40 UCLA scientists among world’s most influential scholars, based on citations

The researchers rank in the top 1 percent in their fields in producing widely cited studies, indicating that their work “has been repeatedly judged by their peers to be of notable significance and utility,” according to Clarivate.

Students and Faculty at Amgen Scholars UCLA Poster Session

UCLA receives grant from the Amgen Foundation to continue hosting Amgen Scholars Program

Through a $74M, 16-year investment, Amgen Scholars Program will partner with 24 top educational and research institutions worldwide.

Students and Faculty at Amgen Scholars UCLA Poster Session

Amgen Scholars Poster Session | Photo credit: Reed Hutchinson


UCLA has been awarded a four-year grant from the Amgen Foundation to continue providing hands-on laboratory experience to undergraduate students across Southern California through the Amgen Scholars Program. The Amgen Foundation is expanding the Amgen Scholars Program, bringing the program to a total of 24 premier institutions across the U.S., Europe, Asia and, for the first time, Australia and Canada, to provide undergraduates with financial support and hands-on summer research opportunities in biomedical and biotechnology fields.

The UCLA Amgen Scholars Program, which has hosted 276 Amgen Scholars since 2009, offers an intensive research experience for students to work in the labs of distinguished UCLA faculty members. Students are matched with faculty mentors of their choice and work full time within their mentor’s laboratory for 10 weeks during the summer. In addition to laboratory research, students attend weekly seminars where they learn about the research of invited faculty speakers as well as discuss graduate school applications and interviews, how to prepare research presentations, and discuss the different career opportunities in the basic sciences.

“The Amgen Scholars Program has long been an integral part of Undergraduate Education – offering students both from UCLA and other institutions the unique opportunity for intensive lab work and mentorship opportunities during the summer,” said Dean and Vice Provost of Undergraduate Education Patricia Turner. “We’ve seen that graduates of this program are better prepared and motivated to attend graduate school and pursue research careers.”

This signature initiative builds upon the Amgen Foundation’s mission to advance excellence in science education and empower tomorrow’s innovators, a goal to which the Foundation has contributed nearly $150 million globally to date. Eight new partners — Duke University, Johns Hopkins University, National University of Singapore, Tsinghua University, University of Melbourne, University of Toronto, University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center and Yale University — will join the already distinguished group of host institutions including UCLA.

“As the pace of innovation increases, so too does the need to educate the scientists of tomorrow,” said Robert A. Bradway, chairman and chief executive officer at Amgen. “We look forward to further expanding the reach of the Amgen Scholars Program, which has already provided research opportunities to thousands of talented undergraduates at premier institutions around the globe, and now has the potential do much more.”

Since its inception in 2006, the Amgen Scholars Program has made research opportunities at premier institutions possible for more than 3,900 undergraduate students representing 700 colleges and universities. Of those alumni who have completed their undergraduate studies, nearly 900 are currently pursuing an advanced graduate degree in a scientific field, and another 280 have earned their Ph.D. or M.D.-Ph.D. More than 500 are employed in scientific fields across 33 countries, with 99 percent of surveyed alumni saying the program impacted their academic or professional direction. Alumni of the program are beginning to make a growing impact across academia, industry and government, garnering numerous awards and recognitions such as the Rhodes Scholarship, NIH Director’s New Innovator Award, and selection to the Forbes 30 Under 30 list in Healthcare.

Amgen Scholars provides a unique opportunity for students to engage in the process of discovery and build intellectual connections with some of the most accomplished scientists around the world. Undergraduate participants benefit from undertaking a research project with the mentorship of top faculty, being part of a cohort-based experience, participating in seminars and networking events and taking part in a symposium in their respective region where they meet their peers, learn about biotechnology and hear from leading scientists in both industry and academia.

The program aims to break down barriers for many students who otherwise would not have the opportunity to engage in science at the world’s top educational and research institutions. Financial support for students is a critical component of the program, which seeks to ensure that eligible students, regardless of their financial status, can participate.

UCLA will soon be accepting applications for the 2019 Amgen Scholars Program through February 1, 2019.


Amgen Scholars Program Host Institutions:

*Indicates New Host Institution for 2019

  • United States:  California Institute of Technology, Columbia University, Duke University,* Harvard University, Johns Hopkins University,* National Institutes of Health, Stanford University, UC Berkeley,  UC Los Angeles, UC San Francisco, UT Southwestern Medical Center,* Washington University St. Louis, Yale University*
  • Europe:  ETH Zurich, Institut Pasteur, Karolinska Institute, LMU Munich, University of Cambridge
  • Asia:  Kyoto University, National University of Singapore,* Tsinghua University,* The University of Tokyo
  • Australia:  University of Melbourne*
  • Canada:  University of Toronto*


About the Amgen Foundation:

The Amgen Foundation seeks to advance excellence in science education to inspire the next generation of innovators and to invest in strengthening communities where Amgen staff members live and work. To date, the Foundation has donated over $300 million to local, regional and international nonprofit organizations that impact society in inspiring and innovative ways. For more information, visit www.AmgenInspires.com and follow us on Twitter at @AmgenFoundation.


UCLA student wins national award for environmental justice work

Her mission for the environment and social justice is just getting started, but she’s already built an impressive resume.

Alumnus Morton La Kretz awarded the UCLA Medal, campus’s highest honor

“Morton’s leadership and philanthropy are testaments to his belief that the true measure of a life is not what you get, but what you give,” said UCLA Chancellor Gene Block at the medal ceremony.

Photo of Royce Hall and Powell Library

UCLA seeks community feedback during accreditation process

Photo of Royce Hall and Powell Library

Royce Hall and Powell Library


UCLA has begun the three-year accreditation process administered by the Western Association of Schools and Colleges (WASC) Senior College and University Commission (WSCUC).

The regional accrediting agency serves higher education institutions in California, Hawaii, and the Pacific Region. The agency has accredited UCLA since 1949, and the most recent accreditation was reaffirmed in June 2010.

“UCLA aims to use the reaffirmation process to highlight and enhance ongoing efforts to improve our educational effectiveness,” said Vice Provost and Dean of Undergraduate Education Patricia Turner, who is co-chair of the campus’ accreditation steering committee. “Together, as a campus, we engage in reflection and self-study, and then apply the insights gained to refining our goals and strengthening our programs.”  

The first step in the accreditation process will be the submission of UCLA’s institutional report in December 2018.

Turner noted that the institutional report will drafted in close collaboration with faculty, administration, students and staff. To make the review process as transparent as possible, the steering committee has published all documents for review online. The campus community is encouraged to provide feedback on the Reaffirmation of Accreditation by WSCUC website no later than Friday, November 16.

“This process is meant to assure the educational community, the general public, and other organizations that an accredited institution has met high standards of quality and effectiveness,” Turner said.

Following the submission of the institutional report, there will be an offsite review in Spring 2019. The final phase of the accreditation process will include a three‐day campus visit in Fall 2019, culminating in WSCUC’s commendations and recommendations.

Photo of Morton La Kretz

$20M Gift from Morton La Kretz to Renovate Botany Building

Photo of Morton La Kretz

Morton La Kretz


Longtime UCLA supporter and alumnus Morton La Kretz has given a total of $20 million—$15 million this year and $5 million in 2017—to renovate the historic botany building in the southeastern part of campus. In recognition, UCLA has renamed the building the La Kretz Botany Building.

“This generous gift will provide exceptional resources and opportunities to faculty and students doing vital research in conservation and plant biology,” UCLA Chancellor Gene Block said. “Thanks to Morton La Kretz’s extraordinary generosity, the La Kretz Botany Building will become a world-class research facility and first-rate training ground for future scientific leaders.”Designed by pioneering architect Paul Revere Williams and completed in 1959, the building has been home to generations of renowned faculty and researchers. It features a third-floor glass façade that gives occupants a view of the Mildred E. Mathias Botanical Garden and many of the plants they are studying.

The renovation, which is already underway, includes a refurbished entrance and lobby accessed from Charles E. Young Drive; upgraded labs for teaching and research on botany and conservation; and a new technologically enabled class lab with an entrance on the south side of the building accessible to the garden. The project is expected to be completed in January 2022.

“We are tremendously grateful to Morton La Kretz,” said Victoria Sork, UCLA’s dean of life sciences. “His philanthropy has had a monumental impact on research and education on environmental and plant conservation studies at UCLA, and his latest gift to revitalize the botany building is yet another shining example.”

La Kretz is the founder and president of Crossroads Management, a real estate development and property management company. Among his notable achievements is saving Hollywood’s historic landmark Crossroads of the World from demolition in 1977 and restoring it to its former 1930s glory.

Born in Illinois to Eastern European immigrants, La Kretz moved with his family to Boyle Heights in Los Angeles at a young age. There, his father established a grocery business and later owned a market on 9th St. and Hoover in central Los Angeles, where La Kretz stocked shelves and worked as a delivery boy during high school.

One of few students from his high school to go to college, La Kretz said, “I was ambitious, and my parents expected me to go to college.  After all, going to college was the way up.”

By the time he arrived at UCLA, the United States had entered World War II and the campus was changing dramatically.

“UCLA became a training ground for officers, and you expected to be drafted at any time,” he said. “It colored almost everything.”

Like many of his fellow students, La Kretz interrupted his education by enlisting. He traded classes for boot camp and became an electronics technician in the Navy, but the war ended before he saw any action. Having been gone for two years, he returned to UCLA and earned his bachelor’s degree in psychology in 1948, while also taking business classes.

After graduation, La Kretz was eager to get to work. He took a job in a lumberyard and began learning everything he could about construction. Eventually, with financial assistance from his parents, he spearheaded his own construction projects and was soon riding the wave of the 1950s postwar building boom.

For all his success in business, La Kretz said he is most proud of his philanthropy and its impact.

“It is so satisfying to give young people an education that will enable them to focus on the pressing environmental and conservation issues of our time,” he said.

He said his latest gifts aligned well with his philanthropy to UCLA over the past 16 years. His previous major gifts include lead gifts toward the construction of La Kretz Hall, which houses UCLA’s Institute of the Environment and Sustainability  (IoES); to create the La Kretz Center for California Conservation Science, located in the Santa Monica Mountains and administered through the IoES in partnership with the National Park Service; to build an entrance to the Mildred E. Mathias Botanical Garden, and to construct the La Kretz Garden Pavilion, which hosts events and classes and  serves as a visitor center at the garden’s north end.

La Kretz is 92, but he has no plans to retire. He has passed on his passion for philanthropy to his daughter, Linda Duttenhaver, vice president of Crossroads Management. Duttenhaver shares his interest in supporting higher education and the environment: In 2017, she and her father established the La Kretz Research Center at Sedgwick Reserve, operated by UC Santa Barbara as part of the University of California Natural Reserve System.

La Kretz’s recent gifts are part of the UCLA Centennial Campaign, which is scheduled to conclude in December 2019 during UCLA’s 100th anniversary year.

Photo of Alfred Herrera

UCLA Recognized for Commitment to Supporting Transfer Students

The American Talent Initiative (ATI) and the Campaign for College Opportunity have both recognized UCLA for its dedication to helping community college students transfer to and graduate from four-year universities.

ATI’s report The Talent Blind Spot: The Practical Guide to Increasing Community College Transfer to High Graduation Rate Institutions, published in June 2018, features UCLA and CCCP as an example of a university that has created a robust outreach and support system for transfer students, beginning with the outreach programs in CCCP through on campus support structure. The report highlights the breadth and depth of UCLA’s “transfer-friendly ecosystem” as a model for how other universities can scale up their transfer outreach and programming in order to promote student success.

Photo of Alfred Herrera

Alfred Herrera, Assistant Vice Provost for Academic Partnerships, Director of UCLA’s Center for Community College Partnerships

In addition, Alfred Herrera, assistant vice provost for academic partnerships and director of UCLA’s Center for Community College Partnerships, was chosen to receive the Campaign for College Opportunity’s inaugural “Unsung Hero” award at its third annual Champions of Higher Education celebration this December.

“It’s a great honor to be recognized for the work we are doing at UCLA,” Herrera said. “We’ve really tried to demonstrate the need to develop stronger partnerships to support, welcome and transition transfer students to UCLA in order for them to excel and graduate.”

UCLA was one of only three schools that ATI chose to feature in its report as an example of best practices in supporting transfer students. With a transfer population of about 35 percent of all undergraduate students and a four-year transfer graduation rate of 92 percent, UCLA models how a university can guide a large number of transfers to success. ATI also commended UCLA’s commitment to closing equity gaps in transfer student success through the successful partnerships CCCP has with local community colleges and summer programs for prospective students and for incoming transfers.

Herrera said transfers have long been a priority at UCLA. Campus leadership is dedicated to admitting a large cohort of transfers every year and providing a wide range of resources to support them, from transition programs to academic counseling and social activities. Chancellor Gene Block has even visited over a dozen community colleges to discuss new ways the university can partner with them – something that no other top-tier research institution in the country has done, Herrera said.

Admitting and supporting transfer students is a crucial step in increasing low income and underrepresented students’ presence on campus, since these students make up the majority of community college populations, Herrera noted. Students who are members of underrepresented groups – such as parents, former foster youth and undocumented students – offer unique and valuable insights in the classroom that benefit all students’ learning experiences.

But there is still a lot of work to be done. With over 30,000 undergraduates, “UCLA does not need more applicants, we need a different kind of applicant,” Herrera said. “We must understand the importance of the diversity of these students, and we must begin to understand the critical place transfer students occupy in our university.

Photo: Hoover Photographic Collection, UCLA Library

UCLA Honors Legacy of Arthur Ashe on 50th Anniversary of His Historic US Open Win

Photo: Hoover Photographic Collection, UCLA Library

Photo: Hoover Photographic Collection, UCLA Library

The 2018 US Open Tennis Championships kicks off today, marking 50 years since UCLA alumnus Arthur Ashe ’66 won the tournament’s first men’s singles title. In honor of this milestone, UCLA will pay tribute to his legacy as a tennis champion and humanitarian.

In honor of the 50th anniversary of Ashe’s win, the UCLA College has launched a special Arthur Ashe Legacy social media campaign. Tweet about how Ashe and his legacy inspires you using the hashtag #ArthurAsheLegacy to join in the conversation.

A new UCLA Spark campaign will support the Arthur Ashe Legacy Fund. If the campaign’s goal of 50 individual donations of any size is met, $25,000 will be donated to the Arthur Ashe Legacy Fund. The Arthur Ashe Legacy Fund will be used to create physical and digital exhibitions of Ashe’s humanitarian and athletic accomplishments, or to host public events in Los Angeles and around the country. Donor support will help UCLA faculty and historians to develop academic events which will explore Ashe’s life and connect his legacy to the realities faced by current students and community members.

As in previous years, UCLA staff and volunteers are operating the Arthur Ashe Legacy booth on the grounds of the US Open for the duration of the tournament. The booth sells merchandise, offers free educational materials and informs visitors about Ashe’s life and accomplishments.

Ashe was the first African American male to win the US Open men’s singles title, and the first winner of the tournament in the Open Era. In addition to his 51 titles and over 800 wins throughout his career, Ashe was known for his published writing and his activism around issues including apartheid in South Africa and AIDS awareness.

The US Open is one of the Grand Slam tennis tournaments along with the Australian Open, French Open and Wimbledon, and is one of the oldest tennis tournaments in the world. It is held annually at the end of August at the USTA Billie Jean King National Tennis Center in New York.

Startup UCLA Accelerator teams meet Chancellor Block

Chancellor Gene Block offered encouragement to UCLA’s newest entrepreneurs during his visit to Startup UCLA’s Summer Accelerator in early August. Startup UCLA’s annual Summer Accelerator provides a workspace, guidance, legal services and mentors to early-stage companies. The 10-week program connects teams of UCLA students or recent graduates with top entrepreneurs, investors and tech experts. At the end of the summer, teams pitch their companies to Startup UCLA’s network of local entrepreneurs and investors.

Chancellor Block pictured with students of the Startup UCLA Summer Accelerator

During his visit to the Startup UCLA co-working space in Covel Commons, Block met briefly with Executive Director of Entrepreneurial Programs Deanna Evans and Director of Startup UCLA’s Summer Accelerator Robert Jadon before visiting with each team at their work stations, hearing about their projects and asking questions.

Several participants showed Chancellor Block their product prototypes on their smartphones and laptops, while others explained what inspired them to start their company and how they came together as teammates.

“Having Chancellor Block take time from his schedule to learn about the innovative ideas of Startup UCLA’s 2018 Summer Accelerator teams meant a great deal to our program,” Evans said. “The teams were excited to share their products and early stage progress with UCLA’s chief executive officer.”

Chancellor Block is photographed with accelerator student Nick Pfister '17

Pictured: Nick Pfister ’17

While meeting with Magnus Care, a team that is developing a video check-in service for seniors, Block commented that research on circadian rhythms, an area he specializes in, has found that older people benefit from sticking to a routine. Magnus Care’s service enabling care providers or family members to check in remotely throughout the day could be beneficial, he said.

“It was helpful to hear the Chancellor address the importance of our core mission, which is helping seniors stick to a daily routine,” said Jai Kyeong Kim ‘17. “He gave us some scientific examples and addressed the growing market and opportunities.”

Kim’s teammate Bryan McDermott ’16, who quit his banking job to work full-time on the start-up, added that having the support of the Chancellor of his alma mater is especially meaningful.

“When there’s support from UCLA, it really validates my decision and what we’re trying to do here,” McDermott said.

Block also asked detailed questions about a high protein pancake mix for athletes, which Marcel Salapa ’18 is developing through the e-commerce brand Phoros Nutrition. Salapa explained that he’s gotten positive feedback from customers who like the taste and consistency of the product.

Chancellor Block speaks with accelerator students Bhupendra Chaudhary and Sonali Galhotra MBA ‘18

Chancellor Block with Startup UCLA participants

Salapa said he appreciated the Chancellor taking time to visit Startup UCLA and acknowledge the work being done at the Summer Accelerator.

“Having the [Startup UCLA] space and all these awesome people around, and having the Chancellor come by and recognize that, I think is really awesome,” Salapa said.

Kim Seltzer ’17 and Sachin Medhekar ‘15, who are building an app for discovering self-guided adventures called Disco – Discover Local, said they were excited to meet the Chancellor. From the questions he asked and his interest in their project, Seltzer and Medhekar felt he was engaged in their conversation.

“It’s cool already that UCLA provides us this space, but that the head of UCLA came to talk to us was a great feeling,” Medhekar said.