UCI News

Highlights of 2011 at UCI

December 12, 2011

UC Irvine students, staff and faculty stepped up in the face of another year of budget challenges and fee increases with continued drive, talent and innovation. The results? More research breakthroughs, national honors and global outreach — even a second dodgeball world record. Here are snapshots of UCI 2011. As always, it was quite a year.

Students doing their thing

It’s official: UCI reclaimed the Guinness world record for hosting the largest dodgeball game; 4,488 ball-heaving, blue-and gold-clad students lined up Sept. 21 in the Anteater Recreation Center fields to make history. … The ’Eater Nation partied all night at Shocktoberfest, an annual celebration featuring the West Coast’s largest Midnight Magic event to kick off the basketball season. … Congratulations to former Associated Students President Megan Braun ’10, who became UCI’s first-ever Rhodes Scholar. … The Japanese American student group Tomo No Kai made a thousand origami cranes that they sold for $1 each, leading a flock of campus fundraisers for Japan after devastating earthquakes and a tsunami rocked the nation. … UCI law students took part in the Iraqi Refugee Assistance Project to help individuals and families displaced by war and sectarian violence resettle in the U.S. or another safe country.

Seen on campus …

A cheerful Dalai Lama, speaking to a sold-out Bren Events Center crowd and marking the seventh anniversary of a UCI scholarship carrying his name. … Mason Mastroianni, who produces the “B.C.” comic strip, getting a firsthand look during a Celebrate UCI appearance at the anteater mascot mania created by his grandfather, the late Johnny Hart. … Alexandra Cousteau, granddaughter of the famed undersea explorer, being honored by UCI’s Center for Unconventional Security Affairs for her work on global water issues. … A thoroughly engaging Sir Richard Branson, discussing how to foster world harmony through entrepreneurial problem solving as part of the Living Peace Series. … The charismatic philosopher, author, critic, civil rights activist and Princeton University professor Cornel West, encouraging compassion, integrity and love in the fight against a common enemy: injustice. … Academy Award-winning actor Geena Davis, participating in a “Women, War & Peace” panel discussion pegged to a bold, five-part PBS television series.

Arts & letters

Book lovers flocked to the fifth annual Literary Orange event to celebrate reading and writing with talks and signings by more than 40 acclaimed authors. … The UCI Libraries’ spring exhibit chronicled the evolution of Irvine from farmland to model planned community. … The University Art Gallery hosted “The Radicalization of a ’50s Housewife,” about alumna Barbara T. Smith’s journey from Pasadena homemaker to performance art pioneer. … By integrating disabled and nondisabled performers, dance science researcher and M.F.A. grad Mark Tomasic blended art and science in the Calit2 Laboratory for Science & Health in Artistic Performance. … In 2009, Nobel laureate F. Sherwood Rowland donated 300 cartons of his scientific and personal papers and artifacts to the UCI Libraries’ Special Collections & Archives, resulting in “Discovery of a Lifetime,” a fall 2011 exhibit on Rowland’s fascinating and influential life as a scientist and communicator.

Research breakthroughs & news

Roxane Cohen Silver, who headed a national study of responses to 9/11, marked the 10th anniversary with public talks and new research about the lessons learned. … Working mothers of the world, unite! Wendy Goldberg and JoAnn Prause revealed that a woman’s employment status does not influence her children’s achievement or behavior. … David Kirkby and Daniel Stokols created a smartphone program that tracks to the penny how much homeowners spend using particular appliances. It’s part of uci@home. … In his new book, Learning in the Cloud, Mark Warschauer explores what digital technology can — and cannot — do in education. … Greg Duncan found that the problems faced by urban schools are rooted in gradual but powerful changes in the nation’s economy – not the least of which is the increasingly unequal distribution of family incomes. … The Paul Merage School of Business examined what it means for companies to go green. … Aditi Majumder and colleagues designed software that improves the quality of sewn-together panoramic images from separate projectors. … UCI astronomers showed how the Milky Way galaxy’s iconic spiral arms formed from intergalactic collisions. It looks as cool as it sounds. … Eric Rignot charted previously unmapped Antarctic glaciers — important for tracking future sea rise from climate change. … UCI MIND researchers discovered a novel compound that reduces brain plaques in Alzheimer’s disease without adverse side effects. … The first patient was enrolled in a Swiss clinical trial of a stem cell therapy for chronic spinal cord injury created by Aileen Anderson and Brian Cummings. … Why you can’t eat just one: Daniele Piomelli and colleagues found that fats in such foods as potato chips and french fries make them nearly irresistible by triggering a biological mechanism that probably drives gluttonous behavior. … LED bulbs safe? Think again. Oladele Ogunseitan found lead, arsenic and other contaminants in them. … Lorenzo Valdevit helped engineer the world’s lightest material — so light that it can sit atop dandelion fluff.

Sports!

Capping a record-setting season, senior Charles Jock made the U.S. national team and ran in the 800-meter race at the International Association of Athletics Federations World Track & Field Championships. … This summer, the head coaches of UCI’s volleyball and water polo teams served with U.S. national teams — the pinnacle of achievement in their fields — in championship tournaments in Puerto Rico, Mexico and China. … UCI became one of only six universities nationwide to have both men’s and women’s soccer teams ranked in the top 25, joining such established soccer powerhouses as North Carolina and UCLA.

Huzzahs to …

Thomas A. Parham ’77, named UCI’s vice chancellor for student affairs. … Gregory Leet, hired to lead fundraising efforts as vice chancellor for university advancement. … Ken Janda, who was appointed dean of the School of Physical Sciences. … Gregory Washington, who took the helm of The Henry Samueli School of Engineering. … Founding faculty member Robert Cohen, honored with a festival as well as a theater renamed after him in the Claire Trevor School of the Arts. … Social sciences dean Barbara Dosher, a new member of the prestigious National Academy of Sciences. … Professor Scott Samuelsen, who discussed his groundbreaking work — including the conversion of sewage gas into fuel for hydrogen cars — with White House officials as a designated “Champion of Change.” … Distinguished Professor John C. Avise, elected to the venerable American Philosophical Society. … Third-year M.F.A. student James Zwerneman, awarded the UCI Henfield Prize, established to support promising young authors. … Rommie Amaro, assistant professor of pharmaceutical sciences and computer science, who garnered the Presidential Early Career Award for Scientists & Engineers.

Campus wows

Praising its green initiatives, Sierra magazine named UCI one of America’s top 10 “Coolest Schools” for the second year in a row. … UCI’s demonstrated commitment to carbon reduction strategies earned it a 2011 Second Nature Climate Leadership Award. … The Princeton Review tabbed UCI among the “Best in the West” for its educational excellence, green programs and student reviews. … Kiplinger’s Personal Finance chose UCI as a “best value” public college, rating it 17th nationally, up from 20th last year. … Renowned evolutionary geneticist Francisco J. Ayala gave $10 million to UCI to support the biological sciences — the largest gift ever by a campus faculty member. … UCI’s top-ranked Earth system science department, the first academic unit anywhere to study human impact on the environment in an interdisciplinary way, marked its 20th anniversary. … “Science Under the Stars,” the second annual UCI School of Medicine gala, celebrated the Gavin Herbert Eye Institute groundbreaking by announcing a $5 million gift from George and Julia Argyros to establish an ambulatory surgery center there in their name. … U.S. News & World Report’s inaugural metropolitan hospital report ranked UC Irvine Medical Center as the best in Orange County and fourth out of 44 facilities in the Los Angeles area. Additionally, 90 UCI physicians were named to the magazine’s 2011-12 Best Doctors in America list, the most of any hospital in the county. … With the repeal of “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell,” UCI established an ROTC program with the U.S. Army, including a full nondiscrimination provision believed to be the country’s first. … The Institute for Money, Technology & Financial Inclusion received a $4.17 million grant from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation to see how mobile technology can bring banking and financial services to people in developing countries.

More cool stuff

A female was born in April to Orange County’s first pair of giant anteaters — including a male named Peter, after his alma mater’s celebrity mascot. See the family at the Santa Ana Zoo. … Speaking of Peter, Reader’s Digest ranked him the fourth-most lovable college mascot, behind a cow, a pickle and a blob. A pickle? … Thanks to the class of 2010, carillon bells rang gloriously for the first time from the Student Center Bell Tower in May and provide a daily musical respite for all Anteaters. … The state-of-the-art Contemporary Arts Center opened with an official ribbon-cutting ceremony, music, food, dancing, performances and fun! … The Global Connect program celebrated its 10th anniversary. In that time, it has reached nearly 8,000 Orange County middle and high school students interested in international studies. … The inaugural UC Irvine Law Review, like the law school itself, employed an egalitarian model that abandoned prestigious titles in favor of putting every able body to work. … Drivers of hydrogen-fueled cars can now exit the 405 freeway at Euclid Avenue and fill up at the world’s first sewage-powered hydrogen fuel station. The cutting-edge project engineered by the National Fuel Cell Research Center also simultaneously converts wastewater into electricity and heat in a highly efficient, clean manner. … For the second year, incoming medical students were provided iPads containing course outlines, notes, lecture slides and textbooks for their first-year studies. It’s part of the medical school’s innovative iMedEd Initiative. … With a $1.5 million federal grant, the nursing science program will establish Orange County’s first nurse-managed clinic in downtown Santa Ana for disadvantaged families. … UCI Extension celebrated half a century of helping adults reach new career and personal goals. … And finally, through the generosity of Audrey Steele Burnand, UCI is building a field research center at the sleek Desert Club near Anza-Borrego Desert State Park where biologists, astronomers, anthropologists and others will be able to study climate change, water supply and visitor use of parkland. Sounds like a road trip.