What Matters to You?
At the UC Davis College of Letters and Science, we sought to discover what matters to the people who make this college what it is today. We interviewed alumni, students, and faculty and asked simply, "what matters to you?" Here are their stories.
As a researcher at the UC Davis Center for Mind and Brain (CMB), I pursue two areas of research that can deeply affect our quality of life. The first of these examines how intensive contemplative practice (forms of Buddhist meditation) affects cognition, emotion, and neurophysiology. My colleagues and I have found good evidence for meditation-related improvements in perception, attention, emotion regulation, and well-being.
I had to grow up really quickly. My parents are both deaf, and even when I was very young, they would ask me to interpret for them. As I grew up, I went with them to the doctor’s office, the bank, the store – anywhere they needed to communicate. They are both also immigrants from Asia, and although they had a good education, it was tough for them. When they arrived in the United States, they didn't have anyone to show them the ropes, much less someone who knew how to communicate with them.
I am a third year international relations student at UC Davis. I have been given a wonderful opportunity to do research in Hashmi, Shmali, a densely populated neighborhood of primarily Iraqi refugees in Amman, Jordan. I spend my time visiting the homes of refugees and hearing their stories as well as talking with workers in institutions who are trying to help the refugees. I am sharing these stories on my blog, jkrubaii.wordpress.com.
When I summited Mt. Everest in the spring of 2008, I never imagined that the ultimate memory of my climb would be not in getting to the top of the world’s tallest mountain, but discovering that part of my path in life is to be an advocate for the people that live at the base of the mountain itself.
Both art and language convey meaning. But what, exactly, is meaning? This is the question that inspires my research.
Being different has been the norm for me. As an African American youth in Harlem, I had the opportunity to cross many different boundaries by going to a predominantly Jewish preparatory school in Manhattan. Maybe this is why I seem to have a skill for demystifying race and ethnic relations. As a sociologist, I have seen how rigorous study in this area can open minds to new ideas and possibilities in the world.
As a professor of anthropology and director of the Molecular Anthropology Laboratory at UC Davis, I am a scientist at heart. First and foremost, I am curious. My curiosity has created fun intellectual opportunities for me, my staff and my students, and that’s the part of science I most highly value.
As a professor of history, I know that critical analysis and interpretation of events from our past is important to me, satisfying my own intellectual curiosity and imagination. But as the chaos of current events began to grip our nation – a recession the likes of which we haven’t seen since the Great Depression, two wars, and a new approach to politics – I never imagined that the study of history could become so relevant to so many millions of people.
I am an immigrant to the United States, and have worked with immigrants in my native country of Italy. As I pursued my own dream of studying economics, the subject of immigration fascinated me. I think often of the human stories behind every immigration statistic.
When educators take part in the UC Davis History Project, they remember what they loved about studying history. Seeing history as an ongoing investigation, not a static set of facts, brings the past to life. Teachers enrich their content knowledge by working with UC Davis historians and return to their own classrooms better prepared to develop critical thought about a complicated past.
When I first published my recent research, “The Neural Architecture of Music-Evoked Autobiographical Memories,” I was pleasantly surprised at how well it was received by the general public. In my study, I show what goes on in the brain of a person who is experiencing memories and emotions in response to a song that they heard years before. Since my findings were published, I’ve received a steady stream of emails and phone calls from people across the world who read my article and wish to give me their own stories.
Close interpersonal relationships matter. How we interact with family members and other loved ones, how we become attached to them and cope, if necessary, with their loss—these experiences shape our emotions and personalities.
I have long been fascinated by how personal relationships work. After a rather unpleasant experience with a brilliant but socially inept spine surgeon, I began to focus on the relationship between patients and health care providers.
Children as young as one-and-a-half have a passionate desire to figure out what goes on in the minds of the people around them. They are not egocentric, but rather are wonderfully attuned to subtleties in the feelings and behavior of others. As my own research has shown, toddlers can observe closely why their mothers are frustrated, and even try to help if something has spilled or dropped on the floor.
In my work as a psychologist and researcher in the UC Davis Center for Mind and Brain, we have found that children can be surprisingly sophisticated in the way they approach the world.
Over the past several years, a series of papers has shown that “recessions are good for your health,” or more specifically, that fewer people die in a down economy. Most attention has focused on the idea that, as time spent working decreases during economic downturns, individuals face less stress, spend more time taking care of themselves, and are generally healthier. Economists Marianne Page, Ann Stevens and Douglas Miller, and graduate student Mateusz Fillipski, wanted to test whether this was the main mechanism driving cyclical mortality rates.
The University of California, Davis, touches everything that matters to us as human beings. From our health to the economy, to what we eat and drink, to how we experience and interpret life, UC Davis has impact through teaching, research and public service. For more than a century, we have prepared and inspired students and discovered solutions to some of society's most pressing problems. As we look to the future, we address those things that matter most to California in order to transform the world.