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C Scape – Brian Wickstrom

Brian Wickstrom – UC Riverside’s New Athletic Director

By Litty Mathew

Brian Wickstrom, UCR’s new director of intercollegiate athletics, vividly remembers the moment he found his calling. He was a junior track and field athlete at Kansas State University studying business administration. One day, while catching a ride with his sprint coach to a distant outdoor track for practice, Wickstrom turned to him and said, “I’ve had such a great time here I want to be an athletic director someday so I can give the same experience to others.”

His coach replied, “You’ve already proven you can do whatever you set your mind to. So go for it!”

Wickstrom, who went on to earn a doctorate in education leadership and was most recently senior associate athletic director at the University of Texas El Paso, aims to bring that original impulse to the Highlanders.

“We promise student-athletes an outstanding experience, culminating with a degree at the end of their time on campus,” notes Wickstrom. “I’m going to make sure that every decision we make in our program will be student-athlete centered and they have the experience we promise to them when they commit to being a part of our program.”

He lists listening as the most important part of his job.

When asked to look into his sports crystal ball, he saw a future where each of UCR’s teams competed every year for Big West championships.

“I think with the great support of our campus and the Riverside community, we’re going to have a lot of success,” says Wickstrom. “We’re going to make sure that everybody that comes to campus for one of our events will have a wonderful experience and keep coming back.”

Wickstrom sees athletics programs as playing a key role in UCR’s future achievements.

“Our teams compete all over the country. And with success, they gain national exposure for UCR,” he notes. This can help with name recognition, securing research dollars and recruiting. “It can help attract future students who go on to make the next big scientific discovery.”

Or just enjoy being part of a well-rounded university. 

Positive exposure will also be good for the community.

“The people here are some of the friendliest a person will ever meet. Athletics success will bring exposure that will help UCR and the Riverside community. I think all 17 sports at UCR are going to be exciting to watch and I hope everybody in the community will join me in watching our teams compete,” says Wickstrom.

That’s the experience Wickstrom hopes to share with others.

Take a Tour

Hi, my name is Mor and I’d like to invite you to join me for a mini tour of some of our newer buildings here on campus.

You can use your smartphone to scan the QR codes below to access the mini video tour.

We also offer a QR code that will take you to our website, where you can take one of our virtual tours or even schedule an in-person walking tour.

We offer many ways to find out more about UC Riverside.

Come for a visit!

Tours start at the Campus Tours office in our new Student Services Building.

Take a Mini Video Tour

Visit UCR Online

If you don’t have a QR scanner on your smartphone, go to your apps store and download one for FREE!

We Remember

’75 Wendy Orene Govier, graphic artist. February 2011

’76 Ellen Wong, May 2011

’89 Mark Andrew Trimble, broker liaison at Aetna. April 2011

’03 Brian Christian Williams, project engineer at L-3 Communication. July 2011

Faculty, staff and friends

Aida Shirinian Kaloostian, a former member of the UC Riverside Foundation Board of Trustees, passed away on July 10. She was 59.

Dr. Kaloostian, a pharmacist and physician, served on the foundation board from July 2001 to June 2010. Dr. Kaloostian, who was fluent in six languages, and her husband, Dr. William Kaloostian, served disadvantaged patients who did not speak English. To that end, the Kaloostians established the Kaloostian and Shirinian Endowment for Disadvantaged Students to help economically and educationally disadvantaged students pursue careers in medicine.

She was an enthusiastic and active supporter of UC Riverside’s School of Medicine. Her family continues to be involved in that endeavor.

Dr. Kaloostian is survived by her husband, Dr. William Kaloostian, and three children, who are all UCR graduates: Paul Kaloostian (’02 M.D.); Carolyn Kaloostian (’05 M.D.); and Sean Kaloostian (’06 M.D.).

Betty Clark Moore, a member of the UCR community since 1969, died in June. She was 96.

Moore joined UCR’s Department of Biology in 1969 as an independent research associate when her husband, John, accepted a professorship in the department. At UCR she continued her work on frog chromosomes and also worked on the fruit fly Drosophila. She was a key member of a research team that examined giant salivary gland chromosomes of the larval offspring of fruit flies.

During the 1975-76 academic year, Moore served as vice president and program chair of the UCR Chapter of Sigma Xi, the scientific honorary society. She was the first female president of the chapter. Moore also helped to found the Friends of UCR Botanic Gardens and served on its board. She was made an Honorary Life Member of the Friends in 1995. The Botanic Gardens released autumn sage ‘Betty Moore’ in her honor.
Memorial contributions may be made to the UC Riverside Foundation for the John and Betty Moore Endowed Fund.

Mary (M.E.) Curtin, past University Extension interior design instructor, passed away in April. She was 70.

Ms. Curtin loved her teaching career and was well-respected and admired within the interior design community.

She is survived by her husband of 48 years, Michael, and her daughter, Rebecca Ryan, a UCR staff member.

Take 5 – David Ledwitz

David Ledwitz
’92 political science

David has worked as a management analyst at the Santa Clara Valley Transportation Authority (VTA) in San Jose, Calif., for more than 14 years. He provides technical and analytical support for the management of the VTA’s paratransit program for people with disabilities. For David, a person with a disability, this position is very important and rewarding.

1. How did you end up working for the Valley Transportation Authority?
While at UCR I volunteered in the community and governmental affairs office. When Chancellor Orbach visited Washington, D.C., in 1993, I was invited to join him due to my experience as a congressional intern. That trip allowed me to make contact with the American Public Transit Association (APTA) to inquire about career opportunities. They recommended I apply for their foundation’s scholarship. I was nominated for the scholarship by the Riverside County Transportation Commission (RCTC) after being hired by the commission as an intern. I received the scholarship and was eventually hired for a full-time commission staff position. My position there ended and I was hired by the Santa Clara Valley Transportation Authority in San Jose in 1997. Because the APTF scholarship was so important to my career, I have been working to enhance the program’s outreach with a desire to serve the needs of those in our community who rely on public transportation services. I encourage UCR students of all backgrounds to look at the APTF scholarship as a possible avenue for their careers.

2. If you could go back and take any class at UCR, what would you take?
I would enroll in a series of public administration and financial management courses. I think a practical operational analysis background with public budget development principles and theory is key to those wanting to enter private or public sector employment.

3. What do you do to stay connected to UCR?
I read Chancellor White’s weekly e-mail letters each Friday when I enter my office. The letters bring me back to my Lothian dorm room.

4. Tell us one thing you are most proud of in your life.
In 2006, I completed an adult bar mitzvah at San Jose’s Temple Emanu-El. I am proud of the way I channeled my energy between 2004 and 2006 to learn Hebrew and more about my faith after a challenging period at work in early 2004.

5. Can you tell us about your favorite memory of UCR?
A midnight run from the Lothian dorm to the In-N-Out burger shop over the hill in Moreno Valley with friends.

Take 5 – Vianey Ramirez

Vianey Ramirez
’03, Women’s studies and sociology
Vianey is a deputy public defender for underserved children in the Watts and South Central areas of Los Angeles. In addition, she is a financial coach who teaches middle-class families how to get out of debt and save money.

1. What is your typical workday like?
My typical workday is court from 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Before and after court hours, I do research, motion writing, client/witness interviews, hire experts and investigators. In the evenings, I do complimentary financial coaching sessions.

2. If you could be any fictional character from literature or film, who would you be and why?
I wouldn’t be any fictional character from literature or film. I don’t read fiction and I rarely watch television or films … trust me, my life is interesting enough.

3. Tell us something you’re really passionate about.
I am quite passionate about public service to underserved communities. As an attorney for children in delinquency court, it is my opinion that they are one of the most vulnerable and high-need clientele; thus, it is a privilege and honor to serve as their legal advocate. Along those lines, I am passionate about teaching families ways to sustain monetary wealth because the majority of the population does not have the knowledge or access to the best things offered by the financial industry.

4. What one word would you to use to describe yourself and why?
I am a champion because I face challenges head-on, lead by example, and never give up, even though odds might be stacked up against me.

5. Any advice for new grads?
Allow yourself to dream BIG!!! You are capable of attaining any graduate education or career of your choice independent of your personal background, degree or even grades. Remember that YOU are worthy! However, if you do not make the effort to attain, then you take yourself out of the game.

Class Acts

’70 Lawrence Wolinsky is the new dean at the Texas A&M Health Science Center Baylor College of Dentistry. Before becoming dean at Baylor, he held various administrative titles at the UCLA dental school since 1991. For the past three years, he served as the school’s associate dean for academic programs and personnel. His many accomplishments include developing a mentorship program for junior faculty to assist them in mapping their career development. He also guided the dental school through a successful re-accreditation in early 2011. In addition, he has been a member of the Medical Institutional Review Board No. 1 for 15 years and has served as that committee’s chair since 2006, shouldering responsibility for ensuring the protection and welfare of all human subjects involved in campus research projects. Lawrence started his new position at Baylor on Sept. 1.

’74 Mavis Washington was inducted into the Riverside Sport Hall of Fame in May. While at UCR, Mavis played basketball, volleyball, tennis and softball. She was an Amateur Athletic Union (AAU) All-American basketball selection from 1974 to 1976, and played on the winning AAU National Championship team in 1975. She coached women’s basketball in Nebraska, Syracuse, Ohio, Idaho and Fresno State, and was inducted into the UCR Hall of Fame in 1986. She also dabbled in a film career, starring as the character named Swish in the 1979 movie “Fast Break.”

’79 David Warm was elected as a member of Park University’s Board of Trustees. David serves as the executive director of the Mid-America Regional Council, an association of city and county governments and the metropolitan planning organization for the bistate Kansas City region. He previously served as the city administrator for the city of Liberty, Mo., is a member of the Park University Board of Visitors and serves on the Strategic Planning Commission.

’81 Daniel McCarthy (’93 M.S.) is the National Forest Tribal Relations Program manager for San Bernardino. Recently Daniel received the National Office of Tribal Relations Lifetime Achievement Award for 2010. The award honors individuals and groups for excellence in their efforts working with tribes, building partnerships and their leadership in the field of tribal relations. Daniel has been with the program for 15 years and has worked with tribes at a local and statewide level for the past 30 years, where he has served as the key participant in the annual Agave Roast hosted at the Morongo Band of Mission Indians. He regularly works with members, teaching them how to harvest and process agave. He is a founding member of the American Rock Art Research Association, where he has worked to preserve and record art in the Mojave and Colorado deserts. He has helped run the Follow the Smoke Program on the Six Rivers National Forest. He is also raising new piñon seedlings in conjunction with the forest’s botanists to reintroduce piñon (a major source of food for local tribes) in burned areas.

’83 Scott Barber has been named interim city manager for the city of Riverside. He has worked as the community development director with Riverside since August 2005 and has nearly 25 years of public sector experience. He has held a variety of leadership positions, including administration of a county transportation and land management agency.

’89 Renee Marshall Day (’98 T.C.) completed her master’s degree in diplomacy with a concentration in international conflict management at Norwich University in Vermont. She also works on a consultative basis for the International Education and Research Network, iEARN-USA, as a course facilitator for online professional development courses, serving educators from around the world.

’94 John Freese was promoted to assistant chief of police at UCR. John has been a member of UCPD for 17 years and has served as an officer, corporal, detective, sergeant, lieutenant and, most recently, as the acting assistant chief of police. He has overseen the patrol and investigative divisions throughout his career and has received recognition from the department, UCR community and the city of Riverside for his service and leadership… Sue Teele has retired after 31 years as the director of education extension and the associate dean of academic affairs at UCR Extension. During her tenure, she contributed to the professional development of thousands of K-12 teachers in the Inland region and beyond through state-approved credential programs, certificate programs, conferences, grants and staff development in-services. Sue was presented with a joint resolution from state Sens. Bob Dutton and Bill Emmerson, and Assemblymen Brian Nestande and Mike Morrell upon her retirement. They recognized her many contributions to education in the region and in the state. Sue will remain director of UCR Extension’s Advanced Placement Summer Institute for the coming year and will continue administering several grants she secured, including the Inland area TEAMS (Teaching Excellence and Achievement in Mathematics and Science) project to reduce the achievement gap in math and science between black, Hispanic and Latino students and white students.

’98 Debora Knowlton-Czarnecki has retired from the Garden Grove Unified School District.

’02 Bobby D. Harris III is a utility senior electrical engineer at Riverside Public Utilities, a municipally owned water and electrical utility company based in Riverside. Bobby earned his professional engineering license in January 2009. Since his graduation, Bobby has participated in several UCR-sponsored events such as career fairs, science fairs and “Delivering the Promise,” a program aimed at inspiring and motivating UCR students to reach their highest potential while making a difference in the lives of others. Bobby married Angelina Villa ’04, a fellow UCR alumna and engineering graduate, in 2004. They have two children.

’03 Tiffany Karlin was named the Associate Member of the Year for Aging Services of California. Aging Services of California is the leading advocate for quality, nonprofit senior living and care in the state. Tiffany is the CEO and founder of Accurate Business Results (ABR). Prior to starting ABR, she worked as the director of health care and marketing for Kellogg and Andelson Accountancy Corp. She has worked in the health care industry for nearly a decade… Josefina Ramirez Notsinneh is an account director at the international public relations firm Ogilvy Public Relations Worldwide, which is based in Sacramento, Calif., where she will work on expanding the governmental relations practice, as well as with myriad public affairs clients. She will also be a key member of the nascent Latino outreach and multicultural initiative for the West Coast. Josefina has been involved in politics for more than a decade, using her experience in public policy, politics and community leadership to improve state and local programs that meet the needs of communities in California. She joined Ogilvy after eight years of working in the California Legislature, and most recently for Assembly member V. Manuel Perez ’95 as Capitol director.

’04 Yadi Moth, founder and president of Moth Industries is the developer of Slip N’ Toss, the disposable, biodegradable sandal that can be slipped into a purse and then worn to help relieve aching feet. In follow up to this product, Yadi has now released SPAIR sandals: ecofriendly, durable, foldable sandals. The United States goes through 300 million tires a year and improper disposal can cause many health risks. Yadi aims to be part of the solution by creating the soles of SPAIR sandals out of recycled tires. SPAIR sandals also come in a clutch wristlet that converts into a larger tote to stow away heels or sneakers on-the-go. Aside from running her company, Yadi is also very active in speaking to students ranging from elementary to college level, touching on topics such as motivation, the importance of education, women empowerment and sustainability.

’05 Janine Joseph is one of the 50 poets chosen by American poet D.A. Powell to be included in the “Best New Poets 2011” anthology, which comes out in November. The book is an annual anthology of 50 poems from emerging writers. Each year, a guest editor selects 50 poems from nominations made by literary magazines and writing programs, as well as an open Internet competition. In 2009, Janine was named a Soros fellowship winner. The fellowship, which goes to 31 graduate students who are immigrants or the children of immigrants, helps pay for graduate school. Janine is currently working toward a Ph.D. in literature and creative writing at the University of Houston, Texas … Brendan Steele won his first PGA tour event, the Valero Texas Open, in April. As a result of the win, Brendan received a tour card until the end of 2013 and the victory earned invitations to the Players Championship, the Bridgestone Invitational, the 2011 PGA Championship and the 2012 Masters.

’09 Vanessa Bryan and former UCR basketball player Benoit Bekono were married in July. The couple met at UCR when Benoit was playing basketball and Vanessa was on the cheer squad. Benoit graduated from Lubbock Christian University in 2010 and then went on to play basketball in New York with the EBA and work as a counselor. Vanessa currently works as the assistant to the assistant vice chancellor at the UCR Office of Alumni & Constituent Relations… Rose Ericson graduated from UCR with a master’s degree in statistics this May. … Steven Freeman is co-owner of Pacific Cheesecake Company in Glendale, Calif. The company serves up more than 120 types of cheesecakes including savory blue cheese, spinach feta, apricot gorgonzola and more. The company, which has received many five-star reviews, is family-owned and run by Steven, his mom and his two brothers … Trina Patel is an analyst at JP Morgan. Prior to working for JP Morgan, she worked as a stockbroker at Scottrade.

Alumni Connection

Art Exhibit at the Alumni and Visitors Center: Michael Gill
Michael Gill (’93) was a traditional painter and printmaker while attending UCR. Upon graduation, Michael returned home to Sacramento, Calif., where he started a graphic design business. After running his own company he went on to work in information technology for EDS and got married the same year.

The birth of his first son brought a change to the method Michael used to create his art. Michael no longer uses paint and brushes in the traditional sense, switching to create art digitally. The change in approach leveraged his past knowledge of painting and printmaking where he not only creates the artwork, but is the master printer who prints the work, utilizing the latest technology and the finest of materials. Michael continues to push himself artistically, but also balances his art with a passion to learn and live life, obtaining his M.B.A. with a concentration in finance in 2009.

Michael’s work is hanging in private and public collections and has garnered several awards, including Best of Show. Michael’s work strives to evoke a personal interaction, with the viewer pulling out their own feelings and emotions with the use of images and color. Michael has broadened his artwork to include painting and photography, and he is very involved in the art community. He has served on the Elk Grove City of the Arts Committee for the past eight years and is the founder, lead artist and program manager of the largest high school art contest in that region for the past six years.

Digitized color is the culmination of Michael’s digital art and his years of intense study of images and techniques.

His work will be on display from Nov. 21-May 14 at the UC Riverside Alumni and Visitors Center. If you are interested in having your work displayed, please contact the Alumni Association for more information.

The opening reception will be held Nov. 17, 5:30 to 7 p.m. at the Alumni and Visitors Center. Please RSVP to (951) 827-2586.

Chapters and Clubs
Alumni Association clubs and chapters organize events and activities designed to connect Highlanders with one another while working to enhance the visibility of UC Riverside.
Here are some of the upcoming events:

Los Angeles Chapter

Oct. 20: Alumni networking reception
Nov. 5: Guided tour of the Getty Villa in Malibu
Feb. 25, 2012: Pre-game reception and UCR men’s basketball game at Long Beach State

Orange County Chapter
Jan. 28, 2012: Pre-game reception and UCR men’s basketball game at UC Irvine

Visit the Alumni Association website and click on “Clubs and Chapters” for a complete listing of events and to find out what’s going on in your area.

March 2-3, 2012
Don’t miss Homecoming 2012! Alumni and friends are invited to campus for this annual celebration.

The Chicano Student Programs 40th Anniversary Reunion and the Anthropology Reunion and Tribute to Professor Michael Kearney (1937-2009) will highlight the weekend alumni gatherings. In addition to reunions, Homecoming offers something for everyone, including: Back to Class (the academic side to Homecoming), Hike to the “C,” the entomology department’s bug petting zoo, UCR Citrus Variety Collection talk and tasting, alumni author book reading, cooking demonstration, Botanic Gardens tour, Highlander tailgate, Homecoming basketball game, HEAT music festival and more. For more information, visit the UCR Alumni Association website.

“The world is a book, and those who do not travel read only a page.”
~St. Augustine

From the South Pole to the Mediterranean, UCR alumni and friends travel the world together and share in the discovery of new and exciting destinations. The UCR Alumni Association travel program offers a mix of exploration, education and adventure in partnership with reputable, pre-screened tour operators. Visit the Alumni Association’s travel website and reserve your space on one of our fascinating 2012 destinations.
The UCR Alumni Association travel program is a benefit of membership. Tour participants, whether UCR alumni or not, must be members of the UCR Alumni Association. Each member may bring one companion to travel as a guest.


Celebrating the Yeager Family

On May 11, a celebration was held to honor the Yeager family, longtime UC Riverside supporters. The event was held at the home of William R. and S. Sue Johnson. Attendees had the opportunity to receive a signed copy of a special book commemorating the family’s many contributions.

50 Years of Physics at UC Riverside

The UC Riverside Department of Physics and Astronomy celebrated its 50th anniversary with an event on May 27–28, attended by UCR faculty and students as well as more than 45 alumni and several emeriti professors. Since 1961 the department has grown to 30 faculty members performing groundbreaking research in condensed matter physics, particle physics, astrophysics and biophysics. Presentations and poster sessions highlighted the following day’s symposium and Professor Emeritus Allen Zych gave a talk about the department’s history. Raymond Orbach, former UCR chancellor and emeritus professor of physics, gave a keynote presentation on the future of energy sources.

What is it? Ethnomusicology

By Deborah Wong

Ethnomusicology is the study of music as culture, and ethnomusicologists pretty much like music wherever we find it. We assume that musicians everywhere address the matters most urgently important to any culture at any given moment.

Ethnomusicologists love the sounds of music and all the ways that notes come together, but we also want to understand the broader contexts that grant any music its most profound meanings. Music isn’t just a mirror for any society: it’s a sonic platform for a society’s most important cultural work. If you have ever listened to Pete Seeger sing a civil rights song and were moved — or hopefully inspired — by it, then you know that music can shake up a culture’s core values. Ethnomusicologists assume culture is always in motion and that music is right there in the grooves, creating the terms for social change or sometimes preventing it. Even the most inane pop song makes significant statements about what any culture thinks love is, should be or must be.

Some ethnomusicologists travel long distances to do research and others are always already in the field, right at home. We do ethnographic research, which means that we focus on people. Some of us do archival work but most of us spend significant, sustained time with people. Ethnomusicology shares its methodologies with anthropology and folklore. We learn the languages and the daily mores of places so we can pursue “deep hanging out” through conversation and of course through “musicking.” We listen to music and talk with people about music. We often learn how to play the music of a place. Music says things that sometimes can’t be said through any other medium, so we immerse ourselves in the praxis of music-making so we can understand it in embodied, communal ways, from the inside, through interaction rather than detached analysis.

World Music at UCR
Ethnomusicology is woven through the UCR Department of Music. We offer the music and culture major for undergraduates and world music courses at all levels. Many of these courses are taught in the classroom, but our numerous world music ensembles offer students the opportunity to learn how to play everything from Mexican mariachi to Japanese taiko, Javanese gamelan, Philippine rondalla, Indian tabla and music from the Andes in Latin America. Some of our instructors are master culture bearers from the community while others are ethnomusicologists who have decades of experience with the musics they teach. Our annual World Music Festival features all of our ensembles and is usually held in May.

Ethnomusicologists at UCR
The faculty and graduate students at UCR pursue a range of ethnomusicological research. Our students are currently conducting doctoral dissertation research in Chile, Spain, Indonesia and the Philippines. Others are preparing for research in Cape Breton, Cuba, Mexico, Thailand and India. Our three faculty members — Jonathan Ritter, René T.A. Lysloff, and me — address music and race, indigeneity, social movements, terror and trauma, technoculture and sound studies, all through music. Our research takes us to Peru, Java, Asian America and beyond. As humanists, we focus on music and musicians and then follow the issues that they raise. Life’s a field trip and most ethnomusicologists habitually do fieldwork because music is everywhere, and we’re always ready to listen and ask questions.

For more information about the UCR program in ethnomusicology, visit

The Ghosts of the Past: Grappling with Poland’s Jewish History

By Jennifer Weed

As a Western student of Holocaust history, my knowledge of Poland before this summer included the period between 1939 and 1945, and largely consisted of a map dotted with forbidding names like Auschwitz, Majdanek and Treblinka.

This sadly inadequate familiarity with Poland and Eastern European history was the product of both my chosen academic focus and my primary education under the specter of the Cold War, which tended to generalize and de-emphasize the “enemy” nations, which lay behind the Iron Curtain. However, after spending nearly a month in Poland this summer as a fellow of the Auschwitz Jewish Center, I am shocked by my previously myopic view of Eastern Europe. Now I can say from experience that Poland is a fascinating, complex nation that is still profoundly affected by the legacy of the Holocaust.

While flying to Poland, I honestly expected to see death camps and Stalinist architecture with a bit of countryside filling in the rest. Though all of these are present, there is so much more history and beauty within Poland that I was thunderstruck. I was in awe of the beautiful market square in Krakow. More than 700 years old, it is the largest of its kind in Europe. Conversely, Warsaw surprised me with its modern, bustling, metropolitan feel—until I remembered that the Warsaw of my education was completely destroyed during and after the 1944 uprising against the Nazis and was rebuilt under communism.

In the small town of Oświęcim, known in German as Auschwitz, it was clear by the defensive stance of the locals that the vast majority of people who visit the concentration camp just a kilometer away have no idea the town even exists, though it has for more than eight centuries. Finally, there are the numerous towns I visited, such as Działoszyce, Chęciny, Chmielnik, Sydłow, Kielce, and Jedwabne, which had sizable Jewish populations before the war.

A few of these towns are now infamous, but most of them are simply small towns with unused synagogues and Jewish cemeteries, tragic histories and people living amongst the vestiges of atrocity.

All of the places I visited in Poland were dynamic, living communities missing the crucial Jewish presence that had been central to their functioning prior to the Nazi invasion in 1939. Though we know that more than 3 million Polish Jews died in the Holocaust, the reality of that loss cannot be conveyed in numbers and text; it must be experienced.

This unexpected experience will forever affect how I understand the Holocaust.

I felt the staggering weight of the Polish Jewish tragedy for the first time on my second day in Krakow when we attended Shabbat services at the 16th century Remuh Synagogue, now the only operating temple in the city. The uplifted voices of psalms sung in Hebrew echoing rapturously off the stone walls temporarily blinded me to the fact that this ritual is not being celebrated all over Kazimerz, the Jewish district of Krakow, as it had for centuries before 1939.

There were only a handful of people where there should have been tens of thousands, praying in the one small temple offering Shabbat services when there should have been hundreds.

In what was once the mighty center of Ashkenazi Jewry, one can only find Jewish heritage in ruins, memories, museums and festivals.

Though most attempts at filling this enormous gap are noble and understandable, the effort behind them belies an aching sense of loss, and the silence of the 3 million murdered is positively deafening.

Weed, a Ph.D. student of history, was one of 10 graduate students selected internationally to study the Auschwitz concentration camp, Poland’s Jewish heritage and the implications of the Holocaust this past summer. She plans to focus her dissertation research on the coping strategies and living conditions of the Jewish crematorium workers of Auschwitz-Birkenau. Her research may expand to include the concentration camps of Sobibor, Treblinka, Majdanek or Belzec.

Page Turners

New in PrintUCR authors put pen to paper and the result is a range of offerings, from poetry to academia to real-life drama.

Sex on Six Legs: Lessons on Life, Love, and Language from the Insect World
By Marlene Zuk
Houghton Mifflin Harcourt
July 2011, 272 pages
Insects have inspired fear, fascination and enlightenment for centuries. They are capable of incredibly complex behavior, even with brains often the size of a poppy seed. How do they accomplish feats that look like human activity — personality, language, child care — with completely different pathways from our own? What is going on inside the mind of those ants that march like boot-camp graduates across your kitchen floor? How does the lead ant know exactly where to take her colony to that one breadcrumb that your nightly sweep missed? Can insects be taught new skills as easily as your new puppy? The book provides answers to these questions and many more. With humor, Zuk not only examines the bedroom lives of creepy crawlies but also calls into question some of our own long-held assumptions about learning, the nature of personality and the purpose of our own large brains.

Zuk is a UCR professor of biology.

Parasitoid Viruses: Symbionts and Pathogens
By Nancy E. Beckage and Jean-Michel Drezen
Academic Press
October 2011, 312 pages
Parasitoids — parasitic insects that kill their insect hosts in immature pre-reproductive stages — are employed in biological control programs worldwide to kill insect pests and are economical, environmentally safe and benign alternatives to chemical pesticides. Viruses have evolved intimate associations with parasitoids, and this book features sections on both symbiotic viruses that are integrated into the wasp’s chromosomal DNA (poly dna viruses) that play critical roles in suppressing host immunity during parasitism. A separate section with additional chapters on viral pathogens that infect parasitoids to cause disease and act as detrimental agents that limit effectiveness of wasp species employed in biological control of pests is also featured. A third component is a section on parasitoid venoms, which are of interest to the pharmaceutical and medical communities as well as insect-oriented biologists

Beckage is an emerita professor of entomology, cell biology and neuroscience.

Turfgrass Water Conservation
By Stephen T. Cockerham and B. Leinauer
UC Agriculture and Natural Resources; Second Edition
May 2011, 64 pages
Cockerham has co-edited this second edition with a New Mexico State University turfgrass specialist to bring the reader’s attention to the many advances in the science and technologies of turfgrass water use. Included are the environmental impact of water use on turf; policy issues; expanded relationships with the landscape; and water use efficiency in soils modified for high quality or high traffic turf. Other topics the book covers are water conservation in the landscape; developing turfgrasses for drought, salinity and temperature stress tolerance; water use physiology; irrigation water quality, management and policy issues; salinity management; and water management technologies.

Cockerham is the superintendent of Agricultural Operations at UC Riverside.

Ultrahigh-Pressure Metamorphism: 25 Years after the Discovery of Coesite and Diamond
Edited by Larissa Dobrzhinetskaya, Shah Wali Faryad, Simon Wallis and Simon Cuthbert
Elsevier Insights
March 2011, 696 pages
This book will be of interest to practitioners in a wide range of subdisciplines in the geosciences and deep geophysics. Topics covered include deep subduction processes, mountains building, reshaping the Earth’s continents configuration in the past, and formation of the orogenic belts worldwide and across the span of geological time from the Archaean to the present day. In addition to the applications to UHPM (ultra-high pressure metamorphism) studies, readers will find material relevant to their own interests well beyond UHPM rocks.

Dobrzhinetskaya is an adjunct professor in earth sciences.

Butterfly Boy: Memories of a Chicano Mariposa
By Rigoberto Gonzalez, (’92)
University of Wisconsin Press
September 2011, 224 pages
This memoir of a young Chicano boy’s maturing into a self-accepting gay adult is a portrait of the experience of being gay, Chicano and poor in the United States. Gonzalez writes in a straightforward style that heightens the power of his story. As he describes growing up in an extended migrant-worker family, his youth in Bakersfield, Calif., and his departure for college, some readers may recognize similar characters and situations from his 2003 novel, “Crossing Vines.”

Gonzalez is an associate professor at Rutgers – Newark.

Cases in Public Policy Analysis
By George M. Guess (’78 Ph.D.) and Paul G. Farnham (’69)
Georgetown University Press; Third Edition
June 2011, 396 pages
Combining the insights of an economist and a political scientist, this new third edition of “Cases in Public Policy Analysis” offers real-world cases to provide students with the institutional and political dimensions of policy problems as well as easily understood principles and methods for analyzing public policies. Guess and Farnham clearly explain such basic tools as problem identification, forecasting alternatives, cost-effectiveness analysis and cost-benefit analysis and show how to apply these tools to specific cases. The new edition offers a revised framework for policy analysis, practical guidelines for institutional assessment and five new action-forcing cases. Up-to-date materials involving complex policy issues, such as education reform, cigarette smoking regulation, air pollution control, public transit capital planning, HIV/AIDS prevention strategies and prison overcrowding, are also included. Bridging the gap between methods and their application in real life, “Cases in Public Policy Analysis” will be of interest to professors involved with upper-division and graduate-level policy courses, as well as an excellent sourcebook in applied policy training for government practitioners and consultants.

Guess is a scholar-in-residence in public administration and policy at American University.

The Clara Nevada: Gold, Greed, Murder and Alaska’s Inside Passage
By Steven C. Levi (’72)
The History Press
May 2011, 128 pages
On Feb. 5, 1898, witnesses reported a giant orange fireball reflected in the glacial waters of Alaska’s Lynn Canal. At the height of Klondike gold fever, the Clara Nevada disappeared into an epic storm — taking passengers and priceless cargo with it. Was the explosion an accident or a robbery gone wrong? Did Capt. C.H. Lewis make off with $165,000 ($13.6 million in today’s currency) in raw gold? Or was the sinking a case of a sea-weary steamer meeting an untimely end? Levi pieces together the true account of the final voyage of the Clara Nevada, which resurfaced 10 years after it was last seen.

Levi is a historian and freelance writer based in Anchorage, Alaska.

Teacher at Point Blank: Confronting Sexuality, Violence, and Secrets in a Suburban School
By Jo Scott-Coe (’05 M.F.A.)
Aunt Lute Books
October 2010, 192 pages
Why would a high school teacher who loves teaching leave school — after half a career in the classroom? “Teacher at Point Blank” answers this question at a time when concerns about school performance, safety and teacher attrition are at an all-time and often anxious high. Meditating on subtle and overt forms of violence in secondary public education from an up-close and “pink collar” point of view, Scott-Coe examines her own workplace as a microcosm of the national compulsory K–12 system, where teachers find themselves idealized and disparaged, expected to embody the dedication of parents, the coldness of data managers and the obedience of Stepford spouses.

Scott-Coe is an assistant professor of English and creative writing at Riverside Community College.

By Rubén Urbizagástegui
Arteidea Grupo Editorial, 2011.
April 2011, 48 pages
In the tradition of Andean poetry, deeply rooted in the land, landscape and the rebellion of the most humble people, “Virunhuaira” — which in Quechua language means the “place where the wind sings — is a eulogy to Urbizagástegui’s roots. It is a song to the natural and human components of his origins. His poetry emerges from the absorbed observation of the magic details; images of surprise at the natural beauty; the trails of history that remain alive in the Peruvian Andes.

Urbizagástegui is a UC Riverside librarian.

These books are available for purchase at the UCR Campus Store and online at They have been discounted up to 30 percent.

UCR Heroes to be Recognized at the Annual Chancellor’s Dinner

Nick and Susan Goldware have brought “selfless service to UCR and the community at large.”

By Litty Mathew

Since June 2007, the UCR Foundation has presented the UCR Medallion to friends and distinguished visitors who have gone the extra mile for the campus and/or society. The UCR Foundation is a nonprofit corporation that raises, records and manages gifts from individuals, corporations, organizations and foundations to benefit UCR in accordance with donors’ wishes.

The 2011 recipients of the UCR Medallion are Nicholas (’70) and Susan Goldware. “Nick and Susan are a couple whose unwavering support of UCR has positively impacted every area of the campus. This is an honor that is well-deserved in recognition of their selfless service to UCR and the community at large,” says Pamela Rubin, chair of the UC Riverside Foundation Board of Trustees.

Nick Goldware is no stranger to UCR. He received his undergraduate degree in economics and has been a strong supporter of the university for more than 40 years. He also received the UCR Alumni Community Service Award in 1991.

He is the immediate past chair of the UC Riverside Foundation Board of Trustees and currently serves on the Highlander Athletic Association Board of Directors. He is a past president of the UC Riverside Alumni Association as well as a former chair of the Highlander Athletic Association. The Goldwares have supported the renovation of the Athletic Practice Center, the construction of the Goldware Family Library in the Alumni and Visitors Center, student scholarships and many other crucial campus initiatives.

One of their highest priorities has been educational support.

“We come from families that valued education,” notes Susan Goldware.

“Alumni are a tremendous resource,” adds Nick Goldware. “Especially with decreasing support from the state, private giving is going to become more important. I’d like to think that alumni can help lead that effort.”

The Goldwares also see benefits for the community at large.

“The university provides so many opportunities for interaction between community, alumni, faculty and students,” says Nick Goldware. “When you realize the tremendous work that takes place at UCR, whether through research or teaching, it’s mind boggling. We have an outstanding university right here in our backyard and what happens at UCR impacts the entire nation.”

“I’m very proud of the things we’ve been able to play a part in at UCR,” says Susan Goldware. “We are truly honored and greatly appreciate this award.”

The UCR Medallion, a framed document bearing a pin with the university seal, will be awarded by Chancellor Timothy P. White at the Chancellor’s dinner on Oct. 29.

Third Annual Chancellor’s Dinner to Benefit UC Riverside Students

6-9 p.m., Oct. 29, UC Riverside Highlander Union Building

The event will begin with a reception on the plaza and will feature several UCR student performing groups. Dinner will take place in the third-floor ballroom and will consist of several speakers, as well as the presentation of the 2011 Alumni Awards of Distinction and the UCR Medallion.

Cost is $150 per person.

For more information on the Alumni Award of Distinction recipients, visit or contact Virginia Lerer at (951) 827-3144 or

UC Riverside Celebrates 25 years of Alumni Awards of Distinction

25-year anniversary is a milestone for any person or organization. It’s an occasion to be anticipated, marked and celebrated. It’s a big deal. For UCR, a 25th anniversary is even more special, given that the campus has been around for less than 60 years. So, when it came time to celebrate the 25th anniversary of the Alumni Awards of Distinction, the alumni committee searched far and wide for this year’s honorees.

For 2011, Susan Elizabeth George is the recipient of UCR’s most prestigious alumni honor, the Distinguished Alumnus Award, which is based on national and international distinction in one’s field and with a significant contribution to humankind. Vernon Crowder will receive the Alumni Service Award, which honors superior service in the public sector or a sustained pattern of volunteer service in the community, arts or for the benefit of UCR that has positively represented the university and fellow citizens. The Outstanding Young Alumnus Award, which honors alumni 35 years and younger with a significant career or civic achievement record and promise in his or her profession, will go to Nakul Dev Mahajan.

“Choosing the 2011 recipients was a way of recognizing the breadth, depth and contributions that UCR’s more than 86,000 alumni have made to the world,” says Kyle Hoffman, assistant vice chancellor of alumni and constituent relations.

The three recipients and the recipients of the UCR Medallion will be honored at the chancellor’s dinner on Oct. 29. Special guests will include former award recipients and UCR Alumni Association presidents.

Distinguished Alumnus Award
Susan Elizabeth George ‘70 B.A. English, ‘73 teaching credential

The woman behind the mystery — internationally recognized author of 17 best-selling crime novels set in Great Britain. Spoiler alert: She did it.

Susan Elizabeth George is the author of the international sensation, the Inspector Lynley crime novels, which were made into a popular BBC series. The books follow Scotland Yard’s noble-born Detective Inspector Thomas Lynley and his working-class partner, Detective Sgt. Barbara Havers, as they not only solve crimes but also confront issues of class and gender. George has also written two collections of short stories and a nonfiction book on writing.

After receiving her credentials through UCR’s teacher education program in 1973, she taught high school English in Lake Forest, Calif. “UCR started the ball rolling,” says George. “Teaching writing had a large impact on my own writing. One year, I taught a mystery-novel writing course that guided me to writing crime novels.”

While still a teacher in 1983, she wrote her first Inspector Lynley novel. In 1988, her third attempt at a Lynley novel was published: “A Great Deliverance,” for which she won the Anthony Award, the Agatha Award and France’s Grand Prix de Littérature Policière. She was also nominated for the Edgar and the Macavity Awards. After more than 13 years in education, she decided to pursue writing full time.

“I get so much pleasure from writing,” says George, who started writing short stories when she was 7 years old, mirroring the books her father helped her check out from the library in the San Francisco area where she grew up. “Writing gives me a great deal of spiritual soothing.” She also credits writing as giving her internal balance.

In 1999, George set up the Elizabeth George Foundation, which provides grants to unpublished fiction writers, poets, emerging playwrights and to organizations benefiting disadvantaged youth. “Helping others write and seeing them getting published has been one of my personal and career highlights.”

George has just finished her 17th Lynley novel, “Believing the Lie,” due out in January 2012, and has started a new young-adult series set on Whidbey Island in Puget Sound.

Alumni Service Award
Vernon Crowder ‘73 B.A. psychology, ‘75 M.Admin.

The volunteer’s volunteer – helping especially when it’s tough and uncomfortable.

Consider Vernon Crowder as the Superman of volunteer organizations. He has volunteered for more than 17 organizations over the course of his adult years, giving time, advice and, in many cases, helping make difficult decisions.

By taking leadership roles in volunteer organizations as diverse as Guide Dogs for the Blind and UCR’s Chancellor’s Agricultural Advisory Council, Crowder has been able to advocate for change even when it’s difficult.

“I don’t mind putting the tough stuff on the table,” says Crowder, who encouraged more diversity in his children’s school district, advocated for changes in health policy and introduced innovation to economic development groups. “I feel proud to have been on boards that had difficult transitions to make and to have helped them survive the transformation.”

His desire to help others started early while growing up in Southern California.

“Going blind at a young age influenced me. It changed my world,” says Crowder, who started losing his vision at age 4 and was completely blind by the time he was 12. “A lot of people helped me to become who I am and their generosity has served as a model for me.”

Crowder has brought this intention to every organization he has helped.

“I believe that there is a purpose to life. Much of our being is about connecting to each other. It’s about giving.”

Today, Crowder, who lives in Fresno, Calif., is vice president and the agricultural economist for Rabobank’s Food and Agribusiness Research and Advisory Group. He manages a team that analyzes and conducts market research on California agribusiness as well as the North American fresh fruit and produce sectors. Before that, he was a senior client manager in Bank of America’s middle-market division for seven years. A banker with more than 30 years experience, he began his career at the former Security Pacific National Bank.

When he retires from his current career, Crowder’s goal is to go into public service.

“I would like to help shape policies that would improve upon what’s already happening in our economy and community.”

Outstanding Young Alumnus Award
Nakul Dev Mahajan ‘05 B.A., sociology

Walking on air — award-winning choreographer and dancer.

Nakul Dev Mahajan danced for years without an audience. Growing up in the Los Angeles area, he hid his love of dance from everyone, including his family, because a career in dance seemed out of his reach. Of Indian heritage, Mahajan was especially drawn to the choreographed dances found in many Indian Bollywood movies. At 16, he performed in public for the first time during an Indian holiday and stunned the crowd, including his family.

“It was my first performance on stage and after the show I was bombarded by people praising my choreography and dancing,” notes Mahajan. “I knew this was my destiny.”

Mahajan decided to get his degree at UCR while still pursuing dance.

“The sociology department taught me how to look outside the box, and the dance department accepted me with open arms, knowing that I didn’t have any Western dance training such as ballet, jazz and modern styles,” says Mahajan. “It helped me see people from a different perspective and more importantly, to see me and my self-worth. I was exposed to brilliant instructors and amazing dancers who inspired me to be the best in the style that I was accustomed to — Bollywood.”

In the beginning, Mahajan performed for a mainly South Asian audience. He also started teaching dance classes. In 2003, he opened NDM Bollywood Dance Productions and Studios, the first of its kind in the country. Soon after, his work caught the eye of producers from the hit dance reality show “So You Think You Can Dance,” which introduced Bollywood dance to a national audience. He later choreographed for the 2010 Nobel Peace Prize Concert and “Slumdog Millionaire” composer A.R. Rahman’s Jai Ho World Tour. Mahajan has even taught some of Hollywood’s best, including Natalie Portman, David Schwimmer, Chris Kattan, Steve Carell and Kal Penn.

“I’m very proud of being an artist who has broken boundaries by following a career and making a dream come true that many male dancers don’t achieve in our community because of cultural expectations and social acceptance,” says Mahajan.

Career-Defining Experience

Internships offer a win-win for businesses and students.

By Lisa O’Neill Hill

Last quarter, UCR junior Thomas Kwan was so committed to working for the Environmental Protection Agency that he left Riverside before dawn four days a week so he could be in Los Angeles by 6 a.m.

The agency allowed Kwan, an environmental engineering major, to pick his own hours and work as long as he wanted. Kwan felt lucky to have been selected for a paid summer internship with the agency and did so well that he was asked to continue on during the school year.

For Kwan, working for the EPA has been a pivotal part of planning for his future. Passionate about protecting human health and the environment, Kwan feels he found an ideal match for his interests at the EPA.

“I would say it is career-defining,” said Kwan, who would love to parlay his internship into a career with the agency. “It’s just a great fit for me and I’ve been able to figure that out, which is invaluable. I really feel that even if I don’t end up with the EPA, the people I’ve met and the networking I’ve done will be just as beneficial to my career.”

Kwan is one of thousands of UCR students who understand the value of internships, which give them real-life experience, expose them to a variety of job opportunities and, in some cases, help them rule out careers. Perhaps most importantly, internships can often lead to employment offers.

The advantages of internships may seem obvious for a student, but internships are also valuable for prospective employers, who gain enthusiastic workers and benefit from the fresh perspectives and ideas of younger people.

“They certainly have the ability to start to identify talent early on and see if this person is a good match for them,” Linda LaTendresse, UCR’s assistant director of employer relations and recruiting, said of companies that hire interns.

Hiring interns into career positions can reduce recruitment and training expenses. It is also a cost-effective way to complete a one-time project, she said. And internships help companies to be good public relations agents and organize for peak periods of employment.

At UCR, many students looking for internships turn to the UCR Career Center, where staff members help students put together a resume, offer career assessments and find employers that would be a good match for a student’s interests.

The services are well-used. About half of UCR students log into the center’s website each month to access some of the online services, said Randy Williams, director of the center.

Experiential learning — which supplements what a student has learned in the classroom with real-life experience — is a vital part of a well-rounded education.

Students doing internships may receive academic credit. In addition, many employers pay interns, and those students who have done internships often receive a salary offer that is 20 percent higher than those who have not.

UCR has a robust internship program with deep roots. The first time a UCR student participated in an internship was in 1966. Riverside Mayor Ron Loveridge, who has taught at UCR since 1965, launched the first placement with the Riverside city manager’s office.

In 2010, more than 6,800 positions were listed with the Career Center. The website listed the 100 companies that hired the most interns last year. Twelve of the top 15 companies actively recruit at UCR, LaTendresse said.

“It puts them in a place where they are actually starting to meet professionals and individuals who can offer them work after graduation,” Williams said.

Some companies, such as Ernst & Young and Northrop Grumman, have seasoned internship programs. Small to medium-sized companies looking for interns can receive direction from the Career Center.

Ernst & Young has hired more than 35 professionals from UCR in the last five years, with about 10 of them coming through the company’s internship program.

UCR alumnus David Gutierrez first began working for Ernst & Young in 2003 when he was hired as an intern after his junior year. At the end of the internship, the company sent Gutierrez and other interns to Disneyworld for its International Intern Leadership Conference, where he heard from senior Ernst & Young executives and networked with other interns and professionals.

By the end of that summer, Gutierrez had also earned something else: the offer of a full-time position after graduation.

“For me, it was extremely important,” Gutierrez said of his internship experience. “You only have so much experience to draw from in the classroom. The internship helped bridge that.”

Now Gutierrez helps manage the company’s recruitment team, and is involved in recruiting interns from UC Riverside. He frequently comes to the campus to give presentations.

He mentored UCR graduate Marcus Marbrey, who was hired as a staff member in September. Marbrey was selected for the company’s Horizon Internship Program, which recruits accounting majors in underrepresented groups in the profession who are two or more years away from graduation.

Like Gutierrez, Marbrey’s internship experience led to a job after graduation. He also considers the hands-on experience he received during his internship to be invaluable.

“It definitely gave me a broader perspective of different opportunities,” said Marbrey.

As Gutierrez and Marbrey demonstrate, internships can give students an edge in finding a job.

“In a difficult job market, certainly a student should be strategic in trying to be the most competitive, and an internship will do that,” LaTendresse said.

Even though the employment rate has been up and down in the last couple of years, there has been an 8.3 percent increase in internship postings on campus, she said.

Many companies and agencies are particularly interested in hiring students in underrepresented groups in their chosen fields.

Last year, the EPA signed a memorandum of understanding (MOU) with UCR. The agency was looking to partner with a Hispanic-serving institution and chose the university for the diversity of its students as well as its outstanding environmental engineering and environmental science programs.

Kwan and Jacqueline Zaldana, another UCR student interning at the EPA, were hired after the MOU and were placed in the agency’s Region 9 office in San Francisco. Matt Salazar, an environmental engineer and Hispanic Employment Program manager, was the pair’s intern coordinator, helping them get the most out of their experiences.

The students bring a lot of value to the agency, Salazar said.

“Our mission is wide-encompassing and it takes a lot to get it done. We make sure interns have real projects. They help contribute to ideas that help change the culture, bring a fresh perspective,” he said.

Like Kwan, Zaldana was asked to stay with the agency for a longer internship and is now working in Los Angeles. She had not declared a major when she went into the eight-week summer internship, but had always thought about doing something in medicine. During her summer internship, she designed Region 9’s first online tip and complaint form.

“Doing this internship made me realize medicine wasn’t the only way of (protecting) human health and helping people,” she said.

There were also other benefits.

“EPA provided so many networking opportunities. I definitely took advantage of the few weeks I spent in the San Francisco office and went out of my way to meet people,” she said.

Google has hired interns from UCR and the company’s programs always draw a lot of interest.

UCR is one of the company’s targeted schools in North America and the company works with UCR faculty and Career Center staff to recruit students.

Many of Google’s programs focus on students in groups typically underrepresented in the computer science and software development fields, and the company gears many of its programs toward encouraging a more diverse work force.

Google offers summer and year-round internships and looks for applicants with particular skill sets. The company is most attracted to students studying computer science or related majors.

“The main requirement for a Google engineer position is we want someone who has strong skills in coding and programming,” said Vivien Jin, University Programs specialist and UCR’s campus liaison.

Jin said the company considers student internships mutually beneficial.

“I think Google does appreciate talent and the fresh ideas coming from students,” Jin said.

For Lizette Navarette, her internship with the city of Riverside laid the foundation for her career path.

“I think that internships are a crucial part of your formal learning,” said Navarette, now youth and education coordinator for the mayor’s office in Riverside. Navarette has supervised other interns and considers them integral parts of the staff.

“It helped me understand the realities of the field,” she said. “As much as it is about learning a trade you are interested in, it’s also about finding things you are passionate about.”

Like Gutierrez, she now also turns to UC Riverside to recruit interns.

LaTendresse said the center is always seeking to reach out to additional businesses, especially those with alumni connections.

“Our alumni are excellent ambassadors in the community,” said LaTendresse. “As former UCR students themselves, they know that these future leaders have a lot to offer.”

For more information about how to recruit UC Riverside talent, visit

Neuroscience for Kids

Songs, games and demonstrations are among the tools that are used to pique the interest of young students (and, hopefully, the neuroscientists of the future).

By Lisa O’Neill Hill

The second-grader drew a colorful picture of a neuron, correctly labeling the parts. In careful penmanship, he explained how those parts communicate.

“I learned that the message goes from the dendrites to the termenals (sic),” the child wrote to a group of UC Riverside neuroscience students who taught him and his classmates about the human brain. “I know all the stops. They are the dendrites, soma, axon, axon termenals (sic), termenals (sic) buttons.”

While the prospect of teaching neuroscience to a child who probably hasn’t mastered cursive writing might seem daunting, UCR neuroscience students are using songs, games, demonstrations — even a human brain — to teach complex material to elementary and high school students. In the process, they are honing their expertise in neuroscience.

Two years ago, Margarita Curras-Collazo, associate professor of cell biology and neuroscience, returned from a scientific meeting and told her class what she had learned about a variety of outreach modules. A student approached her after class, expressing interest in the idea of sharing knowledge from the classroom with local schools. That was the genesis for a course that has two goals: to expose children and teenagers to neuroscience while providing UCR students with an opportunity to teach the subject.

Curras-Collazo worked closely with the students to develop age-appropriate curriculums. For the first half of the class, the students concentrated on their outreach efforts to elementary school students.

Targeting kindergarten through 12th levels adds to those students’ educational experiences, potentially makes them better citizens and exposes them to career paths in teaching, Curras-Collazo said.

“It’s important that scientists share their responsibility for science literacy, and what better level to start at than in elementary school?” she said.

During the second half of the class, the neuroscience students prepared for “Brain Day,” an innovative outreach program in which high school students come to UCR to learn all about the brain. Brain Day was first held in 2009 and repeated earlier this year.

“I feel like a lot of times a lot of science majors are going into medicine and their main goal is to get into medical school,” said Karim Jreije, a recent UCR neuroscience graduate who took the course. “They sometimes forget you need to give back to the community. I think we sparked some interest in science in at least a couple of students.”

Jreije, who describes himself as shy, said his confidence and public speaking skills grew after the course, which also helped him refine the concepts he had learned in class. He developed a level of a video game that introduced the high school students to basic neuroscience.

Jreije and other students researched ways to effectively teach information to a variety of age groups.

“Once we had something sketched out, we brought in teachers from those classrooms to get a sense of how well this kind of program would work and what kinds of things we should be watching for in terms of attention span,” Curras-Collazo said. “These students basically learned how to teach neuroscience to a younger audience.”

For example, in order to explain to second-graders how a neuron works, the UCR undergraduate students used a post office analogy. A student who wanted to send a card to a friend would give the card to his mother (the dendrite). The mother would then take it to the post office (soma). The mail carrier would drive down Axon Avenue (axon) and place the mail in the friend’s mailbox so the friend could read it (terminal boutons.)

In teaching the high school students, Curras-Collazo showed them a human brain, eliciting questions about how much it weighed and what it felt like.

“When we were hosting the Colton High School students, every single kid took a picture with the brain,” she said. “It was amazing to see their fascination with the brain. We can tap into this curiosity to improve their science literacy.”

The outreach has helped younger students while also benefiting UCR students.

“I can’t tell you how beneficial it is for the college students, too. They learn to organize themselves, how to lead others,” Curras-Collazo said. “They learn neuroscience at a deeper level. It’s good for the community, good for the students who are teaching and good for the students who are learning.”

Reducing the Risks of Traumatic Brain Injury

A UCR researcher sets his sights on developing a way to detect brain swelling before it becomes life threatening.

By Lisa O’Neill Hill

In January, U.S. Rep. Gabrielle Giffords was shot in the head – and six others were killed – while she was meeting with constituents outside a Tucson supermarket.

Traumatic brain injuries contribute to a third of all injury-related deaths in the United States. While the primary damage occurs at the time of injury, doctors also have to mitigate the secondary disease processes — including brain swelling — that occur after a traumatic brain injury.

UCR Assistant Clinical Professor and neurosurgeon Devin K. Binder and B. Hyle Park, UCR assistant professor of bioengineering, are working together to find solutions.

“What happened in Gabby Gifford’s case was they had to remove part of the skull to account for the swelling and prevent the patient from dying,” Binder said. “We are looking for a way to reduce swelling that might be better than that. One part is the optical diagnosis and the second is treatment by direct water extraction.”

Binder’s lab has also discovered that brain cell swelling probably starts before seizures.

“It’s the Holy Grail if we can generate these optical detection algorithms and integrate that into a seizure-warning device,” he said.

Cerebral edema, an increase in the water content of brain tissue, can be caused by brain injury, stroke, infections and brain tumors. That swelling can lead to pressure that reduces blood flow to the brain, even to the point of death

“Immediately after impact, there is a period where the brain is susceptible to severe swelling,” Binder said. “If we can detect and treat that swelling early, it will provide a better outcome and fewer brain cells will die.”

The researchers are applying an optical imaging technique — optical coherence tomography — to neuroscience to detect swelling in the brain. As the brain swells, it becomes more transparent to infrared light. By shining light on the surface of the brain and analyzing the amount of reflected light, doctors can see how much swelling has occurred. Their work represents the first time optical coherence tomography (OCT) has been applied to the brain for diagnostic purposes.

Recently, Binder and Park were awarded a UC Discovery Grant to continue their work.

In associated research, Binder and Victor G. J. Rodgers, UCR professor of bioengineering, are working on a treatment to remove water from the brain. Rodgers’ lab has developed an osmotic water extraction device.

“You open a little window over the brain and the device gently sucks out water. It’s a gel with some hollow fibers in it. It pulls the water out. Think of it as controlled dehydration,” Binder said. “The standard treatment has been to give drugs. Sometimes that works, but very often it doesn’t.”

Their work could have broad implications not only for shooting victims like Giffords, but for veterans and anyone with traumatic brain injuries.

Find out more at

Unlocking the Powerful Mysteries of the Mind

Researchers at UC Riverside use a multidisciplinary approach to learn how the brain affects health, and how to best use that information.

By Lisa O’Neil Hill

It is the most complex living structure in the universe, a spongy, 3-pound mass of fatty tissue that is the essence of who we are as a species and who we are as individuals. Its 100 billion nerve cells — as many nerve cells as the Milky Way galaxy has stars — allow us to analyze, worry, hope, imagine. The brain is a human’s most valuable and distinct asset, controlling body activities, from heart rate and blood pressure to memory, learning and speech.

Researchers have made significant discoveries about this sophisticated mass of interwoven nerve cells since Congress and former President George H.W. Bush designated the 1990s as the “Decade of the Brain.” Scientists now know that the human brain is not static, but reorganizes neural pathways based on new experiences, a process called plasticity. They have identified key genes to neurodegenerative disorders, including Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s diseases. And they have gained insight into the mechanisms of molecular neuropharmacology, according to the Society for Neuroscience.

They acknowledge, however, that there is still so much to uncover.

In labs and classrooms at UC Riverside, neuroscientists and others interested in learning more about how the human brain works have made great strides in unlocking some of the mind’s mysteries. Their findings could save lives, improve the quality of life and health of older adults, and show women the damage they might do to a baby’s brain if they consume even a small amount of alcohol while they are pregnant.

From helping people recover more quickly from traumatic brain injury to understanding the nexus between the brain and food intake to gaining insight on the brain’s plasticity as it ages, the research by UCR scientists has worldwide consequences. In addition, the university is living out its mission by educating children about neuroscience while also helping undergraduates gain vital teaching experience.

At the heart of this success is the recognition that greater gains can be made by working across disciplines. Research about the brain involves faculty not only in neuroscience but also in numerous other departments, including psychology and bioengineering.

“The faculty at UCR is very amenable to collaboration,” said Margarita Curras-Collazo, associate professor of cell biology and neuroscience. “We see this as strength and not as a competition.”

The human brain is suspended in a dense fluid and protected by a casing comprised of 22 bones. The cerebrum, which includes the wrinkled cortex, makes up nearly 85 percent of the brain’s weight.

Each part of the brain has a distinct function. The cerebrum controls and integrates motor, sensory and higher mental functions. The cerebellum allows us to balance and use our muscles. The brain stem, at the base of the brain, controls heart rate, breathing, blood pressure and other physical functions.

The brain acts like a potent computer. And, much like a computer, when a brain stops working the way it is supposed to, it needs to be fixed. Stroke, disease or traumatic injury, such as those common among veterans returning from wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, can damage or destroy brain tissue, leaving some victims unable to walk or talk.

The work of Masaru Rao has potential for broad impact and could eventually help war veterans with traumatic brain injuries, people with spinal cord injuries, amputees and others.

Rao, a UCR assistant professor of mechanical engineering, is applying his expertise to help restore sensory-motor functions to people with paralysis and brain injuries.

Rao and his team are developing microelectrode array devices to be used in neural prosthetic interfaces (also known as brain-computer interfaces). The length and width of a human hair, microelectrode devices are inserted into the brain, where they pick up nerve impulses fired from neurons. These signals are then sent to a computer, which can use algorithms to convert the signals into actual actions.

Others in the field have demonstrated capability for using such signals to control assistive equipment, such as robotic prostheses and wheelchairs, but the technology for putting this into everyday use is still many years from market.

Microelectrode devices have typically been made with silicon, which is brittle. If the device shatters during insertion — which is already challenging because tissues and vessels are cut — fragments can lodge in the brain, creating a potentially catastrophic situation. This will become more of a concern as neural prosthesis technology matures and progresses toward large-scale clinical trials and FDA approval.

Rao is already ahead of the game. Because his team’s devices are made with titanium, they will not break apart. Titanium is widely regarded as the most biocompatible of all metals and is already used in pacemakers and other medical implants.

“With our devices, even if it does fail, it will bend rather than break, thus minimizing potential for fragmentation,” he said.

These microelectrode arrays are made possible by recently developed micromachining techniques that allow, for the first time, fabrication of sophisticated microscale, titanium-based devices and integrated systems, Rao said.

UCR is one of only three academic institutions in the world with this capability, and Rao’s research group is the only one in the world seeking its application to biomedical devices. This includes next-generation vascular stents for treatment of heart disease and tiny needle devices that painlessly deliver medications for applications ranging from diabetes management to immunization.

The microelectrode array technology is also being looked at for restoring vision and hearing, he said.

“These devices are envisioned to restore those kinds of functions to people who have lost them,” Rao said.

Rao, working with UC Riverside graduate student Gabrielle Goodman, is collaborating with Assistant Professor Kevin Otto at the Weldon School of Biomedical Engineering at Purdue University and Purdue graduate student Patrick McCarthy.

The group is also developing device designs that will improve the mechanical compatibility between the brain and the microelectrode device. The recording performance of the microelectrode devices often degrades over time because the body responds to the foreign device by walling it off and making a fibrous capsule around it. This prevents or reduces the device’s ability to record neural signals.

Already, microelectrode devices are used in the field of neurophysiology.

“The brain is an extraordinarily sophisticated organ,” Rao said. “These devices can serve as enabling tools for neuroscientists and neuroengineers to help them understand the pathways in the brain.”

Turning Off the Hunger Switch
Why do some people have an uncontrollable urge to eat, even after their hunger has been satisfied? What is happening in the brain during normal and abnormal eating behaviors? UCR Professor of Psychology B. Glenn Stanley is hoping to find answers to these questions as he works to determine the impact of specific neurotransmitters on one area of the brain. Stanley’s research is revealing the neurochemicals and brain sites involved in controlling eating behavior and weight gain.

Stanley is focusing on the lateral hypothalamus, which has long been suspected to be involved in food intake.

When Stanley’s team injected the neurotransmitter glutamate into the lateral hypothalamus of a satiated rat, the rat ate.

Injecting gamma aminobutyric acid (GABA) into the lateral hypothalamus inhibited feeding and reduced body weight.

“These transmitters can affect body weight,” said Stanley, chair of the psychology department. Evidence from other labs has shown that glutamate is released during eating and GABA is released when food intake is suppressed.

Everything that will suppress weight in a rat will also suppress weight in a human and the opposite is also true, Stanley said.

“Those general parallels suggest that the brain mechanisms controlling food intake in rodents and humans are similar,” he said. “So it’s likely that research on rats is relevant to humans.”

The work could be important in helping develop safe and effective pharmaceutical agents to control weight, he said. While drugs on the market now can suppress food intake, they don’t work over the long term. “Once you stop taking it, you will go back to the way you were,” he said.

People who are obese have a shorter life span and a higher incidence of heart problems. They don’t live as long on average as those who are not overweight.

“A huge percentage of the U.S. population is obese,” Stanley said. “It’s a huge health issue.”

Although modern society places a premium on being thin, there is evidence to suggest that, from a species survival point of view, fat is a good thing. Fat is fuel.

Body weight is really physiologically regulated and that’s why it’s hard to lose weight, Stanley said.

Stanley said it is amazing to see the rat perform a behavior similar to those that occur naturally after receiving minute quantities of certain neurotransmitters.

“The thing that fascinated me was that you could do something like inject a transmitter in the brain and change a whole behavior,” Stanley said. “You can, with simple inputs, trigger these complex behaviors.”

Alcohol and Fetal Development
Assistant Professor of Psychology Kelly J. Huffman has a vested interest in the outcome of her work. As a scientist and as a mother, she is passionate about her area of research.

Huffman is investigating how prenatal exposure to alcohol changes the brain. Her results show that drinking while pregnant has a dramatic impact on the wiring in the neocortex, the part of the brain that produces much of the complexity of the human condition.

She hopes her findings will not only be important for researchers who study brain development but will help educate women that drinking while pregnant can have a major impact on the development of a baby’s brain.

“I think every woman should know that drinking a couple of glasses of wine here and there could change some developmental process in the brain of the baby,” she said.

The change in the wiring that Huffman found in a rodent model of Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder (FASD) — a classification that includes Fetal Alcohol Syndrome — may underlie a range of cognitive, emotional and behavioral problems seen in children exposed to alcohol during the prenatal period.

Huffman, who is working with doctoral student Hani El Shawa, became interested in the area of research after hearing anecdotally that more and more pregnant women were drinking alcohol.

Recent studies have shown that a significant percentage of pregnant women consume alcohol. That might be due to a few epidemiological studies that report the safety of light drinking during certain gestational times and because some obstetricians tell patients that they can “drink lightly” in the third trimester, Huffman said. But Huffman said people hear only “yes” or “no” without the conditions. She said doctors should tell women to abstain from alcohol.

“Many pregnant women seem to think it is OK to drink while pregnant, despite a wealth of studies showing biological changes in the developing brain, even with light consumption of alcoholic beverages,” Huffman said. “The stigma has gone and it seems to be accepted.”

Children diagnosed with FASD can have reduced IQ, learning disabilities, facial disfigurement, mental retardation, and anxiety and depression. But many women are not making the connection between these problems and drinking during pregnancy.

“To form an association, things have to be close together in time,” Huffman said. “Many of the effects of prenatal alcohol exposure show up in children ages 2 to 5 … so many moms don’t connect the dots.”

While many studies have described the changes in the brain that occur in animals exposed to ethanol prenatally, scientists are still investigating exactly what happens in human development.

In studies on mice, Huffman has found that prenatal exposure to ethanol results in a disorganized neocortex with aberrant wiring and malformed areal boundaries. Because the neocortex is the area of the brain responsible for complex behavior such as emotion, language and cognition, alterations to it often result in developmental disorders.

This intricate neural network is comprised of intraneocortical connections (INCs) that process and integrate sensory and motor information. Precise and properly refined INCs are crucial for normal patterning of the cortical map in development and are critical for normal cognitive function and behavior.

Huffman has found that prenatal ethanol exposure in mice disrupts this intricate circuitry, resulting in lower birth and brain weight and profoundly changing this pattern of connections, particularly those in the frontal lobes, a part of the brain critical for normal social behavior and cognition in humans. These abnormalities could be related to cognitive, emotional and behavioral problems in children with Fetal Alcohol Syndrome Disorder.

“The alcohol had completely disrupted the neocortical network that integrates sensory and motor function in the mouse,” she said. “The effect was not subtle; it’s definitely one of the more severe phenotypes I have seen in the research.”

Huffman said her research is unique in that it is focusing on the INCs. While Huffman said she cannot say whether the changes observed in animal models can actually produce the same phenotypes in humans, she said women should still know the risk.

“Do I think a woman who drinks small amounts of alcohol while pregnant will have a child with a full-blown case of FASD? Probably not,” she said. “But do I think the mother’s behaviors changed the development of that child’s brain? Absolutely.”

Sensory Compensation
Psychology Professor Lawrence D. Rosenblum studies speech perception as a multisensory function. While speech is usually considered something to hear, humans also perceive speech by lipreading or touching someone’s face, he said. His research suggests that the brain treats auditory and visual speech information similarly.

Rosenblum said the human brain is constantly imitating, driving people to inadvertently copy the speech patterns, facial expressions and postures of others. Unintentional imitation even extends into reading the lips of people whose voices we have never heard.

“We know that when somebody is imitated in terms of body language, they find that person more successful,” he said. “It kind of serves a social function.”

Rosenblum, who wrote a book called “See What I’m Saying: The Extraordinary Powers of Our Five Senses,” also studies brain plasticity. When people are deprived of one sense — vision, for example — the other senses become sharpened.

Humans have perceptual skills that we are unaware of, hidden sensory channels that we are using all the time.

Rosenblum went mountain biking with a group of blind mountain bikers who use echolocation by clicking with their mouths to hear rocks in the trail.

People can learn to use echolocation to tell where they are when they are blindfolded, he said.

“It’s not as if these folks are different in some way. They have learned to refine their subliminal skills. These are perceptual skills that all lie just before the level of consciousness and we can learn to harness them,” he said.

Those who are nearsighted and wear glasses actually hear a bit better than those with perfect vision, he said. The blind do hear and touch with more sensitivity.

The findings suggest the strength of multisensory integration. Now researchers know that the visual part of the brain can be affected by not only what a person sees but what a person touches and hears.

(Click here to see a fun BBC video about how mulitsonsory perception can influence how we can perceive our own bodies.)

Teaching an Old Brain New Tricks
G. John Andersen, professor of psychology, has been exploring plasticity in the human brain as it ages. In studies funded by a five-year grant by the National Institute on Aging, Andersen has found that common perceptions about the aging brain are erroneous. Andersen and a researcher at Boston University have found that older adults can improve their vision with perceptual training.

“As we get older, there’s a lot of evidence to suggest that the brain can grow new neurons, new connections, and improve function,” he said.

Andersen and his research team conducted a series of experiments to determine if the vision of adults older than 65 could be improved through repeated performance of certain visual tasks. After only two days of training with difficult stimuli, such as texture pattern discrimination, the older volunteers could see as well as college-age students, he said.

“We also found that when we brought them back, that the improvement was maintained three months later. We were very, very surprised,” he said. “We also ran a control condition to see if it was due to practice with the task and it was not due to practice.”

The findings suggest that the brain changed in early levels of the visual cortex. The study was the first to demonstrate that perceptual training can improve vision among the elderly in the earliest levels of visual processing.

“The results so far suggest that when older individuals are presented with this type of behavioral intervention that there is a change in white matter in the visual cortex, an increased connection that goes on. The brain is essentially rewiring itself.”

By using perceptual training, older people can improve their visual function to reduce the likelihood of falls and to become safer drivers.

Andersen’s collaborator at Boston University, Takeo Watanabe, is using brain imaging on elderly subjects to see what changes occur in the brain.

The research has the potential to improve the health and quality of living for older people without medicines or surgeries.

It also dispels a widely held belief.

“It demonstrates that the brain once developed and matured is not static,” Andersen said. “Instead it is very pliable and plastic and has an impressive capacity to change. This notion out there, this thinking that as you get older everything declines, it doesn’t hold true for the brain.”

R Space – Freshmen in the Lab

A newly opened innovative laboratory at UC Riverside is giving freshmen the kind of laboratory research experience usually reserved for graduate students or undergraduate students in their junior or senior years.

The Neil A. Campbell Science Learning Laboratory, named after a well-known biologist and UC Riverside alumnus. It is funded by a $520,000 donation from Rochelle Campbell, wife of the late Neil Campbell, who died in 2004. He was named a Distinguished Alumnus in 2001, the highest award given by the UCR Alumni Association, for being an exceptional educator and supporter of science education, and was a co-author of “Biology,” an introductory text widely used in both high school and college-level classes.

The Campbell lab is home to “The Dynamic Genome,” an intensive learning program launched by Susan Wessler, who holds a University of California President’s Chair and is a distinguished professor of genetics in the Department of Botany and Plant Sciences. A portion of a $1 million Howard Hughes Medical Institute grant to Wessler is being used to fund the learning program.

The lab includes a lecture hall, teaching lab and office space. The first course began this fall quarter. Students in the program will learn computational and experimental tools of genome analysis to understand how evolution works.

R Space – Distinguished Chemist to Serve as Provost

Dallas Rabenstein, a distinguished professor who has served as interim executive vice chancellor and provost for more than two years, has agreed to stay on in the position in a permanent capacity.

“After an extensive nationwide search and two waves of finalists, I have concluded – and the search committee concurs – that the appointment of Dallas Rabenstein is in the best interest of the campus,” Chancellor Timothy P. White wrote to the campus community. “His qualifications, experience and accomplishments exceed those of the other candidates considered for the position.”

Provost Rabenstein has played a lead role in UCR’s strategic planning process, resulting in the development of UCR 2020: The Path to Preeminence. He is now leading the strategic plan implementation efforts as well as a number of other major campus initiatives that will shape the future of UCR. In addition, he chairs the Chancellor’s Budget Advisory Council.

The selection of Rabenstein was made in consultation with members of the Academic Senate, staff, deans, students and vice chancellors, White said. The choice has been endorsed by the UC Regents. Rabenstein expects to serve through June 2015.

Rabenstein is a distinguished professor in the Department of Chemistry, where he has been a member of the faculty since 1985. He has developed an international reputation for his innovative research in nuclear magnetic resonance spectroscopy and its application to problems in biological and bioanalytical chemistry. A current focus of his laboratory is studying how heparin, an anticoagulant drug, binds to proteins and peptides.

R Space – Chung Named Inaugural Fellow of the Bourns College of Engineering

Inventor and entrepreneur Winston Chung was named the inaugural Fellow of the Bourns College of Engineering during UC Riverside’s June commencement ceremonies.

Chung is the founder, president and chairman of Winston Global Energy Co. Ltd. in China. Earlier this year he established a $10 million endowment at the Bourns College of Engineering to create two new professorships — one in energy innovation and one in sustainability — and the Winston Chung Global Energy Center in the College of Engineering-Center for Environmental Research and Technology.

During the commencement ceremony, UC Riverside Chancellor Timothy P. White cited Chung for “his generous support and exceptional service to the Bourns College of Engineering and at the University of California, Riverside, resulting in significant advancement of its mission; and for his numerous personal achievements in science, technology and business in advancing the future of sustainable energy.”

Chung is the inventor of numerous state-of-the-art energy storage systems, including the rare earth element, lithium-sulfur battery, which is the most advanced battery technology in the world. His company has developed an electric recreational vehicle that can travel 180 miles on a single charge and recharge in 20 minutes. He has invested in numerous businesses in the Southern California region, including MVP-RV in Riverside, which will manufacture electric RVs for domestic and international markets.

The Winston Chung Global Energy Center will focus initially on research in energy storage in collaboration with solar and wind power generating companies, the city of Riverside, and local power consumers. It will be at the forefront of creating a new “smart” energy grid. Integrating energy production with new storage and distribution technologies, the Global Energy Center will allow Riverside to be a worldwide leader in renewable energy.