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Brenda Ortiz

Study: Tiny ‘Ecosystem Engineers’ Are an Overlooked Source of Carbon Dioxide Emissions

It’s estimated that a leaf-cutter ant colony can strip an average tree of its foliage in a day, and that more than 17 percent of leaf production by plants surrounding a colony goes straight into their giant, fungus-growing nests.

It’s no wonder these ants are considered the smallest recyclers on the planet and are referred to as "ecosystem engineers" by scientists because of the effects they have on the environment around them.

NASA Fellowship Lifts Grad Student’s Cardiac Biosensor Research

Warren Nanney, who’s pursuing a Ph.D. in Chemistry and Chemical Biology, received a three-year NASA fellowship that’s creating a unique opportunity for him to develop biosensors that could detect heart attacks before symptoms appear.

NASA recently awarded 12 fellowships totaling $1.9 million to graduate students through its Minority University Research and Education Project (MUREP) and Aeronautics Research Mission Directorate (ARMD) to conduct research and contribute directly to NASA’s work and mission.

Merced Native and Ph.D. Grad Lands Faculty Position at Pitt

For Merced native Tessa Provins, the opportunity to attend UC Merced for her graduate education was a chance to come home again — but it wasn’t simply the familiar location that drew her to the campus.

Provins earned a bachelor’s degree in economics from Stanford University in 2013 before pursuing her graduate education at UC Merced. She completed a master’s degree in 2016 and a Ph.D. in political science in 2018.

NSF Grant Unites Four Hispanic-Serving Institutions to Help Diversify STEM Faculty

UC Merced is partnering with UC Santa Barbara and two California State University campuses — Fresno and Channel Islands — on a project to create a more diverse STEM faculty at colleges and universities nationwide.

The quartet has been awarded a total of $2 million from the National Science Foundation’s Alliances for Graduate Education and the Professoriate (AGEP) program for a joint research project intended to increase the number of underrepresented minority faculty members in STEM fields.

The goal is to develop a model that’s applicable — and replicable.

$5 Million Cal-Bridge Grant Aims to Boost Physics, Astronomy Ph.D. Diversity

UC Merced is part of a concerted effort to dramatically increase diversity in physics and astronomy over the next five years.

The campus is one of nine University of California campuses and 15 California State University campuses awarded a $5 million grant from the National Science Foundation through the Cal-Bridge North program.

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