Professor Efrain Kristal to share long-time fascination with Jorge Luis Borges

UCLA literature professor Efrain Kristal still remembers how fascinated, yet unsettled, he felt at 17 after reading his first book of short stories by the late Argentine master Jorge Louis Borges, whose philosophical fiction mixes fact and fantasy and sometimes crosses the line into literary hoax.

UCLA conservation program receives $1 million from two donors to meet Mellon Foundation’s endowment challenge

The UCLA/Getty Interdepartmental Program in Archaeological and Ethnographic Conservation has received two gifts of $500,000, successfully completing a $1 million match challenge presented by the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation in 2011.

A gift from the Kahn Foundation, administered by attorney-trustee James Keir, will support the Kahn Graduate Fellows in the UCLA/Getty Conservation Program, while alumnus Jeffrey Cunard’s donation established the Lore and Gerald Cunard Chair in the UCLA/Getty Conservation Program (pending approval by the UC Office of the President).

Housed in the Cotsen Institute for Archaeology, the UCLA/Getty program trains students in cutting-edge conservation techniques to preserve priceless, fragile artifacts of archaeological, historical and artistic value. It is the only graduate-level academic conservation program on the west coast, and the only program in the country with a strong focus on archaeological and ethnographic materials.

“We are tremendously grateful for the generosity of the Mellon Foundation, Jeffrey Cunard and the Kahn Foundation,” Executive Vice Chancellor and Provost Scott Waugh said. “Their comprehensive support will enable the program to expand and continue to draw the very best graduate students to UCLA.”

The UCLA/Getty program is the youngest among a national consortium of four graduate programs in art conservation to receive challenge grants from Mellon.

Program Chair Ioanna Kakoulli, a faculty member in the Department of Materials Science and Engineering, said, “Thanks to this infusion of endowed funds, we are now in a stronger position to grow the much-needed pipeline of conservation leaders with the specialist knowledge and skills to preserve artifacts and materials.”

Kakoulli noted that conservation is now considered a full-fledged scientific discipline, connecting the humanities and social sciences with the physical sciences and engineering. During their first two years, students work in state-of-the-art labs at the Getty Villa in Malibu, gaining hands-on experience with objects on loan from the Fowler Museum at UCLA, the Autry National Center, the University of Southern California and Native American assemblages. As well as technical skills, students gain an understanding of the meaning certain materials may hold for indigenous populations. The third and final year is spent interning at top-tier museums and archaeological/historical sites such as Angkor Wat in Cambodia; Buddhist sites in Sri Lanka and Bhutan; archaeological sites in Greece, Italy and Turkey; and Native American sites in California. Graduates of the program have accepted permanent positions at prestigious institutions around the country and abroad.

Alessandro Duranti, Dean of Social Sciences in the UCLA College, said, “The UCLA/Getty Program is an impressive collaboration—across disciplines, institutions, and cultures—that is helping to keep our rich world history alive while elevating the quality of research and teaching for all involved.”

David Schaberg, Dean of Humanities, said, “As one of the world’s great research universities, UCLA is committed to doing our part to preserve the legacy of humanity’s rich cultural heritage. The Mellon Foundation and these two generous donors have furthered our mission considerably.”

 

The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation supports exemplary institutions of higher education and culture as they renew and provide access to an invaluable heritage of ambitious, path-breaking work. The Mellon Foundation is an important benefactor to UCLA, supporting a wide array of university initiatives.

Literary translator brings Japanese novelist posthumous acclaim

Michael Emmerich, an associate professor of Japanese at UCLA, never worked as a journalist. Neither has he written 50 novels, much less 150 short stories.

Exploiting sports triumphs for political gain a classic tale, scholar demonstrates

During the 1936 Olympics, Adolf Hitler revolted the world with his blatant attempts to capitalize politically on the victories of his “master-race” athletes.

Pilot program to strengthen art history department’s presence in South America

A gift from the Chile-based Fundación AMA will bolster the UCLA Department of Art History’s work in Latin American art and provide students and scholars direct access to the rich culture of the Chilean region.

The $35,000 gift will establish a pilot program that will fund a graduate student research fellowship, establish an international scholar exchange and provide funding for a travel award for undergraduate or graduate students.

“This important gift will allow us to address the department’s most urgent priorities: increasing support for graduate and undergraduate students and providing faculty with the opportunity to share their research with the international community,” said Miwon Kwon, chair of the Department of Art History in the UCLA College. “I am thrilled to partner with Fundación AMA to help highlight the influence and importance of Chilean art.”

The graduate student fellowship will allow an Art History student to travel to Chile to conduct research and interact firsthand with the region’s art and its experts. Similarly, the international scholar exchange will provide travel funding for a UCLA faculty member to participate in lectures, symposia, and conferences to discuss the works owned by Fundación AMA and share the latest research topics concerning the region. The student travel award will allow one undergraduate or graduate student to travel to Chile for one to two months to study and gain internship experience.

“What interests us about this exchange is the opportunity get the point of view of academic and foreign students and how they view the current panorama of Chilean and Latin American art,” said Juan Yarur, co-founder of Fundación AMA. “This way, they may transmit their acquired perspective of the Chilean art scene when they return to the United States.”

Added Bernadita Mandiola, the foundation’s executive director, “FAMA will be a connecting bridge so that professors and academics from UCLA can study the regional arts scene.”

An important aspect of Kwon’s vision is to help students gain real-world experience and provide them with career opportunities post-graduation. This gift is an important step in fulfilling that mission, Kwon said, as it will provide students access to some of the regions most prized art and respected experts.

Smithsonian museum acquires UCLA muralist’s memorabilia

The Smithsonian’s National Museum of American History has acquired personal itemsbelonging to world-renowned painter and muralist Judith Baca that represent her work, including two paints brushes and a signature pair of overalls used when she led the 2011 restoration of  the landmark Great Wall of Los Angeles, a mural that the community created in the 1970s under her leadership.

UCLA College researcher pioneers gene therapy cure for ‘Bubble Baby’ disease

UCLA stem cell researchers have pioneered a stem cell gene therapy cure for children born with a life-threatening condition called adenosine deaminase–deficient severe combined immunodeficiency, or ADA-deficient SCID. Often called Bubble Baby disease, the condition can be fatal within the first year of life if left untreated.

Brain’s reaction to virtual reality should prompt further study, suggests new research by UCLA neuroscientists

UCLA neurophysicists have found that space-mapping neurons in the brain react differently to virtual reality than they do to real-world environments. Their findings could be significant for people who use virtual reality for gaming, military, commercial, scientific or other purposes.

UCLA astronomers solve puzzle about bizarre object at the center of our galaxy

For years, astronomers have been puzzled by a bizarre object in the center of the Milky Way that was believed to be a hydrogen gas cloud headed toward our galaxy’s enormous black hole.

‘Treasure in saliva’ may reveal deadly diseases early enough to treat them, UCLA scientists report

UCLA research could lead to a simple saliva test capable of diagnosing — at an early stage — diabetes and cancer, and perhaps neurological disorders and autoimmune diseases.