UCR Celebrates Social Innovators

Nov. 10 symposium will recognize faculty and alumni for novel solutions to pressing social problems

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A Nov. 10 symposium will celebrate UCR faculty and alumni whose innovative approaches to solving pressing social issues are making a difference.

RIVERSIDE, California – The University of California, Riverside will celebrate faculty and alumni whose research and commitment to the community have produced novel solutions to pressing social issues at a symposium on Thursday, Nov. 10.

The event, “Living the Promise Symposium: Social Innovation and Empowerment,” is free and open to the public. The symposium begins at 6 p.m. in Highlander Union Building 302. Parking is free for this event. Reservations are requested and may be made online.

“Living the Promise Symposium: Social Innovation and Empowerment” is the second in a yearlong series of symposia that reflect key themes of the university’s comprehensive fundraising campaign announced in October. The $300 million campaign will conclude in 2020 and seeks funding for student support, faculty research, and infrastructure. Campaign themes align with goals outlined in UCR 2020, the university’s strategic plan, and include social innovation and empowerment.

The symposium will recognize three alumni and four faculty members as “Social Innovation Change Makers” whose work strengthens the social fabric of the local and global community through quality education, robust public policy, and community engagement.

Change Makers who will participate as symposium panelists are:

  • Jan BlacherJan Blacher, distinguished professor of education, founder and director of the SEARCH (Support, Education, Advocacy, Resources, Community, and Hope) Family Autism Resource Center at UCR. A nationally known family researcher, advocate, and columnist, Blacher is an expert in the development and implementation of appropriate educational programs for children with autism and support services for their families, including screenings and school preparedness/placement, with a focus on low-income and/or Spanish-speaking families in the Inland Empire.
  • Gabriela CanalizoGabriela Canalizo, professor of physics and astronomy, who has spent four to six weeks every summer since 2006 teaching science and English and has organized science workshops for more than 200 children orphaned by AIDS in Malawi. While encouraging these underserved students to stay in school, she ignites an excitement for science and opens young minds to the possibilities of college and future careers. Her work abroad has also inspired several UCR students to serve in this and other outreach programs to aid children in poverty.
  • Rita KohliRita Kohli, assistant professor of education, who co-founded and co-directs the Institute for Teachers of Color Committed to Racial Justice (ITOC). Designed to promote the retention, growth, and success of teachers of color, the annual summer conference is a highly selective professional development opportunity that is helping to cultivate and support racial-justice leaders in urban public schools.

Also recognized as Social Innovation Change Makers will be:

  • Daniel and Darrell PeedenDaniel Peeden ’15 (B.A. in public policy) and Darrell Peeden ’15 (B.A. in public policy), twins who are co-founders, board members, and executives of Sigma Beta Xi, a social enterprise focused on improving academic achievement gaps in the Inland Empire. Working with the Riverside County Office of Education, Sigma Beta Xi has provided more than 26,500 mentoring hours to 453 students in the Inland Empire.
    Carrie Garcia
  • Carrie Garcia ’05 (B.A., Native American Studies), who works extensively to transform the community that she grew up in: the Soboba Band of Luiseño Indians. Her efforts have focused on raising awareness of the importance of culture and tradition, as well as of family service, education, tribal government, museum studies, environmental stewardship, and activism. Her work has been impactful at the local, state, and national levels.
    Mihri Ozkan
  • Mihri Ozkan, professor of electrical and computer engineering, who was named UC Riverside’s first Faculty Climate Action Champion. Her research goal is to create global environmental proactivity, providing solutions to climate change challenges by inventing smart, creative materials such as the Sponge swimsuit, which filters impurities from the water as the wearer swims, and a lithium-ion battery alternative using affordable portabella mushrooms.

The symposium is organized by the UCR Committee on Social Innovation, whose members are: Maria Anguiano, vice chancellor for planning and budget; Eddie Comeaux, associate professor of higher education, Graduate School of Education; and Karthick Ramakrishnan, professor and associate dean, School of Public Policy.

Future Living the Promise symposia themes and dates are: Health and Wellness, Jan. 17, 2017; Emerging Technologies, Feb. 16, 2017; From Genomics to Harvest, March 17, 2017; Renewable Nature, April 19, 2017; and New Voices and Visions, May 4, 2017.

More information about the comprehensive fundraising campaign is available at campaign.ucr.edu.

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