UC Merced joins nanotechnology-biology hub

March 12, 2013 

— A collaboration between a dean and a professor as well as a grant from the National Science Foundation have made UC Merced part of a national nanotechnology-biology hub.

It's a move that expands knowledge and opportunities for students in Merced.

School of Natural Sciences Dean Juan Meza and Professor Mike Colvin received a grant of $175,000 a year for five years to join the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign and other schools such as Purdue University in a joint project.

Together, they will form a "nanoBIO node" that will provide all the collaborating schools with access to a collective of research and data at the intersection of biology, nanotechnology and computational science.

The partnership means six UC Merced students will spend time this summer at the Urbana-Champaign campus for specialized study.

One of the primary investigators on the project, Umberto Ravaioli, a professor of electrical and computer engineering there, sought out UC Merced for this project because he knew Colvin from a previous collaboration.

That selection demonstrates UC Merced's reach and prestige across the country.

"As a key partner institution, the University of California, Merced, will take the lead in developing outreach activities in nanoBIO," Ravaioli said.

"UC Merced is a new school, and they have made a deliberate choice to develop a biology curriculum grounded in computation," he said. "They will be actively engaged in the development and testing of research and educational nanoBIO tools, which can then be directly integrated in the classroom experience."

Meza and Colvin will help develop curriculum to share in the node as part of an online teaching-distance learning component. It will likely involve lectures and teaching modules, too.

"We're sharing our knowledge and our students," Meza said. "Most importantly, this will give our undergraduates experiences that will prepare them for research jobs and, hopefully, it will encourage them to apply for graduate school."

Colvin and Meza agreed UC Merced will benefit greatly from this unusual partnership, and the campus brings a lot to the table.

"We have some courses they don't," Colvin said, "and because we are a younger campus, we can be flexible in developing curriculum to meet student needs and demand."

Poet to speak

Nationally renowned poet David St. John will be reading at 6 p.m. today in UC Merced's Leo and Dottie Kolligian Library, Room 355.

St. John will read from his latest book, "The Auroras," which includes a number of poems set in the San Joaquin Valley and the Sierra Nevada. The reading, which is free and open to the public, is part of the Karen Merritt Writing Program's Write! Look! Listen! series. The event is sponsored by the Center for the Humanities and the literature faculty.

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

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