Interim dean announced

July 2015

The School of Social Ecology is pleased to announce that Professor Carroll Seron has been named interim dean starting this fall quarter. Seron will be leading the School while a search continues for a permanent dean.

Seron joined UCI in 2005 as a full professor, and is currently serving as Associate Dean of Academic Programs for the School of Social Ecology. She earned her Ph.D. in Sociology from New York University and a NIMH postdoctoral fellowship in Deviant Behavior, Social Control, and Law from Yale University.  She was a judicial fellow in the United States Supreme Court and a research associate for the Federal Judicial Center.

Water-energy interdependence by getting decision-makers to talk

June 2015

Across the western US, water and power are interconnected. Hydropower provides about 21% of the western region’s electricity and nearly 20% of California’s electricity is used to move, treat and heat water. Despite this interdependence, these resources are regulated by separate agencies, delivered by separate utilities and studied independently. Under the direction of Professor David Feldman, Water UCI co-hosted with the US Department of Energy, a first-of-its-kind workshop with utilities, regulators and researchers from throughout the West to discuss new ways of working together. At the end of two days, participants outlined several steps as a basis for more effectively managing water and electricity. Dave Feldman summarized the steps in an article published by The Conversation.

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How the law works for law breakers

June 2015

Chancellor's Professor Emerita Kitty Calavita and Dean and Professor Valerie Jenness, co-wrote Appealing to Justice: Prisoner Grievances, Rights, and Carceral Logic, which sheds light on the inmate grievance process in California. Through interviews with prisoners, prison staff and official records, the book takes us through the byzantine grievance process and explores the fine line between punishing prisoners and violating their rights.

In November, the Calavita and Jenness will participate in a corrections summit organized and hosted by the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals. The event will, for the first time, bring together all the stakeholders in prisoner litigation to share perspectives.

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Why Doctors Should Care About Happiness

June 2015

At your last check-up, did your doctor ask you how happy you were? At TEDxUCIrvine, Assistant Professor Sarah Pressman made the argument that doctors should be considering positive emotions as a critical ingredient and predictor of physical health. Pressman shared her research on happiness and explained how positive emotions are beneficial for objective physical health, stress, and longevity.

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When is it okay to unplug from tragic media coverage?

June 2015

Roxane Cohen Silver, Professor of Psychology and Social Behavior, was asked by MTV News, about how people can stay informed about national tragedies, such as the recent shootings at the Emanuel African Methodist Church in South Carolina, and not get overwhelmed or emotionally exhausted. “I think it is very clear that there is no psychological benefit to exposing oneself to repeated images or content of horror from the national tragedies that consume both traditional media (television, radio, print) and social media,” states Silver. “The fact that we have a 24/7 news cycle and that we now carry the news in our hands on our smartphones makes this issue particularly problematic — not just for young people but for everyone across the country.” She also stresses that there is nothing wrong with taking a break from the news every once in awhile. “There is no benefit to seeing images or hearing sounds over and over, and there is rarely new information presented in the repeated news feeds. I often simply say ’do not watch it or seek it out, says Silver.

Social Ecology part of a new Forensic Science Center

June 2015

UCI faculty, including Social Ecology professors Simon Cole, Elizabeth Loftus and William Thompson, will help lead a new national Forensic Science Center of Excellence. Aimed at improving criminal evidence analysis and reducing wrongful convictions, it will be funded by a five-year, $20 million grant from the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST). UCI will receive about $4 million, which will be used by ICS and Social Ecology faculty and students. The center, headquartered at Iowa State University, will also partner with Carnegie Mellon University and the University of Virginia. It will incorporate both a research agenda – developing new probabilistic methods and statistical tools – and education to ensure that judges, lawyers and investigators can effectively understand the results of statistical analyses on pattern and digital forensic evidence.

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Photo credit: Cpl. James P. Johnson, U.S. Army

Basolo apppointed Associate Dean of DUE

June 2015

Victoria Basolo, Professor of Planning, Policy, and Design, has been appointed the Division of Undergraduate Education (DUE) Associate Dean effective July 1, 2015. Basolo has served as the DUE Faculty Director for the Student Support Services (SSS) program for the past 5 years and has helped shape the services provided by that unit, which specifically focuses on the needs of our first-generation/low-income undergraduate population. Currently, she serves on the Campuswide Honors Program Board and is a faculty affiliate of the Blum Center for Global Engagement. Basolo has a strong commitment to undergraduate education and shares the belief that DUE is a critical area on campus to provide pathways for a diverse group of students to learn, grow and achieve success academically and beyond.

UCI contest draws proposals to alleviate poverty

June 2015

The Blum Center for Global Engagement hosted the inaugural "Designing Solutions for Poverty Competition." Thirty-five projects with creative ideas to help alleviate people living in poverty were received. Five finalists were chosen to present their proposals in front of an audience of potential investors, who voted for the most promising project. Katya Cherukumilli's project to develop a cheaper way to refine baxite, the aluminum ore often used to remidate groundwater fluroide, was chosen as the contest's winner. Cherukumilli is an engineering Ph.D student at UC Berkeley.

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Pictured are Cherukumilli and Richard Matthew, Director of the Blum Center

Reining in Federal Prosecutors

June 2015

Mona Lynch, Professor of Criminology, Law and Society, states in a NY Times Op-Ed article, that while police departments and prison systems have been taking the heat for the systemic abuses that hurt the nation's justice system, the federal court system has not been included in this backlash.  Federal laws passed decades ago continue to be abused by federal prosecutors to obtain guilty pleas and long, unjust prison sentences, especially against black drug defendants. These practices must be reined in if the country's federal criminal justice system is going to be reshaped for the 21st century.

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Blueprint for a thirsty world from Down Under

May 2015

David Feldman, Chair and Professor in Planning, Policy, and Design, and his colleagues, have completed a study on the Millennium Drought in Australia and contend that their findings are relevant to water policy in California. Implementing an integrated water management system in Melbourne was an extremely helpful factor in working to reduce water usage. Within this system, regional water managers have the authority to require water utilities, reservoir managers and city agencies to work together in times of drought. This was done in Melbourne and considerable effort was expended on educating the public regarding their role in water usage. “You can’t just come up with technical innovations and think that’s going to do the trick. You need education, you need public outreach, and you need all these people working on it,” states Feldman. “During the drought in Australia, if you watered your lawn, you heard about it from your neighbors.”

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