Year of the Slug: Great UCSC moments in 2011-12

Team members posed with components of the Raven II surgical robotic systems developed in the Bionics Lab at the Baskin School of Engineering. (Photo: Carolyn Lagattuta)

A female peregrine falcon known as "Diamond Lil" shifts position on her nest at PG&E's headquarters in San Francisco's financial district Wednesday afternoon. The four eggs are expected to hatch any day. UCSC's Santa Cruz Predatory Bird Research Group has been instrumental in reintroducing peregrine falcons to the wild over the past several decades. (Photo from


The rededication of the newly renovated and expanded McHenry Library was a highlight of Alumni Reunion Weekend, which drew a record number of alumni to campus.

David Haussler, distinguished professor of biomolecular engineering and leader of the CGHub Project, photographed at this year's Foundation Forum on campus. (Photo: Steve Kurtz)

This image from a simulation of galaxy formation shows streams of gas feeding the growing galaxy. The newly discovered gas clouds may be part of a "cold flow" of gas similar to these streams. (Image from simulation by Daniel Ceverino, Avishai Dekel, and Joel Primack)

The Thinning Veil —a new play featuring some of Greek tragedy’s most prominent characters—took place in two realms. In two buildings, audience members watched live action in the theater where they are physically seated—as well as the “virtual” action in the alternate location. Real-time internet connectivity linked casts in both venues.

UCSC Chancellor George Blumenthal, left, and Loren Steck, right, congratulate Steck Family Award winner Joshua Rosen at the Chancellor's Awards Reception. (Photo: Dan White

If Banana slugs had voice boxes, they would have had plenty to shout about during the 2011-2012 year.

This year, members of the UCSC community searched distant galaxies, watched the arrival of peregrine falcon chicks, added their research and perspectives to important scholarly journals, took part in a massive outbreak of the Hokey Pokey, engaged in hands-on learning on and off campus, and did their part to make the world just a bit more Sluglorious than before.

From the Rock ‘n Roll Hall of Fame to cancer research to its ranking as one of the top "young" universities in the world, UCSC stood in the spotlight during the year that will end with commencements this weekend.

One step forward: advancing knowledge, increasing possibilities

Slugs took bold steps forward this year in the sciences, the humanities, the Arts Division and Theater Arts Department:

And the winner is…

Call us different, call us relevant…

Creativity is part of the Slug genome, along with having a social conscience and finding new ways of learning.

  • Consider the level of support for a scholarship honoring the memory of alumnus Gabe Zimmerman, who dedicated his career to public service.
  • Or savor the new partnership of Bonny Doon Vineyard founder and proud Slug Randall Grahm and the UCSC Arts Division, featuring a specially bottled wine with a label designed by undergraduate Louise Leong, an Irwin Scholarship recipient.
  • UCSC alumna Bridgette Auger followed women activists in Egypt’s Tahrir as they came under fire during a clash between protesters and police. Auger, who received her Master's degree in Social Documentation from UCSC earlier this year, shot video footage of the incident, which can be seen on the Daily Beast web site.
  • In this eclectic place, undergraduates trained “pirate” robots to pelt each other with ping-pong balls in a class run by electrical engineering professor Gabriel Elkaim, students examined political events by peering into their own lives under the guidance of noted feminist studies professor Bettina Aptheker, and headed to the woods in search of viruses that infect bacteria as part of a class conducted by Manuel Ares, a professor of molecular, cell, and developmental biology at UCSC. Read about them here.
  • UCSC also refurbished and expanded its beloved McHenry Library, which was rededicated this year. A new café along with a more comfortable vibe turned the library into a full-fledged cultural center and gathering place in the redwoods.
  • While celebrating a 45-year milestone for the campus’s own radio station, KZSC, students recalled its renegade roots and those whose careers were launched in its tree-house headquarters.

Speaking out loud…

Many outspoken and articulate Slugs were out there engaging in public conversations and adding to the creative landscape.