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News in Brief

UC Receives Humanities Research Grant

The University of California recently received a $10 million grant from The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation to continue humanities research.

The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation is a not-for-profit corporation that works to strengthen, promote and contribute to humanities and the arts.

The grant will go towards a $30 million fund to continue projects at the UC Humanities Research Institute (UCHRI) and the UC Humanities Network. In 1987, then UC President David P. Gardner established the UC Humanities Initiative and founded the UCHRI, which is based at UC Irvine. In 2009, the UC Office of Research and Graduate Studies funded the new UC Humanities Network with a five-year grant to expand on the original initiative.

These collaborative humanities research projects establish across all UCs and connect faculty and graduate students.

All ten UCs will be working to raise an additional $20 million for the fund over the next four years.


UCI Study Examines Needs of Asian American and Pacific Islander Populations

UC Irvine researchers recently led a study to determine the individual needs of Orange County’s Asian American, Native Hawaiian and Pacific Islander communities.

Orange County’s AA&NHPI population makes up 21 percent of all residents and is the third-largest in the country.

The study’s co-authors Linda Trinh Vo, UCI Asian American studies professor, and Laureen D. Hom, an urban planning and public policy Ph.D. candidate, specifically focused on six key areas: building sustainable communities, economic development and disparities, K-12 and higher education, healthcare services, political participation and civic engagement, and civil rights advocacy.

The study advised to treat AA&NHPI communities separately and not as one ethnic group. The study also recommends employing culturally and linguistically accessible methods to “protect undocumented Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders” and “educate AA&NHPI communities on hate attacks and the importance of reporting hate incidents.”

The study was the result of a collaborative effort between UCI’s School of Humanities, School of Social Ecology and School of Social Sciences. Funding was provided by the Long Family Foundation, the Kay Family Foundation, Wells Fargo, St. Joseph Hospital and the School of Social Sciences.


Severity of Global Heat Acceleration Affects the World’s Megacities

A study published by UCI engineers in the American Geophysical Union journal “Earth’s Future” ruled out natural climate variability as a cause for the sudden temperature jumps, making human activity the culprit indefinitely.

“The global average annual temperature has increased over the past three decades at a rate of 0.2 degrees Celsius per decade, but we have found that the maximum temperature of the year has climbed at a much faster rate two to three times higher in such regions as Eurasia and parts of Australia and more than three times higher in some megacities,” said Efi Foufoula-Georgiou, UCI Distinguished Professor of civil and environmental engineering and senior author on the study. Foufoula-Georgiou said the alarming results are “yet more evidence of the harsh impact of global warming being felt by the world today.”

The acceleration of extreme heat events affected cities of more than five million inhabitants the most, with cities like Tokyo and Shanghai experiencing increases of 0.6 to one degree Celsius.

The research team analyzed data on the hottest day of the year from 8,848 weather stations around the world. Internationally, thermometer readings for the 50 year period studied, which ended in 2015, saw average temperatures increase 0.19 degrees Celsius per decade; in the 30 year period from 1986 to 2015, the temperature accelerated to  0.25 degrees per decade.

Researchers cited a phenomenon known as “heat island effect,” which states that in man-made environments dominated by asphalt, concrete, glass and steel, hot air lingers and the sun’s rays scatter and reflect off hard surfaces, amplifying the effects of heat in urban areas.  Environments with natural greenery and bodies of water dissipate heat, while urban environments retain it, thereby increasing temperatures.

These heat waves are not without their human cost.  According to a UCI press release,  a heat wave in Europe in 2003 caused roughly 70,000 deaths, and another in Russia in 2010 killed nearly 55,000 people. In the United States, an average of 658 deaths due to excessive heat were reported per year between 1999 and 2009.

“Our priority in this study was to maintain strict data quality control and to investigate if changes accelerated over the recent 30-year period,” said lead author  Simon Michael Papalexiou, who is also a postdoctoral scholar in UC Irvine’s Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering. “Our question now is: Will this acceleration continue into the future? Because if it does, adverse effects for human societies are inevitable.”


Big Ideas Challenge Encourages Students to Contribute to UCI Strategic Improvements

UC Irvine will launch this year’s applications for the Big Ideas Challenge on Feb. 1. The challenge gives students the opportunity to participate in crafting UCI’s priorities in their upcoming $2 billion fundraising campaign.

“When we introduced UCI’s strategic plan, which sets out a bold road map for UCI’s growth, we knew it was vital to involve the entire university community in the goal-setting process,” said Chancellor Howard Gillman in a message to Big Idea participants. “The primary objective of our next fundraising campaign will be to expand our capacity to carry out our mission of research, teaching and public service. With support from generous donors, we aspire to meet the goals of UCI’s strategic plan, positively impact the campus and society, leverage our multidisciplinary strengths, change lives, and become a leader in helping to solve the world’s grand challenges.”

Projects are required to align with UCI’s strategic plan, be multidisciplinary or multi-organizational, and include areas where UCI is emerging as a competitive leader in the marketplace and in the world. Winning ideas will be presented to potential donors and other funders.