EVENT: Five top UC Irvine graduate students whose research has outstanding potential for public impact recently received $10,000 and $20,000 fellowships from the Graduate Division and UC Irvine supporter Stanley Behrens. The students will present their doctoral projects at a reception. Two will be chosen to represent the campus at legislative meetings in Sacramento.

WHEN/WHERE: 4-6 p.m. Monday, Feb. 4, University Club, 801 E. Peltason Drive (grid H7, bldg. 801 on campus map)

INFORMATION:  Media planning to attend should contact Cathy Lawhon at 949-824-1151 or clawhon@uci.edu. Attendance and parking are complimentary for media who RSVP in advance.

BACKGROUND:  This is the fifth year that UC Irvine’s Graduate Division has awarded $10,000 Public Impact Fellowships and the first year that two students meeting specific criteria have each received $20,000 UCI/Stanley Behrens Public Impact Fellowships to fund their work. Behrens, a longtime supporter of undergraduate scholarships at UC Irvine, wanted to reward graduate students whose work benefits the community. Three generations of his family helped select the fellowship recipients. Forty-six applicants representing a wide array of research topics were judged on the potential public impact of their studies and their ability to communicate effectively to the public and act as ambassadors for graduate research.

The 2012-13 awardees are:

  • Beth Karlin, UCI/Stanley Behrens Fellow: What kind of information inspires consumers to conserve energy and cultivate other Earth-friendly habits? That’s what Karlin, a doctoral candidate in the School of Social Ecology, set out to discover. She’s the founding director of the Transformational Media Lab in UC Irvine’s Center for Unconventional Security Affairs. Karlin spent a decade in K-12 education as a teacher, counselor, curriculum developer and administrator.
  • Ryan Schutte, UCI/Stanley Behrens Fellow: A doctoral candidate in anatomy & neurobiology at the School of Medicine, Schutte uses fruit-fly models to study genetic epilepsy in humans. His work has the potential to pinpoint treatments for specific kinds of epilepsy. Schutte also mentors undergraduate students and serves as a teaching assistant for a large introductory biology course.
  • Seema Ehsan, Public Impact Distinguished Fellow: Cancer therapies currently move slowly from lab to testing to clinical use. A doctoral candidate in The Henry Samueli School of Engineering, Ehsan hopes to improve and shorten that process by engineering tumor models.
  • Scott Sellars, Public Impact Distinguished Fellow: Better tools and approaches for predicting seasonal climate conditions could help improve the management of public water resources. That’s Sellars’ goal. He works at the campus’s Center for Hydrometeorology & Remote Sensing and is a doctoral candidate in The Henry Samueli School of Engineering.
  • Binbin Zheng, Public Impact Distinguished Fellow: The effective use of low-cost netbook computers and other digital tools in K-12 schools is the focus of Zheng’s research. She’s specifically interested in how English-language learners, underrepresented minorities and students from low-income families can benefit from such technology. Zheng is a doctoral candidate in the School of Education.