Campaign gift highlights: Spring 2012
by Sarah Colwell
With two years still to go in The Campaign for UC Davis, nearly $777 million in philanthropic donations from more than 87,500 friends and supporters (as of Feb. 19), are already helping to provide students with innovative opportunities for learning and discovery. The ultimate goal is to advance research efforts and transform people’s lives in California, across the nation and around the world.
Publicly launched in October 2010, UC Davis’ first-ever comprehensive campaign seeks to inspire 100,000 donors to contribute $1 billion by its conclusion in 2014. Generous donors are bolstering student support, advancing the work of world-class faculty and programs, and mobilizing the university’s life-altering research.
Here are a few examples of how donor generosity is making profound impacts:
Lucas Arzola (Karin Higgins/UC Davis)
Thanks to support from local corporations and philanthropists, graduate student Lucas Arzola and his team have developed a faster way to make vaccines using tobacco plants.
Arzola, a doctoral candidate in chemical engineering, is leading an interdisciplinary team of fellow student researchers who are developing a way to use tobacco plants to replace costly and time-consuming conventional methods of vaccine production. The new method reduces development time from six months to six weeks, potentially saving thousands of lives and millions of dollars.
The business venture was launched when Arzola’s team won the 2010 UC Davis Big Bang! Business Plan Competition organized by the Graduate School of Management. The award provided the team with a $15,000 grand prize as well as business partnerships that are helping propel this innovative technology toward commercialization.
Qing Zhao (Gregory Urquiaga/UC Davis)
With the help of Annual Fund donors, electrical and computer engineering professor Qing Zhao is improving the efficiency and security of wireless communications.
While the demand for radio frequencies used in wireless communication is growing, the supply of those frequencies is limited. Qing Zhao, one of the world’s leading researchers on wireless communications, researches new ways to organize and reuse radio frequencies that offer wider access with less interference.
Zhao was named a 2011 Chancellor’s Fellow — an early-career faculty award supported by donations of all sizes to the Annual Fund. Her revolutionary work has gained national and international attention and attracted extramural funding from such organizations as the Federal Communications Commission, National Science Foundation and the Department of Defense.
Les Pue and Terry Tempkin (Gregory Urquiaga/UC Davis)
Les Pue, left, shown with Terry Tempkin, nurse practitioner and co-director of the Health System’s Huntington’s Disease Center of Excellence, gives to advance medicine in memory of his wife.
In 1991, Les Pue’s late wife, Margaret, was diagnosed with Huntington’s disease — a hereditary degenerative brain disorder that gradually destroys motor and cognitive functions. There is no cure.
After witnessing firsthand the devastating impacts of the disease, Pue decided that he wanted to make a difference. His support allows the Health System’s Movement Disorders Clinic to expand care and services to families and patients by nurse practitioners like Tempkin.
This article was originally published in UC Davis Magazine.