Autumn Holmes, Graduate Student Researcher in Microbiology & Molecular Genetics photo: Steve Zylius/UCI

Deadly diseases, mathematical riddles and a grandma’s piano. Below, these and other elements play a role in the stories of four Anteaters of color. Meet UCI administrator Douglas M. Haynes, who grew up glued to British costume dramas as the youngest of nine children; UCI alumnus Jermaine Griggs, an online music entrepreneur and world traveler; UCI graduate student Autumn Holmes, a Motor City native who experiments with viruses; and UCI junior Mia Arnold, a math whiz who speaks French and can wiggle her ears.

Douglas Haynes, vice provost for academic equity, diversity & inclusion. Photo: Steve Zylius/UCI

Favorite bucket-list travel destinations:

  • Panama Canal
  • Suez Canal
  • Beijing-Hangzhou Grand Canal

Douglas M. Haynes | vice provost for academic equity, diversity & inclusion

Defying stereotypes, he devoured “Masterpiece Theatre” and the debates on conservative icon William F. Buckley Jr.’s “Firing Line” television show as a youth, delivered newspapers to future senator Dianne Feinstein as a teen, and confounded college classmates by studying the history of white Europeans. Whenever anyone asked Douglas M. Haynes why an African American would want to specialize in Anglo yesteryears, he replied that it was simply the flip side of white historians focusing on blacks. At UCI, Haynes has largely continued down that path, publishing two books about the origins of British medicine while teaching European history and serving as chief diversity officer. But lately, another project has been tugging at his heart. On a shelf in his office, Haynes keeps a 1968 photo of his first-grade class. He hopes to someday locate the instructor, an Asian American woman he praises for “creating a supportive learning environment for a wonderfully diverse group of kids as San Francisco was coming apart.” Her story, Haynes says, could offer a window into the city’s pre-liberal past. “She was the only teacher of color I remember at the school,” he says. “I’d like to write a book about her.”

Autumn Holmes, Ph.D. candidate in biomedical sciences. Photo: Steve Zylius/UCI

Favorite scientific discoveries:

  • Polio vaccine
  • Higgs boson

Autumn Holmes | Ph.D. candidate in biomedical sciences

Instead of Giga Pets, Autumn Holmes was mesmerized by deadly viruses as a youngster. Her interest in the subject took shape after reading a book at her grandmother’s house on botulism, tetanus and other infectious diseases. “I was both fascinated and terrified that something microscopic could cause such devastation,” Holmes says. Today, in a UCI lab decorated with posters of 1960s rock stars, the Detroit native is a doctoral student conducting polio virus experiments that could lead to treatments for the common cold and related pathogens. She also mentors and encourages younger underrepresented students to pursue science careers through Reach Out Teach Out at UCI, a program she co-founded to bring high school juniors to campus to hear about research and gain hands-on lab experience. This summer, Holmes hopes to wrap up her Ph.D. and begin postdoctoral work leading to an academic research professorship.

Photo courtesy of Jermaine Griggs.

Favorite musicians:

  • John Coltrane
  • Bill Evans
  • Michael Jackson

Jermaine Griggs ’05 | entrepreneur/philanthropist

It all started with a piano that his grandma won on “The Price Is Right.” After learning to play the instrument at age 7, Jermaine Griggs was soon proficient enough that parents at his Long Beach church began asking him to teach their children. That’s when inspiration struck. At 17, Griggs bought the domain name and launched a music instruction business. By the time he enrolled at UCI, upward of 200 orders a month were rolling in. The social ecology major hired people from his dorm to help, some of whom are still with the company. Eighteen years later, is a multimillion-dollar enterprise that teaches people to play piano and guitar by ear. Thousands of aspiring musicians have downloaded Griggs’ free online lessons or enrolled in his premium courses, enabling him to fund various philanthropic efforts, including Operation Jump Start, which helps students from humble backgrounds get into and graduate from college. In 2017, Griggs and his family sold their home and took a yearlong trip around the world.

Mia Arnold, Math major, French minor and CalTEACH student photo: Steve Zylius/UCI

Favorite math formulas:

  • Pythagorean theorem
  • Newton’s second law of motion (F = ma)
  • Quadratic formula

Mia Arnold | mathematics undergraduate

If jigsaw puzzles and mystery novels could be translated into a college major, it would probably be math, says junior Mia Arnold, who credits her childhood zeal for the former with igniting her adult passion for the latter. “They all require using your head to solve a problem,” she explains. “I see math as a set of puzzles, and I’ve always enjoyed finding the solutions.” After graduation, Arnold hopes to share this fondness for equations, theorems and numbers with seventh-graders in her hometown of Indio, land of dates and music festivals. So she signed up for UCI’s CalTeach program, which prepares talented science and math undergrads for teaching careers. She also volunteers with FYRE, which mentors former foster youth as they navigate university life. Arnold, who spent part of her upbringing in foster care, says FYRE helped her accept the experience as part of her identity, and she strives to enable others to do the same and succeed at UCI.