A biweekly publication for faculty and staff

School of Natural Sciences Offers its Congratulations

November 30, 2012

The School of Natural Sciences congratulates Professor Henry Jay Forman, who has been promoted to the position of distinguished professor. The rank of distinguished professor is attained by achieving the highest level of excellence in research, teaching and service. Forman, who studies respiratory reaction to environmental pollutants, is one of UC Merced’s founding faculty members.

The School of Natural Sciences also congratulates three professors, Asmeret Asefaw Berhe, who recently organized and hosted the successful “Symphony of the Soil” event, and Francois Blanchette and Arnold Kim, who received much attention for their research into penguin huddles.

The “Symphony of the Soil” event paired a film screening with a panel discussion featuring the film’s director, Deborah Garcia, Professor Stephen Hart from UC Merced, Professor Miguel Altieri from UC Berkeley, regional farmers and a professor from UC Davis.

The film is especially relevant here in the Central Valley, where billions of tons of food are grown each year, and it’s critical that people understand the soil and why what happens to it affects everything around it, including the air and water.

These kinds of events, which involve and include the surrounding community, exemplify part of UC Merced’s goals to have a positive impact on the Valley.

Blanchette and Kim were inspired to computer-model the Antarctic warming techniques of penguins after seeing films like “March of the Penguins” and pondering the roiling huddles into which the penguins organize themselves to keep warm.

Even if the penguins are acting selfishly, Blanchette and Kim surmised, the huddles allow the fairest distribution of survival resources because the mass is constantly shifting to allow new penguins into the warm center, ensuring they all benefit.

The SNS is pleased the research received the attention it deserved, being picked up by a variety of scientific publications and media outlets across the country – including The Huffington Post.