Impactful innovation synonymous with UC Santa Cruz
I’ve loved seeing posters around campus and online this spring, soliciting UC Santa Cruz student innovators to submit pitch ideas for Santa Cruz Launchpad 2023, the annual student job fair and business plan–pitch competition put on by Santa Cruz Works. That student teams will take home cash prizes totalling $50,000 is exciting and potentially game changing for those looking to launch a new venture. That so many of our students have the innovation bug is equally thrilling to me.
I’ve thought a lot recently about the innovation and impact aspect of our campus ethos. I find myself often using those words when asked to explain what it is that makes UC Santa Cruz such a trailblazer in a wide range of fields and disciplines. It’s because our students, faculty, staff, and alumni are always looking for new and better ways to help UC Santa Cruz achieve our mission. Innovative approaches, problem-solving, and research and creative scholarship that truly make a difference are synonymous with UC Santa Cruz
I’ve been reminded of this a host of times over the past few months. Earlier this spring, I had the wonderful opportunity to travel to India with a small group of university officials to meet with numerous institutions to foster future institutional relationships, faculty collaborations, and student exchanges and summer research opportunities. In meeting after meeting, it was the impactful innovation unfolding on our campus that took center stage, especially when seen through the lens of social equity.
Those words popped up again in April, when I was fortunate to experience the new retrospective exhibit at Tate Britain on the career of artist and filmmaker Sir Isaac Julien, our Distinguished Professor of the Arts. For 40 years, Julien has through his boundary-stretching work addressed such topics as racism, homophobia, and colonialism. I found the exhibit to be an extremely powerful showcase of a great artist’s ability to uniquely tell a story that is deeply impactful.
On the same trip, I visited the headquarters and factory of Oxford Nanopore. The company’s transformational technology is based in part on pioneering discoveries by UC Santa Cruz scientists David Deamer and Mark Akeson, and it is revolutionizing DNA sequencing on our campus and around the world. It’s possible to draw a direct line from the work of Deamer and Akeson to world-changing discoveries being made today by UC Santa Cruz researchers. Earlier this month, I was proud to share the news that campus scientists played a critical role in creating the first draft of the human pangenome, an enormous scientific achievement that boosts our collective understanding of human biology and genomic diversity, and will ultimately help diagnose disease and guide medical treatments for people worldwide.
Our pioneering, impactful work unfolds across departments and disciplines. We have the top program in the nation in astronomy and astrophysics, and our faculty are leading several projects focused on the analysis of data from the James Webb Space Telescope, producing new discoveries about the cosmos at an astonishing rate. Our new Center for Coastal Climate Resilience is providing nature-based solutions to sea-level rise and climate impacts while also focussing on engagement with vulnerable communities. Our Dolores Huerta Research Center for the Americas is the first research center in the UC system to put in conversation the historically disconnected fields of Chicanx/Latinx and Latin American studies, and it has been doing this trailblazing work for 30 years now.
A story in this spring edition of UC Santa Cruz Magazine details the incredible work emanating from the UCSC Center for Molecular Biology of RNA, considered one of the top RNA research teams in the world. The center’s work is now converging on human disease, revealing a new understanding of the role of RNA in health and suggesting ways RNA-based treatments could cure everything from cancer to rare genetic diseases.
I am deeply proud of all that we do on our campus, especially as we impact and innovate. Together we are making a world of difference.
Cynthia Larive, Chancellor