June 14, 2023
UCI Digest
American flag shown flying with UCI water tower in the background.
Old Glory files alongside UCI’s water cooling tower. (Photo: Steve Zylius)


Mother/son duo graduate with UCI social sciences degrees

 Faith Couts and her son Hunter Wetzel smile side by side wearing matching caps and gowns.
On June 16, Faith Couts will become the first person in her family to earn a bachelor’s degree. The next name called will be her youngest child, Hunter Wetzel. Couts is a recipient of the Chancellor’s Award, the Schonfeld Scholar Award, the UCI Alumni Association’s Distinguished Anteater Award, and the campus’s Independent Achiever award. She’s been accepted to the Ph.D. program in the UCI School of Education where she’ll research the factors that enable non-traditional students like her to thrive at four-year institutions.

UCI partnership fosters youth well-being

A young child wearing a virtual reality (VR) headset.
The nonprofit Connected Learning Alliance and the Connected Learning Lab at UCI have launched the new Connected Wellbeing Initiative. The collaborative effort amplifies the benefits of digital technology for vulnerable youth by accelerating innovation, building a coalition, and supporting a more evidence-driven narrative about youth, technology and wellbeing.


Honoring the LGBTQ+ community’s UC scientists

Flowers and plants that are in pride colors
While we may honor Pride in June, for many LGBTQ+ scientists, the diversity and resiliency of the world they study provides inspiration all year long. But being a queer scientist isn’t easy. A 2018 study showed that LGBTQ+ students are more likely to drop out of career pathways than their straight peers and are 30 percent more likely to experience workplace harassment. UC asked faculty, students and alumni across UC about their experiences, the challenges they face, and the unique perspective they bring to their work.


Kelsey Morgan (left) and Paul Hurst.

#IamUCI: Kelsey Morgan, Ph.D ’23, social ecology

Kelsey Morgan has been doing anti-trafficking work since graduating from UCI with an undergraduate degree in international studies in 2010. She moved to East Africa to work with survivors and empower them to support trafficking prevention. After moving back to Orange County, joined the social ecology Ph.D. program and developed a case management tool to help human trafficking survivors achieve lasting freedom.

#IamUCI: Paul Hurst, Ph.D ’23, chemistry

Paul Hurst grew up on Oahu’s North Shore before moving to Utah to earn a B.S. in chemistry at Brigham Young University. At UCI, Hurst’s dissertation research was on the self-assembly of polymers, including the development of nanoparticles that can facilitate controlled pharmaceutical delivery. 

#UCIconnected spotlights student, alumni, faculty and staff photos, essays, shoutouts, hobbies, artwork, unusual office decorations, activities and more. Send submissions via email or post on social media with the #UCIconnected hashtag.


Note: Some news sites require subscriptions to read articles. The UCI Libraries offer free subscriptions to The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, The Orange County Register and The Washington Post for students, faculty and staff.
Los Angeles Times logo

Wildfire burn areas in California are growing ever larger due to greenhouse gas emissions

Los Angeles Times, June 14
Cited: Amir AghaKouchak, professor of civil and environmental engineering

USA Today logo

Carbon dioxide can negatively affect carbon-based lifeforms | Fact check

USA Today, June 12
Cited: James Hicks, professor of ecology and evolutionary biology

San Francisco Chronicle logo

The Bay Area saw 3 mass shootings in one weekend. Is gun violence trending up?

San Francisco Chronicle, June 12
Cited:  Charis Kubrin, professor of criminology


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