Overall Rating Platinum - expired
Overall Score 86.82
Liaison Richard Demerjian
Submission Date March 28, 2018
Executive Letter Download

STARS v2.1

University of California, Irvine
AC-10: Support for Research

Status Score Responsible Party
Complete 4.00 / 4.00 Jessica Debats Garrison
Administrating Director
UCI Environment Collaboration
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Does the institution have an ongoing program to encourage students in multiple disciplines or academic programs to conduct research in sustainability? :

A brief description of the student research program, including the incentives provided and any positive outcomes during the previous three years:

Food and Climate Student Fellows

In 2015-2016, 2016-2017, and 2017-2018, UCI participated in the student fellowship program created by UC President Janet Napolitano to fund undergraduate or graduate students on each UC campus to work on research projects or internships related to the UC Global Food Initiative and UC Carbon Neutrality Initiative. The fellowships are on-campus internships to enable students to contribute significantly to a select group of projects. The projects reflect some of the many ways UCI is mobilizing to achieve the underlying goals of the UC President's Global Food and Carbon Neutrality Initiatives.

For 2017-2018, four students were awarded Global Food Initiative Fellowships, and four students were awarded Carbon Neutrality Initiative Fellowships. Their biographies and details on their fellowship projects can be found at http://sustainability.uci.edu/2017/07/13/201718-food-and-climate-student-fellows/.

Climate Action Training Program

This one-year program supports an interdisciplinary cohort of approximately ten graduate students who plan to pursue careers that address climate issues. The cohort reflects a diversity of perspectives, and is open to students from all academic programs, including those outside of climate science. Participants are trained in transferable quantitative, communication, and professional skills required for a broad range of career paths. Trainees participate in a two-unit, problem-based graduate seminar during spring and fall quarters, as well as a short course on climate data science. A key element of the program is a three-month paid internship experience. Internships are available in the public and private sectors on topics appropriate to each trainee's career path. Trainees present lessons from the internship experience via a mini-conference in fall quarter. More information about the program can be found at

UCI OCEANS Fellowship

The UCI OCEANS (Oceans, Changing Environments, Arts, and Nearshore Societies) Initiative brings together twenty-nine faculty from eight schools to build an oceans research community that fosters integration and innovation. UCI OCEANS acts as an interface between UCI and ocean-related organizations, stakeholders, and publics in Orange County; encourages, enhances, and supports cross-disciplinary training of UCI students at all stages working on ocean systems and marine/society interactions; and coordinates and boosts financial support for marine research crossing traditional disciplinary boundaries.

In 2015, UCI OCEANS initiated fellowship opportunities for graduate students interested in coast- and oceans-related research. Proposals are accepted from any graduate student in good standing at UCI who is studying oceans, coastlines, or beaches. Awards range from $2,000 to $10,000. A total of eleven students were awarded UCI OCEANS Fellowships for 2017-2018. More information, including their biographies and details on their research projects, can be found at http://oceans.uci.edu/graduate-student-fellowship/.

Newkirk Center Fellowships

The UCI Newkirk Center for Science and Society promotes appropriate and effective uses of research in the natural and social sciences to enhance the quality of human life. The Newkirk Center finds ways to harness UCI's multidisciplinary capacities to develop and share research knowledge with the public and policymakers, so they can make informed decisions on vital policy issues relating to law, education, environment, health care, crime, and public infrastructure. The Center sponsors fellowships for UCI graduate students to support research in two categories: 1) projects that engage the community with scientific knowledge and research; and 2) projects that analyze the production of scientific knowledge and/or technological artifacts and systems. Awards may be used for tuition, fees, and/or research support. Preference is given for proposals that are in line with addressing scientific research issues that benefit society. 74 fellowships have been awarded since the program's inception, with around $50,000 awarded annually. Since 2004, many Newkirk Fellows have been focused on sustainability-related areas of research. Information on the 2017-2018 cohort of Newkirk Fellows can be found at http://newkirkcenter.uci.edu/students/2017-2018-newkirk-fellows/.

Public Impact Fellowships

UCI's Graduate Division administers Public Impact Fellowships that support doctoral or MFA students whose research has the potential for substantial impact in the public sphere. Ideal candidates are engaged in research designed to significantly improve or enrich the lives of Californians and/or national and global communities. Selection criteria include conducting research that has critical public impact, e.g., studies that aim to improve economic opportunity and well-being, health care, social justice, political participation, cultural engagement, and scientific or technical solutions to pressing social issues. All schools are eligible to nominate students to compete for fellowships ranging from $1,000 to $10,000. A number of past Public Impact Fellows have been engaged in sustainability-related research. More information is available at http://www.grad.uci.edu/funding/fellowships-awards/internal/public-impact.php.

Does the institution have a program to encourage faculty from multiple disciplines or academic programs to conduct research in sustainability topics?:

A brief description of the faculty research program, including the incentives provided and any positive outcomes during the previous three years:


In 2014, a new campus program under the direction of the Vice Provost of Academic Initiatives was created to identify and support areas of interschool excellence. Sponsored by the Office of the Provost & Executive Vice Chancellor, the Academic Initiatives program provides up to $150,000 annually for three years to interschool faculty teams in identified areas. Funding may be used for specialized research partnerships, workshops or conferences, collaboration with academic units on new graduate concentrations and/or undergraduate minors, coordination of grant applications, outreach, and community engagement. The goal of these programs is to transcend traditional academic boundaries to work productively together on projects of national significance. Initiatives are chosen based on the possibility of achieving leadership in the proposed area, diversity of faculty participation, commitment of the leadership team, effectiveness of the plan, and likelihood of evolving into a self-sustaining activity after three years. Currently, two on-going interschool initiatives are focused on sustainability-related issues: UCI OCEANS and Water UCI.

UCI OCEANS was initiated in 2015 to build an oceans research community at UCI fostering integration and innovation and to provide an interface between UCI and ocean-related organizations, stakeholders, and publics in Orange County. The initiative encourages and supports cross-disciplinary training of UCI students at all stages working on ocean systems and marine/society interactions. Oceans are important for the earth system but are vulnerable to human impacts such as climate change, overfishing, and pollution. Across campus, researchers at UCI are tackling pressing marine and on-shore environmental concerns and investigating questions at both global and local scales. UCI OCEANS offers a coordinated approach to ocean research and education by embracing a vision and approach that spans the natural sciences, engineering, social science, arts, education, law, and governance and is thus distinct from other marine research institutions. With its unique collection of interdisciplinary research approaches and strong community support, UCI OCEANS is a flagship organization for urban ocean studies, while simultaneously contributing to high impact global-scale ocean research. Twenty-nine faculty from eight schools are part of this initiative. More information is available at http://oceans.uci.edu/.

Water UCI is a campus-wide initiative that serves as a coordinating vehicle to facilitate meaningful collaborations across schools, departments, and existing research centers around questions of fundamental and applied water science, technology, management, and policy. Water UCI addresses "grand challenges" -- high-consequence, high-uncertainty problems that entail unprecedented mitigation costs, have the potential to generate social conflict, and may be approaching irreversibility. While faculty research interests embrace global as well as national aspects of these issues, Water UCI takes as a point of departure the unique expertise afforded at UCI in those areas of water research that have a distinctively California focus, and for which UCI has unique strengths, comparative advantages, strong experience, and great proficiency. These issues include urban and agricultural water management, competition for increasingly scarce and over-taxed water supplies by diverse users, the food-water-energy nexus, and others. Water UCI represents a means of enhancing faculty research in those segments of the campus that are already engaged in the investigation of water issues, and promoting further collaborations with researchers in air, energy, climate change, biodiversity, and other environmentally related areas. More information is available at http://water.uci.edu/.

Faculty Climate Action Award


The UCI Faculty Climate Action Champion Award incentivizes and supports faculty leadership in scholarship, teaching, and community engagement about climate-action solutions. The award supports one faculty member with $25,000 to carry out a project in research, education, and student and community engagement surrounding innovative programs associated with climate change, including developing, studying, and/or implementing climate-action solutions. An important program goal is to broaden and deepen climate change teaching and research at UCI. The program is funded through President Napolitano's Global Climate Leadership Council. In 2015, Steven Allison, an associate professor with a joint appointment in Ecology and Evolutionary Biology and Earth System Science, received the $25,000 Climate Action Champion Award. Dr. Allison used this award to develop an integrated climate action training program for graduate students with career interests in climate sustainability.

Has the institution published written policies and procedures that give positive recognition to interdisciplinary, transdisciplinary, and multidisciplinary research during faculty promotion and/or tenure decisions?:

A brief description of the institution’s support for interdisciplinary, transdisciplinary, and multidisciplinary research, including any positive outcomes during the previous three years:

UC Irvine has instituted various personnel and budgetary policies to support interdisciplinary research, including (1) formal joint appointments of faculty in two or more disciplinary units with participation of both units in personnel reviews and promotions; (2) enrollment policies that share credit among different departments for students enrolled in courses that cross departmental and school lines; (3) creation of interdisciplinary graduate degree programs that report centrally to Graduate Division rather than to one department or school; (4) accounting changes that allow faculty to credit extramural funding partially or wholly to interdisciplinary research centers rather than to a single home department. These policy changes have been implemented in conjunction with the more general commitment to innovative interdisciplinary organizations that have characterized UCI since its founding in 1965.

For example, Organized Research Units (ORUs) are academic units established by UCI to provide a supportive infrastructure for interdisciplinary research complementary to the academic goals of departments of instruction and research. In accordance with "UC Administrative Policies and Procedures Concerning Organized Research Units," ORUs are established on single campuses, whereas Multi-campus Research Units (MRUs) exist on two or more campuses. The functions of an ORU are to facilitate research and research collaborations; disseminate research results through research conferences, meetings and other activities; strengthen graduate and undergraduate education by providing students with training opportunities and access to facilities; seek extramural research funds; and carry out university and public service programs related to the ORU's research expertise. An ORU must be complementary to the academic goals of the university, but does not have jurisdiction over courses or curricula and cannot offer formal courses or make faculty appointments. See http://www.research.uci.edu/centers-institutes/oru-guidelines.html for more information.

Does the institution have ongoing library support for sustainability research and learning?:

A brief description of the institution’s library support for sustainability research, including any positive outcomes during the previous three years:

The UCI Libraries provide ongoing support for interdisciplinary sustainability research through research guides, collection development policies and practices, designated Subject Librarians (in areas such as Physical Sciences, Biological Sciences, and Social Ecology, Applied Sciences), and in-depth reference consultation and assistance for researchers and students. Research guides are available for a number of subjects. Two sustainability-related research guides are Environmental Sciences (https://guides.lib.uci.edu/env_sci) and Earth System Science (https://guides.lib.uci.edu/earth_system_science). The complete list of all the guides is available at http://guides.lib.uci.edu.

Research librarians work with faculty and staff to prepare collection development policies for specific research areas. The Earth Systems Science Collection Development Policy is an example of a UCI sustainability-focused collection development guide that supports cross-disciplinary teaching and research at UCI as well as several Research Centers. The collection emphasizes student (undergraduate through doctoral) research as well as research at the faculty and postdoctoral levels. Selection of materials concentrates on the broad interest areas of earth and environmental science with emphasis on environmental policy and planning, air quality monitoring and assessment, scientific research, laboratory analysis, science education, natural resource management, wildlife management, conservation and environmental protection, and water resource management.

The primary URL for the UCI Libraries is http://www.lib.uci.edu/. Researchers can access library collections via two online catalogs: UCI libraries (http://antpac.lib.uci.edu/) and UCI, UC, and other libraries worldwide (http://uci.worldcat.org/). UCI Library collections can also be accessed via http://www.lib.uci.edu/collections. Reference assistance is available via in-person consultation, 24/7 web reference chat, email, and appointments for research consultations, which are described online at http://www.lib.uci.edu/ask-librarian-reference-services and http://www.lib.uci.edu/instruction-request-form.

The website URL where information about the programs or initiatives is available:

Additional documentation to support the submission:

Data source(s) and notes about the submission:

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