UCI Office of the Provost
Fall in Aldrich Park

Fall 2019 Newsletter

Provost Enrique J. Lavernia

Dear colleagues,

As the close of the fall quarter approaches, now is the perfect time to highlight people and programs that illustrate academic excellence at UCI through our first Office of the Provost and Executive Vice Chancellor newsletter. It is an honor to recognize several prestigious awards, accolades and programs from across campus.

With a focus on student success, Vice Provost for Teaching and Learning Michael Dennin shares an outline of our changing instructional culture. We also are pleased to share details on programs aimed at increasing and diversifying our faculty.

UCI faculty and staff continue to enhance our reputation and embody our mission in research, teaching and service. I look forward to working together to continue this momentum and sharing updates on our success.



Enrique J. Lavernia, Ph.D.
Provost and Executive Vice Chancellor Distinguished Professor, Department of Materials Science and Engineering


Nine Researchers Honored as AAAS Fellows

Congratulations to the nine UCI researchers who have been named fellows of the American Association for the Advancement of Science. These innovative scholars are being recognized for their remarkable accomplishments, which have significantly contributed to a broad array of fields and helped change the way we understand the world.

Tallie Z. Baram

Danette Shepard Chair in Neurological Sciences and Director of the Conte Center at UCI

Michael Franz

Chancellor's Professor of Computer Science and Director of UCI Secure Systems and Software Laboratory

Julia M. Gelfand

Distinguished Research Librarian for Applied Sciences and Engineering

John S. Lowengrub

Chancellor's Professor of Mathematics and Biomedical Engineering

David Neumark

Distinguished Professor of Economics

Eric Rignot

Donald Bren Professor and Chancellor's Professor of Earth System Science

Zuzanna Siwy

Professor of Physics & Astronomy, Chemistry and Biomedical Engineeering

David Van Vranken

Professor of Chemistry and Associate Dean of Undergraduate Education

Marcelo A. Wood

Professor and Chair of Neurobiology & Behavior

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James Hicks Named 2019 Fellow of the California Academy of Sciences

Professor and chair of ecology and evolutionary biology James Hicks has been named a 2019 Fellow of the California Academy of Sciences. Nominated by peers, fellows are distinguished scientists who help extend the academy's impact on research, public engagement and education. Hicks is among 14 individuals from across the state elected this year, joining a group of more than 450 distinguished scientists. In addition to Hicks' groundbreaking research into the vertebrate cardiopulmonary system, he has also served as a successful science communicator, working in both television and film, notably as the life-science consultant on the Academy Award-winning film, Wall-E.

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Svetlana Jitomirskaya Wins Dannie Heineman Prize for Mathematical Physics

UCI Distinguished Professor of Mathematics Svetlana Jitomirskaya won the 2020 Dannie Heineman Prize for Mathematical Physics. This award is an exceptional honor and a recognition of her outstanding work in the field and she is only the second woman in the prize's 60-year history to win the award, and the first woman ever to win it alone.

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Krzysztof Palczewski Elected to National Academy of Medicine

Irving H. Leopold Chair in Ophthalmology and UCI professor of physiology & biophysics, Krzysztof Palczewski, was elected to the National Academy of Medicine, one of the highest distinctions in the medical sciences, healthcare and public health. Palczewski's research has made critical contributions to the understanding of inherited and age-related retinal diseases in an effort to treat blindness. With Palczewski's election, UCI is now home to 42 members of the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering and Medicine. Congratulations to Dr. Palczewski on this exceptional achievement which illustrates the academic excellence of UCI faculty.

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Academic Excellence

Distinguished Visiting Professor Martín Burt Publishes Book Addressing Poverty

Martin Burt

UCI Distinguished Visiting Professor Martín Burt has published a new book, "Who Owns Poverty," that calls on governments, charitable agencies and policymakers to consult carefully with those living in poverty as they develop responses to the issue. Burt is the former mayor of Paraguay's capital Asunción, where one-third of the population is impoverished, and is now the executive director of Fundación Paraguaya, a nongovernmental organization that advances microfinance and entrepreneurship in the country. Burt says, "The world is changing. The weight of responsibility for eliminating global poverty is shifting. How will you respond?"

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Inaugural UCI Interdisciplinary Research Showcase and Workshop a Success

The first UCI Interdisciplinary Research Showcase and Workshop brought together faculty, staff and students on October 25 to highlight successful collaborations with colleagues in different fields. Co-sponsored by the Office of Research and the Office of Academic Planning, the event featured lively "TED-style" talks, panel discussions and breakout workshops that fostered discussions on developing funding and communicating interdisciplinary research. The planning team looks forward to making this an annual event to foster and support interdisciplinary research at UCI.

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Welcome to New Faculty

Provost and Executive Vice Chancellor Enrique Lavernia and Vice Provost of Academic Personnel Diane O'Dowd welcomed new faculty to UCI at an orientation event in September.


Student Success


Recommended Reading:

Michael Dennin

Understanding UCI's Changing Instructional Culture

UCI is widely celebrated for helping tens of thousands of students fulfill their American Dream each year. Our continued effectiveness in this area depends on a commitment to enabling student success during their time at UCI, and adapting our instructional culture to meet the changing demands of our students and the world. "Changing Instructional Culture: The Sum is Greater Than Its Parts," by Vice Provost for Teaching and Learning Michael Dennin details our changing instructional culture and how UCI's interconnected approach may provide a model for transformation in higher education. Faculty and staff engaged in the university's teaching mission are encouraged to take a few short minutes to review.

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Pilot Program Targets First-Year Courses to Enhance Student Success

Pilot Program

As part of our ongoing efforts to ensure the success of UCI students as they transition from high school to higher education, the Office of the Vice Provost of Teaching and Learning has identified sixteen courses, one or more of which will be taken by nearly all first-year students. Instructors of these 16 courses have worked collaboratively to create more welcoming classroom environments, to prepare their students for success at UCI by fostering the use of beneficial study strategies, and to implement surveys in their classes so that we can learn as a campus how to improve the first-year experience. One component of this intervention is a "study skills module" that aims to educate students of all backgrounds on how to wisely utilize their independent learning time. Data collected from this pilot will be used to inform and expand the program and to further instill a campus culture that prioritizes the success of our diverse student body. For questions, contact Associate Dean, Division of Teaching Excellence and Innovation Brian Sato.

Did you know?

Construction at Science Library Begins in December

Substantial renovations include an update to the 2nd floor Grand Reading Room, which will be completed by March 2020. Subsequently, construction will begin on the 5th floor to create a Student Excellence Center to house the Campuswide Honors Collegium, Undergraduate Research Opportunities Program and Scholarship Opportunities Program. A collaboration between the Office of the Vice Provost for Teaching and Learning and the UCI Libraries, the project will advance UCI's Strategic Plan Pillar 2 of providing a first in class student experience.

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Inclusive Excellence

Several programs and awards introduced this fall highlight UCI's ongoing efforts to grow and diversify faculty.

UCI Chancellor's
Inclusive Excellence Awards

The UCI Chancellor's Inclusive Excellence Awards are being introduced as a pilot funded through an Advancing Faculty Diversity grant from the University of California Office of the President. The program aims to attract diverse tenure-track and tenured faculty to support their exemplary scholarship to advance equity, diversity and inclusion. Candidates must demonstrate exceptional evidence of inclusive excellence activities. Ten awardees during the 2019-20 and 2020-21 academic years will receive a minimum budget of $50,000 total for a two-year term. For more information, contact inclusion@uci.edu.

School of Physical Sciences Advancing Faculty Diversity Grant

To build on its momentum to diversify and grow faculty, the School of Physical Sciences has been awarded a $500,000 grant from the University of California Office of the President. Physical Sciences will be searching for 13 positions in the 2019-2020 and 2020-21 academic years, representing a significant opportunity to influence the diversity of a major STEM unit at UCI. The three main elements of the program include using targeted outreach to develop a diverse applicant pool, implementing techniques to reduce implicit bias and improving offer acceptance by individualizing startup packages with tools such as teaching release and cost of living support. For more information, contact physicalsciences@uci.edu.

Faculty Honored as
UC-Historically Black Colleges and Universities Initiative Grant Recipients

Tayloria Adams Vasan Venugopaian Jessica Millward Tiffany Willoughby-Herard

Four UCI faculty members were recognized as 2019 University of California-Historically Black Colleges and Universities (UC-HBCU) Initiative grant recipients for their continued efforts to help prepare the nation's talented students for graduate opportunities.

  • Tayloria Adams, Assistant Professor in Chemical & Biomolecular Engineering
  • Vasan Venugopalan, Professor and Chair in Chemical & Biomolecular Engineering
  • Jessica Millward, Associate Professor of History
  • Tiffany Willoughby-Herard, Associate Professor of African American Studies
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UC Hispanic Serving Institutions Doctoral Diversity Initiative Call for Proposals

As a Hispanic Serving Institution, UCI faculty and administrators are eligible to apply for UC Hispanic Serving Institutions Doctoral Diversity Initiative grants. The funding will support efforts to increase faculty diversity by expanding the pathways to UC Ph.D. completion and prepare students to become professors. The initiative funds both small ($50,000) and large ($350,000) PI-led projects. Proposals are due at 5 p.m. PT, Friday, January 24, 2020.

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