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Living and Learning in the School of Natural Sciences

The School of Natural Sciences is pleased to announce our new Living Learning Communities, launching in Fall 2018. 


Residential learning communities across the country have proven to increase student success in two ways.  First, students build a sense of community with like-minded peers which helps to build lasting friendships and overall academic satisfaction. Second, the communities provide easy access to study groups, mentoring, and advising that improve academic achievement.  


“Faculty and students alike are excited about the opportunity to launch these communities and to offer an exciting range of social and academic activities that will help students explore careers and achieve their goals.”  - Betsy Dumont, Dean, School of Natural Sciences


The four Living Learning Communities for Fall of 2018 include:


Carson House: Sustainable Futures

UC Merced provides a once-in-a-generation opportunity to build a sustainable economic, social and environmental way of living that preserves the ability of current and future generations to meet their and others' needs. Our faculty, staff and students embrace this opportunity and are building sustainability into every aspect of the campus. Our Community provides opportunities to engage with this campus vision and to explore the positive roles that individuals, teams, and societies play in interacting with and protecting the environment. We seek to deepen our sense of place and build the skills needed to create sustainable futures through partnerships on campus and in the surrounding area.


Vaughan House: The Digital Abacus

The Digital Abacus floor is a community of scholars interested in learning how to use computers to simulate scenarios and solve problems in math and science. Students participating in this learning community will use MATLAB, Mathematica, and Python to explore concepts in their biology, earth systems, chemistry, math, and physics courses, as well as tackle interesting problems written by faculty. Community activities include hack-a-thons with the resident teaching assistant, presentations by faculty who use computers in their research, and organized study sessions.


Aristotle House: Leadership, Education, Service

The Aristotle House will broadly explore the three pillars of Leadership, Education and Service in the Natural Sciences. This living and learning community (LLC) is committed to helping students hone their leadership skills, develop life-long friendships, engage in community outreach and explore careers in all facets of education. Students in this LLC are passionate about making a difference in this world through active leadership, education, and service.


BEYOND the MD: Biomedical Sciences and Health Professions

This learning community welcomes students who are interested in pursuing biomedical and health-related professions outside of the MD track. Students will engage with local Physician’s Assistants, Physical and Occupational Therapists, Optometrists and other health care professionals, as well as faculty who work in biomedical research and public health in order to learn about career options in clinical, industry, government, and academic settings.


Students pursuing their education in the Natural Sciences will have the opportunity to select from one of the four exciting learning community programs during their online housing registration.  All programs will be housed in Granite Pass, one of the beautiful, new residence halls opening this Fall as part of the first phase of UC Merced’s groundbreaking Project 2020. Students who join a Living Learning Community will live together on one floor and will have access to enrichment and learning activities including field trips, Power Hour! Study sessions, personalized academic advising, and Peer Mentor support.  Each Living Learning Community will also feature a 1-unit seminar, faculty networking socials, and other learning activities relevant to the community’s focus.  Such activities include, but are not limited to, Hack-a-thons, STEM challenge games, and Community Engagement, and Service projects.


Leading the Living Learning Communities are the Housing Fellows, an academic year, live-in position. The Housing Fellow’s primary function is to build a safe and inclusive learning community for residents of the Living Learning Community and support the academic mission of the University of California, Merced and the School of Natural Sciences. House Fellows will mentor community residents, organize educational programming and group activities, facilitate campus referrals, and coordinate partnerships with organizations across campus. The Housing Fellow will work with a Faculty Advisor for the LLC and the Assistant Dean of the School of Natural Sciences to develop programming relevant to their residential community. Programming will include an emphasis on community development during the Fall semester and career and major exploration during the Spring semester.


If you would like more information about becoming a House Fellow, please contact Assistant Dean for Student Support, Angie Salinas, via email at

You can learn more about the Natural Sciences Living Learning Communities by visiting our website: