An Array of Campus News

A Perfect Match

Yelennia Palacios

Yelennia Palacios, 30, exults after learning at UCI’s Match Day event in March that she has been accepted into the family medicine residency program at Scripps Mercy Hospital in Chula Vista. Her husband, Julio, and their son, Solomon, share in her joy.

Match Day, an annual ritual that occurs simultaneously at all U.S. medical schools, is when graduating medical students learn where their careers as doctors will start. They’re called to a podium one at a time to open an envelope and read aloud before hundreds of family members, friends and classmates the name and location of the hospital where they’ll spend the next three to seven years pursuing postgraduate medical training. This year, 111 UCI students participated in the emotional ceremony; 24 were paired with programs at UC Irvine Medical Center.

Palacios earned her B.S. in biological sciences at UCI in 2007. She entered the UCI School of Medicine through the Program in Medical Education for the Latino Community, an M.D.-master’s program that focuses on the distinctive healthcare needs of Latinos and is the first of its kind in the U.S. She will receive her M.D. on June 4.

“Money isn’t just money. Money is also a ubiquitous mass medium, so if you want to get any kind of message across in a big way, putting it on the money is a great way to do it.”

  • Bill Maurer
  • Dean of social sciences and professor of anthropology
  • April 25, 2016
  • Los Angeles Times

The Shearing

Karim Arabi and Kasim Manekia

Fourth-year students Karim Arabi (left) and Kasim Manekia get their heads shaved during the campus drive for Cuck Fancer, a nonprofit founded by UCI alumnus and three-time cancer survivor Ben Teller ’12. The organization promotes awareness of young adult cancer and provides support for survivors.


Over five days in April, Anteaters raised more than $10,000 to help the charity for the third consecutive year and registered dozens for the National Marrow Donor Program.

By the Numbers | Cuck Fancer @ UCI

  • 1 university
  • 5 days
  • 40 heads shaved
  • 145 students swabbed for bone marrow registry
  • $10,000 raised

All Charged Up

nanowire battery material

UCI chemists have invented a nanowire battery material that can be recharged hundreds of thousands of times, moving us closer to batteries for computers, smartphones, cars and spacecraft that would never require replacement.

Scientists have long sought to use nanowires in batteries. Thousands of times thinner than a human hair, they’re highly conductive but extremely fragile and don’t hold up well to repeated recharging.

Doctoral candidate Mya Le Thai solved the problem by covering a gold nanowire with manganese dioxide and encasing it in an electrolyte made of a Plexiglas-like gel. The combination is reliable and resistant to failure.

Hard work combined with serendipity paid off for her, according to the study’s senior author, Reginald Penner, chair of UCI’s chemistry department. “Mya was playing around, and she coated this whole thing with a very thin gel,” he said. “She discovered that just by using this gel, she could cycle the electrode hundreds of thousands of times without losing any capacity.”

“That was crazy,” he added, “because these things typically die in dramatic fashion after 5,000 or 6,000 or 7,000 cycles at most.”

The researchers think the goo plasticizes the metal oxide in the battery and gives it flexibility, preventing cracking. The work was published in the American Chemical Society’s Energy Letters.

“When you look at how we think about aging, we don’t really consider it a disease – it’s just considered a ‘natural’ thing. But I think aging and lifespan research really should be the future of medicine.”

  • Mahtab Jafari
  • Associate professor of pharmaceutical sciences
  • March 7, 2016
  • The Wall Street Journal

Faculty Elected to Academy

Four faculty members in law, philosophy, chemistry and physics have been elected to the American Academy of Arts & Sciences, which recognizes leaders from the academic, business and government sectors who are responding to challenges facing the nation and the world. They are:

Erwin Chemerinsky
Erwin Chemerinsky, founding dean, Distinguished Professor and Raymond Pryke Chair in First Amendment Law at the School of Law, was honored for his valuable contributions to education and policy in constitutional law, notably free speech, civil rights and civil liberties, and appellate litigation. He frequently argues cases before the nation’s highest courts and serves as a legal commentator for national and local media.

R. Benny GerberR. Benny Gerber, professor emeritus of chemistry, was elected for his distinguished contributions in atmospheric and environmental chemistry, physical chemistry and chemical physics, and theoretical and computational chemistry. His team’s work on vibrational spectroscopy, among the main tools of physical chemistry, helped many other researchers. Separately, he made major discoveries on the formation dynamics of novel rare-gas compounds.

Margaret P. Gilbert
Margaret P. Gilbert, the Abraham I. Melden Chair in Moral Philosophy, was recognized for her notable contributions to the field of philosophy, particularly in founding the philosophy of social phenomena. Her theoretical approach to how the world comes into being through the activities in which we regularly engage has had applications within moral, political and legal philosophy and social and political science.

Steven WhiteSteven R. White, professor of physics & astronomy, was honored for publishing a pioneering algorithm that helped crack quantum mechanics conundrums and led to a new field of computational physics. Building on that, he successfully modeled a quantum spin liquid, a new state of matter invisible to the naked eye that could be key to understanding superconductivity and building quantum computers.

Also elected this year in humanities and arts was UCI alumnus Yusef Komunyakaa, M.F.A. ’80, who won the 1994 Pulitzer Prize for his collection of poetry Neon Vernacular.

With this year’s class, UCI has 32 living American Academy fellows. Those newly elected will be inducted at a ceremony Oct. 8 in Cambridge, Mass.

Woman of the Year

Kate Klimow, assistant vice chancellor of community and government relations at UCI, was named the 74th Assembly District’s Woman of the Year for her lifelong career of supporting local businesses and engaging the community in local events.

As assistant vice chancellor, Klimow helps implement programs and strategies to engage community and government leaders in UCI’s teaching, research and public service missions. She currently serves on the boards of several organizations, including the Irvine Chamber of Commerce and Second Harvest Food Bank.

“We live in a great area, and I am happy to do what I can to support it,” Klimow said. “I hope more women will begin to get involved and make a difference in their communities.”

“More and more research proves that women aren’t just men with testy hormones. Healthwise, there’s a lot more we need to know about being female and being a mother.”

  • Lawrence Cahill
  • Professor of neurobiology & behavior
  • April 11, 2016
  • The Orange County Register


Michael P. Clark, M.A. ’73, Ph.D. ’77, vice provost for academic planning and professor of English, received the 2016 Extraordinarius award, the UCI Alumni Association’s highest honor, at the 46th annual Lauds & Laurels ceremony in May.

Clark, who began his professional career in UCI’s Department of English, is a highly respected scholar of early American literature, literary theory, contemporary U.S. fiction and popular culture. Known for his integrity, calm demeanor and consensus building, Clark has played key roles in creating new academic programs in nursing, pharmaceutical sciences, education and statistics.

“Mike Clark fully merits the Extraordinarius award not only for his lifetime of truly extraordinary achievements and commitment to UCI, but also and even more so for his incarnation of the UCI ethic of academic excellence, creativity and can-do inventiveness,” said Georges Van Den Abbeele, dean of the UCI School of Humanities.