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Art historian takes reins of African Studies Center at UCLA

Steven Nelson recently joined a long line of respected Africanists who have led the African Studies Center at the UCLA International Institute. And as its new director, he is working to cultivate a sense of community among faculty and students on campus with an interest in Africa.

UCLA faculty voice: Ten environmental reasons to be thankful

Thanksgiving is the one national holiday that has avoided being despoiled by excessive commercialization. It is a time when families and friends gather to appreciate one another and be thankful.

Neil Garg named 2015 Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching California Professor of the Year

Neil Garg, professor and vice chair for education in UCLA’s department of chemistry and biochemistry, has been selected as the 2015 Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching California Professor of the Year.

Why are some wild animals more tolerant to human interaction than others?

Over time, some species become more tolerant of humans’ presence, but the extent to which they do is largely driven by the type of environment in which the animals live and by the animal’s body size, according to a comprehensive new analysis.

Anthropology alumna’s gift makes research travel a reality for the department’s graduate students

A UCLA alumna who has spent much of her life galloping around the globe has given $100,000 to establish an endowment in support of graduate student travel in the UCLA College’s Department of Anthropology.

Dorothy Jewell, who graduated in 2006 with a bachelor’s degree in anthropology, said that she hopes the Dorothy H. Jewell Graduate Student Travel Award Endowment will help students experience cultures outside their own.

“The experience of immersing oneself in various cultures is what anthropology is all about,” Jewell said. “We can’t be ethnocentric.”

Specifically, graduate students in biological, linguistic and sociocultural anthropology will be given access to the travel stipends, allowing them to deepen their research beyond campus.

“UCLA is a highly rated institution that through its concentration on research makes our world better equipped to meet the future,” Jewell said. “I’m proud to help students prepare for that future.”

Jewell, who as a non-traditional student enrolled at UCLA when she was 55, had already travelled to around 80 countries before deciding to pursue her undergraduate degree.

After living in parts of Europe and Africa for months on end, including the time she slept under a eucalyptus tree on a Moroccan beach for seven months, two UCLA professors advised her to move beyond her community college courses and pursue a degree in anthropology at the university.

“I had already been living this anthropological experience,” she recalls them telling her. “They recommended I make the anthropology direction more official.”

Jewell always had an adventurous spirit. Following high school, she left her native Canada for what she thought would be a brief tour of Europe then never looked back. She met her late husband – also a UCLA graduate – in Norway when he was working on location for Disney, and they eventually settled in Los Angeles for his work in the film industry and hers in the travel business. Having discovered the riches that come with experiencing other cultures, Jewell continues to explore the world. Her next destination is Tanzania.

“Travel is an important part of my life, partly due to this nomad aspect of my personality that seemed to manifest itself when I left Canada,” Jewell said. “I originally went to Europe and Africa for six months and it turned into five years.  And ever since, I’ve had to have my travel fix.”

Jewell’s gift will now make those experiences possible to emerging anthropology scholars at UCLA.

“Seeing firsthand how other cultures and societies function is a vital part of being a successful anthropologist,” said Nancy Levine, professor and chair in the Department of Anthropology. “Ms. Jewell’s gift ensures that a new generation of anthropologists will emerge with the experiences needed to develop impactful and meaningful research.”

Q&A with Ryan Harrigan on West Nile virus, silent killer of songbirds

Remember West Nile virus? While it makes headlines every few years for causing a flurry of deaths in people, the virus has also meant significant declines in the survival of some of the most common North American songbird species, according to a new study coauthored by Ryan Harrigan of UCLA’s Institute of the Environment and Sustainability (IoES).

Creative writing at UCLA: not just for English majors anymore

Starting in Fall 2016, non-English majors will for the first time be able to enroll in a creative writing course — specifically a general education introductory class — currently under construction and to be taught by UCLA professor and acclaimed novelist Mona Simpson, and newly hired head of creative writing, Fred D’Aguiar.

UCLA faculty voice: Nine environmental myths everyone needs to unlearn

School is back in session, and many college students around the country are taking their first course in conservation and environmental science. I have taught these introductory courses for 30 years, and have been consistently surprised by the erroneous certainties students bring to the first environmental science lecture.

Exploring Your Universe – free science festival for all ages – is Nov. 8 at UCLA

Launch a rocket, take a peek at planets outside our solar system, make your own cloud in a bottle and get up close and personal with dinosaur fossils and meteorites — all Sunday, Nov. 8 at UCLA’s annual Exploring Your Universe science festival.

UCLA faculty voice: California universities launch experiment to go carbon-neutral ‘at scale’

What does it look like when a university decides to walk the walk as well as talk the talk on climate change? The University of California system — which encompasses 10 university campuses and two national scientific research laboratories — is about to find out.