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UCLA Campus Report: UC's New Investment Chief and More

A look at some of the non-sports stories making headlines around campus


An occasional report from around campus that recognizes that UCLA is a school with a world-class reputation for research and innovation and whose people make real impact on the real world:

This week's news includes news of a new hire by the UC system earning a million dollar salary, diversity among undergraduate applicants to UCLA and the development of a risk calculator that predicts survival in heart failure patients.

UC's new investment chief's compensation could top $1 million

I'm going to lead with something a little different in this version of UCLA campus news. The Los Angeles Times' Larry Gordon is reporting that the University of California's compensation for its new investment chief could top $1 million. Now, this isn't out of line for some managing a pension fund of over 82 billion dollars, not at all. I'm not suggesting that it's too much money. I just felt that with all the talk about how much money UCLA pays its various football and basketball coaches, it's interesting to see who else in the UC system earns a seven figure salary. The full story is here.

Diversity on the rise among undergraduate applicants to UCLA

UCLA has received more applications for fall 2014 undergraduate admission than any other University of California school, continuing a trend that in recent years has made the campus the most applied-to four-year university in the nation. Diversity increased among applicants to UCLA this year, with Chicanos/Latinos, African-Americans and Native Americans all applying in greater numbers than in previous years.

Of 86,472 freshman applicants, 4,640 are black (a 5.8 percent increase over 2013), 505 are Native American (up 18.3 percent) and 18,384 are Chicano/Latino (up 4.1 percent). UCLA also saw an increase in the number of states and countries from which students applied.

"UCLA thrives best when a diverse student body brings unique perspectives and a variety of experiences to our classrooms," said UCLA Chancellor Gene Block. "We are delighted that so many extraordinary students from a rich mix of backgrounds include UCLA when applying to top universities and colleges around the world."

UCLA researchers develop risk calculator to predict survival in heart failure patients

A UCLA team has developed an easy-to-use "risk calculator" that helps predict heart failure patients' chances of survival for up to five years and assists doctors in determining whether more or less aggressive treatment is appropriate.

Given that heart failure impacts more than 5 million Americans and numerous variables affect patient outcomes, this type of risk-assessment tool can be very helpful to physicians and patients in assessing prognosis over time and guiding medical decision-making, the researchers say.

Their new risk model is featured in the January edition of the journal Circulation: Heart Failure.

Scientists reveal why life got big in the Earth's early oceans

Why did life forms first begin to get larger and what advantage did this increase in size provide? UCLA biologists working with an international team of scientists examined the earliest communities of large multicellular organisms in the fossil record to help answer this question.

The life scientists used a novel application of modeling techniques at a variety of scales to understand the scientific processes operating in the deep sea 580 million years ago. The research reveals that an increase in size provided access to nutrient-carrying ocean flow, giving an advantage to multicellular eukaryotes that existed prior to the Cambrian explosion of animal life, said David Jacobs, a professor of ecology and evolutionary biology in the UCLA College of Letters and Science and senior author of the research.

The study findings are published Jan. 23 in the journal Current Biology.

Should we make a film that audiences enjoy or nab an Oscar nomination?

What do Hollywood moguls holding their breath this week for an Oscar nomination have in common with the influence peddlers on K Street in Washington, D.C.? More than you might imagine, suggests new research by two UCLA sociologists.

Gabriel Rossman and Oliver Schilke analyzed 25 years worth of data on mainstream cinema and discovered that makers of films that are likely to appeal to the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences face the same risk-and-reward structure as lobbyists who contribute to political candidates in the hopes of getting favorable treatment when laws are written or pork doled out.

"The pursuit of Academy Awards, much like the pursuit of favorable regulation, is characterized by an economic structure where players make costly bids," said Rossman, who is based in UCLA's College of Letters and Science. "You pursue this thing that's valuable, and you may or may not get it. If you don't get it, you don't get your money back. But if you do get it, the results are really valuable."

The findings appear in the February issue of the American Sociological Review, which is published online in time for Thursday's announcement of the 2014 Oscar nominees.

UCLA in the News

UCLA Architecture's Experimental Studio

Wednesday's LA Weekly highlighted the UCLA Department of Architecture and Urban Design's expanded Suprastudio architecture master's program, which has moved to a new, high-tech satellite location at the Hercules Campus in Playa Vista, Calif. Architecture and urban

Helping Terminally Ill Children

An article in Monday's New Yorker about programs that help serve the physical, spiritual and emotional needs of children in hospital intensive-care units cited a UCLA study that found that pediatric palliative-care programs are not only cost-effective but can reduce the number of days children spend in the hospital.

The Future of Yellowstone Wolves

An article published Monday in Montana's Billings Gazette about the food-chain dynamics of the wolf population in Yellowstone National Park referenced the ongoing research collaboration between Yellowstone's Wolf Project and UCLA researchers led by Robert Wayne, professor of ecology and evolutionary biology.

Pushing for More Computer Science in LAUSD

Sunday's Los Angeles Times featured an op-ed co-written by Jane Margolis, a senior researcher at UCLA's Institute for Democracy, Education and Access, and Marcelo Suarez-Orozco, dean of the UCLA Graduate School of Education and Information Studies, about the need for computer science instruction in Los Angeles public schools, particularly in Latino and African-American communities.