UCSD alcohol program wins award

A new program, used to address high-risk alcohol consumption by students, was honored with an award from the Automobile Club of Southern California and the Center for College Health and Safety, according to a university press release.

The program, called Substance/Alcohol Feedback and Education, a brainchild of UCSD Psychological and Counseling Services, was given a monetary award and plaque for a regional win in the “College and University Drinking and Driving Prevention Award” contest.

The program employs a unique technique called “motivational enhancement,” which increases the need for change in drinking habits, according to S.A.F.E. Director and campus psychologist Jerry Phelps. The S.A.F.E. program utilizes multiple components, including alcohol screening surveys distributed online, counseling and referral of student violators of alcohol policy to trained peer educators.

UC Davis scientists predict earthquakes

California has a 25-percent chance for a magnitude-7 earthquake in the next 20 years, according to UC Davis’ “Virtual California” computer simulation.

The simulation also predicts that chance to rise over time, with a 50-percent chance that such an earthquake could hit in the next 45 years and a 75-percent likelihood that it will occur by 2086. Specifically, the San Francisco Bay Area also has a 25-percent chance of an earthquake occurrence of magnitude 7 or greater. That chance rises roughly 1 percent every year, the simulation found.

The computer program employs a technique to predict earthquakes that is similar to weather forecasting, according to John Rundle, director of the UC Davis Computational Science and Engineering Center.

Online educational systems merge

Former competitors WebCT and Blackboard are merging, but will remain separate entities with separate services, according to a Blackboard press release. The two companies provide enterprise software and services to educational institutions.

Over time, however, the merger will result in a combination of methods between the companies, according to the release.

Blackboard plans to use feedback from customers to incorporate the best elements of both services into a new product suite.

“We will combine WebCT’s strong history and reputation for responsiveness with Blackboard’s significant infrastructure investments to deliver industry leading support to all clients,” the press release stated. “In addition to maintaining each client’s current service level agreements, we commit to deliver even higher quality, more individualized support and service for both hosted and locally installed clients.”

Company invests in Preuss School

Gen-Probe Inc., a company that specializes in DNA research, is devoting time and money to UCSD’s Preuss School, a university charter school for disadvantaged and minority students in grades the six through 12.

Gen-Probe’s investment includes $108,000 over the next three years, which will mostly go toward the school’s science department. The funds will serve to create a bond between Gen-Probe scientists and Preuss School students, including field trips to the company and mentoring opportunities.