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What Do Professors Do in the Summer? First in a two-part series

June 22, 2007

If the phrase “professors in summer” makes you think of bearded scholars getting sunburned as they venture out of dank libraries for the first time in months, it’s time to revise your view.

Professors at UC Merced work as hard in the summer as during the academic year – but they’re definitely not holed up in their offices. They travel, perform field research and collaborate with colleagues all over the world.

The university doesn’t pay professors during the summer months. Their activities are funded instead by grant money – or just motivated by their desire for knowledge (and tenure).

Published research results are the primary expectation of UC professors. Often they are so occupied during the school year with teaching, developing courses and helping recruit new colleagues, that summer becomes an especially busy research season.

“Research takes a lot of time, thinking and planning,” said Jennifer O. Manilay. “It progresses so much faster in the summer when you can give it your full attention.”

Fortunately for students, summer research translates to job opportunities. Henry Forman has eight undergraduate students working in his lung research lab, along with two postdoctoral researchers and two graduate students.

Other professors are managing similarly busy groups. Roland Winston says his solar energy research is “in high gear” this summer. Manilay and Mike Colvin are working on a computational model of T cell development, among other projects.

Robin DeLugan and Simón Weffer will launch a ten-year study of quality-of-life changes in selected urban and rural Central Valley communities this summer. DeLugan also plans to begin studying Oaxacan immigrants in California.

Jan Goggans is finishing a manuscript about photography of Dorothea Lange and Paul Taylor in California during the New Deal era. Writing instructor Jared Stanley is focusing on creating poetry and analyzing American poems in the occult tradition.

Sometimes professors get to take vacations, too – but just as often, their travels are all business. Next week, watch this space for an overview of some exciting trips planned by UC Merced faculty members this summer.

For more information about professors, visit the Our Faculty page. For more information on research activities at UC Merced, please visit the Office of Research.