Category Archives: Learning

UCR: Persisting In Science

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

UCR Distinguished Professor of Genetics Susan Wessler works with students in the Neil A. Campbell Science Learning Laboratory. PHOTO BY LONNIE DUKA
UCR Distinguished Professor of Genetics Susan Wessler works with students in the Neil A. Campbell Science Learning Laboratory.
PHOTO BY LONNIE DUKA

The University of California, Riverside has received a five-year, $1 million grant from the National Science Foundation to provide scholarships, academic support, research experience and internships for a small group of sophomores majoring in science.

The pilot project, known as PERSIST (Promoting Engagement, Retention and Success in STEM Training), will help 12 sophomores who demonstrate financial need each year, for a total of 60 scholarships over five years. Each student will receive a $10,000 scholarship.

The funding will build upon the success UC Riverside’s College of Natural and Agricultural Sciences has had with first-year learning communities, which bring together small groups of first-year students, placing them in the same science and math classes and providing extra academic support.

Graduation rates have nearly doubled in the college for learning community participants and first-quarter GPAs for those in learning communities have averaged about a third of a letter grade better.

The PERSIST National Science Foundation grant builds on that success and focuses on sophomores because data shows that students majoring in the STEM fields are most likely to drop out as freshman or sophomores.

For example, about 40 percent of students who enter UC Riverside intending to major in STEM fields drop out of those fields within their first two years, according to the most recent data available. In the third year only about 10 percent more students drop out.

“The key really is the first two years, especially for our first-generation and low-income students,” said Michael McKibben, divisional dean of student academic affairs in the College of Natural and Agricultural Sciences and the proposal’s primary author. “We have made great progress in the first year. Now, with this grant, we will be able to start to address the second year.  Our ultimate goal is to reduce the rate of lower division student attrition in STEM majors.”

In addition to McKibben, others involved with the project are: Susan Wessler, a distinguished professor of genetics; Marsha Ing, an associate professor in the Graduate School of Education; and Jack Eichler, an associate teaching professor in the Department of Chemistry.

The scholarships will decrease the need for low-income students to work part-time and increase their opportunities to be involved in second year undergraduate research and internships.

The academic support will include activities such as a research methodology course, peer mentoring and career exploration workshops with alumni, including a biotechnology career exploration workshop at the Keck Graduate Institute in Claremont, which offers graduate degrees that prepare students for the bioscience industry.

Part of the reason for partnering with the Keck Graduate Institute is to expose the students to the broad range of jobs available to graduates with STEM degrees. Many incoming UC Riverside students come in intent on going to medical school, without knowing or thinking about the much wider range of jobs available, Wessler said.

Participants will be selected from second-year students who went through the first-year learning community and started their freshman year in pre-calculus. These students tend to have lower graduation rates in STEM compared to students who arrive ready to take calculus.

Grants 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 programs play a vital role in strengthening our community’s workforce and job growth.

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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.

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Public Policy Degree For Medical Students Offered

(This article contains excerpts from the article written by Bettye Miller and published in UCR Today on April 11, 2016.)

Photo Credit: UCR Today
Photo Credit: UCR Today

The School of Public Policy at the University of California, Riverside will expand its graduate degree programs this fall with a Master of Public Policy designed for medical students interested in health care policy and reform.

The MD-MPP program is open only to students enrolled in the UCR School of Medicine, who will complete their medical and public policy training in five years. Medical degrees typically take four years to complete; the MPP is a two-year program.

“This is a niche degree that would appeal to students who, in addition to becoming practicing physicians, may want to become health care administrators and health policymakers,” explained Anil Deolalikar, dean of the School of Public Policy (SPP). “A lot of people creating health policy have very little medical training. It would help if physicians were more involved in shaping health policy.”

The new program reflects the importance both the School of Public Policy and School of Medicine place on developing public policymakers and physicians who will serve the Inland Empire. Areas that students can work in include federal and state health care policy, medical leadership advocacy, and health care consulting.

“We are pleased to partner with UCR’s School of Public Policy to create this distinctive concurrent degree program,” said Neal L. Schiller, interim dean of the School of Medicine. “This new program will offer our medical students yet another pathway to build leadership skills necessary for developing innovations in the health care system to benefit patients and the inland Southern California region as a whole.”

Students who enroll in the program will spend a full academic year at the School of Public Policy during what would have been their fourth year of medical school, then return to the School of Medicine the following year to finish their final year of medical education. They will complete a summer internship and a capstone project that is acceptable to both professional schools. Upon completion of the fourth year of medical school and the concurrent degree capstone project, students will be awarded two degrees: Doctor of Medicine (MD) and Master of Public Policy (MPP).

“By partnering with the UCR School of Public Policy, our medical students will learn the skills needed to help influence healthcare policy that will in turn help fulfill our mission in a meaningful way,” said Dr. Michael Nduati, associate dean of clinical affairs at the UCR School of Medicine. “We are thrilled to have this opportunity available for our students.  Health care reform affects all physicians and providers – from access to reimbursement. Increasingly more and more in recent years, major shifts in the health care landscape are being determined by policymakers and legislation.  The MD-MPP program equips future physicians to take a central role in health care policy and programming that will shape the future of health care in California and throughout the nation.”

Both the School of Public Policy and the School of Medicine are enrolling students who want to improve the quality of life for residents of the Inland Empire, Deolalikar said.

“We are focused on developing future leaders whose training in public policy is grounded in the scientific approach, not armchair activism,” he said. “You have to have proper rigorous training in public policy to say what policies this region needs to make life better for everyone here. We need people who can produce the data, analyze policy options, and make sound recommendations.”

The School of Public Policy may pair the MPP with other graduate degree programs, such as the Master of Business Administration, and offer public policy certificates to Ph.D. students in a variety of disciplines, Deolalikar said.

“If a student has a public policy track in addition to their Ph.D. program, for example, if their dissertation is on the public policy aspect of environmental engineering, that opens a new set of career options,” he added.

Offering a Public Policy degree for medical students is a great example of Seizing Our Destiny’s intelligent growth pillar. UCR is dedicated to educating the next generation of student in facets where the can make the biggest impact on the community and the world.

More information about the MD/MPP program is available at http://spp.ucr.edu/mpp/md.html and http://medschool.ucr.edu/mep/md_mpp.html.

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Aviation Students Land Jobs Offers

(This article contains excerpts from the article written by Madison De Genner and published in CBU Banner on March 30, 2016.)

Photo Credit: CBU Banner
Photo Credit: CBU Banner

Four students from California Baptist University’s aviation flight program received conditional job offers within the last few months from growing airplane company, ExpressJet Airlines.

Although CBU’s aviation flight program is only three years old, ExpressJet Airlines took interest from the start, partnering with CBU to introduce itself to prospective pilots through the “Pathway Program.”

Kyle LeVesque, senior aviation flight major, said the Pathway Program is ExpressJet Airlines’ method of giving aviation students at CBU a guaranteed interview opportunity.

“You have to fulfill specific requirements through a three-step interview process, maintain your GPA, get all your training done, work as a flight instructor and get the minimum hour requirement to apply for a job in the industry,” he said.

All four students passed ExpressJet’s sample test, written knowledge exam, technical interview and human resource interview, leading them to conditional job offers.

“They cannot guarantee a job, but if you satisfy all of those requirements, then they give you a conditional job offer,” LeVesque said, “which is basically saying, ‘Once you meet the hour requirements and do your training, call us up and we’ll set a date for you to come and join the new hire class day.’”

The offer is conditional because each student must first complete all of his or her training before the offer can be sanctioned.

“Most likely, if you get the offer, you are going to stay committed and dedicated because you want to do well,” LeVesque said.

The other students expressed their anticipation and relief over the offers.

“I am very excited and relieved to have a job waiting for me after college,” said Hannah Guajardo, junior aviation flight major.

Amanda Snodgrass, junior aviation flight major, said the offers are a measure of the aviation flight program’s success.

“It is nice to have that opportunity in my back pocket for when I reach eligibility,” she said. “I feel very proud of my accomplishment and everyone else’s, as well. It shows how good of a program CBU has built.”

Howard Dang, junior aviation flight major, said he has been in love with aircrafts since he was a little child.

“I’ve always been fascinated by the unique aspects that make airplanes work,” Dang said. “It’s my dream to become a pilot so it’s definitely a great feeling knowing that I have a job waiting for me after graduation. I believe that if we work hard and believe in God, anything is possible.”

CBU’s efforts and commitment to education certainly illustrate the Seizing Our Destiny pillar of intelligent growth.  For students, one of the greatest challenges they meet is finding a career path after graduation.  Providing students with the opportunity of future employment while they are completing their training at Cal Baptist holds great value to aviation science students.   This is just one example of how Cal Baptist University promotes intelligent growth by collaborating to build a stronger community for future Riversiders.

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Self-Healing Polymer Could Lead To Artificial Muscle

(This article contains excerpts from the article written by Sean Nealon and published in UCR Today on April 18, 2016.)

IMG_3583-before
Photo Credit: UCR Today

If there’s such a thing as an experiment that goes too well, a recent effort in the lab of Stanford chemical engineering Professor Zhenan Bao might fit the bill.

One of her team members, Cheng-Hui Li, wanted to test the stretchiness of a rubberlike type of plastic known as an elastomer that he had just synthesized. Such materials can normally be stretched two or three times their original length and spring back to original size. One common stress test involves stretching an elastomer beyond this point until it snaps.

But Li, a visiting scholar from China, hit a snag: The clamping machine typically used to measure elasticity could only stretch about 45 inches. To find the breaking point of their one-inch sample, Li and another lab member had to hold opposing ends in their hands, standing further and further apart, eventually stretching a 1-inch polymer film to more than 100 inches.

Bao was stunned.

“I said, ‘How can that be possible? Are you sure?’” she recalled.

Today in Nature Chemistry, the researchers, including Chao Wang, an assistant professor of chemistry at the University of California, Riverside who is a former post-doctoral student in Bao’s lab,  explain how they made this super-stretchy substance. They also showed that they could make this new elastomer twitch by exposing it to an electric field, causing it to expand and contract, making it potentially useful as an artificial muscle.

Artificial muscles currently have applications in some consumer technology and robotics, but they have shortcomings compared to a real bicep, Bao said. Small holes or defects in the materials currently used to make artificial muscle can rob them of their resilience. Nor are they able to self-repair if punctured or scratched.

The team attributes the extreme stretching and self-healing ability of their new material to some critical improvements to a type of chemical bonding process known as crosslinking. This process, which involves connecting linear chains of linked molecules in a sort of fishnet pattern, has previously yielded a tenfold stretch in polymers.But this new material, in addition to being extraordinarily stretchy, has remarkable self-healing characteristics. Damaged polymers typically require a solvent or heat treatment to restore their properties, but the new material showed a remarkable ability to heal itself at room temperature, even if the damaged pieces are aged for days. Indeed, researchers found that it could self-repair at temperatures as low as negative 4 degrees Fahrenheit (-20 C), or about as cold as a commercial walk-in freezer.

First they designed special organic molecules to attach to the short polymer strands in their crosslink to create a series of structure called ligands. These ligands joined together to form longer polymer chains – spring-like coils with inherent stretchiness.

Then they added to the material metal ions, which have a chemical affinity for the ligands. When this combined material is strained, the knots loosen and allow the ligands to separate. But when relaxed, the affinity between the metal ions and the ligands pulls the fishnet taut. The result is a strong, stretchable and self-repairing elastomer.

“Basically the polymers become linked together like a big net through the metal ions and the ligands,” Bao explained. “Each metal ion binds to at least two ligands, so if one ligand breaks away on one side, the metal ion may still be connected to a ligand on the other side. And when the stress is released, the ion can readily reconnect with another ligand if it is close enough.”

The team found that they could tune the polymer to be stretchier or heal faster by varying the amount or type of metal ion included. The version that exceeded the measuring machine’s limits, for example, was created by decreasing the ratio of iron atoms to the polymers and organic molecules in the material.

The researchers also showed that this new polymer with the metal additives would twitch in response to an electric field. They have to do more work to increase the degree to which the material expands and contracts and control it more precisely. But this observation opens the door to promising applications. (View video.)

In addition to its long-term potential for use as artificial muscle, this research dovetails with Bao’s efforts to create artificial skin that might be used to restore some sensory capabilities to people with prosthetic limbs. In previous studies her team has created flexible but fragile polymers, studded with pressure sensors to detect the difference between a handshake and a butterfly landing. This new, durable material could form part of the physical structure of a fully developed artificial skin.

“Artificial skin is not just made of one material,” said Franziska Lissel, a postdoctoral fellow in Bao’s lab and member of the research team. “We want to create a very complex system.”

Even before artificial muscle and artificial skin become practical, this work in the development of strong, flexible, electronically active polymers could spawn a new generation of wearable electronics, or medical implants that would last a long time without being repaired or replaced.

This latest discovery is the result of two years of collaboration, overseen by Bao, involving visiting scholar Cheng-Hui Li, a Chinese organo-metallic chemist who designed the metal ligand bonding scheme; polymer chemist Wang, who had made previous iterations of self-healing elastomers; and artificial muscle expert Christoph Keplinger, now an assistant professor of mechanical engineering at the University of Colorado, Boulder. Other contributors to the study, “A highly stretchable autonomous self-healing elastomer,” include Jing-Lin Zuo, Lihua Jin, Yang Sun, Peng Zheng, Yi Cao, Christian Linder and Xiao-Zeng You.

This research 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.

Press release courtesy of Stanford Engineering.

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Program Steers Teen Away From Gang Life

(This article contains excerpts from the article published in the Press Enterprise on March 24, 2016.)

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

As a freshman at John W. North High School in Riverside, Diego Cabrera was looking to be accepted, validated and forge friendships that would last forever.

But Cabrera’s friends that year were leading him down the wrong path.

“Smoking marijuana, skipping class, not doing my schoolwork – it was not a good crowd,” Cabrera said.

Cabrera, now 16, and his father, Andres Cabrera Garcia, eventually turned to the Opportunity With Education program, which includes 14 weeks of classes, community service and character building to help straighten out wayward youth. It is sponsored by the Riverside Police Foundation.

“It was like he lost interest and he was lost,” said Cabrera Garcia, who discovered that some of his son’s new friends were facing expulsion and that others were gang members.

He worried that Cabrera soon might join a gang.

One incident, in particular, prompted action.

During a football game one Friday night when Cabrera was a sophomore, campus security found drugs on some of the boys in the teen’s group.

North High Principal Lynne Sheffield called the family that night and said he would be expelled if he didn’t stay out of trouble.

“We immediately started searching for programs that would help Diego,” Cabrera Garcia said.

The family turned to Riverside police Detective Brian Money, who runs the Riverside Police Foundation’s judo club. Cabrera had been a member of the club in his youth. Money referred the family to Officer Ryan Railsback, coordinator of the Opportunity With Youth program.

The program runs twice a year, February to May and then September to December. The free program is open to ages 12-17.

Participants and their parents spend 14 weeks taking classes, including juvenile law, drugs, alcohol, gangs and social media, and touring hospitals, juvenile detention facilities and coroner’s facilities. Sessions also include community service, physical fitness, character building and counseling.

Each Saturday, parents or legal guardians and their children meet with Railsback and his team at Riverside City College.

“I really appreciated all the experts,” Cabrera Garcia said. “The counseling really helped us to talk to Diego. Now we’re much better.”

Railsback said parental participation is key to participants’ success.

“What that means is they have to be there,” Railsback said.

For adolescents to be accepted into the program, parents or guardians have to commit and participate every Saturday with their children. Parents receive counseling and parenting classes and attend the topic lecture for that class along with their children.

“If the parents aren’t going to commit, then the kids aren’t going to commit,” Railsback said.

The program, which started in 2011, enrolls youth who have never been arrested, who have pending criminal cases or who are on probation.

Started as part of Riverside Police Chief Sergio Diaz’s initiative to keep youth from becoming negatively impacted by the criminal justice system, the program has helped hundreds of at-risk youth like Cabrera get back on track.

“We started to notice the change little by little,” Cabrera Garcia said. “It’s like he’s the old Diego again. It’s a good program.”

He said his son is doing better in school, his grades are up, he helps more around the house, he helps with his nephews, is back at judo club guiding younger children and challenged athletes and has joined the Riverside Police Explorers since graduating from the Opportunity With Youth program in December.

“His dedication is remarkable,” said Railsback, who remembers the teenager who first showed up to the class in September and has seen the change in Cabrera since. “He wants to make a better life for himself. We just needed to help him make better choices.”

Diaz invited Cabrera on March 17 to speak at the fifth annual Riverside Police Foundation Chiefs breakfast. In front of a crowd of elected officials, the 16-year-old shared his story of overcoming gangs and drugs and choosing the right path.

Diego said that after the speech, members of the audience came up to tell him they were proud of him.

“It feels good,” Cabrera said. “I know I’m on the right track.”

Riversiders commitment to making one-other’s life a little better is a great example of Riverside acting as a unified city. The actions of all the participating organizations and people demonstrates that Riverside is a caring community that has compassion for all of its inhabitants, and engages with one another for a better life for all.

To read the full article, click here.

Lincoln High Declared Model Continuation School By State Superintendent

(This article contains excerpts from the article published in RUSD News on March 30, 2016.)

Photo Credit: RUSD News
Photo Credit: RUSD News

California State Superintendent of Public Instruction, Tom Torlakson has declared RUSD’s Abraham Lincoln High School a “Model Continuation School”. According to a California Department of Education press release, Lincoln High was recognized for its “innovative teaching approaches that enable students with diverse needs to complete their high school education.”

“This is big and we could not be more pleased,” said Superintendent of Riverside Unified School District (RUSD), Dr. David Hansen. “While we have seen firsthand our efforts to help at-risk students graduate, to be one of only 37 schools statewide to receive this prestigious designation is a great indication that what we are doing here in Riverside is being recognized in Sacramento as pioneering.”

Lincoln is a school for students 16 years or older at risk of not graduating from high school. School attendance is compulsory and students benefit from a wide range of programs and services, including study courses, career counseling, job placement and apprenticeships.

“We are overjoyed to see all the hard work on the part of our teachers and staff is being recognized by the state’s top education official,” said Lincoln’s Principal Dr. Pamela Mshana. “But it is our students who are especially grateful, knowing that they are not being left behind. That we are doing everything we can to ensure their future success.”

The “Model Continuation School” designation lasts for a period of three years, with the school required to file an Annual Assurance of Services Form for the second and third years of designation. Lincoln will be recognized at the 2016 California Continuation Education Association (CCEA) State Conference, April 29–May 1 held in Riverside.y grateful, knowing that they are not being left behind. That we are doing everything we can to ensure their future success.”

Representing Seizing Our Destiny’s location of choice pillar, Lincoln High demonstrates what makes Riverside a location of choice for families seeking the best education.

To read the full article, click here.

Five Students Qualify For The National SkillsUSA Competition

(This article contains excerpts from the article published in Riverside City College Campus News on April 7, 2016.)

Photo Credit: Riverside City College
Photo Credit: Riverside City College
Five Riverside City College students have qualified for the 52nd Annual National Leadership and Skill Conference in Louisville, KY June 21-24. At the state SkillsUSA competition, which was held at the Town and Country Resort and Convention Center in San Diego, RCC students captured five gold and two silver medals. Students capturing gold medals advance to the national competition.

      Students advancing to the national competition are: Emily Riddell (advertising design); Martin Alvarez (auto service technology); Cassandra Caldwell (photography); and Mason Rosenquist and Ariel Cornejo (3D animation). Silver award winners include: Roza Keshvari (advertising design) and Megan Moore (graphics imaging sublimation).

The SkillsUSA Championships in Kentucky are competitive events, showcasing the best career and technical education students in the nation. The event, which is held at the Kentucky Events Center, occupies a space equivalent to 16 football fields. Last year saw more than 6,000 contestants compete in 100 events. Nearly 1,500 judges and contest organizers from labor and management make the national event possible.

SkillsUSA is the largest demonstration career annual competition in the nation. Over 300,000 high school and college-level students participate in regional, state and national competitions each year. The philosophy of the national competition is to reward students for excellence, to involve industry in directly evaluating student performance, and to keep training relevant to employers’ needs.

At the state competition students also participated in various events: orientations, vocational workshops, mock interviews, portfolio reviews, and career-specific competitions. Some students competed as individuals while others competed as a team. Soft skills also played an integral part of SkillsUSA competitions; our CTE students excelled in time management, punctuality, dress code adherence and teamwork. Overall the team exhibited an exemplary level of professionalism, said Patrick Sullivan, associate professor, Applied Digital Media director.

“SkillsUSA offers not only recognition of your abilities, but the also the chance to make invaluable connections with industry professionals and fellow students,” said Riddell.
RCC’s outstanding scholastic achievements makes Riverside a location of choice for students seeking a great education at an affordable price.

To read the full article, click here.

Three UCR Scholars Win Guggenheim Fellowships

(This article contains excerpts from  the article written by Bettye Miller and published in UCR Today on April 6, 2016.)

Photo Credit: UCR Today
Photo Credit: UCR Today

A novelist, a poet and an evolutionary biologist from the University of California, Riverside have been awarded prestigious Guggenheim Fellowships. They are Laila Lalami, professor of creative writing; Fred Moten, professor of English and poetry; and David Reznick, distinguished professor of biology.

The John Simon Guggenheim Memorial Foundation awarded 175 Guggenheim Fellowships (including three joint fellowships) today to a diverse group of 178 scholars, artists, and scientists from a group of nearly 3,000 applicants. The fellowships are awarded “on the basis of prior achievement and exceptional promise,” the foundation said in announcing the recipients in New York City. This year marks the 92nd year of competition for the awards.

“These artists and writers, scholars and scientists, represent the best of the best,” Edward Hirsch, president of the foundation, said in a statement. “Each year since 1925, the Guggenheim Foundation has bet everything on the individual, and we’re thrilled to continue to do so with this wonderfully talented and diverse group. It’s an honor to be able to support these individuals to do the work they were meant to do.”

Each of the three UC Riverside recipients will receive a $50,000 award to support their research.

Laila Lalami, professor of creative writing, was a finalist in 2015 for the Pulitzer Prize in Fiction for her novel “The Moor’s Account” (Pantheon, 2014). The work of historical fiction  – the imagined memoirs of the first black explorer of America, a Moroccan slave whose testimony was left out of the official record of the 1527 expedition of Spanish conquistador Pánfilo de Narváez – has won many additional awards, among them the Zora Neale Hurston/Richard Wright Legacy Award for Fiction, an American Book Award from the Before Columbus Foundation, and was a co-winner of the Arab American Book Award for Fiction. It also was shortlisted for Italy’s The Bridge Book Award, and longlisted for the Man Booker Prize and Dublin International Literary Award. She is a regular columnist for The Nation. A recipient of a Fulbright Fellowship and a Lannan Foundation Residency fellowship, last week she was named a Los Angeles Times Critic at Large. The Guggenheim Fellowship will support work on her novel, which is currently titled “The King of All Things.”

Fred Moten, professor of English, is a finalist for the Kingsley Tufts Poetry Award – which honors a poet at mid-career – for his poetry collection “The Little Edges” (Wesleyan University Press, 2014), and was a finalist for the 2014 National Book Award in Poetry and the 2014 Los Angeles Times Book Prize for poetry for another collection, “The Feel Trio” (Letter Machine Editions). He was recognized as one of 10 New American Poets by the Poetry Society of America, and is co-founder and co-publisher of a small literary press called Three Count Pour. The Guggenheim Fellowship will support a literary criticism project, “Hesitant Sociology: Blackness and Poetry.” “I’m trying to show that the logic of poetry, at the level of form and content, is a social logic; and that the theory of blackness, which is given and constantly enriched in social practice, is absolutely necessary for understanding, and for feeling, and for enacting that logic,” he explained.

David Reznick, distinguished professor of biology, is an evolutionary biologist whose groundbreaking research found that an individual’s response to environmental conditions may predict evolutionary changes in future generations. He is a fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences whose research has been supported by numerous grants from the National Science Foundation. He is the recipient of the E. O. Wilson Prize and is the author of “The Origin Then and Now: An Interpretive Guide to the Origin of Species” (Princeton University Press, 2009). The Guggenheim Fellowship will support his research project, “The Causes and Consequences of Contemporary Evolution.” Specifically, he said, the award will enable him to spend a year at Oxford University “developing some new quantitative skills and writing papers about the unheralded paradigm shift that has happened in our thinking about evolution. It used to be thought of as a historical process, meaning that it was too slow to see in action, so we learned about it from its footprints. It is now viewed as a contemporary process that can be studied in real time, but is also active in real time.”

Since its establishment in 1925, the John Simon Guggenheim Memorial Foundation has granted more than $334 million in fellowships to over 18,000 individuals, among whom are scores of Nobel laureates, Fields Medalists, Turing Award winners, poets laureate, members of the various national academies, winners of the Pulitzer Prize, and other important, internationally recognized honors.

This year’s recipients represent 50 scholarly disciplines and artistic fields, 71 academic institutions, 27 states and the District of Columbia, and two Canadian provinces. They range in age from 31 to 84.

According to the foundation, the Guggenheim Fellowship program remains an important source of support for artists, scholars in the humanities and social sciences, and scientific researchers. The foundation was established by U.S. Sen. Simon Guggenheim and his wife, Olga, as a memorial to a son who died April 26, 1922.

Representing Seizing Our Destiny’s location of choice pillar, UCR provides a great education at an affordable price.

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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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