Chancellor's Friday Letters


Chancellor White’s Friday Letter of November 9, 2012

November 9, 2012

Dear Friends,

They knocked my socks off!

This is a curious idiom, especially if one interprets it literally.

But I have to tell you, I met recently with a group of undergraduate students and well… I’m still looking for my socks.

Under the direction of Professor Steve Brint, who is also vice provost for undergraduate education, the campus recently launched the Chancellor’s Research Fellowship program.  This effort encourages sophomore and juniors sporting a 3.0 GPA or above to compete for awards (up to $5,000) to engage in a year of faculty-mentored research and creative activity.

The meeting where I lost my socks was a few days ago when I visited informally with most of the first 12 recipients – selected from more than 50 applicants – along with Nicki Rorive, who directs educational initiatives.  We went around the table, and each student spoke about her/his work with clarity, insight, enthusiasm and pride.

Take a “walk” with me through their activities in the present that build innovations and leaders of the future:

  • Gayat Adame (anthropology and history) – Janitzio Island: A Study on the Impact of Tourism.  Under the tutelage of Professor T.S. Harvey (anthropology), the study analyzes the impact of tourism on the Purepecha people of Janitzio Island in Michoacan, Mexico, by examining tourist activities, government programs, the drug war, and other features of island life.
  •  Rachel Aguilar (biology) – Exploring the Role of Zumba in Facilitating Physical Activity in Latino Americans and African Americans.  Under the tutelage of Professor Tanya Nieri (sociology), the research examines the links between participation in Zumba, a popular Latin-inspired dance program, and the health of racial and ethnic minorities, particularly cardiovascular disease, obesity and diabetes.
  • Trey Amador (biology) – Immunological Costs of Fatherhood in California Mice.  Working with Professor Wendy Salzman (biology), the research focuses on the potentially negative effects of mating by testing the immune system deficiencies of California mice, with potential implications for the study of men’s health.
  • My (Crystal) Hua (English and biology) – In Silico Approach Using Health-based Interactomes to Analyze the Symptoms Reported by Electronic Cigarette Users in Online Forums.  Working with Professor Prue Talbot (cell biology and neuroscience), the study defines distinctive health hazards associated with the use of electronic cigarettes compared with non-electronic cigarettes.
  • Ilona Kravtsova (neuroscience and biology) – Seizure in a Slice.  Under the mentorship of Professor Todd Fiacco (cell biology and neuroscience), this  study uses genetically altered mice to obtain a greater understanding of the mechanisms behind seizures, with the long-term goal of developing better treatments for seizures in humans.
  • Kevin Lee (biochemistry) – Adaptation to Environmental Unpredictability in Short-Lived Annual Killifish. Working with Professor Dave Reznick (biology), the study analyzes the adaptation of Nothobranchius furzeri fish in extreme and unstable environments, leading to new insights into two mechanisms (bet hedging and phenotypic plasticity) by which organisms adapt to and survive variable environments.
  • Maria Lorenzo (Native American studies) – Sherman Photo Project.  Under the guidance of Professor Cliff Trafzer (history), the study interprets 200 photographs in the archives of the Sherman School, which serves Native American students, by examining architecture, student life, the agriculture-trade curriculum, outings, health, and sports.
  • Rex Lu (mechanical engineering) – Using BCI and Wireless Sensors for Gait Analysis. Under the tutelage of Professor Sundararajan Venkatadriagaram (mechanical engineering), the study combines modern prosthetic technology with analysis of how the brain controls motor functions, with an eye to producing more effective prosthetic equipment.
  • Scott Manifold (mathematics) – Stability Analysis of Predator-Prey with Diffusion in Bounded Quantum Graphs. Under Professor Kurt Anderson (biology), the research uses new mathematical models – quantum graph theory – to produce more effective simulations of predator-prey interactions in a random walk environment.
  • Kyle Nelson (environmental engineering) – Photocatalytically Active Membranes for Water Treatment. Working with Professor David Kisailus (chemical and environmental engineering), the study focuses on comparing and optimizing several methods to treat impurities in water, including photocatalysis with nanoscaled titanium dioxide, a semiconducting material.
  • Neil Quebbemann (chemistry) – Radical Migration in the Gas Phase. Under the guidance of Professor Ryan Julian (chemistry), the study identifies residues that are most susceptible to radical attacks in amino acid chains, adding to the knowledge base of radical peptide chemistry in general.
  • Robyn Roberts (psychology and creative writing) – Developing Fictional Short Stories based on Qualitative Data Analysis of Emancipated Foster Youth. Under the guidance of Professor Tuppett Yates (psychology), the study examines – through the integration of qualitative research with creative expression – the life experiences of foster youth, based on interviews with 20 young people who have been part of the foster system.  This project will raise awareness about the challenges facing this vulnerable population while providing a literary representation of foster youth that challenges negative stereotypes.

I left the meeting with our students filled with incredible pride, hope and inspiration… and yes, I’m still looking for my darn socks.


Tim White


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An accidental academic
Kudos to Tiffany Ana López on her appointment to the Tomás Rivera endowed professorship. The granddaughter of migrant farmworkers and the first in her family to attend college, Professor Lopez can testify to the importance of mentors in the academic life. http://ucrtoday.ucr.edu/7501

Wild lands at UCR
The University of California protects vast stretches of wild land for use in research and field work. A profile by UCTV sheds light on two of the areas managed by UC Riverside.

Artfully support Botanic Gardens
A dozen artists will be displaying their wares at the UCR Botanic Gardens 10 a.m. to 3 p.m., this Sunday, Nov. 11.  Proceeds will be reinvested in keeping the gardens lovely for weekend walks.

Keep up with the latest at UCR Today

What else is going on at UCR?  http://www.ucr.edu/happenings/

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