Category Archives: Creativity

Getty Foundation Awards UCR ARTSblock $225,000

(This article contains excerpts from the article written by Mojgan Sherkat and published in UCR Today on April 12, 2016.)

Hector Hernandez, Bulca, 2015 (detail). COURTESY OF THE ARTIST AND UCR ARTSBLOCK
Hector Hernandez, Bulca, 2015 (detail).
COURTESY OF THE ARTIST AND UCR ARTSBLOCK

The Getty Foundation awarded the University of California, Riverside ARTSblock a $225,000 grant for “Mundos Alternos: Art and Science Fiction in the Americas,” an exhibition that brings together contemporary artists over the last three decades from across the Americas who have tapped into science fiction’s capacity to imagine new realities and alternate worlds.

“Based on our extensive research ‘Mundos Alternos’ will include large-scale kinetic works, sculptures, photographs, drawings, paintings, costumes, and video works by more than 30 artists,” said Tyler Stallings, the interim executive director of UCR ARTSblock.

The grant follows a $125,000 award given to UCR ARTSblock in 2014 for research toward the conception of the exhibition, which allowed for curatorial travel, research, and planning. Co-curated by Stallings, Joanna Szupinska-Myers, curator of exhibitions at California Museum of Photography at UCR ARTSblock, and Robb Hernández, assistant professor of English at UCR, the trio had the opportunity to meet with artists and scholars in cities throughout the U.S., Mexico, Cuba, Puerto Rico, and South America.

The exhibition will encompass the 8,000 square feet that comprise the changing exhibition galleries at UCR ARTSblock’s three venues – California Museum of Photography, Culver Center of the Arts, and Sweeney Art Gallery. It is expected to travel to other venues, accompanied by a heavily illustrated book that includes original essays, art and science fiction by the curators and leading scholars with expertise in Mexico, Brazil, and Central America.

“Mundos Alterno” will utilize the world’s largest holding of science fiction materials, the Eaton Collection of Science Fiction and Fantasy in the UCR Libraries. In 2012, the Eaton Collection acquired a major collection of science fiction and fantasy pulp magazines published in Argentina, Chile, Mexico, and Spain.

“Science fiction offers a unique artistic landscape in which to explore the colonial enterprise that shaped the Americas, and to present alternative perspectives speculating on the past and the future,” said Szupinska-Myers.

“‘Mundos Alternos’ is a historic show placing UCR at the forefront of the first transnational effort to identify a growing tendency in contemporary Latin American and Latino art, a tendency that recasts ‘the future’ at a time when debates over immigration reform, militarized borders, and American citizenship continue to take center stage in this country,” said Hernández.

“This exhibition is particularly apt for UCR as it is a Hispanic-Serving Institution (HSI), which is reflected not only on the campus but in the surrounding community, too,” said Milagros Peña, dean of the College of Humanities, Arts, and Social Sciences (CHASS) at UCR. UCR was named an HSI in 2008, the first in the UC system to receive the honor.

“Mundos Alterno” is part of “Pacific Standard Time: LA/LA,” a far-reaching and ambitious exploration of Latin American and Latino art in dialogue with Los Angeles, taking place from September 2017 through January 2018 at more than 60 cultural institutions from Santa Barbara to San Diego, and from Los Angeles to Palm Springs. “Pacific Standard Time” is an initiative of the J. Paul Getty Museum. The presenting sponsor is Bank of America.

“All of ‘Pacific Standard Time: LA/LA’s’ exhibitions are grounded in significant original research carried out by teams of curators – including scholars, artists, and critics – in the United States, Latin America, and Europe,” said Deborah Marrow, director of the Getty Foundation. “The fruits of their collaborative research will be evident in the resulting exhibitions. The exhibitions will also leave a lasting legacy of scholarship through numerous catalogues and other publications. The Getty Foundation is proud to support all of this work.”

UCR ARTSblock is located at 3824 and 3834 Main St., Riverside, Calif., and includes three venues: California Museum of Photography, Barbara and Art Culver Center of the Arts, and the Jack and Marilyn Sweeney Art Gallery, which are open Tuesday through Saturday, noon to 5 p.m., plus 6-9 p.m. for First Thursday ArtWalks. Admission is $3, which includes entry to all three venues, and is free during First Thursday ArtWalks. For film screenings, the Culver Center opens 30 minutes prior to the start time. www.artsblock.ucr.edu.

This grant is a great example of Seizing Our Destiny’s Intelligent Growth Pillar.  Riverside embraces economic growth and directs it so it maintains and improves our already outstanding quality of life. This includes growing the economy, raising the standard of living and managing a growing population.

To read the full article, click here.

National Science Foundation Selects Professor to Inspire Next Generation of Scientists and Engineers

(This article contains excerpts from the article written by Sarah Nightingale and published in UCR Today on April 5, 2016.)

Photo Credit: UCR Today
Photo Credit: UCR Today

Suveen Mathaudhu has Captain America’s shield and he’s not afraid to use it—to help get kids excited about science and engineering.

Mathaudhu, an assistant professor in the Mechanical Engineering and Materials Science and Engineering programs at the University of California, Riverside’s Bourns College of Engineering has been selected by the National Science Foundation (NSF) to present at the USA Science and Engineering Festival, which will take place April 16-17 in Washington D.C.

As the only national science and engineering festival, the free event aims to inspire the next generation of inventors and innovators through more than 3,000 hands-on exhibits, experiments and live performances by science celebrities, inventors and subject-matter experts. The 4th annual festival is expected to draw more than 350,000 attendees.

In his exhibit, “The Super Science of Captain America’s Shield,” Mathaudhu and five of his graduate students will integrate the fictional science behind the creation of Captain America’s iconic super-strong shield with the real science he does to develop ultra-tough metals and alloys.

“Engineering is a very creative field that’s about solving really interesting problems, but many kids don’t get that,” Mathaudhu said. “When they think about how superheroes’ powers are augmented by advanced science and engineering, they start to get excited about it.”

Mathaudhu, who joined the Bourns College in 2014, recently received an Early Career Faculty Development Program (CAREER) grant from the NSF. The proposal, titled “CAREER: Extreme Toughening of HCP Metallic Alloys via Nanospaced Stacking Faults” will continue for five years and is expected to total $500,000 in support of research, education and outreach activities.

In the study, Mathaudhu and his team will unravel the underlying mechanisms responsible for the formation of novel toughening features within lightweight metals with hexagonal structures (titanium and magnesium), and enable processing methods to realize metallic materials with unprecedented strength and formability.  These metallic alloys are critical for the development of lightweight vehicles and transportation systems that reduce our dependency on fossil fuels and decrease pollution.

“This award will allow UCR to research and develop advanced lightweight structural alloys, incorporate the discoveries and findings into education and classroom, and importantly, to reach out the broader community and integrate them into the excitement and opportunities in metallurgical research and other STEM fields,” Mathaudhu said.

Mathaudhu and his students are also active in presenting his research and superhero science to diverse local and national audiences.  Within the last year he has spoken at local elementary, high schools, junior/community colleges; The UCR Osher Lifelong Learning Institute (aimed at learners 50 years and older); Riverside’s Long Night of Arts and Innovation; the 2015 U.S. News STEM Solutions Conference; and even at the U.S. Capitol to Congressional Leaders.

Mathaudhu, an expert on the science of superheroes as depicted in comic books and their associated movies, frequently speaks to the media and consults on this subject.

Mathaudhu effort to get kids interested in science and engineering 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 ideas, research, products, scholars, business people, artists and entrepreneurs.

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zyBooks Secures $4 Million To Take College Textbooks Into The Interactive Age

(This article contains excerpts from the article written by Sarah Nightingale and published in UCR Today on February 16, 2016.)

Members of the zyBooks team, with founders Frank Vahid and Smiti Bakshi in the center. Photo Credit: UCR Today
Members of the zyBooks team, with founders Frank Vahid and Smiti Bakshi in the center. Photo Credit: UCR Today

zyBooks, a company that provides web-native STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math) learning materials that was co-founded by UCR Professor Frank Vahid, has received a $4 million investment round led by Bialla Venture Partners.

This latest investment follows recent grants from the National Science Foundation’s SBIR program, awarded for research and development of the zyBooks platform. The funding will support significant content expansion into additional zyBooks, new product features for both instructors and students, and new sales and marketing initiatives.

zyBooks are interactive learning tools in STEM courses, with which students “learn by doing” in a highly engaging, action-oriented way. In contrast to traditional textbooks, the content features more question sets, animations, interactive tools, and auto-graded homework, enabling professors to be more efficient and devote more time to teaching rather than administrative tasks.

zyBooks was founded by Vahid, a professor of computer science and engineering at the University of California Riverside’s Bourns College of Engineering, and Smita Bakshi, CEO of the company and a former assistant professor at UC Davis.

Bourns College of Engineering 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 ideas, research, and scholars.

“Particularly in the age of the Internet and interactivity, traditional textbooks – often unchanged for decades – are increasingly at odds with today’s students and professors alike. Simply migrating such textbooks to online formats provides few benefits and several drawbacks, and add-on interactive elements often are not well integrated,” Vahid said.

“zyBooks’ interactive content is created natively for the web using animations, learning questions, tools and simulations, as well as some text and figures. Measurable results demonstrate more usage, better learning outcomes and happier students. The direct relationship between students and content creators also reduces costs and enables a tight content feedback/improvement loop.”

David Uri, managing member of Bialla Venture Partners, said zyBooks is set to be become the new standard for STEM curriculum across higher education. In conjunction with the funding, Uri will join the company’s Board of Directors.

“zyBooks has already shown that its innovative approach creates dramatically better learning outcomes for students – with proven results of up to 64 percent improvement in learning with a zyBook versus a traditional textbook – while empowering instructors with easy to use tools that save time and administrative hassle. It’s a win/win for both professors and students alike,” Uri said.

As an early example of how the new funding will be used, zyBooks has announced several new STEM course products including the first-ever interactive version of the seminal computer science textbook classic – Patterson & Hennessy’s, “Computer Organization and Design,” as well as a revolutionary interactive auto-graded programming lab submission system called zyLabs, which will be launched at the SIGCSE conference in March 2016.

Starting with just a handful of universities in 2012, the company’s computer science and engineering zyBooks are now used at over 300 colleges and universities across the U.S. and Canada. For more information, visit: www.zybooks.com

To read the full article, click here.

New App Connects Students and Tutors

(This article contains excerpts from the article written by Sarah Nightingale and published in UCR Today on February 11, 2016.)

Scholarly creators Sultan Khan (left) and Haasith Sanka. Photo Credit: UCR Today
Scholarly creators Sultan Khan (left) and Haasith Sanka. Photo Credit: UCR Today

Are you struggling at school, or hoping to master a new skill? Perhaps you’d like to earn some extra money as a tutor? An app created by two computer science students at the University of California, Riverside might be just what you need. Sultan Khan and Haasith Sanka’s ‘Scholarly’ app won first place at the world’s largest education Hackathon in October. It is now available as a free download on Google Play and the Apple App Store.

Described by Khan and Sanka as ‘The Uber for Tutors,’ Scholarly is an on-demand tutoring service that connects students with nearby tutors. The service is simple: tutors create profiles, which can be viewed by students looking for help in a particular subject. Users can view tutor profiles, set meeting locations, and get help with their studies at the click of a button. Most of the app’s current activity is generated by the UCR community, but the creators plan to grow their tutor network and expand the service to K-12 students and their parents in the coming months.

An image of screen shots of the Scholarly app.

Screen shots of the Scholarly app. Photo Credit: UCR Today

The team developed the android version of Scholarly at HackingEDU, which was held in San Mateo, Calif., in October and drew more than 1,000 hackers from universities around the world. The competition challenged students to turn their ideas into functional software that would improve the education system—and they had just 36 hours to do it.

For Khan and Sanka, that meant working through the night to create their app. After placing in the top 10, the Highlanders were invited to present Scholarly to a panel of judges, which landed them in first place. Khan, a senior in UCR’s Bourns College of Engineering, said courses in software engineering and technical writing prepared them to develop professional software and pitch it to a wide audience. Since winning the competition, the students have been working to improve the android app and create the iOS version.

“One of the challenges about developing apps is that even when you’ve done a good job there is always room for improvement. That’s one of the things I love about creating apps and the reason I want to work in the field of software development when I graduate,” said Khan, who has won several national hackathons with his peers at UCR.

For Sanka, a freshman, the reward will be seeing how the app helps other students.

“We both believe that one-on-one tutoring is beneficial, so we are proud to have created something that will contribute to students’ success,” he said.

Khan and Sanka developed the iOS version of the app with Amanda Berryhill, a senior in computer science.

Bourns College of Engineering 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 ideas, research, and scholars.

View the app on Google Play and the App Store. View a video about Scholarly here

To read the full article, click here.

GPS Tracking Down to the Centimeter

(This article contains excerpts from the article written by Sarah Nightingale and published in UCR Today on February 10, 2016.)

Photo Credit: UCR Today
Photo Credit: UCR Today

Researchers at the University of California, Riverside have developed a new, more computationally efficient way to process data from the Global Positioning System (GPS), to enhance location accuracy from the meter-level down to a few centimeters.

The optimization will be used in the development of autonomous vehicles, improved aviation and naval navigation systems, and precision technologies. It will also enable users to access centimeter-level accuracy location data through their mobile phones and wearable technologies, without increasing the demand for processing power.

The research, led by Jay Farrell, professor and chair of electrical and computer engineering in UCR’s Bourns College of Engineering, was published recently in IEEE’s Transactions on Control Systems Technology. The approach involves reformulating a series of equations that are used to determine a GPS receiver’s position, resulting in reduced computational effort being required to attain centimeter accuracy.

First conceptualized in the early 1960s, GPS is a space-based navigation system that allows a receiver to compute its location and velocity by measuring the time it takes to receive radio signals from four or more overhead satellites. Due to various error sources, standard GPS yields position measurements accurate to approximately 10 meters.

Differential GPS (DGPS), which enhances the system through a network of fixed, ground-based reference stations, has improved accuracy to about one meter. But meter-level accuracy isn’t sufficient to support emerging technologies like autonomous vehicles, precision farming, and related applications.

“To fulfill both the automation and safety needs of driverless cars, some applications need to know not only which lane a car is in, but also where it is in that lane—and need to know it continuously at high rates and high bandwidth for the duration of the trip,” said Farrell, whose research focuses on developing advanced navigation and control methods for autonomous vehicles.

Farrell said these requirements can be achieved by combining GPS measurements with data from an inertial measurement unit (IMU) through an internal navigation system (INS). In the combined system, the GPS provides data to achieve high accuracy, while the IMU provides data to achieve high sample rates and high bandwidth continuously.

Achieving centimeter accuracy requires “GPS carrier phase integer ambiguity resolution.” Until now, combining GPS and IMU data to solve for the integers has been computationally expensive, limiting its use in real-world applications. The UCR team has changed that, developing a new approach that results in highly accurate positioning information with several orders of magnitude fewer computations.

“Achieving this level of accuracy with computational loads that are suitable for real-time applications on low-power processors will not only advance the capabilities of highly specialized navigation systems, like those used in driverless cars and precision agriculture, but it will also improve location services accessed through mobile phones and other personal devices, without increasing their cost,” Farrell said.

The research was done by Farrell, Yiming Chen, and Sheng Zhao. Chen and Zhao received their Ph.D.s at UCR. Chen now works for Qualcomm. Zhao now works for Google.

Bourns College of Engineering 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 ideas, research, and scholars.

The UCR Office of Technology Commercialization has filed patents for the inventions above.

To read the full article, click here.

UCR Research Advances Oil Production in Yeast

(This article contains excerpts from the article written by Sarah Nightingale and published in UCR Today on January 26, 2016.)

Photo Credit: UCR Today
Photo Credit: UCR Today

A team led by a researcher at the University of California, Riverside has adapted the CRISPR-Cas9 gene editing system for use in a yeast strain that can produce useful lipids and polymers. The development will lead to new precursors for biofuels, specialty polymers, adhesives and fragrances.

Published recently in the journal ACS Synthetic Biology, the research involves the oleaginous (oil-producing) yeast Yarrowia lipolytica, which is known for converting sugars to lipids and hydrocarbons that are difficult to make synthetically. Until now, Y. lipolytica has been hard to manipulate at the genetic level, but the application of CRISPR-Cas9 will change that, allowing scientists to tap into its bio-manufacturing potential.

Described in 2012, CRISPR-Cas9 is a groundbreaking technique that enables scientists to make precise targeted changes in living cells. Unlike traditional gene-editing methods, it is cheap, easy to use and effective in almost any organism.

“Traditionally, researchers have focused on model organisms that are relatively easy to manipulate at the genetic level, and those working on less tractable species have had to go through long and tedious processes to create new strains. Our work with Y. lipolytica is a good example of how the CRISPR-Cas9 system is facilitating research in organisms that are biologically interesting but historically difficult to work with,” said Ian Wheeldon, an assistant professor of chemical and environmental engineering at UCR’s Bourns College of Engineering and the study’s principal investigator.

In the paper, the team adapted CRISPR-Cas9 for Y. lipolytica, showing that the system could be used to knock genes out and introduce new genes, both useful tools in bio-manufacturing.

Wheeldon said the current work was the first step in a National Science Foundation-funded project to create long chain hydrocarbons—used to make specialty polymers, adhesives, coatings and fragrances—from yeast rather than synthetically.

“Currently, these molecules are produced from non-renewable raw materials derived from petroleum in processes that are inefficient and pose safety risks, so being able to produce them from cheap raw materials in a bio-manufacturing process is very appealing,” Wheeldon said.

Other researchers may use the system to create precursors for biofuels, reducing the current reliance on edible plant oils, Wheeldon said.

The work was done by Wheeldon, Cory Schwartz, a graduate student in the Department of Chemical and Environmental Engineering at UCR, and Murtaza Shabbir Hussain and Mark Blenner from Clemson University in South Carolina. The research was supported by the National Science Foundation.

UCR 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 ideas, research, and scholars.

To read the full article, click here.

Riverside Art Museum Awarded $800,000 from the James Irvine Foundation

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

The Riverside Art Museum (RAM) has been awarded a three-year $800,000 grant from The James Irvine Foundation to advance sustainable organization transformation that leads to expanded arts engagement. RAM is one of six California arts organizations – and the only one from the Inland Valley region – who received a New California Arts Fund grant.

The purpose of the New California Arts Fund is to help nonprofits move arts engagement to the core of who they are and what they do. The James Irvine Foundation provides a combination of support for organization capacity building and for arts engagement programming that encourages and expands participation in the arts among California’s growing and diverse communities. New California Arts Fund grantee-partners are selected through an invitation-only process.

Specifically, the funds will support the museum‘s engagement work over a three-year period. This includes incorporating lessons learned from the popular Riverside Art Make engagement project into “core” programs such as art education classes, art exhibitions, and collections stewardship. The Art Make, which brought hands-on art making projects to a variety of Riverside neighborhoods, provided lessons on which type of art practices can facilitate collaboration, participation, and break down the misconception of “I am not an artist.” During the Riverside Art Make, the museum served 9,533 individuals. Nearly one-half had never been to the museum, yet 92.5% said they would attend future RAM events. Survey data also indicated that the top most enjoyable aspect of the Riverside Art Make was “participating in creating something.”

This grant is a great example of Seizing Our Destiny’s Intelligent Growth Pillar.  Riverside embraces economic growth and directs it so it maintains and improves our already outstanding quality of life. This includes growing the economy, raising the standard of living and managing a growing population. Our community uses land and repurposes historic structures to provide excellent jobs, support to businesses and steward our heritage and natural beauty.

Students Face Off In Fast-Paced Robotics Contest

(This article contains excerpts from the article written by Sarah Nightingale and published in UCR Today on November 17, 2015.)

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

More than 300 middle and high school students from across Riverside and San Bernardino counties competed to build the best terrestrial drones at the MESA Robotics Invitational competition, on Saturday, Nov. 21 at the University of California, Riverside.

This year’s theme, “Attack of the Drones: The Revenge,” challenged students to design drones that out-perform the competition in agility tests and combat simulations. Middle and high school students competed at different levels, with the middle school teams using Lego robotics kits and the high school teams using the Vex robotics platform.

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Photo Credit: The Press Enterprise

The event was hosted by the Mathematics, Engineering, Science, Achievement (MESA) Schools Program at the UCR Bourns College of Engineering. MESA provides academic enrichment services and opportunities to teachers and students in engineering and science, while focusing on serving disadvantaged and underserved student populations. Now in its 8th year, the event will draw 33 teams from 12 schools in Moreno Valley, Colton, Rialto, Corona, Ontario and Victorville.

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

“The MESA Robotics competition is one of our most popular events among students and teachers alike,” said Carlos Gonzalez, director of UCR’s MESA program. “While the students are having fun designing, building and programming their robots, they’re also learning important concepts about engineering, computer science, and, of course, teamwork.”

The top three teams in each competition received awards, with additional distinctions going to teams that demonstrate the best sportsmanship and the most creative design.

Competitions like this are great examples of Seizing Our Destiny’s intelligent growth pillar. UCR is dedicated to educating the next generation of students and helping them succeed. These competitions play a vital role in strengthening our community’s workforce and job growth.

To read the full article, click here.

Image One Camera Captures The Spirit Of Giving

Photo Credit: Image One Camera & Video
Photo Credit: Image One Camera & Video
Shadi and his family
Shadi and his family

At Image One Camera and Video, there is more to business than just making money.  Owner Shadi Sayes came to the United States from Jordan 14 years ago with drive and passion.  After managing a handful of industry leading camera stores, Sayes assembled his dream team of professionals he had met over the years to bring Image One Camera and Video to Riverside.

A true photo service camera store, Image One Camera and Video offers everything one would need for photography, videography and cinematography.  With a state of the art facility, including the first 4K editing station by GoPro in the country, there are a lot of things that set Image One Camera and Video apart from other photography dealers.  Sayes’ dedication and commitment to philanthropy in the Riverside community is inspirational.  Through event sponsorships, giveaway contests, discounts, training courses, and one-on-one advising, Sayes works tirelessly to capture the heart of photography in the community; especially with students.  Image One Camera and Video holds student photo contests with local Universities and Riverside students to catalyze creativity and spark passion. Starting as young as elementary school, Shadi encourages the youth in our community to follow their passion, while helping them learn.

Shadi’s kindness and passion to make a difference in his community is a great example of Seizing Our Destiny’s unified city pillar. Shadi demonstrates that we  are a caring community that has compassion for all of its inhabitants, and engages with one another for a better life for all.

Students Create Green Storm Drain Filter

(This article contains excerpts from the article written by Sean Nealon and published in UCR Today on November 2, 2015.)

The Sustain-A-Drain team recently won a $15,000 grant from the EPA for their reusable storm drain filter. Photo Credit: UCR Today
The Sustain-A-Drain team recently won a $15,000 grant from the EPA for their reusable storm drain filter. Photo Credit: UCR Today

A team of students from the University of California, Riverside Bourns College of Engineering was recently awarded a $15,000 grant from the Environmental Protection Agency for a reusable storm drain filter that is less costly and more environmentally friendly than currently available models.

The key innovation is the calibrated indicator and filter system. The filter is made of 100 percent recycled textiles. The indicator is a 3-D printed device made with the same material as the filter and a translucent biodegradable plastic that includes a polymer that changes from a powder to a gel when it is saturated with oil and/or heavy metals and needs to be replaced.

The team received the $15,000 as a phase one winner of EPA’s P3 (People, Prosperity and the Planet) competition. Team members are: Franklin Gonzalez, Karim Masarweh, Johny Nguyen, Diego Novoa, Kenneth Orellana and Taljinder Kaur. With the exception of Kaur, who is an MBA student, all the students are seniors and either environmental or chemical engineering majors. Kawai Tam, a lecturer at the Bourns College of Engineering, advises them.

Bourns College of Engineering 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 ideas, research, and scholars.

To read the full article, click here.