UCR Graduate Student Selected to Attend Geosciences Congressional Visits Day

Manuel Mendoza

Manuel Mendoza

Manuel Mendoza, a master’s student at UC Riverside working with Abhijit Ghosh, assistant professor in the Department of Earth Sciences, was one of only two graduate students in the country to be selected by the Seismological Society of America (SSA) to receive travel grants to attend the 8th annual Geosciences Congressional Visits Day in Washington, D.C. Sept. 30.

Mendoza spent two days in the nation’s capital and joined 57 other geoscientists from 22 states in meetings with House and Senate members and their staff. On Sept. 29, Mendoza participated in a half-day seminar to prepare for the visits, where he heard from government relations professionals on the state of federal geoscience funding, learned how to be effective in meetings with members of Congress and their staff, and heard from a panel of current congressional staff on their experiences in working on Capitol Hill.

“On Day 1, we attended presentations by SSA members, and others who bridge the gap between scientists and policy makers,” Mendoza said. “Initial presentations began with us refreshing our high school learning of how the federal government works and how bills get passed. This was so we had some fundamental knowledge of congressional procedures. We also got tips on how to connect and communicate effectively with congressional staff.”

After the presentations, Mendoza and the other geoscientists broke up into small groups and practiced delivering their message of asking members of Congress for strong federal investments in the geosciences. Their message noted that such investments would support resilient communities, strengthen global competitiveness, enhance national security, and sustain a highly skilled workforce.

On Day 2 Mendoza attended six meetings, the final two with staffers in the offices of Senators Barbara Boxer and Diane Feinstein.

“Each meeting felt like a success,” Mendoza said. “Our voices were heard, and the staffers were well engaged. After stressing our message to them, we walked away from each meeting knowing that we left a strong impression. Overall, the visit was a wonderful and fulfilling experience. My confidence in effective communication and leadership took a sharp jump. I also realized first-hand that policy can be just as exciting as science!”

Professor Emeritus Receives the 2015 African-American Leaders and Innovators Award

Ralph Crowder

Ralph Crowder

Ralph Crowder, professor emeritus of ethnic studies, was named a recipient of the 2015 African-American Leaders and Innovators Award. The award was presented by the University of Kansas Black Alumni Network (KUBAN).

Crowder was an appointed associate professor and chair of the UCR Department of Ethnic Studies. During his time at UCR, he served as a mentor for faculty and at-risk youths. In July 2012, he retired as professor emeritus. Crowder has widely published and presented his research on 19th and 20th century African-American history, Pan-African history and the Black Indian experience. His most notable books include: “John Edward Bruce: Politician, Journalist and Self-Trained HIstorian of the African Diaspora” and “BLack History Month: Reclaiming a Lost Legacy.”

The African-American Leaders and Innovators Project honors African-American alumni who have distinguished themselves and made a difference through demonstrated leadership and innovation to their profession or to society at large.

Crowder received his award during the 2015 Kansas University Black Alumni Reunion ceremonies that took place on Sept. 25-27 on the University of Kansas campus. Crowder’s accomplishments was acknowledged in photographs, the Black Alumni Network website and brochures.


BCOE Team Wins Grant to Build Reusable Storm Drain Filters

Sustain A Drain Team standing together

The Sustain-A-Drain team recently won a $15,000 grant from the EPA for their reusable storm drain filter.

A team of UCR students from the Bourns College of Engineering was recently awarded a $15,000 grant from the Environmental Protection Agency for a reusable storm drain filter that is less costly and more environmentally friendly than currently available models.

The key innovation is the calibrated indicator and filter system. The filter is made of 100 percent recycled textiles. The indicator is a 3-D printed device made with the same material as the filter and a translucent biodegradable plastic that includes a polymer that changes from a powder to a gel when it is saturated with oil and/or heavy metals and needs to be replaced.

The filter material is a blend of 100 percent recycled polyester, rayon, and cotton fibers. Preliminary testing of the filter material show it is capable of adsorbing oil at six times its mass and that is has an adsorption capacity of between 73 to 87 percent, a figure the students believe will increase with additional refinement.

The team received the $15,000 as a phase one winner of EPA’s P3 (People, Prosperity and the Planet) competition. Team members are: Franklin Gonzalez, Karim Masarweh, Johny Nguyen, Diego Novoa, Kenneth Orellana and Taljinder Kaur. With the exception of Kaur, who is an MBA student, all the students are seniors and either environmental or chemical engineering majors. Kawai Tam, a lecturer at the Bourns College of Engineering, advises them.

In March, the team will submit a proposal for a $75,000 phase two grant. The team will travel to Washington, D.C. in April to display their project, be judged and find out whether they won the phase two grant.

The team is building on the work of several previous members who worked on this project, which is called “Sustain-A-Drain.” In 2012, one of those teams won several awards at WERC: A Consortium for Environmental Education and Technology Development design competition in Las Cruces, N.M. Find out more here.

UCR Professor Named to American Mathematical Society

Vyjayanthi Chari

Vyjayanthi Chari

Mathematician Vyjayanthi Chari at the University of California, Riverside is one of only 50 mathematical scientists from around the world who have been named fellows of the American Mathematical Society (AMS) for 2016.

Chari, a professor of mathematics, is honored for “contributions to the theory of quantum groups and affine Lie algebras, and for service to the mathematical community.”

“Dr. Chari has been well regarded by her colleagues for her contribution to mentoring graduate students and postdocs,” said Yat Sun Poon, the chair of UCR’s Department of Mathematics.  “She is well known among Lie theorists, and very well cited. She is leading UC Riverside’s Lie theory research group, and beyond. We are proud of her achievement, and feel fortunate that she is on our faculty.”

The “Fellows of the AMS” designation recognizes members who have made outstanding contributions to the creation, exposition, advancement, communication, and utilization of mathematics. Among the goals of the program are to create an enlarged class of mathematicians recognized by their peers as distinguished for their contributions to the profession and to honor excellence.

Read more about her accomplishments here.

Laila Lalami Novel Receives New Honor

Laila Lalami

Laila Lalami

UCR creative writing professor Laila Lalami has won the 2015 Zora Neale Hurston/Richard Wright Legacy Award for Fiction for her novel “The Moor’s Account” (Pantheon, 2014). The award honors excellence in fiction, poetry and nonfiction by writers of African descent.

Lalami, who was born in Rabat, Morocco, was one of more than 200 authors whose work was nominated for the award. The judges described “The Moor’s Account” as “a sweeping novel of historical fiction” that “restores the important role of blacks in the early exploration of this continent.”

Read more about “The Moor’s Account” and Professor Lalami here.

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