If banana slugs had voice boxes, they would have had plenty to shout about during the 2011-2012 year.
This year, members of the UCSC community searched distant galaxies, watched the arrival of peregrine falcon chicks, added their research and perspectives to important scholarly journals, took part in a massive outbreak of the Hokey Pokey, engaged in hands-on learning on and off campus, and did their part to make the world just a bit more Sluglorious than before.
From the Rock ‘n Roll Hall of Fame to cancer research to its ranking as one of the top "young" universities in the world, UCSC stood in the spotlight during the year that will end with commencements this weekend.
One step forward: advancing knowledge, increasing possibilities
In divisions ranging from the sciences to the humanities to theater arts, Slugs took bold steps forward this year:
- UCSC scientists made international news and advanced the fight against cancer when they launched the Cancer Genomics Hub for NCI research programs.
- Researchers on campus also developed a novel approach for eradicating drug-resistant bacteria from wounds and skin infections, using light to trigger the controlled release of nitric oxide.
- Meanwhile, robotics experts at UC Santa Cruz and the University of Washington advanced the powers and possibilities of mechanized surgeons. The combined team completed a set of seven advanced robotic surgery systems that will be used by major medical research laboratories throughout the United States.
- Other scientific advances also brought plenty of media attention to UCSC, including a new DNA sequencer that uses nanopore concepts pioneered at UCSC.
- While some UCSC researchers looked through microscopes, others looked toward the sky for answers. Astronomers found clouds of “primordial gas,” a remnant from the early universe, a find that was hailed as one of the top scientific breakthroughs of the year.
- On top of all this, scientists released the most accurate simulation of the universe to date.
- A special forum, “What Are We Doing When We Do the Humanities,” highlighted exceptional research in ethics, history, language, religion and other core elements of the human experience.
- And who says a play can’t take place in two different worlds? Six live cameras and internet connectivity allowed the Theater Arts division to put on a Greek tragedy at the intersection of arts and technology.
- Just imagine an interactive arts event from the future, where the performance glows in the dark. That’s what more than 2,500 people found at the downtown “Glow” festival, with creative help from Digital Arts and New Media students and alums.
And the winner is…
- The campus has plenty of talent to go around — and it did not go unrecognized. Here is a sampling of some distinguished moments celebrated in the 2011-12 year.
- Among universities born 50 or fewer years ago, UC Santa Cruz ranked seventh in the world, according to an analysis by Times Higher Education.
- UC Santa Cruz assistant professor of film and digital media John Jota Leaños won a coveted Guggenheim fellowship. He also received a USA Fellowship Grant, an honor that was also bestowed upon literature professor and acclaimed author Karen Tei Yamashita.
- UCSC humanities lecturer Gary Young was named 2012 Artist of the Year by the Santa Cruz County Arts Commission.
- Members of the Slug community also won honors for their work in cinema and television. Leo Chiang—a lecturer in the Social Documentation M.F.A. Program at UC Santa Cruz—was nominated for an Emmy Award for his documentary film, A Village Called Versailles. Also, Award-winning writer, producer and Slug alumna Marti Noxon (Mad Men, Grey’s Anatomy, Glee) was presented with the first UCSC Film & Digital Media Prestigious Alumni Award at a ceremony held at the Soho House in West Hollywood.
- The sciences also made a national splash. In one banner year, physicist Peter Young was elected to the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, UC Santa Cruz astronomer Sandra Faber won the Bruce Gold Medal from the Astronomical Society of the Pacific, and astronomer Jerry Nelson received the 2012 Franklin Medal.
Call us different, call us relevant…
Creativity is part of the Slug genome, along with having a social conscience and finding new ways of learning.
- Consider the level of support for a scholarship honoring the memory of alumnus Gabe Zimmerman, who dedicated his career to public service.
- Or savor the new partnership of Bonny Doon Vineyard founder and proud Slug Randall Grahm and the UCSC Arts Division, featuring a specially bottled wine with a label designed by undergraduate Louise Leong, an Irwin Scholarship recipient.
- UCSC alumna Bridgette Auger followed women activists in Egypt’s Tahrir as they came under fire during a clash between protesters and police. Auger, who received her Master's degree in Social Documentation from UCSC earlier this year, shot video footage of the incident, which can be seen on the Daily Beast web site.
- In this eclectic place, undergraduates trained “pirate” robots to pelt each other with ping-pong balls in a class run by electrical engineering professor Gabriel Elkaim, students examined political events by peering into their own lives under the guidance of noted feminist studies professor Bettina Aptheker, and headed to the woods in search of viruses that infect bacteria as part of a class conducted by Manuel Ares, a professor of molecular, cell, and developmental biology at UCSC. Read about them here.
- UCSC also refurbished and expanded its beloved McHenry Library, which was rededicated this year. A new café along with a more comfortable vibe turned the library into a full-fledged cultural center and gathering place in the redwoods.
- While celebrating a 45-year milestone for the campus’s own radio station, KZSC, students recalled its renegade roots and those whose careers were launched in its tree-house headquarters.
Speaking out loud…
Many outspoken and articulate Slugs were out there engaging in public conversations and adding to the creative landscape.
- UCSC History Professor Dana Frank, for example, had a cover story in the Nation.
- UC Santa Cruz History Professor Nathaniel Deutsch, who is also director of the university’s Institute for Humanities Research was in very distinguished company with bestselling authors like Jonathan Safran Foer and Daniel Handler (“Lemony Snicket”) when he contributed to the New American Haggadah.
- Meanwhile, UCSC alumna Elizabeth McKenzie’s remarkable short story “Someone I’d Like You to Meet” was published in the Atlantic Monthly.
- Julie Guthman, associate professor of community studies at UCSC, participated in a New York Times feature “Room for Debate” on the subject of “Should You Trust Calorie Counts.”
- And pop culture had its day as UCSC boosted the impact of a Rock and Roll Hall of Fame exhibit with items from the Grateful Dead Archive.