July / August 2015   

Message from the Dean

Dear colleagues and friends,

I am pleased to share a couple of special projects on the horizon. In recognition of UCI’s 50th Anniversary, I am excited to announce that the Ayala School will host a gala on April 9, 2016 to celebrate this great milestone in our history and to raise support for research and education at the Ayala School. The gala will be held at the Rancho Las Lomas Resort and Zoological Garden where the natural beauty of the landscape and animals will be our backdrop. No doubt, you’ll be hearing a great deal more about the gala as we approach the new year, but for now, I want to invite you to save the date and plan to attend.

Secondly, the Ayala School has been working on our very own commemorative book to celebrate 50 years of biological sciences at UCI. With over three dozen interviews conducted and hundreds of images collected from the past 50 years, we are deep in the process of preparing a cherished volume of the Ayala School for future generations to enjoy. Please stay tuned for future information about the book and how you can be a part of its development.


With warm regards,

Frank M. LaFerla, Ph.D.
Hana and Francisco J. Ayala Dean

News and Highlights

Molecular biologist, Yilin Hu, receives prestigious Hellman Fellowship
Six UCI assistant professors have been chosen from a highly competitive cohort to receive 2015-16 Hellman Fellowships, which support research by junior faculty members who show great promise.

Professor Yilin Hu, Molecular Biology and Biochemistry, is one of the six fellows. Read more.


Neurobiologist Christie Fowler wins prestigious Avenir Award for research on nicotine addiction
Professor Christie D. Fowler, Neurobiology and Behavior, is one of six scientists to receive the Avenir Award from the National Institute on Drug Abuse to support highly promising and innovative early-stage research in HIV/AIDS or the genetics and epigenetics of substance abuse. Her research will explore novel brain activity associated with nicotine addiction. Read more.

How dry we are
UCI’s water scarcity research is globally recognized, and with California in its fourth year of drought, the campus is practicing what it preaches with even greater zeal.

Arboretum Director Peter Bowler, Ecology and Evolutionary Biology, discusses how UCI is managing our water usage across campus facilities. Read more.


Anza-Borrego hosts visiting scientists from Iran

A group of 10 top scientists from the country of Iran, accompanied by U.S. colleagues, visited Borrego Springs in June for an evening lecture and dinner at the UCI Steele/Burnand Anza-Borrego Desert Research Center. The group was part of a U.S. National Academy of Sciences and U.S. State Department sponsored tour of the United States. 

Professor Timothy J. Bradley, Ecology and Evolutionary Biology, and a former Faculty Director for the Steele/Burnand Anza-Borrego Desert Research Center gave the group a tour of the Borrego Springs facility and a program on the Salton Sea. Read more.

Dean LaFerla addresses Alzheimer's disease funding needs on Capitol Hill

UCI is leading the way in Alzheimer’s disease research, with one of only 27 Alzheimer’s Disease Research Centers (ADRC) in the USA. As the director of the UCI ADRC, and a distinguished researcher in the area of Alzheimer's disease, Dean Frank LaFerla visited Washington, D.C. in June to make the case for additional federal funding for Alzheimer’s disease research. Read more.

Research in the News

A Focus on Fungi
With its desolate hills and slopes overrun by non-native grasses and black mustard, the West Loma Ridge isn’t much to look at as you’re speeding down the 241 toll road. But closer inspection reveals an ambitious ecological effort to restore its native grasslands and shrubs.

It’s also where Mia Maltz, a doctoral candidate in Ecology and Evolutionary Biology, in the lab of Professor Kathleen K. Treseder, is determining how what happens underground, at the root level, can enhance this restoration. Read the article. 

Which Matters More: Being Green or Clean?
“It’s difficult to answer because it can depend primarily on what types of germs you’re expecting to kill.” … says Professor Bruce Blumberg, a biologist at the University of California, Irvine, and one of a group of environmental health scientists helping green chemists to develop chemicals that are inherently without hazard. Read more.


Paula Hunter is giving something very precious to fight Alzheimer's disease: her brain
Hunter has a keen awareness of research into aging issues. She and one of her sisters have been involved for years in a long-term assessment project at UCI’s Institute for Memory Impairments and Neurological Disorders.

“Without people like Paula, we can’t move the field forward,” ADRC Associate Director Joshua Grill said. “They are incredible research heroes.”  Read  the article.

Endowing the Future

The purpose of our endowment is to financially sustain the mission and work of UC Irvine. You can make a significant contribution to endow our future…and it’s easier than you might think.

Here are a number of charitable gift and estate planning strategies that can benefit you and build our endowment.


To learn more about how you can make a significant gift to endow our future, please contact us.

University of California, Irvine
(949) 824.6454 |

Save the Date - April 9, 2016



Are you interested in helping students achieve academic and career success? Would you like to make a difference in a student's life? If you're interested, join the Ayala School Mentor Program by registering at by September 21st. For any questions about the Mentor Program, please contact Brian Han at

The Mentor Program arranges for students to connect with alumni and community professionals to advance personal and career development including work-related skills, techniques and knowledge.


Steve Carlyle
Computing Director

This month, we said farewell to Steve Carlyle, our computing director, as he enters retirement after 34 years of service at UCI, 24 of which were with the Ayala School.

Steve joined the campus in 1981 with the Department of Pediatrics as a financial analyst. Steve shares that he joined, “way before personal computers existed.” Read more.


Ami Bera, Class of 1987 (B.S.) and 1991 (M.D.)

Congressman Ami Bera represents California’s 7th Congressional District in the U.S. House of Representatives. A first-generation American born and raised in California, Bera is guided by a desire to serve his community. It’s that commitment to service that led him to become a physician and later run for Congress.

He attended California’s public schools from grammar school through medical school, earning both his B.S. from the Ayala School and M.D. from the School of Medicine. Read more.


On July 1st, Professor James W. Hicks became the Interim Vice Chancellor for Research.

Professor R. Michael Mulligan, of Developmental and Cell Biology has been reappointed as Associate Dean of Graduate Studies for an additional five-year term. Read more here.


We remember faculty members of the Ayala School who recently passed away and recognize their outstanding commitment to research and education at UCI.

Rowland H. Davis, Ph.D.
Professor Emeritus
Department of Molecular Biology and Biochemistry (served 1975 - 2005)

Keith Evans Justice, Ph.D.
Professor Emeritus
Department of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology (served 1965 - 1987)

Patrick L. Healey, Ph.D.
Professor Emeritus
Department of Developmental and Cell Biology (served 1972 - 1994)

Read more here.