UC Merced

UC Merced Welcomes Nobel Peace Prize Winner to Receive Spendlove Award

The University of California, Merced, is pleased to honor Rigoberta Menchú Tum as the 12th distinguished recipient of the Alice and Clifford Spendlove Prize in Social Justice, Diplomacy and Tolerance.

Menchú Tum’s service to social justice dates back to her teenage years, when she joined social reform activities and became prominent in the women's rights movement. Her activism drew opposition and her family was accused of taking part in guerrilla activities, punished and killed.

Menchú Tum has lived for years in exile in Mexico, where she taught herself Spanish, some Mayan languages and English, helped lead farm-worker strikes and demonstrations and helped teach the indigenous population to resist military oppression. Her work as an organizer of efforts to resist oppression in Guatemala and an advocate for indigenous peoples’ rights earned her a Nobel Peace Prize in 1992 and the Prince of Asturias Award in 1998.

She is the author of the autobiographical work “Crossing Borders.” Menchú Tum is a UNESCO Goodwill Ambassador and ran for president of Guatemala in 2007 and 2011. She also narrated a film about the struggles of the Maya called “When the Mountains Tremble” and is the subject of a book entitled “I, Rigoberta Menchú.” She returns sometimes to Guatemala to plead the cause of the indigenous people, but death threats keep her in exile.

She will receive her Spendlove Prize during a special ceremony from 6-7 p.m. Monday, Nov. 5., at the Merced Theatre/Art Kamangar Center, 301 W. Main St. A book signing will follow the ceremony.

The event is free and open to everyone, but people are asked to register in advance at http://bit.ly/Spendlove2018.

Psychologist Looks to Partner with Merced Babies, Moms for National Study

UC Merced psychology Professor Eric Walle is looking for local mothers and infants to be an important and unique part of a large-scale, national study focusing on the development of young children.

The Play and Learning Across a Year (PLAY) project involves 65 researchers across the United States and Canada and is funded by a $6 million grant from the National Institutes of Health.

The researchers will study behaviors of more than 900 American infants and mothers in their homes to build a first-of-its-kind body of data on developmental topics from language, movement and gestures to gender, object play and emotion.

“This project is incredibly ambitious, but it is the type of collaborative research that has the potential to be impactful for the field for decades to come,” Walle said.

UC Merced was specifically chosen as one of 30 national data collection sites because it is unique among most other college towns in terms of racial and socioeconomic diversity, Walle said. He and his students will recruit 12-, 18- and 24-month-old children from the Merced community and visit the families in their homes.

“We’ll observe one hour of the infant and parent ‘in the wild’ — that is, simply doing whatever it is they do,” he explained. “The observation will also include some structured playtime between the parent and child with a set of toys that will be the same across all testing sites.”

All the researchers will collect documentation such as parent report questionnaires, video tours of the homes, digital recordings of ambient noises, detailed demographics and more. All the data collected across the country will be overlaid with the others — building a set of data no single lab could do alone.

The study offers interesting opportunities for UC Merced undergraduate students to be trained in the coding that will be used in all the emotion-coding sites. Students will also learn to code infant-parent observational data and conduct cross-lab assessments to ensure UC Merced’s coding matches that of the other labs.

UC Merced Connect is a collection of news items written by the campus’s Public Relations team. To contact the team, email PR@ucmerced.edu.