UC Merced

Food sustainability and diversity are topics of UC Merced lectures

Carlos Castillo-Chavez, one of Thursday’s lecturers at UC Merced.
Carlos Castillo-Chavez, one of Thursday’s lecturers at UC Merced. UC Merced, University Communications

One man rose from being a dining hall dishwasher to the founder of an innovative food management company; the other rose from an immigrant cheese-factory worker to an internationally renowned mathematician. On Thursday, the men will be featured speakers at UC Merced for two events that are free and open to the public.

Fedele Bauccio, CEO and co-founder of the Palo Alto-based Bon Appétit Management Company, visits the campus as part of the Sustainability Speaker Series. The theme of the series this year is food, in keeping with the UC Global Food Initiative led by UC President Janet Napolitano, according to officials.

Bauccio will speak at 1:30 p.m. Thursday in the California Room, located along Scholars Lane.

At 4:30 p.m., Arizona State University Professor Carlos Castillo-Chavez will be the inaugural speaker in a new lecture series, the Chancellor’s Dialogue on Diversity and Interdisciplinarity.

Castillo-Chavez, who is the Joaquin Bustoz Jr. Professor of Mathematical Biology at ASU, will present a lecture entitled “The Importance of Being Interdisciplinary and Inclusive.” The presentation in Room 120 will be followed by a reception in the school’s library in Room 355.

Castillo-Chavez said he was “extremely honored” to be asked to launch the lecture series.

“UC Merced is doing what we all aspire to in this country. It has already become a 21st-century model of research and education that puts interdisciplinarity, excellence and inclusion at the center of its academic enterprise,” he said in a news release.

Castillo-Chavez is co-founder and executive director of the Mathematical and Theoretical Biology Institute, which has recruited and enrolled more than 423 undergraduate students, many of whom are women or members of underrepresented minority groups, according to a news release.

UC Merced is doing what we all aspire to in this country. It has already become a 21st-century model of research and education that puts interdisciplinarity, excellence and inclusion at the center of its academic enterprise.

Carlos Castillo-Chavez, the Joaquin Bustoz Jr. Professor of Mathematical Biology at Arizona State University

In a biography published by the Society for Advancement of Chicanos/Hispanics and Native Americans in Science in 2002, Castillo-Chavez described how as a young student he lost interest in his education following the 1968 massacre of student protesters at Tlatelolco Plaza ahead of the Summer Olympics in his native Mexico City. He picked up his education after moving to Wisconsin, where his nonacademic jobs included working at a cheese factory.

His research, which blends applied mathematics and epidemiology, among other disciplines, has earned multiple honors, including three White House awards, an American Mathematical Society Distinguished Public Service Award, the 2003 Richard Tapia Award and the 2007 American Association for the Advancement of Science Mentor Award.

“We are really excited about this lecture series,” Vice Provost and Graduate Dean Marjorie Zatz said in a news release. “It brings two of our signature elements to the forefront – interdisciplinary scholarship and the importance of diversity. It is also a great way for our nation’s leading scholars to learn more about UC Merced.”

Bauccio, according to a January interview with San Francisco Business Times, got his start in the food business by washing dishes in the college dining hall, then managing it. He went on to buy Bon Appétit Catering and then turned the small company into a full food-service management company that operates 500 eateries in 32 states.

Lectures in the Chancellor’s Dialogue on Diversity and Interdisciplinarity series will be held twice a year, and the next talk is scheduled for the fall.

Under Bauccio’s leadership, Bon Appétit has developed programs addressing local purchasing, the overuse of antibiotics, sustainable seafood, the connection between food and climate change, humanely raised meat and eggs and farmworker rights, according to a news release.

For more information on the food lecture, call UC Merced Sustainability Director Colleen McCormick at 209-228-2478 or email cmccormick3@ucmerced.edu.

Lectures in the Chancellor’s Dialogue on Diversity and Interdisciplinarity series will be held twice a year, and the next talk is scheduled for the fall. For more, call 209-228-4723 or go to the Graduate Division website.

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