Astronomers Discover Rare Galaxy at Dawn of Time
UC Riverside’s Bahram Mobasher and Hooshang Nayyeri are members of an international research team that has discovered that one of the most distant known galaxies is churning out stars at a shockingly high rate. The researchers made the discovery using NASA’s Spitzer and Hubble space telescopes. The blob-shaped galaxy, called GN-108036, is the brightest galaxy found to date at such great distances.

The galaxy, which was discovered and confirmed using ground-based telescopes, is 12.9 billion light-years away. Data from Spitzer and Hubble were used to measure the galaxy’s high star production rate, equivalent to about 100 suns per year.

The discovery is surprising because previous surveys had not found galaxies this bright so early in the history of the universe. According to the researchers, GN-108036 may be a special, rare object that they happened to catch during an extreme burst of star formation.

GN-108036 lies near the very beginning of time itself, a mere 750 million years after our universe was created 13.7 billion years ago in an explosive “Big Bang.” Its light has taken 12.9 billion years to reach us, so we are seeing it as it existed in the very distant past.

Impact of Climate Change on Agriculture
Ariel Dinar, the director of UCR’s Water Science and Policy Center, and Robert Mendelsohn at Yale University have co-edited a “Handbook on Climate Change and Agriculture” (Edward Elgar Publishing Inc., December 2011) that explores the interaction between climate change and agriculture.

With contributions from international scholars, the handbook analyzes a variety of topics, including direct agronomic effects, economic impacts on agriculture (and vice versa), agricultural mitigation and farmer adaptation. The authors argue that climate change is likely to have a large impact on agriculture around the world; this impact would be expressed through changes in temperature, precipitation, concentrations of carbon dioxide and available water flows.

Evered and Barr Collaborate on a Psychological Thriller
“A Thousand Cuts,” a feature film directed by UC Riverside theatre professor Charles Evered, had its premiere Jan. 12 at the Palm Springs International Film Festival. The screenplay for the film, which stars Academy Award nominee Michael O’Keefe, was written by Evered, Eric Barr, professor and chair of the UCR Department of Theatre, and Marty James.

“We’re very proud of the fact that we made a film that explores the nature of violence and its effect on our society – with a narrative that puts the victims of violent crime at the center of the story, rather than using them as props or for purely exploitative purposes,” said Evered, who is also a noted playwright.

National Endowment Fellowship to Adriana Craciun
Professor Adriana Craciun of the UC Riverside English department has been awarded a fellowship by the National Endowment for the Humanities to support her book, “Northwest Passages: Authorship, Exploration, Disaster.”

The book takes an interdisciplinary look at how different kinds of materials – print media, books, manuscripts, shipboard newspapers, ship logs, collected relics, even graffiti – shaped several centuries of British exploration in the Arctic.

Craciun hosted a two-year international interdisciplinary conference series, “The Disorder of Things: Predisciplinarity and the Divisions of Knowledge 1660-1850,” which culminated last March. She is currently involved in an interdisciplinary UC Multi-Campus Research Group, founded this past year to facilitate research on the influence of material, visual and textual sources on human action.