I feel as though I always say this but it’s always true: I can’t believe the end of the semester is already here! This spring semester has been a whirlwind of activities, progress, events, accomplishments, and achievements and has seen us move back into more familiar routines. Pandemic numbers have reduced, masking requirements have been loosened and in-person activities have been relaunched. While we remain conscientious about our health, it is wonderful to see one another in-person again. 

With the relaunch of in person events, admissions events and activities that have been on hold since Spring of 2019, resumed. This semester I joined our amazing admissions team as they toured the state to host Regional Admissions receptions for admitted students and their families. It was a treat to talk with them about our excellent programs and welcoming community and I hope to see many of those students here with us when the fall semester starts. The campus also saw a record 6,100 registrants for this year’s Bobcat Day and School of Natural Sciences faculty, staff and students came together to promote and welcome future students and their families into the SNS community. Faculty lab tours in particular were a big hit and the tables for our undergraduate majors, Cal Teach, EXCEL!, Pre-Health Advising, the STEM Resource Center, CCBM and MACES drew big crowds.

This semester also saw impressive strides in research by faculty and students that were recognized by prestigious awards and grants. Highlights include grants from the National Institute of Health, Air Force, and National Science Foundation, including the School’s 17th NSF CAREER award, bringing the overall UC Merced total to 32 . A remarkable number of Natural Sciences faculty have received early career awards! In addition, our own Dr Aurora Pribram-Jones was the 2nd faculty member on campus (and within SNS) to be named a Cottrell Scholar.

At the end of this week, our first in person spring commencements since 2019 will be held over 3 days. Friday’s commencement is being held for all of those students who graduated during the pandemic, when we could not have an in-person ceremony. Alumni from the Classes of 2020 and 2021 have registered to walk the stage and I am thrilled that we can join them in belatedly celebrating their achievements.

I congratulate you all on another fantastic year for SNS and I hope you enjoy reading about just a few accomplishments and pieces of news about members of our community. I hope you all have a chance to take a restful break at some point before the fall semester begins.

Dean Dumont