Shaping The World’s Food Future In Riverside

(This article contains excerpts from an article by Kris Lovekin, published in UCR Today, on July 1, 2014.)

Janet Napolitano, president of the University of California system, announces a new kind of Food CORPS focused on healthier ways to grow and distribute food

More than a century of agricultural research at UC Riverside has helped feed the human population.  When a pest invades California and starts killing important crops, it is Riverside scientists who find the natural enemy, raise it and release it, in concert with the California Department of Food and Agriculture.

When far flung countries are fighting drought and flood, crops developed in Riverside can withstand the weather.  Catalyst for Innovation isn’t just a saying when speaking of  UC Riverside – it’s a lifestyle.

A campus community garden keeps UCR students connected to the land, and provides locally grown fruits and vegetables for students and others. And every piece of citrus in a California supermarket has a connection back to the campus, because Riverside hosts the budwood and genetic material for citrus growers around the world.

Buddha’s Hand is one of the more than 900 citrus varieties in UCR’s Citrus Variety Collection.

Buddha’s Hand is one of the more than 900 citrus varieties in UCR’s Citrus Variety Collection.

“Keep in mind, the issue of food is not just about what we eat,” said UC President Janet Napolitano. “It’s about delivery systems. Climate issues. Population growth. Policy. All of these and more come into play when you begin to think about the colliding forces that shape the world’s food future.”

On July 1, Napolitano promised a laser focus from the 10-campus University of California on a new UC Global Food Initiative, an issue with global implications.

The campuses in Riverside, Berkeley and Davis serve as a hub for Agricultural and Natural Resources, the University of California applied science that has advised and informed California’s growers for a century. But each of the 10 campuses, as well as the national laboratories, have a piece of the food puzzle.

“This initiative will help us address food security issues on our own campus, in our community and across the world,” said Peggy Mauk, a cooperative extension specialist who is director of UC Riverside’s Agricultural Operations, which covers 440 acres on campus, and another 500 acres in the Coachella Valley. She has heard growers ask for new certificate programs and an agribusiness degree. She is working to provide UCR grown crops to campus restaurants as well as schools in the Riverside Unified School Districts and local food banks.

“Our research has been going on for generations, but what this initiative does is ask us to knit it all up with the local community, local restaurants, even our local students. It’s totally doable in my opinion, given some time and some resources and some good partnerships,” Mauk said.

One of the tensions of the UC Global Food Initiative is that food means a lot of things to a lot of people, from growing organic greens in the backyard to large industrial production of soy and corn and beef shipped to the world.

For the entire article, click here.

 

UC Riverside To Lead New Energy Frontier Research Center Project

(This article contains excerpts from an article by Kris Lovekin, published in UCR Today on June 18, 2014)

The project “SHINES” will receive $12 million from the Department of Energy to pursue fundamental advances in energy production, storage, and use.

Jing Shi, a professor of physics and astronomy, to lead the SHINES initiative.  Photo Credit: UC Riverside

Jing Shi, a professor of physics and astronomy, to lead the SHINES initiative. Photo Credit: UC Riverside

University of California, Riverside is always leading the way in research and technology.  The SHINES project is a great representation of Seizing Our Destiny’s catalyst for innovation pillar.  Collaborating with the Department of Energy for the SHINES project is an outstanding opportunity for the research team at UCR to showcase it’s talents and innovative spirit.  Creativity and innovation permeate all that we do, which makes our community a trendsetter for the region, California, and the world to follow.

A UC Riverside-led research project is among the 32 named today by U.S. Energy Secretary Ernest Moniz as an Energy Frontier Research Centers (EFRCs), designed to accelerate the scientific breakthroughs needed to build a new 21st-century energy economy in the United States.

SHINES is one of 10 new projects announced today, along with 22 other projects receiving new funding based on achievements to date. The Department of Energy announced a total of $100 million in funding to support fundamental advances in energy production, storage, and use.

SHINES will investigate several aspects of basic research: new ultrathin films, nanostructured composites, high resolution imaging, the transport of electrical signals, heat and light. “All of it will be studied, modeled and simulated in order to help the nation’s ability to advance in the way we use energy,” said Shi, the lead researcher.

To read the full article, click here.

 

Riverside Experiments With More Affordable Public Area ‘Hotspots’

(This article contains excerpts from an article by David Downey, published in the Press-Entreprise on May 30, 2014.)

About the middle of last decade, municipalities across the Inland region were jumping on the broadband wireless wagon, vowing to blanket communities with “Wi-Fi” service and connect residents of all income levels to the Internet.  Riverside ended up being the only city to follow through. It hired AT&T to build and operate a system that debuted in May 2007. The idea was to blanket 95 percent of the city’s 83 square miles with free basic Internet access.

Riverside abandons nearly citywide system, joins area cities that have opted for more affordable public area ‘hotspots.’

Riverside abandons nearly citywide system, joins area cities that have opted for more affordable public area ‘hotspots.’

Seven years later, Riverside is abandoning what is now an out-of-date, little-used system, said Lea Deesing, the city’s chief innovation officer.  Revamping Riverside’s public internet capabilities is a large project that will benefit all Riversiders, regardless of socioeconomic status.  This project exemplifies seizing our destiny’s catalyst for innovation pillar.   Riverside has made it a priority to ensure that all residents  have internet access.  Our community leaders collaborate to address issues, which lead to more inventive and multi-disciplinary approaches. 

“We plan to shut it off on July 1,” Deesing said, adding that 1,600 devices on light poles and traffic signals will have to be dismantled.  Riverside opted not to spend an estimated $6 million to replace and modernize the network. Instead, the city has decided to experiment with hotspots, something other cities provide.

It is becoming increasingly important for people to connect to the Internet to obtain public services, apply for jobs and maintain bank accounts, among other things, the report states.

While Riverside had plenty of company around the nation in the area of public WiFi, it was on its own in Inland Southern California. A handful of cities, however, have opted to provide limited service in area hotspots.

To read the full article, click here.

These Roofs Can Clean The Air

(This article contains excerpts from an article by Michael Franco, published on cnet.com on June 4, 2014.)

Students at UC Riverside have created a cheap coating that can go on ordinary clay roofing tiles to bust smog.

Roofing tiles protect homes from the environment, reflecting heat from the sun and keeping rainwater rolling away into gutters. Thanks to work done by students at the University of California at Riverside, however, roof shingles may soon be protecting the environment itself.

Photo credit: UC Riverside

Photo credit: UC Riverside

A team there coated off-the-shelf clay roofing tiles with titanium dioxide, a compound found in “everything from paint to food to cosmetics,” according to the researchers. They then placed the coated tiles into a mini atmosphere chamber they built out of wood, Teflon, and PVC pipes. The chamber was filled with nitrogen oxide and beamed with ultraviolet light to mimic the sun. Nitrogen oxides are compounds in the air that are responsible for causing smog.

What they found was that the coating on the tiles removed between 88 percent and 97 percent of the nitrogen oxides. This led them to calculate that an average-size residential roof coated with their titanium dioxide mixture could break down the same amount of smog-producing nitrogen oxides per year put out by a car driven 11,000 miles. They further calculated that 21 tons of nitric oxide could be eliminated every day if tiles on 1 million roofs got the coating.

And the price for the simple yet powerful smog-busting coating? Just about $5 to cover an average-sized roof.  The students on the team that executed the research and developed the titanium dioxide coating are graduating in the fall, but are hopeful that new students will take over their work and test other factors.

The team at UCR that developed this smog buster is a model of seizing our destiny’s catalyst for innovation pillar. Being that this project is so inexpensive and attainable, it has great potential for everyone to do their part and start to clean the skies.  Riverside is setting the bar as a Catalyst for Innovation in many ways.

To read more, click here.

New West Campus Solar Farm To Provide Power To UC Riverside

(This article contains excerpts from an article by Ross French published in UCR Today on January 6, 2014)

When it comes online this summer, the 11-acre site will produce three megawatts of electricity

The sun has always been a major part of the identity of the University of California, Riverside, so much so that it is even incorporated into the school’s logo. But starting in the summer of 2014, the sun will be providing more than beautifully sunny days – it will also be providing electrical power to the campus and saving the university, and taxpayers, millions of dollars in the process.

UCR is partnering with SunPower Corporation to install a 10.92-acre solar farm on a West Campus open space surrounded by Parking Lot 30 and the UCR Community Garden to the south, the 60/215 freeway to the east and the International Village Apartments to the west. Upon completion, scheduled for July 2014, the facility will generate about three megawatts of electricity.

Despite covering nearly 11 acres on the West Campus, the new UCR solar farm will be largely hidden from the view of the general public. photo credit: UCR Physical Plant

Despite covering nearly 11 acres on the West Campus, the new UCR solar farm will be largely hidden from the view of the general public. photo credit: UCR Physical Plant

“Three megawatts is about 30% of our base load on a daily basis. Our peak load is 17 or 18 megawatts,” Ken Mueller, director of Physical Plant Operations said. “This is a good start and the campus will use 100% of the power that we generate.”

UCR is committed to becoming a green machine.  The new solar farm that will be going online this summer certainly exemplifies seizing our destiny’s catalyst for innovation pillar.  The people and educational institutions of Riverside cultivate and support useful and beneficial ideas.  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.

An example of how the solar farm might look. Photo credit: UCR Physical Plant

An example of how the solar farm might look. Photo credit: UCR Physical Plant

The project supports the system-wide University Policy on Sustainable Practices, which calls on each campus to contribute to the production of up to 10 megawatts of on-site renewable power by 2014, as well as campus-specific sustainability strategies detailed in UCR’s 2005 Long Range Development Plan (LRDP). The UCR photovoltaic system will be the largest at any UC campus and, combined with other UCR-based projects, will increase photovoltaic generation within the city of Riverside by 40%.

“We have had very favorable electrical rates with Riverside Public Utilities, but recently the price of solar has come down to where it is competitive with that electrical rate,” Mueller said. “We will be getting the most cost-effective solar array on the market.”

To read more, click here.

 

Cool California City Challenge: Motivating Cities To Reduce Their Carbon Footprint

(This article contains excerpts from coolclimate.berkeley.edu)

The CoolCalifornia City Challenge is a competition between California cities to motivate and reward residents for reducing their carbon footprints and helping to build more vibrant communities.

cool CA

Participants track driving and home energy use to earn “green points” for having low greenhouse gas emissions compared to similar households and “bonus points” (worth 5 times the value of green points) for lowering emissions over time. Each point helps participants’ cities earn sustainability funding from Challenge sponsors. Teams of any size collaborate and compete against other teams.

 The Competition                                                                              

Cities were able to sign up for the program beginning in January with sign up closing on March 30th. In April, those cities that signed up to participate in the ‘City Challenge’ encouraged residents to sign up for the program at the CoolCalifornia Challenge Registration Page and Riversiders began tracking their household energy (natural gas and electricity) and motor vehicle emissions. Prize money will be awarded to all participating cities based on the number of new registered households by May 30.

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Here is the current scoreboard, Riverside is almost there! Photo credit: coolclimate.berkeley.ed

It’s not too late to get involved

Every resident in participating cities has the opportunity to contribute to the program. Within cities, households and groups of households will be recognized for their contributions to helping make cities green and more livable. These contributions include actions such as tracking and reducing energy consumption and vehicle miles. By signing up for the Challenge and reporting these actions, participants earn points, which further the standing of their city in the competition.

The program runs until the end of August, but residents need to sign up by May 30th!

The Cool California competition is a great model of seizing our destiny’s catalyst for innovation pillar.  This is a great opportunity to collaborate and build stronger, more efficient communities. 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 more about Cool California, click here.

Solar Power Goes To Work At UCR

(This article contains excerpts from an article by David Danelski, published in the Press-Enterprise on May 21, 2014.)

Even on a cloudy morning, a solar power system proved itself for its big unveiling Wednesday, May 21 in Riverside.  The system demonstrates that solar power can be harnessed, stored and consumed in a typical parking lot, powering electric vehicles and buildings and even contributing power to the grid. The project is in place at UC Riverside’s Center for Environmental Research and Technology on Columbia Avenue, where dignitaries gathered for a ceremony Wednesday.

UCR student Daniel Situ, right shows guests how the ac power for the building is cycled from unit to unit using lights during a Sustainable Integrated Grid Initiative Opening Celebration under the solar panels at UCR Bourns College of Engineering-Center for Environmental Research and Technology Wednesday in Riverside, CA. May 21, 2014. Photo credit: Terry Pierson

UCR student Daniel Situ, right shows guests how the ac power for the building is cycled from unit to unit using lights during a Sustainable Integrated Grid Initiative Opening Celebration under the solar panels at UCR Bourns College of Engineering-Center for Environmental Research and Technology Wednesday in Riverside, CA. May 21, 2014. Photo credit: Terry Pierson

The $10 million carbon-free energy system is a technical first for the nation, Ula said.  Photovoltaic panels are mounted on seven steel structures above about 200 parking spaces; the structures also provide shade for the cars. The power goes to three UCR buildings, including the research center’s administrative headquarters, as well as five charging stations for electric vehicles in the parking lot.

Electricity that is not consumed immediately is stored in two refrigerator-size batteries that provide power to the building after the sun goes down. Then, any leftover power goes to into the Riverside Public Utilities grid to be used elsewhere.

The project was made possible with a $2 million grant from the South Coast Air Quality Management District. UC Riverside invested $1 million and expects to recoup that cost in energy savings.  The solar panels were donated by SolarMax Technology, which moved its headquarters to Riverside in 2012. The two big batteries were donated by China-based Winston Battery.

UC Riverside’s  CE-CERT team is an outstanding representation of seizing our destiny’s catalyst for innovation.  Through commitment and dedication to technological research and expansion, UCR is becoming a leader in top green universities in the nation.  Riverside catalyzes profound discoveries and creativity in the arts, technology, and research.

To read more, click here.

 

Teacher Sees Arts As The Path To Understanding

(This article contains excerpts from an article by Patrick Brien, published in the Press Enterprise on May 22, 2014.)

One often hears about the benefits of arts education and the need to maintain it in our schools. There is often a misunderstanding, however, of why. Is this so that we can train the next generation of artists? While there are artists who will emerge, the benefits are much more tangible.

Ronda Barnes helps a class working on the keyboard.  Phot credit: Ronda Barnes

Ronda Barnes helps a class working on the keyboard. Phot credit: Ronda Barnes

“When you take a whole note and then make it 2 half notes, 4 quarter notes, 8 eighth notes and 16 sixteen notes, it gives students the visual reference they need to learn math,” she says. “Reading notes teaches sequences and identification of patterns which is also found in math.”

In high school, Barnes did everything from competing on the swim team to cheerleading, show choir and band, for whom she became the drum major during her senior year. That year she was also the director of the 60-piece Riverside Pops Youth Band.  Music has taken Barnes to Germany, Austria, France, Canada and around the United States, including Hawaii and Florida.

As Arts Magnet Coordinator for Ramona High School, Ronda Barnes is a face for arts education in Riverside. Photo credit: Ronda Barnes

As Arts Magnet Coordinator for Ramona High School, Ronda Barnes is a face for arts education in Riverside. Photo credit: Ronda Barnes

The program at Ramona High School is based around the development of a personalized plan for students to achieve their requirements while allowing them to take visual and performing arts classes.  “Because Ramona is Riverside’s only Arts Magnet, we have creative and performing arts classes only taught at our school,” explains Barnes.

Ronda Barnes is an excellent model of seizing our destiny’s catalyst for innovation pillar.  Identifying ways for teachers to relate to their students isn’t always the easiest task, but for Ronda Barnes music is her vehicle to do so.  She uses music to develop fundamental math skills in a practical way.  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 more, click here.

A New Miles Per Gallon Rating System

(This article contains excerpts from an article by Sean Nealon, published in UCR Today, on May, 7, 2014.)

UC Riverside graduate student works with Motor Trend magazine to create fuel economy ratings for vehicles based on real-world driving, not lab tests.

Sam Cao, a UC Riverside graduate student, who tested cars in conjunction with Motor Trend.  Photo Credit: UCR Today

Sam Cao, a UC Riverside graduate student, who tested cars in conjunction with Motor Trend. Photo Credit: UCR Today

Do you ever wonder about the accuracy of those miles per gallon ratings pasted on windows of new cars?

So did Emissions Analytics, a United Kingdom-based vehicle emissions testing company. With the help of Sam Cao, a graduate student at the University of California, Riverside’s Bourns College of Engineering, they set out to test the accuracy, but with one significant difference.

Those numbers are based on a standardized test procedure performed in a laboratory by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). Emissions Analytics placed portable emissions measurement equipment on vehicles to test fuel economy while the cars were being driven on the road.

They found differences – up to 20 percent. Some cars fared better than EPA estimates, some worse and some about the same. For example:

  • A 2013 Honda Accord LX four-door sedan had an EPA rating of 27 miles per gallon on city streets and 36 miles per gallon on highways. The Real MPG, as Emissions Analytics calls their figure, was 19.8 city and 33.6 highway.
  • A 2014 Volkswagen Jetta 1.8T SE four-door sedan had EPA ratings of 25 city and 36 highway. The Real MPG numbers were 27.9 city and 39.2 highway.
  • A 2014 Chevrolet Camaro ZL1 two-door convertible had EPA ratings of 12 city and 18 highway. The Real MPG numbers were 12 city and 18.9 highway.

Cao, who works under Kent Johnson, an assistant research engineer at the Bourns College of Engineering Center for Environmental Research and Technology, worked with Emissions Analytics during the summer of 2013 as they tested vehicles at Motor Trend’s office in El Segundo.  Cao, a 2006 graduate of Temecula Valley High School who expects to earn his Ph.D. in June, has worked extensively with portable emissions measurement equipment at UC Riverside.\

A vehicle with portable emissions testing equipment is readied for on the road testing. Photo Credit: UCR Today

A vehicle with portable emissions testing equipment is readied for on the road testing. Photo Credit: UCR Today

While working with Emissions Analytics, Cao’s duties included installing the measurement equipment, trouble-shooting data acquisition problems and calibrating the instruments.  Cao’s work on the project is one of the latest examples of a more than 20-year history of emissions testing at the Center for Environmental Research and Technology. Initially, research focused on testing cars and trucks in a stationary setting. Now much of the testing is done on the road with portable emission measurement systems (PEMS).

Cao and Riversides’s Bourns College of Engineering exemplify seizing our destiny’s  intelligent growth and catalyst for innovation pillars. Comparing accurate MPG estimates are important, and has become a crucial factor to many people when choosing a new vehicle.  The people and educational institutions of Riverside cultivate and support beneficial ideas and research. Creativity and innovation permeate all that we do, which makes our community a trendsetter for the region, California, and the world to follow.  Riverside promotes an outstanding quality of life for all through intelligent growth.

To read the full article, click here.

Young Professionals Promote Volunteerism

(This article contains excerpts from pickgroup.org)

The Pick Group provides opportunities for career-minded young professionals to connect socially, develop professionally, and engage civically for the betterment of Riverside.  The Pick Group ran a successful social media volunteer drive, for the second year, during the month of January called the Pick and Pledge Challenge where young professionals and others in the Riverside area were called upon to promote volunteerism. The challenge provided a media forum to publicly post hours participants will volunteer in 2014 to local organizations and non profits.

Volunteers from the social media drive.  Photo credit: Pickgroup.org

Volunteers from the social media drive. Photo credit: Pickgroup.org

Together, 85 PICK Group members, board members, friends and community members pledged a total of 16,750 volunteer hours to the community through the group’s official Facebook page. “We had a goal of 10,000 hours this year and we exceeded it by 68%. Last year, we had a total of 63 people pledge 9,600 hours. We are excited to see the increase of people pledging volunteer hours as well an increase in the number of hours,” said Jesse Limon, Civic Involvement Chair of PICK Group.

Pick Group Volunteer. Photo credit: the PICK Group

Pick Group Volunteer. Photo credit: the PICK Group

“According to the Independent Sector, the monetary value of a volunteer hour in California is currently $26.34. The economic impact of those 16,750 hours pledged is $441,195.00,” said Eugene Kim, President of the PICK Group. “With the increase of the value of volunteer hour and hours pledged, in just one year we doubled the value of the economic impact of volunteers to our community.”

The annual Pick and Pledge event seeks to pair eager young professionals with local nonprofit boards and volunteer opportunities by highlighting local organizations on the PICK Group website and social media outlets daily during the month of January. Volunteer opportunities to fulfill the hours pledged will be posted throughout the year on the website and social media outlets.

Pick group volunteer. Photo Credit: The PICK Group

Pick group volunteer. Photo Credit: The PICK Group

The Pick Group is a great representation of Seizing Our Destiny’s catalyst for innovation, unified city, and location of choice pillars.  Finding new opportunities to promote volunteerism and community outreach is an admirable cause that the Pick Group has dedicated a lot of energy to.  Creativity and innovation permeate all that we do, which makes our community a trendsetter for the region, California, and the world to follow.  Riversiders are committed to improving the quality of life within the community, making Riverside a location of choice for people and organizations from all over the world.  We are a caring community that has compassion for all of its inhabitants, and engages with one another for a better life for all.

To read more about the Pick Group, click here.