Around UCSC

Eight Slugs win Fulbright grants

UC Santa Cruz had eight Fulbright Program grantees in 2007-08-a feat it's only accomplished twice before in the past 15 years, and a higher ratio of accepted candidates versus applicants than many prominent private universities.

The eight Fulbrighters are Elizabeth Bastiaans, who is studying a threatened lizard in Mexico; Frank Black, who is measuring mercury levels in water, fish, and hair of subsistence fishermen in Botswana; James Casey, who is conducting research on early 20th century Arab newspapers in Syria; Timothy Krupnik, who is researching farming systems to improve rice production and natural resource conservation in Senegal; Michelle Olsgard, who is investigating the sustainability of a fungus important to Chinese traditional medicine on the Tibetan Plateau; Elizabeth Orr, who is studying the impact of global warming on insect populations in Sweden; Leah Samberg, who is researching the effects of a rapidly growing population on the biodiversity and sustainability of the agroecosystem of the Ethiopian highlands; and Anna Zivian, who is addressing the growing trend of environmental policy and politics and being contested at the local level in Austria.

How kids learn to 'think like scientists'

Thousands of years after roaming the riverbeds of what is now downtown San Jose, a juvenile mammoth will get new life inspiring a generation of young visitors to Children's Discovery Museum of San Jose.

As the museum develops an exhibit around the remains of the mammoth, UC Santa Cruz psychology professor Maureen Callanan is gearing up for a major research project that will explore the ways children learn to use evidence and figure out answers to questions in everyday life.

In other words, how they learn to "think like scientists," said Callanan.

The project is a collaboration among Children's Discovery Museum, UCSC, and the Museum of Paleontology at UC Berkeley, with funding from the National Science Foundation.

Callanan, who has collaborated with Children's Discovery Museum for nearly a decade, is also helping designers plan the new exhibit. Scheduled to open in 2011, it will feature a life-sized model of the full mammoth, as well as some of the fossilized remains.

Big bang

UC Santa Cruz is the top-ranking university in the country for the quality of its research in astronomy and astrophysics, according to a recent analysis of papers published in scientific journals and how often those papers are cited by other scientists.

The analysis, performed by a top NASA scientist, Anne Kinney, used a combination of approaches to look at the impact of published work on the science of astronomy and astrophysics. Kinney said she undertook the study to help prospective graduate students evaluate departments that offer graduate degrees in astronomy. Kinney reported her findings in a paper, "The Science Impact of Astronomy Ph.D. Granting Departments in the United States."

"Competition for the best graduatestudents is fierce, and we compete against the very best institutions in the world," said Bruce Margon, vice chancellor for research, "so it's important to be able to show that the quality and impact of our research is first-rate."

Chancellor emeritus honored at Scholarship Benefit Dinner

Town and gown got together in January to show their support for students at the campus's annual Scholarship Benefit Dinner.

The event spotlighted the role of Chancellor Emeritus Karl S. Pister and his wife, Rita Olsen Pister (pictured with Chancellor Blumenthal), in increasing support for undergraduate scholarships-with special focus on the Karl S. Pister Leadership Opportunity Awards. This year's benefit dinner drew more than 300 guests and raised over $165,000 for scholarships.

Green-collar economy focus of keynote address at King Convocation

Green entrepreneur, urban advocate, and author Van Jones was the keynote speaker at the 25th annual UCSC Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial Convocation in February. Jones spoke to a crowd of more than 2,000 gathered at the Civic Auditorium about the need to move to a "green economy" and simultaneously conquer poverty. Here, Jones talks with students before the convocation.

Cabrera, Richards, Rickford win top honors

The common thread running through the Alumni Association's top award winners for 2008-09 is their exceptional ability to inspire.

The award winners are: Outstanding Staff Award: Rosalee ("Rosie") Cabrera, director, El Centro Chicano Latino Student Resource Center; Distinguished Teaching Award: Alan Richards, professor, environmental studies; Alumni Achievement Award: John Rickford (Stevenson '71), professor, linguistics, Stanford University. Cabrera and Richards, who will receive $500 each, will be honored at the new all-alumni reunion picnic on Saturday, April 25.

Rickford will be honored at the campus's Founders Day celebration in October.

Cabrera has worked at UCSC for 24 years in a variety of positions, including as a counselor at the Educational Opportunity Program.

Richards has taught for 32 years, first in the Economics Department and more recently in Environmental Studies. His experience living in the Middle East and working at the World Bank, the United Nations, and the Agency for International Development informs his teaching, as does his interdisciplinary approach to scholarship. (Read excerpts from an interview with Richards.)