Janice Gatzke got married, had children and worked as a legal secretary for 20 years before she decided to go back to school to earn an undergraduate degree.
Now, at age 44, Gatzke is a senior at UC Merced and is about to earn a bachelor's degree in cell and molecular biology. She's also one of the university's first students to be accepted into medical school.
She is proof that it's never too late for someone to pursue their dreams.
"I didn't think I'd be able to go to college," she said. "I didn't think I'd be anything beyond a legal secretary.
UC Berkeley Extension, UC Merced Partner to Offer Continuing Education Courses in San Joaquin Valley
UC Berkeley Chancellor Robert J. Birgeneau and UC Merced Chancellor Steve Kang announced a unique educational partnership today to offer continuing education courses to adults in the San Joaquin Valley beginning this summer.
The chancellors signed a memorandum of understanding between UC Berkeley Extension and UC Merced to offer academic courses and professional workshops that address the continuing educational needs of the San Joaquin Valley. Summer offerings at UC Merced’s Fresno Center will include professional courses, such as project management, counseling, computer systems and programming, solar energy and digital publishing. Additional courses will be added in the fall.
Health professionals have been citing statistics on the growing girth of adults and children in the United States. Nearly two-thirds of adults and 34 percent of children between ages 2 and 19 are overweight. The increase in obesity has fueled a surge in diabetes in the last 20 years. In California, some ethnic groups are disproportionately affected.
Those are some of the findings in a report being distributed to California law makers today. The Legislative Task Force on Diabetes & Obesity Report to the California Legislature covers the impact obesity and diabetes will have on our health and economy. The report, co-written by three University of California professors, including UC Merced physiologist Rudy Ortiz, includes recommendations to address and combat behaviors that contribute to obesity.
“I thought this would be a good opportunity to help come up with some real solutions,” said Ortiz, a professor in the School of Natural Sciences. The increase in obesity and diabetes “is a huge problem that hasn’t even come to a head yet. It’s only getting worse.”
UC Merced is a happening place this month, with an impressive array of activities planned this week:
The University Women of Merced Network will present Eve Ensler's "The Vagina Monologues" on Feb. 20, 21 and 22 in the Lakireddy Auditorium. Showtime is 7:30 p.m. Feb. 20 and 21, and at 2 p.m. Feb. 22. Tickets cost $5-$10 and are available at the theater box office 30 minutes before curtain.
On Feb. 21, the UC Merced men's lacrosse team will host University of the Pacific at 1 p.m. at Joe Herb Park, 2200 Yosemite Parkway. For information: recreation.ucmerced.edu or call CAT-TEAM.
On Feb. 22, UC Merced men's volleyball will host at 4 p.m. in the Joseph Edward Gallo Recreation Center on campus. For information: recreation.ucmerced.edu or call CAT-TEAM.
On Feb. 23, the Chicano/a Literature Series will host "Banned in Newman, CA," a discussion about the recent school board decision to remove Rudolfo A. Anaya's "Bless Me, Ultima," from the sophomore English curriculum at Orestimba High School. Participating in the discussion will be English teachers from the Newman high school, in addition to series founder Manuel Martin-Rodriguez, professor of literature at UC Merced. The event, free and open to the public, will begin at 4 p.m. in the Bobcat Lair (KL 161).
On Feb. 28, Magnum Opus, UC Merced's very own comedy group, will present LaughingStock 2009. The comedy show will begin at 8 p.m. in the Lakireddy Auditorium. Admission is free and open to all.
Jason Castillo, a human biology major, is one of the first students at UC Merced to be accepted into medical school. The Clovis native has received acceptance letters from UC San Francisco and Virginia Commonwealth University so far. Many medical schools begin to notify students of their acceptance in March and some as late as May.
"My current interest is in primary care, however, I am entering medical school with an open mind as I hope that more clinical experience will solidify my specialty," he said. "The thing that I like about a family practice is that you get to develop a relationship and become a part of the community."
Jose Vazquez-Medina is heading to New Orleans in April for the American Physiological Society’s (APS) Experimental Biology meeting. He received the Novo Nordisk Foundation Travel Award, which covers his travel expenses, registration and includes a $500 cash award.
Most people get cranky if they miss a meal or two in one day. Deprive an average-size human of food for one or two months and their organs will suffer permanent damage and he will eventually die.
Northern elephant seal pups, however, live without eating for two to three months after weaning without suffering any ill-effects. The mammals also experience bouts of sleep apnea, in which they breathe four to six times per hour, without any negative health consequences. They are the only group of mammals that can do that.
Figuring out how this mammal’s physiology adapted and evolved to overcome conditions that would cause major damage or death in humans is one of the primary focuses of UC Merced physiology professor Rudy Ortiz, who has obtained a $1.78 million five-year grant from the National Institutes of Health.
“The idea behind our research," said Ortiz, an assistant professor in the School of Natural Sciences, is to reveal the mechanisms they have developed to help us better address questions in human medicine.”
Song found that when it comes to deciding whether to smoke that first cigarette, teens actually do weigh the pros and cons. Teens who believe smoking is very risky and holds little value are less likely to smoke, compared to teens who believe smoking is safer and socially valuable.
Song and her collaborator, Dr. Bonnie Halpern-Felsher at UC San Francisco, presented their findings in the March 2009 edition of the American Journal of Public Health, published today, Feb. 10.
“Contrary to the stereotype of the brash, non-thinking teen, young people do care about the risks and benefits associated to smoking,” Song said. “The difference between those who light up and those who don’t is how they weigh the risks versus benefits.”
Everyone likes a good competition, and the students of UC Merced are no different. However, instead of focusing on the athletic field, students are turning their focus to sustainability – particularly to recycling efforts.
For the second year in a row, the university is competing in Recyclemania. The 10-week national contest started official scoring last week. Schools report recycling and waste data weekly, the results of which are ranked.
UC Merced is competing against 337 other schools. UC Merced student recycling coordinator Emily DeCremer says UC Merced is doing great, ranking in the top 50 percent.
“I think people really like competitions,” the psychology major said. “What excites me most is seeing others so excited. We’re doing better than Harvard in some categories.”
UC MercedpsychologistJan Wallander believes every child deserves the best chance at a healthy life. That’s why he works in developing countries to ensure babies born not breathing get a little extra help.
Wallander is a part of a collaborative effort to limit the number of these infants who suffer from developmental disorders such as brain damage, intellectual disability, cerebral palsy and neurological defects.
He and his fellow researchers believe the key to doing that is regular interaction with the babies in the form of fun and games.
UC Merced is in the midst of a landmark academic year. Opening to freshman students in 2005 as the University of California's 10th campus -- and the first to be built in the 21st century -- UC Merced is proud to celebrate the graduation year of its first full senior class with two new Web items.
First, the Class of 2009 project. The project is a compilation of Web stories that have appeared on our campus homepage. To be included in the Class of 2009 landing page, the story must be focused on undergraduates expected to earn degrees in the 2008-09 academic year.
The second Web page – the 2009 Graduate Profiles – features seniors and master’s and doctoral candidates who anticipate finishing their studies at UC Merced this academic year. The project includes a series of brief profiles that describe the UC Merced experience in the words of the graduating students. The profiles have been prepared by staff using surveys completed by the students.
Both projects are ongoing. Journalists are encouraged to visit the sites regularly throughout the semester for story ideas.
Researchers at UC Merced have received $8.2 million in grants and awards during the first half of the 2008-09 fiscal year.
The funds represent more than 50 projects. Faculty members conduct research on a wide range of issues -- air quality, water resources, stem cell research and climate change -- that are relevent to the San Joaquin Valley, the State of California and beyond. Research funding brought in to the university is used to hire student research assistants, purchase supplies, equip laboratories and conduct day-to-day research activities.
"Research is an integral component of education and we are pleased that UC Merced continues to maintain consistent and strong research funding at this point of the fiscal year," said Samuel Traina, vice chancellor for research and dean of graduate studies.
The answer to what's killing the world's coral reefs may be found in a tiny chip that fits into the palm of your hand.
Scientists at UC Merced and the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory are using an innovative DNA array called the PhyloChip to catalog the microbes that live among coral in the tropical waters of the coast of Puerto Rico. As the coral becomes diseased, the microbial population it supports grows more diverse.
"We have only recently realized how microbes, and microbial diversity, play an important role in the health of coral reefs," said UC Merced's Shinichi Sunagawa, a graduate student in the School of Natural Sciences who helped conduct the research. "The PhyloChip offers a great way to catalog the microbiota associated with coral reefs around the world."
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