54 Facts: Academics
OUTSTANDING ACADEMICS (Facts 1–21)
UCR students keep us on our toes, and we love that about them! As they continue to break boundaries, we keep grinding to pave the way for their limitless drive for greatness — and we’ll do the same for you.
Get to know our world-class faculty, including two Nobel Laureates, a Pulitzer Prize winner, countless social activists, and world influencers. Explore undergraduate research opportunities and learn how we’ll set you up for a lifetime of curiosity.
Fact 1: Meet the Professor of Baby Yoda
If you watched the Disney+ hit series, “The Mandalorian,” you probably found yourself fighting the almost uncontrollable urge to hug the heck out of Baby Yoda — also known as Grogu. That urge probably didn’t make sense at the time but Katherine Stavropoulos, a UCR professor and expert on “cute aggression” explains the urge and has the research to back it up. She states that cute aggression is the urge to squeeze, pinch, smother, or bite very cute things, including puppies, human babies, and Baby Yodas.
Stavropoulos has used neuroscience to explore how this unique care-taking response is triggered, and how the "aggression" aspect is mediated by the brain. “Basically, Baby Yoda has all the features that we consider prototypically 'cute' — huge eyes, small nose, big head,” Stavropoulos says. “We are evolutionarily programmed to find things like Baby Yoda 'cute' and to feel strong feelings towards them.”
Baby Yoda fans around the world (and especially at UCR) thank the Professor of Baby Yoda for making sense of his cuteness.
Fact 2: Affordable Education
You might be surprised to learn what kind of financial aid you’re eligible to receive as a UCR Highlander! Apply and be automatically considered for scholarships. You could also qualify for grants (free), loans (repaid), and federal work-study (earned funds) — or pick up on- and off-campus jobs and paid internships. About 90.4% of undergraduate UCR students receive some form of financial aid, and about 60.6% of those who receive financial aid have their systemwide fees covered by grants and/or scholarships. The median federal loan debt is $19,000 among borrowers who completed their undergraduate degrees at UCR. The Office of Financial Aid is ready to show you how to fund your UCR education, strategize a budget and understand credit, and cover unexpected expenses — all so that you can succeed and graduate from the greatest public university system in the world!
Fact 3: Get to Know the Marlan and Rosemary Bourns College of Engineering (BCOE)
BCOE combines academic and research excellence, mentoring, and the opportunity for undergraduate research and internships. In addition to a curriculum focused on hands-on research and multi-faceted design programs that address real-world challenges, students can engage with nearly 20 engineering student professional organizations.
Training for the Future: In partnership with UCR’s College of Natural and Agricultural Sciences (CNAS), BCOE launched a new data science major as a pathway into an emerging field revolutionizing science and industry. Students learn to collect, transform, and analyze data to solve problems across disciplines including business, science, and medicine.
Ranked Globally: UCR is ranked No. 19 Best Public Global Universities for Engineering in the United States (U.S. News & World Report, 2021) and is the 30th Best School for Engineering Majors by Salary Potential in the nation (PayScale, 2019). UCR is also the 6th top computer science institution in the world — and 5th in the United States — for high-performance computing*. (CSRankings.org, 2019; *based on 10 years of data).
Better Tomorrows: BCOE faculty are leading engineering research in areas that address the grand challenges of our modern society such as artificial intelligence, sustainability, biotechnology, machine learning, and biomechanics. Cesunica Ivey, professor of chemical and environmental engineering, studies how air pollution exposure varies over time and within different communities. Kostas Karydis, professor of electrical and computer engineering, constructs multi-legged robots that can maneuver even the most rugged terrain. Guillermo Aguilar, professor of mechanical engineering, focuses on “stopping biological time” as part of UCR’s first collaboration in a National Science Foundation Engineering Research Center.
Fact 4: #UCRCareerReady
UCR students and alumni can get interview- and career-ready thanks to the services and resources available at the Career Center. Explore professional/career options through a series of on-campus events, personalized career counseling, career fairs, and job search skill-building workshops. International students can also participate in Get HIRED, a career-development program that supports U.S. and global job searches. Join the Career Center for job discovery panels and networking events where you can meet recruiters from top organizations. Log into UCR Handshake to access jobs and internships from more than 200,000 employers around the world. Through the R’Professional Career Closet, the Career Center is able to provide students with free professional attire for interviews, networking events, and career fairs, much of which is donated by members of the UCR community.
Fact 5: Get to Know the College of Humanities, Arts, and Social Sciences (CHASS)
The Psychology Building
CHASS uniquely combines the arts, humanities, and social sciences into a single college so that students can explore human life and meaning from many perspectives.
Specialized Studies: UCR is the only UC campus to offer an undergraduate degree in creative writing and the only UC campus with a low-residency M.F.A. program. It's the first UC campus to offer a Native American history Ph.D., the first UC campus to offer an Indigenous language series (Cahuilla) that fulfills graduation language requirements to all students, and was the first university in the nation to offer a Ph.D. in dance studies.
Best in Class: CHASS faculty have been recognized globally for their art, research, and contributions to their fields. Carolyn Murray, professor of psychology, won the Dr. William Montague Cobb Award for her work addressing health disparities in the Black community. John Jennings, professor of media and cultural studies, won an Eisner Award for co-creating "Kindred," a graphic novel adaptation of Octavia E. Butler's work. Walter Clark, professor of music history, is a noted scholar of Spanish and Latin American music and was knighted by King Felipe VI of Spain.
Fact 6: Saving Honeybees
UCR is working to stop and reverse a worldwide decline in honeybees, which threatens food security and prices. Honeybees pollinate more than 80 agricultural crops, which account for about a third of what we eat (estimated annual value of more than US$9 billion). To boost dwindling honeybee populations, the UC’s Office of the President awarded $900,000 to a four-campus network of bee researchers and engineers. The network is one of the largest honeybee health networks in the United States, and includes researchers from UC Davis, UC San Diego, UC Merced, and UCR’s College of Natural and Agricultural Sciences (CNAS). Together they’re developing breeding programs, treatment for sick bees, and health monitoring to keep bees alive, prevent irreversible colony collapses, and keep our food affordable.
Fact 7: A Leg Up
UCR is recognized nationally as a top university for enrolling and graduating Pell Grant or low-income students. U.S. News & World Report ranked us No. 1 on its 2022 list of the Top Performers on Social Mobility. The American Talent Initiative (ATI) ranked UCR No. 2 out of all member institutions for enrolling low-income students. Needs-based Pell Grants are awarded to students with annual family incomes up to $50,000. According to a Career Center survey members of UCR's class of 2020 had an average salary of $49,372 at their first full-time job.
Fact 8: Get to Know the College of Natural and Agricultural Sciences (CNAS)
In CNAS, faculty and more than half of our undergraduate students work side-by-side in an interdisciplinary environment that flows easily among the life, physical, mathematical, and agricultural sciences. Facilities like the new Multidisciplinary Research Building 1 (MRB1) make this possible by creating a shared space that enhances research and collaborations across disciplines.
Star Gazing: Astronomy students have access to UC telescopes and can look over the shoulders of department researchers, including remote observing with the Shane 3-meter and the Nickel 1-meter telescopes at Lick Observatory on Mt. Hamilton, California, and the 10-meter twin telescopes Keck I and Keck II at W.M. Keck Observatory on Maunakea, Hawai’i.
Protecting Citrus: UCR researchers are working with researchers from other institutions at a new biosafety level 3 laboratory near campus to find ways to prevent and cure Huanglongbing, or HLB, a disease that prevents fruit from ripening. The disease, which is caused by a bacteria that is spread by a tiny insect, the Asian citrus psyllid, has decimated citrus crops in Florida and China, and has been detected in backyard trees in Los Angeles, Orange, and Riverside Counties.
Fact 9: Pillars of Excellence
Students in the University Honors program engage with faculty through special courses; connect with other Honors students in first-year, transfer, and upper-division Living-Learning Communities; and take part in faculty-mentored research. Honors students have the opportunity to create and publish their own undergraduate research capstone project. “I have … learned what it really means to be a leader and to be civically engaged in my community, which consists of promoting creativity, appreciating diversity, and having a willing heart to give,” says Joanna Sung, University Honors alumna, class of ’89.
Fact 10: Building Community
UCR’s International Students and Scholars Office welcomes students from over 88 countries. Thanks to a small group of international students, international and domestic students have a place to connect and share — the International Student Union (ISU). One of those students, Viresha Perera (’19 and current graduate student in the UCR School of Business), was born in Sri Lanka and grew up in Dubai. She came to UCR to earn a degree in psychology and spearheaded the founding of the ISU to benefit not just international students like herself but the UCR community as a whole. “We wanted to make a space where we can allow and enable [international students] to make those connections and feel more a part of the UCR campus,” she says. Perera won the Outstanding International Undergraduate Student Award in 2018 for her work in helping launch ISU.
Fact 11: Get to Know the Graduate School of Education (GSOE)
At GSOE, faculty, students, and researchers are engaged in transformative partnerships that benefit K-12 students, families, and educators, and advance research and discourse in the field of education.
Undergraduate Program: The education, society, and human development undergraduate major helps students inspire the next generation. Community learning is a signature feature of the program, and through partnerships with local schools, nonprofit organizations, and government agencies, students engage in meaningful research, expand their learning opportunities, and amplify their success.
New Minor: Check GSOE's new athletic leadership minor, which launched in fall 2020. It’s the first athletics-based undergraduate academic program for UCR and the UC system!
Learning from the Experts: Students have opportunities to work with some of the nation’s top researchers and receive a result-oriented education with experienced faculty and nationally recognized experts in autism, special education, higher education, STEM, equity and access, school psychology, and educational policy research.
Fact 12: How Do You Say “First” in Cahuilla?
UCR is the first UC campus to offer Cahuilla (the language of Southern California Cahuilla Indian Nations) as an accredited language series. Offered by the Department of Comparative Literature & Languages, this four-class series includes three lower-division courses and one-upper division class, which satisfies undergraduate foreign language requirements for most of the College of Humanities, Arts, and Social Sciences (CHASS) majors.
Doctoral student William Madrigal Jr., a member of the Cahuilla Band of Indians, teaches the courses, which are open to all UC students and Cahuilla tribal community members — thanks to concurrent enrollment.
“The interesting thing here is that Cahuilla is not a foreign language because it’s very much local and indigenous to Riverside County,” Madrigal Jr. says. “Students are learning more than just the mechanics of the language. They are learning about a rich and vibrant culture. They are introduced to the Cahuilla culture, philosophy, and worldview.”
Fact 13: Study Breaks
The library is a natural go-to when you want to read, conduct research, or study, but what about when you want to do a craft, grab a snack, or pet a dog? Launched in 2013 by the Access Services Department in the UCR Library, Finals Week Stress Relief gives students a break from studying and a chance to unwind during the last two weeks of each quarter with tutoring, activities like slime-making, food giveaways, and even time with Therapy Fluffies, trained comfort animals. The Library partners with departments, clubs, and organizations across campus — even our mascot Scotty Highlander — to present this programming to students for free. "Through a creative approach, the UCR Library's Finals Week Stress Relief Committee's goal is to nurture our UCR Highlander students by creating a relaxing a stress-free environment during each quarter's pre-finals and finals week, and a sense of community; and to help alleviate food insecurities that many of our students battle daily," says Elisha Hankins, Access Services Desk coordinator.
Fact 14: Get to Know the School of Business
UCR boasts the largest undergraduate business program in the entire UC system, along with a full-time Master of Business Administration (MBA), Professional MBA, Master of Professional Accountancy (MPAc), Master of Finance (MFin), and a Ph.D. program.
Customized Learning: Students in the undergraduate program can tailor their degree to align with their career goals through seven concentrations and nine minors. Double alumnus Valtteri Salomaki ’18, ’20 MBA did just that when he added courses in Blockchain Application in eCommerce and Full-Stack Product Development to his undergraduate degree. He continued his education at UCR Business and earned his MBA. “The A. Gary Anderson School of Management provided me with all the resources and support I have needed to achieve my ambitious goals,” says Salomaki.
National Recognition: The school is accredited by the Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business which places it among the top 5% of business schools worldwide. U.S. News & World Report ranked both the School of Business undergraduate program and the school’s A. Gary Anderson Graduate School of Management among the top 100 programs in its 2021 listing of the Best Business Schools.
Consumer Thinking: Thomas Kramer, professor of marketing and associate dean of undergraduate programs, has spent his career investigating the beliefs, biases, and heuristics that affect consumer choice and behavior. In 2020, he was selected as co-editor of the prestigious Journal of Consumer Research.
Fact 15: Real Roots
During more than a century of discovery, scientists at UCR’s Agricultural Experiment Station-Citrus Research Center have earned worldwide recognition for the study of plant sciences, environmental and natural resources, and pest management. Every orange, lemon, lime, and mandarin orange found on your grocer’s shelf has a genetic connection to the trees at our Citrus Research Center, which was established in 1907. We’re also home to the Citrus Variety Collection, a living citrus museum with some 900 varieties of citrus — the largest collection in the world. You can drink juice or even beer made from oranges grown on campus at our dining venues! So that sweet and juicy California navel orange you had for lunch today had its roots right here at UCR.
Fact 16: Get to Know the School of Medicine (SOM)
UCR SOM was created to improve the health of the people of California, especially the medically underserved throughout our Inland Southern California home. The school does this by training the next generation of medical doctors (M.D.s) and biomedical researchers, and by developing innovative research and health care delivery programs that address the needs of our communities. Plus, it ranks No. 6 on the U.S. News & World Report’s list of Most Diverse Medical Schools (2021).
In Practice: UCR SOM’s first class of M.D.s graduated in 2017, and many of them completed their residencies and began practicing in their communities in 2020. Today, there are more than 280 students enrolled in UCR SOM.
Getting In: Each year, The Thomas Haider Program at the UCR School of Medicine guarantees up to 24 seats in the incoming UCR SOM class to current UCR undergraduate students or recent UCR graduates who fit the school’s mission and meet admission qualifications. Qualifying UCR undergraduates who want to commit to attend UCR SOM may apply to the Thomas Haider Early Assurance Program (EAP). Students selected for EAP avoid the time, stress, and expense of the traditional application process and do not have to take MCAT, allowing them to spend their final undergraduate year focusing on community engagement and gaining additional clinical and research experience.
Doctors and Doctorates: In addition to producing excellent physicians, UCR SOM trains the next generation of research scientists in the Division of Biomedical Sciences. The program offers Ph.D. and M.S. degrees to students who will bridge the gap between basic science research and clinical medicine through independent research.
Building to Serve: Construction of UCR SOM’s new Education Building II has been approved and will become one of the most innovative learning facilities in the nation. The space will allow class sizes to grow to 125 students per year, which will further the UCR SOM’s mission to increase the number of physicians in the underserved inland Southern California!
Fact 17: Experience the World
At UCR, your education is not limited to our beautiful campus. Discover the world by going abroad on one of our international programs. Students earn academic credit abroad and can choose full-year or short-term programs in a wide range of majors. Best of all, studying in a different country doesn’t have to be expensive! Many Education Abroad programs offer exceptional value at costs comparable to staying at UCR, and you can use UCR financial aid, scholarships, and grants to study abroad. “The experience allowed me to immerse myself in a completely new culture, meet people from all over the world, and travel to numerous countries,” Ghanee Ludin, ('20, business administration, pictured), says of his experience studying in Hong Kong during his junior year. “It gave me a new perspective on life and made me view the world through a different lens.”
Fact 18: Get to Know the School of Public Policy (SPP)
UCR has the only public policy program in the UC system that offers both undergraduate and graduate degrees. This interdisciplinary program allows students to fulfill their requirements by taking courses from 12 departments, from film and visual culture to political science.
Specialized Programs: Along with Stanford, Carnegie-Mellon, USC, and Brown, UCR is one of the few universities in the United States to offer an undergraduate major in public policy. Students who pursue an undergraduate public policy major have the opportunity to specialize in two of six tracks — health/public policy, social/cultural/family policy, economic policy, urban/environmental policy, policy institutions and processes, and international/foreign policy.
Real-World Focus: The research conducted by Karthick Ramakrishnan (pictured), professor of public policy and political science, and founding director of the Center for Social Innovation, focuses on civic participation, immigration policy, and the politics of race, ethnicity, and immigration in the United States.
Fact 19: Developing AI for Sustainable Agriculture
UCR is helping to shape the future of U.S. agriculture for environmental, economic, and socially sustainable food production — thanks to a $10 million grant that funds a new artificial intelligence (AI) project! A portion of the grant established a fellowship program that recruits more than 50 science students (mostly from UCR!) for research. The team, led by professional researcher Elia Scudiero from the College of Natural and Agricultural Sciences (CNAS), focuses on two areas in the Western United States. These areas employ more than 500,000 people and generate roughly $12 billion annually in revenue, but their environments experience prolonged droughts, excessive degradation, and invasions from weeds, pathogens, and insects. The team’s goal is to advance core AI techniques for combining large, disparate data sets, which will make field management more efficient, reduce costs for growers, and increase food accessibility in those areas and across the country.
Fact 20: Latinx Futures and the American Story
Alfonso Gonzales Toribio
UCR’s new Center for Latino and Latin American Studies and Research won a $2.9 million Mellon Foundation Grant to support College of Humanities, Arts, and Social Sciences (CHASS) research. The Center specializes in issues facing Latinos, who account for 5 million residents in the Inland Empire and nearly half of the population. The Center holds a mirror to these communities, helping them to see themselves and the cultural richness they share, as well as their economic, political, and social importance in the area. Grant monies help to fund the Center’s research project, “Latinx Futures: The Civil, Cultural and Political Stakes for Southern California Latinx Communitiesm," co-led by Alfonso Gonzales Toribio (pictured) and Claudia Holguín Mendoza. The project is the first of its kind in Southern California-based UC campuses. Oral histories, indigenous music and storytelling workshops, community documentary, and the development of ethnic studies curriculums are included — thanks to involvement from community organizations, regional labor and social justice organizations, and international researchers. Latinx Futures builds the Center’s infrastructure as the centrality of the humanities and CHASS, which serves the majority of UCR’s Latinx and first-generation students.
Fact 21: UCR Writers Week
Every year, the UCR community, Riverside locals, and people from basically everywhere gather on our campus to be in the presence of literary greatness at our annual Writers Week. California’s longest-running, free, literary event features award-winning authors, like UCR Professor and Pulitzer Prize finalist Laila Lalami — alongside up-and-coming artists from around the world. 2021’s event honored three internationally renowned United States Poet Laureates, Rita Dove, Joy Harjo, and Juan Felipe Herrera.
Hosted by UCR’s Department of Creative Writing, this annual event is free and open to the public.
Guess what? UCR’s literary magic doesn’t only occur during Writers Week. Award-winning poet, playwright, producer, and icon Maya Angelou visited our campus twice: once to give the commencement address in 1977 and the other to read her poem, “A Brave and Startling Truth,” in 2009. And, you should know that UCR offers the only Bachelor of Arts degree in Creative Writing at any UC campus. Yeah, we really know how to do this writing thing.