Francisco Ayala, UCI evolutionary geneticist and molecular biologist who has vigorously opposed the entanglement of science and religion while calling for mutual respect between the two, has won the 2010 Templeton Prize, awarded to a living person who has made an exceptional contribution to affirming life's spiritual dimension. Past recipients include Billy Graham and Mother Teresa. The prize was announced March 25 at the National Academy of Sciences in Washington, D.C., by the John Templeton Foundation. Prince Philip, the Duke of Edinburgh, will award the prize — about $1.5 million, which Ayala says he will donate to charity — at a private ceremony May 5 at Buckingham Palace.
UCI's most prestigious honor, the Medal, which annually confers lifelong recognition on those who have made exceptional contributions to the university's mission of teaching, research and public service, will be given to three individuals and one couple this fall. The 2010 honorees are Susan V. Bryant, vice chancellor for research; Salma and Hazem Chehabi, longtime campus advocates; David Pyott, Allergan Inc. board chairman and CEO; and Scott Samuelsen, mechanical & aerospace engineering professor and Advanced Power & Energy Program director. Hosted by the UC Irvine Foundation, "A Celebration of Stars — The Medal Awards" is the campus's largest fundraiser and will take place 5-10 p.m. Saturday, Oct. 2, at the Bren Events Center. More: 949-824-9801.
Medal winners »
Julian Feldman, professor emeritus of information & computer sciences, will receive the Extraordinarius award at the UCI Alumni Association's 40th annual Lauds & Laurels ceremony May 13 at the Fairmont Newport Beach. Seventeen other distinguished individuals also will be feted for their commitment to UCI. The Extraordinarius award, Lauds & Laurels' highest honor, is presented to those who have prominently contributed to the advancement of UCI and its fundamental missions of teaching, research and public service. Feldman joined UCI in 1964 as part of the original faculty. He not only wrote the proposal to establish the information & computer sciences program here but twice was department chair and for more than four decades has served the university in numerous leadership roles.
Bruce Hallett '78 has been chosen as the next University of California alumni regent by the UCI Alumni Association. Hallett will join the UC Board of Regents on July 1 and serve a two-year term, the first as a nonvoting regent-designate and secretary to the Alumni Associations of the University of California, the umbrella organization representing all UC alumni groups. In the second year, he will serve concurrently as AAUC president and a voting alumni regent. UCI selects the alumni regent every seven years. Hallett is co-founder of Miramar Venture Partners, a venture capital investment firm working with California technology companies.
Even before the Jan. 12 earthquake struck Haiti, UCI undergraduate Francois Genard was raising funds to provide its residents with safe drinking water. A senior international studies major with a French minor, Genard spent summer 2009 as a UCDC intern with International Action's Haiti water project, a nonprofit effort begun in 2005 to prevent waterborne diseases in the island nation. He still volunteers for the project, raising funds and producing a Web site and YouTube videos. "When you see footage of Haitians cooking with dirty water, it's heartbreaking," he says. His hope? That humanitarian aid will lift Haiti out of poverty and give residents access to basic necessities — such as clean water.
Three vice chancellors have announced they'll depart UCI this year. Susan V. Bryant, vice chancellor for research and former dean of biological sciences, will leave at the end of this academic year after a 41-year career at UCI as a teacher, researcher, administrator and leader. Bryant has been a driving force on a wide range of important initiatives, from stem cell research to advancing gender diversity in the sciences. Manuel N. Gómez, vice chancellor for student affairs, will retire at the end of August after a 38-year career at UCI. Initially a social ecology student here, Gómez has served the university in multiple capacities and demonstrated an unwavering commitment to students, equity and access to higher education. Thomas J. Mitchell, vice chancellor for university advancement, has accepted the position of vice president for development and alumni affairs at the University of Florida, effective June 1. Mitchell has been vice chancellor and president of the UC Irvine Foundation since 2002.
Dr. Laura Mosqueda, head of UCI's geriatrics program and the Center of Excellence on Elder Abuse & Neglect, has been named president-elect of the Association of Directors of Geriatric Academic Programs. ADGAP members include department chairs, division chiefs and fellowship directors. Mosqueda will assume the role of president in May.
Valeria Souza, a visiting scholar in Brandon Gaut's ecology & evolutionary biology lab, has received Mexico's highest environmental honor, the Love of the Planet Award. It's given to scientists who have championed causes in basic research and conservation in Mexico. Souza won the award, which comes with $50,000, for her work in that country's Cuatro Cienegas Basin, doing basic research on microbial ecology and evolution coupled with extensive educational outreach and political advocacy. She conducted postdoctoral research at UCI from 1990 to 1992 and is on a second sabbatical visit to the campus.