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UC Davis Magazine

Volume 27 · Number 3 · Spring 2010

News & Notes

UC Davis in your pocket

You might not know who they are, but UC Davis seniors Fei Li and Sunny Dhillon could make your next visit to Davis a whole lot easier.

During fall quarter 2009 in a new iPhone application class, Li and Dhillon created the UC Davis Mobile application, which provides much of what you need to know about the university and the town.

“We wanted to create something that we, as students, want to use,” said Dhillon, who has been offered a job at Google in the Bay Area.

“Everyone carries around phones, especially smart phones. This is something that has all the information you need to know about Davis, and you don’t have to go to different pages.”

The free iTunesU application features the Unitrans bus schedule and GPS real-time whereabouts of buses, sports schedules, a campus map and walking directions, UC Davis e-mail and campus directory and quick access to student media outlets like The California Aggie or AggieTV.

“I think I put more work into this than all of my other classes combined,” Dhillon said. “It’s a real interesting topic, and I knew all of my friends would use it — and that gave me incentive to put as much work into it as possible.”

He estimates he spent 15 hours a week working on it with Li during the three months it took them to create it.

The hard work paid off, and the application has already gotten more than 1,000 downloads, according to Dhillon, with hits coming from as far away as Asia, Europe and Australia.

After hearing about it from a Facebook invite, third-year psychology major Arin Klushi uses the application almost every day.

“It’s definitely a great app,” he said. “The best part is the Unitrans system. It’s a pain to have to check the bus schedule by going to Safari and then opening the attachment for the bus schedule. . . . However, with the Davis app, I can carry the bus schedule with me, and I can check it without having to pull out a schedule or using Safari.”

He said that most of his friends with an iPhone or iPod Touch are already using the application, and he’d recommend it to anyone. “Whether you use the app or not, one must admit it’s kind of cool to have an iPhone app dedicated to our school.”

The guest lecturer for the iPhone course, Serban Porumbescu, thought of introducing the class to UC Davis after seeing how popular it was at Stanford University, and, as a professional mobile application creator himself, he wanted to get more people in Davis involved in the iPhone development community.

“I look back, and I feel like it really would have been fantastic if someone taught a class on that when I was at school,” said Porumbescu ’99, M.S. ’02, Ph.D. ’05, who works for the best-selling application company Tapulous in Palo Alto. “I’m hoping the students who are taking this class are able to see the next best thing.”

He said he lectured for free as a way of giving back to UC Davis, where he earned his three degrees in computer science.

The class proved to be immediately popular, filling up within fours hours — “which tells you a lot about the relevance of the class,” said Ken Joy, professor for the class and director of the Institute for Data Analysis and Visualization.

“All of our information used to be housed in that big building called a library, but now it’s in our pocket,” Joy said. “That’s the difference. A university for hundreds of years has been a group of scholars surrounding the library. Now the library is the net.”

Elizabeth Stitt


Tiger Woods Sponsors: Into the Rough

Tiger Woods wasn’t the only one to lose earnings in the wake of the scandal involving his extramarital affairs. UC Davis researchers estimate that shareholders of Nike, Gatorade, and other Woods sponsors lost a collective $5–$12 billion.

“Total shareholder losses may exceed several decades’ worth of Tiger Woods’ personal endorsement income,” said Victor Stango, a professor of economics at the UC Davis Graduate School of Management and co-author of the study.

With fellow economics professor Christopher Knittel, Stango looked at stock market returns for the 13 trading days that fell between Nov. 27, the date of the car crash that ignited the Woods’ scandal, and Dec. 17, a week after the golf great announced his indefinite leave from the sport. To assess shareholder losses, the economists compared returns for Woods’ sponsors during this period to those of both the total stock market and of each sponsor’s closest competitor.

“Our analysis makes clear that while having a celebrity of Tiger Woods’ stature as an endorser has undeniable upside, the downside risk is substantial too,” Stango said.

Before the scandal, Woods earned about $100 million a year in endorsement income, more than any other athlete.

The study is available online.



Funding the University of California

Working to combat a steep slide in state support for higher education, advocates for the University of California planned large rallies in Sacramento this spring to persuade lawmakers that public higher education should be a higher funding priority.

A rally on April 27 is being hosted by a coalition that includes UC, the California State University and California Community Colleges. Leaders and key stakeholders from the three public higher education systems will be joined by community leaders from throughout the state for a joint advocacy day in Sacramento.

Organizers hope to draw a broad spectrum of participants, from parents and students to community organizers, business leaders, faculty and staff.

The demonstration followed a March 1 rally and news conference organized by the UC Student Association at the state Capitol.

“Our students are a critical voice in delivering our message to Sacramento, and it’s great to see them engaging in this way,” said UC President Mark Yudof.

State support for UC has been eroding since the 1990s, but last year, amid a severe recession, lawmakers slashed UC funding by 20 percent. The resulting financial crisis brought layoffs, employee furloughs, reduced class offerings and higher student fees.

The UC Board of Regents in November proposed a 2010-11 budget that asks the state for $913 million more in funding, an amount that would allow UC to restore core funding for university operations.

UC efforts to build support for the restored funding include the launch of an online, grassroots movement to educate lawmakers and the public about all the ways that UC serves California. The group is now nearly 300,000 strong — with more than 130,000 people added to the list of advocates since November.

Campuses have also been active, hosting teach-ins, encouraging visits to the district offices of local lawmakers and sponsoring “write-ins” to send letters to Sacramento. In addition, the directors and presidents of UC’s alumni associations met in January to begin mobilizing their members.

UC advocacy continues on the federal level as well. President Obama’s 2011 budget request included increased funding for Pell Grants and key research agencies, including the National Institutes of Health, National Science Foundation and the Department of Energy’s Office of Science.

Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger’s proposed budget restores $371 million in funding for the university. Yudof called the governor’s proposal an important step, but said lawmakers must fund the full $913 million if the university is to repair the damage brought by last year’s steep cuts.

“Adequate state funding is vital if UC is to avoid declining educational quality, access and research,” Yudof said. “It’s the best investment California can make for its future.”

Learn more about UC’s advocacy efforts.

Carolyn McMillan

Student Protest

Law enforcement officers were forced to fire pepper balls to repel a crowd of some 300 protesters who were attempting to march onto Interstate 80 and block the freeway on March 4. One student protester was arrested by the California Highway Patrol. She was cited and released after her arrest for allegedly resisting arrest and inciting a riot. The demonstration was part of a national “march forth” day of protest against soaring student fees and campus cuts. Protesters also pulled 16 fire alarms around campus. Read more...



Sundance Kids

A 4-year-old boy’s hunt for a rabbit — filmed around Davis and edited in a campus studio — put a UC Davis graduate student and his co-director on the stage of the Sundance Film Festival in January. Robert Machoian (left), a second-year master’s student, and Rodrigo Ojeda-Beck, both of Davis, had their 10-minute film, Charlie and the Rabbit, screened as an official selection of the festival’s short film program.

“Charlie and the Rabbit was chosen because it captures a tense and almost fantastical childlike world from a young boy’s perspective,” said Todd Luoto, part of the Sundance team that pared more than 6,000 short film submissions down to just 70 for screening.

Charlie is the second in a trilogy of shorts in which the co-directors explore children’s ideas of imagination and reality. “We’re interested in making films of observation, that deal with elements that transcend age,” Machoian said.

The film previously had another important screening — it was the basis for one of Machoian’s three formal reviews for his master’s program in art studio at UC Davis.