Latinx Excellence and Achievement Awards recognizes Hispanic and Latinx graduate students

The 2021 Latinx Excellence and Achievement Awards took place April 1 as a virtual gala. In its fourth year, UCI’s LEAD remains the only celebration and awards event in the University of California system focused on Hispanic and Latinx graduate student success.

This year’s event welcomed remarks by Chancellor Howard Gillman and UCI Foundation Trustee Gaddi Vasquez and U.S. Senator Alex Padilla. It recognized graduate research excellence and achievement in all 15 academic units at UCI based on nominations from the senior leadership in the units. Here is a list of the recipients.

The Latino Excellence and Achievement Awards began in 2018 as the inspiration of Ph.D. in Education graduate Veronica Ahumada Newhart, who believed that as a federally designated Hispanic Serving  Institution, the time had arrived to celebrate the accomplishments of UCI’s Hispanic and Latinx community. Currently, Latinos are 39.4% of the state population in California but are only 11.4% of the graduate student population at UCI. LEAD aims to raise awareness of challenges in the graduate community, increase visibility of success, and inspire the Hispanic/Latinx community to advance in graduate and postdoctoral programs.

In addition to recognizing a graduate student in each academic unit, LEAD recognized 5 campus-wide awardees: Outstanding Community Builder Award to José Mayorga, M.D., assistant clinical professor of family medicine; Distinguished Staff Leadership Award to Burt Alvaro Slusher, M.S., director of recruitment and admissions for specialty masters programs, Merage School of Business; Outstanding Faculty Mentorship Award to Leo R. Chavez, PhD, distinguished professor and chair of anthropology, and Regina Ragan, Ph.D., professor of materials Science & engineering; and Outstanding Alumni Leadership Award to Héctor Tobar, M.F.A.UCI alumni and associate professor of literary journalism and Chicano/Latino studies.

Something new this year was the addition of a ZotFunder award to honor José Flores Velázquez, a former UCI Physics & Astronomy PhD student who passed away in 2019. Student LEAD awardees will receive fellowships from a memorial fund in honor of Velázquez.

The mission of LEAD is to: celebrate graduate student research excellence and achievement; recognize faculty, staff and alumni who provide support for excellence and success; and create a sense of community and institutional memory of academic and professional achievement in the UCI Hispanic and Latinx community.


UCI’s graduate programs shine in U.S. News & World Report rankings

Irvine, Calif., March 30, 2021 — The University of California, Irvine’s Ph.D. program in criminology, law & society placed second in the nation overall in U.S. News & World Report’s annual graduate school rankings – published online today – with 10 other fields of advanced study in the top 10 among public universities. Overall, 31 programs landed in the top 25 among publics, marking UCI as one of the leading locations in the country for students to pursue graduate degrees.

“UCI has established itself as a world-class public research university in a wide range of fields,” said Gillian Hayes, vice provost for graduate education and dean of the Graduate Division. “These rankings confirm that our campus offers challenging and intellectually rich opportunities for students of all backgrounds to achieve academic and professional excellence.”

Students in UCI’s interdisciplinary criminology program study and conduct research under renowned faculty who probe the causes and consequences of crime, its impact on society and its interplay with the law. Additionally, in January, UCI’s Master of Advanced Studies in criminology, law & society was named the nation’s best online criminal justice master’s program by U.S. News & World Report for the second year in a row.

The newly released rankings also highlight the continued rise of UCI’s School of Education, which improved from 20th overall last year to 15th – and seventh among public universities. It offers a world-class doctoral program featuring the benefits of an internationally acclaimed research and teaching faculty, a supportive scholarly community and selective cohorts admitted annually. As of June 2020, School of Education faculty served as principal investigators on grants exceeding a combined total of $96 million. This represented an all-time high for the school, the ninth consecutive year in which it established such a milestone.

Broad-based excellence in graduate study

Top 10 graduate programs at UCI include:

  • Criminology, second among publics and second overall
  • Literary criticism & theory, second among publics and seventh overall
  • Education, seventh among publics and 15th overall
  • English, eighth among publics and 20th overall
  • Sociology, ninth among publics and 20th overall

Top 10 School of Law specialty programs are:

  • Clinical training, second among publics and sixth overall
  • Tax law, third among publics and sixth overall
  • Legal writing, fifth among publics and ninth overall
  • Intellectual property law, seventh among publics and 19th overall
  • Constitutional law, eighth among publics and 20th overall
  • International law, eighth among publics and 22nd overall

Other top 25 UCI schools and programs include: part-time MBA (12th among publics and 26th overall), law (15th and 35th), history (15th and 30th), economics (20th and 40th), medicine – research (20th and 48th), political science (21st and 41st), engineering (22nd and 38th) and public health (22nd and 41st).

Other law specialty programs in the top 25 are: dispute resolution (11th among publics and 24th overall), criminal law (11th and 27th), contracts/commercial law (16th and 34th), healthcare law (16th and 37th), environmental law (17th and 32nd) and business/corporate law (19th and 44th).

Other engineering specialty programs in the top 25 are: aerospace engineering (17th among publics and 25th overall), biomedical engineering (12th and 29th), environmental engineering (19th and 28th), computer engineering (20th and 33rd), materials engineering (20th and 35th), civil engineering (23rd and 34th) and mechanical engineering (23rd and 41st).

U.S. News did not evaluate any arts or sciences programs this year, as these are ranked in alternate years.

UCI is one of the top doctorate-granting institutions in the U.S. and has nearly 3,000 students engaged in advanced scholarship and world-class research.

About the University of California, Irvine: Founded in 1965, UCI is the youngest member of the prestigious Association of American Universities and is ranked among the nation’s top 10 public universities by U.S. News & World Report. The campus has produced three Nobel laureates and is known for its academic achievement, premier research, innovation and anteater mascot. Led by Chancellor Howard Gillman, UCI has more than 36,000 students and offers 222 degree programs. It’s located in one of the world’s safest and most economically vibrant communities and is Orange County’s second-largest employer, contributing $7 billion annually to the local economy and $8 billion statewide. For more on UCI, visit

Media access: Radio programs/stations may, for a fee, use an on-campus ISDN line to interview UCI faculty and experts, subject to availability and university approval. For more UCI news, visit Additional resources for journalists may be found at


UCI Hosts Historic Virtual 2021 Grad Slam Event

IRVINE, Calif. – On March 4, 2021, UCI Graduate Division hosted its first ever virtual Grad Slam, where top scholars showcased their research in a three minute pitch for a chance to win cash prizes. The ten finalists spanned a diverse range of disciplines with each student working to leverage their graduate education to make a positive impact in the world.

Grad Slam is a systemwide competition that highlights the prestige and importance of Graduate Education while also increasing graduate students’ communication and presentation skills. UCI’s Grad Slam Champion will compete against the nine other UC champions for a grand prize of $7,000 in the systemwide finals on May 7th.

Amidst the pandemic, the UCI Graduate Division team re-imagined an ordinary pitch competition, creating a fully virtual, yet authentic experience. 

The remote nature provided a unique opportunity for the audience to get to know the finalists both personally and professionally. Each student had an introductory video where they spoke about their passions and hobbies. This video was followed by a three minute research pitch, and a live Q&A session with the host, Bri McWhorter. Each of these moments illuminated the ambition, talent, and diversity of the UCI graduate student body. In addition to being phenomenal grad students, these scholars are: musicians, painters, mountain climbers, rubix cube experts, tennis players, adventurers, and post card collectors. 

Leslie Heid, PhD student in Mathematical and Computational & Systems Biology, was named the Grad Slam Champion. Heid delivered a presentation on quantifying DNA methylation pseudotime to rewrite a cell’s fate to become a different cell. 

In her captivating pitch, Heid described the profound impact of her research: “Some day from a simple swab inside a patient’s cheek we could grow a replacement liver or kidney or replenish bone marrow with a perfect match and my work will be a vital step in unlocking this potential– once we succeed humanity will be changed forever.”

“Winning is a big confidence boost. Grad Slam is not easy but I feel like I can do anything now. I challenged myself, went outside my comfort zone, and succeeded. I am more optimistic about my PhD career and future prospects,” said Heid.

Jessica Vidmark, PhD candidate in Biomedical Engineering, won 2nd place, and Hamsi Radhakrishnan, PhD student in Neurobiology and Behavior/Mathematical Computational and Systems Biology, took home 3rd place. Vidmark presented on deep brain stimulation to treat and understand movement disorders, and Radhakrishnan spoke about using water to image the brain. 

Prizes were $5,000 for the Grad Slam Champion, $2,000 for 2nd place, $1,000 for 3rd place, and all finalists received $250.

The virtual event was full of special surprises, and heartfelt moments. Leslie Heid’s daughter proudly cheered for her mother as she won the Grad Champion award. Family and friends cheered for the finalists from the live audience wall. 

Grad Slam concluded with a warm congratulations from the Graduate Division Dean, Gillian Hayes, “You truly are the beating heart of graduate education at UCI and I am so proud of your contribution to our campus this evening, you each did a wonderful job.”

Check out the full event on Vimeo.


UCI’s Dr. Rodrigo Lazo and Jaymi Smith Join Graduate Division as Associate Deans

Irvine, Calif. – Graduate Division Dean Gillian Hayes has added two excellent members to the UCI Graduate Division staff, as Rodrigo Lazo joins the division as its new associate dean for diversity, equity, and inclusion, while Jaymi Smith will serve as the new associate dean for student success. The announcement was made on Monday and both will serve in their new positions immediately.

Lazo comes to Graduate Division with 17 years of experience at UCI, serving as a professor in the English Department, and was the associate dean of the unit from 2010-2017. Smith has been with the Anteaters for 13 years after joining the Drama Department in 2007 and serving as the head of design, associate head of design, and the interim head of scenic design.

“I’m so pleased to welcome such fantastic academic leaders to Graduate Division,” said Dean Hayes. “Our graduate students and post-docs are at the heart of this university and I’m so excited to be able to provide them with two more advocates who will listen and fight for them.”

At the university level, Smith has acted as an equity advisor for the Claire Trevor School of the Arts, was part of the 2017 Provost Leadership Academy, and was a member of the Graduate Council from 2015-20. In her Graduate Council role, she was part of the Subcommittee for Courses and Program Modifications and helped draft policies such as Academic Grievance Procedures, Mentoring Guidelines, and Guidelines for SSGPDPs. She also recently served as a member of the Hellman Advisory Panel.

“I could not be more thrilled to join Dean Hayes’ team at Graduate Division,” Smith said. “I’m here for our students and I want them to reach out to me. I want to make sure our students succeed in and outside of the academic environment.”

Prior to joining UCI, Smith was a freelance lighting designer, production manager, and producer.  Her design work has been featured in theaters such as Oregon Shakespeare Festival, LaJolla Playhouse, South Coast Repertory, The Alley Theater, Hartford Stage, Steppenwolf, The Goodman, and The Denver Center as well as in Ireland, Scotland, Spain and China. She has designed over 250 productions over the past twenty years and has received awards and nominations from The Ovations, The Joseph Jefferson Committee, The Column Awards, Sage Awards, the Off-Broadway Alliance, Henry Awards, and the Houston Theater Awards.  She was the 2003 recipient of the Michael Merritt Emerging Designer Award.

Before Lazo’s appointment at Graduate Division, he served four years as associate dean of Humanities. From 2016-2019, Lazo directed the Humanities Core Program, a year-long introduction to the humanities for first-year undergraduate students.

“There’s nothing I love more than serving our students,” Lazo said. “I’m looking forward to supporting our Black Thriving at UCI and making sure all of our students are set up for success.”

After more than 15 years as a professor, Lazo finds the most rewarding part of academia is interacting with students and helping them with their research and writing. In 2012, he received an award from the UCI Associated Graduate Students for his contributions as a mentor.

Prior to coming to UCI in 2004, Lazo taught at Miami University. He attended Columbia University’s School of Journalism and worked as a reporter at the Miami Herald.

For more information on UCI’s graduate programs, please visit


$5 Million Gift from ICS Alumnus Establishes UCI’s Steckler Center for Responsible, Ethical, and Accessible Technology (CREATe)

From healthcare to criminal justice, there are countless examples of the impact of AI — and of the human bias that can be carried within it. “Over the last decade, we have seen the absolute destruction AI can wreak on the world as well as the gifts it can bestow,” says Gillian Hayes, vice provost for graduate education and dean of the Graduate Division at UCI. So how might we reconfigure technological processes and infrastructures to center justice and promote human rights and social values? This is just one of the many questions that the new Steckler Center for Responsible, Ethical and Accessible Technology (CREATe), housed in UCI’s Donald Bren School of Information & Computer Sciences (ICS), aims to address.

The center was made possible through a generous gift from Vincent Steckler, who graduated from UCI in 1980 with a B.S. in information and computer science and a B.S. in mathematics. Steckler and his wife, Amanda, recently gifted $10.4 million to UCI, half of which is supporting art history students while the other half helped establish CREATe.

“I believe that the Center for Responsible, Ethical and Accessible Technologies could dramatically change some of the toxic tendencies within Silicon Valley,” says Steckler. “And if we change the way Silicon Valley operates, we can change the world.”

Hayes, who is also the Robert A. and Barbara L. Kleist Professor of Informatics, worked closely with the Stecklers on the CREATe proposal. “When we first began discussing this opportunity last year, it was clear from the start that they saw the way that UCI was poised to step out in front and change the culture of the entire industry while preparing our students for the new world they are entering,” she says. “Machines do as they are trained, and the CREATe center has the opportunity to train them to do good.”

The center is fostering multidisciplinary projects between faculty and graduate students from ICS and researchers from law, anthropology, media studies, sociology, philosophy, political science and economics. “The problems are larger than just ICS,” explains Paul Dourish, a Chancellor’s Professor in the Department of Informatics who is serving as the center’s director. “If we want to tackle questions of how data technologies shape people’s experience in domains like criminal justice and public services, we need strong interdisciplinary partnerships, and CREATe will establish an environment to do just that.”

Dourish views the center as an opportunity to amplify and build on previous efforts, pointing to the long history of work ICS has done in this area. “Going back to the founding of the department in the late ’60s, there has always been a focus on the social consequences of digitalization,” he says. He explains that Ph.D. fellowships offered through CREATe will provide the stability needed to expand the reach of projects started with grant funding. “This lets us build sustainable relationships, and I think that’s going to be incredibly important,” he says.

Furthermore, the center is working on collaborations that extend beyond campus and academia. “The way that we have to do this work is by partnering with community organizations, with civil society organizations and with others outside the university in order to achieve lasting change,” says Dourish. At the same time, by emphasizing diversity, inclusion and accessibility, the center will ensure that technology is built both by and for people from diverse backgrounds.

As outlined on the CREATe website, the vision is to “produce positive change in the world, focused on principles of equity, accountability and care.”

“I am grateful to Vincent and Amanda for their vision and generosity,” said Marios Papaefthymiou, dean of the School of ICS. “Their transformative gift propels our school to the vanguard of research and educational institutions around the globe that promote fairness and inclusiveness in the information-driven societies of the future.”


Courtney Echols and Brenna Biggs Earn Dynamic Womxn of UCI Awards

Irvine, Calif. – UCI PhD candidates Brenna Biggs and Courtney Echols were honored by the Dynamic Womxn of UCI Awards committee in June, as Brenna was named Dynamic Womxn of the Year and Courtney was awarded the honor of Outstanding Social Justice Activist.

Brenna is currently a PhD candidate in UCI’s department of chemistry. Her research focuses on effectively trapping greenhouse gasses and using the energy to provide electricity to power various dairy farms across the world. Courtney is working on her PhD in Criminology, Law & Society and her research centers on documenting historical anti-Black violence in the United States. 

“I’m lucky to know both of these wonderful scholars,” said Graduate Division Dean Gillian Hayes. “It’s no surprise that these two were nominated for their various awards, as both have made a tremendous impact on their communities with their research and philanthropic efforts.”

Courtney’s work, as both a community organizer and researcher, is rooted in two core principles: 1.) Once Black people get free, everybody gets free. 2.) to know the present, we must understand the history. Her research centers on documenting historical anti-Black violence in the US and intervening in its legacies. For example, some of Courtney’s research examines the relationships between violent anti-Black histories and various contemporary measures of inequality and conflict as well as how transitional justice efforts relate to and impact these legacies.

“I am grateful to have received this recognition by the Womxn’s hub, but I also believe white people have a duty and obligation to fight for justice—particularly given that we only got to where we are today because our ancestors committed genocide against Native people and then built their wealth on the backs of Black people,” said Courtney. “I echo so many others and call upon all white people to leverage their privilege and access to resources within and outside of this university to directly confront anti-Blackness. By centering racial justice in our fight for social justice, justice in all other arenas will inevitably follow.”

Courtney is expected to graduate with her PhD in 2023. She also received her master’s degree in Social Ecology from UCI, while also earning her BA from UCI. She triple majored in Criminology, Law & Society, Psychology & Social Behavior, and Social Ecology.

“We are proud to see Courtney Echols honored through this award,” said Associate Dean of Social Ecology Susan Coutin. “I’ve had the privilege of reading some of her academic work and have seen her commitment to documenting forms of racial violence.”

Brenna’s research is impressive in its own right, as she was recently named a Carbon Neutrality Initiative (CNI) Fellow. The UC President’s Carbon Neutrality Initiative Student Fellowship Program funds student-generated projects that supports the UC system’s goal to produce zero-net greenhouse gas emissions by 2025. Brenna also took second place at UCI’s Grad Slam Finals for her research.

“I am incredibly honored and excited to be chosen as the Dynamic Womxn of the Year, Biggs said. “UCI is home to such amazing role models that have inspired my journey to empower and make space for others to shine. I am grateful to be part of the Anteater family, and I hope to make our campus proud.”

In addition to Brenna’s outstanding research, she also goes out of her way to inspire women of all ages to be confident and believe in their dreams and goals. The combination of her research and her positive spirit has made Brenna a special ambassador to UCI.

“I am very excited for Brenna that she received the Dynamic Woman award,” said Associate Dean of Physical Sciences Isabella Velicogna.  In addition to being an impressive scholar, Brenna is very committed to community service, communication, and to promoting the use of science for decision making. She is very much deserving of this award and we feel very fortunate to have her in our school at UCI.”

Brenna received her master’s degree in Physical Chemistry from UCI in 2020 and completed her undergraduate education with a degree in chemistry at Cal State Fullerton 2015.

For more information on the winners and the Dynamic Womxen of the Year Awards click here.


The Loh Down on Science Crew Launches Special Pandemic Edition on Earth Day

Irvine, Calif. — Inspired by listener requests in times of the coronavirus, coupled with the advent of Earth Day, THE LOH DOWN ON SCIENCE is launching a limited radio/podcast series called THE LOH DOWN ON SCIENCE: SPECIAL PANDEMIC EDITION ( on April 22 for eight weeks. The series, presented by the Loh Down On Science (LDOS) Media Lab, will offer five new pieces per week, available on PRX/Exchange, Stitcher, and soon to be on Apple iTunes, Spotify, and all standard podcast platforms. These are three-minute family friendly radio/podcast/audio modules covering a range of pandemic science.

Topics THE LOH DOWN ON SCIENCE: SPECIAL PANDEMIC EDITION will explore include: The science of herd immunity.  The wonders of soap.  The curious story of Lady Montagu, English aristocrat and early vaccine adopter.  Could a mad scientist create a virus in a lab?  (Well, not a very good one.)  Why are our house cats going nuts?  The surprising healing powers of copper. Can you harness your home computer, when you’re sleeping, to join an army of computers crunching data to find COVID-19’s Achilles Heel?  Hint: Yes!  It’s been done to solve Ebola!
LDOS host Sandra Tsing Loh says, “Even in such a dark time, there’s so much to learn, so much to hope for, so much cool science to inspire our next generation of virologists, computer scientists, urban planners, transportation designers, artists, writers, and thinkers. Join us, and subscribe!  And tell us what YOU’RE curious about, via our website
Launched in 2004, now in its 16th year, THE LOH DOWN ON SCIENCE is the daily radio “minute” (90 seconds) of humorous yet informative current science.  It runs twice a day on KPCC 89.3 FM (Southern California Public Radio, Los Angeles’ largest NPR station), and is syndicated internationally on 150 stations, with a weekly audience of 4 million.  It’s hosted by Sandra Tsing Loh, writer, performer, and Distinguished Alumna (Physics, 1983) of the California Institute of Technology), and first alumna to give a Caltech commencement speech.  Google News will begin running it in May.
Loh is particularly thrilled that THE LOH DOWN ON SCIENCE: SPECIAL PANDEMIC EDITION, is completely reported (research, written, and read) by members and emeriti of THE LOH DOWN ON SCIENCE “Hive.”  Housed by the Graduate Division at the University of California, Irvine, the LDOS “Hive” is a unique fellowship program that supports young scientists with a passion for science communication.  Citizens of this new era, “Hive” members meet on Zoom, correspond on Slack, edit each other’s scripts on Google Drive, and record (safely) in their closets!
A diverse group, Loh considers these “Hivers” role models and advocates for the next generation of scientists and science communicators. THE LOH DOWN ON SCIENCE began this volunteer effort with an eye to the many K-12 school children who are at home, searching for quality educational resources online, in this pandemic.  This free series seeks not just to spark their imaginations, but to spark their inspiration to become our next globally-aware virologists, civil engineers, urban planners, journalists, artists, writers, and more.
Says Loh, “Originally created by Caltech, now housed at UC Irvine, we’ve explored a lot of amazing scientific research in our, what?  16 years on the air! Science has never been QUITE so relevant, though, as today, in Spring, 2020, with the coronavirus STRESS in our daily lives.  From the horrors of the news to the tedium of quarantine, that’s an understatement!
“That said, if there is a silver lining?  This COVID-19 era offers a unique opportunity for science, science communication, and for turbo-charging US science literacy. While the pressing global issue of climate change has had, let’s say, a somewhat politicized path, EVERYONE wants coronavirus done, if we have to wash our hands under warm-to-hot water, with soap, to an egg timer, to do it!”
Loh continues, “Because so many are cooped up at home, particularly K-12 school children, rather than focus TOO narrowly on coronavirus, our bailiwick is the Science of Pandemics, which, while it can be scary, is fascinating.  History suggests we WILL come out on the other side, much as young Isaac Newton did, during HIS quarantine during the Bubonic Plague of the 1600’s, when he came up with his ground-breaking theories of gravity and modern optics. Fans of Animal Crossing—  No pressure.”
SANDRA TSING LOH is the host of KPCC/ NPR’s The Loh Down on Science, a contributing editor to The Atlantic Monthly, and has been a regular contributor to NPR’s Morning Edition, APM’s Marketplace, and Ira Glass’ This American Life.  Her bestselling memoir, The Madwoman in the Volvo (W.W. Norton), was named a New York Times 100 Most Notable Book, became a hit play of the same name (premiered at South Coast Repertory), and has been optioned for TV by Paramount Television and Anonymous Content.  Her new book, The Madwoman and the Roomba: My Year of Domestic Mayhem will be published by W.W. Norton this June.  
ANNY CELSI (consulting producer)
ANNY CELSI is Senior Producer for “The Loh Down on Science” daily syndicated program. She has over 10 years of experience in public radio and podcasting. Her features have been heard on NPR, KPCC, Deutsche Welle and other outlets worldwide. When not confined to her stunning Mid-century apartment with her record collection she is also a touring singer/songwriter, with five self-produced albums under her belt.
Brenna Biggs is a Ph.D. candidate in Chemistry at the University of California, Irvine. She joined the Loh Down on Science “Hive” as a writer, where she is currently the lead managing editor. Brenna believes clear science communication is a necessary complement to highly technical, third-person scientific writing. She highlights exciting scientific discoveries and the amazing researchers behind them. Brenna wants to make science accessible and approachable for everyone, and is extremely excited to be part of THE LOH DOWN ON SCIENCE: SPECIAL PANDEMIC EDITION.
Kellen Kartub recently received her Ph.D. in Chemistry from the University of California, Irvine. During her time there, she developed a love for science communication and quickly joined the Loh Down on Science “Hive” as a writer and eventual managing editor. When Sandra proposed the Loh Down on Science Special Pandemic initiative, she naturally jumped at the opportunity. In addition to covering all things chemistry, Kellen is curating a series of scripts devoted to current coronavirus research and the scientists behind them. Her goal is to give listeners hope and comfort knowing the best minds in science are coming together to tackle the current coronavirus.
Stella Moon is a Ph.D. student in Philosophy at the University of California, Irvine. She is interested in how we learn mathematics and the sciences. In order to answer the question, understanding and writing about the sciences are very important. Stella hopes to contribute to THE LOH DOWN ON SCIENCE: SPECIAL PANDEMIC EDITION, by bringing a philosophical light from the Moon!
Sumner L. Norman is a Postdoctoral Scholar in Biological Engineering at Caltech. He’s developing neural interfaces that empower people with paralysis to control computers and prosthetic limbs with only their mind. Eight years prior, as an NSF fellow and ARCS scholar at UC Irvine, Sumner joined the shiny-new Loh-Down on Science “Hive” as a writer and editor. Soon after, he earned a UC distinguished public impact fellow. In this role, he advocated for science and education funding at the state and federal levels. Now, Sumner will be sharing his boundless optimism for scientific innovation with you! After all, even in a pandemic, he can find the silver lining. 
Bahareh Sorouri is a Ph.D. student in Ecology and Evolutionary Biology at the University of California, Irvine. When she is not contemplating the effects of climate change on environmental microbes, she delves in science communication. Bahareh strives to make science accessible and clear for everyone so they can make more informed decisions for their life, health and planet. Bahareh joined the Loh Down on Science “Hive” as a writer and currently serves as a managing editor. She is excited to be a part of THE LOH DOWN ON SCIENCE: SPECIAL PANDEMIC EDITION, and hopes to offer listeners comfort through her scripts.
Emily Sarah Sumner is a Ph.D. Candidate in Cognitive Sciences at the University of California, Irvine. Her research looks at how children explore the world and make decisions. Emily is passionate about communicating clear and accessible science to all. Especially in the midst of a pandemic when science is rapidly changing. Through THE LOH DOWN ON SCIENCE: SPECIAL PANDEMIC EDITION, Emily aims to provide clear and concise descriptions of research that is applicable to our everyday pandemic lives. 
Ted Yoo has his Ph.D. in Materials Science and Engineering from the University of California Irvine. When not thinking about how radioactive isotopes get recycled, he developed himself as an organizer and science communicator. Ted joined the Loh Down on Science “Hive” first as a writer, then as a managing editor. He also was Vice President of Brews and Brains at UC Irvine. There, Ted hosted and coached speakers to talk about their work to a broad audience. He continues to produce science communication content with his podcast “This Grad Life,” where he interviews grad students up to their necks in research. Between the three groups, he has addressed a broad range of scientific topics. Ted now hopes to bring his introspective flair to THE LOH DOWN ON SCIENCE: SPECIAL PANDEMIC EDITION.
LDOS MEDIA LAB, INC. is a 501c3 non-profit production company established in 2012 with the mission of creating educational programming to advance and promote the effective communication of scientific research to the general public. The company is responsible for the production and distribution of the popular public radio science segment “The Loh Down on Science” broadcast five days a week over 150 public radio station affiliates.  The company also develops and presents science communication workshops for graduate research scientists, in a variety of platforms and formats.