Seminars To Explore Diversity At UC Riverside

(This article contains excerpts from an article by Bettye Miller, published in UCRToday on October 10, 2014.)

UC Riverside’s Center for Ideas and Society has been awarded a $208,000 grant from the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation to support a two-year series of seminars exploring diversity at UCR and in Southern California.

Andrew W. Mellon Foundation awards $208,000 grant to Center for Ideas and Society.  Photo credit: UCRToday

Andrew W. Mellon Foundation awards $208,000 grant to Center for Ideas and Society. Photo credit: UCRToday

The seminar series – “Advancing Intercultural Studies” – will examine changing perceptions of ethnic, cultural and cosmopolitan identities, the practices of immigrant religions and developments in civic and political engagement, said Georgia Warnke, distinguished professor of political science and director of the center.

As one of the most diverse public research universities in the country, UCR is uniquely positioned to explore questions about the benefits and challenges of diversity, she said, among them, “how do we capture the contributions of a diverse student population, and how do we enhance learning from that?”

Because of UCR’s undergraduate demographics – 42 percent are under-represented minorities – the inclusion of undergraduate and graduate students in the seminars is important in its creation of a pipeline to increase the diversity of American university and college faculty, Warnke said.

The enrichment of diversity among students at UC Riverside is not only remarkable, it plays a key role in making Riverside such a unified city.  It is vital for college campus’ to analyze changes in ethnic and cultural perceptions and adapt to maintain a healthy atmosphere for students.  Riversiders respect and value the cultural heritage, distinct needs and varied input within our community, while proactively engaging across historical dividing lines.

Georgia Warnke

Georgia Warnke

The first of four quarterly seminars will begin meeting in January. Each seminar will be composed of four faculty members, and four graduate and four undergraduate students, each of whom will write a paper based on research produced during the quarter. The seminars are not open to the public, but a concluding conference in spring 2016 will be held at UCR’s Culver Center in downtown Riverside and will be a public event.

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UC Riverside Research Team Probing Other Planets For Life

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

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

Biogeochemistry Professor, Timothy Lyons

Biogeochemistry Professor, Timothy Lyons

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

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

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

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

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

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

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UCR Earns ‘Military Friendly’ Recognition For 4th Year

(This article contains excerpts from an article by Ross French, published in UCRToday on September 23, 2014.)

In recognition of its efforts to dedicate resources that ensure the success of military personnel and veterans in the classroom, the University of California, Riverside has once again been named to the Military Friendly Schools list by Victory Media. It is the fourth time that UCR has appeared on the list.  UC Riverside is dedicated to making their campus and Riverside a location of choice for veterans to fulfill aspirations of attaining higher education.  Our community provides an abundance of opportunities to be amazed, inspired and entertained with welcoming neighborhoods, well-paying jobs in strong companies, and diverse educational opportunities.    

Students from UCR’s Operation VETS program visited Paramout Studios last winter. Operation VETS site visit to the Paramount studios facility last winter. From left Patrick Lee (BA, Political Science – 5th year); Sae Lee (program coordinator, UCR Career Center), Al Dupont (BA, Media & Cultural Students, ’14 alum), Frank Ramirez (staff advisor), and Charles Kim, BA, History Law & Society – 5th year.  Photo Credit: UCR Today

Students from UCR’s Operation VETS program visited Paramout Studios last winter. Operation VETS site visit to the Paramount studios facility last winter. From left Patrick Lee (BA, Political Science – 5th year); Sae Lee (program coordinator, UCR Career Center), Al Dupont (BA, Media & Cultural Students, ’14 alum), Frank Ramirez (staff advisor), and Charles Kim, BA, History Law & Society – 5th year. Photo Credit: UCR Today

“We are honored to once again be included on the Military Friendly Schools list,” said Chryssa Jones, veterans services coordinator in Student Special Services. “Many different people across this campus have gone above and beyond to assist our veterans and military personnel who are working to fulfill their dream of earning a college degree. This is a recognition that we can all take pride in.”

Photo credit: UCR Today

Photo credit: UCR Today

Jones cited the Veteran Employment Transition Success program, known by the acronym Operation VETS, as an example of how the campus works together to assist student vets. The program is a joint effort of the UCR Career Center and Veterans Services and focuses on the development and exploration of career skills and transferable life skills of student vets. For example, participants learn resume and cover letter writing skills, interview techniques and strategies for searching for jobs and internships. Students interested in continuing their educations learn about graduate school preparation.

According to Jones, “Operation VETS helps students take advantage of these existing skills by providing career development instruction, which helps them transfer these skills into tools that will help them as students and in the development of career and life skills.”

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UC Riverside Part Of University Innovation Alliance To Improve Student Success Rates

(This article contains excerpts from an article by Kris Lovekin, published in the UCRToday on September 15, 2014.)

UC Riverside joined 10 other major public research universities and six national foundations in announcing the University Innovation Alliance, which was founded to identify and share best-practices in degree attainment programs for low-income and minority students.  UCR is the only California-based institution included in the mix.

UCR is a founding member of the University Innovation Alliance.  Photo credit: UCR Today

UCR is a founding member of the University Innovation Alliance. Photo credit: UCR Today

With $5.7 million in grant funding, as well as matching funds from the campuses, the UIA group will model the most successful degree-attainment measures within its membership, and replicate them at other universities.  UC Riverside will share its experiences with student-success programs that include supplemental instruction and learning communities for freshmen.

Nancy Matti, a fourth year biology major, and UCR Chancellor Kim A. Wilcox at the launch event.  Photo credit: UCR Today

Nancy Matti, a fourth year biology major, and UCR Chancellor Kim A. Wilcox at the launch event. Photo credit: UCR Today

One way to address the problem is through the nation’s public universities, which enroll 72 percent of all four-year college students in the U.S. “We must improve access and attainment for all students – regardless of college preparation levels, racial or socio-economic differences,” Wilcox said.

UCR is committed to accelerating the common good for all, and ensuring higher education is an option for everyone  As a model of Seizing Our Destiny’s intelligent growth pillar, the faculty and staff at UC Riverside are working diligently to strengthen the future generation’s educational standards by making college more accessible.  Riverside promotes an outstanding quality of life for all through intelligent growth.

At a recent speech at UCR, Peter McPherson, president of the Association of Public and Land-grant Universities [APLU] noted that 80 percent of the children of the richest families in America earn college degrees, while only 10 percent of the children of the poorest families do.

Photo credit: UCR Today

Photo credit: UCR Today

“UC Riverside is the nation’s most diverse major research university. At UCR, underrepresented minority and low-income students graduate at the same rate as the campus-wide average,” said Wilcox.  “These remarkable results can be attributed to motivated students, campus commitment, and targeted student success programs such as supplemental instruction and first-year learning communities.”

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UCR Students Turn Diaper Into Medical Tool

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Washington Monthly Magazine Ranks UCR #2 In The Nation

(This article contains excerpts from an article by Ross French, published in UCRToday on August 24, 2014)

For the second year in a row, Washington Monthly magazine has ranked the University of California, Riverside second among national universities in its 10th annual College Ranking Survey.

It is the fourth consecutive year that UC Riverside has been ranked among the top 10 schools in the survey, which considers civic engagement, research, and social mobility. Prior to the No. 2 ranking in 2013, UCR was fifth in 2011 and ninth in 2012.

UC Riverside is ranked No. 2 in the nation by Washington Monthly magazine for the second year in a row.  Photo credit: UCR Today

UC Riverside is ranked No. 2 in the nation by Washington Monthly magazine for the second year in a row. Photo credit: UCR Today

UCR also placed 21st in the category of “Best-Bang-For-The-Buck Colleges,” an exclusive list that  ranks schools on measures of access, affordability and student outcomes. UCR finished first among UC schools and improved five spots from its 2013 ranking.

Steven Brint, vice provost for Undergraduate Education at UCR, said the Washington Monthly rankings are significant because they “reflect the campus’s mission to unite academic excellence, broad access for motivated students, and community engagement.”

“Washington Monthly measures both the academic quality and the social contribution of colleges,” Brint said. “It is gratifying to see that the statistics have confirmed the outstanding record of our campus. People around the country are starting to ask, ‘How does UCR do it?’”

Paul Glastris, editor in chief of Washington Monthlysaid that UCR stands out as a model for other public universities to follow, adding “Riverside’s focus on public service exceeds that of almost every other national university.”

UCR was third overall in community service participation and hours served and was first in federal work-study funds spent on service.

Through dedication and commitment to improvement, UCR is always growing and developing in an impressive fashion.  Exemplifying Seizing Our Destiny’s location of choice pillar, UCR attracts all sorts of students with untapped potential and academic excellence by constantly proving itself to be a great place to live and learn.

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Five UC Riverside Scientists Among World’s Most Influential Scientific Minds

(This article contains excerpts from an article by Iqbal Pittalwala, published in UCR Today on August 22, 2014.)

List of highly cited researchers, compiled by Thomson Reuters, analyzed data over 11 years

Clockwise from top left: UC Riverside’s Roya Bahreini, Julia Bailey-Serres, Yadong Yin, Wei Ren, and Robert Haddon are among individuals, identified by Thomson Reuters, to have published the greatest number of highly cited papers in 2002-2012.  Photo credit: Strategic Communications, UC Riverside.

Clockwise from top left: UC Riverside’s Roya Bahreini, Julia Bailey-Serres, Yadong Yin, Wei Ren, and Robert Haddon are among individuals, identified by Thomson Reuters, to have published the greatest number of highly cited papers in 2002-2012. Photo credit: Strategic Communications, UC Riverside.

Thomson Reuters, a leading source of information for businesses and professionals, has included five researchers at the University of California, Riverside in its 2014 list of “some of the best and brightest minds of our times.”  To generate the list, the company analyzed citation data over 11 years (2002-2012) to identify researchers whose published work has had enormous impact.

These influential professors are an outstanding representation of Seizing Our Destiny’s location of choice pillar.  Having five professors make the list and being considered “some of the best and brightest minds of our time” by Thomson Reuters is beyond impressive.  Riverside is increasingly becoming an attractive location of choice for intelligent, entrepreneurial, and inspired individuals with untapped potential.

Roya Bahreini, an assistant professor of atmospheric sciences, was included in the “Geosciences” field. Julia Bailey-Serres, a professor of genetics, was included in the “Plant & Animal Science” field.Robert Haddon, a distinguished professor of chemistry as well as chemical and environmental engineering, was included in the “Chemistry” field. Wei Ren, a professor of electrical and computer engineering, was included in the “Engineering” field. And Yadong Yin, a professor of chemistry, was included in two fields: “Chemistry” and “Materials Science.”

According to Thomson Reuters, the researchers who made the list are persons of “influence in the sciences and social sciences. They are the people who are on the cutting edge of their fields. They are performing and publishing work that their peers recognize as vital to the advancement of their science. These researchers are, undoubtedly, among the most influential scientific minds of our time.”

To read the full article, click here.

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

To read more from UCR Today, click here.

 

 

Researchers At UCR Find Key Component Of Autistic Behavior

(This article contains excerpts from an article by Mark Muckenfuss, published in the Press-Enterprise on July 26, 2014)

Through constant commitment and dedication, UC Riverside is consistently raising the bar with their research and technological advancements.  One recent advancement, in regards to autism research, is a model of Seizing Our Destiny’s catalyst for innovation pillar.  Creativity and innovation permeate all that we do, which makes our community a trendsetter for the region, California, and the world to follow.

Iryna Ethell in her lab at UCR on Thursday, July 24, 2014. UCR researcher Iryna Ethell of Biomedical Sciences heads team that finds what may be a key to effective therapy for autism.  Photo credit: Kurt Miller

Iryna Ethell in her lab at UCR on Thursday, July 24, 2014. UCR researcher Iryna Ethell of Biomedical Sciences heads team that finds what may be a key to effective therapy for autism. Photo credit: Kurt Miller

A UC Riverside-led team of researchers says it has found conclusive evidence that a naturally produced enzyme in the body is responsible for autism and other neurological disorders in people with Fragile X syndrome.

Fragile X is a mutation of the X chromosome associated with obsessive-compulsive and repetitive behaviors as well as learning deficits. People affected by Fragile X have been shown to have structural differences in brain cells, such as underdeveloped neural receptors.

In 2007, Iryna Ethell, a UCR biochemist, found that overactivity of an enzyme called MMP-9 was connected with Fragile X. Her team recently identified MMP-9 as a major culprit in symptoms associated with Fragile X in mice.

Iryna Ethell holds a chart of her work in her office at UCR on Thursday, July 24, 2014. UCR researcher Iryna Ethell of Biomedical Sciences heads team that finds what may be a key to effective therapy for autism. Photo credit: Kurt Miller

Iryna Ethell holds a chart of her work in her office at UCR on Thursday, July 24, 2014. UCR researcher Iryna Ethell of Biomedical Sciences heads team that finds what may be a key to effective therapy for autism. Photo credit: Kurt Miller

By eliminating a gene that activates MMP-9, the researchers found that even with the presence of Fragile X syndrome, the mice showed no symptoms of autistic behavior. They measured sociability, anxiety and other behaviors, as well as examining individual brain cells.

Often, such discoveries are the first step in a long process. Just understanding a mechanism for a particular disease or disorder doesn’t  necessarily mean a treatment is imminent. Effective therapies or drugs can be many years away.

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UC Riverside Hosts ‘Boot Camp’ To Ease Native Americans’ Entry

(This article contains excerpts from an article by Krysta Fauria, published in the Press-Enterprise on July 23, 2014.)

Young college bound Native Americans are being encouraed to attend the “Boot Camp” opportunities at UC Riverside.  These exercises are an outstanding model of Riverside growing as a unified city.  Riversiders care for one another and ensure that everyone has access to a great education and the resources necessary to succeed.  We are a caring community that engages with one another for a better life for all. 

Native Americans take part in a drum circle before workshop sessions at UCR. Only 12 percent of Native Americans between 25 and 34 have four-year degrees, compared to 37 percent of whites, according to a 2012 report.  Photo credit: Chris Carlson

Native Americans take part in a drum circle before workshop sessions at UCR. Only 12 percent of Native Americans between 25 and 34 have four-year degrees, compared to 37 percent of whites, according to a 2012 report. Photo credit: Chris Carlson

Throughout their week at UCR, students got a taste of the college experience by attending classroom lectures, eating in the cafeteria and sleeping in the dorms. The 30 students also participated in cultural activities like prayer circles and beading workshops.  Upon completion of UCR’s program, students are given access to the university’s resources and staff to assist with the application process.

Elijah Watson knows he wants to go to college. He also knows it will be difficult to leave home on the Navajo reservation if he does.  The 17-year-old was reminded of the tough decision he’ll face next year when he participated in a week long celebration in March of his cousin’s Kinaalda, a hallowed Navajo ceremony marking a girl’s transition into womanhood.

Native Americans gather for a drum circle before workshop sessions at UC Riverside on Thursday, June 26.  Photo Credit: Chris Carlson

Native Americans gather for a drum circle before workshop sessions at UC Riverside on Thursday, June 26. Photo Credit: Chris Carlson

To reach students like Watson with higher education aspirations, a growing number of universities are offering programs to recruit and prepare Native American students for a transition to college life that can bring on a wrenching emotional conflict as they straddle two worlds.

Many young Native Americans find themselves divided by their desire for a higher education and the drive to stay close to home to hold onto a critical part of their identity. Sometimes, families discourage children from pursuing college, fearing once they leave the reservation, they won’t come back.

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