Thomas Yuen, entrepreneur, philanthropist and community leader, will receive UC Irvine’s Extraordinarius award May 15 at the 44th annual Lauds & Laurels ceremony, sponsored by the UCI Alumni Association. He is among 18 campus faculty, staff, students and alumni who will be honored.
A 1974 graduate of UC Irvine, Yuen has been widely recognized for his superlative business accomplishments, philanthropy and volunteer work. He is the first of the university’s 150,000 alumni to garner both the Extraordinarius award and the UCI Medal, presented in 1990 for his exemplary service.
Yuen arrived in the U.S. from Hong Kong in 1970 and four years later received a bachelor’s degree in electrical engineering from UC Irvine’s Henry Samueli School of Engineering. In 1980, he and two friends founded personal computer manufacturer AST Research, which grew into a Fortune 500 company. Later, Yuen became chairman and CEO of SRS Labs, a world leader in audio and voice technology. Today he’s chairman and CEO of PrimeGen Biotech LLC, a private stem cell research company.
He has served on the UC Irvine Foundation board of trustees and continues to be a major donor – along with his wife, Misa – to the campus and UC Irvine Douglas Hospital, particularly in support of cutting-edge stem cell research.
Michelle Khine is known for her playful approach to science. She used a toy – Shrinky Dinks – to invent a method of quickly and cheaply developing custom microfluidic chips for researchers to use in their labs. Now she and her student researchers are inventing toys to inspire kids to not only conduct science, but also become inventors themselves.
The associate professor of biomedical engineering, most recently named one of Fast Company’s Most Creative People in Business 1000, issued a challenge to the graduate students working in her laboratory. “Many of the students in my lab serve as Rocket Science Tutors, so they are working with kids already,” says Khine. “I wanted them to think about how to get children interested in becoming inventors.”
UC Irvine’s Chang Liu has created an engineered living cell with a second DNA replication system that mutates independently of and without harming the cell’s original genome. This parallel replication cell works like a two-lane highway -- with a fast lane and a slow lane -- for direct evolution in a lab setting. With it, biomedical engineers will be able to rapidly evolve a huge array of biomolecules with custom desired functions. Liu and his research group published their work in the March issue of Nature Chemical Biology.
Anima Anandkumar, an assistant professor of electrical engineering and computer science, has been awarded a 2014 Sloan Research Fellowship for her work at the interface of theory and practice of large-scale machine learning and high-dimensional statistics. Bestowed annually since 1955 by the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation, the two-year fellowships go to 126 early-career scientists and scholars in the U.S. and Canada whose achievements and potential identify them as the next generation of scientific leaders. Fellows – who are nominated by their peers – receive $50,000 to further their work. “It’s a great honor to join the prestigious ranks of Sloan Fellows,” Anandkumar says. “The support from the Sloan Foundation will enable me to continue my research on large-scale machine learning.”
On a clear and appropriately sunny Southern California day, the Calit2 courtyard yesterday provided a picturesque setting for a formal announcement that many at UC Irvine had been anticipating eagerly.
U.S. Deputy Secretary of Energy Daniel Poneman announced that a UCI-led team of four Orange County colleges and universities was one of 20 chosen to design and build a solar-powered house for the national 2015 Solar Decathlon. “Team Orange” also includes Chapman University, Irvine Valley College and Saddleback College.
In addition, Poneman revealed that Orange County’s Great Park will host the October competition for the second consecutive time. The biannual challenge took place at the Great Park last year, the first time it had moved from its original venue on the Mall in Washington, D.C.