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UC Merced Students, Faculty Hard at Work This Summer

June 13, 2008

College towns have a reputation for being ghost towns in the summer time. Granted, many students head to points unknown for a much-needed break after a rigorous academic year, but that doesn’t mean there isn’t still a flurry of university-related activity going on in Merced.

Many students stick around for the summer to accelerate their studies by attending summer session classes. Even with the rigors of summer school, there are students like Yuriana Aguilar who manage to find the time to make the world a better place.

Aguilar, a freshman biology major, will volunteer at three area hospitals this summer: Valley Children’s, the Dominican campus of Mercy Medical Hospital and Mercy Medical Community Hospital.

Saying that she “feels great gratitude when helping others,” Aguilar feels that her volunteer efforts are personally rewarding rather than burdensome.

UC Merced’s campus community is also active in the summer. For instance, the university’s research laboratories don’t shut down just because class isn’t in session. Graduate student Maria Avila is hard at work in the lab of David Ojcius, where she studies chlaymdial protein. Management major Kevin Rico is out at the UC’s Castle testing site, where he’s researching solar energy under Roland Winston.

Later this summer, the junior will join a handful of other UC Merced researchers to study wind in Denmark.

“What’s so special is that UC Merced students make up seven of the 20 UC researchers going on the trip,” Rico said, which he credits to the tremendous respect and influence Winston has achieved in the research community.

UC Merced professors often take advantage of the summer months to conduct and present their research in the academic community – or to focus their attentions on writing.

History professor Gregg Herken is working on his latest book, “The Georgetown Set: The Establishment Elite that Waged – and Won – the Cold War.” His book project has him spending his summer poring through archives in Washington, D.C., and at Princeton and Yale.

Anthropology professor Kathleen Hull is presenting research at the World Archaeological Congress, which convenes next month in Ireland.

Literature professor Manuel Martin-Rodriguez will present research at a Chicano literature conference in Spain, and at a multi-ethnic studies conference in the Netherlands. His summertime globe-trotting will include working at a Spanish university on its collection of works by Gaspar de Villagrá, the subject of a book that Martin-Rodriguez is writing.

The summer has a lot in store for UC Merced’s students, faculty and staff – all of whom will return in fall with stories to tell of how they spent their summer months.