News in Brief

Internet Founding Father To Speak at UC Irvine

Vinton Cerf, one of the founding fathers of the Internet, will discuss the future of the Internet and his views on information bit rot at the Cal-IT2 Building at UC Irvine on Wednesday, April 18 at 7:30 a.m.

While studying at UCLA in the late 60s and early 70s, Cerf worked on ARPANET, the earliest packet-switching computer network. Later, he collaborated with Robert Kahn to co-design TCP/IP and the basic architecture of the Internet. Now, Cerf works with Google as its chief Internet evangelist.

The event is free and open to the public. Please confirm attendance and parking information, as seats are limited, at

Janet Nguyen Sworn in as Orange County Supervisor

Janet Nguyen was sworn into office on Tuesday, March 27, as Orange County’s first Vietnamese American supervisor. Janet Nguyen, who is not only the first woman to represent a district in the central area of the county but also the youngest supervisor in the county’s history, received a bouquet and a welcoming crowd of supporters from Little Saigon after a tough election battle.

The election took place Tuesday, Feb. 6; however the results did not end until Monday, March 26, in court when Trung Nguyen, a Garden Grove school-board member and initial winner of the election by seven votes, filed suit after a recount that pulled Janet Nguyen up to the same number. The legal dispute ended when a court decision by Superior Court Judge Michael Brenner determined that the election recount was ‘proper and should stand,’ according to the L.A. Times.

Janet Nguyen moved to the U.S. when she was five years old. While at UCI, she took a political science class that inspired her so much that she changed her major from biological sciences to political science. After graduation, she worked for then-Republican Assemblyman Ken Maddox and, in 2004, won a seat on the Garden Grove City Council.

During her installment, Nguyen’s brother, Marine Cpl. Nam Nguyen, and husband, Thomas Bonikowski, stood by her side. Nguyen has selected Andrew H. Do, her campaign attorney, to become chief of staff.

$7.9 Million Awarded to UCI Stem Cell Scientists

The California Institute for Regenerative Medicine awarded $7.9 million to UC Irvine scientists on Friday, March 16, as a part of the second round of stem cell research funding. The projects selected, led by Doug Wallace, Hans Keirstead and Peter Donovan, focus on mitochondria, the creation of cells for spinal cord injury treatment and genetic manipulation of human embryonic stem cells.

The Independent Citizens Oversight Committee, the governing board of CIRM, approved $74.6 million over four years for 29 ongoing studies on human embryonic stem cells based on records of accomplishments by scientists. The grant recipients, seeking more than $175 million in CIRM funding, were selected from 70 applications from 23 institutions.

Wallace received $2.5 million for further investigation on the nature of the compatibility of mitochondrial DNA and the consequences of their mixing.

Keirstead was awarded $2.4 million to create a renewable source of spinal cord tissue cells, damaged by acute and chronic spinal cord injury, so that the function of the upper limb can be restored. Donovan was given $42.5 million to genetically manipulate human embryonic stem cells to study early embryo growth and factors that cause infertility.

Currently, UCI plans to apply to CIRM for a facilities grant to build a new structure that would serve as a core laboratory, training facility and provide research space.

Too Much Water and Nutrients Are Bad for Plant Diversity

In a study conducted by W. Stanley Harpole, postdoctoral researcher in ecology and evolutionary biology at UC Irvine, and G. David Tilman, professor of ecology at the University of Minnesota, too much water and nutrients may decrease plant life in an ecosystem while increasing the productivity of a few species.

The new finding, published in the March 25 online edition of the journal ‘Nature,’ explains why many grasslands, lakes and rivers polluted with nitrogen and phosphorous from agriculture, contain few species of plants.

A 150-year-old study supported the scientists’ theory that a strong relationship exists between plant diversity and a variety of limiting factors such as levels of nitrogen, potassium, phosphorous and water.