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National Geographic Adventurer
of the Year to Speak at UC San Diego All Campus Graduation Celebration
University alumnus and researcher Albert Lin uses modern tools to uncover ancient past

May 27, 2011

By Christine Clark

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Albert Lin
UC San Diego researcher and National Geographic Adventure magazine’s 2010 adventurer of the year Albert Yu-Min Lin
Photo courtesy of Michael Hennig

He’s been called a modern-day Indiana Jones. Albert Lin, alumnus and researcher at the University of California, San Diego, uses cutting-edge technologies to search for the unmarked tomb of Genghis Khan.  Named National Geographic Adventure magazine’s 2010 adventurer of the year, Lin’s explorations are groundbreaking, in part, because he never breaks ground. He uses non-invasive, computer-based tools to make new discoveries in previously unreachable places, with no damage to the environment.
Lin, ’04, M.S. ’06, Ph.D. ’08, will address graduating students at 7 p.m., Friday, June 10 on the field of RIMAC Arena for the university’s All Campus Graduation Celebration. For the last three years, this annual event has given graduating UC San Diego students, as well as alumni, an opportunity to commemorate graduation in a large-scale celebration.
“I received all three of my degrees from UC San Diego and sat through three graduations, but I never thought I would be the one giving the address,” Lin said. “My experience has been that the most important thing a person can do is to find out what they are passionate about, after that anything is possible.”
Lin earned his Ph.D. in materials science, and before that he received bachelor and master degrees in electrical engineering, all from UC San Diego’s Jacobs School of Engineering. He is currently a research scientist in the Center of Interdisciplinary Science for Art, Architecture and Archaeology (CISA3), a partnership of Calit2, the Jacobs School and UC San Diego’s Division of Arts and Humanities.

Albert Lin
Lin uses Calit2's StarCAVE virtual-reality environment to explore 3D terrain models in his search for Genghis Khan's tomb.
Photo/Erik Jepsen/Calit2 UCSD

Lin’s work applies 3D immersive technologies, satellite and aerial remote sensing, massive-scale crowdsourcing of data and geophysical surveying techniques during field expeditions to Mongolia. 
Lin’s search is a quest that has eluded scientists, historians and explorers for centuries. But for Lin, the Valley of the Khans Project is not about technology, it is about committing to something you believe in.
“I am trying to apply ideas and advances in engineering in new ways –– the Valley of the Khans Project is about finding non-invasive solutions to enable the discovery and conservation of our cultural heritage,” he said. “Technology not only can help us make advances towards the future, but also can help us uncover the past so that we learn more about our history and humanity.”
Gary Rattcliff, co-chair of the All Campus Graduation Celebration Committee and Assistant Vice Chancellor for Student Life, added, “Lin’s work is a perfect example of UC San Diego’s spirit of innovation and use of interdisciplinary research to solve tough problems. He combines expertise from several fields in unconventional ways and applies this expertise with the unbridled passion of an explorer. He is a great role model for our students.”

Lin was selected by a committee comprised of UC San Diego staff and graduating seniors. “We were initially interested in Albert because of his fascination with Mongolia and search for the Genghis Khan tomb, but we were intrigued to learn that his expedition started with a curiosity in his own cultural roots,” said graduating senior and co-chair of the All Campus Graduation Celebration, Ching Jui Young. “Scientists have found that 1 in 200 people today are direct descendants of Genghis Khan’s lineage, given his expansive military conquests throughout Eurasia. Of course, everyone is excited about his recent search for the hidden tomb, but we are particularly proud that Lin’s journey began here as an undergraduate student.”
The All Campus Graduation Celebration is open to graduating undergraduate and graduate students and alumni of UC San Diego. The ceremony will include speeches from Chancellor Marye Anne Fox, Vice Chancellor Penny Rue and Lin. In addition, winners of the Outstanding Senior and Graduate Student awards will be honored. Following the ceremony there will be a free dinner for graduating students and a fireworks show. During the dinner, up-and-coming pop singer Katie Costello will give a live performance.

The All Campus Graduation Celebration kicks off commencement weekend June 10-12. UC San Diego holds separate commencement ceremonies for each of the six undergraduate colleges and the various graduate programs. For more information about all of UC San Diego’s commencement ceremonies, go to http://www.ucsd.edu/current-students/academics/commencement/ and to learn more about the All Campus Graduation Celebration, go to http://seniors.ucsd.edu/acgc.php


Media Contact: Christine Clark, 858-534-7618, or ceclark@ucsd.edu

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