Page: Front Cover

Page: Publication Info

Page: 1 Page: 2 Page: 3 Page: 4 Page: 5 Page: 6 Page: 7 Page: 8 Page: 9 Page: 10

Page: 11 Page: 12 Page: 13 Page: 14 Page: 15 Page: 16 Page: 17 Page: 18 Page: 19 Page: 20

Page: 21 Page: 22 Page: 23 Page: 24 Page: 25 Page: 26 Page: 27 Page: 28 Page: 29 Page: 30

Page: 31 Page: 32 Page: 33 Page: 34 Page: 35 Page: 36 Page: 37 Page: Back Cover

Page: Front Cover

The Magazine of UC Riverside

Spring 2014 Vol.9 No.2

At UCR, students are encouraged to conduct their own research even before earning a bachelor’s degree—Page 10

Page: Publication Info


Kim A. Wilcox

Vice Chancellor, Advancement

Peter Hayashida


James Grant


Lilledeshan Bose


Vickie Chang

Ted Kissell

Litty Mathew

Michelle Woo

Senior Designer

Brad Rowe

Production Manager

Luis Sanz


Alyssa Cotter

Ross French

Bettye Miller

Sean Nealon

Konrad Nagy

Iqbal Pittalwala

Kristin Seiler

Editorial Assistant

Bethanie Le


Colin Hayes

Paolo Lim

Mike Tofanelli


Lonnie Duka

John Gilhooley

Carlos Puma

Carrie Rosema


Virginia Odien

UCR Magazine is published by the Office of Strategic Communications, University of California, Riverside, and it is distributed free to the University community. Editorial offices: 900 University Ave., 1156 Hinderaker Hall, University of California, Riverside, Riverside, CA 92521, telephone (951) 827-6397. Unless otherwise indicated, text may be reprinted without permission. Please credit University of California, Riverside.

USPS 006-433 is published four times a year: winter, spring, summer and fall by the University of California, Riverside, Riverside, CA 92521-0155.

Periodicals postage rates paid at Riverside, CA.

POSTMASTER: Send address changes to UCR, Subscription Services (0063), 900 University Ave., 1156 Hinderaker Hall, Riverside, CA 92521.

In accordance with applicable federal laws and University policy, the University of California does not discriminate in any of its policies, procedures or practices on the basis of race, color, national origin, sex, sexual orientation, age or handicap. Inquiries regarding the University’s equal opportunity policies may be directed to the Affirmative Action Office, (951) 827-5604.

Questions? Concerns? Comments? Change of address? Contact Kris Lovekin at

Page: 1

Cover Story

10 | Brain Trust—By encouraging undergraduate research — in labs, art studios and beyond — UCR is enhancing student skills in every aspect


08 | Looking to the Future—Chancellor Kim A. Wilcox lays out his plans for UCR at his investiture ceremony

18 | Insect-inspired— How Distinguished Professor of Entomology Ring Cardé’s childhood fascination with bugs turned into a career

20 | From Mind to Market: The Electronic Nose— Aaron Seitz’s eye-opening research on vision clearly changes lives

22 | Sick, Twisted and Totally Innovative—Spike and Mike’s Festival of Innovation all started in Riverside

26 |A Traveling Poetry Handshake—A look at Juan Felipe Herrera’s past two years as California Poet Laureate


03 | RView—A message from Chancellor Kim A. Wilcox

04 | R Space—Catch up on the latest news at UC Riverside

29 | Page Turners

30 | Alumni Connection

31 | Class Acts

36 | C Scape— Stephanie Martinez, a student in the Mariachi Divas, on winning a Grammy

What’s New?


You can digitally view the magazine via a Flash and downloadable PDF version; now you can also share your favorite stories on your social networks, watch videos and give us your feedback at

On The Web

Investiture Highlights— A video of Chancellor Wilcox’s ceremony

The Juan Felipe Herrera Playlist— Watch our California Poet Laureate in action through the years

Making Lawnmowers Greener— Undergraduate researchers from BCOE on a lawnmower device they created

The Festival of Animation Comes to UCR— Craig “Spike” Decker on why he donated an extensive film archive to UCR

Better Batters Through Brain-training— How Aaron Seitz’s research improved the vision of UCR baseball players

Page: 2


Spring Forward: New Dances by UCR Student Choreographers

6.4-6.5—Directed by New Zealand Maori choreographer Jack Gray, this show offers dance majors and minors the opportunity to showcase the various choreographic methods they have been working on throughout the quarter.

Concert of Mexican Music and Dance

6.5— The UCR Studio for Mexican Music and Dance presents a concert of traditional and popular Mexican music. Dance instructor Johnavalos Rios and students will perform the music and dance “Son Huasteco,” a blending of Indigenous, African and Spanish expressions.

Wildlife of the San Jacinto Mountains: The Upper Plateau

6.6— This certificate course is led by James Cornett, ecological consultant at the Palm Springs Desert Museum. Learn the natural history and identification of the common arthropods, amphibians, reptiles, birds and mammals of the San Jacinto Mountains.

Field Study of Birds: Southeast Arizona

6.7-6.15— This weeklong course examines the birds in southeastern Arizona, one of the premier locations in the United States to observe and study birds that are unlikely to be observed anywhere else in the country.

Introduction to ArcGIS

6.7-6.8— Gain the hands-on experience and conceptual overview to take full advantage of ArcGIS’s advanced display, analysis and presentation mapping functions.

Commencement 2014

6.13-6.16— UC Riverside holds seven commencement ceremonies on Pierce Hall lawn, near the campus bell tower. More than 3,000 students are expected to make their way across the stage during the four days of the 60th annual event.

Digital Arts and Design Information Session

6.21 —Participate in a live webcast information session to learn about UCR Extension’s Digital Arts and Design Academy. For serious participants, the full program offers approximately 150 hours of professional-level instruction.

Seventh Annual Alumni Day at the Races in Del Mar

8.3—Watch and wager on thoroughbreds with fellow alumni in a private sky room with betting windows, a cocktail bar and a balcony overlooking the track. Leonard Duncan, trainer and handicapping expert, will share his inside knowledge of the horses and his wagering tips.

L.A. Chapter Annual Hollywood Bowl Event: “The Beatles’ 50th at the Bowl”

8.23—The L.A. Chapter invites alumni and friends to its annual Hollywood Bowl outing — the 50th anniversary of the Beatles’ first iconic show at the Hollywood Bowl. The event, led by musical director Dave Stewart (Eurythmics), will recreate the historic set and perform many Beatles classics.

Page: 3

Undergraduate Research Matters

Whenever I’m out with my mom, she often proudly shares that I’m a professor.

Which generally prompts the question: “What do you teach?”

I often reply that “I study speech production and perception.”

To me, teaching and research are tied so closely together, one is impossible without the other. I start with what I study, because what I teach derives from that — and not the other way around.

Moreover, some of my courses are more closely tied to what I study than others, and beginning with the end product — the courses — can be misleading. While many outside of the university see me as a teacher, I see myself and my colleagues in the academy as lifelong students.

In the lab or creative studio, professors at UCR are each day learning side-by-side with students ranging from excited new freshmen to highly advanced doctoral candidates and post-doctoral fellows. There’s a magic in that process and in those spaces, and it’s a magic that everybody at a research university deserves to experience.

Not only can complex theories learned in the classroom come to life in the lab or the field or in the studio, but those students engaged in research learn a more fundamental lesson: The textbooks don’t have all the answers. They only contain the best set of answers available to the authors when they wrote the text.

This edition of UCR Magazine brings that story of discovery to life in scenes of our wonderful students participating in the collective advancement of knowledge. Be it in India, where student My Hua spent part of a summer helping screen patients for sight-saving cataract surgery, or in the studio in Riverside with student Danni Wei, who is using art to help those with autism learn how to better communicate.

“Not all undergraduate researchers go on to get Ph.Ds. They may go into business, or professional school, or law and medicine. So I think the really important thing about being involved in research is developing an empirical view of the world,” says UCR Professor of Psychology Curt Burgess in the article (see p. 10).

Through the opportunity to engage in working directly with a faculty member, our students are learning how to engage in the lifelong pursuit of knowledge. By the time they reach graduation, more than 50 percent of UCR undergraduates will have participated in research or creative projects with faculty members.

My wife, Diane Del Buono, and I feel so strongly about undergraduate research that we recently decided to endow a new Chancellor’s Research Scholarship with a long-term gift pledge. It’s our way of trying to help pass on the magic of the undergraduate experience at UCR to future generations.

Research and creative projects have an impact on these students that they’ll never forget. They know that a university is not just about being taught. That professors are not just teachers. These students know that universities are places where we are all studying together.

Fiat lux,

Kim A. Wilcox


Photo: Carrie Rosema

Page: 4

Orchid Named After UCR Researcher

Katia Silvera was on a field trip in central Panama eight years ago with her father when they stumbled upon an orchid they had never seen before. Unable to identify it, they contacted German Carnevali, a world authority on orchids. The orchid turned out to be an unnamed species. So Carnevali recently named it after the Silveras: Lophiaris silverarum.

Now a postdoctoral researcher in the Department of Botany and Plant Sciences at UCR, Katia says Orchids are a difficult and confusing taxonomic group. “Sometimes plants can look alike morphologically, but DNA informs us that they are very different species, which makes naming the species difficult.”

Currently, Lophiaris silverarum is known to grow only in central Panama. The plant blooms only in November, the flowers lasting about a month. It is not sold in the U.S. because it is very rare and it reproduces very slowly.

UCR to Digitize Historical Newspapers with

The UCR Center for Bibliographical Studies and Research has partnered with, the world’s largest online family history resource, to digitize millions of pages of historical California newspapers. This partnership will speed up the processing of more than 100,000 reels of newspaper microfilm.

More than 1 million pages of the San Bernardino Sun and Santa Cruz Sentinel dating to the late 1880s have been scanned from the center’s California Newspaper Microfilm Archive (CNMA) and digitized since the agreement was signed in spring 2013. will host the data at for three years, after which the Center for Bibliographical Studies and Research will also host it at the California Digital Newspaper Collection (CDNC), which is publicly accessible at Access to the data will be free during the three-year embargo period to researchers at UCR and at partnering institutions that help obtain permissions from participating newspapers.

“This project will double the size of the California Digital Newspaper Collection,” said Brian Geiger, director of the Center for Bibliographical Studies and Research. “We were never going to get to 40 million pages in the next decade, so this arrangement is very beneficial.”

Page: 5

Susan Straight Receives Lifetime Achievement Award

Susan Straight, a Riverside native and professor of creative writing, received the Kirsch Award for lifetime achievement at the awards ceremony for the 34th Annual Los Angeles Times Book Prizes.

Straight is the author of eight novels and two books for children, an essayist, short story writer and reviewer. Many of her books are set in a fictional version of Riverside, called “Rio Seco.”

“Susan Straight is a Southern California original and a tireless supporter, and creator, of our literary culture,” said Times book critic David L. Ulin. “Her novels opened up not just California literature but American literature to the Inland Empire and to the often-neglected voices of the people there. Through her work as a teacher, she has inspired a new generation of California writers.”

Stroke Survivor Eric Barr’s Play Inspires Acting Scholarship

A year ago, Eric Barr, a longtime professor and chair of the Department of Theatre suffered from devastating strokes after heart surgery. The strokes left him paralyzed, unable to speak or swallow, and confused. “I was alive but I ceased to be the person I knew,” he said. “I became a patient and a stroke survivor.”

The experience inspired his one-man show, “A Piece of my Mind,” performed before a full house of Department of Theatre alumni, colleagues, family, friends and physical therapists at the University Theatre last April. It also became the impetus for the new Eric Barr Acting Award scholarship for acting students (advancement- Giving/search?key=eric+barr#).

The one-hour show grew out of emails and Facebook postings that chronicled his fight to survive, his struggle with grueling and frustrating rehabilitation sessions, and his gratefulness for the support of family and friends.

“I told my therapists from the beginning that I would write a show about this,” he said in an interview. “As a theater guy I process something by writing about it and performing it.”

Longtime Supporters Leave $1.3 Million to Botanic Gardens

The UCR Botanic Gardens received a bequest of $1.3 million from Victor Goodman, who helped found the gardens, and his wife, Marjorie.

“The idea for what eventually became the UCR Botanic Gardens was Victor Goodman’s,” said J. Giles Waines, the director of the gardens. “He saw the need for them and proposed that UCR establish the gardens. He and Marjorie lived close to campus and cherished this museum. It comes as no surprise to me that they left their estate to the gardens.”

Maintenance of the gardens costs about $100,000 annually. Plans are underway to place the major part of the funds received from the Goodman estate into the Victor and Marjorie Goodman Endowment for the Botanic Gardens, which will help maintain the much-loved gardens in perpetuity.

Jodie Holt, the divisional dean of agriculture and natural resources in UC Riverside’s College of Natural and Agricultural Sciences, said the gift will enable UCR to complete key projects and invest in additional maintenance of important plant collections.

Page: 6

Campus Store to be Operated by Barnes & Noble College

In July, Barnes & Noble College will become the operator of UCR’s campus store. Previously operated by the campus, the store will continue to reflect UCR’s brand, including school spirit wear, gifts and other merchandise. UCR reassigned the Campus Store staff and avoided any layoffs as part of the transition.

Officials say the move was spurred by changing market conditions for textbooks and books in general, as well as growing Internet sales of branded merchandise and computers. “We looked at several options and Barnes & Noble College best met our need for services to support our campus community,” said Jim Sandoval, vice chancellor for student affairs.

UCR to Offer Free Parking for Visitors at Selected Events

UCR will begin offering free parking for guests as part of a new parking initiative that campus leadership hopes will encourage more community members to participate in on-campus academic, cultural and student programs and gatherings.

“UC Riverside is a hub of education, arts and culture, and we want the community to feel welcome to engage in these activities,” Chancellor Kim Wilcox said in a statement. “This new program responds to requests from both the community and event organizers by providing easier, affordable access to the campus.”

Our Med Students are Sophomores!

In the series “The First 50,” we follow members of the inaugural class of the UCR School of Medicine through the challenges they face.

With four blocks completed and their first year drawing to an end, both Janel Gracia and Rafael Ornelas have surpassed the shock of transitioning into medical school and are now more comfortable to the demands of being medical students.

“I wouldn’t say the blocks have gotten easier, but I have definitely learned how to manage [my studies] a lot better than I did when I first started,” said Gracia.

Ornelas adds, “It’s not just studying anymore. Now I’m trying to focus on managing the activities that I want to get involved in.”

Ornelas holds leadership positions in the Medical Spanish Selective and in Latino Medical Student Association. Gracia is involved in the Health Sciences Partnership and volunteers at the Student Run Health Clinic.

Looking ahead to their second year, Gracia says, “I’m looking forward to developing my skills with patients and adding to what I learned in my first year so I can use that at the clinic.”

Ornelas is looking forward to interaction with the incoming first-year medical students.

“I really want to see if some of our ideas in how to develop a self- sustaining program at the UCR School of Medicine will work. I want to see the progress on whatever westarted and create thatpath for the roadahead for the restof the students.”

Page: 7

UCR by the Numbers

1— UCR’s national rank, if you weigh graduation rates, access and affordability equally, according to Time Magazine. Read the whole story on

60—The anniversary that is being celebrated this year. On Feb. 15, 1954, UCR opened its doors for the first day of classes.

40,000— The number of visitors that the UCR Botanic Gardens receive yearly.

4,443 The number of surveys submitted from the UCR community for the first-ever UC systemwide Campus Climate Survey.

73— The percentage of the UCR population that said that they were comfortable or very comfortable at UCR, according to the same survey.

$47,744.10— The record-breaking amount of money that UCR Dance Marathon raised on Feb. 22 for the Guardian Scholars Program. The event had more than 400 dancers in attendance and an anonymous donor chipped in a $20,000 matching gift.

544— he number of cigarette butts collected at the Tobacco-free Butt Bash 2 Clean-up, held during the first week of March. The first Butt Bash Clean-up in October found 1,388 cigarette butts on campus. Since the implementation of the tobacco ban in January, there has been a significant drop in butt litter.

1623—The publication year of Tommaso Campenlla’s “Civitas Solis,” a rare volume of utopian literature that the UCR Eaton Collection acquired. This was made possible through a $54,000 grant from the B.H. Breslauer Foundation.

Page: 8

Looking to the Future

With his booming laugh and great big heart, Kim A. Wilcox was officially invested as the ninth chancellor of UC Riverside on April 24.

By Lilledeshan Bose

UCR plays a critical role in our region and has developed thousands of great minds. It has long been a vehicle of upward mobility for Riverside County.”

-Mark Takano M.F.A. ’10, congressional representative, 41st District

I bring greetings from the bears, mustangs, anteaters, bruins, bobcats, tritons, gauchos and lastly but most importantly—banana slugs. As you can see, we’re an accomplished and fun group.”

-George R. Blumenthal, chancellor, UC Santa Cruz

Read the story behind this Investiture selfie on MAGAZINEARCHIVE.UCR.EDU

Page: 9

First came the bagpipes. The high-pitched drone of the march “Major George Morrison” wafted into the Student Recreation Center as the UCR Pipe Band led the Academic Procession. The student marshals, bearing their colleges’ flags, followed.

Then a rainbow of regalia worn by UCR faculty members made its way up the aisle, led by Ameae Walker, the faculty marshal. By the time the official party walked in — the vice chancellors, the administrative officers, the honored speakers, the members of the UC Board of Regents, and even UC President Janet Napolitano — there was somewhat of a traffic jam leading up to the podium.

It was April 24, and the whole campus was celebrating the investiture of Kim A. Wilcox, the ninth chancellor of the University of California, Riverside. More than 650 members of the UCR and UC community were in attendance at the investiture, which was followed by a large public reception near the campus’ iconic bell tower.

As Wilcox waited for his turn to walk up on stage, a student jumped out of her seat and asked to take his picture. No, wait — could she also take a selfie with the chancellor? Moments before he was to be invested into office?

Of course, Chancellor Wilcox said yes.

To many, that gracious gesture says so much about the kind of chancellor Wilcox is. There is his vision, of course; an intention to expand UCR’s faculty by 300 ladder-rank scholars, provide for the addition of new facilities, and take new measures to achieve increased globalization.

There is his heart. As Wilcox spoke about how his life paralleled UCR’s growth (both were born in 1954, so to speak), he choked up as he recalled his path to the chancellorship. He was a first-generation college student. His grandfather had only a third-grade education. His father made it through the sixth grade, and eventually graduated from high school the year before Wilcox’s sister.

And always, there is his Highlander pride and knowledge that he is in charge of leading UCR into a bright future. “UCR has emerged as a model for higher education in the 21st century,” Wilcox said in his closing remarks. “I look forward to working with each and every one of you to ensure that we remain a model for others to emulate for generations to come.”

Read more on the chancellor’s vision for UCR in the next issue, or go to UCRTODAY.UCR.EDU

What distinguishes Chancellor Wilcox as the perfect leader for UC Riverside is his deep commitment to diversity, inclusion and student success.

-Janet Napolitano, president, University of California

UCR is setting a university standard for other UC campuses in both the admission and graduation rates.

-Bruce Varner, chairman, UC Board of Regents

“[When we met Chancellor Wilcox for the first time] he illustrated his genuine curiosity and receptiveness about student issues, concerns and hopes. We, as students, felt very connected and excited about the future of UCR.

-Sahil Patadia, president, Associated Students of UCR

Be bold and lead UCR into a bright future. Make this a special place where young men and women of every race, creed, religion and sexual orientation and identity will grow and flourish.”

-Mary Schuler ’70, president, UCR Alumni Association

Page: 10

Brain Trust

With campus-sponsored programs and valuable faculty mentorship, UCR is nurturing undergraduates by encouraging them to do research—in labs, art studios and beyond

By Vickie Chang

By Phil Pitchford

Page: 11

In Chennai, India, temperatures soar to their highest at a time that locals call Agni Nakshatram, which translates literally to “fiery star.” In these months, it’s not rare for temperatures to reach upwards of 108 degrees. The summer of 2010, My Hua, then a 19-year-old sophomore at UC Riverside, plunged into the sweltering heat and unrelenting humidity of the southern Indian city. The English and biology double major was there with Unite For Sight, a nonprofit organization dedicated to delivering eye care to impoverished villages around the world. With doctors and volunteers such as Hua, the organization screened for operable cataracts and other treatable eye diseases.

Page: 12

Not long after Hua was back stateside, her mother lost vision in one eye. “My trip to India and my mother are the reasons for appreciating what I have — and are also the reasons that I started thinking of what I can do [in the realm of] health care,” Hua said. That thirst to do more made her question what she could personally do. The answer? “It was research, unexpectedly.”

Now 23, Hua has been mentored by Professor Prue Talbot of the Department of Cell Biology and Neuroscience for the past four years, studying potential harm from e-cigarettes. She has published two of her research papers in peer-reviewed scientific journals as a first author, which is no small feat for an undergraduate. She’s also received the Chancellor’s Research Fellowship — twice.

The Chancellor’s Research Fellowship

Begun in 2012, the Chancellor’s Research Fellowship (CRF) is a competitive program that supports undergraduates who take part in faculty-mentored research and creative projects. The program selects 12 participants who are expected to participate in various events throughout the academic year. Each recipient is awarded $5,000 for materials, supplies and travel expenses to study a topic of their choosing. At the end of the year, the students present their topics at the Annual UCR Undergraduate Research & Creative Activity Symposium.

After Hua graduates in June, she wants to go back to school to become a physician- scientist by getting a combined M.D.-Ph.D. “I went back on the plane from India thinking, when I go back to the lab, I really want to put in 150 percent because I don’t want to live my life regretting something I didn’t do,” she continues. “Since I have all these opportunities, I must take advantage of everything that I can.”

Hua is just one slice of this year’s remarkable crop of CRF recipients, but she’s also a part of a larger, outstanding group of undergraduate students at UC Riverside participating in research at large.

Of course, there are many available research opportunities on campus for students pursuing advanced degrees. But what makes UC Riverside unique is the large variety of campus-sponsored programs that help students embark on their own research even before they have earned a bachelor’s degree.

Just a few of these programs include the Bourns College of Engineering Undergraduate Research Opportunities, Minority Access to Research Careers, Mentoring Summer Research Internship Program, Medical Scholars Program, UC Leadership Excellence through Advanced Degrees, College of Natural and Agricultural Sciences Dean’s Fellowship, Gluck Fellows Program, California Alliance for Minority Participation, University Honors Program, and Undergraduate Education Quarterly Research/Creative-Activity Mini Grants.

{“You really develop skills like patience and humor because of the way research works—or doesn’t, no matter how well you plan it.”–Veronique Rorive}

Research Develops Student Skills

“Undergraduate research is one of the most important ways that students have to really develop their thinking, their writing, their data analysis skills,” explains Vice Provost for Undergraduate Education Steven Brint. “All of these types of skills are important later in life, whether people become researchers or not.” Undergrads also gain guidance from being in touch with faculty; the mentored experiences are positive in most cases, Brint says. “It’s become more common at UCR.”

The most extraordinary aspect may be the sheer percentage of students participating in some type of research program. In the 2012-2013 academic year, 4,053 students — that’s 21.8 percent of 18,536 total undergraduates — participated in research under faculty mentorship, with 248 participating in more than one activity.

By the time they reach graduation, more than 50 percent of UCR undergraduates will have participated in research or creative projects. Chancellor Kim A. Wilcox would like to see even more participation: so much so that he and his wife, Diane Del Buono, recently created an additional scholarship for the Chancellor’s Research Fellowship program, bringing the total to 13.

“Diane and I have felt such a warm welcome from the UCR community, including from our fantastic students, and we noted that about 60 percent of undergraduates are first in their families to seek a degree,” said Wilcox, who himself is a first-generation college graduate. “Diane and I want to make sure that we leave a legacy here, and that all of our undergraduate students have access to research opportunities that can transform their personal and professional aspirations.”

“Science is not about the known, it’s about what we don’t know,” says Susan Wessler, distinguished professor of genetics. Wessler is a pioneer in introducing actual hands-on experimental research to first- year students. In her Dynamic Genome course, first-year students use cutting-edge technology to conduct genomics research. Aside from attending biology lectures, her students design experiments, parse data, debate results, master concepts and nurture their own passion for discovery.

“The focus is for students to experience the excitement of scientific research early in their careers,” she explains. “If you have a group of students and you want to tell them about baseball, you don’t sit in a lecture hall and map out the field. You give them a bat and ball and you have them play! What is exciting about science is participating in scientific experiments.”

Meet all 12 of the Chancellor’s Research Fellows on MAGAZINEARCHIVE.UCR.EDU

Page: 13

Hua has been mentored by Professor Prue Talbot of the Department of Cell Biology and Neuroscience for the past four years, studying potential harm from e-cigarettes.

Page: 14

{“Undergraduate research is one of the best ways for students to really find a foothold and to find something that makes them stand out as an undergraduate.” –Christopher Miller}

The benefits of undergraduate research go beyond academia. Students who decide not to continue with careers in research walk away from experiences that can take them well beyond the pages of a textbook or the boundaries of a lecture hall.

“Not all undergraduate researchers goon to get Ph.Ds. They may go into business, or professional school, or law and medicine. So I think the really important thing aboutit is developing an empirical view of the world,” says psychology Professor Curt Burgess, a CRF mentor. “You should cometo conclusions based on actual data — that’s just a way of thinking about things and, in general, just a very important thing to learn.”

Veronique Rorive, director of the Undergraduate Office of Undergraduate Research, says that the true impact of rograms such as CRF is in how it affects these young researchers’ way of thinking. There are monthly meetings between recipients, workshops that help with presentation skills, and multidisciplinary discussion. The interaction among the 12 awardees also develops into a support system.

“You really develop skills like patience and humor because of the way research works — or doesn’t — no matter how well you plan it,” explains Rorive. She pauses and lets out a warm laugh. Rorive herself participated in undergraduate research as a student at UC Riverside. “When things fail or when things don’t go right, it gives you character development.”

Faculty Mentorship and Friendship

From the range and diapause of face flies (that’s musca autumnalis) to the linguistic patterns of some of the world’s greatest leaders, the topics chosen by undergraduate researchers truly are diverse. But the one common thread through all these students and projects is the utmost sense of respectand gratitude for UC Riverside’s supportive faculty and staff standing in as mentors.

“Any faculty member who says yes to a student to work with them, whether they’re funded through the CRF or through any other venue — or not funded at all — is awesome just for the fact that they’re giving their time to mentor a student,” Rorive says. “A lot of faculty are doing it without any recognition whatsoever.”

This was the case for Christopher Miller. A senior, he first met his mentor, Huinan Liu, assistant professor of bioengineering, via email. “I wrote her a nine-paragraph letter saying that I wanted to do research, and would she mind taking me on,” he says. “She met with me over winter break just to see if

Page: 15

I was serious, and I was part of her lab by spring.”

At Liu’s materials lab, Miller developed his CRF project: finding a way to make magnesium a viable biodegradable implant material to help heal bones.

Apart from learning the science of materials (which was interesting) and developing diligence (which is what research is all about), Miller says working in Liu’s lab also provided opportunities that wouldn’t have been available to him otherwise.

“Dr. Liu nominated me for the Student Editorial Board last year and supported my application for grants and the CRF. Without her support, I definitely wouldn’t be where I am.”

In fact, Miller says that while Liu kept him on the right path with research and theoretical issues, one of his favorite aspects of working with Liu involved something bigger: happiness.

{“If you have a group of students and you want to tell them about baseball, you don’t sit in a lecture hall and map out the field.” –Sue Wessler}

“Dr. Liu very much values finding happiness and joy in what you do. There are times when she noticed that I’d been stressed out or not working as well as I normally do and instead of berating me for that, she’d always first sit me down and kind of have a chat with me and make sure everything was OK,” Miller explains.

The same goes for the staff involved with the CRF, he says. “One thing that I do appreciate about this university — especially with Chancellor Wilcox’s recent efforts — is the expansion of undergraduate research. It’s one of the best ways for students to really find a foothold and to find something that makes them stand out as an undergraduate.”

Art is Research, Too

The number of applicants that the Chancellor’s Research Fellowship attracts is robust. Yet in the CRF’s two years of existence the majority of students have been from life sciences, with just a handful from the humanities and arts.

“We’re out there hustling, “says Brint, the vice provost for undergraduate education. “As [CRF] becomes more institutionalized as important recognition on campus, we’ll have more and more people from all throughout the campus who will apply.”

In the CRF program, research is a catch-all term, an encompassing expression for undergraduate research, scholarly or creative activity.

Danni Wei, 21, is one example of how research isn’t just limited to lab work and numbers. Wei was born in Tianjin, China, and immigrated to the United States when she was just 8. A soft-spoken but expressive junior majoring in art with a minor in

Page: 16

statistics, she’s quick to answer why she selected two such seemingly dissimilar fields of study.

“They’re two different ways to explore any questions you have. With statistics, you go out and gather data to get answers,” Wei explains. “In art, you can make it about anything you want to explore, and it’s on very broad terms.”

Wei’s CRF project explores art as a means of expression for people with autism. It’s a subject that’s deeply personal to the self-described introvert Wei. “I had a difficult time bringing myself out to others; I was in my own world for a while,” Wei explains. “So I wanted to learn about alternative means of communication. What ways can we communicate with other human beings that is not verbal, or focused on verbal aspects?”

Wei’s curiosity was piqued by gestures and body language, but it wasn’t until she read an article about American autistic savant artist Jonathan Lerman that she fine- tuned her CRF topic.

“Lerman’s voice was in his art,” Wei says. “It was his way of reaching out to the world.” That profound discovery led her to speak to other autistic artists and to communicate with doctors, professionals and authors working in the field of autism.

At the 2014 Annual UCR Undergraduate Research & Creative Activity Symposium, Wei set up two projectors pointing out and overlapping in the middle. People entered the space by walking into the projections to be a part of the experience. “I wanted to capture the shared experiences I have with the artists,” Wei says.

Wei says her CRF project was a means of self-examination. “If you start with an open mind and heart, anything is possible. Your thoughts are not just empty — they can turn into something great.”

From Zero to 60

As one of the most diverse public research universities in the country, UCR takes students with almost no lab exposure and turns them into scientists at the end of four years. (Or, as Brint says, “Going from zero to 60.”)

It has resulted in a different class of students — ones that Rorive says really blow you away. “These students are the ones who want to take an extra step outside of the classroom, who take it to the next step and challenge themselves in that way. They really are awesome.”

For 22-year-old psychology major Insia Hirawala, the opportunity for research was a challenge she gladly took on. “I was a community college student, so when I transferred to UC Riverside, I realized I wanted to apply to grad school. That made me want to take advantage of what UCR has to offer.”

Today she encourages students — no matter what they do — to apply to the program. “When I applied for the CRF, I thought it’d be a long shot. I put a lot of effort into it and when I received it, I realized hard work really does eventually pay off.”

Hirawala had previously worked as a research assistant under Professor Rebekah Richert in the UCR Child Cognition Lab and was hoping to expand on her faculty

Page: 17

mentor’s work with children’s cognitive development.

In her research, Hirawala has spent many hours driving back and forth from San Bernardino to her home in Fullerton to conduct 48 interviews with children, ages 3 to 5, and their families.

Her CRF topic, “Muslim Children’s Conceptualization of Allah and Prayer,” is built upon Richert’s continuing research that focuses largely on Christian and Jewish populations in order to compare the three predominant monotheistic religions.

“I’d ask questions about Allah (God)— if he was happy, or if he was real — and then ask the same question about their mothers. I wanted to see if children could understand that there is a difference between the two,” Hirawala explains.

The daughter of a hairdresser and a car salesman, Hirawala is a first-generation college student. “My parents may not know a lot about research, but my work ethic is something I learned from them, and I couldn’t have achieved my results or success without their love and support.” Hirawala plans on attending grad school and going into marriage and family therapy and counseling in the future.

“Research is being able to put together something so complex,” Hirawala remarks. “As an undergrad I learned a lot—being independent, meeting deadlines. It’s also really rewarding to see results come out of what you initially collected data for. It’s truly fascinating to see all that come together.” Brint says CRF is hoping to grow and continue the enrichment of students, as well as increase the number of applicants and make sure all major disciplinary areas are represented.

“It’s certainly not the case that every university is ignoring undergraduate research, but there are a lot of places where the focus is really on the graduate students and the notion that undergraduates are there to read, learn the literature and be well prepared when they go to grad school to participate in research,” Brint says. “We don’t believe that here. We believe that the students are very able and that you learn as much or more by being involved in doing the work than by just reading in the library.”

And look no further than the students who emerge from the Chancellor’s Research Fellowship with new sets of skills, knowledge and a re-evaluated, readjusted and refreshed sense of their own self-regard.

“The fact that we produce so many students who go on to graduate and attend professional school and who have careers,” says Brint. “I think it’s a testimony to the campus culture and faculty that promotes it.”

{It’s certainly not the case that every university is ignoring undergraduate research, but there are a lot of places where the focus is really on the graduate students and the notion that undergraduates are there to read, learn the literature and be well prepared when they go to grad school to participate in research.” –Steve Brint}

New Fellowship

Chancellor Wilcox and his wife,Diane Del Buono, have created the 13th Chancellor’s Research Fellowship to support first-generation undergraduate students

In February, Chancellor Kim A. Wilcox and his wife, Diane Del Buono, announced that they will endow a new Chancellor’s Research Fellowship at UC Riverside with a personal gift of $100,000.

In 2014-2015, a 13th research fellowship will provide financial support to one more of an elite set of undergraduate scholars at UCR. Wilcox and Del Buono want to prioritize first-generation college students when selecting the 13th recipient.

Wilcox himself was among the first in his family to earn a college degree. He grew up in Northern Michigan and, after undergraduate years at Michigan State University, earned master’s and doctoral degrees from Purdue University in speech and hearing science. Wilcox has held academic leadership positions at Michigan State University, the University of Kansas, the Kansas Board of Regents and the University of Missouri. He became UCR’s ninth chancellor in August 2013. Del Buono earned a master’s degree from Purdue University and a law degree from the University of Kansas, where she also served as director of financial aid.

“Kim Wilcox and Diane Del Buono have a deep and personal understanding of the transformative effect on students of collaborative contact with faculty members,” said UCR Foundation Chair S. Sue Johnson. “On behalf of the UCR Foundation, I am grateful to them not only for their leadership, but for this gift that will create an enduring impact on campus for generations to come.”

Page: 18


How Ring Cardé’s childhood fascination with insects led to a highly decorated career

By Lilledeshan Bose

Distinguished Professor of Entomology Ring Cardé has worked at UC Riverside for almost two decades. During that time, he has expanded on his research on moth pheromones. He has also collaborated with researchers from various fields of study, from entomology to engineering. These days, when he’s not trying to keep up with the ever-increasing volume of scientific literature, Cardé and his wife, Anja, enjoy travelling. “Travel has given us an appreciation of our own diverse country and also a window onto the rest of the world,” he says.

Page: 19

How did you end up studying chemistry and entomology?

Like many other entomologists, my fascination with insects dates back to my early childhood and I never lost that interest. So to me it seemed natural to go on to graduate work in entomology. Initially my thesis work at Cornell concentrated on trying to figure what was a “good” species among a complex of moths that had long defied clear-cut classification with traditional morphological traits. This in turn led me to wonder how these very similar, co-existing species managed to avoid hybridization. Moths use chemical messages (pheromones) for mate-finding, and at that time we were finding out that each moth species often had its own unique scent. Fortunately for me, I was able to work on the chemistry of these pheromones with Wendell Roelofs, who was later elected to the National Academy of Sciences. Roelofs had just begun his career at Cornell’s New York State Agricultural Experiment Station in Geneva. Moth pheromones became a major focus of my thesis and in 1970 we identified the pheromones that these moths use. My conversion from taxonomist to chemical ecologist was completed by a postdoc in Roelofs’ lab.

What led you to UCR?

In 1996 I was a distinguished university professor and department head of entomology at the University of Massachusetts in Amherst, but the entomology department here at UCR has long been considered world-class, and when an opportunity to join its ranks became available, the opportunity was irresistible.

What do you like best about working on this campus?

We can tap into an extraordinary breadth of expertise — within entomology and across campus. Jocelyn Millar in our department is one of the world’s premier insect chemical ecologists and he’s an invaluable resource for our group. One of our most productive projects was a joint endeavor modeling insect navigation in a virtual world with Jay Farrell in electrical engineering, sponsored by the Office of Naval Research. That in turn led to new ways to program search strategies of underwater robots seeking out leaking sources of chemicals.

What is your research focused on now?

Our lab is split between studying mechanisms of moth orientation to pheromones and understanding which compounds are used, while the other half of our lab concentrates on female mosquito orientation to host odors and how repellents alter that response. The mosquito work is a great collaboration with entomology colleague Anand Ray, with the support of the National Institutes of Health. Much of what our lab does involves observing insects flying in a wind tunnel and analyzing their trajectories in 3-D.

How has the A.M. Boyce endowment helped you and your research?

The flexibility of endowed funds is key. The Boyce endowment allows me to send students and postdocs to scientific meetings and to explore speculative areas of research that fall outside of the range of those funded by my current grants. These pilot projects in turn can jumpstart entirely new areas of research.

What is an endowed chair and why is it important?

An endowed chair is one of the most important gifts to higher education; it’s an honor that fosters academic excellence and recognizes superior faculty. Established with sizeable donor gifts to an academic area, the endowed chair provides invaluable financial support above and beyond salary that the professor uses in research, teaching or service activities.

Page: 20

From Mind to Market

UltimEyes—Aaron Seitz’s video game can help you see bigger, better, faster, more

By Ted B. Kissell

The word “visionary” gets tossed about freely when speaking about inventors. In the case of Aaron Seitz, professor of psychology at UCR, his work has less to do with his own vision than it does with everyone else’s. His pioneering research in perceptual learning — essentially, training the brain to better perceive sensory input — has led to real-world applications that improve eyesight. The eye-and-brain-training software Seitz has developed has worked well on those who already have excellent vision — notably the hitters on the UCR baseball team. The National Institutes of Health (NIH) recently awarded Seitz a five-year, $1.7 million grant to research potential therapies for low vision, including such conditions as lazy eye, cataracts and dry macular degeneration. He has also founded a company called Carrot Neurotechnology, which creates vision-training video games.

1—One of Seitz’s key discoveries was the importance of rewards in perceptual learning.

“We used food- and water-deprived human subjects, and they came and sat in front of split-screen computer display, with one eye seeing a visual stimulus, while the other eye was presented with a dim, subtle, noisy pattern. Then, whenever the stimulus appeared to an eye, we gave them a drop of water as a reward.” After training for a period of time, the subjects learned to distinguish between the patterns that came with a reward and those that didn’t — without actually noticing the difference. “This proved that learning could take place without attention,” Seitz says.

2—“At the same time, there were other published papers showing that you can train people to improve their perceptual abilities by playing action video games.

There’s evidence that people learn from those games, even if they’re not specifically designed for perceptual learning. I wanted to take the knowledge I’d gained from my basic research, get together with people who create video games and make a custom game.”

3— Seitz started a company with Adam Goldberg and Simon Mathew, who were both in the video game industry.

They developed a prototype of a game that came to be called UltimEyes and started testing it out. He brought the concept to the athletics department at UCR, and the baseball team (whose game involves a really small ball moving really fast) volunteered. “With the baseball team, we trained all position players for about 30 days. They came in for 25-minute sessions four days a week. After 30 sessions, we tested them and found that their vision had improved by 31 percent. That is, they could read the letters from 31 percent farther away from the eye chart.”

Page: 21

4— In a paper published in February, Seitz and his co-authors — including his longtime collaborator, UCR postdoc Jenni Deveau — estimated that the Highlanders won five extra games as a result of their sharper vision.

“They had fewer strikeouts, scored more runs and showed improvement across some more esoteric statistics,” Seitz says. The paper makes it clear that the improved play was directly attributable to the UltimEyes training, he adds.

5— The potential applications of this software extend far beyond the sports world.

The company is starting a large study with the Riverside Police Department looking at how UltimEyes can impact police skills including shooting, driving and reading license plates. “We can also do studies with helicopter pilots or with people who suffer from schizophrenia,” Seitz says. “We’ve had success in a normal lab approach, but when you’re using some specialized software that only some computers run, you’re restricted in how far your studies can go. Once you’ve got something in an application that anyone can download, that makes that many more studies that you can do — under real-world conditions.”

6— UltimEyes is now available for download at both and for mobile devices at the iTunes Store.

The two primary exercises in the game are “static search,” in which targets appear across the screen, and the player must simply click on them; and “dynamic search,” in which the targets fade into view — with a sound cue — rather than appearing all of a sudden. “It’s not as fun a game as I’d like it to be,” Seitz allows, “but it has all the key components, and it has been demonstrated to give rise to perceptual learning. Even still, it has an addictive element to it, and I find that when I start that I keep playing.”

Watch Seitz’s vision training research in action on MAGAZINEARCHIVE.UCR.EDU

Page: 22

Sick, Twisted and Totally Innovative

Spike and Mike’s Festival of Animation became the breeding ground of the D.I.Y. animation movement, and it all started in Riverside

By Michelle Woo

Saturday-morning cartoons, these weren’t.

Before YouTube, folks bored with the overload of saccharine television programming would slip into art houses and college auditoriums after dark to watch short animated films that were too edgy, avant garde or politically incorrect for the mainstream airwaves. (Deer-squashing and clown pimps, anyone?)

Spike and Mike’s Festival of Animation became the vibrant breeding ground of the D.I.Y. animation movement, helping launch the careers of industry heavyweights such as Nick Park and Peter Lord (“Wallace & Gromit,” “Chicken Run”), John Lasseter (“Toy Story,” “Monsters, Inc.”), Pete Docter (“Up,” “Monsters, Inc.,” “WALL-E”), Craig McCracken (“Powerpuff Girls”) and Mike Judge (“Beavis and Butt-Head”). In his book “Outlaw Animation,” cartoon historian Jerry Beck writes, “Spike and Mike came from nowhere with nothing and created a market where none existed.”

Now the films are making their way back to the city where it all began. Riverside native Craig “Spike” Decker, who co-founded the festival with the late Mike Gribble, has gifted UC Riverside with original reels of more than 800 different titles spanning the event’s 37-year history.

Page: 23

The collection ranges from the poignant, Oscar-winning “Bunny” by Chris Wedge to Eric Fogel’s “Mutilator,” a satirical story about a post-apocalyptic superhero.

Derek Burrill, associate professor of media and cultural studies, says he “freaked out” when he heard about Decker’s gesture. A longtime animation fan, he attended the festival in 1990 as a freshman at UC San Diego. “To see something pushing the boundaries was awesome,” says Burrill, who facilitated the donation with Toni Lawrence, director of development for the School of Public Policy. “Animators are people who tend to see the world differently. They point out what’s wrong in our society and culture and make fun of it, making fun of ourselves. This sort of self-policing is a very healthy thing for a society to do.”

The animation mayhem started inside a Victorian house on Magnolia Avenue, where Decker and Gribble lived while attending Riverside City College in the 1970s. “It was a total ‘Animal House’ atmosphere with all types of characters and antics,” Decker says of the commune. It was called the Mellow Manor, which would eventually become the namesake of Spike and Mike’s production company, Mellow Manor Productions.

When Decker’s ‘50s-style greaser band broke up, the duo began hosting midnight screenings of rock & roll movies, which opened with animated clips such as Max Fleischer’s “Betty Boop,” “Popeye” and “Superman,” all shown on 16mm film. People loved the cartoons and asked to see more, so the two young men decided to put together an entire show made of animated shorts.

Borrowing $1,000 from a friend, Decker and Gribble held the first Spike and Mike screening in 1977 at Landis Auditorium at Riverside City College. “We were sweating,” Decker says. “We didn’t know if anyone would show up. There was a stigma. People would say, ‘Oh, cartoons? Like Bugs Bunny?’ We were like, ‘No, these are epic pieces of work.’”

Despite his anxiety, the event sold out and soon spiraled into college towns across the nation. They teamed up with notable animators— Will Vinton (The California Raisins), Marv Newland (“Bambi Meets Godzilla”), Paul Driessen (“The Yellow Submarine”), Bill Plympton (“Your Face”), Danny Antonucci (“Ed, Edd n Eddy”)—and delved into the world of computer animation when it was just a wild new experiment. Spike and Mike’s Festival of Animation branched into two categories—the classic show, which featured more artistic, intellectual films, and the lewder, cruder, 18-and-over “sick and twisted” show, in which audience members were sometimes handed barf bags. Over the years, the independent festival has toured everywhere from the Cannes Film Festival to Sundance to Comic-Con. “We did it first and we did right,” Decker says of the underground movement he and Gribble created. “We wanted to show that animation isn’t just for children — it’s unlimited.”

Page: 24

According to Burrill, the Spike and Mike Collection at UCR can be used as an academic resource for those who want to study the early works of legendary animators. A goal, he says, is to transfer the film to digital video and have it archived for generations to come.

For Decker, the gift is a way to celebrate the festival’s Riverside history. “We’re going back to our roots,” he says.

Watch it: Spike on why he donated an extensive film archive to UCR at MAGAZINEARCHIVE.UCR.EDU

Page: 25

Five Films

Launched at Spike and Mike’s

The Festival of Animation was the starting point for many of today’s big-name animators. Here are five notable ones.

1—“Bambi Meets Godzilla” (originally created in 1969)

By Marv Newland

This blink-and-you’ll-miss-it tale of a monster crushing a poor, innocent fawn helped set off the Spike and Mike explosion. The classic, black-and-white student film is an early example of remix culture, creating something original with pre-existing, often well-known works. “Marv’s irreverent use of animation was a turning point,” Decker says. “It was something that wasn’t just for the kiddies and wasn’t Warner Bros. or Disney.”

2—“The Adventures of André and Wally B.” (1984)

Animation by John Lasseter (CEO of Pixar and Walt Disney Animation Studios)

Computer animation was in an experimental phase when this film from the Lucasfilm Computer Graphics Project (which later spun off Pixar Animation Studios) premiered. Telling the story of an android named André being awakened by a pesky bee named Wally B., it was the first piece to use motion blur and manipulatable shapes in CG animation, making the characters look more natural.

3—“A Story” (1987)

By Andrew Stanton (“Toy Story,” “Finding Nemo,” “WALL-E,” “Monsters, Inc.,” “A Bug’s Life”)

Before becoming a Pixar legend, a talented CalArts student named Andrew Stanton made a short film that broke all the rules. “A Story” is an anti-fairytale about a loner kid named Melvin who meets a dinosaur and a killer clown. “[Spike and Mike] did all the production, the ink-and-paint,” Decker says. “The film helped get Andrew a job at Pixar.”

4—“Spirit of Christmas” (1995)

By Matt Stone and Trey Parker (“South Park,” “The Book of Mormon”)

For the “South Park” pilot, Matt Stone and Trey Parker used thousands of construction paper cutouts and glue, filming each action frame by frame. The result was “The Spirit of Christmas” starring foul-mouthed 8-year-olds Stan Marsh, Kyle Broflovski, Kenny McCormick and Eric Cartman. The Colorado youngsters build a snowman, which comes to life and kills Kenny. “Audiences loved it,” Decker says.

5—“Frog Baseball” (1992)

By Mike Judge (“Beavis and Butt-Head,” “King of the Hill,” “Office Space”)

It was this 10-minute cartoon that introduced the world to Beavis and Butt-Head, two moronic metalheads from Texas who became the voice of a generation for their inane-yet- honest commentary on what’s cool and what sucks. In the show’s pilot episode, the boys come across a frog and decide to play frog baseball. Yes, it is exactly what it sounds like.

Page: 26

A Traveling Poetry Handshake

California Poet Laureate Juan Felipe Herrera looks back at five of the best moments of his tenure

By: Lilledeshan Bose

Two years ago, poetry Professor Juan Felipe Herrera—already well-known for chronicling the bittersweet lives, travails and contributions of Mexican Americans—was named California Poet Laureate by Gov. Jerry Brown.

Herrera’s term ends this year, but it has been lauded as one of the most active laureateships in California’s history. From the beginning, his goal was to visit as many communities as possible and spread the word of poetry.

The son of migrant farm workers, Herrera was first in his family to attend college. This made the introduction of poetry to students who have little exposure to the literary form even more important for the award-winning Chicano poet.

“People already have the poetry; they just need a reminder that ‘Yes, this is the time to express yourself,’” he explained. “So my main goal was to shake hands with as many people as possible, of all ages, and to reshake them into poetry.”

It was his unique ability to connect with everyone, regardless of cultural or educational background, that made Herrera such a great advocate of poetry, said Andrew Winer, chair of the UCR Department of Creative Writing.

By the time his appointment ends in September, Herrera will have created numerous projects to spark inspiration throughout the state. He launched the i-Promise Joanna bullying project; he commemorated the Bay Bridge reopening with poetry; and he helped communities heal from tragedies such as the Boston Marathon bombing and the mass shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School.

Throughout his two years as poet laureate, unity has been a common theme and inspiration. “Believe it or not, one poem, one phrase, one word, one voice can be magical. We need unity in these times, and most of all, we need your call for unity to be heard,” he said.

In October, Herrera will present “The Most Incredible & Biggest Poem on Unity in the World” at the California Unity Poem Fiesta. Herrera is making a call for contributions of original poetry related to the theme “unity”; he will compile them into one poem that will be read at the California Unity Poem Fiesta at UC Riverside on Oct. 9.

Page: 27

Illustration: Paolo Lim

Page: 28

Five of the best moments from Juan Felipe Herrera’s poet laureateship:

The Unity poem project — Herrera’s biggest as poet laureate— has been soliciting submissions of poetry in the form of words, phrases or stanzas for two years. This “rolling wave of poetry” will be be assembled and read at the California Unity Poem Fiesta on Oct. 9. Submissions to “The Most Incredible & Biggest Poem on Unity in the World” may be sent as a Word document to Herrera at


Inspired by Herrera’s own experiences as the Spanish-speaking child of immigrants, i-Promise Joanna is a bullying-awareness effort. It is named for 10-year-old Joanna Ramos, who died of injuries suffered in the Long Beach fight in 2012. Herrera launched the effort with fifth-graders from Moreno Valley’s Towngate Elementary School at UCR’s Gluck Day of the Arts in 2013.

The effort was made possible with the UCR Gluck Fellows Program of the Arts. Graduate fellows introduced the project with a brief video of Herrera and a classroom poetry activity that invited students to talk about the impact of bullying in their lives and elicited a promise to seek peaceful solutions to disagreements.


In the past two years Herrera and many of his students at UCR have sent poems of sympathy and solidarity to communities that have been struck by tragedy. There were poems for Newton, Conn., after the mass shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School; poems for Boston after the bombing at the Boston Marathon; and to the Philippines after a super-typhoon decimated the island of Leyte.

“Hawak Kamay: Poems for the Philippines After Haiyan” was especially touching; after Herrera started the disaster relief project, more than 1,620 members took part in the Facebook group for comfort and inspiration.

“In a time of crisis, poetry from people’s hearts finds a way to calm the storm,” Herrera says.“As a writer, it’s important to send a message that’s a positive. And every positive action has a positive outcome. So it does make a difference.”


Herrera wrote this performance piece about three women who were part of the Juarez/El Paso Border Arts Renaissance of the 1930s. Cuca and Eva Aguirre and Elvira Macías are major influences on today’s Latino and Latina performance arts. The poetic variety- show, performed at UCR early in Herrera’s appointment, came up in his interviews for the laureateship. “I told the California Senate that this was one of the earliest post-Mexican Revolution pivots of Latino art, and I wanted to bring this woman’s story to the public. ... I was so happy of all the families that came to the performance at the dance studio and that people wanted to come and see it. Our students performed the roles, sang and danced — everyone was very pleased. I wrote the lyrics and the music was by Bruno Louchouarn. That was definitely a highlight.”


Last year, Herrera participated in a traditional chain-cutting ceremony to celebrate the completion of the San Francisco-Oak- land Bay Bridge’s eastern span. He read a poem commissioned for the event, “Bay Bridge Inauguration Poem, Labor Day 2013, for all bridge dreamers, bridge builders & bridge crossers.” His poem is displayed in a state facility near the bridge.

Having crossed the Bay Bridge as a child, the event was special to Herrera. “In a way, I came back to that bridge which I crossed as a child. And it is now rebuilt and transformed, as I have been transformed. I came back to it by contributing a poem for everybody — for kids, workers, designers, planners, hard laborers, the ocean, the bridge itself.”

Bay Bridge Inauguration Poem

San Francisco-Oakland Bay Bridge East Span, September 2, 2013

for all bridge dreamers, bridge builders & bridge crossers

Self anchored self-sustaining a light onto itself
This arc that lifts us this arc that sings us as we pass
Bay Bridge – I see you now your new design risen
Above star-waters a new galaxy appears a new trillion
May we live in your safety in your carriage in your heart
May all your hours and all your lights embrace us once again

May we curl across your shoulders as bird-fish singers
May we be the bridge for a new time of beauty and peace
Let us thank the workers – artists of space and matter
One sound one tree one knitted rebozo shawl for our mother

Aloft she turns she protects renewed waves of children
Today we are born to wind-sky steel and turquoise choirs
We are filled with light-strength height-gratitude and violet

Ocean stillness we open our arms our bridge of many bridges

Everything is different now melodic silver harmonious

Everything is open now spiritual inhalation of the Pacific Rim

Voyages migrations the conversations of generations Viva!
The workers applaud now iron-workers painters welders planners

Architects engineers laborers drivers Viva!
Lifters callers crane operators Viva!
Cement mixers cable threaders Viva!
After the earthquake
We shall live – yes
We shall round dance and honor
Spider buggies comin’ up!

Light poles hold ‘em steady steady

Saddle template fit-up

North mainspan cable ready ready

Motion sensors booster pump expansion tank

Spider buggies comin’ up!

Spider buggies comin’ up!

Spider buggies comin’ up!

We shall live in our luminescent loom of lights and cosmos yes

We shall hula dance in expansive unity once again today yes
Hand to hand shoulder to shoulder woven and winged dancer

Bumper to bumper cable rider to cable flyer call it out now
We shall swivel alive golden silver dark sequenced with joy
We shall live crossing into the other from one to the second
From the second to the linked infinity today the chain is cut and we

Are released again Oakland San Francisco earth to all earth

Ocean to sky-wind to star nebulae once again you and me – we

The people the people El Pueblo it is the people Bay Bridge

Hold on to each other move now rise now for the world to see

— Juan Felipe Herrera, Poet Laureate of California

Listen to Juan Felipe Herrera read his poems on MAGAZINEARCHIVE.UCR.EDU

Page: 29

Page Turners

A living multicultural encyclopedia, essays on “win-win-win” solutions and other Page Turners

These books are available for purchase at the UCR Campus Store and online at They have been discounted up to 30 percent.

Determinants of FDI Flows Within Emerging Economies: A Case Study of Poland

By Arkadiusz Mironko

Palgrave Macmillan May 2014, 280 pages

This book provides a detailed examination of foreign direct investment in Poland and explores the impact this has on foreign investment policy. It also analyzes and identifies the location patterns of foreign direct investments across different regions in Poland, and strives to determine foreign companies’ motives behind these choices.

Arkadiusz Mironko is the executive director of graduate programs at UCR’s A. Gary Anderson Graduate School of Management.

Xylotheque: Essays

By Yelizaveta P. Renfro ‘00

University of New Mexico Press April 2014, 168 pages

Trees are guiding symbols for Yelizaveta P. Renfro in her life and in her work. Combining memoir and nature writing, this book is made up of nine essays that represent different seasons and slices of time, not unlike the rings of a tree. No two rings are alike, but each accretes to the next, creating, section by section, a life.

Yelizaveta P. Renfro received her bachelor’s degree in comparative science from UCR.

A Multicultural America: A Multimedia Encyclopedia

By Carlos E. Cortés

SAGE Publications September 2013, 2,528 pages

This comprehensive “living” encyclopedia, among the first to extensively use newly released 2010 U.S. Census data to examine multiculturalism in America, explores the changing landscape of the nation with more than 900 signed entries on specific ethnic groups, their histories and a full spectrum of issues flowing from the increasingly multicultural canvas that is America today.

Carlos E. Cortés is a professor emeritus of history at UCR.

The Mason Gaffney Reader: Essays on Solving the “Unsolvable”

By Mason Gaffney

Henry George Institute October 2013, 244 pages

Mason Gaffney has devoted his career to demonstrating the viability of reconciliation and synthesis in economic policy. In these 21 wide-ranging essays, Gaffney shows how we can find “win-win-win” solutions to many of society’s seemingly “unsolvable” problems, such as preventing inflation and motivating workers.

Mason Gaffney is a professor emeritus of economics at UCR.

The Character of Democracy: How Institutions Shape Politics

BY Richard Clucas and Melody Valdini ‘99

Oxford University Press January 2014, 312 pages

This book offers a uniquely comprehensive overview of the major democratic institutions found around the world, including electoral systems, party systems, presidential and parliamentary governments, legislatures, federalism and constitutional courts. Case studies of the political structures found in Brazil, Germany, Japan, South Africa, the United Kingdom and the United States illustrate how differences in institutional design affect democratic government.

Melody Valdini received her bachelor’s degree from UCR in political science.

Page: 30

Mentor Students!

The Student Alumni Mentorship Program (SAM) is looking for volunteer alumni to mentor students. Through SAM, students are paired with alumni in their field of interest. Time commitment is minimal, and communication between the mentor and protégé is determined by the two participants and can be done via email, phone or face-to-face meetings.

To sign up to participate, please visit and click on “Get involved.”

Students Raise More Than $50,000

The third annual Dance Marathon was held on Feb. 22 at the Aberdeen- Inverness dining hall. The student-led effort, which benefits the Guardian Scholars Program at UCR, was co-sponsored by the Student Alumni Association and Golden Key International Honour Society, Riverside. Guardian Scholars is a vital program that provides assistance to former foster youth who have beaten the odds and are working toward getting their degree.

Aided by a $20,000 matching gift and additional donations after the event, participants raised more than $50,000 to support emancipated foster youth. The Alumni Association would like to thank all donors who assisted in making this possible.

Get Involved with Clubs and Chapters

Looking for ways to connect with alumni in your region? The Alumni Association is always looking for volunteer leaders to help organize events to connect Highlanders! We have clubs and chapters in the following regions:

Inland Empire
Orange County
Los Angeles
San Francisco Bay Area

Washington, D.C. (now forming)

We also have special interest groups. For a full list of clubs and chapters, please visit the Alumni Association website.

For information on how to get involved with any of our clubs and chapters, please contact Bill Cole at

Travel the Globe and Expand Your Horizons

The UCR Alumni Association travel program offers a mix of exploration, education and adventure in partnership with reputable, prescreened tour operators. These are just two of the many trips we have available this year. Visit for more details about the trips being offered in 2014.

Tour participants, whether UCR alumni or not, must be members of the UCR Alumni Association. Each member may bring up to three travel companions as guests.

Page: 31


’66 Claude Phene received the 2014 Person of the Year Award from the California Irrigation Institute where he has served as director, president (1984-85) and member for over 20 years.

’68, M.S. ’70, Ph.D. ’73 Starnes Walker was hired as the founding director for the new University of

Delaware cybersecurity initiative. In his new role, Starnes will focus on issues facing corporate America.

Anne ’69 and James ’71 Weatherill co-authored and published “The Blades Carry Me: Inside the Helicopter War in Vietnam,” a memoir of the year from 1967 to 1968 when James served as a helicopter pilot in Vietnam and Anne attended UCR as a pregnant military spouse.


’78 Marsi Steirer is the deputy director at the City of San Diego, Public Utilities Department. In 2013, she received a number of awards, including the Association of California Water Agency 2013 Award for Excellence in Water Leadership and the 2013 American Water Resources Association Mary H. Marsh Medal for Exemplary Contributions to the

Names printed in blue indicate members of the UCR Alumni Association. To update your membership, visit

Take Five

Cory Butner

Statistics ‘05

Butner became the third Olympian in UCR history, finishing in 12th place in the two- man bobsled at the Winter Games in Sochi, Russia. The Yucaipa native recently moved to North Carolina with his girlfriend, Danielle Logano.

1—You spent a lot of time at the Student Recreation Center during your time at UCR.

I worked there, and when I wasn’t working, I was working out once or twice a day there. I’m not going to lie; I might have missed one or two classes to go get a workout in (laughs). It was definitely a second home. I went to UCR at 165 pounds and, after learning about weightlifting, graduated at 230 pounds.

2—How did you get involved with the sport?

I just graduated and still living with Mom and Dad, trying to get things going. My sister, Charity ’00, was visiting and I overheard her talking about trying out for bobsledding. The more I thought about it, the better it sounded. I went on the U.S. Federation website and filled out a form to try out for the team.

A few weeks later I got an email inviting me to come to Lake Placid for a test.

It is kind of funny how well everything worked out. I didn’t get a chance to play college sports because of my size, but I found weightlifting and built my size and strength to go along with my quickness. I found a sport, through pure chance, that incorporated all those things.

3—You have been competing internationally for several years. What is that like?

The season starts in October in Lake Placid with team trials, then the World Cup will start in November. Typically we will do four races in America, then fly out to Europe and do four races there, and then World Championships.

We definitely get a lot more recognition in Europe. Especially in Germany – they love sliding. At every race, even in practice, people are walking the track, taking pictures, asking for autographs. It will be 20 degrees and the stands are just packed watching the race.

4—What are some of your favorite memories of your time in Sochi?

We got there three days before the opening ceremonies; we were the first athletes in. We stayed in the main village and watched speed skating, figure skating, some of the earlier events that were going on. My favorite moment was the Opening Ceremonies. You are walking with 260 other athletes who have put in the same amount of work and effort over the last four, eight or 12 years — as one team. Then they announce “The United States” and you hear the crowd cheering. That was one of the coolest things.

5—What is next for you?

I am planning on taking the next year off to get healthy. I had shoulder surgery on April 11 to fix a couple of bones that were pinching on something in there. I had competed with it all season and at the Olympics it started getting worse. I also have a bulging disc in my neck that I would like to avoid having to have surgery for.

As far as the future, it all comes down to money. At some point I have to start a career. I’ll probably look for a “real job” in marketing or sales; I’d like to stay around sports. I like the competition, but reality has to kick in at some point if I want to have a family and a future.

Of course, I’d love to drive a race car (laughs).

Page: 32

Protection and Wise Use of our Nation’s Resources.

’79 Michael Haro has been promoted to principal environmental engineer for Lockheed Martin Aeronautics Co. (also known as the Skunk Works) in Palmdale, Calif. He is responsible for Skunk Works’ environmental protection program and directs a staff of nine environmental specialists. Michael also helps set strategic sustainability policy for all of Lockheed Martin and has been with the company for 25 years. His environmental programs have won numerous awards from the U.S. EPA, CalEPA and local regulatory agencies. Michael has been an environmental education advocate for more than 20 years, raising environmental literacy of K-12 students in the Antelope Valley and Santa Clarita communities. He recently founded a nonprofit organization called the Santa Clarita Environmental Education Consortium (www. in partnership with College of the Canyons (COC), Castaic Lake Water Agency, Newhall Land and other stake- holders. Michael is an adjunct faculty member in the Earth, Space and Environmental Sciences department at COC, teaching environmental studies.


’80 M.A. Judyth E. Reed was elected president of the Wyoming Archaeological Foundation. The foundation manages the Hell Gap archaeological site near Douglas, Wyo. Judyth lives in Cheyenne most of the year.

’88 Josefina Canchola was honored by Assemblymember Ian Calderon as the 2014 57th District Woman of the Year. Josefina was recognized for her dedication to the Chicano Latino Youth Leadership Project and commitment to the advancement of women.


’90 Michael Battin was voted as a 2014 Southern California Super Lawyer, an honor reserved for lawyers who have attained high peer recognition, meet ethical standards and have demonstrated achievement in their field. He was also elected president of the Legal Aid Society of San Diego.

’93 Matthew McMurtrey has been appointed as a managing partner at the law firm Sacks, Glazier, Franklin, Lodise LLP. He joined the firm in 2001 and became a partner in January 2012. Matthew obtained his J.D. from the UCLA School of Law after receiving his bachelor’s degree at UC Riverside.

’97 Margo Wilson recently published a novel, “The Main Ingredient,” with Ramsfield Press. She is the chair of the English department at California University of Pennsylvania and teaches journalism and English. Before her stint at higher education, Margo worked for 20 years as a reporter and editor at various newspapers, from the

Meet Mingle Network Connect

Join UCR alumni in your area for a fun evening of casual conversation and refreshments, and welcome the new Class of 2014 alumni!

UCR Alumni Association members at select receptions* will have a chance to win two tickets to the Hollywood Bowl or Del Mar Races alumni events.

Save the date for the event in your area!

Korean Alumni (Pasadena) . . . .6/21

Los Angeles* . . . . . . . . . . . . . 6/26

Inland Empire* . . . . . . . . . . . .7/16

Orange County* . . . . . . . . . . . 7/23

San Francisco . . . . . . . . . . . . .7/29

The event is free for all alumni to attend. Registration required. Sign up at or call 951-827-2586.

Page: 33

Spruce Grove Star near Edmonton, Alberta, Canada, to the LA Times.


’01 Shalon Hopkins and spouse Brian welcomed a baby boy, Cooper Joaquin Hopkins, in October 2013.

’05 Cory Butner and his teammate Christopher Fogt competed in the 2014 Winter Olympics in the two-man bobsled. Cory, the third Olympian in UCR’s history, piloted the No. 2 bobsled for the United States. (Read an interview with Cory on page 31.)

’06 Christina Jin recently founded the startup SpaceHitch, a platform that connects travelers to people who need items elsewhere in the world. Christina came up with the idea after spending the past four years working abroad.

’06 Deepak Sharma transitioned from his position as student affairs officer at UC Riverside to program coordinator at the newly developed Leadership, Engagement, Advising, and Development (LEAD) Center at UC Berkeley.

’06 M.A., ’11 Ph.D. Helen Lovejoy, is the co-director of the Foothill Writers Series and Magic of Cinema at Peninsula College. Helen, who teaches English at the college, was granted tenure on March 11 in Port Angeles.

Take Five

Kathernine Djernes

Organic Chemistry Ph.D. ‘13

Katherine Djernes, a Ph.D. graduate in organic chemistry, completed her UCR research on hydrocarbon oxidation under Richard Hooley, associate professor of chemistry. She was the first graduate student on the research team and is working in the same field of her research topic today. Currently, Djernes is a staff scientist at Regenesis Remediation Technologies, working with soil and groundwater remediation to develop new products.

1—What is the best part of being a staff scientist?

The best part of my job is the challenge. We are working to solve practical environmental problems and I think it’s fun! And since my title is a “scientist” instead of a “chemist,” which was originally what I was trained in, it allows me to see science as a whole. It’s not just chemistry, but also geology, engineering and more.

2— Out of all the Ph.D. programs for chemistry, why did you choose to go to UCR?

I chose UCR because I really like the resources that the school has to offer. It has all the benefits of a UC school, but it is still small enough to where you get to personally know your classmates and professors. UCR has the best of everything!

3—Would you say that the research that you completed at UCR helped you in your position today?

The research that I do now is a similar, commercialized version of my research back at
UCR. My graduate research focused on hydrocarbon oxidation and now I develop products to remove hydrocarbon contaminates like diesel fuel from the environment. As a graduate student, I learned a lot
of other critical skills like problem-solving, public speaking, writing clearly that I use daily in my current position.

4—Do you have any advice to current UCR graduate students?

There are incredible opportunities at UCR and through professional organizations that are geared specifically toward students. The Ph.D. program is all research, and research tends to consume your time. So my advice is to work hard in research but do not be afraid to branch out and diversify your skill set.

5— What is your favorite UCR memory?

I stayed really good friends with several of the people at UCR and I really value these friendships.

Page: 34

’07 Damian Torres works at ARC Document Solutions, a global reprographics company that is now part of the digital revolution of the construction industry. Damian specializes in hyper- linking services, an innovation that links construction documents digitally. He is currently involved in hyperlinking the construction contact documents for UCR’s Glen Mor 2 Student Apartments.

’07 Angelique Weathersby earned a master’s degree in nursing at California State University, San Bernardino, in December 2013. She works in the postanesthesia care unit at Arrowhead Regional Medical Center and serves as director of District 1 for the PeriAnesthesia Nurses of California Association.

’09 Ph.D. Dennis Jeffrey was promoted to senior software engineer in test at Google Inc. He and his wife, Smruti, both earned their doctorate degrees at UCR in 2009 and 2013


’11 Ph.D. Mark Broomfield, received a 2013-14 Faculty Diversity Program award from the State University of New York system. Mark was the first professor from the Geneseo campus to receive the award from SUNY’s Office of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion since the program’s inception 15 years ago.

’13 Ryan Rakib accepted a new position with the Boeing Corp. as the procurement cost analyst for commercial airplanes.

Are you celebrating a milestone event? Maybe you published your latest book, you got elected to office or you just turned 100. Tell us all about it, send a picture and we’ll celebrate with you! Email us at and we’ll include it in the next UCR Magazine.

I am a transfer student. I am a husband. I am an electrical engineering major. Scholarships have changed my life.

{My name is Patrick Smith and I am a Highlander}

You can change the lives of students like Patrick. Please make a gift today!

UCR Fund

PO Box 112 Riverside, CA 92502

Tel 951. 827.7311

Page: 35

We Remember


’60 Henry Ramsey Jr., prominent judge and educator, died in Berkeley on March 15 after a stroke. He was 80. Ramsey grew up in Rocky Mount, N.C. After serving in the Korean War, Ramsey was stationed at March Air Force Base. Astonished at the possibilities that he discovered were open to him in California, he used money from the G.I. bill to enter Howard University, a historically black institution in Washington, D.C. In 1957, after a year at Howard, he transferred to UC Riverside. He graduated from UCR in 1960 with a degree in philosophy and earned his law degree from UC Berkeley’s Boalt Hall School of Law.

He fondly spoke about his experiences as a student at UCR, and later established the Henry Ramsey Jr. Revolving Emergency Loan Fund to help undergraduate students with short-term financial emergencies.

“As a young student, I needed this kind of emergency assistance on an occasion or two,” he recalled.

After law school, Ramsey served as a Contra Costa County prosecutor — helping to integrate the office — and as a trial lawyer in private practice.

He was a member of the faculty at Boalt Hall from 1971 to 1980. During his tenure there, he served on the Berkeley City Council from 1973 to 1977.

He served as an Alameda County Superior Court judge from 1981 to 1990 before serving as dean of the Howard University School of Law for the next five years.

He has served as chairperson of the American Bar Association section of legal education and admissions to the bar. He is a life member of the American Law Institute and was the recipient of the 2000 Robert J. Kutak Award for promoting understanding between legal education and the active practice of law.

Ramsey is survived by four sons; two daughters; his wife, Eleanor; and seven granddaughters. His first wife, Evelyn, died in 2010.

’64 M.A. Robert Poole, mathematics professor. March 2014.

’68 H. Leonard Francis, avocado expert. March 2014.

’69 Robert Luxmoore, environmental scientist. January 2014.


Carol A. Downey, former lecturer in the English department, died March 18 after a long illness. She was 63.

Downey was born in New York City on March 28, 1950. She moved to California and lived for many years in Huntington Beach, where she raised two children and worked as a psychiatric nurse. After her children were grown, she earned bachelor’s and master’s degrees in English literature at California State University, Long Beach. In 2010, she earned a doctorate in English literature at the Claremont Graduate School. She taught English composition, Shakespeare and early modern studies at CSULB, California State University, San Bernardino, and UCR.

She is survived by her brother Frederick; two children, Alan Downey of Orange, and Valorie Bell (Jeff) of Huntington Beach; and five grandsons: Alexander, Ethan, Ollie, Theo and Nico.

Donald Carroll Erwin, emeritus professor in the Department of Plant Pathology and Microbiology, died Feb. 22. He was 93.

Erwin’s career at UCR began about the time of the university’s founding. He received his Ph.D. in plant pathology from the University of California, Davis, in 1953 and soon after joined the Department of Plant Pathology at UCR as a junior plant pathologist. He became a professor in 1966 and later served as department chair. He retired in 1991.

His research specialties involved the causes and control of diseases that affect alfalfa, flax, cotton and other crops. He was known internationally as an expert on the biology of Phytophthora, a cause of many plant diseases and published extensively on that and other topics.

Erwin’s honors included a Guggenheim Fellowship and a Lifetime Achievement Award by the Pacific Division of the American Phytopathological Society.

Herbert L. Baird Jr. died of heart failure in his sleep on Dec. 23, 2013. He was 90.

A U.S. Army Purple Heart Veteran of World War II, Herb served from the beginning of the war and was wounded while serving as a medic supporting Allied troops during the “Battle of the Bulge” in Belgium. After his recovery he was sent back to the front lines in Germany where he participated in the final grueling march to the end at the Elbe. At the end of the war, Herb returned to California and enrolled at Pomona College under the G.I. bill to study Romance Languages; he was a gifted linguist and ultimately earned his Ph.D. in medieval Spanish literature from University of Chicago. A professor of foreign languages and literature, Herb started his teaching career at UCR before he moved to the Western Washington University where he taught languages and literature until his retirement as associate professor emeritus in 1985.

Austin Turk, professor of sociology, died on Feb. 1. He joined the faculty at UCR in 1988 and in the years since fulfilled many roles in that department, including a period as chair. He served on the CHASS Executive Committee, the Committee on Charges, the Law and Society Program Committee and a host of other boards and committees. In the community of Riverside, he was an avid supporter of the California Museum of Photography and the Citizens’ University Committee, and he also volunteered with the Riverside Police Department.

Turk’s scholarly career spanned more than five decades. He was a Fellow and Past President of the American Society of Criminology, and had also been Chair of the Criminology Section of the American Sociological Association. His 1969 book “Criminality and the Legal Order” is considered a classic in the field.

He is survived by his wife, Dr. Ruth-Ellen Grimes.

Page: 36

Stephanie Martinez

The Diva

Illustration boy Mike Tofanelli

Stephanie Martinez has her childhood best friend’s parents to thank for her Grammy. “They forced her to study the violin and I thought it would be fun to tag along,” says Martinez. “I picked it up pretty quickly. After a few lessons, I was in love. It was my new passion. My obsession.” Martinez, then 11 years old, already sang and played the guitar in church with her sister in El Centro, Calif.

Now 24, Martinez plays violin in Mariachi Divas, the L.A.-based Mexican folk group made up solely of women. She joined the Divas in 2009 while they recorded their sixth album; in 2014, the group won a Grammy award for Best Mexican Regional Music Album, for their ninth recording, “A Mi Manera (My Way).”

“The best thing about winning is that our album is recognized as No. 1 in the whole world!” says Martinez. “It means what we’re doing with mariachi music is life- changing and making an impact in the world. The music might be hard and the hours of practice endless, but being recognized makes it all worthwhile.” Their success is also notable since mariachi music is often the domain of male singers and musicians.

Martinez, a sociology major at UCR, is 20 credits shy of her bachelor’s degree. She tours most of the year with the group and hopes to finish when the Mariachi Divas’ schedule slows down. The band also performs year-round at Disney California Adventure in their signature embroidered black suits with bolero jackets. “UCR has taught me dedication and constant hard work. Managing two things that I love — sociology and mariachi — and being allowed to be part of two such different worlds has been eye opening,” says Martinez.

The Mariachi Divas, the first mariachi group to win two Grammys, bring a unique spin to mariachi music under their musical director, Alberto Jimenez Maeda, who writes most of the arrangements. “If you’ve listened to any of our albums, you’ll hear so many different genres,” says Martinez. “The most wonderful thing about mariachi music and my job is that no matter what mood I’m in, I can escape into a song. I absolutely love playing any chance we get. To get people on their feet and dancing at every single concert is the highlight of my day.”

Page: 37

Living the Promise

Real world Solutions

All in the numbers: Demographic research by UCR political scientist Karthick Ramakrishnan reveals the rapid rise of Asian Americans and the impact of their voting patterns on immigration reform, civic engagement, and national politics.

Explore more policy impacts

Page: back cover


Save the Date


Food trucks | Games | Live Music | Tours | Basketball Game | And more fun for the whole family!