UCI News

Los Angeles Times, Jan. 31, 2022
UC return to campus riven by conflicting pressures over in-person vs. remote classes
UC Irvine Provost [and Executive Vice Chancellor] Hal S. Stern said the university expects faculty to resume in-person instruction but that department chairs and deans have the authority to decide appropriate policies. He said campus adherence to vaccination, testing, masking and distancing protocols has been extremely high and positivity rates for campus tests have fallen from 17% at the start of winter quarter Jan. 3 to 3% last week. There was no evidence of any classroom transmission last fall, Stern said. “We believe the campus is safe and we encourage students to attend class,” Stern said. [Subscription required, you can request an electronic copy of the article by sending an email to communications@uci.edu.]

AP, Jan. 27, 2022
Omicron drives US deaths higher than in fall’s delta wave
“Omicron will push us over a million deaths,” said Andrew Noymer, a public health [associate] professor at the University of California, Irvine. “That will cause a lot of soul searching. There will be a lot of discussion about what we could have done differently, how many of the deaths were preventable.”

Orange County Business Journal, Jan. 27, 2022
Boosters in OC Surpass 1 Million
While data suggests the omicron peak in Orange County has passed, UCI epidemiologist Dr. Susan Huang described the current state of the pandemic as “still surging.” According to Huang, [professor of infectious diseases and medical director of epidemiology & infection prevention], booster shots not only help protect people from the virus, but they help prevent and treat “long-haul COVID, …. In the middle of a massive winter surge, you really should not wait to get vaccinated,” she said. … Huang described the differences between COVID variants as “marginal,” adding that three doses of the vaccine is still the best method of protection. [Subscription required, you can request an electronic copy of the article by sending an email to communications@uci.edu.]

KNX News, Jan. 27, 2022 (Audio)
Plastic products could be contributing to weight gain, new study finds
Bruce Blumberg, a professor of developmental and cell biology at University of California, Irvine, wrote “The Obesogen Effect: Why We Eat Less and Exercise More but Still Struggle to Lose Weight.” He joined KNX In Depth to discuss the disrupted metabolism issue. “We showed, probably 15 or 16 years ago now, that chemicals could trigger the development of fat cells. That was a big surprise at the time,” Blumberg said. “We followed up that story and we were the ones who coined the word “obesogen” to describe chemicals that can make you fat.”

KQED, Jan. 28, 2022 (Audio)
Got Rejected? It Might Be Time to Celebrate
In a recent article for The Atlantic titled “A Toast to All the Rejects,” NPR producer Rhaina Cohen writes about the power of turning one’s rejections into a celebration with friends or colleagues. Cohen’s article was inspired by a graduate student lab at UC Irvine led by social sciences professor Barbara Sarnecka where they created a group spreadsheet to collect everyone’s rejections from jobs, academic journals or grants. When they reached 100 rejections as a group, they threw a party. We explore the idea of reframing – and even celebrating – rejection. Guests: … Barbara Sarnecka, associate professor of cognitive sciences, UC Irvine School of Social Sciences.

Previously “In the News”