“A large portion of our happiness is in our power to change by the way we think and act in our daily lives,” professor of psychology Sonja Lyubomirsky said.
RIVERSIDE, Calif. (www.ucr.edu) – She’s making the world a happier place. Well, she’s trying her hardest to. Sonja Lyubomirsky, a professor of psychology at the University of California, Riverside has devoted her research career to studying human happiness. And it’s earned her a spot in Business Insider’s list of “The 15 Most Amazing Women in Science Today.”
“I’m so honored and completely humbled to be in the company of such amazing women. I couldn’t have accomplished this research without the fantastic contributions of my graduate students and collaborators,” said Lyubomirsky upon hearing about the recognition.
Exemplifying Seizing Our Destiny’s catalyst for innovation pillar, the educational institutions of Riverside cultivate and support useful and beneficial ideas.
The list of 15 women was pulled from Business Insider’s list of top 50 scientists, both male and female. “In the science and technology industries, women are often massively underrepresented. But that doesn’t mean they aren’t making some of the most important and inspiring contributions out there. We’ve highlighted 15 female scientists who are doing amazing things, pulled from our recent list of groundbreaking scientists who are changing the way we see the world,” the article stated.
Lyubomirsky’s research addresses three critical questions:
What makes people happy?
Is happiness a good thing?
How and why can people learn to lead happier and more flourishing lives?
In her book “The How of Happiness,” Lyubomirsky explained that people are in control of much of their own happiness. The other determinants of happiness are a mixture of genetics and their environment. To explore how individuals can be happier, Lyubomirsky has studied the well-being benefits of such positive activities as expressing gratitude, doing acts of kindness, and savoring the present moment. An intervention to increase happiness by “living this month like it’s your last month” was featured on the TODAY show earlier this month.
A team of students from the University of California, Riverside’s Bourns College of Engineering recently won two awards at an international design competition for a material composed of rice husks that they created as a less costly and more environmentally friendly alternative to particleboard.
In the students’ design, the rice husks, which contain termite-resistant silica, replace wood chips found in traditional particleboard. The students then use environmentally friendly binding materials instead of traditionally used glues that contain formaldehyde, known to emit harmful gases into the air.
Initial cost estimates compiled by the students show four-by-eight-foot rice husk boards would cost about $18. Currently, four-by-eight-foot particleboard sheets sell for about $25 in the United States. While the main focus of the project is to create a building material for relief structures in the Philippines, the students believe there could be a market in the United States to use the boards for furniture.
“What we are creating is a really a win-win situation,” said Joel Sanchez, a senior chemical engineering major and a member of the team. “It will last longer, be environmentally friendly and cost less.”
In addition to Sanchez, the team consists of Lamees Alkhamis, Colin Eckerle, Jeniene Abugherir and Chris Yang. All except Eckerle expect to graduate in June. They are advised by Kawai Tam, a lecturer at the Bourns College of Engineering; Michael Rust, a distinguished professor at the Department of Entomology; and David Kisailus, an associate professor at the Department of Chemical and Enviornmental Engineering.
The team, called Husk-to-Home, won two awards, including the Intel Environmental Innovation Award, the top award, and $5,000 at the WERC: A Consortium for Environmental Education and Technology Development competition in Las Cruces, N.M.
The idea for the project came from one of Tam’s former students, whose father-in-law’s brother runs a nonprofit, the International Deaf Education Association, in the Philippines that builds temporary housing after natural disasters.
One problem the nonprofit has is that its building materials, such as coconut wood, bamboo and plywood, are susceptible to termite damage.
Since the Philippines is one of the world’s largest producers of rice and previous research has shown that rice husks and rice straw are termite resistant the idea was to develop a particleboard-like material with the waste products of rice.
Initially, this was a makeshift project, in large part because the students didn’t have much money to put into it.
That wasn’t a problem with regard to the rice husks, which they purchased at a feed store. A 45-pound bag sells for $12. The rice husks are typically used as bedding for farm animals.
But the students needed $10,000 for a hot press that would allow them to assemble the risk husk boards in a uniform manner. They improvised, using a combination of nine-by-thirteen baking pans, spring form baking pans, ovens and blow torches.
They also built a makeshift humidity chamber to simulate conditions in the Philippines. The team built the chamber using a plastic container the size of a large shoebox, small fan, heating lamp, humidifier and humidity and temperature sensors. They drilled holes for air and the sensors.
The other challenge the students faced was acquiring termites. They said they were more expensive than expected – $1 to $1.50 per termite – if ordered through the mail and there was no guarantee they would arrive alive.
So the students worked with Rust to collect termites. But, they faced an additional problem: termites are dormant from roughly November to March.
Initially, the students used epoxy, a not-so-environmentally-friendly material, as the binding agent. Now, they are focused on using tannin, a compound naturally found in plants, and casein, a protein found in milk. For the casein experiments they use nonfat instant dry milk they buy at a grocery store.
By March, the students had raised $10,000 to buy the hot press. Once the press arrived, they immediately began experimenting with risk husk boards made with tannin and casein.
Initial results show that tannin boards are strong enough but not water resistant, while casein boards are water resistant but not strong enough.
The students are experimenting with adding coatings or other materials to the mixture. Options include adding shrimp shells, which are abundant in the Philippines. They also plan to add a water resistive coating to eliminate problems with the particleboard falling apart in the humid environment. In addition, they want to incorporate rice straw, which could increase strength and flexibility.
Creating a new way to make particle board is a great example of Seizing Our Destiny’s catalyst for innovation pillar. The people and educational institutions of Riverside cultivate and support useful and beneficial idea, research, products, and scholars. Creativity and innovation permeate all that we do, which makes our community a trendsetter for the region, California, and the world to follow.
Insects destroy a very large fraction of the global agricultural output – nearly 40 percent. The spotted wing Drosophila (Drosophila suzukii), for example, feeds on ripening fruits. A nuisance especially in Northern California and Europe, it lays its eggs inside ripe berries, and, when its larvae emerge there, the fruit is destroyed. As a result, each year D. suzukii causes hundreds of millions of dollars’ worth of agricultural damage worldwide.
Scientists at the University of California, Riverside have now identified a safe repellent that protects fruits from D. suzukii: Butyl anthranilate (BA), a pleasant-smelling chemical compound produced naturally in fruits in small amounts. In their lab experiments, the scientists found BA warded off D. suzukii from blueberries coated with it. The finding, when extrapolated to other agricultural pests, could provide a strategy for controlling them and increasing the productivity of crops and fruit.
Study results appear June 22 in Scientific Reports, an online and open-access Nature publication.
“Toxic insecticides are often risky to use directly on fruits – especially when they are close to being harvested,” said Anandasankar Ray, an associate professor of entomology and the director of the Center for Disease Vector Research at UC Riverside, whose lab performed the research project. “A safe and affordable repellent such as BA could provide protection and reduce use of toxic chemicals.”
“The natural repellents discovered by Dr. Ray are particularly promising for supporting multiple possible applications,” said Michael Pazzani, the vice chancellor for research and economic development. “The safe and inexpensive compounds are not only effective for the protection of fruit and agricultural produce from pests, but also from biting insects that transmit disease to us and livestock.”
This 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.
The mantis shrimp is able to repeatedly pummel the shells of prey using a hammer-like appendage that can withstand rapid-fire blows by neutralizing certain frequencies of “shear waves,” according to a new research paper by University of California, Riverside and Purdue University engineers.
The club is made of a composite material containing fibers of chitin, the same substance found in many marine crustacean shells and insect exoskeletons but arranged in a helicoidal structure that resembles a spiral staircase.
This spiral architecture, the new research shows, is naturally designed to survive the repeated high-velocity blows by filtering out certain frequencies of waves, called shear waves, which are particularly damaging.
The findings could allow researchers to use similar filtering principles for the development of new types of composite materials for applications including aerospace and automotive frames, body armor and athletic gear, including football helmets.
The “dactyl club” can reach an acceleration of 10,000 Gs, unleashing a barrage of impacts with the speed of a .22 caliber bullet.
“The smasher mantis shrimp will hit many times per day. It is amazing,” said Pablo Zavattieri, an associate professor in the Lyles School of Civil Engineering and a University Faculty Scholar at Purdue University.
The researchers modeled the structure with the same mathematical equations used to study materials in solid-state physics and photonics, showing the structure possesses “bandgaps” that filter out the damaging effects of shear waves traveling at the speed of sound.
Findings were detailed in a research paper published online in the journal Acta Biomaterialia. The paper will appear in a future print issue of the journal.
The paper’s lead author was Purdue doctoral student Nicolás Guarín-Zapata and it was co-authored by Juan Gomez, a researcher from the Civil Engineering Department, Universidad EAFIT, Medellín, Colombia; doctoral student Nick Yaraghi from UC Riverside; Kisailus; and Zavattieri.
The research, which is ongoing and also will include efforts to create synthetic materials with filtering properties, has been funded by the National Science Foundation and the U.S. Air Force Office of Scientific Research.
This research 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.
FIELDS is a collaborative project between UCR, NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL), the California State University system and the state’s two-year community colleges. The program will train underrepresented minority undergraduate and graduate students in science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) fields.
NASA currently has nearly 100 active missions and collects about 2 gigabytes of data per minute. It expects that volume of data to increase by a factor of 1,000 in the near future, and is looking for better ways to visualize the data for analysis. The FIELDS project will support this goal through several research and education programs.
The FIELDS research and education initiatives include:
Undergraduate training and research for students in physical, biological, computer science and engineering disciplines at UCR and partner institutions;
A new master’s course in big data and visualization, with students attending courses at UCR and doing research at JPL;
Support for doctoral and postdoctoral research; and
Support for high school STEM teacher training at UCR to help encourage more high school students to develop an interest in STEM fields.
UCR faculty and JPL staff will supervise the education and research activities. Each fall, students and mentors participating in the program will attend a FIELDS workshop at either UCR or JPL.
Undergraduates will complete two 10-week summer internships at JPL and receive a stipend of $2,000 each year. During the school year, they will conduct research with UCR faculty and receive a stipend of $3,000 each year. Graduate students will work with UCR faculty and JPL staff and earn an annual stipend of $70,000 for two years.
“A major goal of the project is advancement by students to research universities, gaining research experience, acquiring advanced STEM degrees, and taking up careers in STEM, including NASA employment,” said Bahram Mobasher, professor of physics and astronomy at UCR and the grant’s principal investigator, in a prepared statement. “We expect that collaborative research by JPL and UCR scientists and their students will generate preliminary results for further grant proposals to outside agencies.”
Grants like this increase the great work done at UCR and equips their STEM students with the knowledge needed to succeed. UCR is known for catalyzing innovation in many fields of study and thus promotes the aspirations of Seizing Our Destiny.
When Wells Middle School student Yuly Quintero heard about Norte Vista High School’s newly minted Green Construction Academy, she knew it was where she wanted to be.
“It just seemed so cool to do things other girls don’t do,” she said.
Quintero, now 15 and a sophomore at the Riverside high school, said the academy has exceeded her expectations. She has designed and built miniature replicas of buildings and bridges, and learned how to use hand and power tools.
And on a recent Tuesday, Quintero and about 39 of her academy classmates were put through the paces by trained professionals during a daylong boot camp at the Electrical Apprenticeship Training Center in San Bernardino. They learned to use a defibrillator in a CPR class, fashioned metal conduits, ran wires and learned some of the “hair-raising” aspects of electrical safety.
Now wrapping up its third year at Norte Vista, the academy is a school within a school that blends academic and career technical education to engage students who lack motivation or are at risk of dropping out to help them prepare for careers in the building trades or college – or both. Programs like this are great examples of Seizing Our Destiny’s catalyst for innovation and intelligent growth pillars. The people and educational institutions of Riverside cultivate and support programs that help improve our already outstanding quality of life.
“We’re reaching a student population that maybe we overlook,” said Gary Packler, the academy’s coordinator. “The academy is a way to connect them to school.”
The program is funded by a California Department of Education grant with support from the Alvord Unified School District and business partners. It focuses on jobs in clean technology and renewable energy in industries such as solar energy and wind energy.
Other Inland schools with grants for Green Construction academies are: Arroyo Valley High School in San Bernardino and Desert Hot Springs High School in the Palm Springs Unified School District.
Norte Vista’s Green Academy started in 2012 with a freshman class of 30 students recruited from the district’s four middle schools.
Students in that initial class – who will be seniors in fall – and from subsequent years take four classes per day together and advance through the academy as a group.
“It creates a smaller learning environment,” Packler said. “It promotes a connection between teacher and students.”
Students take academic courses including English, mathematics and science. Mixed in are a freshman class of wood shop, and sophomore and junior construction technology courses.
Students also observe and work at a solar panel installation work site, Packler said.
On May 5, 40 academy students gathered at the San Bernardino apprenticeship center, where they got a taste of what to expect if they opted to try for a spot in the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers’ apprenticeship program instead of going to college.
“It’s a very demanding program,” said Jim Rush, the Brotherhood’s business representative, who helped organize the boot camp.
Rush said applicants need a high school diploma or GED, must pass an exam that tests their math, reading and writing comprehension skills and be interviewed by the apprenticeship committee.
In the five-year training program, apprentices work five days a week with a contractor and attend school two nights a week.
The payoff can be substantial, Rush said. He earns about $100,000 per year.
Sophomore Johnny Conriquez, 16 said he heard about the Green Academy at Loma Vista Middle School and thought it would suit him for a couple of reasons.
“I like working with my hands,” he said. “And I like that we’re helping the environment.”
The academy has been so successful that participants have asked to help recruit at middle schools, Packler said.
“Some of these students would never have volunteered to go to middle school,” Packler said. “But they have developed so much confidence and social skills.”
A group of about 50 University Heights Middle School students spent their day on Thursday, April 23 hiking Sycamore Canyon and learning about the plants and animals there as part of the SISTERS program – Success in Science and Technology: Engagement with Role Models. The girls got a chance to interact with a UC Riverside professor as well as the UC Riverside Science Ambassadors. This was just one of many fun and informative interactions the girls have had as they have spent the year exploring science in hands-on activities. They also have spent time in a college laboratory and visited the Riverside Metropolitan Museum. It’s all designed to give young women hands-on experience in STEM fields to encourage them that they can succeed in and pursue careers in these areas. It is hoped that this pilot program soon can be expanded to serve other schools as well.
Programs like this are great examples of Seizing Our Destiny’s catalyst for innovation pillar. Encouraging students to pursue an education in STEM is no easy task, but the UCR students can relate to the young girls and encourage them to purse a career in the STEM field. 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 a in-depth article about the program, click here.
These are not your father’s residence halls. Just in time for Earth Day, the latest housing addition at UC Riverside has recycled materials, all the latest water management, energy efficiency, and environmentally friendly features like
Glen Mor II celebrated its LEED Gold Certification Wednesday. What does LEED mean? Well, it stands for Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design, and is a certification program focused on sustainable buildings. Facilities receive points based on meeting environmentally friendly criteria. The first phase of Glen Mor, which opened in 2007, achieved the LEED Gold in December 2014. When well-maintained, the buildings will produce fewer waste products and are more energy efficient than they would otherwise be.
Glen Mor offers single-occupancy rooms in two- and four-bedroom apartment style floor plans. It is home to more than 1,300 residents (sophomores and up).
“It’s very impressive,” said Jean Weiss, a Riverside community member. “I love the multi-aspects of it all – the landscaping, parking structure, the market, it’s very scenic and at the same time conductive for the studious mindset,” she explained.
The certification was unveiled by Andy Plumley, assistant vice chancellor of UCR’s Housing, Dining, & Residential Services.
“Obtaining LEED Gold certification along with being the largest LEED Gold Group Property is quite a milestone for UCR,” said Plumley. “Housing, Dining & Residential Services is proud of the Glen Mor project and thankful for our dedicated campus partners (Architects & Engineers, Capital Program, Environmental Health & Safety, Transportation & Parking Services, Computing & Communications) who contributed greatly to help us reach this achievement.”
The public was given the opportunity to tour the new facility. Eric Shuler, Assistant Director of Facilities Management gave one of three tours around the new UCR Campus Apartment, highlighting the sustainable features, which include:
Rock landscaping: to minimize water use.
Solar panels: used for heating the water and building.
Furniture: all made in the U.S. and out of sustainably harvested and manufactured wood.
Appliances: all Energy Star rated.
Irrigation: controlled system, when it rains the system will automatically shut-off.
Lighting: interior is automatically dimmed and brightened according to existing ambient light. Exterior is energy-saving LED.
Housing, Dining & Residential Services will continue to develop a robust energy and sustainability program for UCR. The efforts will include:
Building level energy and sustainability improvements to meet or exceed LEED Gold standards, UCOP standards and State requirements.
Pursue additional LEED EBOM Certifications.
Pursue minimum of LEED Gold on all new building projects.
Develop programs for residents to educate on how they may contribute to the sustainability of their living environment.
Housing, Dining & Residential Services ultimate sustainability goal is to provide an optimized, balanced, living and learning experience with the least amount of impact on the environment.
UC Riverside’s green initiative is an outstanding example of the Seizing Our Destiny’s catalyst for innovation pillar. By constantly improving their infrastructure, UCR has established it’s self as a leader in sustainability. Creativity and innovation permeate all that we do in Riverside, which makes our community a trendsetter for the region, California, and the world to follow.
What does replacing fluorescent light bulbs with LEDs have to do with solar-heated washing machines, energy audits, resin-hardened clothing or a color-coded map that illustrates air pollution? They’re all proposals from UC Riverside students to help the campus achieve the University of California’s goal to be carbon neutral by 2025.
The university received 38 proposals in less than three weeks for UC President Janet Neapolitan’s new Sustainability Student Fellowship/Internship Program, the most received by any UC campus, said UCR’s Director of Sustainability John Cook.
Napolitano’s office provided $7,500 to each of the UC’s 10 campuses in February to encourage students to get involved in the UC’s carbon neutrality and sustainability goals, which include getting each campus back to the same level of emissions it had in 1990. That’s a huge task for UC Riverside, Cook said, because the campus has grown from about 6,000 students in 1990 to more than 22,000 today, with expanded research programs and new schools of engineering and medicine that didn’t exist before.
“We have the biggest challenge of all the UCs, but we can figure it out,” Cook said. “We have the willpower and brainpower on campus to do it, and that’s what this fellowship does; it puts the brainpower and student engagement together, so we can all be a part of the solution and it’s not just something that happens at the physical plant somewhere. It’s the whole campus working together.”
The five winning proposals will each receive $1,500 to complete their projects by the end of 2015, said Matt Barth, UCR professor of electrical and chemical engineering and a member of the UC Global Climate Leadership Counsel. Barth and Cook helped choose the winning proposals along with UCR Professor of Geology Mary Droser, who sits on the education subcommittee of the UC Global Climate Leadership Counsel.
“I would definitely say all the applications were great,” said Barth. “We were extremely surprised to get so many applications with such a short turnaround period. This fellowship is giving students a chance to show off their ideas while helping us meet our sustainability goals, and they’ve given us some pretty good stuff.”
UCR’s goal to be carbon neutral by 2025 demonstrates what makes UCR and Riverside a catalyst for innovation. Creativity and innovation permeate all that we do, which makes our community a trendsetter for the region, California, and the world to follow.
After a car accident five years ago caused a traumatic brain injury and numerous broken bones, Rebecca Trupp, senior mechanical engineering major at California Baptist University, was forced to relearn basic life skills.
Trupp dreamed of designing and working for NASCAR and felt she had to re-evaluate her career when she was no longer able to process mathematical and engineering concepts.
In 2012, Trupp developed an outreach program using NAO robots with guidance from Dr. Anthony Donaldson, dean and professor of the College of Engineering, and Dr. Liya Grace Ni, associate professor of electrical and computer engineering.
The NAO robots were first introduced when the College of Engineering received a W.M. Keck grant of $250,000. The money funds Field Programmable Gate Array (FPGA) hardware, as well as advanced computing and full-body robots and robotics equipment.
Trupp reached out to local schools to educate students on engineering along with other opportunities available with a science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) degree.
With a passion to serve her community, she accepted a challenge proposed by Donaldson to recruit K-12 students with programmed robots. It was then that the NAO Outreach program was implemented.
The NAO Outreach program serves as an example of the possibilities that come from engineering programs. Promoting engineering from CBU is only a portion of a nationwide campaign designed to educate and encourage more students to pursue an education in STEM. Programs like this are great examples of Seizing Our Destiny’s catalyst for innovation pillar. Encouraging students to pursue an education in STEM is no easy task, but for Rebecca Trupp robotics is her her vehicle to do so. Creativity and innovation permeate all that we do, which makes our community a trendsetter for the region, California, and the world to follow.