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UC Merced’s graduate programs rank among best in the nation
UC Merced graduate program
Materials Science and Engineering Professor Beth Nowadnick and her team are studying materials that may provide new ways to store or process information in computers (Photo courtesy of UC Merced).

UC Merced continues to be recognized nationally, with some programs leaping forward, according to U.S. News & World Report’s 2023-2024 edition of Best Graduate Schools released on April 25.

Designed for prospective students looking to further their education beyond college, the Best Graduate Schools rankings evaluate programs in a variety of disciplines, including business, education, engineering, law, medicine and nursing annually, while other disciplines and specialties in the sciences, social sciences, humanities and other areas are ranked periodically.

“Overall, 10 of UC Merced’s graduate programs were ranked by U.S. News & World Report this year, and four of those placed in the nation’s top 100,” Vice Provost and Dean of Graduate Education Hrant Hratchian said. “The fact that UC Merced was able to achieve this in less than 20 years is a testament to our outstanding faculty, staff and graduate students who have built our graduate programs from the ground up.”

U.S. News surveyed graduate programs at more than 2,000 schools that grant doctoral degrees. The rankings are based on expert opinions about program excellence and statistical indicators that measure the quality of a school's faculty, research and students.

Two graduate programs in the School of Natural Sciences rose significantly in this year’s rankings. The largest jump is the Physics Graduate Group at 113, climbing 25 spots from 138 last year. Mathematics (Applied Mathematics Graduate Group) ranked No. 125, up seven spots from 132 last year.

“These gains in rankings are a well-deserved testament to the impact of the innovative research accomplishments of our faculty and their graduate students,” School of Natural Sciences Dean Betsy Dumont said. “We are excited to continue supporting the success of these and other programs in the School of Natural Sciences.”

The other ranked science programs are chemistry (Chemistry and Chemical Biology Graduate Group) at 136 and Earth science (Quantitative and Systems Biology Graduate Group) at 98.

Some recent School of Natural Sciences faculty highlights include:

·         Professor Rebecca Ryals has made campus history by being named UC Merced’s inaugural Presidential Chair in Climate Change.

·         The National Science Foundation has given Professor Stephanie Woo the CAREER award to help her delve into congenital birth defects by looking at the embryonic cells of zebrafish.

·         Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry Professor Michael Findlater is part of a group that has formed a new DOE Energy Frontier Research Center (EFRC), the first researcher from UC Merced to be part of an EFRC.

·         Molecular and Cellular Biology Professor Michele Nishiguchi has been inducted as a Fellow of the California Academy of Sciences and was recently named president-elect for the Society for Integrative and Comparative Biology.

·         Through the Department of Energy’s Office of Environmental Management’s Minority Serving Institution Partnership Program, Professor Peggy O’Day and her students are working with Oak Ridge National Laboratory to test mercury remediation technology consisting of activated carbon coated with manganese oxide.

UC Merced’s School of Engineering ranked No. 127 in the nation marking its eighth straight year in the rankings.

Mechanical engineering ranked 111, rising 11 spots from 122; environmental engineering (Environmental Systems Graduate Group) ranked 77, up seven from 84; electrical engineering (part of the Electrical Engineering and Computer Science Graduate Group) ranked 122, up six from 128; biomedical engineering (Bioengineering Graduate Group) ranked 112, up six spots from 118; and computer engineering (also part of the Electrical Engineering and Computer Science Graduate Group) ranked 91, up three spots from 94. Materials engineering (part of the Materials and Biomaterials Engineering Graduate Group) ranked 91.

“Our engineering programs continues to rise in rankings,” Dean of the School of Engineering Rakesh Goel said. “U.S. News ranks graduate programs solely on peer assessment surveys sent to deans and department heads in each engineering field, reflecting the growing prominence of UC Merced’s faculty and alumni in the minds of engineers and academics nationwide.”

Recent School of Engineering highlights include:

·         Materials Science and Engineering Professor Beth Nowadnick earned a National Science Foundation (NSF) award to study materials that may provide new ways to store or process information.

·         Nowadnick was also awarded a Multicampus Research Programs and Initiatives grant totaling $299,629 from the University of California Office of the President.

·         Erin Hestir, a professor in environmental engineering and associate director of the Center for Information Technology Research in the Interest of Society (CITRIS), attended the UN Water Conference in March 2023 representing the Intergovernmental Group on Earth Observations Freshwater Biodiversity Observation Network.

·         Mechanical engineering Professor Reza Ehsani leads a team awarded a $999,983 grant from the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA-HSI program) to fund "Integrated Education Programs to Train Students for a Future in the Agricultural and Food Industry."

View a list of other campus rankings online.