News in Brief

Open Discussion Offers Major Information

The Teaching, Learning and Technology Center will hold a dialogue for students hoping to learn more about getting the most out of their majors on Feb. 13 from 4:30 p.m. to 6:30 p.m. at the University Club Library. The event will be co-sponsored by the Division of Undergraduate Education and the Council on Student Experience. While the discussion will focus primarily on students assessing their majors, room will be left for other matters to be discussed such as how students can attain Instructional Improvement Initiatives Grants.

Nitrogen Pollution Shown to Increase Plant Growth

A recent study led by David LeBauer, a UC Irvine graduate student researcher of earth system science, shows that excessive nitrogen in tropical forests have resulted in a 20 percent increase in plant growth.
While the exact long-term effects of this information remains unclear, what is known is that the increase in plant size in tropical regions will require more carbon dioxide than previously thought.
Areas expected to face particularly intensive amounts of plant growth include India, South America, Africa and Southeast Asia.
LeBauer and Kathleen Treseder, a UCI associate professor of ecology and evolutionary biology, collected the data for the study, which analyzed worldwide trends in the effects of nitrogen on the growth rates of plants.
From over 100 previously published studies that the two observed, plants were shown to increase in size whenever nitrogen was prevalent in all ecosystems with the exception of deserts.
Although earlier scientific theories de-emphasized the effects of nitrogen levels on plant growth, the study has already been endorsed by a number of long-standing and respected bodies in the scientific community.
Among those who have endorsed the study include the National Science Foundation and the Department of Energy.

International Student Volunteers Gives Opportunity to Volunteer Abroad

International Student Volunteers, a non-profit organization offering students the chance to help others as they travel, will be holding information sessions on Feb. 14 at 1 p.m., 2 p.m. and 3 p.m. in room 1010AB of the Student Services II building.
The program lasts for four weeks and operates in seven countries including Australia, New Zealand, Costa Rica, the Dominican Republic, Ecuador, Thailand and Croatia. More than 30 students from UC Irvine have participated in ISV projects.
ISV member and Australian native Kirsty Hack will be on-hand at all three sessions to give more information about ISV and answer any questions perspective ISV members may have.

Hillel Defends Drake After ZOA’s Denouncement

Hillel: The Foundation for Jewish Campus Life defended its decision to invite UC Irvine Chancellor Michael Drake to its upcoming Washington summit after he was the subject of criticism from the Zionist Organization of America (ZOA). The ZOA denounced Hillel’s invitation to Drake and Pennsylvania president Amy Guttman to its summit on the university and the Jewish community Mar. 24 to 26 because it claimed these speakers were ‘insensitive to the needs and concerns of Jewish students.’
Of the nine pages in the ZOA letter, six were dedicated to the organization’s claim of the existence of ‘anti-Semitic speakers and programs’ that are ‘routinely sponsored at UCI, causing Jewish students to feel threatened, harassed and intimidated.’
Hillel Executive Director Wayne Firestone said he had looked into the situation at UCI and had then consulted with local Jewish leaders about the invitation.
‘Like them, Hillel believes that a more constructive approach to Chancellor Drake is to engage him in conversation,’ Firestone wrote to the ZOA. ‘The summit will provide such an opportunity.’ Guttman was believed by the ZOA to be an inappropriate choice because she posed for a photo with a person dressed as a suicide bomber at a Halloween party in her home in 2006.