Court of Sciences North

Reclaiming Our Healthy Spaces @ North Court of Sciences

What is your favorite place at UCLA? Some people love Bruin Plaza, with its iconic Bruin Statue, heavy foot traffic, and nonstop activities and events. The landing of the grand Janss steps, featured in many Hollywood movies and every campus tour, is a perfect place to feel at one with your school and on top of the world. Or perhaps you prefer to be surrounded by bricks and books in historic Powell Library. These instantly recognizable spots on campus all have one thing in common: a great “sense of place.” “Sense of place” is that hard-to-define certain something that makes a place feel special and draws people in. Some places are born with a great sense of place. Others, however, need a little help.

Do you recognize this spot on campus? If you’re like most UCLA students and staff, you might not – yet! The BEWell and MoveWell pods are cooking up a plan to activate this spot on campus, known as the north Court of Sciences, and make it more than just a space you pass through on your way to class. Our space-activation campaign, Reclaiming Our Healthy Spaces, is a series of events and investments aimed at helping the UCLA community utilize this space to its full potential. The campaign kicks off this spring quarter with a Mindful Music performance on the first Tuesday of every month, beginning April 3rd, giving passers-by a reason to linger and gather in the space. Weekly on Thursdays, beginning April 5th, MoveWell will show off its new north Court of Sciences recreation storage space by hosting mini-recess activities with equipment such as yoga mats, ping-pong tables, and sidewalk chalk. As more people gather at the north Court of Sciences, they can take advantage of the new urban furniture provided by BEWell, including tables, chairs, and a Soofa solar bench, which gathers solar power that can be used for charging personal electronics. And stay tuned for a Reclaiming Our Healthy Spaces @ Court of Sciences bash on May 1st featuring music, food, games, and more!

Through Reclaiming Our Healthy Spaces, BEWell and Movewell are giving the north Court of Sciences its own sense of place, as a vibrant hub for social engagement. We’re making the north Court of Sciences my favorite spot on campus – maybe it will be yours, too!

Want to get involved in the Reclaiming Our Healthy Spaces campaign for placemaking at the Court of Sciences and other future locations on campus? Come to the next BEWell pod meeting on April 4th from 3:00pm – 4:30pm in CHS 16-030 FSPH (Square Room). All are welcome!

Rebecca Ferdman is a graduate student at UCLA pursuing dual Master’s degrees in Urban Planning and Public Health. She is the graduate student researcher (GSR) for the BEWell pod of the Healthy Campus Initiative.

Bird Scooter at UCLA

Transportation Do’s and Don’ts

There are more ways than ever to get around campus and the city of Los Angeles. Thousands of people with busy schedules navigate our 419 acre campus everyday, with many interested in finding new ways to cut their travel times.

However, more transportation options demand more logistical planning. For example, each mode of transportation needs a clear place to begin and end that does not create interference or congestion. On the UCLA campus, this means dedicating space for bike racks, designating certain road/entryways on campus for Uber and Lyft hailing/drop-off, as well as educating and enforcing proper Bird scooter usage.

Ride hailing services such as Uber and Lyft have become immensely popular in recent years. The best feature of these services is their “pooled” ride option. Not only do they have the potential to improve traffic and reduce the number of cars on the road, but they can also lower greenhouse gas emissions as shown in a study conducted by Daniela Rus at MIT.

One of the biggest complaints about Uber is that they create congestion when cars slow down to look for their riders. In October of 2017, UCLA sought to address this by implementing 12 on-campus ride-share pick-up locations for passengers from 7 am to 6 pm Monday through Friday. With these zones, drivers and passengers know exactly where to meet, eliminating the need for the driver to idle (circle) when looking for their destination and ultimately making the road safer for pedestrians and cyclists.

Several major U.S. cities including Washington, D.C., San Francisco and Fort Lauderdale, have responded similarly to the massive rollout of Uber and Lyft. In these cases, cities have replaced some traditional parking spots to make space for pick-up and drop-off areas. Their motive is the same as UCLA’s: to eliminate the danger and disruption caused by riders being picked up or dropped off anytime, anywhere. As a result, curb space is in more demand today than it’s ever been before.  

Bikes are also still a popular way to get around. Biking provides many benefits including lowering greenhouse gas emissions, affordability, and exercise. One of the most important measures a biker must take is to securely lock up their bicycle when they’re not using it. Bike theft is a major problem in cities. However, a few important steps can be followed to ensure your bike isn’t stolen. First, you should only lock your bike to a heavy object that’s securely fastened to the ground. A bike rack is ideal, but other fixtures work as well. Once you’ve found this, U-locks are the best option. A cable lock is great to use in conjunction, but never without a U-Lock. The U-Lock must also be attached properly to be effective. The best way is to put the lock through the rear wheel and the triangle-shaped body of the bike. A cable lock can then be attached around the front wheel. You must also consider the time of day you are locking your bike. The later it gets, the more dangerous it is for your bike.   

A new and popular transportation method is the Bird scooter. These are electric scooters that are available to rent and pick-up without required docking locations. While regular scooters without motors are permissible on sidewalks, Bird scooters are not permissible because they have a motor. Additionally, the law requires riders to wear helmets. Furthermore, Santa Monica, where Bird scooters were first launched, has just made it legal for police authorities to impound scooters that are left in areas obstructing others. Westwood and surrounding areas in LA may be next to do so. With this in mind, make sure to leave your Bird somewhere that does not impede the travel of others. Recently, UCPD has begun enforcing improper use of these scooters. However, they aim to educate riders on the rules, rather than punishing them.

The next time you look for a different way to get around, make sure to be considerate of others who are trying to do the same thing. New transportation methods should be welcomed as long as people are properly educated on how to ride responsibly.

Summary Do’s and Don’ts



  • Select “pooled”/”shared” rides to save money and the environment
  • Meet your driver at one of the designated spots on campus between 7AM to 6PM Monday through Friday


  • Ask your driver to drop you off just anywhere
  • Order a ride before you’re ready to go so as to not keep them waiting



  • Use a U-Lock to secure your bike
  • Lock your bike in easily visible places where it’s harder for someone to steal it without being noticed


  • Only use a cable lock
  • Lock your bike to something that can be lifted off the ground

Bird Scooter:


  • Wear a helmet
  • Have a Driver’s License


  • Ride them on the sidewalk
  • Park them in a way that blocks pedestrian paths

Teddy Tollin is a third year Geography major and Geographical Information Systems minor at UCLA. Besides working at his position as the BEWell pod blogger, Teddy is a member of the Transfer Student video team, Co-Chair of the Built Environment Public Health Coalition, and is passionate about Urban Planning.

Vets garden pic 2

Combating Veterans Issues through Gardening

Encompassing 14 acres behind Jackie Robinson Stadium on the West Los Angeles Veterans Affairs (VA) Campus is a garden undergoing restoration. At one time, this space was a fully functional sanctuary for veterans, as well as a food source for local restaurants. After nearly ten years of abandonment resulting in overgrown natural grasses, UCLA is teaming up with the VA to restore it. UCLA has worked closely with the VA for years through various capacities, such as providing doctors and volunteer events. Despite the presence of this VA, Los Angeles has one of the highest rates of veteran homelessness in the country according to Quil Lawrence of NPR news.

Gardening’s popularity among veterans has risen as of late. Chicago already has a prominent space for veterans to garden in their City Botanic Garden. Just like West LA’s potential garden, the Chicago Botanic Garden has a historical relationship with vets. In 2013, a group of therapists visited the garden and realized the potential it had for therapy. They initiated the momentum to get Veterans more involved through the foundation of a horticulture therapy program with a specific curriculum for planting and harvesting.

Joanna Wise, a prominent horticulture therapist in Chelsea, London, elaborated on the benefits of gardening in her book Digging for Victory: Horticultural Therapy with Veterans for Post-Traumatic Grow. Horticulture therapy simply refers to therapy programs utilizing gardens and other outdoor spaces. According to her work, human beings “have an emotional affiliation to other living organisms, which is part of our species’ evolutionary heritage, and a competitive advantage.” This level of emotional connection is especially important for those with otherwise stressful conditions, like many veterans.  

Vets Garden Blog Pic 1

Photo by Abraham Ramirez

Colt Gordon, President of the Student Veterans of America at UCLA is a key supporter of the VA Garden restoration project. Colt is a 4-year Marine Veteran who finished service in 2011. He told me his life has “been an incredible journey. In 2013, I was your typical homeless veteran. I had mental health issues, but I overcame them. I come from a broken family due to drugs and alcohol. I’m very open about these things because I think it’s more useful than hiding behind the stigma. Now I’m at UCLA and I want to promote and perpetuate healthy living throughout the veteran community. I’ve started here in this garden. Our goal is to turn this into a fully functional agricultural center that will help feed our community.” According to occupational therapist Barbe Kreske at a “garden, [Veterans] receive therapy while learning job skills. Job training is important for Veterans as almost half a million are unemployed.”

Through restoration, the garden is also hoping to address malnutrition, a common health problem among veterans due to, among other factors, high rates of food insecurity. Local and organic produce grown in the garden will be distributed back to the veterans on the VA campus. There’s even a test kitchen on site to help them learn about healthy cooking.  

Photo by Abraham Ramirez

Jesse Flores, the VA Garden Restoration Program Assistant, graduated from UCLA last year with a degree in Geography and is now pursuing a master’s in Urban Planning. According to Jesse, “just working and being at the space is where my interest in the built environment comes from. I love learning and seeing how built environments can promote health among at-risk communities, such as veterans, who need our help. This space can become a fully functional agricultural center that will not only help feed our community but also help homeless veterans get jobs.”

At the moment, beautifying the entrance to the garden is prioritized, as this is the first place everyone will see when they enter. Different zones of the 14-acre space will be worked on individually and then tied together upon completion. Maintenance is difficult as well. Jesse and Colt, as well as other members of the team, welcome any help or advice at the garden. If you would like to get involved, please fill out this sign-up form for volunteering. Volunteer dates will be announced shortly. Additionally, on Wednesdays at 6pm meetings are held at the Veteran’s Resource Center  located on campus in Kerckhoff Hall, Suite 132 for anyone interested in helping with the garden. Supporting this effort is a great way to learn gardening techniques while giving back to those who protect our country.

Teddy Tollin is a third year Geography major and Geographical Information Systems minor at UCLA. Besides working at his position as the BEWell pod blogger, Teddy is a member of the Transfer Student video team, Co-Chair of the Built Environment Public Health Coalition, and is passionate about Urban Planning. 


Try Some Green Space for Your Finals Week Blues

Happy Almost Finals Week Bruins! The end of the quarter can be a stressful time for many of us. Between studying for exams, finishing final projects, and making last-minute preparations for winter break, it often seems like taking care of ourselves is the easiest thing to cross off the list. If you just can’t bring yourself to take time out for that bike ride or bubble bath, a simple change of scenery might provide some stress relief and even help sharpen your mind for those tenth-week to-do tasks. Spending time outdoors in green spaces can help relieve anxiety, sharpen attention, and improve mood. Luckily for us, UCLA has plenty of beautiful natural spaces that are perfect for a last-minute study session. Here are some of my favorites!

Mildred E. Mathias Botanical Garden

Why it’s awesome: Located in the south-east part of campus between the School of Nursing and the Terasaki Life Sciences Building, the botanical garden is the perfect study oasis. Natural amenities include the cool and shady atmosphere, private benches tucked into leafy nooks, and a soundtrack of birdsong and burbling stream.

What to know before you go: The botanical garden is a decidedly analogue study spot. Wifi is spotty, and if there are any outlets hidden beneath the leaf litter I have yet to find them! Bring that book that you’ve been struggling to concentrate on or the set of math problems you’ve been meaning to work through.

Nearest coffee: Terasaki Café, Café Med

Franklin D. Murphy Sculpture Garden


Photo Credit:

Why it’s awesome: The sculpture garden is a cool, green north campus retreat with a rolling lawn and a stunning grove of Jacaranda trees. As advertised, it’s also filled with an impressive collection of sculptures to contemplate while paging through your study guide. Secluded seating areas are scattered around the perimeter of the garden, but many students prefer to sprawl out on the lawn instead.

What to know before you go: Shady spots are in short supply, so the sculpture garden may not be the best choice for a hot and sunny day. While this spot has great wifi, the sunlight’s glare may make it difficult to see your computer screen. Recharge your devices at the nearby Charles E. Young Library.

Nearest coffee: Jimmy’s Coffeehouse, Café 451

Dickson Court North

Dickson Court

Photo Credit:

Why it’s awesome: Few places on campus rival the leafy collegiate beauty of Dickson Court North. With its brick accented walkways and shady fig and sycamore trees, Dickson Court is a high traffic area ideal for studiers who prefer a little background noise and people-watching over silence and solitude.

What to know before you go: Dickson Court North is great for lounging on a sun-dappled lawn, but there’s no formal seating in the area. If you’re averse to sharing your study space with ants or suffering the occasional grass stain, Dickson Court may not be the place for you. The court is also a popular spot for campus events, so watch out for the occasional closure.

Nearest coffee: Jimmy’s Coffeehouse

Good luck with your finals! And remember: spending time outdoors can have health benefits, but the benefits don’t outweigh the health risks when the air is smoky from a wildfire. If air quality is poor or the air smells smoky, play it safe and stay indoors.

Rebecca Ferdman is a graduate student at UCLA pursuing dual Master’s degrees in Urban Planning and Public Health. She is the graduate student researcher (GSR) for the BEWell pod of the Healthy Campus Initiative.

BikeShare UCLA

In Review: The Bruin BikeShare Program

Imagine you’re still on the hill and late for class. You need to make up for lost time and driving definitely isn’t an option. Alternatively, imagine you’re at North Campus, but you get the sudden urge to go see what’s happening in South Campus. Lastly, imagine you’re in the middle of campus, but need to catch a bus in Westwood. These and many more dilemmas can now be solved with the introduction of the Bruin Bike Share. Since October 3rd, the Bruin Bikes have become available to ride for all students on campus who sign up for the program.

Bike Share programs have been popping up recently in cities across the country. They support and accomplish several health-related goals of U.S. cities such as public health, sustainability, and traffic reduction. According to the Washington D.C. Department of General Services, “you can burn between 215-500 calories during a 30-minutes bike ride (based on a 10 mph average commuter pace).” Therefore, bikes are perfect for sustainability because they produce zero emissions. Bike Share programs also reduce traffic by promoting multimodality. Multimodality involves using different forms of transportation to reach one’s destination. Bike Share programs promote this by providing people with a faster way of traveling to and from bus, train, or shuttle stops.

CycleHop, the company behind Bike Share programs in Santa Monica, West Hollywood, Beverly Hills, and Long Beach, are also the ones behind the design of the brand new UCLA Bruin Bikes. Our bikes come with 8 adjustable speeds, a built-in lock, a bell, LED lights, an adjustable seat, and basket. And, of course, they are Bruin Blue in honor of one of UCLA’s main colors.

CycleHop is also partnered with Social Bikes, Inc. (SoBi). This company provides the wireless technology that enables users to reserve and unlock bikes with their smartphones. SoBi’s smartphone app provides the platform with which you create a pin code and account number to unlock the bikes for use. You will need to enter these numbers into a keypad on the bikes to check them out and use them. Using the SoBi app you can also view where the BikeShare hubs are located and how many bikes they are holding. This map is available at as well.

Overall there are 130 bikes between 18 hub locations. Users may unlock a bike at one location and leave it at another. This is especially beneficial for people who want to take one way bike rides to avoid lugging it around. Hub locations are currently available near popular spots on campus like the Wooden Center and Court of Sciences, as well as, Westwood Village. New locations may be built in the future based on data collected from the initial rollout.

Bruin Bikes can be paid for with yearly plans, monthly plans, or you can pay as you ride. For members of the UCLA community, a Founding Annual Plan can be purchased for $60.00 per year. It includes 90 minutes of pre-paid ride time and a UCLA helmet with other gifts. Users outside the UCLA system can purchase the same plan for $69.00. If you’d rather pay monthly, plans are $7.00 for UCLA members and $25.00 for others. These also include 90 minutes of ride time per day. Daily rates are $7.00 per hour and unused minutes can even be saved for a later date.

Overall, the Bruin BikeShare program has now been running successfully for three weeks since it launched at the start of the month of October. Usage and returning of the Bruin Bikes has been noticeable at the different hubs around campus, and students can be seen riding their rented bikes to and from classes, and around Westwood Village. If you’re interested in trying out the program yourself, please check out the Bruin BikeShare website at

Teddy Tollin is a third year Geography major and Geographical Information Systems minor at UCLA. Besides working at his position as the BEWell pod blogger, Teddy is a member of the Transfer Student video team, Co-Chair of the Built Environment Public Health Coalition, and is passionate about Urban Planning. 


Five Reasons Why Green Spaces are Awesome

Recently at our annual Celebration, the Healthy Campus Initiative officially launched the Jane B. Semel Community Garden and Living Amphitheater located at Sunset Recreation Center, adding a new green space to UCLA’s campus. Opening the living amphitheater was a dream come true for the Healthy Campus Initiative, but it is also a valuable addition to UCLA’s campus that holds amazing potential. Read on to find out 5 reasons why green spaces like the Living Amphitheater are awesome for our well-being.

1. Green Space Boosts Attention

In this study, college students were assigned to three different conditions: nature walk, urban walk, or relaxing with a magazine in a comfortable room with light music. Afterwards, students were tested on their capacity for direct attention. The study found that those who went on a nature walk performed significantly better on the attention tests than those who went on an urban walk or relaxed indoors.

2. Green Space Encourages Physical Activity

Whether it is something as casual as taking a walk or something more intense like hiking, green spaces provide an environment that is conducive for physical exercise. As obvious as it may sound, having easier access to green space has a positive association with an individual’s level of physical activity. For instance, this study found that people who live closer to parks are “more likely to achieve physical activity recommendation and less likely to be overweight or obese.”

3. Green Space Improves Mental Health

One of my favorite things to do on campus is smelling different trees and flowers. The fresh smell of newly cut grass and sweet fragrance emitted by different flowers make me smile as I walk to my classes.

Research also demonstrates that green space provides benefits to mental health. This study found that among monozygotic or identical twins, those who had greater access to green space had fewer depressive symptoms than their twin counterpart with less access to green space. This is significant because by studying identical twins, the researchers were able to control for genetic and childhood environment factors. The reasons for why green space may benefit mental health are not yet clear, but it is promising that exposure to green space has a positive influence on our mental health.

4. Green Space Cleans the Air

This may not be surprising that trees can improve the air quality. Here are the details:

According to the report from the Forest Service Division of the U.S. Department of Agriculture, in areas with complete tree cover, trees can remove as much of air pollutants as 15% of the ozone, 14% of the sulfur dioxide (SO2), 8% of the nitrous dioxide (NO2), and 0.05% of the carbon monoxide (CO) from the air. This is because vegetation, especially trees, can act as natural filters for the air pollutants. Thus, increasing green space will help us breathe well.

5. Green Space Helps Us Eat Well

Green space, especially community gardening has shown to improve food security. According to this study, people were 3.5 times more likely to consume at least five servings of fruit or vegetable on a daily basis if they or their family members were involved in a community garden in the last 12 months. Another study also suggested that gardening increases the likelihood of people meeting the national recommendation for fruit and vegetable consumption. More specifically, 56% of those who participate in a community garden met the recommendation, compared to 37% of those who have a home garden and 25% of those who have no gardening involvement.

There are numerous places on campus where we can reap these benefits of green spaces. There is, of course, the newly opened Living Amphitheater Garden at Sunset Rec. But if you are on campus and just want a quick stroll to enjoy the nature, consider visiting Botanical Gardens in South campus or the Sunken Gardens and Sculpture Garden in North campus. If you have any other suggestions for green space on and around campus, please share it with us by commenting below!

Miso Kwak is an undergraduate student at UCLA majoring in Psychology with a double minor in Disability Studies and Education Studies. In addition to blogging for the UCLA Healthy Campus Initiative, she plays the flute with the UCLA Woodwind Chamber Ensemble. Outside of school, she works as a mentor for high school students through Accessible Science, a nonprofit organization that facilitates science camp for blind youth.


Do Scramble Crosswalks Really Save Lives?

One of the City of Los Angeles’ ongoing efforts is VisionZero LA, which is an initiative that aims to end traffic-related death by 2035. One of strategies that has been implemented to accomplish this goal is installation of scramble crosswalks around the city.

Typical crosswalks are designed so that vehicles and pedestrians travel together in the same flow of traffic. For instance, when a walk sign is on for pedestrians traveling in North South direction, vehicles are allowed to travel in North South direction as well. At this time, pedestrians and vehicles traveling in East and West directions must wait.

Scramble crosswalks, on the other hand, allow pedestrians to travel in all directions, including diagonally. When pedestrians are crossing, vehicles are not allowed to travel at all. If you are curious about an example, you don’t have to look far. In Westwood there is a scramble crosswalk on the intersection of Westwood Boulevard and Le Conte Avenue.

This may sound like a great idea to ensure the safety of pedestrians. In fact, Los Angeles Magazine published an article titled L.A.’s New Diagonal Crosswalks Are Literally Saving Lives.

But are they really?

On one hand, yes. Statistical data shows that installation of scramble crosswalks is actually decreasing the number of traffic related injuries. The prime example is the intersection of Hollywood and Highland. According to VisionZero, the intersection used to have in average 13 crashes per year, but after the installation of the scramble crosswalk in November 2015, there have been zero crashes. This is indeed a significant and promising improvement.

However, one vital piece is missing: accessibility for people with disability. Currently there is no measure in place that requires implementation of accessibility features for scramble crosswalks.

First, scramble crosswalks are challenging for those who are blind and visually impaired. The Guidelines for Accessible Pedestrian Signals published by the National Cooperative Highway Research Program states that scramble crossing “makes it difficult for pedestrians who are blind or visually impaired to recognize the onset of the WALK interval, particularly at locations where right on red is permitted.” This is because in a scramble setting, it is not safe to rely on parallel traffic to determine crossing. Also when there is no vehicle movement, it is hard to determine whether it is safe to cross, because it is difficult to tell where vehicles are. The Guidelines for Accessible Pedestrian Signals recommends that accessible pedestrian Signals (APS) provide more detailed information when the button is pushed. For example, the button could say the following: “Wait to cross Howard at Grand. Wait for red light for all vehicles. Right turn on red permitted.” The installation of APS that provide such detailed information will ensure that blind and visually impaired travelers can cross with greater safety and certainty.

Secondly, safety must be ensured also for those who use mobility aides, such as wheelchairs and crutches. According to this study, pedestrians who travel using a wheelchair have a 36% higher risk of dying from a car-related injury as compared to those not using a wheelchair. Scramble crosswalks should be helpful in addressing this alarming statistic. However, the crosswalks must be made accessible in order for them to be effective. Making crosswalks accessible includes installing appropriate curve ramps and level landing, as well as providing sufficient time for crossing.

So, do scramble crosswalks really save lives?

Yes but not completely. Scramble crosswalks may have been proven to be effective in “saving lives” but the city of Los Angeles must do more so that they become accessible for those with different modes of travel such as white canes, wheelchairs, and crutches.

Miso Kwak is an undergraduate student at UCLA majoring in Psychology with a double minor in Disability Studies and Education Studies. In addition to blogging for the UCLA Healthy Campus Initiative, she plays the flute with the UCLA Woodwind Chamber Ensemble. Outside of school, she works as a mentor for high school students through Accessible Science, a nonprofit organization that facilitates science camp for blind youth.

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The Built Environment of Studying

As finals week approaches, you may find yourself feeling overwhelmed by the academic demands. From exams to papers to group projects, there’s so much to keep track of! Read on for some tips on how you can optimize the built-environment of your studying so that you can be as productive as possible.

First, the lighting. Lighting may seem somewhat mundane but think about it… lighting plays an important role in setting our moods for different occasions. You may prefer a dim light when you are trying to relax, while you may prefer a brighter lighting when you want to feel energized.

Guess what? Lighting can influence our academic performance too. This study done by Korea Advanced Institute of Science and Technology demonstrated that lights of varying correlated color temperatures (CCTs) measured in Kelvin can be optimized for different activities.

The study was conducted in a laboratory with adults as well as in a 4th grade classroom. In both contexts, the researchers found that light with 3500K, which emits warm, yellowish white light is optimal for encouraging recess activities while 6500K light, which emits cool, bluish light that is similar to natural light, is optimal for academic performance. The authors explained that this may be because higher CCTs cause higher levels of arousal, although “there might be a point of diminishing returns at which higher CCT no longer improves human performance.”

What about the color of the walls of the room in which you study? In this study, the color of private study spaces was one of the six variations, including vivid red, vivid yellow, vivid blue, pale red, pale yellow, and pale blue. Subjects in the study reported feeling more pleasant and relaxed in the pale colored conditions, but scored significantly higher on the reading comprehension test when they were in the vivid color condition.

In addition to the visual elements, auditory cues can also affect our studying. If you are like me, you may prefer to listen to the music while studying. But is it really effective?

Findings from research in this area have been mixed. This study, which was a comprehensive meta-analysis in this domain of research, showed that background music in general disrupts reading comprehension. However, another study which put subjects through slow and soft; slow and loud; fast and soft; and fast and loud background music found that only fast and loud music resulted in negative performance of reading comprehension. Given the complex results, it may be difficult to reach a firm conclusion. Nonetheless, we should be more mindful of what kind of music we choose to listen to when we are studying. It would be important to find songs that enhance our focus rather than distract our attention.

The concept of built-environment may feel distant at times, but lighting, color, and sound are factors that create our built-environment, and could have direct impact on our academic performance. Do you have favorite study space on campus that include these elements or favorite songs to listen to while studying? Comment below!

Miso Kwak is an undergraduate student at UCLA majoring in Psychology with a double minor in Disability Studies and Education Studies. In addition to blogging for the UCLA Healthy Campus Initiative, she plays the flute with the UCLA Woodwind Chamber Ensemble. Outside of school, she works as a mentor for high school students through Accessible Science, a nonprofit organization that facilitates science camp for blind youth.

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How tomorrow’s election could affect your built-environment

Bruins, are you aware that there is an election tomorrow?

It is a local election conducted by the County of Los Angeles. Los Angeles voters will be electing a new mayor, city council, and school board, along with a number of county-wide and city-wide measures. Read on to find out what role you could play in shaping the built-environment of Westwood and city of Los Angeles through your vote.

City Measure S — This is a measure that aims to increase regulation of general planning and development of housing in Los Angeles. Passing of Measure S would impose moratorium on constructions of many development projects and increase restrictions on getting new projects approved in the city of Los Angeles. Proponents argue that this will strengthen the integrity of the process in which development projects are approved. Opponents of Measure S, on the other hand, argue that moratorium and greater restrictions on development projects will result in housing shortages, exacerbating homelessness and decreasing tax revenues for public services.

While development projects – both for business and housing – may seem solely like a social issue, it is an important factor for the built-environment and consequently for the well-being of our city. For example, a study has shown that housing insecurity is associated with poor health, lower weight, and greater developmental risk for young children. The study further recommends that policymakers should prioritize policies that promote greater housing security.

In another study, researchers surveyed 68,111 adults in twelve different states, and found that housing insecurity significantly increases the risk of frequent insufficient sleep and frequent mental distress.

Thus, whether or not Measure S passes could have a long-term consequence for the well-being of Angelinos. Make sure to read more about this initiative and vote mindfully.

Another issue that is particularly relevant for Westwood residents is election of a council member for District 5, which includes Westwood. There are three candidates running for this position: Paul Koretz, Jesse Creed, and Mark Herd. While each candidate has a number of campaign agendas, this post focuses on each candidate’s position on bike lanes, public transit, and pedestrian safety.

Paul Coretz — Coretz has been a council member for District 5 since 2009. His response to the survey conducted by Bike the Vote indicates his efforts to promote biking for District 5 as well as his support for biking, more efficient transit, and pedestrian safety. However, it appears that his position on supporting Vision Zero seems inconsistent. Vision Zero aims to eliminate traffic-related death in Los Angeles in the next 20 years. Coretz states that he will continue to advocate for the safety of walkers and bikers. However, he is opposed to installing bike lanes on Westwood Boulevard, a project supported by UCLA and the Westwood Village Improvement Association. Westwood Boulevard has been identified as one of most dangerous streets by the L.A. Department of Transportation’s High Injury Network. Coretz’s proposed alternative is to put a bike lane on Gayley Avenue instead.

Jesse Creed — Like Coretz, Creed is also in support of safety. However, his concrete plans are different. First, he has expressed his commitment to continuing the study for bike safety, which has been abandoned by Coretz. On the survey conducted by Bike The Vote, he stated, “The City’s job is to make it not dangerous” regarding the current status of Westwood Boulevard. In addition, Creed also highlights ensuring safety for all people regardless of their age, ability, and mode of transportation.

Mark Herd — Based on the Bike The Vote survey, Herd appears to support “the community’s needs.” However, compared to Coretz and Creed, his stance does not seem clear and knowledge on the issue limited.

While bike lane, public transit, and pedestrian safety reflect only partial vision of each candidates, these are issues that can influence our daily commute and long-term health and safety. Ensuring that we elect a council member who advocates for and prioritizes the mobility of their constituents is a vital step to making our community healthier. If you’re unsure of your polling place, you can find it here.

Miso Kwak is an undergraduate student at UCLA majoring in Psychology with a double minor in Disability Studies and Education Studies. In addition to blogging for the UCLA Healthy Campus Initiative, she plays the flute with the UCLA Woodwind Chamber Ensemble. Outside of school, she works as a mentor for high school students through Accessible Science, a nonprofit organization that facilitates science camp for blind youth.

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New Year, New Lifestyle: Ride Public Transit

It’s almost end of January. How are you doing on your New Year’s resolutions?

Exercising more, saving more, and enjoying life more are some of the most popular New Year’s resolutions. Yet, you and I know these are not easy ones to keep.

However, there’s no need to worry, because there is a practical change you can make to fulfil all of the three resolutions at once! The solution is riding the public transit.

Exercise More

It is widely known that physical activity is positively associated with better overall health. Riding the bus or rails is an excellent way to increase your daily physical activity.

This study indicates that those who commute via bus and rail walked significantly more often than those who commuted by car. More specifically, another study showed that public transit users were more likely to walk 30 minutes or more per day than those who do not use public transit regularly.

If you are feeling frustrated that your busy schedule does not allow you to go to the gym on a regular basis, riding public transit to school, your job, or the grocery store instead of driving your car could be a great way to incorporate exercise into your daily routine.

Save More

As convenient as it may be to have access to a personal vehicle, there is a lot of financial cost involved, from gas to parking to car insurance to occasional repairs. With public transit, however, you need not worry about any of these expenses. You can save even more if you are a UCLA student or employee. UCLA Transportation Services offers discounts for accessing various public transportation options around UCLA such as the Santa Monica Big Blue Bus, Metro buses and rails, and Culver City Bus. There is also the Bruin Bus service, which offers transportation between campus and its surrounding areas.

The amount of savings may seem small at first but with persistence, riding public transit will help you cut down costs associated with driving a personal vehicle.

Enjoy Life More

The way to define “enjoying life more” would be different from person to person. However, one common aspect could be appreciating our surroundings, from scenery to people to simply atmosphere.

Riding public transit may feel like slowing down the pace of your life, which could be frustrating at times. However, said slower pace allows us to observe and appreciate our surroundings like city streets and our neighbors. I am confident that you will find many beauties of the city like exchanging a friendly hello with passerbys or absorbing delicious smells from restaurants and street vendors on your way to school or work — things you would not notice if you were in your personal vehicle.

It is never too late to make choices that will lead to healthier and happier lifestyle. Start with riding public transit. It will positively influence your health, finance, and appreciation of the surroundings.

Miso Kwak is an undergraduate student at UCLA majoring in Psychology with a double minor in Disability Studies and Education Studies. In addition to blogging for the UCLA Healthy Campus Initiative, she plays the flute with the UCLA Woodwind Chamber Ensemble. Outside of school, she works as a mentor for high school students through Accessible Science, a nonprofit organization that facilitates science camp for blind youth.