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Brenda Ortiz

Study: Tiny ‘Ecosystem Engineers’ Are an Overlooked Source of Carbon Dioxide Emissions

It’s estimated that a leaf-cutter ant colony can strip an average tree of its foliage in a day, and that more than 17 percent of leaf production by plants surrounding a colony goes straight into their giant, fungus-growing nests.

It’s no wonder these ants are considered the smallest recyclers on the planet and are referred to as "ecosystem engineers" by scientists because of the effects they have on the environment around them.

EECS Ph.D. Student Wins Facebook Fellowship

UC Merced Electrical Engineering and Computer Science graduate student Yijun Li was recently selected as a 2019 Facebook Fellowship winner.

The Facebook Fellowship program is designed to support promising doctoral students engaged in innovative and relevant research in computer science and engineering. This year’s cohort’s research topics spanned research areas from applied statistics to security and privacy.

The fellowship begins in Fall 2019 and will support Li up to two years.

Pellissier Lecture: Spreading Excellence on a Larger Scale

Bestselling author and Stanford University Professor Robert Sutton will share principles and examples of “Scaling Up Excellence,” the title of his presentation as this year’s Vital and Alice Pellissier Family Distinguished Lecturer.

Sutton, professor of management science and engineering and organizational behavior, will discuss how to spread, enhance and amplify excellence at all levels of business and organizational management. He’ll share his insights based on diverse case studies including Facebook, Google, Pixar, Uber, Johns Hopkins Hospital, IKEA and more.

NASA Fellowship Lifts Grad Student’s Cardiac Biosensor Research

Warren Nanney, who’s pursuing a Ph.D. in Chemistry and Chemical Biology, received a three-year NASA fellowship that’s creating a unique opportunity for him to develop biosensors that could detect heart attacks before symptoms appear.

NASA recently awarded 12 fellowships totaling $1.9 million to graduate students through its Minority University Research and Education Project (MUREP) and Aeronautics Research Mission Directorate (ARMD) to conduct research and contribute directly to NASA’s work and mission.

Merced Native and Ph.D. Grad Lands Faculty Position at Pitt

For Merced native Tessa Provins, the opportunity to attend UC Merced for her graduate education was a chance to come home again — but it wasn’t simply the familiar location that drew her to the campus.

Provins earned a bachelor’s degree in economics from Stanford University in 2013 before pursuing her graduate education at UC Merced. She completed a master’s degree in 2016 and a Ph.D. in political science in 2018.

Graduate Student Spends Summer as GEM Fellow at Idaho National Lab

As a graduate student at UC Merced, Jordan Galloway looks for ways to push himself forward and lead by example.

The third-year Chemistry and Chemical Biology student forged a new path last summer through a fellowship in the nuclear science and technology division of Idaho National Laboratory.

“It was a great opportunity,” Galloway said. “I met a lot of good people and, overall, I was able to learn a great deal.”

NSF Grant Unites Four Hispanic-Serving Institutions to Help Diversify STEM Faculty

UC Merced is partnering with UC Santa Barbara and two California State University campuses — Fresno and Channel Islands — on a project to create a more diverse STEM faculty at colleges and universities nationwide.

The quartet has been awarded a total of $2 million from the National Science Foundation’s Alliances for Graduate Education and the Professoriate (AGEP) program for a joint research project intended to increase the number of underrepresented minority faculty members in STEM fields.

The goal is to develop a model that’s applicable — and replicable.

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