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UC San Deigo Regional Celebration Recap

Photos by Erik Jepsen/UC San Diego Publications

Celebrating Nontradition From Coast to Coast

Using virtual reality to discover new drugs to treat diseases. Surfing the world to learn more about the communities of microbes that inhabit our bodies. Applying design thinking to complex problems like health care and transportation. These are just a few of the forward-thinking projects by UC San Diego researchers and entrepreneurs that were featured during a recent series of bi-coastal events to engage alumni, parents and friends in the Campaign for UC San Diego.

Nearly 1,000 guests attended the Regional Campaign Celebrations, which took place in Los Angeles, San Francisco, Washington, D.C., and New York City during September and early October. At each stop, attendees had the opportunity to talk one-on-one with leading researchers, try out demos of new technology and experience the future of UC San Diego through interactive and multi-media displays.

Don Norman, founder and director of the Design Lab at UC San Diego, talks with guests about tackling problems in health care, transportation and the environment using human-centered design thinking.

“Through the Campaign for UC San Diego, we are transforming our campus physically and intellectually, and we are strengthening our connections with our local and global communities,” said Chancellor Pradeep K. Khosla.

When he became Chancellor five years ago, Khosla visited alumni in these regions with the message that UC San Diego would always be their home—and an open invitation to come back and visit. This time, as he shared the vision of the Campaign for UC San Diego, Khosla urged alumni to get involved with their campus.

“Our alumni reflect the best of UC San Diego and have helped us to become one of the world's top universities,” he said. “Alumni, UC San Diego is your home away from home. We want you to own a piece of your home.”

Pursuing the greater good in nonconventional fashion

UC San Diego is an audacious intellectual community, where students and faculty aren’t afraid to challenge traditions to make a better world. Featured innovators and disruptors at the events included:

  • Modeling molecules in 3-D. Nanome, a company founded by UC San Diego alumni, invited guests to try on virtual reality headsets and immerse themselves in the nanoscale world of proteins and molecules. The technology aims to advance education and research through hands-on, virtual reality.
  • Designing solutions. Don Norman, founder and director of the Design Lab at UC San Diego, demonstrated how interdisciplinary teams of researchers are using “human-centered design thinking” to address complex problems in health, transportation and the environment. Watch the Facebook Live interview with Norman.
  • Where science meets surfing. Chemistry doctoral student Cliff Kapono captivated guests with footage from his surfing trip around the world. Through his Surfer Biome Project, Kapono aims to discover if surfers differ on a molecular level from everybody else, and from that, hopes to learn more about how the environment affects human health. Watch the Facebook live interview with Kapono.
  • Taking the pulse of ice. Peter Bromirski, a researcher at Scripps Institution of Oceanography, talked about his work in Antarctica measuring the structural integrity of polar ice shelves through vibrations. Similar to how a beating heart sends a pulse through the body, ice shelf vibrations can be used to assess the health of the ice shelf.
  • Global access to learning. Alumnus Jamie Alexandre, M.S. ’09, Ph.D. ’14, co-founder and executive director of Learning Equality, shared how his nonprofit is breaking and remaking global learning. Through open-source software, Learning Equality allows communities with limited, expensive or no Internet to engage with high-quality, digital learning resources on low-cost hardware.
  • Incubating innovation. Teams of students and recent graduates demoed their start-up projects, from technology to prevent injuries from falls, to 3-D printed rocket engines. With support from The Basement, a UC San Diego incubator and accelerator, these projects give students the opportunity to cultivate their entrepreneurial skills.
UC San Deigo Regional Celebration Recap

An artist and expert in Google’s Tilt Brush paints a UC San Diego of the future in virtual reality, then turns the technology over to guests to give it a try.

The campus of the future

Through video and virtual reality experiences, alumni and friends got a preview of the physical evolution planned to meet the growing demands of an increasing student population. UC San Diego has initiated more than $1.6 billion in construction projects to be completed over the next five years. These campus expansion projects include:

  • The North Torrey Pines Living and Learning Neighborhood will integrate much-needed living and academic space, enabling students to learn and live in a dynamic environment. The neighborhood will also become the new home of Sixth College. Expected completion: Fall 2020.
  • The arrival of the Light Rail Transit and UC San Diego Blue Line will change how the campus interacts with the community. There will be two campus stops: Pepper Canyon in the west and Voigt Drive in the east. Expected completion: 2021.
  • Tata Hall, located near Revelle College, will add greatly needed research space and teaching laboratories for the Divisions of Biological and Physical Sciences. The cutting-edge facility is named in recognition of the Tata Trusts’ gift to support genetic research. Expected completion: Fall 2018.

The Campaign for UC San Diego is a $2 billion comprehensive fundraising effort to transform the student experience, the campus and ultimately the way humanity approaches problems and develops solutions. To date, more than 104,000 donors have contributed to the campaign, for a total of more than $1.43 billion raised.