Runoff from the Sierra Nevada, a critical source of California’s water supply, could be enhanced by thinning forests to historical conditions, according to a report from a team of scientists with UC Merced, UC Berkeley and the Environmental Defense Fund.
The team proposes to test the hypothesis that forest-management strategies that use thinning to reduce fire risk and maintain the historical mix can also increase water yield and extend the snowpack in the Sierra Nevada.
The scientists suggest that by selectively reducing the number of trees — which use large amounts of the water received through precipitation — the amount of water that is released from the forest as runoff could increase. This enhanced runoff could make things easier for farmers and water managers statewide.
Undergraduates David R. Jones, Jessica Sood and Janna Rodriguez were awarded outstanding student presentation for poster presentations at the national conference of SACNAS, a nonprofit organization dedicated to advancing Hispanics, Chicanos and Native Americans in science.
All three said they received tremendous support from UC Merced professors who provided guidance and helped fine-tune abstracts required to present at SACNAS. Jones, Rodriguez and Sood said they were honored by the resume-building awards and happy to participate in a conference that allows them to network and learn about other academic research.
UC Merced will hold a teach-in on campus Dec. 7 to give students, faculty and staff a chance to discuss the many issues raised by the Occupy movements that have spread across the nation.
The teach-in will be from 12:30 to 4:30 p.m. in the Joseph Edward Gallo Gymnasium. Faculty members will share their thoughts and insight on this and other movements, and students who recently traveled to New York to interview Occupy Wall Street participants will also present.
The teach-in is cosponsored by the Office of the Chancellor, the Academic Senate, Associated Students of UC Merced, the Graduate Student Association and the Division of Student Affairs.
More information on the teach-in will be available next week.
UC Merced physics major Alessandro Castelli takes what he learns in the classroom and applies it in the lab.
He's using lasers to hold and stretch cells and other tiny objects in Professor Jay Sharping's Applied Phototonics Research Group.
“What makes this experience awesome is the fact that I’m actually doing what I’m studying," Castelli said. "So instead of just learning it and then never actually utilizing it, I can come in and apply it.”
Sharping and Castelli are studying and refining the technology so the entire system can fit on an inexpensive lab chip. It's something that could be used in academic research, high school labs and even out in the field.
“It’s the closest thing that we can imagine that is a tractor beam in the laboratory because you’re really forcing a particle to be in one spot, sucking it into a particular spot with light,” Sharping said.
Castelli, of San Jose, came to UC Merced because he knew the intimate environment would offer him more opportunities.
"I had a feeling that if I came here it'd be better for me personally than if I went to some big college where I could get lost in the crowd,” Castelli said. “I think it's definitely turned out that way. I really doubt I would be having such awesome research experience if I was at some other college."
After graduating, Castelli plans to pursue a Ph.D.
Earlier this year, three UC Merced students — Joselyn Delgado of Los Angeles, Lauriano Bucio of Long Beach and Stephanie Badillo of San Diego — entered the $100,000 Hispanic-Serving Institutions (HSI) Scholarship Competition sponsored by Sam’s Club, a national retail business. Participants had to develop a plan to increase the company’s visibility in Latino populations.
Last week, the group of undergraduates was one of five teams honored during an awards dinner in Washington, D.C.
The students heard about the competition from an advisor during final exams week, and the contest’s deadline was only days away. With little time to spare, the trio worked quickly and pulled together a marketing plan in about three days.
“We were just zooming,” said Delgado, a sociology major and management minor. “We brainstormed and wrote down ideas that we could expand on.”
The group worked with two advisors, lecturer S.A. Davis and visiting professor Mark Harris. Delgado had taken Davis’ marketing class, and the concepts she learned were still fresh in her mind.
Ian Donahue knows a thing or two about small class sizes.
The 21-year-old UC Merced senior from Jesuit High School in Sacramento has been having flashbacks to his high school days of late, especially in courses for his materials science and engineering major, which often have as few as 10 students per class.
The small size of the newest UC campus was a major reason for Donahue’s decision to attend UC Merced, along with the people.
“It just seemed like a place where you could succeed and everyone wanted you to succeed and wanted the best for the school,” Donahue said. “It was so small, and that was definitely a plus. It’s so one on one, and the classes are so small. I feel like if I went somewhere else, I would be just a number.”
The close interaction with faculty members that has become a hallmark of the UC Merced experience has paid off for Donahue. A week before summer school began this year, Donahue walked into Professor Valerie Leppert’s lab and asked if he could have a position doing research.
Donahue had taken classes with Leppert earlier in his time at UC Merced, but he was surprised to find her willing to bring her into the lab on such short notice.
For siblings Erin, Dylan and Justin Ray, sharing the same campus was just another bonus. The trio from Ridgecrest in northeastern Kern County says they were drawn to University of California’s newest campus because of its size, age, academics and wide range of research and other opportunities.
Erin, a senior majoring in anthropology, made a similar connection. Last summer, she and several other UC Merced students traveled to Belize to take part in an archaeological project with Holley Moyes, an assistant professor in the School of Social Sciences, Humanities and Arts.
“There are a lot of opportunities to work closely with professors,” she said.
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