The spirit of inquiry at UC Santa Cruz

Welcome to 7th annual edition of inquiry@UC Santa Cruz! In this issue you’ll find stories featuring the broad range of research being performed across the university’s five academic divisions. As in previous issues, the magazine’s content was crafted by alumni of our world-renowned Science Communication master's program (see INQUIRINGminds).

Their writing this year invites you to: contemplate an America with true liberty and justice for all, delivered without imprisonment; travel with researchers on ocean voyages to collect and analyze tiny fossils for clues about the coming impacts of climate change; peer over the shoulders of internet sleuths leveraging open-access data in the global fight for human rights; relish the drama of marshlands where coots sneak their unhatched offspring into each other’s nests; consider how ancient ruins reflect people’s intentional efforts, rather than simply things left behind; and applaud Nobel prize–winning research on telomeres—a potential key to understanding aging.

In addition, select your next great read from the latest books authored by our faculty (see PEN&INQ) and peruse recently patented faculty inventions, described in inquiries&INNOVATIONS. All this and more awaits in the pages of this E-magazine.

This year we celebrate in particular the unflinching dedication of the campus's research community, whose members—as revealed in our cover story, “Adaptable academics”—found ways to persevere in their mission to seek answers to difficult questions despite the unprecedented challenges posed by the pandemic. We invite you to join us as we recognize their hard-fought achievements and look forward to a less trying future.

Finally, we wish to acknowledge previous Vice Chancellor for Research Scott Brandt for his eight years of dedicated service to this office. Scott championed the vision that became inquiry@UC Santa Cruz, and we are thankful for his contributions to the university.

John McMillan,
Interim Vice Chancellor for Research and
Professor of Chemistry and Biochemistry

University of California Santa Cruz

  • Chancellor: Cynthia K. Larive
  • Campus Provost and Executive Vice Chancellor: Lori Kletzer
  • Vice Chancellor, Research: John MacMillan (interim)
  • Vice Chancellor, University Relations: Mark Davis

inquiry@UC Santa Cruz, 2020-21

  • Editor: David Egerter (SciCom ‘88)
  • Creative Director: Lisa Nielsen
  • Art Director: Linda Knudson (Cowell ‘76)

Associate Editors

  • Heather Shearer, principal
  • Jeanne Lance


  • Anil Ananthaswamy (SciCom ’00)

  • Bethany Augliere (SciCom ’16)

  • Genevieve Bookwalter (SciCom ’02)

  • Katie Brown (SciCom ’19)

  • Elizabeth Devitt (SciCom ’13)

  • David Egerter (SciCom ’88)

  • Emily Harwitz (SciCom ’21)

  • Kimberly Hickock (SciCom ’18)

  • Emma Hiolski (SciCom ’17)

  • Erin Loury (SciCom ’12)

  • Dana Mackenzie (SciCom ’97)

  • Erin Malsbury (SciCom ’20)

  • Annie Melchor (SciCom ’21)

  • Annie Roth (SciCom ’19)

  • K. M. Watson (SciCom ’84)

  • Sarah C. P. Williams (SciCom ’07)

Produced by UC Santa Cruz Communications & Marketing, 1156 High Street, Santa Cruz, CA 95064-1077 Email: Web: