Where Are They Now: Andrew Nicholls

The Spring 2013 issue of the College Report magazine featured psychology major Andrew Nicholls’ military service and his veterans advocacy work at UCLA. We recently caught up with him to learn more about his post-graduate career path and current endeavors.

Having spent more than nine years in the U.S. Army, Andrew Nicholls ’13 draws on his personal experience and UCLA education to pursue mental health advocacy for veterans and help them with the transition to civilian life.

Nicholls works as a clinical care manager at Evergreen Health in Kirkland, WA, where he conducts assessments of mental health and assault risk as well as crisis prevention. He plans to return to the Veterans Affairs office in Seattle to continue his research on veterans’ mental health.

The terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001 prompted Nicholls to enlist in the military. While on active duty in Iraq he worked mainly on rebuilding community infrastructure and vocational programs. Unfortunately, his Army experience left him with lasting effects of PTSD, a struggle that led to his interest in veterans’ mental health advocacy.

Nicholls set his sights on UCLA and enrolled as a transfer student in 2011. He was named a UCLA Regents Scholar, honoring him as one of the top applicants of his class. He credits his mentor, psychology professor Christine Dunkel Schetter, with showing him how psychology research and social work could be a way to leverage his experience to help others.

“UCLA pushed me to challenge any notions I had of the status quo,” Nicholls said.

In 2012 while at UCLA, Nicholls founded the Killed in Action, Wounded in Action (KIA WIA) Foundation, which raises awareness of the sacrifices of men and women wounded or killed in the Global War on Terror. He also initiated an undergraduate seminar titled “Fast Cars and Battle Scars: Understanding the Modern Combat Veteran and PTSD,” which explored basic training, soldier perspectives and transition to civilian life. Nicholls said he was impressed by the depth with which the students engaged with the material, and he has stayed in touch with many of them.

“Leading that seminar was my top achievement while at UCLA,” he said. “Teaching reminded me of my time in the Army. What I loved about my experience in the military was leading a team and feeling a sense of comradery.”

After graduation, Nicholls continued to work for KIA WIA and obtained a master’s degree in social work from USC. He recently co-authored an article titled “Tattoos as a Window to the Psyche: How Talking about Skin Art Can Inform Psychiatric Practice due for publication in the World Journal of Psychology.

Faculty member and his wife give $1 million to UCLA College

Michael Jung, a distinguished professor of chemistry and biochemistry in the UCLA College, and his wife, Alice, have donated $1 million toward the establishment of the Michael and Alice Jung Endowed Chair in Medicinal Chemistry and Drug Discovery.

The gift was matched by the UCLA division of physical sciences for a total contribution of $2 million. The match was made possible by a program established after UCLA sold its royalty interest in Xtandi, a compound developed by Jung and his research team for the treatment of prostate cancer. With its share of the proceeds from the Xtandi transaction, UCLA has also made matching funds available for gifts that support undergraduate scholarships at UCLA.

“Xtandi has not only saved lives; it has been a wonderful boost to UCLA due to the matching program, and we have Mike Jung to thank for that,” said Miguel García-Garibay, dean of physical sciences. “He and Alice have set a terrific example by endowing a chair in Mike’s department, for which we are very grateful.”

Mike Jung (Penny Jennings/UCLA)

Jung is an authority on synthetic organic and medicinal chemistry. He is an inventor on 34 issued patents and 36 patent applications arising from both his consulting activities and his own research. He has more than 15 ongoing academic research collaborations and consults for more than 20 industrial laboratories in both biotech and pharmaceutical settings.

His current research holds promise for the development of new drugs for the treatment of various diseases and conditions, including for breast, lung and prostate cancer; antiviral diseases; muscular dystrophy; multiple sclerosis; osteoporosis; and even hair loss.

“My wife and I hope that our gift will enable UCLA to hire a faculty member who could continue to do similar drug discovery research well into the future, with the hope of producing more useful drugs,” Jung said.

A native of New Orleans, Jung received his B.A. from Rice University in 1969 and, as a National Science Foundation pre-doctoral fellow, went on to earn his Ph.D. from Columbia University in 1973. He completed a North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) postdoctoral fellowship at the Eidgenössische Technische Hochschule (ETH) in Zürich before joining the UCLA faculty in 1974.

Jung has published more than 345 research papers and presented more than 600 lectures on his research. He has supervised 92 doctoral and nine master’s theses, and he has taught more than 130 postdoctoral scholars.

Among the awards he has received are the American Chemical Society’s Arthur C. Cope Scholar Award, UCLA’s Glenn T. Seaborg Medal and Gold Shield Faculty Prize, and the 2015 Team Science Award from the American Association for Cancer Research. He also was elected to the National Academy of Inventors.

“Without chemistry, we wouldn’t have life-saving medicines like Xtandi,” said Catherine Clarke, chair of the chemistry and biochemistry department and a professor of biochemistry. “Thanks to Mike and Alice Jung’s gift, the department will be able to pursue more breakthrough research in medicinal chemistry. Who knows how many more lives will be saved?”

The department of chemistry and biochemistry was named No. 7 in the world in chemistry in the 2017 U.S. News & World Report Best Global Universities rankings, and three faculty members and four alumni have been awarded the Nobel Prizes in chemistry. The department has more than 50 faculty, 130 postdoctoral researchers, 350 graduate students and 1,400 undergraduates.

The gift is part of the $4.2 billion UCLA Centennial Campaign, which is scheduled to conclude in December 2019 during UCLA’s 100th anniversary year.