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Professors Open Up at Research Week Symposium

March 7, 2008

Professors Open Up at Research Week Symposium

From a philosophical pianist to a dissatisfied doctor-to-be, UC Merced professors offered glimpses into their career paths and their research in the first-ever Faculty Research Symposium presented by the Graduate Student Association as part of Research Week.

Kevin Fellezsfound, as a performing musician, that neither performance nor formal analysis offered paths to address the questions of meaning that piqued his curiosity. He became a Ph.D. musicologist, and now he studies the interactions of music and culture as a member of the faculty of the UC Merced School of Social Sciences, Humanities and Arts.

Jennifer O. Manilaywas planning to go to med school until she did an internship one summer and discovered that what really fascinated her was the nitty gritty of how drugs interact with the human body. After a Ph.D. at Harvard, she now studies the development of T cells - a crucial component of the immune system - as a member of the faculty in the School of Natural Sciences.

“It takes hard work, innate curiosity, organization and persistence to become a biomedical researcher,” Manilay said.

Several other professors also offered advice to students.

“Aim for a broad range of research experiences,” said Professor
Mike Clearyof the School of Natural Sciences. He studies how neural stem cells develop into the many and diverse cells of the brain - in fruit flies.

Jian-Qiao Sunof the School of Engineering reminded his audience of the many opportunities available in his field, mechanical engineering.

“It’s the liberal arts of engineering; you have to know some of everything,” he said. “Mechanical engineers are employed in a broad range of fields - automotive and aerospace, high tech and computers, and even bioengineering.”

Manuel Martin-Rodriguezof the School of Social Sciences, Humanities and Arts pointed to his new online publishing site,
Alternative Publications.

“We publish the unpublishable - literature that everyone knows would not make any money,” he said.

But in the site’s comments section, he’s finding that there’s plenty of interest in works like poetry by Ruben Medina. And that’s what he’s interested in.

“I want to know who reads Chicano literature and how they read it,” he said.

The Faculty Research Symposium was part of this year’s celebration of Research Week. The week’s events also included a research poster competition for undergrads and graduate students, and a lecture by Professor Leonard A. Herzberg of Stanford University, the inventor of Fluorescence-Activated Cell Sorting, who visited campus as part of the Pellissier Family Distinguished Speaker Series.