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Founders' Contest

Meet some of the remarkable students, staff, faculty, alumni and campus friends who make us proud to be Tritons united.


Call Meh

Neil Gandhi

​Before beginning his freshman year at UC San Diego, Neil Gandhi took on an unusual summer project: he set out to build a video chat alternative to Skype. While he enjoyed using tools such as Google Hangouts and Skype to keep in touch with friends, he felt the process of having to download a program and create an account was unnecessarily complicated. So he built his own platform, Call Meh. The online service runs directly through the web browser and doesn’t require a username or password, so it doesn’t store personal information. Instead, it generates a five digit ID number. Exchange ID numbers with the person you want to chat with and you’re ready to go.


A Friendly Welcome

Giovanni Chimienti

​Eager to share a smile and warm greeting, Giovanni Chimienti thoroughly enjoys being a volunteer at UC San Diego. From Convocation to Family Weekend and Meet the Beach, Giovanni is always ready to lend a hand or chat with newcomers. He once said, “Even though most people I meet at UC San Diego are total strangers, we belong together,” citing the remarkable bond shared among all UC San Diego Tritons, whether student or volunteer, alumni or staff member.

Giovanni first arrived at UC San Diego in January 1968 as a postdoctoral student in the newly established department of neuroscience. As a native New Yorker, Giovanni was taken aback by the California surf culture—he remembers scientists at Scripps Institution of Oceanography dashing off to the beach during lunch with their boards. In between giving tours in support of his department’s faculty recruitment efforts, Giovanni measured the electrical activity of the brain. He went on to teach psychology for several decades before returning to UC San Diego in 2010, just in time to celebrate the university’s 50th anniversary.

For three years now, Giovanni has been a dedicated volunteer at UC San Diego, beginning with the inaugural Founders’ Day. He is drawn to campus for the excitement. “The social interaction keeps me young, informed and active! I really love being a part of this institution, everyone is friendly and appreciative.”


Random Act of Kindness

From an anonymous Triton:

To the guy who helped me wipe the glass of water I spilled in Pines, THANK YOU VERY MUCH!! I really, really appreciated how you went to grab napkins from the table and wiped the water on the floor right away (and not to mention even before I did). I will never forget your act of kindness!

To be honest, it is people like you who make the world a better place. As much as I want to mention your name, I can’t ‘cause I don’t know your name. But I’m pretty sure you know who you are.

With utmost gratitude, The girl who spilled her drink


Kill the Cup!

Mike and Drew

Drew and Mike co-founded Social Ventures for Sustainability after graduating from UC San Diego’s Rady School of Management in June 2013. Social Ventures combines behavioral economics, gamification, and social media marketing to reduce environmental impact while increasing financial performance for client organizations.

Social Ventures’ pilot eight-week “Kill the Cup” campaign at UC San Diego focused on encouraging customers at Housing, Dining and Hospitality coffee shops to bring their own reusable containers when buying coffee. The percentage of coffees bought with reusable containers rose nearly 70 percent during the campaign. “Kill the Cup” prevented an estimated 1,300 disposable cups from entering landfills while reaching more than 8,500 campus community members.

Now, Social Ventures is expanding by implementing scientific experiments at UC San Diego while testing new pilot programs at Georgetown University and Bird Rock Coffee Roasters. A new “Fill the Car” campaign—aimed at getting people to carpool—is set to debut at UC San Diego in winter 2014. In the meantime, Drew and Mike are looking for creative ways to enact Social Ventures’ techniques to reduce environmental waste nationwide.


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