June 15, 2023
UCI Digest
Anteater Time Machine: 1970s beards and hairstyles are on display at commencement in 1975.
Anteater Time Machine: 1970s beards, hairstyles and shirt collars are on display at commencement in 1975.


New battery could curtail need for cobalt mined by kids

Huolin Xin, professor of physics & astronomy
In a discovery that could reduce or even eliminate the use of cobalt – which is often mined using child labor – in batteries that power electric cars and other products, UCI scientists have developed a long-lasting alternative made with nickel. Previous nickel-based lithium-ion batteries required large amounts of the costly metal, but a team led by Huolin Xin, a professor of physics & astronomy, solved that obstacle. Electric vehicle companies are already planning to replicate the team’s results and test the new battery for safety, Xin says.

Genetics study boosts fight against crop disease

Genetics study boosts fight against crop disease
A new way to combat a disease that devastates grapes, coffee, almonds, citrus and olives has been developed by a team of scientists that includes UCI’s Brandon Gaut, Distinguished Professor of ecology & evolutionary biology. Building on a long-term project at UC Davis, the researchers analyzed a wild grape species with natural resistance to the disease. Through genetic mapping and genomewide association studies, they identified genes that could be introduced into other grapevines to enhance their resistance. The findings hold the potential to revolutionize the agricultural industry, the researchers said.


A Juneteenth playlist from President Drake

Sam Cooke singing “A Change Is Gonna Come” song

“For me, music has always been a powerful portal to other worlds and a soundtrack to history,” UC President Michael V. Drake writes in reflection on the upcoming holiday. “That’s been true from my early years, working at Tower Records in Sacramento, where I reveled in the freedom to listen to any record I wanted. Much later in life, I taught an undergraduate course on Civil Rights, the Supreme Court, and the Music of the Civil Rights Era.” Against that backdrop, he recommends three songs to celebrate the occasion:

  • Sam Cooke singing “A Change Is Gonna Come” (“I’m always struck by the powerful emotion in the opening line,” Drake says)
  • Aretha Franklin’s iconic “Respect,” a song written by Otis Redding
  • Harold Melvin & the Blue Notes, featuring Teddy Pendergrass, with “Wake Up Everybody


Professor’s album praised by Wall Street Journal

Rajna Swaminathan, assistant professor of music

“Apertures,” a new recording by Rajna Swaminathan, an assistant professor of music at UCI, “projects a translucent beauty that seems at once tender and defiant,” says a recent review in The Wall Street Journal. The “adventurous new album” draws on jazz and the music of South Asian and African diasporas, the paper says. Accompanied by guitar, trumpet, piano and other instruments, Swaminathan plays the mrudangam, a barrel-shaped, two-headed drum crafted from jackfruit wood and used in South Indian Carnatic music.

#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.
The Orange County Register logo

Saddleback Church loses appeal over ouster from Southern Baptist Convention

The Orange County Register, June 15
Cited: Michael McBride, professor of economics and religious studies

CBC News logo

How hard is it to get EV charging stations into residential buildings?

CBC News, June 12
Cited: Avipsa Roy, assistant professor of urban planning and public policy

The Week logo

How safe is America's drinking water?

The Week, June 10
Cited: Maura Allaire, assistant professor of urban planning and public policy


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