A biweekly publication for faculty and staff

Juan Meza, Dean of the School of Natural Sciences

January 22, 2013

I find the beginning of the semester is a good time to reflect and celebrate the many accomplishments of our faculty, students and staff. In the fall, we were delighted to welcome six new faculty members to the School of Natural Sciences (SNS): Fabian Filipp, Katrina Hoyer, Christine Isborn, Karin Leiderman, Suzanne Sindi and Jess Vickery. In addition, two more joined us on Jan. 1 – Jessica Blois and Marilyn Fogel.

Francois Blanchette and Arnold Kim received acclaim for combining fluid dynamics research and penguins! Inspired by the documentary “March of the Penguins,” Francois and Arnold devised a model to explain why penguins huddle together the way they do to protect themselves from the cold and icy winds of Antarctica. Stories about their work appeared in numerous news sources including Scientific American and on CBS news. Research on health disparities was also recognized in the media. Among those highlighted were Fabian Filipp, whose work is on the metabolic cycle of melanoma; Fred Wolf, who researches the biology of alcoholism; and Jing Xu, who studies cells’ nanomotors to understand neurodegeneration.

Jason Hein demonstrated our campus’s commitment to sustainability and the school’s proud reputation of innovation and entrepreneurial spirit by inventing a way to recycle chemical waste. Using a novel biotech solvent recycle, Jason and his research team have saved 65 gallons of acetone, diverted 500 pounds of waste and saved the campus $3,000 in hazardous-waste fees so far. 

An interdisciplinary group that includes Mike Dawson, Mike Beman, Francois Blanchette and Jessica Blois received a National Science Foundation Dimensions of Biodiversity grant that will allow them to study environmental changes in marine lakes. I am also happy to report that Henry Forman was named distinguished professor, the highest professorial level that can be achieved in the UC system.

Asmeret Asefaw Berhe coordinated the Symphony of the Soil event that featured a well-attended film screening that examined the relationships and mutuality between soil, water, the atmosphere, and plants and animals. 

Our students had equally great accomplishments. Three undergraduate SNS majors won research presentation awards at the SACNAS conference in Seattle last October: Adriana Lopez, Jose Moreno and Stacey Van. Graduate student Andrea Rodarte, who is studying physics with Sai Ghosh and Linda Hirst, published her first paper in Physical Review B, the American Physical Society’s journal devoted to condensed matter and materials physics. 

While our faculty and staff achieved significant milestones, the school would not run without the dedication and hard work of our staff. I am proud that Director of Student Services Angie Salinas and Graduate Student Programs Coordinator Carrie King won Staff Excellence awards last year.   

As you can see, it has been a full year. It is the dedication and commitment to excellence from everybody in the School of Natural Sciences that fills me with pride every day, and it’s why I'm so hopeful for the future.