Student enrollment at UC Merced has grown to 4,381, an increase of more than 28 percent from this time last year. The newest UC campus is growing rapidly, bolstered by surging student demand.
Although attending UC Merced has been completely different than what freshman Olivia Mercado expected, the Le Grand native is feeling at home now.
“The professors as well as staff are very welcoming and more than happy to answer any questions I have, whether through office hours, after class or e-mail,” she said. “I also like the fact that it is a small campus.”
About 29 percent of incoming freshmen hail from the San Francisco Bay Area. Nearly 27 percent are from the San Joaquin Valley, and about 22 percent come from the greater Los Angeles area. The Sacramento/Lake Tahoe area contributes nearly 7 percent.
Two dozen UC Merced undergraduates interested in pursuing a career in computational biology will be able to do first-hand research in that field with the help of a nearly $1 million grant.
School of Natural Sciences Director of Student Success Masa Watanabe and Professor Michael Colvin last month were awarded $994,999 from the National Science Foundation to support undergraduate research in computational biology. It is the largest award UC Merced has received to support undergraduate research.
The program will engage students in computational biology research projects with the goal of sparking and fostering their interest in scientific careers. This is one of the many opportunities for undergraduates to work side-by-side with the campus' faculty members. In addition to conducting interdisciplinary research, students will learn about what it's like to be a researcher by writing proposals and presenting their scientific findings.
"This program gives students a lot of the experiences they might not otherwise get until graduate school," Colvin noted.
Applications will be accepted later this fall with the first group of students beginning in summer 2011, Watanabe said.
The award will support a total of 24 students. The students will receive classroom and hands-on training in an array of computational biology methods during their first summer with the program. When the semester begins, they'll begin their lab work with UC Merced's innovative researchers. Ten faculty members are participating in the program.
More details of this program will be available in October at http://ccb.ucmerced.edu.
UC Merced has formed a partnership with the UC Davis School of Medicine to begin training medical students in the San Joaquin Valley.
The first cohort of six medical students will enter the UC Merced San Joaquin Valley Program in Medical Education (PRIME) in Fall 2011. The collaboration represents another step forward in UC Merced's multiphase process to develop a medical education program and to enhance health and healthcare in the San Joaquin Valley, leading to the development of a UC Merced School of Medicine.
The focus of UC Merced San Joaquin Valley-PRIME is to prepare the best and brightest students for rewarding careers in medicine in the ethnically diverse and underserved San Joaquin Valley.
"The new UC Merced San Joaquin Valley-PRIME leverages partnerships and existing resources to speed up development of a high-quality medical education program at our campus," UC Merced Chancellor Steve Kang said. "The program is based on an established University of California model designed to produce physician leaders who are trained in and committed to providing care for underserved populations throughout California."
UC Merced students in the Center of Excellence on Health Disparities in Rural and Underserved Populations are ready to make an impact on the health of the San Joaquin Valley.
Psychology graduate student Chris Fradkin, one of the four graduate students in the center, is lending his expertise to the local Building Healthy Communities initiative, funded by The California Endowment. Fradkin, from Utica, New York, is helping develop policies to combat obesity in the area. Given the scope of the problem – nearly a third of children in the United States are overweight or obese – he's advocating swift, decisive action.
"Why go slow? Santa Clara banned fast food toy promotions," he said. "We can do it here. Why wait? The problem is at a critical mass."
The center has four main components. There is a program for graduate students, such as Fradkin, to share their knowledge with community groups, a program for undergraduates to do hands-on research with professors, a speaker series to engage community members about health issues and a minor on public health and health disparities.
The other three graduate students working for the center are:
Chi-Shuo Chen, an engineering student from Taiwan. He's studying the biological effects of ultra-fine particles and the fate of ultra-fine particles in the environment.
Malgorzata Skorek, a social and cognitive sciences student from Sopot, Poland, who will explore the effects of exposure to mass media portrayals of thinness on body satisfaction, self-esteem and perception of weight-related health risks in an ethnically diverse group of women.
Roger Tseng, a San Diego resident who's studying quantitative systems biology, is investigating how three proteins interact to produce a stable 24-hour rhythm, which is a common biological feature in many animals and has implications for shift workers who are constantly going against their biological clocks.
The center was established with a grant given to UC Merced in September 2009 by the National Institutes of Health's National Center on Minority Health and Health Disparities.
UC Merced announced today that Chancellor Sung-Mo "Steve" Kang has announced his decision to step down as chancellor on June 30, 2011 to return to teaching and research as a member of the University of California faculty. The UC Office of the President will begin a nationwide search for his successor this fall.
Kang, 65, has served as UC Merced chancellor since March 2007. He will continue in his current position throughout the search process. UC Merced opened in September 2005.
"It has been a singular honor and the highlight of my administrative career to serve as chancellor of the newest University of California campus during its critical development years," Kang said. "Despite extremely challenging economic conditions, we have managed to establish a very strong foundation, attract top-level faculty and staff, and provide an innovative learning environment for our rapidly growing student body.
"The campus is on a positive trajectory for continued growth and has worked closely with the UC Office of the President to define and secure a clear path forward over the next few years. I am confident the search committee will identify a strong successor to lead UC Merced into the next phase of development."
"Chancellor Kang assumed office during a very difficult time and has put UC Merced on course to become the next great research university in the UC system," UC President Mark G. Yudof said. "I look forward to working with him over the next 10 months to sustain the momentum he's created and prepare for a smooth handoff next summer."
An internationally recognized electrical engineer who holds more than a dozen patents in integrated-circuit design, Kang said he is eager to return to research and teaching after he leaves the chancellor's post. Prior to joining UC Merced, he served as a university faculty member or administrator for 25 years, including more than six years as professor of electrical engineering and dean of the Baskin School of Engineering at the University of California, Santa Cruz.
According to numbers released by UC Merced’s Business and Financial Services, research expenditures — the amount of money spent on UC Merced research, including graduate student researcher salaries and benefits along with supplies and equipment for research projects — surpassed $14.1 million in the 2009-10 fiscal year, the highest total in the campus’ history and nearly a 10 percent increase over the $12.9 million in expenditures in 2008-09.
Expenditures are the most relevant measurement of a research university’s production, said Vice Chancellor for Research Sam Traina, as they represent money being spent on current projects and being fed back into the economy.
“A major aspect of UC Merced’s mission is research, and these numbers are concrete proof of the vast amount of groundbreaking research being done by our faculty and students,” Traina said. “That our operation was able to grow despite these economic challenges is a testament to the staying power of the University of California system and the bright future of the Merced campus.”
The amount of research awards received also held steady in 2009-10, ensuring that expenditures will remain strong in the coming years. UC Merced faculty pulled in nearly $22 million in awards, a decrease of less than 4 percent from 2008-09’s $22.8 million. And the 2010-11 fiscal year got off to a rousing start, with more than $4.5 million in research awards received by UC Merced researchers in July alone.
The money spent on research at UC Merced benefits society on many levels. It feeds money into the local economy by way of graduate student salaries; it funds outreach programs designed to improve health and education in the San Joaquin Valley; and it leads to new innovations that address many of our greatest societal challenges on the local, state and global level.
Welcome to the news blog of the University of California, Merced. We aim to be a useful tool for journalists covering our campus as well as members of the public who want to stay informed about our growth and accomplishments.
We keep comments on our posts closed, but your e-mail feedback is welcomed at firstname.lastname@example.org While we may not be able to respond to all correspondence, we pledge that it will all be read and considered.