Courtesy of LA Times

Former UCD Lt. Pike found not guilty

Based on the findings of a report compiled by the independent Kroll consulting firm, Lt. John Pike will not be criminally charged for pepper spraying students in the UC Davis quad last November.

The report found a lack of evidence as well as claimed reasonable doubt that the use of pepper spray against protesters was unlawful. Based on this conclusion, Yolo County will not press charges against the former UC Davis Police Lt. Pike.

Pike was released from duty at UC Davis after the incident occurred. The report suggests that this punishment was too harsh and he should not have been fired, but demoted or suspended instead.

The report stated that the police officers were trapped within the protesters locked-arm circle and thought they were facing a hostile mob. It also concludes that student protesters were warned several times to move or be pepper-sprayed.

So far, this incident has cost UC Davis more than $1 million in settlements to the 21 students who were pepper sprayed. For the Kroll report alone, over $230,000 was paid to investigate Pike’s actions, which later resulted in the termination of his position.

UCR researchers named National Academies Education Fellows in the Life Sciences

UCR professors and researchers recently traveled to Olympia, Washington, to participate in the July 2012 National Academies Regional Summer Institute on Undergraduate Education in Biology. Three professors who attended were named by the National Academy of Sciences as a National Education Fellow in the Life Science for the 2012-2013 academic year, partly for their participation in the intense summer institute.

The three professors named include Rick Redak a professor of entomology and the chair of the department of entomology, William Walton a professor of entomology and the department’s vice chair, and James Burnette III an academic coordinator and professional researcher at the Neil A. Campbell Science Learning Laboratory.

At the convention, professors and researchers from more 16 research universities in the US participated in five days of discussion on how to enhance the undergraduate learning experience. The professors will implement new teaching methods in their classrooms and later assessment will determine overall improvement.

UC Riverside pair with CA to develop more renewable diesel fuels

In 2006, Governor Schwarzenegger signed the Global Warming Solutions Act, or AB 32, which focuses on the reduction of greenhouse gas emissions by the year 2020. On Jan. 1 of this year, the emission laws set forth by this bill are now enforceable through the Dec. 31, 2020 deadline.

UCR Bourns College of Engineering has received the opportunity to work with the state of California to help reduce emissions and are collaborating on ways to make diesel fuels more sustainable by increasing levels of renewable bio-fuels. But this solution has a minor set back. Increasing levels of nitrogen oxide, a known contributor to smog, are found in bio-diesel.

A Center for Environmental Research and Technology study has found that additives and an advanced blend of the renewable fuels and diesel can help reduce these emissions. The initiatives are one of the most comprehensive at predicting the impact of blending California diesel which is one of the cleanest in the nation according to the CE-CERT report

Statistics from the National Bio-diesel Board states that in the past decade, bio-diesel consumption has significantly increased to 1.1 billion gallons in 2011 from 2 million gallons, the same year that the emissions law came into effect.

Zocalo Public Square Forum: “Is Diversity Bad for Democracy?”

Based in Los Angeles and Phoenix, the Zocalo Public Square is a project for the Center of Social Cohesion and part of the Cal Humanities Searching for Democracy initiative. The organization made its fifth stop on its tour of California at the Barbara and Art Culver Center of the Arts, Riverside on Sept. 25. The live discussion revolved around the role of self-identity in the areas of diversity and democracy. Moderated by California author Joe Matthews, the event welcomed appearances by three prominent figures: Michael Barone, Richard Alba and Jennifer Lee.

As a senior advisor of the Washington Examiner, Barone traveled to 50 countries to study the concept of democracy. Beginning remarks included the history of Riverside county, cultural integration, and diminishing political activism over the years. Barone sought to conceptualize the idea that democracy is tension in a society, due to limited government involvement and the lessening of free, individual association.

Other viewpoints were conveyed by sociology professor at the City University of New York, Richard Alba, who emphasized how cultural influences from continual immigration can alter a politically-charged environment. Alba mentioned the co-existence of diversity and democracy as reaching an outer limit in terms of global integration.

Jennifer Lee, a UCI sociology professor, spoke of the diversity paradox between a voter’s perception in a post-racial society and how racial boundaries decline as diversity increases. Lee noted there were increased trends of polarization around more “hot-button” issues for Americans, but political viewpoints have not changed much in the last 40 years.

The series has made previous stops to Sacramento, San Francisco, Fresno and Bakersfield before arriving to Riverside. The Zocalo Public Square forum traveled to San Diego on Oct. 1 and covered the topic, “What Does Vigilance Mean After Newspapers?”