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UC MEXUS Grants Help Merced Professors Collaborate with Mexican Colleagues

October 26, 2005

MERCED - The University of California Institute for Mexico and
the United States (UC MEXUS) provides seed funding for developing
research and teaching collaborations between institutions in Mexico
and the United States. Two UC Merced faculty members have found an
unexpected angle to bring these funds to contribute to their work:
Mónica Medina and Rudy M. Ortiz have received MEXUS grants to
help establish cooperation with Mexican research institutions in
marine biology.

The collaborative grants will allow the researchers to plan for
future projects and programs that will advance scientific knowledge
about health and the environment and offer opportunities for UC
Merced students to study marine biology in Mexico.

“We are very excited about the opportunities that the UC MEXUS
program will provide for UC Merced students and faculty,” said Dean
Maria Pallavicini of the UC Merced School of Natural Sciences. “The
successful applications of Professors Ortiz and Medina reflect
their scholarship and vision to bring this to UC Merced.”

Ortiz’s grant will allow visits and meetings between UC Merced
and the Centro de Investigaciones Biológicas del Noroeste
(CIBNOR) in La Paz, Baja California del Sur. He plans to
collaborate with faculty members there to study oxidative stress -
a component of diabetes, obesity and high blood pressure – in
marine animals. Better understanding of how oxidative stress works
in different environments may someday lead to health advances for humans.

Ortiz and Medina will also use this grant money to work with
their Mexican counterparts to explore the potential for team-taught
field courses for UC Merced students at CIBNOR. “It will be a
unique opportunity for students to have a four to six-week course
in which they will actually spend a majority of the time in the
water examining marine environments in all their splendor,” said
Ortiz. Part of Medina’s grant will also be used to plan this course.

Medina’s UC MEXUS grant will also help establish research
collaborations with colleagues at the Universidad Nacional
Autonóma de Mexico (UNAM) in Puerto Morelos, Yucatán and
at the Universidad de Baja California Sur. These collaborations
will allow a larger-scale genomic analysis of the health of sea
coral and algae populations, Medina’s area of specialty.

“The laboratory in Puerto Morelos is an ideal place into which I
can expand my field research,” Medina said. “And Cabo Pulmo, in the
vicinity of La Paz, is one of the largest reefs in the Eastern Pacific.”

The two UC Merced professors plan to visit their Mexican
colleagues in January 2006 to make more concrete plans for these
research and teaching projects, with reciprocal visits to Merced to follow.

UC MEXUS promotes education, research, public service, and other
scholarly activities in Mexican studies, United States-Mexico
relations, Latino studies and other critical related issues. The
institute also promotes collaboration between Mexican and United
States scientists in all disciplines. Within this broad definition,
UC MEXUS seeks to identify, encourage, secure financial support
for, and publicize programs which promise to contribute
substantially to scholarship, to enhance University
instruction—particularly in graduate and professional
areas—to improve binational understanding, and to make
positive contributions to society in both Mexico and the United
States. The institute has been located at the UC Riverside campus
since 1984.