Year in Review: The Best Stories of 2022

2022 has been a banner year for UC Merced marked by growth, innovation and prestige. As we boldly move forward into 2023, here’s a look back at the stories that stood out this year.

February 8, 2022

A research paper published by graduate student Brandy McKuin is about to become reality. McKuin’s findings showed that covering California’s 4,000 miles of water channels could reduce evaporation by up to 82%, saving an estimated 63 billion gallons of water per year. Covering the state’s waterways with solar installations would also generate 13 gigawatts of renewable energy, or about 1/6 of the state’s current installed capacity. A state-funded pilot program in partnership with the Turlock Irrigation District called “Project Nexus” is scheduled to start in early 2023.

February 24, 2022

The 2021 drought directly cost California’s agriculture sector about $1.1 billion and nearly 8,750 full-time and part-time jobs, a new analysis by UC Merced researchers estimates. The report’s lead author, Professor Josué MedellÍn-Azuara, paints a bleak picture if conditions persist, saying “…a higher level of adaptation measures could come into play to reduce economic impacts on agriculture and the communities that are home to thousands of households that depend on agriculture for a source of income.”

March 28, 2022

Keith Ellis, who received his bachelor’s degree in 2012, became the first UC Merced alumnus to serve on the UC Board of Regents – the governing body of the University of California. His new position as regent of alumni is the latest addition to his long history of involvement with the university, having served as president of the UC Merced Alumni Association from 2014-2020. Ellis has been a key player in encouraging diversity and equity in his various roles and a strong advocate for the LGBTQ+ community, the visually impaired and first generation students. Ellis will serve a two-year term that began July 1, 2022 and ends June 30, 2024.

April 26, 2022

Providing access and opportunity to students from underrepresented backgrounds is a fundamental tenet of UC Merced’s mission. Several programs and initiatives are in place to facilitate this work, the latest being Campaign 1300. In conjunction with CSU Stanislaus, the expansion of the Sacramento-based program into Merced, Stanislaus, and San Joaquin counties was announced with the shared goal of enrolling 1,300 additional Central Valley youth of color in the UC and CSU systems by 2030.

May 2, 2022

The UC Merced Community and Labor Center (CLC) has received a historic multi-million dollar award for continuing its mission to conduct research and educate the public about low-wage work, immigrant and worker rights, occupational health and safety, among others. The funding will support the creation of a worker resource center to advance efforts to raise public awareness of workers’ rights in a region marked by some of the greatest labor and environmental inequalities in the country.

May 10, 2022

Nominated by President Joe Biden and confirmed by the US Senate, science professor Asmeret Asefaw Berhe has been named the new director of the Federal Department of Energy’s Office of Science. She previously served as chair of the US National Committee on Soil Science at the National Academies; served as a board member of the Earth Science Women’s Network; and is co-principal investigator of the ADVANCEGeo partnership. Berhe will hold the position for the duration of Biden’s term.

June 21, 2022

Beginning with the 2022-23 academic year, UC Merced added men’s and women’s water polo and men’s and women’s outdoor track as varsity intercollegiate sports. The additions bring the total number of varsity sports to 12. Water polo, which will be raised from a UC Merced Sports Club team, will call the Aquatics Center home and compete in the Collegiate Water Polo Association. The track program aims to focus on distance track at the start while competing as a Cal Pac member in the NAIA.

July 7, 2022

UC Merced is proud of its sustainability efforts and continues to raise the bar each year. In recognition of its achievements in this area, UC Merced has been awarded a Platinum rating—the highest rating a higher education institution can receive—by the Association for Advancing Sustainability in Higher Education ( AASHE). AASHE uses the most widely regarded framework to publicly document long-term sustainability goals for internationally performing institutions. In fact, only 11 establishments across the country have earned a Platinum rating.

July 12, 2022

There is now a direct route between busy Interstate 99 and UC Merced, thanks to the completion of the third segment of Campus Parkway. The project, which aims to reduce congestion in the city of Merced and make commuting to and from the university much more efficient, was completed about a year ahead of schedule. The new corridor is expected to bring a boon to the local economy, already ushering in new businesses, new developments and new jobs. It also lays the foundation for a planned loop system that will facilitate surrounding communities, improve traffic flow and transportation of goods, and connect the entire region to UC Merced.

July 18, 2022

Governor Gavin Newsom and the State of California gave UC Merced a financial boost by allocating more than $100 million to the university in the latest budget. The new funding is for campus expansion, climate-related initiatives, UC Merced’s community and labor center, and a potential housing partnership with Merced College. Chancellor Muñoz praised the work done by longtime UC Merced supporters, including Assemblyman Adam Gray, Senator Anna Caballero, Assemblyman Jose Medina, “…and, of course, Governor Newsom, who has been a strong supporter of this university.”

September 2, 2022

UC Merced is a proud member of a coalition that has benefited from one of the largest federal investments in Central Valley history. Named the Fresno-Merced Future of Food Innovation Coalition or F3, the group — which includes the state of Fresno as well as local farmers, agricultural organizations, community colleges and manufacturers — received $65.1 million as part of of the Biden administration’s “Build Back Better” initiative. to stimulate economic recovery after the pandemic. Among the projects to be funded is iCREATE – an agricultural technology center that will connect valley farmers to industry, boost productivity, create jobs and build capacity for regional sustainability.

September 12, 2022

UC Merced achieved a hat-trick this year, landing on U.S. News and World Report’s annual Top 100 Colleges list for the third year in a row. The university was ranked at No. 97 overall and No. 42 for public universities. Additionally, of the 133 schools ranked as R2 research institutions in the nation by the Carnegie Group, UC Merced came in at No. 15. The campus also ranked No. 13 for economic diversity and No. 5 for creating social mobility by enrolling and graduating. large proportions of disadvantaged students who received Pell grants.

September 14, 2022

Titled “Boldly Forward,” UC Merced initially launched its first comprehensive fundraising campaign with an ambitious goal of raising $100 million by 2030. Shortly after, the goal was doubled to $200 million after a quick start — which included a transformational $15 million gift from Fred and Mitzie Ruiz — that exceeded expectations. Funds raised will improve the university’s ability to meet the greatest needs and find solutions to pressing issues facing the Central Valley and beyond. The initiative will also help the campus prepare for the surge in student enrollment, which is expected to reach 15,000 by the end of the decade.

September 26, 2022

Led by Professor Michele Nishiguchi of the Department of Molecular and Cellular Biology, UC Merced has received a $12.5 million grant from the National Science Foundation to develop a new institute that will examine the impact of climate change on ecosystems. While most climate change research focuses on what you can see, the new institute dubbed INSITE – the Institute for Symbiotic Interactions, Training and Education – aims to “approach this problem through a lens microbial, so we proposed to look at symbiotic interactions,” Nishiguchi said. . “Germs are invisible, and they’re important because they’re on everything.”

October 26, 2022

In 2022, sociology professor Charlie Eaton was interviewed by several prominent media outlets, including The New York Times, The Washington Post, and CNBC. His most visible interview was a guest spot on the “Dr. Phil Show,” where the topic of discussion was President Joe Biden’s plan to forgive billions of dollars in federal student loans. Eaton’s research, which focus on the relationship between financialization and growing inequality in higher education, and the recently published book Bankers in the Ivory Tower has made him a highly sought-after interviewee.

November 2, 2022

The Merced Automatic Admissions Program, or MAAP, provides Central Valley high school seniors with a clear path to UC Merced by guaranteeing admission to college after meeting certain criteria in their senior year. The program started in the spring of 2021, but really started to make progress last year when Dinuba Unified School District signed on the dotted line. Since then, partnerships with school districts up and down the valley have grown exponentially, expanding UC Merced’s reach to more than 33,000 students.

November 16, 2022

UC Merced’s designation as an Agricultural Experiment Station (AES) is another feather in the university’s research hat. Announced with UC Santa Cruz at the November Board of Regents meeting, the designation comes with additional funding and collaborative opportunities to explore and address issues within the agriculture and food production. The two universities join UC Berkeley, Davis and Riverside in sharing the distinction and were the first campuses to receive the designation in 50 years.

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