Ph.D. student mixes science and entertainment to unleash a ‘wow’ factor

For UCLA biochemistry Ph.D. student Jeffrey Vinokur, science is better when shared.

To share his favorite subject broadly, Vinokur leads a dual life as complex as some of the enzymes he is studying. When he’s not looking deep into the structural analysis of mevalonate-3-kinase in the quiet of his lab, he’s a nationally known chemist-meets-hip-hop dancer named the Dancing Scientist, running a one-man-show that automatically converts every stage into a classroom for zany science experiments.

$5 million gift will ensure UCLA Center for Jewish Studies remains among the best in U.S.

A$5 million gift from Alan Leve, a UCLA alumnus and the founder and president of Culver City, California-based Ohmega Technologies, will establish several endowments at the UCLA College’s Center for Jewish Studies. Leve said he hopes the gift, which will benefit students, faculty and the community, will honor his family’s legacy of giving — one that started with his late grandmother, Hinda Schonfeld.

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.

UCLA student is committed to saving Ladino language from extinction

As UCLA graduate student Bryan Kirschen tried to start his weekly class in Judeo-Spanish at the Skirball Cultural Center, his unruly students, all in their golden years, were getting out of hand, vying for his attention.

A Perfect Capstone

Before Dorothy “Dottie” Wellman ’50 passed away in 2013, she told her nephew, William Proebsting, that she did not want an obituary or service of remembrance. If she had allowed such a tribute, it surely would have highlighted her exceptional generosity in giving $2.2 million—during her lifetime and through her estate—to the Department of History on the campus she loved.

A well-known and beloved UCLA alumna, Dottie had begun pledging annual gifts toward the establishment of an endowed chair in the department, a testament to her abiding passion for Medieval History and the love of her life, her late husband Bob Wellman ’53.

After Dottie passed away in 2013, Proebsting, as executor of her estate, distributed the remaining assets in accordance with her living trust, establishing the Robert and Dorothy Wellman Chair in Medieval History and the Robert and Dorothy Wellman Graduate Fellowship in the UCLA Department of History.

“We are deeply grateful to Dottie Wellman for this visionary gift. The UCLA History Department has a storied tradition of great medievalists, and the Wellman Chair and Fellowship will allow us to continue to build on that foundation of excellence,” said David N. Myers, Professor and Chair of the History Department.

Dottie and Bob met as undergraduates at UCLA. Bob had contracted polio in his late teens and was confined to a wheelchair for the rest of his life. According to Proebsting, it was love at first sight, and they married in 1957.

“I always loved Dottie because she was such a character: funny and irreverent,” Proebsting said. And when he first met Bob at a family gathering, he recalled a “wonderful, warm, funny guy with a big personality who charmed the socks off us.”

After he graduated with a degree in sociology, Bob worked in the Office of the Chancellor from 1954 until his retirement in 1988. He was special assistant to former chancellors Franklin Murphy and Charles E. Young, and UCLA’s first compliance officer for the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) Section 504. He also served as treasurer, secretary-treasurer and president of the Men’s Faculty Club (later known as Collegium Bibendi).

Dottie was devoted to Bob and eventually became his full-time caregiver in the years leading up to his death in 1997 at age 70. In the 1950s and ’60s, she worked as a part-time researcher and editor for “The University Explorer,” an innovative, nationally broadcast radio program that explored UC-led research topics ranging from the atom bomb to narcotics addiction to the search for the biblical city of Gath.

“Dottie was an English major and a voracious reader,” Proebsting said. “She especially loved to read about the history of medieval England, a passion that continued right up to her death.”

Dottie audited many history courses while she and Bob were at UCLA, including numerous lecture courses taught by Scott Waugh, a history professor and now Executive Vice Chancellor and Provost. She and Waugh struck up a friendship that continued even after she moved to Oregon to be near her family after Bob’s death.

“It doesn’t surprise me that Dottie wanted to give back to the campus that brought her and Bob so much joy,” Waugh said. “The Wellmans’ connection to UCLA was longstanding and deeply personal, so these generous endowments represent an enduring legacy that is more poignant than most.”

Of his aunt’s endowments to the history department, Proebsting, a retired Oregon State horticulture professor, said, “I’m really happy Dottie chose to do this because I know how much UCLA meant to her and Bob. It’s the perfect capstone for their lives.”

 

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.

UCLA Chicana/o studies students present DACA data at the White House

White House immigration staff members attended a briefing Friday on the economic impact of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program, which President Obama passed by executive order in 2012 and expanded this year.

Big data in biosciences and health care is focus of new UCLA research center

new research institute at UCLA may eventually provide doctors with tools to more accurately tailor medicines for individual patients, which could both improve quality of care and minimize the side effects associated with today’s medicine.

UCLA undergrads help faculty find research funding

For Martin Monti, a cognitive neuroscientist and assistant professor of psychology at UCLA, time is always in short supply, depleted by his teaching load, office hours and his research, for which he regularly sees comatose patients who’ve suffered severe brain trauma.