The UC San Diego Annual Report 2017  is produced for the Office of the Chancellor by UC San Diego Creative Services and Publications.

Executive Director, Creative Services and Publications: Matt Hale // Writer: Nicole Wood // Designer: Jessica Scherer // Project Coordinator and Editor: Heidi Yuen // Photographer: Erik Jepsen (except as noted) // Web Developers: Javier Chavarin & Peter Nguyen // Additional contributions from University Communications and Public Affairs

UC San Diego Annual Report 2017 UC San Diego Annual Report 2017

R/V Sally Ride is America's newest research vessel.

Environmental Vessel

Setting sail to save the planet

In a move to improve the future, we’ve gone back to our roots. Specifically, to the shores of Scripps Institution of Oceanography—which, in 2016, was awarded operational privileges of the navy-owned research vessel Sally Ride.

Named for the former UC San Diego physics professor and first American woman in space, this mobile expanse of scientific muscle is the latest partnership in sixty-plus years of collaboration between Scripps Oceanography and the United States Navy. More than that, beating out major institutional players for what Scripps Oceanography’s associate director Bruce Appelgate calls a “once-in-forty-years opportunity,” it provides another example of rising to the challenge with our trademark mix of hard work, talent, and mad-scientist passion.

Lofty as it seems, the reward was nothing less than helming a state-of-the-art floating laboratory tasked with understanding the planet.

This requires the capacity to conduct research that’s vast, exacting, and not all that easy to access. Curious how we’ll make that happen? Step aboard R/V Sally Ride.

One of the world’s most technologically advanced research vessels, R/V Sally Ride is designed for oceanographic discoveries of every variety. Physical to chemical. Biological to geological. In short, it’s tailor-made to gather data, take samples, and enable up-close observation spanning entire ocean basins.

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Faculty and staff gather on Scripps Pier to welcome R/V Sally Ride.

We’re talking advanced seafloor mapping equipment, Doppler sensors, imaging systems. A computer-controlled crane capable of hoisting 22,000 pounds. A dynamic positioning system to keep the ship fixed during high winds. Remotely operated, autonomous underwater, and unmanned-aerial vehicles—all enabling a new depth of inquiry and innovation in earth, oceanic, and atmospheric exploration.

According to Chancellor Pradeep K. Khosla, R/V Sally Ride’s revolutionary tools “will allow us to address our planet’s most pressing challenges and ensure that our oceans and atmosphere are preserved and protected for generations.”

That’s our plan.

We’re working to understand the effects of climate change and ocean acidification. Marine populations and the continued safety of the ocean’s food supply. Mystery-packed hazards like earthquakes, rising sea levels, and pollution. The relationship between climate and maintaining naval operations.

But don’t be mistaken. The ship’s mission isn’t all environmentally centered. We’re setting goals that immediately and directly benefit our planet’s human inhabitants. Like inspiring today’s students to become the scientists of tomorrow. Like discovering new compounds to develop lifesaving drugs.

Sailing to save the world? In terms of technology and opportunity, we’re in uncharted waters. Luckily, this is just the way we like it.


With visionary research on the earth and environment, we’re setting the standard for studying our planet—and making an impact.

in the United States for earth and environmental research1

in the world for earth and environmental research1

in the world for beneficial research2

1Nature, based on total contribution to studies published in major science journals, 2016

2Nature, 2017

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Social, Climbing

Tackling tough issues

What’s the link between wrongful convictions and upward mobility? They’re both pressing social issues. Trenchant, long-standing challenges. Issues with national impact. Issues our researchers are addressing.

An example? Improving our criminal justice system—by improving a critical component: witness identification.

Since 1989, 330 wrongful convictions have been overturned by DNA evidence. More than 70 percent involved the misidentification of suspects by eyewitnesses. Yet new findings show that eyewitness identifications may not be so unreliable. In fact, to assess the accuracy of eyewitnesses, it turns out we might only have to pick the right time, ask how confident they are in their decision—and actually listen.

Such are the conclusions discovered by John Wixted, UC San Diego social sciences professor and memory expert. An important feature of Wixted’s research: Rather than staging scenarios in a lab, he worked directly with the Houston Police Department, studying eyewitnesses and data (348 real-life robberies, to be exact).

In an issue of the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences published in 2015, the study found that, during the initial identification, eyewitnesses who expressed confidence in their decisions were more likely to correctly finger the perpetrator. Similarly, even if their confidence increased over time, eyewitnesses who were initially unsure of their identification were, indeed, more likely to be mistaken.

But this wasn’t Wixted’s only justice-boosting conclusion. His research also supports the superiority of presenting suspects in simultaneous (versus sequential) lineups.

With its real-world methodology, Wixted’s work is making people rethink positions and policy. In terms of industry opinion, a recent review found current research aligns with Wixted’s eyewitness confidence findings. And on the ground, his research is causing a turning of the tide. In September 2016, the International Association of Chiefs of Police neutralized their support for sequential lineups (their new advice: Let police decide).

Another area in which we’re making a difference? Reclaiming upward mobility as a feasible reality.

Compared to decades past, people who are economically disadvantaged now have an even lower chance of entering the middle class. According to UC San Diego researchers, this shortfall in upward mobility is one of America’s most important economic problems.

Combine problem-solving research with a multimillion-dollar bequest from the late renowned social researcher and public opinion analyst Daniel Yankelovich. The result? UC San Diego’s Yankelovich Center.

The center has assembled a national Upward Mobility Commission tasked with examining proposed solutions (from infrastructure to preschool access), ranking them for policy makers, and even quantifying their impact.

Sociologist John Skrentny, director of the Yankelovich Center, plans to take the findings to the public and, in partnership with Public Agenda, a nonpartisan nonprofit in New York, test which solutions have the most political feasibility and public support.

More-just criminal justice. A more-reachable American Dream. Already, our commitment to social-service research is working.

Of course, there’s more to come. Because when we work together, we have the ideas, the drive, the heart, and the talent. Also because that’s just what happens when service-centered discovery is conducted with bold curiosity and unbridled passion.


Established in 1986, the Division of Social Sciences takes seriously its vision of research, teaching, and service in the public interest and is among the country’s most social-impact driven.

in the United States for positive national impact on social mobility, research productivity, and civic engagement1

Top 10
in the United States for 8 social sciences and humanities graduate programs, including behavioral neuroscience (4th), econometrics (4th), international politics (4th), and cognitive psychology (8th)2

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Intentional Measures

Bridging diversity and inclusion

From a distance, June 11, 2016, looked like any other sun-drenched SoCal commencement. But speak personally with the new UC San Diego graduates, and you’d realize the occasion was more than happy. It was historic.

Receiving bachelor’s degrees that day was the first class of Chancellor’s Associates Scholarship recipients. Established in 2013 by Chancellor Pradeep K. Khosla, this future-fueling program provides each eligible student $10,000 a year for four years, essentially removing financial constraints. Paired with other available aid, it’s effectively a full ride to a UC San Diego education. And it’s just one of the many ways we’re working diligently to advance diversity on campus.

A commitment to celebrate and value differences is encoded into our Principles of Community. But while this milestone commencement represents a giant step in support of diversity, as Becky Petitt, Vice Chancellor for Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion (EDI), notes, simply accepting differences is not the same as embracing them.

“Inclusion doesn’t happen spontaneously when an environment becomes more diverse,” she explains. “We have to be intentional in creating a welcoming environment in which all students, faculty, and staff can thrive and reach their full potential.”

And intentional we are.

Exhibit A: Campus Community Centers. These homes-away-from-home provide support for traditionally underrepresented students; encourage critical thinking and conversation; and boost unity for the entire campus of diverse students, staff, and faculty. As of 2016, they dispense additional resources. Identity-themed housing for LGBTQ, Black, and Chicano/Latino students. Mentoring programs for first-year, first-generation students and those from underresourced high schools. Workshops to teach life skills and tackle social issues, like workplace sexism and the wage gap between genders.

And then there’s the recently rejuvenated EDI Advisory Council. Comprising students, faculty, staff, and members of the community, this restructured advisory team is tasked with cocreating a shared vision and strategic plan for advancing diversity on campus.

So, as the first Chancellor’s Associates Scholars go forth into their futures, we, too, forge purposefully ahead. To strategize. Make plans. Take measurable action. Conscious that there’s no free ride from diversity to unity, we continue to intentionally pursue the most effective path for getting across the gap. [Cue cap toss.]


Ethnicity, economic background, sexual and gender orientation—we’re proud to be among the most diverse in the nation.

most ethnically diverse college1

for providing access to low-income students2

most LBGTQ-friendly university3

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Tutoring is one of the many resources provided at the Teaching + Learning Commons.

Innovation in Education

Challenging conventional teaching and learning

At UC San Diego, we know that success today takes more than brains and head-in-the-books education. We want our graduates to maximize their potential in a world that’s diverse yet interconnected—and constantly being re-created. So, we prepare them to problem solve. To lead. To innovate. We prepare them to drive meaningful global change.

Enter the Teaching + Learning Commons.

Located within UC San Diego’s Geisel Library, The Commons is much more than a “center,” or the ubiquitous “initiative.” It’s ground zero for advancing experiential education. Comprising a Center for Engaged Teaching and Center for Engaged Learning, The Commons delivers a suite of innovative educational resources.

“Like what?” you might wonder.

Like Engaged Learning Tools. These allow students to discover opportunities for developing transferrable skills. Skills prospective employers want. A key pillar is the Research Experience and Applied Learning (REAL) portal.

This holy grail of career head starts lets students search for internships, research engagements, international experiences, community-based learning programs, and other get-yourself-out-of-the-classroom-and-do-something-cool opportunities.

But what good are skills for killing it in the real world without a way to show them off? To address this, well, we simply redefined the academic record.

Students can now showcase all sorts of cocurricular activities and real-world learning experiences. Not to mention contextual information about courses—even portfolios. At last, all those informal yet formative experiences have a (professionally appropriate) place.

While unequivocally cutting edge, The Commons is not all tech tools. Take the Supplemental Instruction program, one of the first in the University of California system. Here, peer-facilitated study groups help students succeed in traditionally challenging courses (we’re talking to you, calculus). This program not only helps counteract graduation delays due to a single difficult course, it builds confidence. It encourages collaboration.

On the faculty front, The Commons is a direct outcome of our Education Initiative. Programs have been crafted to help instructors access the best global thinking on educational strategies. In this inspiring environment, workshops, seminars—even casual water-cooler conversations—disseminate information, helping faculty better educate an increasingly diverse student population.

But why, you might ask, do we continue to tinker with teaching and learning that’s already top-notch?

We do it because we want to be the most student-centered campus possible. We do it because we want to set an example for other research universities. We do it because we want our students to not just make it in the world, but change it. Well, that and the fact that we simply can’t help ourselves.


The caliber of our education has been consistently recognized.

best university in the world and 4th best public college across the globe1

Top 10
public university in the nation for more than a decade2

12017 Academic Ranking of World Universities, Center for World-Class Universities at Shanghai Jiao Tong

22017 U.S News & World Report Best Colleges guidebook

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Engineering students in the EnVision Maker Studio

Making the Leap

Innovation meets the real world

Since the beginning, the driving force behind our innovation has been the desire to make an impact. But in practice, there are roadblocks between idea and reality. Coming up with a groundbreaking theory is only half the battle. You need to make it practically applicable. You need to make it happen.

Defining customer needs, obtaining patents, uniting inventors with investors and capital—we’re providing the resources and connection necessary to help our campus community bring their ideas to life and, more important, to market.

We’re doing it through a network of spaces supporting on-campus student innovation. The latest? The EnVision Arts and Engineering Maker Studio at UC San Diego.

This hands-on, nearly 3,000-square-foot experiential education space launched in January 2016 enables the visual arts and engineering communities to converge. To collaborate. Design. Fabricate. Cocreate. Delivering a diverse arsenal of digital and analog design, fabrication, and prototyping tools, the EnVision Maker Studio offers more than twenty-five sections of lab classes, as well as open-access lab time for student teams and artists, and workshops to help students better utilize the tools for turning concept into product.

We’re doing it through a growing network of manifestation stations. Its newest member? The EnVision Arts and Engineering Maker Studio at UC San Diego.

But EnVision isn’t alone on its mission.

It joins The Basement, a student collaboration space that provides resources and education in start-up basics. It also connects students with alumni mentors—and in some cases, actual seed money.

Then there’s the new UC San Diego Institute for the Global Entrepreneur. A joint effort between the Jacobs School of Engineering and the Rady School of Management, this launchpad helps bring discoveries to the marketplace—and educates, mentors, and trains the next generation of global tech leaders. A typical day: Engineering and MBA students working shoulder to shoulder in a Lab to Market Workshop building a business around a new technology.

There’s more: the Jacobs School’s von Liebig Technology Accelerator guides faculty and student inventors through the proof-of-concept process, positioning their technologies to attract entrepreneurial talent and capital.

Through the Rady School, there’s also StartR (delivering tools to help student and alumni innovators start and grow their businesses) and mystartupXX (providing mentorship, education, and funding for the female tech entrepreneurs of tomorrow).

And, of course, there’s the Office of Innovation and Commercialization. This one-stop idea-realization shop pairs cross-campus thinkers and makers with community entrepreneurs looking to build a business around a procreant service, product, or technology.

So, while we use our collective imagination without restraint, we know that in order to drive meaningful change, high-fives for hypothetical ideas have no place. We are commited not only to collaboration, experimentation, and innovation, but to the necessary precursor of impact: realization.


Thanks to an unprecedented culture of support for entrepreneurism and invention, campus innovations are fueling the economy across the county and the nation.

inventions managed by the Office of Innovation and Commercialization1

companies launched by and/or utilizing technology produced by campus faculty, staff, and alumni

direct jobs attributable to active UC San Diego–spawned companies

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Microbial samples from Rachel Dutton’s lab

Researchers Explore Scientific Frontiers

Searching for unprecedented human health benefits

In 2015, community outreach took on additional meaning. Our newest communities of focus? Microbiomes. In other words, communities of microbes, which are the bacteria, viruses, fungi, and other microorganisms that live in and on the human body (and pretty much everywhere else in our environment).

Yes, it’s the stuff research-geek dreams are made of. Consider this: Controlling the human microbiome may help better manage asthma, mental illness, diabetes, allergies, obesity, and other diseases—as well as provide a potential source for new drugs and a tool for precision medicine. Research on environmental microbiomes is primed to address global challenges to agricultural sustainability, biofuel development, and climate-change mitigation.

With such incredible potential, we’re proud to, again, help drive the cutting edge.

Launched in October 2015 by Chancellor Pradeep K. Khosla, the Microbiome and Microbial Sciences Initiative combines industry-leading research with precedent-setting education.

Its research-focused component, the Center for Microbiome Innovation, is helmed by Rob Knight, professor at the UC San Diego School of Medicine and the Jacobs School of Engineering. The center’s objective, Knight says, is nothing less than to “address some of the most important problems facing humanity today.”

For example, through the American Gut Project, the center’s interdisciplinary team is using a Knight-created genetic sequencing technique to identify microbes present in crowd-sourced samples. Since samples are submitted with lifestyle information, researchers can study the effect of lifestyle on microbial makeup and how this makeup affects health.

More? Microbiologist and UC San Diego assistant professor of biology Rachel Dutton is studying how microbial communities form and work together using—of all things—cheese. Dutton’s lab grows bacteria and fungi from artisanal cheese in order to observe interactions, how the microbes can be manipulated (for, say, the gut or skin microbiomes), and what happens when these ecosystems are eaten.

But ambitiously defining a field today means, tomorrow, we’ll need someone to lead it.

Headed by biology professor Kit Pogliano, the student-centered Microbial Sciences Graduate Research Initiative aims to train the next generation of cross-disciplinary researchers. Its goal: to groom a disruptive microbiome workforce for the future.

When it comes to leveraging this type of research and education, we look for every chance to help propel our nation. One perfectly suited opportunity? In 2016, our pioneering microbiome research provided a blueprint for the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy in developing the National Microbiome Initiative—of which UC San Diego is a key participant.


The microbiome is only the tip of the iceberg in terms of our industry-leading research.

in the nation for total research output1

in the world for beneficial research2

research funding secured during 2016–17 fiscal year

1Nature, 2016

2Nature, 2017

UC San Diego Annual Report 2017

Newborn triplets were among the first patients at Jacobs Medical Center.

Next-Gen Medicine

Leading a health-care transformation

Nationwide, there’s an emerging emphasis on translational research and academic medicine. After all, a life-saving therapy is only life saving if you can get it into the clinic.

That’s why we’re so committed to further synthesizing clinical treatment with scientific discovery and physician education: to transform the level of care available to patients and become a global health destination.

For starters, we’re the region’s sole academic medical center, as well as a leader in translational research (aka bench-to-bedside, lab-to-life, test-tube-to-treatment—you get the idea). But we’re not merely a campus of knowledge-hungry innovators bound and determined to make things better for patients. We’re uniquely positioned to spearhead this transformative health-care mission.

Why? Because as a hotbed for scientific discovery, clinical care, and experiential education, our groundbreaking treatments have a direct path to patients.

In 2016 our hotbed got hotter. It also got 245 more beds—and that’s just in Jacobs Medical Center. At a cost of $943 million, this sleek facility was realized via hundreds of individual donors appending an initial gift of $75 million from Joan and Irwin Jacobs.

In the words of UC San Diego Health CEO Patty Maysent, the new center represents “the pinnacle of modern medicine.” Physicians and surgeons, scientists, and nurses collaborate to create a profound healing experience for patients. And through “our unique prescription of university experts, stem cell and immunotherapies, healing views, and advanced technologies, patients have access to world-class care in San Diego.” The world-class care Maysent speaks of is administered through three ultramodern interior pavilions: Advanced Surgical Care, Cancer Care, and Women and Infants Care.

UC San Diego Annual Report 2017

Jacobs Medical Center (photo by Paul Turang)

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A bridge from Jacobs Medical Center leads to another transformative move forward: the Altman Clinical and Translational Research Institute (ACTRI). Like the medical center, it was born from private giving—in the form of a $10 million development-and-construction donation from San Diego philanthropists Lisa and Steve Altman. ACTRI was created to energize bench-to-bedside efforts—actively developing, promoting, and supporting scientific research and the hundreds of clinical trials conducted at UC San Diego Health—as well as to educate.

“There really is nothing else like it in the country,” remarked Associate Vice Chancellor of Translational Medicine Gary Firestein at the 2016 ribbon-cutting ceremony. “Inside this building will work scientists, doctors, engineers, and others, across all disciplines,” he said, “to develop new drugs, therapies, devices, and technologies for patient care.”

A high concentration of curious minds in service of community. A direct path from innovation to patient care. We’re breaking boundaries to make connections.


We’re consistently recognized as industry leaders, from our health-care system to our physicians.

health system in San Diego, 6 consecutive years, and ranked highly in the nation in 8 specialty areas1

Top 100
among nationwide hospitals: UC San Diego Medical Center2

UC San Diego Health physicians named “Top Docs” in San Diego3

1U.S. News & World Report, "Best Hospitals," 2016–17

2Becker’s Hospital Review , “100 Great Hospitals in America,” 2017

3San Diego Magazine, “Physicians of Exceptional Excellence,” 2017