype robot that would repair and retrofit thousands of miles of aging water pipes in the U.S. by applying a tough reinforcement material around their interiors. … Vector biologist Anthony James helped create the first flightless mosquito, a model that could curb the transmission of malaria and dengue fever throughout the world.

In the physical sciences, Earth system scientists Michael Prather and James Randerson co-authored a National Research Council report on how the U.S. could monitor foreign greenhouse gas emissions if it entered into a new climate treaty. … Atmospheric chemists Donald Blake and F. Sherwood Rowland found record levels of potentially harmful chemicals in the air around the BP oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico. … UCI astronomers helped discover hundreds of new galaxies through brighter galaxies in front of them that deflect their faint light back to the massive Herschel telescope.

Roxane Cohen Silver, professor of psychology & social behavior, spent a week in Chile in February meeting with government and university officials to develop psychological interventions and disaster preparedness programs for residents. Her work fostered healing in the South American country, beset by an 8.8-magnitude earthquake, strong aftershocks, a deadly tsunami and public-service disruptions.

In grant funding news, the Institute for Clinical & Translational Science won a highly competitive $20 million Clinical & Translational Science Award from the National Institutes of Health to speed the transformation of scientific discoveries into medical advances for patients. It’s the sixth-largest grant in UCI history.

Head baseball coach Mike Gillespie was inducted into the American Baseball Coaches Association Hall of Fame in January. … Sophomore Charles Jock was named a 2010 All-American by the U.S. Track & Field and Cross Country Coaches Association. He broke UCI’s record in the 800 meters four times this season. … Big West Conference Pitcher of the Year Daniel Bibona won the Lowe’s Senior CLASS Award. The annual honor goes to the most outstanding senior student-athlete in NCAA Division I baseball. … The UCI women’s soccer squad became the first team in Big West Conference history to finish conference play undefeated and untied. The Anteaters also made their first appearance in the NCAA tournament and tied a conference record with 19 wins overall.

New faces, facilities & firsts
Vice Chancellor for Student Affairs Manuel N. Gomez and Vice Chancellor for Research Susan V. Bryant — who made significant contributions to UCI’s growth and excellence during their combined 80 years of service — retired during the summer. Filling their shoes are Thomas Parham (interim), former assistant vice chancellor for counseling & health services, and John Hemminger, former dean of physical sciences. … Daniel G. Aldrich III returned home to become interim vice chancellor for university advancement. His father is founding UCI Chancellor Daniel G. Aldrich Jr. … New deans were selected for the Claire Trevor School of the Arts (Joseph S. Lewis III), the School of Social Ecology (Valerie Jenness) and the Donald Bren School of Information & Computer Sciences (Hal Stern).

In the fall, ICS kicked off its undergraduate program in computer game science, becoming one of the few to offer a degree in this emerging field. Orange County has dozens of computer game design companies, such as Blizzard Entertainment and SuperVillain Studios – which was started by a UCI alum. … To better prepare future physicians, each incoming School of Medicine student received an iPad preloaded with the entire year’s curriculum — a first among medical schools. And the new Medical Education Building opened, featuring one of the most advanced simulation centers in the country. UCI’s medical students and residents also began using portable ultrasound scanners as an educational and diagnostic tool, another first in U.S. medical education.

Fear the snout? You’d better fear those claws. Two giant anteaters — wild cousins to UCI’s famed mascot, Peter — made their debut April 17 at the Santa Ana Zoo, impressing visitors with their long, sticky tongues and bearlike paws. Kent Yamaguchi ’83 and ’84, zoo director and a UCI Alumni Association vice president, said: “This is my proudest moment — to have our mascot here in Orange County.” … Despite a campuswide hiring freeze and growing unemployment throughout the state, UCI hired 17 custodians who previously had been contracted to provide services to the university. As “insourced” workers, they receive more paid holidays, broader health insurance options, retirement benefits, sick leave, and official UCI uniforms and ID cards.

Honors, awards & rankings
Much-honored University Professor Francisco J. Ayala, one of the world’s leading evolutionary biologists, won the 2010 Templeton Prize. The annual $1.5 million award — the largest given to an individual — honors a living person who has made exceptional contributions to affirming life’s spiritual dimension. Ayala donated the prize to fund Francisco J. Ayala Graduate Fellowships in the School of Biological Sciences. In recognition of his considerable scientific achievements and contributions to the campus, UCI renamed its Science Library the Francisco J. Ayala Science Library.

Professors Michael Cahalan, Greg Duncan and Susan Trumbore were elected to the elite National Academy of Sciences, one of the highest honors that can be accorded a U.S. scientist. … Zachary Fisk, Distinguished Professor of physics & astronomy, was elected to the American Philosophical Society, founded by Benjamin Franklin and composed of high-level scholars from a variety of academic disciplines. … Robert Liebeck, adjunct professor of mechanical & aerospace engineering, received the 2010 Daniel Guggenheim Medal, which recognizes individuals who significantly advance the field of aeronautics. Its first recipient was Orville Wright.

Angela Garcia, assistant professor of anthropology, won a 2010 PEN USA Literary Award for University of California Exceptional First Book for The Pastoral Clinic: Addiction & Dispossession Along the Rio Grande. This Lovely Life, a memoir by Vicki Forman, a 1994 graduate of UCI’s M.F.A. Programs in Writing, garnered PEN USA’s creative nonfiction award.

UCI was designated a Tree Campus USA by the Arbor Day Foundation for its verdant forest of 24,000 trees campuswide. … And to prove it’s green on the inside too, UCI — for the fourth time since March 2007 — earned LEED Gold certification from the U.S. Green Building Council for excellence in environmentally responsible building design, construction and operation. The award this summer went to Donald Bren Hall and brought the total LEED Gold count to eight.

UC Irvine Medical Center again was ranked among the nation’s best hospitals by U.S. News & World Report — its 10th consecutive year on the roster. Of the top 50 hospitals, UC Irvine was listed 30th for gynecology, 32nd for urology and 46th for otolaryngology. … The Paul Merage School of Business’ full-time M.B.A. program jumped 15 spots to take 36th place on U.S. News & World Report’s annual list of America’s best graduate schools. Its executive and fully employed M.B.A. programs ranked in the top 25 nationally among part-time business school programs. … In only its second year, the School of Law was ninth in scholarly impact of all U.S. law schools, according to The National Jurist. … Finally, to no surprise, UCI came in at No. 16 of The Daily Beast’s 100 Happiest Colleges, as determined by subjective and objective data. Zot!