Category Archives: Catalyst for Innovation

White House Applauds Inland Education Effort

(This article contains excerpts from an article by Dayna Straehley, published in The Press Enterprise on December 4, 2014.)

At Thursday's Summit on College Opportunity, President Barack Obama praises the Riverside County Education Collaborative. Photo Credit: Alex Wong, Getty Images
At Thursday’s Summit on College Opportunity, President Barack Obama praises the Riverside County Education Collaborative. Photo Credit: Alex Wong, Getty Images

Alvord Unified School District’s partnership with San Diego State University to develop more effective school counseling was one of efforts announced, as was Cal State San Bernardino’s action to increase the number of graduates from its College of Natural Sciences by 25 percent in five years.

The county Education Collaborative formed in July after a request from U.S. Education Secretary Arne Duncan to Riverside County Superintendent of Schools Kenneth Young to gather a team, come to Washington and talk about preparing more students to go to college and earn degrees, Young said.

Federal officials asked the county to make commitments in four areas to improve college-going rates, Young said.

Temecula and Murrieta valley unified school districts are working with Mt. San Jacinto College and Cal State San Marcos, which has a Temecula campus. Moreno Valley and Val Verde unified school districts are working with Moreno Valley College and UC Riverside.

Representatives of those schools and colleges have been meeting monthly, and others are joining from other parts of the county, Young said.

“Overall, we’ve been working on increasing our county’s college-going rate,” Young said. The Riverside County Office of Education and schools have worked on many steps and are now targeting four areas with four school districts, he said.

By gathering and sharing data, schools, colleges and communities can focus on their goals and rally community support, the president said. For instance, high school counselors can see how many students have completed the Free Application for Federal Student Aid and focus on the students who have not, Young said.

Alvord Superintendent Sid Salazar said his work at the Day of Action focused on making school counselors more effective at getting low-income, Latino and black students ready for college and empowering them to do their jobs. That work starts before kindergarten, he said.

Identifying and implementing collaborative partnerships like this are evidence of catalyst of innovation in Riverside.  Our leaders are constantly developing inventive approaches to equip our students for college readiness.

To read the full article, click here.

Research points to MS relief

(This article contains excerpts from the article written by Mark Muckenfuss and published in The Press Enterprise on December 2, 2014.) 

Seema Tiwari-Woodruff is an associate professor of biomedical sciences at the UC Riverside School of Medicine. Photo Credit: Pittalwala, UCR Today
Seema Tiwari-Woodruff is an associate professor of biomedical sciences at the UC Riverside School of Medicine. Photo Credit: Pittalwala, UCR Today

A UC Riverside researcher says she has tested a drug that may not only stop, but reverse the damage caused by multiple sclerosis.

Seema Tiwari-Woodruff is a biomedical science professor with UCR’s School of Medicine. She came to the campus in June from UCLA, where she had been researching multiple sclerosis therapies since 2007.

Tiwari-Woodruff said she and her team tested several ligands, chemicals that mimic estrogen. One particular ligand, Ind-Cl, was especially helpful for mice with multiple sclerotic symptoms.

The results were published Monday in the latest edition of the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

Photo Credit: UCR Today
Photo Credit: UCR Today

Multiple sclerosis affects more than 2.3 million people worldwide. The disease attacks the central nervous system, damaging or destroying the myelin sheath that surrounds the axons on nerve cells. The axons carry electrical impulses from nerve cell receptors to their synapses. The myelin acts as an insulator. Without it, the nerve cell can’t effectively send signals.

Mice that received the drug saw as much as a 60 percent improvement in their condition. Not only did the drug diminish the inflammation that accompanies flare-ups of the disease, but the degeneration of the myelin sheath on nerve cell axons, Tiwari-Woodruff said, actually began to be repaired.

Testing showed that the cells with regrown myelin were capable of transmitting nerve signals once more. So far, the drug seems to have few, if any side effects.

This medical discovery is an outstanding representation of Seizing Our Destiny’s catalyst for innovation pillar. The students and staff at UCR cultivate and support ideas, research, and products that accelerate the common good for all. Creativity and innovation permeate all that we do, which makes our community a trendsetter for the region, California, and the world to follow.

To read the full article, click here.

Chemists Fabricate Novel Rewritable Paper

(This article contains excerpts from an article by Iqbal Pittalwala published in UCR Today on December 2, 2014)

Photo Credit: Yin Lab, UC Riverside
Photo Credit: Yin Lab, UC Riverside

Chemists at the University of California, Riverside have now fabricated rewritable paper in the lab, one that is based on the color switching property of commercial chemicals called redox dyes.  The dye forms the imaging layer of the paper.  Printing is achieved by using ultraviolet light to photobleach the dye, except the portions that constitute the text on the paper.  The new rewritable paper can be erased and written on more than 20 times with no significant loss in contrast or resolution.

“This rewritable paper does not require additional inks for printing, making it both economically and environmentally viable,” said Yadong Yin, a professor of chemistry, whose lab led the research. “It represents an attractive alternative to regular paper in meeting the increasing global needs for sustainability and environmental conservation.”

The rewritable paper is essentially rewritable media in the form of glass or plastic film to which letters and patterns can be repeatedly printed, retained for days, and then erased by simple heating.

The paper comes in three primary colors: blue, red and green, produced by using the commercial redox dyes methylene blue, neutral red and acid green, respectively.  Included in the dye are titania nanocrystals (these serve as catalysts) and the thickening agent hydroxyethyl cellulose (HEC).  The combination of the dye, catalysts and HEC lends high reversibility and repeatability to the film.

Research like this is an example of Seizing Our Destiny’s catalyst for innovation pillar. The students and staff at UC Riverside cultivate and support ideas, research, and products that accelerate the common good for all.  Creativity and innovation permeate all that we do in Riveside, which makes our community a trendsetter for the region, state, and the world to follow.  

Study results appear online in Nature Communications.

For the complete article, click here.

Old Buses Turned Into Green Machines

(This article contains excerpts from the article written by David Danelski and published in The Press Enterprise on Nov 30, 2014.)

Photo Credit: The Press Enterprise
Photo Credit: The Press Enterprise

An old Indianapolis bus looked more like a skeleton than a mass-transit workhorse as it sat in the workshop of a Riverside bus re-manufacturing company.

Gone were the seats, windows, floorboards as well as the diesel engine.

In a few weeks, the transformation was complete. What had been a soot-emitting behemoth became a nonpolluting, all-electric, green machine capable of traveling more an 130 miles before needing to be recharged.

Photo Credit: The Press Enterprise
Photo Credit: The Press Enterprise

Complete Coach Works has been rebuilding used buses at its plant off Spruce Street for more than 29 years. But it is now winning recognition for turning old polluters into zero-emission models.

The company got a big boost this spring when it won a $12.2 million contract from the Indianapolis transit agency to turn 22 worn-out diesel buses into clean electric vehicles.

“We are really excited,” said Justin Scalzi, an account manager for the company during a tour of company’s facilities in October. “Once we have these buses out on the road in Indiana, the other transit agencies will realize that we are the real thing.”

The company’s non-polluting bus propulsion system was recently recognized by the South Coast Air Quality Management District for advancing air pollution control technology, and the air district provided the firm $395,000 toward its research and development efforts.

Complete Coach Works development of zero-emission buses is a great example of Seizing Our Destiny’s catalyst for innovation pillar by leading the way in clean public transportation.

To read the full article, click here.

Sleep Researcher Awarded Federal Grants

(This article contains excerpts from an article written by Bettye Miller and published in UCR Today on October 31, 2014.)

UC Riverside psychologist Sara C. Mednick has been awarded nearly $2.7 million in federal grants to continue researching the neural mechanisms of learning and memory, which has implications for improving sleep and memory for aging adults and the health of college students who pop so-called “smart drugs.”

Sara C. Mednick has received nearly $2.7 million in grants for research that has implications for sleep and memory. Photo Credit: UCR Today
Sara C. Mednick has received nearly $2.7 million in grants for research that has implications for sleep and memory. Photo Credit: UCR Today

Mednick previously led a team whose groundbreaking research confirmed the mechanism that enables the brain to consolidate memory and found that Ambien, a commonly prescribed sleep aid, enhances the process.

The National Institute on Aging, the National Science Foundation and the Department of Defense-Office of Naval Research have awarded Mednick grants to support research into sleep processes that are important for learning and memory, and how those processes might be manipulated to improve both.

Supported by a five-year, $1.25 million grant from the National Institutes of Health-National Institute on Aging, Mednick is expanding on research published last year which demonstrated for the first time the critical role that sleep spindles play in consolidating memory in the hippocampus region of the brain. Her team also showed that pharmaceuticals could significantly improve that process, far more than sleep alone.  Research like this is an example of Catalyst for Innovation in Riverside and also has amazing health implications.

Sleep spindles are bursts of brain activity that last for a second or less during a specific stage of sleep. The hippocampus, part of the cerebral cortex, is important in the consolidation of information from short-term to long-term memory, and spatial navigation. The hippocampus is one of the first regions of the brain damaged by Alzheimer’s disease.

The new study, which began in fall 2013, will investigate doses of Ambien needed to boost sleep spindles and whether declarative memory – the ability to recall facts and knowledge – improves as well. The next study will test the same question in older adults.

For the full article, click here.

 

“Ideas Worth Spreading”: TEDx Riverside Speakers United By Ideas

(This article contains excerpts from article by Kurt Miller, published in the Press-Enterprise on October 16,2014.)

TEDx Riverside brought together 20 speakers for an eight-hour marathon of inspiration on Thursday at the Fox Performing Arts Center.   TED conferences are brought to communities throughout the world to encourage a convergence of technology, design and entertainment.  To promote education, TEDx Riverside gave 500 tickets to local high schools and filled the balcony with teenagers. It provided buses and lunch for students of Riverside Unified School District.  

“Everybody in this room is a lifelong learner,” Riverside Mayor Rusty Bailey declared in his opening remarks.

Nobel Prize winner and UC Riverside alumni Richard Schrock.  Photo credit: City of Riverside
Nobel Prize winner and UC Riverside alumni Richard Schrock. Photo credit: City of Riverside

Most of the speakers had Inland ties, but many have wide renown.  They included Nobel laureate Richard Schrock, who earned his bachelor’s degree from UC Riverside in 1967 and is now a chemistry professor at Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Another UCR graduate was Steve Breen, a two-time Pulitzer Prize winner for editorial cartooning and a children’s author.

Among the more unusual presentations was performance artist Gregory Adamson creating a 6-by-6-foot painting of John Lennon in 11 minutes, accompanied by a medley of Lennon and Beatles songs. Photo credit: Fielding Buck
Among the more unusual presentations was performance artist Gregory Adamson creating a 6-by-6-foot painting of John Lennon in 11 minutes, accompanied by a medley of Lennon and Beatles songs. Photo credit: Fielding Buck

The TEDx Riverside event was a model of all the Seizing Our Destiny pillars.  Riversiders from of all ages and backgrounds attended the event on Thursday October, 16 as a unified city with a common interest to be entertained and inspired.  Although each speaker was completely different, they all seem to be on the same wavelength of maximizing personal potential and advocating intelligent growth in our community.  Riverside is a city that honors and builds on its assets to become a location of choice that catalyzes innovation in all forms, while enhancing quality of life.

To read more about TEDx Riverside, click here.

Lab Equipment to Benefit Bourns College of Engineering

(This article includes excerpts from the article written in Quality Magazine and published on October 17, 2014.)

B&K Precision, which manufactures and sells precision test and measurement instruments worldwide, has outfitted the test benches in an electrical and computer engineering lab at Bourns College of Engineering at UC Riverside with all new, state-of-the art equipment.

bourns

Victor Tolan, President and CEO of B&K Precision, has a penchant for equipping the engineers of tomorrow with the tools they need today. His company’s generosity will benefit more than 500 students each year at BCOE through the technical hands-on training they will receive as future engineers using the equipment. The precision test and measurement instruments include oscilloscopes, function generators, power supplies and digital multimeters. The work stations accommodate two students each, and are designated for circuits and electronics lab exercises as well as activities related to independent student projects.

The Bourns College of Engineering celebrates its 25th year in 2014, and is ranked among the best public engineering colleges of its size in the nation. BCOE engineers provide a source of new ideas, products and technologies to the world while leading interdisciplinary and collaborative efforts in education, research and industrial partnerships. BCOE offers B.S., M.S. and Ph.D. degrees through bioengineering, chemical and environmental engineering, computer science and engineering, electrical and computer engineering and mechanical engineering departments, and computer engineering and college-wide materials science and engineering programs. The college has more than 2,400 undergraduate students, 620 graduate students, more than $32 million in annual research expenditures and is home to eight interdisciplinary and multidisciplinary research centers.

Donations like this increase the visibility of the great work done at UC Riverside to equip our future engineers.  UC Riverside is known for catalyzing innovation in many fields of study and thus promotes the aspirations of Seizing Our Destiny.

For more information on B&K Precision, visit www.bkprecision.com

For the complete article, click here.

UC Riverside Research Team Probing Other Planets For Life

(This article contains excerpts from an article by Mark Muckenfuss, published in the Press-Enterprise on October 8, 2014)

A UC Riverside-led research team is part of a $50 million NASA program designed to detect life on distant planets.  Biogeochemistry professor Timothy Lyons has spent years studying the chemistry of ancient rocks on Earth. The data from that work has allowed him and his colleagues to theorize about the environmental conditions on the planet at various times in its early evolution.

Biogeochemistry Professor, Timothy Lyons
Biogeochemistry Professor, Timothy Lyons

This research initiative, as part of the NASA program, is an extraordinary example of Seizing Our Destiny’s catalyst for innovation pillar, and UC Riverside is at the forefront.  The people and educational institutions of Riverside cultivate and support research and exploration in the scientific community.  Creativity and innovation permeate all that we do, which makes our community a trendsetter for the region, nation, and world to follow. 

The $8 million that Lyons’ multi-disciplinary team will receive from the NASA Astrobiology Institute is for a five-year study. He believes it won’t take much longer than that before astrobiologists will be able to detect life on distant planets.  

He’s excited by the current exploration of Mars, using rovers to sample the soil and, among other things, look for any signs of ancient life. With new, more powerful telescopes due to come on line soon, he expects the number of identified exoplanets to further grow. With each one, he said, there is the possibility of finding extraterrestrial life.  The best way to discover such life, he said, is to look at our own planet.

The broad spectrum of scientists involved – 19 researchers from 11 universities and labs – includes experts in genomics, tectonics, geochemistry, paleontology and earth system modeling.

Two of the team members are former graduate researchers who worked in Lyons’ lab. UCR graduates Noah Planavsky, now at Yale, and Christopher Reinhard, at Georgia Tech, helped Lyons gather ancient rock samples and reconstruct the conditions on Earth from the period when those rocks were formed. Having that team centered at UCR will bring greater recognition to the school, he said.

“It’s a good thing for UCR, and it’s a good thing for the Inland Empire”, said Lyons.

To read more, click here.

 

UCR Students Turn Diaper Into Medical Tool

(This article contains excerpts from an article by Janet Zimmerman, published in the Press-Enterprise on September 11, 2014. )

Five UC Riverside students and recent grads cleaned up in a national engineering contest by building a better diaper.  The group came up with an inexpensive liner that detects dehydration and bacterial infections in infants, an invention that could facilitate testing in poor countries and ease infants’ suffering. They call it the Diaper Detective.

Bioengineering students from UC Riverside developed a diaper insert for detecting bacterial infections and dehydration in infants. The team includes, from left, Stephanie Tehseldar, Veronica Boulos, Sara Said, Claire Tran and Melissa Cruz.  Photo credit: Harish Dixit
Bioengineering students from UC Riverside developed a diaper insert for detecting bacterial infections and dehydration in infants. The team includes, from left, Stephanie Tehseldar, Veronica Boulos, Sara Said, Claire Tran and Melissa Cruz. Photo credit: Harish Dixit

“We created this to fulfill a need for a versatile, inexpensive, non-invasive method of urine collection in developing countries and elsewhere,” co-inventor Veronica Boulos said. “The beauty of this is that it solves a huge problem with simplicity.”  The Diaper Detective was the result of a class that requires bioengineering students to design and develop a product. It took third place – and $10,000 – last month in the Design by Biomedical Undergraduate Teams Challenge sponsored by the National Institutes of Health.

The Diaper Detective, created by UC Riverside students, uses chemicals that react with a baby's urine to detect illness and dehydration.  Photo credit: UC Riverside
The Diaper Detective, created by UC Riverside students, uses chemicals that react with a baby’s urine to detect illness and dehydration. Photo credit: UC Riverside

The idea was enough to attract interest from Procter & Gamble’s research department, which called the invention “novel, broadly relevant and affordable.” The group is in talks with the company for further development, possibly for adult incontinence products.

They hope their product eventually will be distributed to needy areas via relief organizations. If it qualifies for insurance coverage, it could be an inexpensive option for low-income parents, the scientists said.

The Diaper Detective is an outstanding model of Seizing Our Destiny’s catalyst for innovation pillar.  The students and staff at UC Riverside cultivate and support ideas, research, and products that accelerate the common good for all.  Creativity and innovation permeate all that we do in Riveside, which makes our community a trendsetter for the region, California, and the world to follow.  

To read more, click here.

 

UCR Earns Spot On Sierra Magazine “Cool Schools” List For Third Year

(This article contains excerpts from an article published in UCR Today on August 12, 2014.)

For the third consecutive year, Sierra Magazine has included the University of California, Riverside on its list of “America’s Coolest Schools”, which is a list of the nation’s greenest colleges and universities.  UCR finished with a score of 577.98 out of a possible 1,000 points, placing it 90th among the schools surveyed. UCR’s score improved about 12% compared to 2013.

Members of the sustainability community at UCR stand in front of a balloon representing the amount of carbon dioxide entering the atmosphere during Earth Week 2014. Photo credit:  Uma Ramasubramanian
Members of the sustainability community at UCR stand in front of a          balloon representing the amount of carbon dioxide entering the                                          atmosphere during Earth Week 2014.                               Photo credit: Uma Ramasubramanian

The methodology as to how Sierra Magazine ranked all of the participating schools was extensive and thorough.  According to Sierraclub.org, “Participation in Sierra magazine’s Cool Schools ranking is open to all four-year, degree-granting undergraduate colleges and universities in the United States. Sierra received 173 complete responses from qualified colleges. Once schools submitted their data, our researchers scored each response and ranked all of the participating institutions.

There was no cost for participation, and no affiliation or relationship between a school and the Sierra Club or its employees, past or present, influenced the ranking. Evaluation was based primarily on schools’ responses to the survey but when appropriate, we made follow-up inquires by phone and email and used publicly available outside sources to verify and complement survey responses.”

The colleges at the top of our annual “Cool Schools” ranking are so dedicated to greening every level of their operation—from energy usage to recycling to food sourcing to curriculum.  Photo credit: sierraclub.org
The colleges at the top of our annual “Cool Schools” ranking are so dedicated to greening every level of their operation—from energy usage to recycling to food sourcing to curriculum. Photo credit: sierraclub.org

UC Riverside has made this list two other times, moving up the ranks with each appearance.  Officials at UCR expect to gain an even better position on next year’s list with 16 LEED buildings and a new Solar Farm in operation.

Through commitment and dedication, UCR is always improving and making strides in becoming a green machine.  Exemplifying Seizing Our Destiny’s catalyst for innovation pillar, UCR values the cultivation and support of innovation within our community acting as a trendsetter for the region, California, and the world to follow.

To read more from UCR Today, click here.