The Nature Index has identified UCI as the most improved institution in North America in terms of the number of papers published in high-quality journals between 2015 and 2017. The index, launched in 2014, is a database of author affiliations and institutional relationships that tracks contributions to research articles appearing in natural science publications. In an accompanying article highlighting its release, the index calls UCI a “top rising star,” achieving a nearly 24 percent growth in its fractional count (relative contribution of each author to an article) over the past three years, with increases in all academic fields. Factors behind UCI’s improvement, according to the index, include an emphasis on building research facilities with advanced equipment, such as the recently dedicated Irvine Materials Research Institute. Also mentioned is an aggressive campaign, backed by the university’s 2016 strategic plan, to recruit 250 new professors by 2021; UCI has already made significant strides toward that goal, hiring 57 faculty members in 2017 alone. Kenneth Janda, dean of physical sciences, said he’s pleased with the ranking, adding: “UCI’s researchers are doing cutting-edge work that is not only published and highly cited by top scientific journals such as Science and Nature, but also acknowledged by popular media outlets – The New York Times, The Washington Post, the Los Angeles Times and ‘Frontline’ among them.”