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Health  Sustainability  Policy  Technology

LIVING THE

PROMISE INNOVATIVE THINKING

BREAKTHROUGH RESEARCH REAL-WORLD SOLUTIONS

2015 RESEARCH IMPACTS U N I V E R S I T Y

O F

C A L I F O R N I A ,

R I V E R S I D E

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PROMISE It’s about asking the right questions.


It’s about finding the right partner. It’s about providing real world solutions.


CHALLENGE

Can the damage caused by multiple sclerosis be reversed? Affecting more than 2.3 million people worldwide, multiple sclerosis (MS) is a disease in which the immune system attacks the central nervous system, breaking down the protective cover coating the axons of nerve fibers in the brain and spinal cord. Those suffering from MS experience a wide range of physical symptoms including weakness or numbness in the arms and legs, slurred speech, and loss of vision. Though estrogen treatments have been effective in preventing onset of permanent disability, the hormone may increase risk of breast and uterine cancers in women and its feminizing effects are undesirable for men.

SOLUTION

After testing different chemicals that mimic estrogen, biomedical scientist Seema

H E A L T H

Tiwari-Woodruff found one successful in fighting the disease without the negative side effects. The drug compound indazole chloride diminishes inflammation that accompanies MS flare-ups and stimulates regeneration of the myelin sheath – the nerve pathway coating that is progressively destroyed as MS attacks the nervous system. Focused on finding a cure for MS, this research also provides hope for treating traumatic brain or spinal cord injuries and some stroke patients.

Seema Tiwari-Woodruff

Associate Professor, Biomedical Sciences School of Medicine


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Are there better ways to treat hearing loss? Hearing plays a vital role in the way we communicate, and even a small amount of hearing loss can have detrimental social and emotional impacts. For example, many adults develop problems processing rapid changes in sound frequency, a declining ability to distinguish the difference between words such as “look” and “book.” This struggle becomes more difficult in listening conditions such as a noisy room. While hearing aids amplify sounds to make them louder, they don’t improve speech recognition because the brain itself has changed, altering the way words are interpreted.

UCR neuroscientist Khaleel Razak investigates how the auditory cortex of the brain processes information about sound locations, and how those mechanisms are altered by disease and aging. Razak is working to identify the neuron types lost or changed during aging, and to find combinations of behavioral or pharmacological therapies that could prevent brain changes affecting hearing loss. Discoveries from his lab may also help individuals with hearing aids and cochlear implants; musicians, mechanics and machinists; and individuals with Fragile X Syndrome, the most common cause of autism.

Khaleel A. Razak

Associate Professor, Psychology College of Humanities, Arts, and Social Sciences

H E A L T H


CHALLENGE

Does better sleep improve your memory? As with physical health, aging adults experience a decline in cognition, losing the ability to recall information about people, places, events and experiences. A pioneer in her field, Sara Mednick studies the neural mechanisms of learning and memory, focusing on sleep and its importance. While little is known about sleep, it is vital to human life, affecting behavior and possibly playing an integral role in many cognitive disorders impacting a large population.

SOLUTION

Sleep spindles are bursts of brain activity that last for a second or less during a specific

H E A L T H

stage of sleep. Research conducted by Mednick demonstrates the critical role sleep spindles play in consolidating information from short-term to long-term memory and reveals that a commonly prescribed sleep aid enhances the process. Mednick’s findings uncover possibilities to integrate sleep into medical diagnoses and treatment strategies, tailoring sleep to address particular cognitive disorders and improving memory for aging adults and those with dementia, Alzheimer’s and schizophrenia.

Sara Mednick

Assistant Professor, Psychology College of Humanities, Arts, and Social Sciences


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What is the best way for California to manage scarce water resources?

With a lack of groundwater in the Central Valley and the snowpack in the Sierra Nevada at an all-time low, California’s governor has implemented historic, mandatory water restrictions to address the prolonged drought. While it is important not to invest in reduction strategies blindly, California policymakers must quickly take action to implement long-term solutions that will ensure we get the return we need for a safe and reliable water supply.

In the hub of the Southern California Metropolitan Water District system, UCR is strategically located to help inform local, regional and state policymakers of efficient ways to manage water. Kenneth Baerenklau and Kurt Schwabe, environmental economists in UCR’s new School of Public Policy, specialize in issues critical to water policy, quality and scarcity, advising water agency managers on information campaigns, tiered-pricing models, supply and reuse options, and technology-based rebate programs. Their continued partnership will further establish innovative conservation policies and efforts to better understand their effects.

Kurt Schwabe Kenneth Baerenklau

Professor, Environmental Economics & Policy, School of Public Policy Associate Professor, Environmental Economics & Policy, School of Public Policy

P O L I C Y


SOLUTION

CHALLENGE

Does mainstream media influence better policy decisions? When looking at major trends and societal shifts that have occurred in the United States, most laws are far behind the changing of popular sentiment. With immigration and religion continuing to be controversial campaign issues for the 2016 presidential elections, how can popular media help shape public opinions and influence sound policy-making?

An internationally acclaimed Iranian-American author and scholar of religions, UCR Professor Reza Aslan is one of the most influential voices among American media and foreign policy experts. A contributing editor at the Daily Beast, a regular guest on “The Daily Show,” and author of the best-selling book “Zealot: The Life and Times of Jesus of Nazareth,” Aslan is breaking barriers through education, art, stories and even television. Harnessing the power of pop culture media, Aslan co-founded BoomGen Studios to transform perceptions of the Middle East. He will host CNN’s “Believer,” a spiritual adventure series, and has collaborated with another UCR professor on a biblical drama for the ABC network titled “Of Kings and Prophets.”

P O L I C Y

Reza Aslan

Professor, Creative Writing College of Humanities, Arts, and Social Sciences


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How can we improve America’s competitive edge in science and technology? Despite spending nearly $3 billion annually on STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) education, America ranks 25th in math and 17th in science when compared to other countries on international assessments. Yet the majority of K-12 school districts in the country continue to face a critical shortfall of qualified science and mathematics teachers. As federal and state funding for STEM teacher training ramps up, how can we recruit and inspire a new generation of educators to tackle the challenge?

As a nationally recognized expert in K-12 education, the new Dean of UCR’s Graduate School of Education (GSOE), Thomas Smith, is collaborating with CalTEACH-SMI, a UC system-wide partnership that encourages undergraduate STEM majors to pursue careers in K-12 education. By developing research collaborations with the Bourns College of Engineering (BCOE) and the College of Natural and Agricultural Sciences (CNAS) related to STEM teaching and learning, the program will increase the number of UCR STEM undergraduates entering the GSOE teacher education program. GSOE will also work with school districts in the Inland Empire to increase the knowledge of current teachers on the new mathematics and science standards.

Thomas Smith

Dean, Graduate School of Education

P O L I C Y


SOLUTION

CHALLENGE

What’s needed to keep up with America’s growing energy needs?

S U S T A I N A B I L I T Y

As global demand for energy rapidly increases, transforming the way we generate, supply, transmit, store, and use energy will be one of the 21st century’s most critical scientific challenges. Understanding that incremental advances in current energy technology will not be sufficient, the U.S. Department of Energy established the Energy Frontier Research Center (EFRC) program. With the nation’s most talented scientists working together, can we accelerate the breakthroughs needed to secure a sustainable energy future in the United States?

A UC Riverside research project led by physicist Jing Shi is among the 32 Energy Frontier Research Centers pursuing fundamental advances in energy production, storage and use. With help from an interdisciplinary team of researchers from seven universities, “Spins and Heat in Nanoscale Electronic Systems” (SHINES) will explore the interaction of spin, charge and heat to achieve significantly higher energy efficiencies in electronic devices, laying the groundwork for energy technology for the nation.

Jing Shi

Professor, Physics College of Natural and Agricultural Sciences


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How do we develop the world’s tastiest avocado? Seeking to be a leader in the global food arena, the University of California launched the Global Food Initiative to address the myriad of food issues confronting the world, including availability, security, sustainability and nutrition. Dedicated to the welfare, development and protection of California agriculture, UC Cooperative Extension (CE) specialists focus on enhancing crop productivity, fruit quality and good agricultural practices. How can they meet the needs of California growers while also satisfying the demands of discriminating consumers seeking fresh, healthful foods with exceptional taste?

At UCR, where researchers have played a major role in helping California become the agricultural powerhouse of the nation, CE subtropical horticulturalist Mary Lu Arpaia is passionate about improving the in-demand avocado. Led by Arpaia, UCR’s avocado breeding program has released four varieties, including GEM, which boasts the same excellent characteristics as the coveted Hass, while reducing harvesting and maintenance costs for growers thanks to its consistent production and more compact trees.

Mary Lu Arpaia

Subtropical Horticulturalist, UC Cooperative Extension College of Natural and Agricultural Sciences

S U S T A I N A B I L I T Y


SOLUTION

CHALLENGE

What can ancient rock formations teach us about possible life in the universe? Following NASA’s confirmation of evidence that liquid water flows on Mars, the world is pondering the possibility of life existing on other planets. While a growing number of exoplanets—planets outside our solar system—have been discovered orbiting other stars in our galaxy, we are a long way from the technology required to visit them. Nonetheless, what can we learn from our planet that will inform our exploration of life in the universe?

To answer that question, an “Alternative Earths” team led by UCR biogeochemist Timothy Lyons is looking for evidence on Earth to determine how our planet became habitable. Sharing a $50 million grant from the NASA Astrobiology Institute, the team is mapping the different states of life on Earth from 3.2 billion years ago—when bacteria may have first begun oxygen-producing photosynthesis—to about 700 million years ago, about the time animals came on the scene. As the only planet known to sustain life, Earth holds the key in determining what might be on Mars or an exoplanet far, far away.

S U S T A I N A B I L I T Y

Timothy Lyons

Distinguished Professor, Biogeochemistry College of Natural and Agricultural Sciences


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Do online textbooks better equip STEM students for success? As the job market becomes increasingly reliant on science and technology skills, students are struggling to keep up. Faced with outdated, boring material in expensive textbooks, many students are overwhelmed and underperform in early science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) college courses and more than half of students don’t achieve their STEM degrees. There has to be a better way to educate students in STEM fields, preparing them for success in the classroom and beyond.

Instead of simply putting textbook pages online, computer scientist Frank Vahid created zyBooks, STEM material native for the web, using “less text and more action.” ZyBooks include question sets, animations, interactive tools, and embedded homework so students learn by doing the work. The research is supported by grants from the National Science Foundation and Google. A study found students using zyBooks showed improvement in all aspects of performance including raising letter grades. Starting with just a few universities in 2012, zyBooks are now used by over 200 higher education institutions and are expanding to serve high school curricula in order to earlier engage young minds in STEM studies.

Frank Vahid

Professor, Computer Science and Engineering Bourns College of Engineering

T E C H N O L O G Y


In what ways can we improve solar energy efficiency?

SOLUTION

CHALLENGE

When it comes to installing solar cells, labor cost and the cost of the land to house them

T E C H N O L O G Y

constitute the bulk of the expense. The solar cells—made often of silicon or cadmium telluride—rarely cost more than 20 percent of the total cost. Solar energy could be made cheaper if less land had to be purchased to accommodate solar panels, best achieved if each solar cell could be coaxed to generate more power.

By combining inorganic semiconductor nanocrystals with organic molecules, UCR chemist Christopher Bardeen has succeeded in “upconverting” photons in the visible and near-infrared regions of the solar spectrum. This upconverted photon is readily absorbed by photovoltaic cells, generating electricity from light that normally would be wasted, boosting solar efficiencies by 30 percent or more.

Christopher Bardeen

Professor, Chemistry College of Natural and Agricultural Sciences


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Can social media provide patients with better healthcare services? What if the information and feedback we provide online could be used to improve the healthcare services we receive and tailor them to our preferences? More and more people are providing reviews of their interactions with healthcare professionals, giving opinions along with location information and the outcomes they experienced. With expertise in databases, health informatics, social networks and information retrieval, UCR computer scientist Vagelis Hristidis wondered if social media data could improve health outcomes for patients.

Aiming to make the information in databases easily accessible and useful, Hristidis cofounded SmartDocFinder, a big data-driven service to match patients with healthcare providers in a personalized manner. In order to deliver tailored recommendations, SmartDocFinder employs unique data aggregation, machine learning, personality profiling, and text analytics techniques to extract and combine the right knowledge from a wide range of data sources, from health outcome metrics to provider reviews, so patients can make informed decisions about the care they receive.

Vagelis Hristidis

Professor, Computer Science and Engineering Bourns College of Engineering

T E C H N O L O G Y


PARTNER WITH US

INVEST IN A SHARED FUTURE

In the quest for new knowledge, we welcome opportunities to partner with entrepreneurs, philanthropists, businesses, community leaders and fellow research enterprises. Research and Economic Development (RED) Through Research and Economic Development (RED), UCR is bringing advanced research from the lab to the marketplace while generating $1.4 billion in economic impacts. In FY 2014-15, we attracted more than $124 million in research funding, including 865 contracts as well as receiving 10 new patents.

Partnership Opportunies Recruiting — Find our graduates seeking permanent employment opportunities or students looking for internships. Corporate Sponsored Research and Development— Fast-track your R & D through partnerships with research groups and/or individual faculty on specialized projects tailored to your interests and needs.

Advanced Facilities & Equipment — UCR research labs house a wide variety of advanced equipment which your company may access for a fee. Philanthropic Investment — Support UCR programs educating the next generation of corporate leaders and receive recognition for supporting UCR. Specialized Training — UCR provides an array of certificate programs and specialized classes that can be designed to meet your individual needs.

Research Funding Overview CHART Pie Chart of Contract and Grant Awards 2014/15

4.1% 1.5% 7.5% 8.5% 13.8%

64.6%

Services — UCR can assist your company in many ways including statistical analysis of data and teaching you to search for prior art in patents.

Federal $79.5 million State $9.2 million

Industry $10.5 million Non-Profit $17 million

Other Government $1.9 million

UC System $5 million

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TECH COMMERCIALIZATION SUCCESS STORIES

CHARLES WYMAN Professor, Chemical/Environmental Engineering Biomass sources such as poplar wood and switchgrass are abundant and renewable because they come from non-food sources. Working in partnership with joint-venture partner MG Fuels, UCR chemical engineer Charles Wyman is pioneering new approaches involving the pretreatment of biomass to soften the plant material so the sugars can be more quickly extracted. Through this collaboration, UCR and MG Fuels are delivering real-world, cost effective solutions to reap profit from bioenergy crops, increasing production of renewable fuels, and protecting the health of the environment. Explore more at www.mgfuels.com

FRANK VAHID Professor, Computer Science/Engineering When Professor Frank Vahid created textbooks for online use, he didn’t just transfer text into pixels. He created web-based interactive textbook replacements, consisting of hundreds of learning questions, animations, interactive tools, and embedded homework, so students can learn by doing. Dubbed a “zyBook,” it became the central

product for Zyante Inc., a company Vahid co-founded in 2012 with software developer Smita Bakshi, a former UC Davis engineering professor. The company received three grants totaling about $1 million from the National Science Foundation’s Small Business Innovative Research program. Explore more at www.zybooks.com PHILIPPE ROLSHAUSEN Cooperative Education Assistant Specialist & Assistant Horticulturist Each year, California grape growers suffer an estimated $260 million in lost profits due to diseasecausing pathogens. These fungi colonize the plants after pruning, resulting in wide-spread diebacks and decreased yields. Many other types of fruit and nut trees are similarly affected. To address this challenge, UCR horticulturist Philippe Rolshausen and partners formed Agrobiomics, a company dedicated to creating alternative natural solutions to devastating trunk diseases. Their natural BeeZwax product possesses antimicrobial properties that can be used to seal the trunk wounds caused by pruning, creating a full cycle from bees to trees. Explore more www.agrobiomics.com


CONTACT US Michael Pazzani Vice Chancellor, Research and Economic Development michael.pazzani@ucr.edu http://or.ucr.edu Tel: (951) 827-5535 Rebeccah Goldware Chief of Staff Research and Economic Development 900 University Ave. University Office Building, Ste. 205 Riverside, CA 92521 goldware@ucr.edu Tel: (951) 827-6411

UCR Office of Research and Economic Development www.or.ucr.edu UCR Office of Technology Commercialization http://or.ucr.edu/otc.aspx


Office of the Chancellor University of California, Riverside 900 University Ave. Riverside, CA 92521

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Living the Promise: 2015 Research Impacts  

Can the damage caused by multiple sclerosis be reversed? Are there better ways to treat hearing loss? Does better sleep improve your memory?...

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