Ayala School eNewsletter
December 2014

Message from the Dean

As the holidays approach, I wish you and your loved ones a peaceful season ahead and a prosperous new year! 2014 is drawing to a close, and it is an opportune time to reflect on the accomplishments of the past year. I am now twelve months into my deanship, and have greatly appreciated the dedication and support of the entire Ayala School community. Working together, we have launched new initiatives that will have a positive and long-lasting impact. We should all take great pride in the successes of our faculty, staff, students, and alumni, who continue to add prestige to the school through their cutting-edge discoveries, innovations in education, and outreach/service to the local community. These accomplishments provide many societal benefits and demonstrate why the Ayala School of Biological Sciences is among the most preeminent schools of life science in the world. We are working diligently to catalog these accomplishments, which will be detailed in our first annual Dean’s Report to be published in early January, so stay tuned. In the meantime, the world premiere of the documentary “The Arctic Expedition”, which chronicles the hazards of research in the Arctic, will occur on December 5th. To learn more and register for this exciting premiere, see the calendar. Additionally, we will recognize the retirement and legacy of Bren Professor Michael T. Clegg on December 12th (see below). I look forward to seeing you at our upcoming events.

News and Highlights

International Students Experience American Tradition

For the second year in a row, the Ayala School Student Affairs Office hosted a Thanksgiving luncheon for our international students. More than 60 international students attended the luncheon, where traditional American Thanksgiving fare was served. Attendees learned about the significance of the holiday and wore turkey hats as a part of the festivities. Read more.

Renowned Bren Professor Leaves Tremendous Legacy Following Retirement
On December 12, Bren Professor Michael T. Clegg, Ecology and Evolutionary Biology, will be celebrated after a distinguished career in research, academic administration and international science diplomacy. Throughout his extensive research career, Dr. Clegg has been a pioneer in using DNA sequencing technology and sophisticated statistical methods to understand evolutionary processes.  Over the past 12 years, Dr. Clegg has served as the Foreign Secretary of the National Academy of the Sciences where he has contributed greatly to the international scientific community. Read more.

Longevity Issues Captivate Audience at the Allergan Lecture Series in Modern Biology
People over 90 are now the fastest-growing segment of the population and research on this group is the key to understanding longevity and how to maintain vibrant brain health. Professor Claudia H. Kawas, Neurology and Neurobiology and Behavior, gave a riveting lecture on The 90+ Study to a packed crowd of more than 300 community members as a part of the Allergan Lecture Series in Modern Biology on October 30. Read more.

Anza-Borrego Reserve Reopens Bigger, Better
After extensive renovations, the Natural Reserve System’s Steele/Burnand Anza-Borrego Desert Research Center has reopened its doors to classes and researchers studying the lower Colorado Desert. “We are thrilled with the outcome of the building projects and anticipate that great things will come from this collaboration between UC Irvine, the NRS, California State Parks and the Anza-Borrego Foundation,” says reserve manager Jim Dice. Read more.

Mentoring Tomorrow's Leaders
An important aspect in growing one’s career is having one or more valued mentors sharing their personal growth and guidance. The Ayala School fosters these valued relationships through the Ayala School Mentor Program. The cornerstone of the program is the annual Mentor Program Kick-off Reception, held November 17, where more than 200 current students and 50 mentors, almost all Ayala School Alumni, met for personal and professional development. This is the largest crowd to-date for the Mentor Program, which continues to grow each year. To get involved, Read more.

ROCHE/ARCS Scholar in Neurobiology and Behavior
Zachariah Reagh, a third-year graduate student from Professor Michael Yassa’s lab, Neurobiology and Behavior, has been selected as a new ROCHE/ARCS scholar, an award that recognizes and rewards the most academically superior doctoral students exhibiting outstanding promises as scientists, researcher and leaders. Read more.

Biological Sciences Majors Receive Research Awards
Ayala School seniors, Michelle Oberoi and Eden Barragan, were two of the top presenters at the at the 2014 International Research Conference held by Sigma Xi, the international honor society for scientists and engineers. More than 100 high school, undergraduate, and graduate students presented their research at this conference and three of the 24 ranked “Superior Presenters" were from UCI, including Michelle, Eden and chemistry major Christina Owens. Read more.

Research in the News

New Discovery May Lead to Therapeutics for Diseases like Meningitis
Professor Michael Buchmeier, Molecular Biology and Biochemistry and Medicine, and his research team recently discovered a key element to the arenavirus. The 58 amino acid signal peptide is essential in assembling the viral “spike” glycoprotein, which initiates infection in the arenavirus, known for causing human illnesses ranging from flu-like symptoms to meningitis to hemorrhagic fever, and associated with failed organ transplantation. Understanding this key component will help facilitate the development of future therapeutics. Read more.

Future Revolutions in Aging
Professor Michael Rose, Ecology and Evolutionary Biology, is among the world’s foremost evolutionary biologists researching aging. He was recently interviewed by several publications to discuss his expertise on the future of human aging and how his research with fruit flies could revolutionize this process.

Read the Pittsburgh Post Gazette article here. 
Read more on Rose’s expertise in here.

Modeling Healthy Growth and Disease in Cancer
Bren Professor Arthur Lander, Developmental and Cell Biology, was recently interviewed for an education video explaining that knowledge of controlled development is essential for understanding rampant cell production seen in cancer. Professor Lander is a recognized leader in the field of systems biology, and his research is helping to identify the underlying causes for some cancers and birth defects. Professor Lander spoke about the biological systems that control cell proliferation to achieve or maintain desired outcomes while attending a Society for Industrial & Applied Mathematics conference this summer on the life sciences. Read more.

Understanding Memory in Humans and Animals
In an attempt to bridge the gap between memory research in humans and in animals, Professors Norbert Fortin and Craig Stark, Neurobiology and Behavior, recently collaborated on research studying the memory for sequences of events in rodents and humans. Their research, recently published in Hippocampus, suggests that humans and rodents use similar representations and/or cognitive processes to solve the task. This strong cross-species correspondence validates the approach for use in future studies aimed at examining the neural mechanisms underlying episodic memory. To support this collaborative work, Professors Fortin and Stark’s labs recently received a grant from NSF to study the neurophysiological basis of this capacity using electrophysiological recordings in rats and fMRI in humans. Read more.

UCI Initiates NSF-funded Joint Project Utilizing the Arts to Improve Grade School Science Education
Through an innovative new program developed at UC Irvine, the arts and the sciences are being integrated to help young students better grasp the basics of earth, life and physical sciences. With $6.4 million in National Science Foundation funding, UCI has established the Equitable Science Curriculum for Integrating Arts in Public Education (ESCAPE) project, which will address the challenges of learning and understanding science as faced by a growing population of elementary school students, many of whom are non-native English speakers. Dr. Bradley Hughes, Lecturer SOE, is the ESCAPE executive director and principal investigator of this project.  Read more.

Community Spotlight

Frank Marquez, '99

Dr. Frank Marquez is an Alumnus of the Ayala School of Biology of 1999. He was born in El Salvador and immigrated to the United States at the age of 3. At UC Irvine, he majored in Biology, completed a specialization in Neuroscience, and also a minor in Psychology. As an undergraduate he was highly active, participating in the CAMP (California Alliance of Minority Participation in the Sciences) program, as well as MBRP (Minority Biomedical Research Program). In addition, while at Irvine, Dr. Marquez was a founding member of the first Latino fraternity recognized on campus. After graduating, he went on to attend USC Keck School of Medicine and during that time he was a state-wide representative for the Latino Medical Student Association. He went completed his residency training at UCLA Olive View with a degree in Internal Medicine. Dr. Marquez spent two years working in Arizona as an Academic Hospitalist, and currently works at Kaiser Permanente Ontario/Fontana Medical Centers. Throughout his career, he has focused on giving back to a variety of communities. With his background and medical degree, he has had the opportunity to provide health care to many people from El Salvador, Colombia, Cambodia, and Uganda. Additionally, he was also a contributor to a health column for a national magazine. He continues to be highly involved as a mentor for students from UC Irvine, USC, Norco, and Cal State LA. Dr. Marquez realizes that all his personal success has required hard work, but, also guidance from great mentors. He is grateful to the support system that UC Irvine offered while he attended as an undergraduate and encourages others to give back as well. He currently lives in Anaheim with his wife Julie, and continues to enjoy traveling, teaching medicine, and trying new restaurants.


As you consider your year-end giving, please consider supporting the Ayala School. You have the power to provide meaningful benefits to yourself and our society. Please help further our mission of education and research excellence by giving to the Ayala School.

Click here to make a gift to the Ayala School.


Congratulations to our 2014 AAAS Fellow

Professor Christopher Hughes, chair of Molecular Biology and Biochemistry, was named a fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science, the world’s largest general scientific society. Professor Hughes joins three other UCI researchers named this year. Read more.

Fulbright Senior Specialist in Environmental Sciences

Professor Diane Campbell, Ecology and Evolutionary Biology, received a Fulbright Senior Specialist award to teach and research in South Africa. The Fulbright Specialist Program promotes linkages between U.S. scholars and their counterparts at host institutions overseas. Read more.

Breast Cancer Research Award

Professor Aimee Edinger, Developmental and Cell Biology, received the Breast Cancer Research Program Breakthrough Award from the Congressionally Directed Medical Research Program (Department of Defense). Read more.


Join the Ayala School Alumni Club and become part of a worldwide network of BioAnteaters. Reconnect with old friends and support the Ayala School – all for free!

Click Here to join the Ayala School Alumni Club.



Biological Sciences
Theme House
Did you know that the Ayala School of Biological Sciences has an undergraduate house? In the Halls of Mesa Court, there is a Biological Sciences Interest Hall geared towards students with an interest in Biological Sciences. The primary purpose of the Biological Sciences Interest theme is to help cultivate a supportive and friendly environment for those who share an interest in biology. At least 80 percent of the residents in the residence hall are studying Biological Sciences, and this provides the residents with the opportunity to create close study groups and connect with others interested in biological sciences. Read more.


Andrea Wiley
Department Manager
Andrea Wiley has served as department manager for the Department of Developmental and Cell Biology at the Ayala School for seven years.  In her role, Andrea manages the operations for the department including research administration, financial management, department graduate program and faculty assistance. Andrea is a loyal anteater, having held numerous positions in The School of Social Sciences, Medical Center and the Ayala School. The recent recipient of the Staff Assembly Excellence in Leadership Award as well as the UCI Living Our Values Award, Andrea’s leadership has truly shined. “Just knowing my staff felt I was a good leader was reward enough,” shared Andrea. Read more.