UC Merced Connect: Grant will boost grad student skills

November 13, 2012 

UC Merced is one of only seven universities nationwide to receive a grant from the Council of Graduate Schools to develop new approaches for enhancing graduate student skills for assessing undergraduate learning, and to help prepare students for future careers as university faculty members.

In addition to being the only UC campus to receive a grant, UC Merced is among prestigious company.

Other grant recipients are: Harvard, Cornell, Indiana University, Michigan State University, North Carolina A&T State University and the University of North Carolina at Greensboro.

The grants, $50,000 for each institution, come from the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation and the Teagle Foundation.

The money will help each institution integrate learning assessment into programs that prepare graduate students for faculty careers.

"It's really great to see UC Merced joining this cohort of awardees to develop new educational opportunities for our students. I look forward to seeing how the curricular and pedagogical outcomes of this project enhance our undergraduate and graduate programs alike," said Chris Kello, acting dean of graduate studies at UC Merced.

"The project is designed to identify effective institutional models for improving the preparation of future faculty across all fields, while also examining issues specific to science, technology, engineering and mathematics fields, social sciences and humanities," the council said in a news release.

The institutions will work with the council to develop their findings into guidelines for integrating assessment into faculty-professional- development programs such as the Preparing Future Faculty program, launched in 1993.

The universities are considered partners in the project, and will contribute to a web-based clearinghouse of resources on learning assessment. Another 19 universities will be affiliate partners.

UC Merced's award builds on work initiated through a Department of Education grant received by the Center for Research on Teaching Excellence in 2010. It was used to engage graduate students in course and program assessment, with a focus on attending to the needs of first-generation college students.

Program gives students window on nano world

More than two dozen UC Merced undergraduates spent the summer exploring a tiny but hot topic -- materials 100,000 times slimmer than a human hair that are poised to revolutionize sensing, data collection and other technologies.

The 10-week program is part of the Center of Integrated Nanomechanical Systems, or COINS. The center seeks to boost student interest in very small technology by supporting graduate and undergraduate work at UC Berkeley, Stanford, Caltech and UC Merced.

According to a National Science Foundation study, the number of nanotech-related jobs is expected to double every three years through 2020.

The prefix "nano" refers to a scale of one-billionth of a meter. During their summer internship, UC Merced's COINS students studied materials like carbon nanotubes, graphene sheets, glass nanosprings and semiconductor nanoparticles.

UC Merced Connect is a collection of news items written by the University Communications staff. To contact them, e-mail communications@ucmerced.edu.

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