Sigma Xi Spring Symposium, focusing on climate change science and governance, joins popular traditions like the research poster contest and Pellissier speaker series
MERCED — What began three years ago as Research Day and then grew into a multiple-day event has reached a new benchmark this year. April 12 through 16 will be Research Week at the University of California, Merced, marking the first time the annual celebration of faculty and student research has stretched over an entire week.
Research Week's traditional mainstay events — the Research Poster Competition and the Vital and Alice Pellissier Distinguished Speaker Series — return again this year. And they are joined for the first time by what is becoming an established tradition of its own, the Sigma Xi Spring Symposium . All three events are open to the public.
"UC Merced is quickly becoming known for its groundbreaking research in a number of areas and disciplines," said Sam Traina, vice chancellor for research. "Research Week is our chance to celebrate that research and for the general public to learn about the amazing work being done by our students and faculty."
The April 13 poster contest is a showcase for student research, with monetary prizes for those deemed to have created the best posters depicting their research — including a $1,500 scholarship for the graduate contest winner, courtesy of Comcast. The undergraduate poster session begins at 10 a.m. and the graduate session at 1 p.m.
The Pellissier speaker series, made possible by a generous donation from the Pellissier family , draws its speaker from campus for the first time. Mark Aldenderfer , the new dean of UC Merced's School of Social Sciences, Humanities and Arts, will lend his expertise in archaeology as this year's speaker.
Aldenderfer's lecture, which explores how our species evolved to live the "high life" using human genetics, cognitive science, glaciology, paleoclimatology and ecology, will begin at 6 p.m. April 13.
"The story of how humans evolved to live in the world's high plateaus is one that can't be told through archaeology alone," Aldenderfer said. "It's through interdisciplinary research that we can answer some of nature's toughest questions, including what it took for our ancestors to finally live the high life."
The Sigma Xi Spring Symposium, hosted by UC Merced Professor Anthony Westerling , will focus on one of the more hotly debated subjects of our generation: Global Change Science and Governance.
The symposium's speakers — distinguished scientists Richard Somerville , Catherine Gautier-Downes and Steven Schneider — will touch on various aspects of global climate change, from the latest research available on the subject to the reluctance of the public and the media to buy into the science of it. The symposium, which runs from 1:45 to 5 p.m. April 15, will include brief question-and-answer segments with each speaker.
"Global climate change is one of the most important scientific topics of our time," Westerling said. "This illustrious group of speakers will inform and educate our audience while challenging their assumptions about what climate change is and what it means for the future of our planet."
Research Week also has a number of events geared specifically toward the campus community or segments of it. These include a workshop on how to find research funding, a research-themed movie night and a presentation about the research opportunities available at the university's Yosemite Field Station.
A complete schedule of events, including dates, times and locations, can be found here .
MEDIA CONTACT: James Leonard