UCI News

POLITICO, Jan. 27, 2022
13 Legal Experts on How Breyer’s Replacement Will Change the Court
“The next justice will have an opportunity to articulate a clear liberal or progressive vision alongside Justices Sonia Sotomayor and Elena Kagan, in sharp contrast to Breyer’s style …. A stronger liberal voice will not change outcomes in the short-run but will give renewed energy to a progressive vision that will be waiting for its eventual return to majority status, in the same vein as the conservative justices who wrote in dissent in the 1970s, ’80s and ’90s” [said] Howard Gillman, chancellor of the University of California, Irvine, and an award-winning scholar and teacher with an expertise in the American Constitution and the Supreme Court.

Health, Jan. 27, 2022
What Makes Omicron Spread More Rapidly Compared to Other COVID-19 Variants?
The likelier situation, at least as far as the current data shows, is that Omicron appears to be more contagious due to its ability to evade immunity—meaning more previously vaccinated or infected people are getting breakthrough infections, Vladimir Minin, PhD, professor of statistics and associate director of UC Irvine Infectious Disease Science Initiative, tells Health. … According to Phil Felgner, PhD, [professor in residence of physiology & biophysics], director of the UCI Vaccine Research and Development Center … the mutation is what allows the virus to survive. If the virus is allowed to replicate—as it does, primarily among the unvaccinated population, “it can be transmitted from infected person to another person, and then the virus survives and keeps replicating,” explains Felgner.

The Chronicle of Higher Education, Jan. 27, 2022
AI Chatbots Pose Ethical Risks. Here’s How One University Is Handling Those.
Visit the University of California, Irvine’s admissions page, and a box pops up in the bottom right corner. Click on it, and there’s Peter the Anteater, a chatbot affectionately named after the university’s mascot, clad in a varsity jacket and grinning. … Researchers across the UC system realized they had similar questions about AI, said Tom Andriola, UCI’s vice chancellor for information, technology and data. They joined together to create a framework for UC’s campuses …. Since launching, Peter has had more than 63,000 conversations, Patricia Morales, [UCI’s associate vice chancellor for enrollment management] confirmed via email. In 2021, the bot resolved about 87 percent of questions the admissions office received. Morales and Bryan Jue, [UCI senior director for outreach and communications for undergraduate admissions] consider that a huge win.

Scientific American, Jan. 28, 2022
Lego Robot with an Organic ‘Brain’ Learns to Navigate a Maze
The experiment is “really cool,” says Jeffrey Krichmar, [professor of cognitive science], at the University of California, Irvine, who was also not involved in the study. The robot was allowed to make mistakes and amend them later on, Krichmar says. The researchers did not preprogram its future steps, he notes, “but they let the whole training be a part of its circuit.” … Such a low-power system could have many applications. For instance, it might help robots work for long hours at remote places on Earth—or even on another planet—without constantly needing to recharge, Krichmar says.

LAist, Jan. 27, 2022
Hosting A Football Viewing Party? Here Are Some COVID Safety Tips
Watching the game with people in your household is the only way to almost guarantee you won’t contract COVID-19, said Andrew Noymer, an associate professor of public health at UC Irvine. “I can’t give anyone a watertight guarantee that they won’t get COVID if they go to a party, so if risk management is not for you and you prefer absolute minimal risks, then the answer is don’t have a party or don’t go to one,” he said. [If you do], “It’s never too late to boost and it’s never too late to get vaccinated,” Noymer said. “If one person has symptoms, everyone should get tested as soon as possible ….”

Previously “In the News”