FY20 Projects

Student Creativity and Entrepreneurial Empowerment (SCEE)

Submitted by Aaron Huang, undergraduate

Sponsored by Stephen Bruce

Approved October 21, 2019 


Major project activities - Various programs with a goal to build a community to nurture, and support collaboration among student entrepreneurs, mentors, and Startups in Santa Cruz County.

Programs include:

  1. Competition - Slug Tank, Big Idea Contest, Women in Business Contest, Startup Weekend powered by Techstar, Business Design Showcase.
  1. Workshop - Guy Kawasaki, Toby Corey, Ryan Holiday, and 10+ private mentorship workshop session with competition teams.
  1. Field Trip - Currently planning trips to Amazon, Skydeck (UC Berkeley) and various VC funds in the Silicon Valley.
  1. GYHD - Designed for students who have no prior experience with entrepreneurship, sales or marketing, GYHD is our plan to take a step beyond “teaching” design thinking and the lean startup methodology, but to have our members actually DO it - on a much smaller scale.


This year’s programs aim to achieve two collective goals:

  1. By working with CIED (Center for Innovation and Entrepreneurship Development) and EIRs (Entrepreneur In Residences), we hope to bring 2000 UCSC students to the world of entrepreneurship. These students will participate in our events, and become an ambassador of innovation thinking for UCSC.
  1. By working closely with the Alumni Foundation and Santa Cruz county, we hope to build up a mentorship network of 30+ mentors. In which they will lead mentorship workshop sessions to find ten best startup teams from UCSC to participate in the Business Design Showcase at the end of the year.

Amount funded: A conditional award of $15,000 over two years, $7,500 in Year 1; and an award of $7,500 in Year 2 provided SCEE is able to raise at least $3,000 from non-BOF sources

Key UCSC faculty and staff:

Our key partners include: CIED, Santa Cruz Works, Big Idea Contest (UC Berkeley), Catalyst X, Citris Foundry and Women Entrepreneurs at Berkeley.

Key individuals include: Sue Carter, Nathan Westrup, Nada Miljkovic, Stephen Bruce, David Hansen, Toby Corey, and Doug Ericson.



The Physics Optical Experiments Lab

Submitted by Professor Robert Johnson and Professor Emeritus George Brown

Sponsored by Richard Moss

Approved October 21, 2019


Optics is a growth area in science and engineering, overlapping with high quality imaging techniques in biological sciences and astronomy, communications in electrical engineering, quantum information in physics, and new frontiers including metamaterials and nanotechnologies—which includes nano-fluidicoptics and bio-informatics optical detection. It is important that our undergraduates have familiarity with optics, but it has been missing from the physics curriculum, with students receiving only cursory coverage as part of their core physics courses.

To address this need, we are working to create a new optics course for undergraduate students. Because experimental work is such an important part of optics, it was determined that the course should be a lab course (similar to what UC Berkeley and UC San Diego offer). Recognizing this need two years ago, the Physics Department developed a plan and identified funding sources to construct this course. In this time-period, classroom space has been secured, faculty instructors identified, and various funding sources have been identified and secured. The result being that today we have procured apparatus for nine optical experiments and are ready to build out the Lab—save for one remaining key experiment unpurchased: Bell’s Inequality, which demonstrates the foundation of quantum mechanics.

Bell’s Inequality will cost an additional $25,000, and once funding is secured the build-out of the lab can proceed. Physics Professor Robert Johnson has offered his time and energy to effect the build-out during the 2019-20 academic year (while he is on sabbatical). In parallel to this BOF request, the department has been actively working with University Relations on direct solicitations of donors to this project, to raise the remaining $10,639 in funds needed to complete the project.


The completion of the Optics Experiments Lab and course will significantly improve and expand undergraduate physics students’ understanding of and experience in optics, and will provide a critical foundation for students seeking careers or advanced degrees in optics. It will strengthen the UCSC Physics department’s program, and provide an Optics Experiments Lab on par with sister campuses UC Berkeley and UC San Diego.

Amount funded: $25,000

Key UCSC faculty and staff:

Professor Robert Johnson, Emeritus George Brown, (manages instructional labs in the Physics Department), Professor Onuttom Narayan (fund raising), and Tim Bensch (UR/fund raising).


Barring Freedom

Submitted by Rachel Nelson, Interim Director, IAS

Sponsored by Randy Wedding

Approved Feb. 1, 2020


Emerging from a deep history of scholarship and activism at UC Santa Cruz, Barring Freedom is a multi-faceted, 18-month arts-based program which seeks to engage and educate the public about issues of mass incarceration, race, and the prison industrial complex. Organized for UC Santa Cruz by the Institute of the Arts and Sciences, Barring Freedom features a bi-coastal exhibition of contemporary art; a public sculpture and garden project about solitary confinement (Solitary Garden by jackie sumell); public talks by UC Santa Cruz Emerita Professor Angela Y. Davis, History of Consciousness, Professor Craig Haney, Psychology, Professor Dee Hibbert-Jones, Art, and other important speakers; a two-day symposium co-organized with Associate Professor Gina Dent, Feminist Studies and Legal Studies, called “Visualizing Prison Abolition;” and an edited volume of essays and art. Barring Freedom brings together artists, activists, and scholars with the general public to imagine alternatives to our fundamentally flawed criminal justice system. We seek to galvanize a broader public discourse to address the broken promise of freedom and justice for all in the United States.

We request a grant of $22,000 to expand the teaching and outreach impact and to leverage support for Barring Freedom. The Board of Opportunity Fund grant would support the Education Program developed to integrate the Barring Freedom exhibition and related programming into the UC Santa Cruz curriculum broadly, impacting thousands of UC Santa Cruz students. 1 The Education Program will work with select undergraduate and graduate students to implement this program, offering them the opportunity to gain hands on experience in arts education. The grant would also fund additional programming during the run of the exhibition, giving students and community member more avenues of engagement with the ideas and themes of the program. Finally, the grant from the Board Opportunity Fund would also help us pursue funding from state and national sources and would provide the matching funds required for a California Humanities project grant. The funds from the Board Opportunity Fund will send a strong signal to California Humanities and all outside funders of the importance of this project to UC Santa Cruz.


Funding for the Barring Freedom and its Education Program will promote two main outcomes, outlined below.

Integrate Barring Freedom exhibition, symposium, and events into a class curriculum, with the aid of select undergraduate interns and graduate student fellows.

  • Through coordination with campus provosts, more than 4,000 incoming freshman students in 2020/21 will visit the group exhibition at the Mary Porter Sesnon Gallery as part of their core class coursework.
  • 3-4 IAS Arts Education Internships will be awarded to undergraduate students who will work with IAS staff to schedule and arrange class visits, gaining experience in arts education.
  • 4-5 IAS Arts Education Fellowships will be awarded to Ph.D. students in the Arts who will work with IAS staff to docent the Barring Freedom exhibition for classes and develop exhibition teaching materials.
  • IAS undergraduate interns and graduate education fellows will work with IAS staff to conduct outreach for the exhibition at Mary Porter Sesnon Art Gallery to other faculty at UC Santa Cruz. We predict, based on our past successes with this model, that we will be able to serve 15-20 additional upper-division classes, equaling another 1500 students.
  • Additional undergraduate students will act as docents and gallery sitters in the Mary Porter Sesnon Art Gallery.
  • IAS undergraduate interns and graduate education fellows will also aid IAS staff to coordinate bus trips to the San José Museum of Art (SJMA) to experience that component of the exhibition. (Chartered buses are sponsored by the SJMA.)

Broaden the educational impact of Barring Freedom exhibitions through subsidiary programming.

  • The IAS will collaborate with faculty and campus leaderships, including faculty in the Arts, Humanities, and Social Sciences, and Deans of the Physical and Biological Sciences and Social Sciences, Paul Koch and Katharyne Mitchell, to organize weekly artist lectures, film screenings, and panel discussions during the run of the exhibition to better enhance research and teaching on campus, offering students and the broad community more opportunities to engage with the ideas and themes of Barring Freedom.
  • The IAS conducts outreach and works with faculty to incorporate these events into their curriculum as coursework and/or extra credit opportunities to their students. The provosts of Porter and Cowell college have already committed to integrating Barring Freedom into their colleges’ core courses and will also encourage these students to participate in related events.

Amount funded: $22,000

Key UCSC faculty and staff:

Rachel Nelson, Interim Director, Institute of the Arts and Sciences 

Alex Moore, Curatorial Fellow, Institute of the Arts and Sciences

Shelby Graham, Director, Mary Porter Sesnon Art Gallery

William Pangburn, Director, The Shiva Gallery at John Jay College of Criminal Justice

Lauren Dickens, Senior Curator, San José Museum of Art

Professor Gina Dent, Feminist Studies faculty

Professor Angela Y. Davis, Emerita faculty

Professor Craig Haney, Psychology faculty

Professor Sharon Daniel, Art faculty

Professor Beth Stephens, Art faculty

Professor A. Laurie Palmer, Art faculty

Professor Dee Hibbert-Jones, Art faculty

Professor Alan Christy, Cowell Provost

Associate Professor Erin Grey, UC Davis, UC Santa Cruz alumna

Jock Reynolds, UC Santa Cruz alumnus



Universe in Verse: Astrobiology Initiative Campaign Kickoff

Submitted by Natalie Batalha

Sponsored by Loren Kinczel and Claudia Webster

Approved Feb. 1, 2020


In special collaboration with the highly-respected author, Maria Popova of Brain Pickings fame, the UC Santa Cruz Astrobiology Initiative is thrilled to co-host the esteemed cultural phenomenon, Universe in Verse in Spring 2020. Held just days before the 2020 UCSC Giving Day, this event will be strategically leveraged as a public launch of a larger fundraising campaign effort for the Astrobiology Initiative and instrumental to bringing awareness and new potential donors to both Astrobiology and UCSC overall.

A celebration of science through poetry, Universe in Verse mirrors the multidisciplinary spirit of the newly established UC Santa Cruz Astrobiology Initiative led by astronomer & faculty member Dr. Natalie Batalha. Drawing from the expertise of renowned colleagues across several disciplines (e.g. physics, UC Observatories, biology, earth & planetary sciences, chemistry, and the humanities), the Astrobiology Initiative will advance the search for life outside of Earth, using a holistic and highly creative way to approach investigation with leaders in their fields, instrumentation solutions, and public events that highlight science, ethics, diversity and the mis. What better way to introduce the awe-inspiring mission of the Astrobiology Initiative to the UC Santa Cruz community and the public at large than through exploration of this year's theme for the Universe in Verse: "What is Life?"

Being held on the west coast for the first-time ever, this Brooklyn, NY event annually features a gathering of 12-16 celebrities, scientists, poets, musicians and other influencers on stage around a common theme, each sharing personal motivations, and contemplations along with their poetry reading. In addition to the personalized readings, several different art installations and student/faculty research showcase opportunities will be available as attendees enter the event space.


The Astrobiology Initiative's goals include sharing science with traditionally underrepresented populations in STEM fields. Therefore, in addition to ticketed seats, they will reserve seats for high school students and their families who have participated in La Noche de Las Estrellas at Lick Observatory. Popova and the UC Santa Cruz-based event planning team will collaborate to bring IO+ high-profile contributors to the 2,600+ audience members in the Quarry Amphitheatre. Local amateur astronomers and Astronomy Graduate students will set up large telescopes on the periphery of the event for night sky object viewings. The event itself will be created to inspire wonder and awe and strategically leverage support for the Astrobiology Initiative, including the following fundraising efforts:

  • First deadline for major gift fundraising efforts for Fellowship priority and Giving Day matching gift, including special announcement at event (if applicable)
  • Ticket proceeds to benefit the Astrobiology Initiative Fund (if applicable)
  • Specialized Giving Day communications following the event
  • VIP ticketing/events: Begin longer-term conversations with individual and foundation donors about growing the initiative to an institute.
  • Introduction to a national audience: event marketing by Maria Popova and post-event video (potentially live-streaming if sold out like other Universe in Verse events).

This large event has the potential to both develop the beginnings of a robust base of support for the new Astrobiology Initiative from which to grow a major gift pipeline and also to directly inspire current major donors.

With the UC Santa Cruz Foundation Board's support, this Universe in Verse stage will not only be an entertaining place to explore one of humanity's most enduring questions, "What is Life?". It will also be a stage to launch an emerging campus strength into public view in a creative and dynamic display of its own values.

Amount funded: $30,000

Key UCSC faculty and staff:

Maria Popova, Brain Pickings

University Relations Special Events & Marketing/Communications Humanities Institute (already committed to $10K co-sponsorship)

Jennifer Parker, OpenLab


MESA/La Noche

STEM Diversity Program