News Release

2017 Year in Review

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A birds eye view of the Jacobs School of Engineering.

San Diego, CA, Dec. 22, 2017 -- With major gifts from alumni—including $75 million from Facebook’s first fulltime hire, Taner Halicioglu, to establish a data sciences institute on campus, and $30 million from Qualcomm co-founder Franklin Antonio in support of a new engineering building—a jump in the school’s rankings and many significant research advancements, it’s been a banner year here at the Jacobs School of Engineering.

As we prepare to welcome in 2018, below is a list of highlights for our institution from the past 12 months. To see a list of our research accomplishments that made news headlines, click here.

January 2017

Computer Scientist Makes Forbes List of Top Scientists Under 30

In her first year as an assistant professor at the University of California San Diego, Melissa Gymrek is already bringing honor to the institution. In its 2017 roster of top-notch young scientists, Forbes magazine included Gymrek among its top 30 researchers in the Science category under age 30. She has dual appointments in the Department of Computer Science and Engineering and at the UC San Diego School of Medicine, and uses math and computer science to study genetic variation in humans.

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The Blue LINC cofounders.

February 2017

The Missing Link: UC San Diego’s first biomedical incubator

UC San Diego launched a new, entirely student-run biomedical incubator called Blue LINC. The incubator bridges the gap between real world healthcare issues and students with the knowledge to solve them.

March 2017

$75 Million Gift for Data Science at UC San Diego

With a $75 Million gift from computer science alumnus Taner Halicioglu, UC San Diego will establish the Halicioglu Institute for Data Science. Halicioglu’s gift will provide the institute with fellowships for faculty, postdocs, and graduate students; undergraduate scholarships; support for lecturers; innovation grants; outreach and networking events; and operations and infrastructure support. At UC San Diego, Halicioglu teaches an undergraduate seminar in computer operations and production engineering where he shares insights he’s learned throughout his career, including time at Facebook in the early days.


Jacobs School of Engineering Ranks 13th in the Nation

The UC San Diego Jacobs School of Engineering ranks 13th in the nation, up from 17th last year, in the 2018 U.S. News & World Report best engineering graduate schools rankings. The Jacobs School is 8th among the nation’s top public engineering schools. The Jacobs School also ranks 1st among all public engineering schools – and 7th overall – for research expenditures per faculty member, with $168M in research funding for the 2015-2016 fiscal year. The Jacobs School’s Bioengineering Department ranks 3rd in the nation, up from 4th last year.

April 2017

UC San Diego Designated as a Changemaker Campus

UC San Diego has been designated as a Changemaker Campus by Ashoka U for its role as a leader in social innovation education. Only 40 universities around the world have received this designation and UC San Diego is the first University of California campus to be recognized.

Family honors legacy of Jacobs School alumnus Sho Funai with an endowed prize

By the age of 23, Sho Funai had already embarked on a promising engineering career. His research contributed to aspects of safely using composite materials such as those found on the newest Boeing aircraft.  After graduating magna cum laude with a bachelor’s in structural engineering at the University of California San Diego, he went on to earn a master’s at the Jacobs School of Engineering at UC San Diego and started working full time at Goodrich Aerostructures. He was weeks away from submitting his master’s thesis on impact damage to composite materials when his life, full of promise was cut short in a hit and run collision in March 2012. To honor his legacy, the Funai family created an endowment through the Sho Funai Educational Foundation that will award $1,000 each year in perpetuity to a high achieving graduate student in structural engineering that embodies the same generosity towards others and curiosity towards the world that Sho did.

May 2017

New UC San Diego Technology Accelerator Selects Five Teams for Its Inaugural Cohort

Five UC San Diego research teams, with innovations ranging from advanced healthcare diagnostics and medical device technologies to next generation LIDAR for autonomous-vehicle navigation, have been selected to join the Institute for the Global Entrepreneur’s new technology accelerator. The IGE Technology Accelerator provides each team up to $50,000 in financial support over the year-long program, with a particular focus on helping teams validate their technologies and business models by field testing their prototypes with strategic partners. The Institute for the Global Entrepreneur is a collaboration between the Jacobs School of Engineering and the Rady School of Management,

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Padmini Rangamani

Researchers receive $7.5 million grant to study memory capacity and energy efficiency in the brain

 A team of researchers at UC San Diego and Stanford University has received a $7.5 million, five-year grant to try to answer two fundamental questions: what is the memory capacity of a brain; and how does the brain process information with maximum energy efficiency. The grant was awarded by the Air Force Office of Scientific Research through a Multidisciplinary University Research Initiative (MURI). The team is led by Padmini Rangamani, an assistant professor in the Department of Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering at UC San Diego who is an expert in theoretical and computational biophysics.

June 2017

UC San Diego Partners with Baja California Universities and High Schools

UC San Diego and 13 institutions in Baja California launched the CaliBaja Education Consortium to help researchers and students in the entire CaliBaja region work together across borders. Students from high school to graduate school, for example, will be able to do research and take classes both at UC San Diego and at various Baja California institutions. “This is a great experiment that is going to define the educational opportunities for students in our region,” said Olivia Graeve, a materials science and engineering professor at the Jacobs School and the driving force behind the CaliBaja Education Consortium. Graeve grew up in Tijuana, earned her undergraduate degree from UC San Diego and returned to the Jacobs School in 2012 as an Associate Professor.

Earthquake Safe: 30 Years of Innovation

When you drive across a highway bridge in California, there is a good chance that your safety depends on a piece of technology that has been developed and tested at UC San Diego. More specifically, many of the advances making California roads, bridges and buildings safer during earthquakes were tested at the Charles Lee Powell Structural Engineering Laboratories at the Jacobs School of Engineering. “The Powell Labs helped bring an entire generation of bridges here in California up to code,” said Tom Ostrom, the State Bridge Engineer at the California Department of Transportation and a structural engineering alumnus. Research data collected in the Powell Labs have also helped advance theoretical and computational models that can be used to predict the behavior of these structures. The facility is celebrating its 30th anniversary this year.

July 2017

Mechanical Engineering Ranks #1

UC San Diego ranks #1 in the nation and #2 in the world for Mechanical Engineering, according to a new subject area ranking from Academic Ranking of World Universities (ARWU). The ranking reflects the many strengths in mechanical engineering at the Jacobs School including thermo-fluids, combustion, renewable energy, mechanics, materials, controls, and biomechanics. The new ARWU rankings, which are based on five hard-data metrics, place the Jacobs School among the top programs in the nation in a wide range of areas including: #5 in civil engineering, #7 in biotechnology and #10 in automation and control (which includes robotics).

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Olivia Graeve

Engineering Professor Named One of the 100 Most Powerful Women in Mexico in Forbes Ranking

 UC San Diego mechanical and aerospace engineering professor Olivia Graeve has been named one of the 100 most powerful women in Mexico, according to a Forbes 2017 ranking. The magazine recognized Graeve as an internationally known expert in nanomaterials manufacturing who runs the industry-focused CaliBaja Center for Resilient Materials & Systems at the Jacobs School of Engineering, as well as the Xtreme Materials Laboratory. The publication also cited the fact that Graeve, a member of the Mexican Academy of Engineering, collaborates with researchers across Mexico and actively promotes women and underrepresented minorities in science and engineering. Graeve is the creator and driving force behind the new CaliBaja Education Consortium and the ENLACE bi-national summer research experience, two innovative cross-border engineering education programs run from the Jacobs School.

August 2017

Nature Names UC San Diego a Top 15 Research Institution Worldwide

The University of California San Diego is the world’s 14th best university for developing research that is used to create products or services that benefit society and spur economic growth. The new rankings by Nature, one of the world’s leading academic journals, also praise the campus for its research output: nearly half of UC San Diego’s natural science papers appear in the Nature index, which measures research productivity in the globe’s top science journals.

September 2017

IBM, UC San Diego Partner on AI for Healthy Living

 UC San Diego and IBM Research have launched the Artificial Intelligence for Healthy Living Center in order to enhance quality of life and independence for aging populations. Over the course of five years, researchers will study the impact that a combination of daily habits, the environment, genetics and the microbiome have on the cognition of older adults. The collaborative research initiative will use AI to comb through massive amounts of data to enable healthier living. Computer science professor Tajana Rosing and Rob Knight, a faculty member in pediatrics and computer science co-lead the UC San Diego portion of the Center.


26 New Hires for the Jacobs School in 2017

The UC San Diego Jacobs School of Engineering hired a record 26 professors this year. In the last four years alone, the Jacobs School has hired more than 75 professors. Women as well as individuals from other groups traditionally underrepresented in engineering make up one-third of these hires. Many of these new faculty work in strength areas the school has added in the last four years, including: nanomaterials for biomedical and renewable energy applications; context-aware robotics; computer vision and machine learning; and hardware-software co-design and cyber-physical systems.

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Stefan Savage

UC San Diego Cybersecurity expert Stefan Savage receives prestigious MacArthur Foundation fellowship

Stefan Savage, a renowned cybersecurity expert and professor of computer science at UC San Diego, has been awarded a fellowship by the MacArthur Foundation. Perhaps better known as the MacArthur “genius” award, the prestigious no-strings attached five-year fellowship awards a total of $625,000 to each recipient. Savage is being recognized for “identifying and addressing the technological, economic and social vulnerabilities underlying internet security challenges and cybercrime.”


Franklin Antonio, UC San Diego alumnus and Qualcomm co-founder, gives $30M toward new campus engineering building

UC San Diego alumnus and Qualcomm co-founder Franklin Antonio is donating $30 million to the university in support of a new building for engineering research and education. In recognition of the generous gift, UC San Diego will name a planned engineering building that the campus is currently designing – and raising funds to build – Franklin Antonio Hall. The approximately 200,000-square-foot building is being designed from the ground up to facilitate cross-discipline collaborations that are critical for solving the toughest health, energy, autonomy and security challenges facing society. Franklin Antonio Hall is scheduled to open by fall of 2021.

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Karen Christman

A Steady Increase in Women Leading the Biggest Research Grants

Eight of the top 10 research grants awarded to UC San Diego departments outside of health sciences this year are led by women. And Karen Christman, a professor in the Department of Bioengineering, is one of them. Christman brought in $2.8 million dollars in research grants from the State of California. The Christman Lab focuses on developing innovative biomaterials for tissue engineering and regenerative medicine applications.

December 2017

Roberto and Colleen Padovani establish scholarship for electrical engineers at UC San Diego

Roberto Padovani, a pioneer in 3G communications and internet-on-mobile applications at Qualcomm, never forgot the role that financial assistance played in his education. Roberto and his wife, Colleen, have established a $1 million endowed scholarship focused on exceptional undergraduates with financial need in the Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering at the Jacobs School of Engineering.

Five engineering faculty named most influential in their fields

Thirty two faculty members at the University of California San Diego, including five at the Jacobs School of Engineering, are among the world’s most influential researchers in their fields, based on their publications over the past decade. Clarivate Analytics, which provides insights and analytics on research trends, compiled its 2017 Highly Cited Researchers list of more than 3,300 scientists from around the world whose studies were among the top one percent most-cited publications in their field over a recent 11-year period.

Media Contacts

Ioana Patringenaru
Jacobs School of Engineering

Liezel Labios
Jacobs School of Engineering

Katherine Connor
Jacobs School of Engineering