As summer winds down and UCI gears up for students to arrive for fall classes, we thought it would be fun to share what some of our faculty, staff and students have been up to. From international travel for conferences and research to surfing So Cal’s beautiful waves, one thing is perfectly clear – UCI social sciences knows how to have a good time.

While everyone knows that students look forward to summer, the secret is that professors do, too. For a few precious months, we are able to focus on the activities that refuel us, and for me, that means writing, surfing and traveling. I am currently working on a book in which I challenge the “Tiger Mom” thesis by explaining the structural, cultural and social psychological factors that contribute to Asian Americans’ exceptional academic outcomes. My goal is to have a draft of the book manuscript to my editor at the end of the summer. But to meet this long-term goal, I have always believed that short-term rewards are critical, so my writing breaks this summer have included traveling to New York (where I lived for 12 years before moving to southern California) and surfing in my favorite local spot: Trails in San Clemente, where the waves are rolling and there are plenty of dolphins. See you in the water—MAHALO!

Jennifer Lee, Sociology Professor



This summer I was a GPIUS intern, working as a peer mentor for Japanese High school students for the Empowerment Program. During that time, I was staying with a different host family each week, depending on which schools offered the program. All of the other interns were from different UCs, but I was the only one from UCI. The Empowerment Program emphasized the importance of being positive and pursuing your dreams. I believe that my summer was definitely rewarding as I was able to be a role model as well as a motivator. The experience I had in Japan is something that I would never have gotten if I was not part of the UC system, and I am so proud to be the only student that represented UCI! Zot, zot, zot!

Ophelia Kong, International Studies Undergraduate (pictured far right)



After working on Capitol Hill through the UCDC program this past spring, I have spent my summer working in the Governor's office through UC Irvine's Sacramento Internship Program (SIP). I will say both opportunities have been a priceless experience and have forever changed my life. While working in the California State Capitol, I was appointed to the position of Veteran Caucus Political Committee Vice Chair for the California Democratic Party. Also, I have been working closely with other veterans on UC Irvine's campus to develop a grassroots campaign to promote the veteran's community and advocate for veteran's issues. When I return this fall to finish my last year, I have been asked to help out with OC District Attorney Jeff Ferguson's campaign for OC Superior Court Judge in 2014.

Brad Padgitt, Political Science and Sociology Undergraduate



People can spend thousands of dollars to vacation on our beautiful backyard beaches.  When schedules and timing thwart a full fledged vacation, Crystal Cove is our destination. We celebrated our daughter Lauren's (pictured) 18th birthday in August just as we celebrated her birth eighteen years ago, walking along our magnificent coastline while dolphins and sea lions surf the breaking waves. Our freshman anteater's love for her beautiful California beach never waivers.

Joanna Kerner, Institute for Mathematical Behavioral Sciences Manager



This summer, I volunteered with CABikes, a non-profit organization that locally manufactures and gives bicycles to student youths who live very far (8 to 20 kilometers) from schools and health centers in Fort Portal, Uganda. The organization also builds and customizes hand-powered tricycles for disabled adults and children living in the community. I was responsible for designing a survey to measure the impacts of the program, carrying out data collection via visits and conversation with program participants or recipients, and evaluating means to better serve them.

Karina Hermawan, Economics Graduate Student



This summer, I had the opportunity to participate in the Undergraduate PIRE Program (UPP). The program is an NSF-funded, 5-year project encouraging an interdisciplinary approach to water sustanability research. Twelve undergraduates were sent to Australia for a 2-week, all-expenses paid trip that involved attending awesome conferences, field work and some fun sight-seeing! When we got back, we analyzed data collected from Australia, prepared research reports/posters/Powerpoints and presented findings at a mini symposium. The experience was very inspirational and eye-opening. I definitely encourage other water-interested students to apply, especially from the social sciences! When the program ended, I started summer classes and continued my UROP-funded project on the public's perception of water reuse. I'm also currently working with a post-doc researcher on a meta-analysis of neuroimaging studies and second language processing.

Maria Castillo, Public Health and Cognitive Sciences Undergraduate



I  completed an intensive two month Arabic language program in Meknes, Morocco on a Critical Language Scholarship from the US Department of State where I lived with a Moroccan host family. Afterward, I stayed on in the capital city of Rabat to complete interviews for my research on African migrants living in Morocco.

Kelsey Norman, Political Science, Graduate Student (pictured)




Aside from writing articles, etc., I edited footage for my next documentary on contemporary Tehran and spent time teaching my son to read in Persian and English.

Roxanne Varzi, Anthropology Associate Professor


I returned to UCI from Harvard June 1st to reclaim my house and sort through mail. I left June 20th to visit my 92 year old mother in St. Louis, then flew to Serbia to visit my eldest son who is financing and building wind farms throughout Eastern Europe. I then went to Israel for meetings of the International Society of Political Psychology and to visit friends at the Weizzman Institute. I took some time off for tourism in Israel before returning to LA and beginning a summer internship at UCI with local students and UCI students at the UCI Ethics Center. Every year we do a project; this year, it was on ethical games, designed to see if we can construct an application for phones, videos, and/or computers that teaches ethics to young students. After a month-long internship, I helped my daughter (pictured) pack for college, took her to Bryn Mawr, attended meetings of the American Political Science Association in Chicago, dropped in on mom again and then to UCI to the quiet of the academic year.

Kristen Monroe, Political Science Professor and Interdisciplinary Center for the Scientific Study of Ethics and Morality Director



Ivan Small and I had the opportunity to represent IMTFI at the Mobile Money for the Unbanked Global event hosted by the GSMA in Nairobi, Kenya in July. We met central bankers, mobile network operators, NGOs, and others in the financial inclusion space from all over the world. We also spent some time with IMTFI researcher Jane Mutinda, professor, who gave us a tour of her institution, Kenyatta University, and various field sites which included the Thikka School for the Blind and women’s groups in Machakos. The photo was taken after a meeting at Safaricom (L to R): Ivan Small, Catherine Kaunda, George Gacheche, Professor Jane Mutinda, Jenny Fan. Ivan and I also got to fit in one day at the Maasai Mara where we were able to witness the wildebeest migration--amazing. What an incredible experience, the Kenyans have such hospitality. More photos...

Jenny Fan, Institute for Money, Technology & Financial Inclusion Manager



Roxana Vazirpour Kennedy, International Studies and Spanish Undergrad



Among other things, I participated in a Beijing summer school run the by Lincoln Institute of Land Policy (a Cambridge, MA think tank) designed to teach urban economics and local public finance to faculty members from Chinese Universities. It's called "Training the Trainers," and the lectures are simultaneously translated for the audience.
Jan Brueckner, Economics Professor and Department Chair



One event I really enjoyed attending this summer was the OC Mini Maker Faire. I was able to try on a fellow's Google Glass, interacted with a few R2D2s and was given a beautifully crafted octopus straight from a 3-D printer. It was an amazing experience, and I will definitely check it out again next year!

Michelle Doan, Psychology Undergraduate (pictured)




I taught both summer sessions; one class on the ground and one class online. The online class draws students from around the world and for the first time, we offered Juvenile Gangs online.

Al Valdez, Social Sciences Lecturer


I worked with George Tita (social ecology), Blake Allison (grad student in econ), and Jenny West (grad student, social ecology) on a project that uses mathematical game theory to study the formation of youth gangs. One particular application of our work is to understand why, even in racially-mixed neighborhoods, youth gangs generally form along racial lines and inter-gang violence is generally between gangs of the same race. We developed new theory that predicts a strong tendency toward both patterns and shows it to be highly robust to various changes in the environment. The key factor is that gang members care more about status and honor within racial group. This preference, even if ever so slight, can generate the stark segregation that we see as gangs form within race for protection from others outside of the gang but still within the same race. Over the summer, we polished up the results and prepared to present the work at conferences. This project is funded by Air Force Office of Scientific Research.

Michael McBride, Economics Associate Professor



I have been doing a summer internship at Causa Justa :: Just Cause. CJJC is a grass-roots community organization that provides services, civic engagement opportunities and empowerment skills to low-income tenants and immigrants in Oakland and San Francisco. This summer, I’ve specifically worked on the Immigrant Rights Campaign in San Francisco. I have done work ranging from data base entry to Know Your Rights Trainings for members of the community.

Maria Leonor Fernandez, Chicano/Latino Studies Undergraduate




The summer was a blur. I flew to the University of Bologna for some joint research, then to Seoul for a conference on US-Korean relations. I worked on a book project at my summer home in Washington State, chaired a panel at the American Political Science Association Convention in Chicago, and will soon be making a special presentation at Kings College London. Somewhere in there, my wife and I celebrated our 50th wedding anniversary!

Patrick Morgan, Political Science Professor



Summer was the time to begin some new research projects and to finish others. I worked on several, including an historical study of the National Labor Relations Board (with one of my current graduate students) and a study of the dynamics of the 1894 coal strike (with a former graduate student who is now an assistant professor). I also taught an online summer course on sociological methods during summer session I. Then I was off to our family vacation in the Amazon basin of Ecuador, followed by the annual American Sociological Association Convention in New York (and a mini-conference I co-organized for the Political Sociology Section of ASA). Interspersed throughout the summer were some committee meetings, dissertation chapters to read and evaluate, and a successful dissertation defense. And before I knew it, the fall quarter is upon us!

Judith Stepan-Norris, Sociology Professor



I went to Maui in early June for a family trip (still paying for it too!!!). My daughter's family, myself and my best friend's family met up at the Hyatt Regency Resort in Kaanapali for a week of fun and sun. Kids loved it!  

Joy Bradley, Personnel Analyst (pictured)



I traveled to the lost city of Atlantis in the Bahamas and spent a week examining the ruins!

Shelly Bennett-Burns, Prin. Financial Analyst



I was lucky enough to be invited to several conferences in China over the summer, not to mention that I was on a panel in Chicago at the annual meeting of the American Political Science Association. The first conference in China was in Guangzhou, at Sun Yatsen University (Zhongda). It was on citizenship issues in China in mid-June. The second was in Shanghai at Fudan University, on relations between state & society in China; it was at the end of June, and the third was at the Shanghai Academy of Social Sciences. In between, I was doing interviewing research on how Shanghai handles welfare for its poorest people and visiting my foster son in Wuhan. I'll be giving two up-coming talks in Hong Kong, one at Hong Kong University and the other at the Hong Kong University of Science and Technology. I was on leave spring quarter and attended a 40th-year reunion in Fort Lauderdale for my husband's 1st trip to China, when he accompanied a group of Olympic swimmers. I met 3 gold medalists from the early 1970s - quite an exciting year!

Dorothy Solinger, Political Science Professor



I went on a houseboat to Lake Powell with five women. En route, we had a huge tire blow out in the middle of the dessert and were stuck there in 110 degree heat for hours. We were almost struck by lightning on the top of the houseboat and were almost poisoned with carbon monoxide gas from the generator. But we laughed all weekend! We are now writing a book on how women can properly handle a houseboat and the book starts and ends on the first page which says - "bring a man!"

Sylvia Lotito, Administrative Specialist



I went to an Angels game on my birthday (they actually won!) and I started graduate school in August.

John Harmon, Jumpstart Site Manager (pictured with family)




I reconnected with a favorite childhood pastime - kite flying. (That would be paper kites with cloth tails added for stability). I had such great fun sharing the experience with the little ones in my family!

Rosemarie Swatez, Associate Director of Development



I spent my summer doing the most important learning of all... learning how to be a dad to three kids! We welcomed my third child, a girl, into the family on March 6 of this year. Learning how to get work done and not forget about the family was the order of the season! I love the schedule of being a grad student; i.e., I can hang out with my kids while they are awake and get to economics research when they are asleep.  Living in Verano makes things a little cozy (read crowded), so we like to get out when possible. I'll probably be done with the Ph.D. in 12-18 months, so I have to learn know how to manage things. Love the summer, love my fam!!!

Justin Jarvis, Economics Graduate Student



In the summer, my family and I went to India to visit family and friends. In India, we also went to Malsar Ashram, or a holy place, where the Narmada river resides. It's one of the most peaceful and prettiest places to be! After this trip, I decided that I want to live in Malsar for some time in the future.

Charvi Choksi, Psychology Undergraduate




For me, it was the Summer Academic Enrichment Program, then a SCUBA dive trip to Cozumel for a week.  I started grad school in August! YIKES!

Teresa Neighbors, Student Activities Director



I went to Shenzhen, China and attended an animation expo. It was lots of fun. I saw many cosplayers there -they were very professional!

Mandy Meng, Economics Undergraduate (expo pictured)




I spent the summer participating in a research program at the University of Michigan called the Summer Research Opportunities Program (SROP) through the Committee on Institutional Cooperation. I conducted research in the romance languages department at Michigan on French philosopher Michel Foucault and the role of power in Latin America. At the end of the program, I presented my research at a university-wide symposium. I met great people, mentors and had a wonderful time experiencing the college town of Ann Arbor.

Sasha Sabherwal, International Studies and Political Science Undergrad



I spent my summer as an intern in Armenia for two months, working as a researcher at the National Gallery of Armenia in Yerevan. I did research on Japanese, Chinese, and Armenian art. The coolest part was I got to live with 29 other interns in a four story house under the Armenian General Benevolent Union (AGBU) and met other Armenian students from Russia, England, the East Coast, and Australia! It was definitely an interesting experience.

Nayiri Partamian, International Studies Undergraduate



This summer I did two things. I went to Korea and trained in taekwondo and had an internship at a radio station. For two weeks, I trained with Kyunghee University elite sparring athletes and for a month I interned at an English radio station in Busan, doing live broadcasting and singing. I actually released an album in Korea and USA. It was an amazing summer.

Christy Quintanilla, Political Science Undergraduate (pictured)




I was in San Francisco as a research intern at the Public Policy Institute of California (PPIC) working on a project constructing an alternative measure of poverty to the Official Poverty Measure, called the California Poverty Measure. Constructing the California Poverty Measure was a joint project between PPIC and the Stanford Center on Poverty and Inequality, and can have potentially large impacts on policy decisions related to poverty and services.

Bonnie Bui, Sociology Graduate Student



I study disability in post-conflict Lao PDR, one of the most bombed countries in the world. This summer, I traveled to Khammouane province to interview disabled bomb clearance technicians in order to understand how they perceive disability and the dangers of war waste contamination. Interestingly, these technicians are fitted with special plastic prostheses that are designed so as not to interfere with metal detectors.

Leah Zani, Anthropology Graduate Student



Over the summer I have been training as a research assistant for a study called feeling states and heart rates lead by Margaret Schnieder. I have been getting back in shape by going hiking at least 4 times during the week in the Santa Monica mountains. I have spent a lot of my summer reading humorous books, and I also took on a nannying job for two little girls 4 and 5 years old. We made trips to different parks and various child-friendly museums throughout the Los Angeles area. My summer for the most part has been relaxing, as well as time to gain new knowledge and enjoy new experiences.  

Claudia Campos, Sociology and Chicano/Latino Studies Undergraduate (pictured)



I’m a Ph.D student in the Cognitive Sciences department, working in the cognitive anteater robotics lab (CARL). Our lab focuses on the connection between neuronal activation in specific brain areas and behavior. A large portion of our work is done in simulation with computational neuroscience. We design artificial neural networks with computer programming, train these networks with learning or evolutionary algorithms, then implement them on robotic platforms to investigate how the simulated brain regions give rise to different mammallian-like behaviors. Personally, I have been working on my thesis, which involves the combination of sensory inputs into a specific brain region called the posterior parietal cortex (PPC), and the transformation of these inputs to motor behavior, namely reaching one's hand to a visual or remembered target location. Additionally, kids (ages 6-14)  participating in the Mathbotix camp have visited our lab every Wednesday morning from 10-11 a.m. to get an idea of how robots are used in research.

Derrik Asher, Cognitive Sciences Graduate Student

connect with us


© UC Irvine School of Social Sciences - 3151 Social Sciences Plaza, Irvine, CA 92697-5100 - 949.824.2766