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News Briefs From UC Irvine

July 25, 2007 – 10:26 a.m.
Prototype Toyota hybrid to be tested at UC Irvine

A new plug-in electric hybrid Toyota is headed to the UC Irvine campus as part of a $3 million research effort by the Advanced Power and Energy Program. The project will help determine how the widespread use of such technology would affect air quality and the demand for electricity in California. “This affords the state a tremendous opportunity to better understand this emerging vehicle technology, and we are excited to be a part of this effort,” said APEP Director Scott Samuelsen, professor of mechanical, aerospace and environmental engineering in The Henry Samueli School of Engineering.   More 

July 25, 2007 – 10:26 a.m.
KROQ jocks put UC Irvine programmer analyst on the air

The hosts of the Kevin and Bean morning show on KROQ 106.7 FM spoke for about 10 minutes Wednesday, July 25, to Ted Huntington, a programmer analyst with UC Irvine's Science Library. The subject? You name it. Huntington covered everything from his antipathy for violence to the importance of science education. Huntington came to the attention of the rock jocks because of the more than 40 questions he posted on YouTube for the Democratic presidential debate. To see some of his videos, go to   More 

July 24, 2007 – 2:08 p.m.
UCI researchers unveil 'face' of a new memory

A century-old dream of neuroscientists to visualize a memory has been fulfilled, as UC Irvine researchers, using newly developing microscopic techniques, have captured first-time images of the changes in brain cell connections following a common form of learning. The study shows that synaptic connections in a region of rats’ brains critical to learning change shape when the rodents learn to navigate a new, complex environment. In turn, when drugs are administered that block these changes, the rats don’t learn, confirming the essential role the shape change plays in the production of stable memory. “This is the first time anyone has seen the physical substrate, the ‘face,’ of newly encoded memory,” said study leader Gary Lynch. professor of psychiatry and human behavior (pictured). “We have cleared a hurdle that once seemed insurmountable.”   More 

July 24, 2007 – 9:40 a.m.
Anger, depression much higher among jailed teen girls than boys, study finds

Despite years working with troubled teens, psychologist Elizabeth Cauffman was surprised by the results of her new survey of kids in juvenile detention centers. Detained girls face very different psychological issues than average teen girls and, in some ways, more severe problems than incarcerated boys. Although girls generally internalize problems, Cauffman found that girls in detention are twice as likely as boys to externalize problems with aggression or anger, and just as likely as boys to report worrisome levels of alcohol or drug use. The study, which appears in the July issue of Youth Violence and Juvenile Justice, will help state officials and staff members at youth correctional facilities better understand the mental health of troubled teens in their care.   More 

July 24, 2007 – 9:30 a.m.
Koenig and national health leaders talk about emergency preparedness

Dr. Kristi Koenig, co-director of emergency medical services and the disaster medical sciences fellowship in the UC Irvine School of Medicine, met with Dr. Julie Gerberding, director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and Dr. David Heymann, executive director for communicable diseases at the World Health Organization, in Washington D.C. to discuss how the medical community can improve preparedness and work together to improve health care delivery in times of need. Koenig, an expert in disaster medicine and emergency management, worked with these health leaders at the Second National Congress on Health System Readiness earlier this month, in which a pandemic influenza scenario was used for discussion on how health care providers and public health officials can best prepare for emergencies.   More 

July 23, 2007 – 4:25 p.m.
Child development researchers find ADHD drugs stunt growth

UC Irvine pediatricians, led by Child Development Center director Jim Swanson (pictured), have found that after three years children who take the popular attention deficit hyperactivity disorder drug, Ritalin, are about an inch shorter and smaller by 4.4 pounds than children who don’t take the drug. In a second study, the researchers found that children with ADHD differed in their response to medications. The UCI research was part of four studies published in the current issue of the Journal of the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry, which evaluated the outcomes of children who participated in a nationwide study of ADHD. Swanson is also primary investigator of a $14.6 million grant from the National Institutes of Health to establish a vanguard site for the National Children’s Study in Orange County.   More 

July 23, 2007 – 3:13 p.m.
Atlantic Monthly declares great writers are made at UC Irvine

Atlantic Monthly’s 2007 fiction issue commends UC Irvine’s master of fine arts creative writing program as one of the country’s top ten. In the article “Where Great Writers Are Made,” UCI’s program is noted as one of the five most selective. Such selectivity pays off, according to poet and faculty member James McMichael, who told the magazine, “We’ve had some years where every member of the class ends up with a book contract.” UCI’s M.F.A. program is also lauded for having some of the most notable alumni, including Pulitzer-Prize winners Michael Chabon and Richard Ford, as well as Alice Sebold, bestselling author of The Lovely Bones. More than 350 program directors, faculty, students and graduates were interviewed for the article, which is available on newsstands now.   More 

July 23, 2007 – 1:03 p.m.
Ruiz named interim dean of humanities

Vicki Ruiz has been named interim dean of UC Irvine's School of Humanities, which includes 12 departments and 2,650 students. A professor of history and Chicano/Latino studies and chair of the history department, Ruiz’s research focuses on Latinas' role in 20th century America. In addition to her scholarship, she has served as director of outreach programs including Humanities Out There and U.S. History Seminar for the California History/Social Science Project. Ruiz is president of the American Studies Association and a fellow of the Society of American Historians. UCI will continue recruiting for a permanent dean to replace Karen Lawrence, who has been named the next president of Sarah Lawrence College.   More 

July 23, 2007 – 11:19 a.m.
Harry Potter available at UC Irvine Bookstore

Fly on in on your Nimbus 2000 (or walk or drive if you must) to the UC Irvine Bookstore for your copy of Harry Potter and the Deathly Hollows. The last book in J.K. Rowling's seven-volume tale of wizardry has been highly anticipated, prompting fans to camp out on other bookstore's door sills over the weekend to make the purchase. UCI's Bookstore is holding a more civilized sale of its 250 copies, which began Saturday, July 21, with Harry Potter music, cookies, punch and even a flying candle or two. Want to know if it's worth the wait? Go to   More 

July 23, 2007 – 11:18 a.m.
UC Irvine Chancellor Drake heads to China to give keynote speech

UC Irvine Chancellor Michael V. Drake traveled Friday, July 20, to Beijing, China, where he will be the American keynote speaker at the 2007 Silk Road to the Future Olympic banner presentation Friday, July 27. Designated as an Ambassador of Peace by the Legends of China Foundation, Drake said, "It is with great pride that I accept the foundation’s gracious invitation to speak at this monumental event. Creating opportunities for cultural exchange and understanding among students and educators in our two nations is essential to our university’s mission." The Silk Road to the Future presentation has been held annually since 2001 in preparation for Beijing’s first Olympic Games in 2008. Each year, students from the U.S. and China create works of silk art representing world peace, which are added to a banner depicting China’s Silk Road. The completed banner will be carried during the games’ opening ceremony.   More 

July 20, 2007 – 11:45 a.m.
Keirstead lab awarded grant for stem cell research safety

The Dhont Family Foundation, represented by Executive Director Andre G. Dhont (pictured), has given $100,000 to UC Irvine neurobiologist Hans Keirstead for the purpose of enhancing safety in stem cell research. In addition to the grant, which was facilitated by Families of Spinal Muscular Atrophy, the Dhont Family Foundation has offered a challenge to the Keirstead lab: If it can raise an additional $100,000 for safety research, the foundation will match the funds. FSMA also will work with Keirstead to meet the challenge.   More 

July 19, 2007 – 11:05 a.m.
Cognitive scientist finds surprising number of brain's neurons help eyes

A person searching for a ripe tomato at the grocery store is more likely to notice apples, strawberries and other red fruits as well, according to a new UC Irvine study that used functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) to measure changes in blood flow in the brain. Cognitive scientist John Serences also discovered that more neurons are called into action to help the eyes find a particular object than has previously been documented. The findings, published in the July 18 online edition of the journal Neuron, may help scientists better understand Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder, while also explaining how healthy people’s brains create awareness of their surroundings.   More 

July 19, 2007 – 11:05 a.m.
Brent Yunek named acting assistant vice chancellor, enrollment services

Brent Yunek will serve as UC Irvine's acting assistant vice chancellor, enrollment services and will immediately assume oversight of the offices of Admissions and Relations with Schools, the University Registrar, Financial Aid and Scholarships, and the Center for Educational Partnerships. He joined UCI in 1990 and makes this move from his role as director of financial aid and scholarships. Under Yunek's leadership, financial aid operations were reorganized and technology updated to better serve students and their families. He has more than 17 years experience working with academic administration, faculty, staff and students.   More 

July 18, 2007 – 9:31 a.m.
UCI vector biologist named Distinguished Professor

Vector biologist Anthony A. James has been named Distinguished Professor in recognition of his research into infectious diseases such as malaria and dengue fever through molecular genetic studies of mosquitoes. In 2006, he was elected to the National Academy of Sciences, and in 2005 he received a $19.7 million grant from the Foundation for the National Institutes of Health to lead an international effort to develop new methods to control the transmission of dengue fever. James is a professor in the Department of Microbiology and Molecular Genetics in the UC Irvine School of Medicine, and in the Department of Molecular Biology and Biochemistry in the School of Biological Sciences.   More 

July 18, 2007 – 9:28 a.m.
UC Irvine extramural funding totals $276 million for 2006-07

UC Irvine garnered $276 million in contract and grant funding for the fiscal year ending June 30, continuing a strong upward trend in support for research, education and public service projects. Although dropping slightly below last year, when a single $19.7 million award boosted the total, this year’s funding included more than $197 million from federal sponsors for projects including research, clinical trials, training and fellowships. “We are very pleased to see our UC Irvine investigators achieving such success in this fiercely competitive environment,” said Susan V. Bryant (pictured), vice chancellor for research.   More 

July 17, 2007 – 3:16 p.m.
‘Wizard of the Crow’ nominated for national fiction award

Ngugi wa Thiong’o, distinguished professor of English and comparative literature, has been nominated for the Hurston/Wright Legacy Award in fiction for Wizard of the Crow. The awards, presented in the categories fiction, debut fiction, nonfiction and poetry, are given annually to writers of African descent. This year, the fiction category will be judged by prominent writers Martha Southgate, Austin Clarke and Zelda Lockhart. Wizard of the Crow has already won the California Book Award Gold Medal for fiction, was nominated for the 38th Annual National Association for the Advancement of Colored People Image Awards, and appeared on the list for the Commonwealth Foundations Writers Prize. The sixth annual Hurston/Wright Legacy Award ceremony will be held Nov. 2.   More 

July 17, 2007 – 9:28 a.m.
Wasserstrom explains 'China's Brave New World'

In his new essay collection, China’s Brave New World – And Other Tales for Global Times (Indiana University Press), history professor Jeffrey Wasserstrom shares with readers his unique experiences and observations of Chinese cultural changes. Part memoir, part history lesson, China’s Brave New World takes a deliberately non-academic tone as Wasserstrom recounts his visits to Shanghai, Beijing, Hong Kong, Nanjing, Taipei – 10 trips in the last 20 years – seeking better understanding of China’s past and future. Wasserstrom warns against simple interpretations of the changes he’s observed, such as Mickey Mouse becoming a beloved household figure or McDonald's becoming a popular restaurant for special-occasion dinners. This does not signify the Americanization of China, Wasserstrom says. China’s history, like the history of globalization, is complex, nuanced and “messy.”   More 

July 16, 2007 – 4:57 p.m.
Medical students expand efforts to Chiapas

Sixteen UC Irvine medical students, including those involved in the innovative PRIME-LC, will be spending some of their summer vacation in Chiapas, the most southern, rural, economically disadvantaged state of Mexico. Their “Miniconference in the Highlands” this month will feature discussion on topics ranging from poverty and structural violence to the sociopolitical origins of health care outcomes. The students also will be involved with a health promoter project and pulmonology field research to measure the levels of carbon monoxide and nitric oxide before and after installation of wood-burning stoves where open fires used to be. Last year, 10 PRIME-LC students initiated the first Chiapas conference (pictured), chronicled by John Rose Jr. in a Web travelogue. The UCI crew raised $35,000 in grants and private funds to support this year’s Chiapas effort, which they hope is part of a continued investment in international study and research programs to improve the quality of life for all people, regardless of race, economics and politics.   More 

July 16, 2007 – 2:52 p.m.
UCI and Harvard researchers team up to produce innovative Web site

If you've always wanted to know how to extract DNA from a termite, harvest stem cells from the cerebral cortex of a mouse or coax a Jacky dragon to take cues from moving dots, have we got a Web site for you. Dr. Aaron Kolski-Andreaco (pictured), a UC Irvine graduate, and Spencer Currle, a graduate student in the department of developmental and cell biology, teamed up with researchers from Harvard and launched the Journal of Visualized Experiments, a Web site that shares highly technical scientific methodology on video. Wired magazine in its June 26 edition called JoVE the "YouTube for test tubes." Kolski-Andreaco, scientific editor for the site, and Currle came up with the idea and refined it last year in the Paul Merage Business School's business plan competition. A fortuitous meeting with Moshe Pritsker of Harvard Medical School and Nikita Bernstein, Web designer, who had similar ideas resulted in the JoVE partnership.   More 

July 16, 2007 – 2:01 p.m.
Castellanos honored for mentoring others

Jeanett Castellanos, a lecturer in UC Irvine’s Social Sciences and Chicano/Latino Studies and director of the Social Sciences Academic Resource Center, was named recipient of the Samuel M. Turner MENTOR Award by the American Psychological Association. MENTOR stands for Minority Education, Nurturing, Training, Organizational advocacy and Research. The award honors a psychology faculty member who has demonstrated a commitment to teaching and training clinical psychologists to work more effectively with ethnic minority clinical populations. Castellanos, who earned bachelor's degrees in psychology and sociology from UCI in 1994, will receive the award during the APA convention in San Francisco this August.   More 

July 13, 2007 – 10:45 a.m.
Study tackles problem of rape in California prisons

A study by researchers at the Center for Evidence-based Corrections found that 4 percent of the 322 surveyed inmates report being sexually assaulted in California prisons. Among transgendered inmates, 59 percent reported being sexually assaulted while incarcerated -- 13 times more than the general prison population. In general, inmates were at greater risk of being raped if they were non-heterosexual, black, had mental health problems or were of smaller stature. The researchers found that most sexual assaults in prison were not related to gang or racial dynamics. By helping officials better understand the rate and causes of assault in prison, the study contributes to the goal of the Prison Rape Elimination Act of 2003, which is to reduce, prevent and respond to inmate-on-inmate sexual assault in California correctional facilities. Valerie Jenness, study author and professor of criminology, law and society, is presenting the research in a San Francisco trial for a transgendered inmate who reported being assaulted repeatedly in state prison.   More 

July 13, 2007 – 10:39 a.m.
UC Irvine responds in emergency exercise

If you saw dozens of police officers stirring about the Claire Trevor School of the Arts and the Mesa Court student housing community July 11, there’s no need to worry. They were part of a campuswide emergency response training effort, which involved nearly every administrative department on campus. The exercise provided an opportunity for campus personnel to work with the Orange County Fire Authority, Irvine Police Department and Newport Beach Police Department to practice emergency response procedures that would apply to many types of emergency events. “With the potential for natural disasters or events like the one at Virginia Tech, universities nationwide are continuously working to improve preparedness and response capabilities,” said Linda Bogue, emergency management coordinator (pictured). “UC Irvine takes preparedness and emergency response very seriously, and the exercise was a very successful one.”   More 

July 10, 2007 – 1:04 p.m.
Anonymous donor gives $5 million to UC Irvine's Department of Pediatrics

Two happy, healthy 4-year-old twins -- Grant and Alexa Agamalian -- convinced an anonymous Los Angeles donor to give $5 million to the Department of Pediatrics at UC Irvine. The donor is a friend of Dana and John Agamalian, who live with their children (pictured) in Newport Beach. The Agamalians credit doctors and nurses at UC Irvine Medical Center's neonatal intensive care unit with saving the lives of the twins, born prematurely, and their friend responded with the donation. "Gifts of such significance allow us to turn our vision into reality and make advances in health care that would not otherwise be possible," said Dr. David N. Bailey, vice chancellor for health affairs at UCI.   More 

July 6, 2007 – 4:53 p.m.
Beall family gives $6.6 million to UC Irvine's Merage business school

UC Irvine's Paul Merage School of Business has received an endowment gift of $6.6 million from The Beall Family Foundation. Donald R. Beall is a former chief executive officer of Rockwell International Corp. The gift will expand current activities and launch new programs of the Merage School’s Don Beall Center for Innovation and Entrepreneurship. One of the new programs will be “open source” studies on innovation that will appear on the Merage School Web site. The Beall Center will synthesize current research around the globe to help business, academia and the community understand common problems of innovation.   More 

July 6, 2007 – 1:18 p.m.
Study sheds light on future of Amazon River

Amy Townsend-Small in UC Irvine's Earth system science department took a research trip to the Andes Mountains in which she studied the relationship between Andes rivers and the Amazon River. By analyzing the radiocarbon and stable isotopic composition of organic matter in river waters, she found that under drought conditions, Andean rivers supply little water or nutrients to the Amazon River. This finding suggests that if drought conditions continue, the Amazon will lose a lot of its chemical connection to the Andes, which could result in a decrease of nutrients to feed the rainforest. Townsend-Small conducted the study with colleagues Jorge Noguera of the University of Texas at Austin, Michael McClain of Florida International University, and Jay Brandes of the Skidaway Institute of Oceanography. The research was published in Global Biogeochemical Cycles.   More 

July 5, 2007 – 4:51 p.m.
Overman to receive Nagoya Medal

Organic chemist Larry Overman will receive this year's prestigious Nagoya Medal. Overman, Distinguished Professor of Chemistry, was chosen for his invention of new chemical transformations that allow valuable organic molecules to be prepared from inexpensive starting materials by chemical synthesis. A particular focus of Overman's research is inventing new chemistry that will be of value in the discovery and production of pharmaceutical agents.   More 

July 5, 2007 – 4 p.m.
UCI wins Division I-AAA All-Sports Trophy

On the strength of an amazing spring sports season, UC Irvine has received the Division I-AAA Athletics Directors Association All-Sports Trophy for 2006-07. The annual award is given to the best all-around sports program in Division I-AAA (non-football schools). The Anteaters were led by their national championship in men’s volleyball (pictured) and their third place showing in baseball. UCI also scored in women’s golf (19th), men’s swimming (25th), women’s tennis and swimming (33rd) and men’s golf (58th).   More 


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Last Updated: July 25, 2007

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