UCI Forward

UCI Forward is our commitment to the well-being of our community as we ramp up campus operations. Working together, each of us doing our part, we can move UCI Forward.

Dec. 21 - German “sick” camps; toxic algae

Section 1

An early morning runner passes through the Nancy Doran sculpture garden near UCI’s Science Library.

An early morning runner passes through the Nancy Doran sculpture garden near UCI’s Science Library. Photo by Ian Parker


This is a postcard from a children's home run by a former Nazi officer, where Professor Ilona Yim was sent to live when she was 8.

This is a postcard from a children's home run by a former Nazi officer, where Professor Ilona Yim was sent to live when she was 8.

UCI professor aids research into abusive German children’s homes

For five weeks in 1979, a young Ilona Yim lived in fear of the former Nazi officer who was directing a German home for “sick” children that, along with similar homes, traumatized thousands of youths with physical and psychological abuse. Yim, now a UCI professor of psychological science, was one of millions of German children sent away to such homes from the 1950s through the 1980s on the recommendation of doctors or other authorities. She has now partnered with the Verschickungskinder (German for sent-away children), a survivors’ initiative to raise awareness, and she serves as one of the lead researchers. The organization’s website includes more than 2,000 testimonies recalling strict bans on parent visits, censorship of letters, rigid rules, extreme and often cruel punishments, as well as far-reaching health and psychological consequences later in life.

Monthly message from the Chancellor

In his most recent monthly message to the UCI community, Chancellor Howard Gillman gives a shout out to Kayla Atkinson, a course assistant who also works as a peer educator at the Student Outreach and Retention Center, helping first-year students have a better college transition. [Note: Atkinson’s last name was misspelled in the Chancellor’s Zotmail, but has been corrected in the online version of his message.] He also mentions Andrew Chio, a computer science graduate student and recipient of two recent honors, and other important people and programs making the news.

UCI research: Toxic algae can cause liver cancer

According to a study published in the journal Toxins by a UCI professor, exposure to a specific type of blue-green algae toxin known as cylindrospermopsin wreaks havoc on gut bacteria and causes an increased probability of various illnesses, including inflammation of the liver – a precursor to liver cancer. Study author Saurabh Chatterjee, a professor of environmental and occupational health in UCI’s Program in Public Health and a professor of medicine in the School of Medicine, was the first to report on a possible connection between oral exposure to cylindrospermopsin (a form of cyanobacteria) and liver damage. Cyanobacteria, commonly known as blue-green algae, are photosynthetic organisms that form from light energy and inorganic compounds, which are found in all sorts of water systems. Climate change-related stressors increase the excessive growth of these cyanobacteria in water bodies, a phenomenon also known as the formation of harmful algal blooms.


UAW strike update

Member voting is underway on tentative contract agreements between the University of California and the United Auto Workers for academic student employees and graduate student researchers. FAQs and updates are available on the provost's continuity webpage. Systemwide information is available on UC’s strike page.


Note: Some news sites require subscriptions to read articles. The UCI Libraries offer free subscriptions to The New York TimesThe Wall Street Journal, The Orange County Register and The Washington Post for students, faculty and staff.

Scientists, lawmakers meet to discuss to region’s eroding beaches

The Orange County Register, Dec. 20
Cited: Brett Sanders, professor of civil and environmental engineering

In Anaheim, taco vendors and officials play a game of a cat-and-mouse

Los Angeles Times, Dec. 21
Cited: Stephen Lee, professor of law

California considers standardized reading approach

Spectrum News 1, Dec. 20
Cited: Young-Suk Kim, senior associate dean, School of Education


Mary Hill

Mary Hill starred in the world premiere of “The Story of Biddy Mason,” co-written and directed by Professor Annie Loui, in the Experimental Media Performance Lab at the Claire Trevor School of the Arts. Photo by Paul R. Kennedy

Becoming Biddy Mason

M.F.A. candidate Mary Hill is the star of “The Story of Biddy Mason,” which had its world premiere earlier this month at UCI and tells the story of an enslaved woman who traveled alone to California and eventually became a wealthy landowner. Hill’s personal story is remarkable as well. The youngest of 13 siblings grew up in El Monte, and her first foray into theater was at Victor Valley College. When she transferred to Cal Poly Pomona, her portrayal of Esther Mills in “Intimate Apparel” made her a finalist in the 2018 Kennedy Center American College Theater National Festival. Hill’s success at that competition cemented her desire to apply for M.F.A. programs, and she was one of eight people invited to join UCI’s graduate cohort in drama in 2020.

#UCIconnected spotlights student, alumni, faculty and staff photos, essays, shoutouts, hobbies, artwork, unusual office decorations, activities and more. Send submissions via email or post on social media with the #UCIconnected hashtag.


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