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August 16, 2005

UCSD Named 'Hottest For Science' By Newsweek Guide

By Kim McDonald

The University of California, San Diego, long regarded as one of the nation’s premier research universities, has been named the “hottest” institution in the country for students to study science by Newsweek and the 2006 Kaplan/Newsweek College Guide.

Newsweek’s designation and a list of some of the reasons why students and high school counselors find UCSD so attractive for future scientists are featured in this week’s issue of Newsweek in an article entitled “America’s Hot Colleges.” The 2006 Kaplan/Newsweek College Guide, which contains more detailed information for prospective college students, goes on sale at newsstands on August 22.

Newsweek made its selections of the top colleges based on a survey of high school counselors and other experts familiar with the attributes of the nation’s top colleges and universities.

“All the colleges on the Hot List for 2006 have one attribute in common: they're creating buzz among students, school officials and longtime observers of the admissions process,” the magazine article states. “Our choices, and corresponding categories, are inherently subjective: there are no equations for assessing the magic that makes a school sparkle. And the colleges suit a range of tastes—big and small, urban and rural, private and public. But each reflects a place that is preparing students well for a complex world.”

So what makes UCSD so attractive for prospective undergraduate science students?

According to Newsweek, one reason is that the university and its faculty believe “Science can be fun. UCSD undergraduates mark the end of the school year with the Watermelon Drop, a 40-year-old tradition that began when physics students tested velocity by dropping a melon from seven stories up.”

But more importantly, the magazine adds, “On a campus where a quarter of the $1.8 billion in revenue is federal research funds, and where there are eight Nobel laureates on the faculty, the science is also quite serious. UCSD chancellor Marye Anne Fox, an organic chemist, says welcoming undergrads into labs is a priority. The school, she says, is raising the quality of undergraduate education by offering new science majors like molecular synthesis and bioinformatics.”

Chancellor Fox says the Newsweek article and UCSD’s designation in the 2006 Kaplan/Newsweek College Guide should confirm to UCSD students and their parents that UCSD is an institution with few peers across the country when it comes to education and scholarship period, not just science.

But Fox, a member of the prestigious National Academy of Sciences and a longstanding advocate of promoting science careers to women and members of minority groups, says she also hopes the publicity will have the effect of encouraging more students from underrepresented groups now enrolled at UCSD or thinking about applying to UCSD to consider science careers.

Newsweek’s designation confirms what many highly respected rankings of academic quality, such as the National Research Council’s rankings, have concluded about UCSD’s faculty, research and education programs: UCSD is a first-tier institution, internationally renowned in many, many disciplines,” Fox says. “But I also hope it will help increase the attractiveness of studying science among groups who traditionally have not thought of going into science and engineering careers, which is critically important if we expect to continue our high standard of living and the high-technology based economy of our region, our state and our nation.”

Newsweek says the university has already had a major impact on the high-tech and biotech economy of the region. “Faculty and alumni have spun off nearly 200 companies, including about a third of the region's biotech firms.”

Meg Eckles, a biology doctoral student, notes in the magazine’s article that UCSD’s coastal location is also a plus for doing research. “Where else can you collect samples from the beach, the desert and the mountains all in one day—and still have time to run genetic tests on them that night?” she says.

Besides UCSD for “Hottest for Science,” Newsweek’s other “picks for the places creating buzz for 2005-6” include Harvard University (“Hottest for Rejecting You”), Indiana University (“Hottest Big State School”), Savannah College of Art and Design (“Hottest for Studying Art”), Xavier University (“Hottest for Premeds”) and Middlebury College (“Hottest for International Studies”).

UCSD science programs have been ranked among the best in the nation by the National Research Council, including neurosciences and oceanography, ranked 1st, biomedical engineering, ranked 2nd, and physiology and pharmacology, ranked 3rd. Programs in biological and physical sciences were also ranked in the top ten.


Media Contact: Kim McDonald (858) 534-7572


 
 
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