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Walking the Talk

Taking on inequity at the crossroads of ‘rigor, relevance and impact’

He talks a million miles a minute. At his office desk, he prefers a treadmill to a chair. But what really drives Karthik Muralidharan is getting out in the field – running experiments and testing policies to improve the lives of people in developing economies like India’s.

“The best economist,” he says, quoting a recent Financial Times headline, “is one with dirty shoes.” Read More


Converting Empathy to Action

a letter from Dean Carol Padden

Empathy is powerful. Yet alone it is often not enough. What we try to embody here in the UC San Diego Division of Social Sciences is the power of empathy leading to action. When we look around the world and discover a problem – whether in our own community or one far afield – we work to do something about it. I’ve seen this quality in all parts of this division, in our faculty, in our students and alumni, our staff and our friends. Read More


Social Sciences News


What can you do about climate change? The better question might be: What can we? Framing the issue collectively is more effective than emphasis on personal responsibility, shows a study by doctoral alumni Nick Obradovich and Scott Guenther of Political Science.

Not all habits are bad. Some are even necessary. But inability to switch from acting habitually to acting in a deliberate way can underlie addiction and obsessive compulsive disorders. A study led by Christina Gremel explores how the brain makes – and breaks – a habit.

RUBI the robot, who “lives” in the lab of cognitive scientist Andrea Chiba, is part of ongoing work to explore human-robot interaction and to build robots that are both useful to humans and compatible with us.





George Mandler – founding chair of the UC San Diego Department of Psychology and one of the central figures in psychology’s cognitive revolution – died in his Hampstead, London home on May 6, 2016. He was 91.

Education Studies alumna Jenny Anderson is recognized as a California Teacher of the Year. Anderson teaches at the Casita Center for Technology, Science, and Math in Vista, where she also leads a fourth grade journalism class and runs the DREAMS lab, which introduces students to the language of coding.

Urban Studies and Planning alum Michael Estrada goes above and beyond to help support the Alternative Breaks student service program.

How do people go from raw opinion to judgment? Daniel Yankelovich, founder of the Yankelovich Center for Social Science Research at UC San Diego, explains in this video: “The Public Learning Curve.”



Neurodevelopmental study of rare genetic condition called Williams Syndrome may give clues to what makes humans social. The Nature paper is by Katerina Semendeferi of Anthropology and students Branka Hrvoj and Kari Hanson, along with colleagues at UC San Diego Health Sciences and the Salk Institute.

UC San Diego admits most diverse class yet. Compared to the previous year, the university admitted 46.2 percent more historically underrepresented freshmen and 30.7 percent more transfers for Fall 2016.

Some cuss like a sailor while others might only drop the occasional f-bomb, but almost everyone swears. Writing in Time magazine about his new book, “What the F,” Benjamin Bergen explains what profanity reveals about our brains.

In case you missed it: Political scientist Tom Wong journeyed from Riverside’s Casa Blanca to the White House in D.C. A team of students took home the top prize for their Seaport Village development plan. And a team of scientists, including economist Ted Groves, for the first time estimate the value of open ocean.



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Upcoming Events


Contextual Robotics Forum 2016
Join us on Oct. 28, 2016 for a day focused on "Shared Autonomy: New Directions in Human-Machine Interaction." Meet leading social scientists and engineers who will discuss the future of robotics. Connect with the robotics ecosystem at UC San Diego and in the region at the technology showcase. Learn more.

Meet Tomorrow’s World: The Ethics of Emerging Technologies
Are you and your children ready for tomorrow’s world? The astonishing (some would say alarming) pace of scientific and technical advances has already changed our lives. But what’s next for the home, the workplace, the classroom, the medical center? How do we comprehend and control the potential consequences for our communities? Come and meet an international group of experts and help explore the ethics of emerging technologies. Nov. 10, from 5 p.m., at the San Diego Central Public Library. Free but please register. A daytime event on the same day at the UC San Diego Faculty Club will focus on whether it’s ethical to enhance humans. More information here.

UC San Diego Founders Day
Join us Friday, Nov. 18, 12-2 p.m. as we commemorate the day UC San Diego was founded in November 1960, when UC San Diego’s founders put into motion a bold idea for a new kind of university, one that is powered by curious minds who aren’t afraid to travel the unbeaten path.

UCSD Alumni Day of Service – Seeking School Proposals
Mark your calendars, UCSD Alumni’s fourth annual Day of Service (beautification project at a local school) will take place Sunday, Feb. 26, 2017, 10 a.m.-12 p.m. Previous days of service were at Bayside Elementary (Imperial Beach), Ross Elementary (Clairemont), and Oneonta Elementary (Imperial Beach). Every year we bring a crowd of approximately 150 volunteers ready to roll up their sleeves, paint, rake, plant, clean, inspire, and share their Triton pride with young students. Know of a school in need? Email Jenelle Dean for more information. Please share with teachers, principals, counselors, parents, friends: anyone you know who might be able to suggest a great school. Deadline for nominating a school is Nov. 14.

Socially Speaking – Save the Date: May 16, 2017
Engage with the Division of Social Sciences and hear from renowned faculty on the topic of brain research. New this year will be a student exposition, showcasing the research of undergraduates from a number of departments. Tapas, dessert and beverages will be served. Event begins at 5 p.m. Contact Maryann Lapthorn for tickets.


Giving Updates


Economics Undergrads Team Up With Alumni Mentors

Rising Leaders Program helps students compete for national banking, finance and business internships

Before she was matched with an alumni mentor, undergraduate student Youli Wang wasn’t sure how to break into the world of finance, especially as a woman. As part of the Department of Economics’ Rising Leaders Program, she gained insight into what it takes to be a competitive candidate for some of the nation’s top internship positions in banking, business and finance. Read More


Alumni Updates


Marty Adelstein, Marshall ’82 (Communication and Political Science): Marty Adelstein currently serves as executive producer and CEO of Tomorrow Studios, who’s had success with hit shows “Aquarius,” “Prison Break” and “Teen Wolf.” Per Variety Magazine, Adelstein will co-executive produce a new series to be aired on TNT based on the vampire novel “Let The Right One In.”

Lakshya Datta, Sixth ’11 (Economics): An avid writer since his college days, Lakshya Datta now runs Launchora, a global storytelling platform and community. Datta started working on Launchora in 2013, and launched the platform in 2014. Launchora now boasts eight employees, more than 10,000 published stories, 15,000 writers and 100,000 monthly readers from over 100 countries.

Kent Lee, Marshall ’07 (Economics, Biology): Via the San Diego Union Tribune, Kent Lee has been appointed as its new executive director of Pacific Arts Movement, one of the largest media arts organizations in North America focusing on Asian-American and Asian international cinema.

Travis Silva, Marshall ’06, MA ’10 (Political Science and Spanish Literature, master’s in Latin American Studies): Travis Silva is an Equal Justice Works fellow working in San Mateo County with the Lawyers' Committee for Civil Rights of the San Francisco Bay Area. Silva fights for restorative justice policies in schools, represents students at expulsion proceedings, and offers legal advice to families who seek it.


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