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A Few of Our Favorite Things

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As 2023 comes to a close, it’s time to look back at some of this year’s moments and milestones. And, since a picture is worth a thousand words, what better way to do this than through the lens of campus photographer, Erik Jepsen? We asked Erik to select a few of his favorite UC San Diego photos from the past year and share his thoughts on what made the images so special. We then paired them with some of the stories that resonated most with our campus community. Now, we invite you to take a look back at the year that was...

Surf team overlooking cliffs

Why this photo is one of Erik's favorites:

“This is Exhibit A as to why our campus is unequivocally one of the most beautiful places on Earth.”

Perched next to the sparkling Pacific Ocean, UC San Diego’s stunning campus offers many opportunities to find serenity. Prioritizing mental health and well-being has also led to the launch of new programs for students, a focus on equity in mental health and research into how meditation may combat disease.

Family celebrates Commencement

Why this photo is one of Erik's favorites:

“Commencement is my favorite time of the year. The immense joy and celebration always lift my spirit.”

UC San Diego’s Class of 2023 was diverse, perseverant and passionate about making a difference. No one exemplified this more than this year’s student commencement speaker, Letzy Vargas. A first-generation student, her pathway to college was difficult but she overcame numerous obstacles, reminding us that sometimes “things have to fall apart to fall into place…that struggle is a normal part of life. It doesn’t make us less worthy; it makes us human. And we are all exceptional humans.”

Waves colored pink for research

Why this photo is one of Erik's favorites:

“Colorful research is the best kind of research. What color is better than bright pink?”

An experiment at a San Diego beach had people seeing pink last winter – at least temporarily – as researchers studied how small freshwater outflows interacted with the surfzone. And while it may not have been quite as colorful, testing a 10-story tower on the UC San Diego earthquake simulator, one of the two largest shake tables in the world, also made for great visuals, garnering attention around the world.

Tritons at basketball game

Why this photo is one of Erik's favorites:

“I love our overwhelming excitement and Triton Pride!”

Overwhelming excitement was definitely on display in the shot above, taken when the Triton’s men’s basketball team recently hosted crosstown rival San Diego State. In addition to cheering on our Division I scholar-athletes, Tritons also showed their enthusiasm at other perennial favorites such as Sun God Festival, Homecoming and Family Weekend and Triton Weeks of Welcome, which featured more than 100 events for new and returning Tritons.

Sun sets at Scripps pier

Why this photo is one of Erik's favorites:

“This is my favorite campus phenomenon known as ‘Scrippshenge,’ twice a year the sun aligns perfectly down Scripps Pier.”

The sun wasn’t the only thing aligning for UC San Diego this year – the campus broke records, raising $565.7 million in private support and topping $1.76 billion in research funding. ALERTCalifornia and CAL FIRE’s fire detection AI program was named one of TIME’s best inventions of 2023. And, UC San Diego Health, once again ranked No. 1 in San Diego, was also placed on the 2023-2024 “Best Hospitals National Honor Roll” – a first in the academic medical center’s history.

Solar eclipse over Geisel Library

Why this photo is one of Erik's favorites:

“I try to capture every cool astronomical occurrence that takes place over our campus. This year’s Solar Eclipse was far and away the best.“

There’s no shortage of cool space-related research happening on campus, whether it’s scientists studying the universe’s oldest light or testing cancer drugs in low Earth orbit. But space isn’t our final frontier – UC San Diego scholars are advancing how the world uses Artificial Intelligence, whether through new technologies or integration into education.

Double rainbow over Geisel Library

Why this photo is one of Erik's favorites:

“Rainbows grab attention. They inspire, perfectly framing and highlighting the beauty of UC San Diego.”

Rainbows weren’t the only thing grabbing attention on campus in 2023. As the university’s exciting transformation continued to take shape, the campus was abuzz over new neighborhoods, a new undergraduate college, the Epstein Family Amphitheatre’s inaugural summer season and the groundbreaking for Triton Center, UC San Diego’s highly anticipated new vibrant urban core.

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