Shakespeare Santa Cruz: At 30, still a cultural touchstone

It may be hard to believe, but Shakespeare Santa Cruz has been thrilling audiences for three decades now. The theater company opened its latest season this past summer at the Mainstage Theater with one of the most successful productions in SSC's history, The Comedy of Errors, directed by award-winning UC Santa Cruz theater arts professor, and former SSC artistic director, Danny Scheie.

Shakespeare Santa Cruz former artistic director Danny Scheie on the set for a special run of Comedy of Errors at Villa Montalvo.

Shakespeare Santa Cruz former artistic director Danny Scheie on the set for a special run of Comedy of Errors at Villa Montalvo. (Photo: Elena Zhukova)

"Danny's original production remains to this day a favorite of SSC audience members, and is a great celebration of our history," observed Artistic Director Marco Barricelli, who just completed his fourth summer festival at SSC.

Founded in 1981, Shakespeare Santa Cruz is a professional repertory companyin residence at UCSC. It has been celebrated by USA Today as "one of the nation's top ten most influential" Shakespeare companies.


Thinking big and going green

Cameron Fields, one of the student delegates to the Taiwan green workshop.

Cameron Fields, one of the student delegates to the Taiwan green workshop. (Photo: Lisa Nielsen)

UCSC's undergraduates have reason to be proud of their sustainability efforts this year. This summer, a "green" delegation including undergrads Gabi Kirk and Cameron Fields (pictured) went to Taiwan to lead a green workshop. Students also launched a Carbon Fund to pay for eco-friendly projects on and off campus and convened a far-ranging Campus Earth Summit.

The all-student organized summit, this year the 10th annual, brought together students, faculty, staff, and community members to share ideas and strategize on how to transform UCSC into a sustainable campus.

Visiting the Earth Summit on Earth Day this year was a contingent from the University of Hawaii's West Oahu campus, who were looking for sustainable ideas as they build out their campus.


Turning inward with adaptive optics

Joel Kubby with one of his adaptive optical systems.

Joel Kubby with one of his adaptive optical systems. (Photo: Elena Zhukova)

For the last 30 years, astronomers have used adaptive optics to get a clearer look at outer space. Now, UC Santa Cruz biologists are harnessing the same technology to get a better look at living cells and tissues, giving them a fuller picture of human biology and diseases.

Funded by a $1 million grant from the W. M. Keck Foundation, the new W. M. Keck Center for Adaptive Optical Microscopy at UC Santa Cruz builds on efforts begun in 2006 by a group of biologists, astronomers, and optical engineers.

Principal investigator Joel Kubby, an associate professor of electrical engineering in the Baskin School of Engineering at UCSC, has worked on adaptive optics systems for large telescopes as well as for biological imaging. In astronomy, AO systems correct the blurring of telescope images caused by turbulence in the Earth's atmosphere. In microscopy, blurring is caused by the flowing cytoplasm of living cells.


Tracking the ocean's top predators

An example of a tagged ocean predator.

An example of a tagged ocean predator.

A 10-year study involving UC Santa Cruz ecology and evolutionary biology professor Daniel Costa provides a remarkable picture of top marine predators' movements, migration patterns, and critical habits across the Pacific Ocean.

Two big regions of the North Pacific Ocean are magnets for marine life, attracting a diverse array of predators in predictable seasonal patterns, according to results from the Tagging of Pacific Predators project published in Nature in June.

The California Current, which flows southward along the U.S. West Coast, and the North Pacific Transition Zone, a boundary between cold subarctic water and warmer subtropical water, are both hot spots for large marine predators, the study found. "These are the areas where food is most abundant, and it's all driven by high primary productivity at the base of the food chain—these areas are the grasslands of the sea," said Costa, co-author of the report.


Founding faculty member traces 50 years of UCSC

William Doyle with the Seymour Center’s Ms. Blue in the background.

William Doyle with the Seymour Center’s Ms. Blue in the background. (Photo: Carolyn Lagattuta)

William Doyle, a founding faculty member of UC Santa Cruz when the campus opened in 1965, has written a book that traces the early history of the campus. UC Santa Cruz: 1960–1991 begins with the story of how the campus came to be located in Santa Cruz and describes the challenges of designing and building the new campus.

Doyle, a professor emeritus of biology, held many important administrative positions during his years at UCSC. He is best known for his leadership in the planning and development of the marine science program at UCSC, and several chapters of the book are devoted to those efforts.

In a foreword to the book, Chancellor George Blumenthal wrote that Doyle "was indeed a pioneer, who arrived at a nascent campus with almost no buildings, no academic programs, and very few faculty. His own commitment to the campus led to a string of developments and contributions that spanned his entire career."


UCSC's own Gillian Welch makes another splash

Dave Rawlings and Gillian Welch

Dave Rawlings and Gillian Welch (Photo: Mark Seliger)

Forty-five seconds into the new Gillian Welch CD, The Harrow and the Harvest, you realize this is the real deal.

It's a low-key affair—in the best possible way—with exquisite musicianship, haunting harmonies, and superlative songwriting. It's also the first Gillian Welch album to come out in nearly eight years.

After the album's release, the UCSC alumna (Porter '90, art) embarked on national tour with longtime musical partner David Rawlings.

The Harrow and the Harvest marks Welch's fifth CD in 15 years. It features nine new songs, plus a studio version of the stunning The Way It Will Be ("Throw Me A Rope"), a highlight of their live shows for the past several years.


Rise of the robots

Students in computer engineer Jacob Rosen’s Bionics Lab work with components of an advanced robotic surgery system.

Students in computer engineer Jacob Rosen’s Bionics Lab work with components of an advanced robotic surgery system. (Photo: Carolyn Lagattuta)

UCSC has launched a new major in robotics engineering, an interdisciplinary field that combines electrical, computer, and mechanical engineering. The new major, leading to a B.S. degree, is the first of its kind in the UC system.

"Robots are used in many industry segments today, including automotive, aerospace, electronics and computers, industrial machinery, telecommunications, medicine, agriculture, mining, and textiles. As technology continues to bring cyber and physical worlds together, the demand for robotics engineers will continue to increase, which makes our new major a much-needed addition to the curriculum of the Baskin School of Engineering," said J. J. Garcia-Luna-Aceves, Baskin Professor and chair of computer engineering in UCSC's Jack Baskin School of Engineering.

The Department of Computer Engineering will administer the new program. Students started enrolling in the robotics engineering major this fall.


'Soc doc' filmmakers hit the big screen

Sherry Yafuso

Sherry Yafuso, a founder of the Unique Ladies, an all-women lowrider car club in San Diego, cruises in her customized sedan. Gloria Morán followed Yafuso and other club members for “Unique Ladies,” her video documentary thesis in the social documentation master’s program. (Photo: Gloria Morán)

Just imagine the thrill of the senior social documentation ("soc doc") program students at UC Santa Cruz when the house lights went down at the Del Mar Theatre in Santa Cruz and their work appeared on the big screen.

These students had the chance to premiere their master's thesis video documentaries at the elegant and historic theater. It was the fifth annual Soc Doc Graduate Exhibition and the second to be showcased at the Del Mar. The screening had to be moved this year to the Del Mar's larger, downstairs screen after last year's full house resulted in many attendees being turned away.

"The work you will see, hear, and experience is the culmination of an intense two years as our students immersed themselves in documentary traditions and craft, scholarly research and analysis, and storytelling," said Renee Tajima-Peña, professor and graduate director of the social documentation program.


New additions on campus

The Global Village Cafe in the newly renovated McHenry Library.

The Global Village Cafe in the newly renovated McHenry Library. (Photo: Elise Herrera-Mahoney)

With its redwood views and terraced gardens, UC Santa Cruz's McHenry Library is a gorgeous place to cram for exams. Now the library has expanded, while stepping up its role as a community hub.

Ten years in the making, the newly completed addition and renovation project allow the library to house a growing collection of print and electronic materials and offer more comprehensive electronic resources for students. The campus has chosen locally owned Hoffman's Bistro and Patisserie to operate the new Global Village Cafe in the lobby.

Nearby, on Science Hill, construction continues for UCSC's Biomedical Sciences Facility, set for completion early next year. The building will provide 92,000 square feet of laboratory space and facilities to support health and medical research. It will be used by students, faculty, and researchers in the Departments of Molecular, Cell and Developmental Biology; Chemistry and Biochemistry; Microbiology and Environmental Toxicology; and Biomolecular Engineering. A stem cell research center, funded by a $7.2 million grant from the California Institute for Regenerative Medicine, will occupy the fourth floor.


Cinematic Banana Slugs in the spotlight

Emeritus Film Professor Chip Lord speaks with digital arts and new media faculty member Soraya Murray.

Emeritus Film Professor Chip Lord speaks with digital arts and new media faculty member Soraya Murray.

"The UC Santa Cruz student may not get the first job compared to his or her Ivy League competitor ... but I assure you they will get the best job in the end... because they will out-think them."

Those rousing words were delivered by Kevin Beggs (Porter '89, politics and theater arts), president of Lionsgate Television Group, during his keynote address for a film symposium called Bridging the Gap at UCSC in June.

George Blumenthal welcomes the audience and participants to Bridging the Gap.

George Blumenthal welcomes the audience and participants to Bridging the Gap.

The alumnus was just one of many graduates of the campus who participated in panel discussions and screenings at the event.

Other featured alumni guests at the symposium included Rick Carter, production designer (Sucker Punch, Avatar); Ron Yerxa, producer, BonaFide Productions (Little Miss Sunshine, Little Children, Election); Tad Leckman, visual effects designer (Escape Studios/Industrial Light & Magic); Sarah Schechter, senior vice president, production, Warner Brothers; and Tiffany White, assistant costume designer/costumer (Mad Men, True Blood).


Pioneering social psychologist Elliot Aronson honored

Elliot Aronson

Elliot Aronson

Eminent social psychologist Elliot Aronson earned one of his highest accolades this year, honoring the work he has done in his post-academic career.

Aronson, UCSC emeritus professor of psychology, was named winner of the 2010 Constantine Panunzio Distinguished Emeriti Award.

The award recognizes outstanding University of California professors in the humanities or social sciences for research and activities since retirement. Established in 1983, it is named for Constantine Panunzio, a sociology professor at UCLA, who is known as the architect of the UC Retirement System. It includes a $5,000 prize.

Aronson, 79, who retired in 1994, is the fifth UCSC professor to win and the third in consecutive years. "For me, doing research on social psychological issues is not work—but a great joy," he said. "So, in a sense, I am being rewarded for having fun! Not bad."


A poet's gift

George Hitchcock and other area poets outside the old Cooper House in Santa Cruz, c. 1973.

George Hitchcock and other area poets outside the old Cooper House in Santa Cruz, c. 1973. In the windows, left to right: Steve Levine, Victor Perera, James B. Hall, T. Mike Walker, Peter Beagle, Robert Lundquist, Morton Marcus, Anne Steinhardt, James D. Houston. Standing from left: William Everson, Mason Smith; seated from left: John Deck, Lou Matthews, Nels Hanson, George Hitchcock. (Photo: Gary Griggs)

This summer the campus received a gift of $500,000 to establish The George P. Hitchcock Modern Poetry Fund at Porter College.

A renowned publisher, poet, painter, and UCSC lecturer emeritus in creative writing, Hitchcock died in August 2010 at the age of 96.

His longtime partner, Marjorie Simon, has made the gift to honor and fulfill Hitchcock's wishes—to establish an endowment, through his estate, that would support poetry-related activities in perpetuity.

Hitchcock, who published the literary magazine kayak, taught writing at UC Santa Cruz from 1970 to 1989.

The endowment will provide support for projects including residencies for poets, readings, a poetry prize, and more.


Video shows tool use by a fish

Tool-using fish

Tool-using fish The first video of tool use by a fish has been published in the journal Coral Reefs by Giacomo Bernardi, professor of ecology and evolutionary biology.

"What the movie shows is very interesting," Bernardi said. "The animal excavates sand to get the shell out, then swims for a long time to find an appropriate area where it can crack the shell. It requires a lot of forward thinking, because there are a number of steps involved. For a fish, it's a pretty big deal."

The actions recorded in the video are remarkably similar to previous reports of tool use by fish.

Bernardi shot the video in Palau in 2009.

Tool use was once considered an exclusively human trait, and Jane Goodall's reports of tool use in chimpanzees in the 1960s came as a stunning revelation. Since then, many other animals have been observed using tools, including various primates, several kinds of birds, dolphins, elephants, and other animals.


This article appears in the fall 2011 issue of Review magazine.