In order to celebrate the arrival of 17 new minority faculty members, the Cross Cultural Center hosted its Fourth Annual New Minority Faculty Welcome Reception on Oct. 16.
The event featured several new faculty members from various departments such as biological sciences, computer science and political science.
Noted attendees included Sally Peterson, dean of students, Sue Bryant, dean of the School of Biological Sciences and Barbara Dosher, dean of cognitive sciences.
New faculty members in attendance included Susana Cohen-Cory from the Department of Neurobiology and Behavior, Jorge Busciglio from the Department of Neuroscience and Sheryl Tsai from the Department of Chemistry.
According to Anna Gonzalez, director of the Cross Cultural Center, the purpose of the annual event is to allow students to meet and interact with new faculty members who serve as positive role models at the forefront of university research and development.
‘[We] want students to feed off their enthusiasm for what they do and also convey the message that they too can be leaders in their fields,’ Gonzalez said.
Out of the 17 new faculty members at UCI, at least 10 of them are women.
According to Gonzalez, these women faculty members have the potential to serve as examples to young women pursuing degrees in the scientific field and encourages women to be confident enough to tackle these otherwise male-dominated fields.
‘Most girls shy away from studying in areas where they might feel intimidated,’ Gonzalez said. ‘With a majority of the new minority faculty being women, it shows that females can be pioneers as well.’
Although none of the faculty members in attendance were coming straight from their native countries, they explained that they still faced cultural and social constraints in their transition to living in Southern California.
‘I think my biggest hardship was the language and social etiquette here,’ said Tsai, who moved to the United States 11 years ago after completing her B.S. and M.S. at National Taiwan University.
‘Scientists have a common language they speak amongst themselves, but at times it is still difficult to uphold a mutual understanding when it comes to social etiquette,’ Tsai said.
Tsai, who recently received her Ph.D. in chemistry from UC Berkeley, hopes to inspire students that may feel discouraged in their academic arena to reach their academic and social potential.
Other faculty members like Jorge Busciglio, a native Argentinean, who completed his B.A. and Ph.D. in Cordoba, joined the UCI faculty because of its expanding research opportunities.
Busciglio chose to teach at UCI even though he received offers to teach at Georgetown University and the University of Chicago.
‘UCI was the pioneer for psychobiology,’ Busciglio said. ‘This is where the fusion of cellular, molecular and cognitive neurology is.’
Other incoming faculty also commented on the activities on campus and the ways in which they can relate to a student’s academic life.
‘[College] is a place of activism and it is a time [for students] to celebrate who is on our campus,’ said Cohen-Cory, who studied in Mexico for six years before pursuing her Ph.D. in neuroscience at Rockefeller University in New York.
The new faculty members also gave introductions and insight into their current research subjects and their perspective on the importance of diversity with a campus community
Towards the end of his introduction, Busciglio gave insight to his idea of America as a global ‘melting pot.’
‘Culture is a source of challenge and the United States is a big experiment in cross culture,’ Busciglio said. ‘UCI is one subject of that experiment.’