We're on a roll

It's been a hot week—literally and figuratively—in Santa Cruz. Temperatures have been in the 80s for several days, and the good news keeps rolling in.

First, biologist Jim Estes and seismologist Thorne Lay were elected to the National Academy of Sciences on Tuesday—one of the highest honors in the country for scientists. Jim has done important work on the role of predators in ecosystems, including research on Central Coast sea otters. His insights apply to mountain lions, wolves, grizzly bears and other top predators, and they have widespread implications for conservation. Thorne analyzes seismic waves to learn about earthquakes and structural features of the deep earth, and he has developed methods to monitor compliance with nuclear test ban treaties.

Thorne was also named the recipient of the 2014 Harry Fielding Reid Medal from the Seismological Society of America this week—the top prize in seismology (one of the first awardees was Charles Richter, as in the "Richter scale" that measures the magnitude of earthquakes)--another outstanding honor.

I couldn't be more proud of these two eminent scientists, their work, and this well-deserved recognition. If we could "bottle" the campus culture that fosters this level of achievement—our custom blend of intellectual curiosity, interdisciplinary exploration, and a desire to make the world a better place—I think we could probably market it to other universities. Lucky for us, it's ours alone.

More evidence of UCSC's impact came in the very next day, when alum Sage Weil sold his data-storage company, Inktank, to Red Hat for $175 million. Sage developed his first working prototype as a grad student in computer science here, and the deal secures his technology's place in the open-source world.

Finally, for the third consecutive year, UC Santa Cruz was ranked one of the best young universities in the world by Times Higher Education. We were ranked 2nd among U.S. universities under the age of 50, and 11th overall. The bulk of the ranking is based on performance in three areas we care about deeply: research, citations, and teaching; additional factors include international outlook and industry income.

This is an honor we won't receive next year, when we celebrate our 50th year as a campus, but I know our spirit of youthful daring will continue to serve us well as we begin our second half-century.

It's been a great run—and an outstanding week!

Comments or questions? Write to chancellor@ucsc.edu and put "Week" in the subject line