College of Letters and Science Magazine

Fall 2017 Magazine Cover

College of Letters and Science Magazine 
Fall 2017

From the Dean

Putting the Liberal Arts at the Heart of our University

I am pleased to share the 2017 issue of the UC Davis College of Letters and Science magazine. The stories we share reflect the vitality of a college on the move. While we can capture in these pages only a small portion of all that is happening across the college, we hope that you will come away with a deeper understanding of the vibrant intellectual breadth of our programs and a deep sense of pride in your alma mater.

We look to the future at a particularly exciting time in the life of the college and university. Our new chancellor, Gary May, has embarked on a year-long strategic planning process for UC Davis. As part of this larger initiative, the College of Letters and Science will likewise be building for the future over the coming year. This year, UC Davis was ranked 3rd in The New York Times list of “top colleges doing the most for the American dream,” and 9th in the Washington Monthly ranking of colleges and universities that contribute most to “the national good.” As we work with the 43 percent of all UC Davis students who are pursuing degrees in the College of Letters and Science, we are proud to make these levels of access and achievement possible across our disciplines.

A key priority for both the campus and college will be ensuring that UC Davis remains a leader in providing students with the knowledge and tool they need to make their communities and the world better. As a group, the departments across the College of Letters and Science pursue curiosity-driven research and knowledge that help us prepare students to be ethical and innovative leaders and responsible citizens who ask “why” at least as often as they ask “how” or “for what.”

I am eager to connect with as many of our alumni as possible and would love to hear your hopes and aspirations for the future of our college and campus. Please consider reaching out to me or to our program chairs and directors; be sure to visit us both online and in person. We have some amazing lectures, symposia, exhibits, and performances in the coming months, both on the Davis campus and in Sacramento. I hope you will join us.

Elizabeth Spiller
Dean, College of Letters and Science

Fall 2017 Contents

Making Ideas Real

The design major in the College of Letters and Science may be the ultimate mash-up. Here, faculty and students defy disciplinary limits to tackle problems and explore solutions that require a mix of curiosity, creativity, technical skill, and an open mind. The following stories provide a glimpse into the program.

Major Changes

Communication at UC Davis is not your parents’ major. And if you graduated before 2013, it’s not exactly your major either.

Rising Star: QMAP

The Center for Quantum Mathematics and Physics (QMAP) brings math and physics together in a collaboration unique among the world’s theoretical physics institutes.

Cool Class 

Gaming Class is Not Just Playing Around

Alumni News

Student News 

Economics Student Heads Tech Start-Up

Philanthropy Matters 

Research in Action