Recent News https://biology.ucdavis.edu/articles.rss Recent News for College of Biological Sciences en Study Elevates Zebrafish as Important Vertebrate Model for Reproductive Biology https://biology.ucdavis.edu/news/study-elevates-zebrafish-important-vertebrate-model-reproductive-biology <span class="field field--name-title field--type-string field--label-hidden">Study Elevates Zebrafish as Important Vertebrate Model for Reproductive Biology</span> <span class="field field--name-uid field--type-entity-reference field--label-hidden"> <span lang="" about="/user/5451" typeof="schema:Person" property="schema:name" datatype="">Greg Watry</span> </span> <span class="field field--name-created field--type-created field--label-hidden">January 17, 2019</span> <div class="field field--name-field-sf-primary-image field--type-image field--label-hidden field__item"> <img src="/sites/g/files/dgvnsk2646/files/styles/sf_landscape_16x9/public/images/article/Sean-Burgess-Masuda-Sharifi-Zebrafish-College-of-Biological-Sciences-UC-Davis-2.jpg?h=9c959b90&amp;itok=VbGhthAd" width="1280" height="720" alt="Student Masuda Sharifi and Professor Sean Burgess look at some zebrafish" title="In a new study appearing in PLOS Genetics, UC Davis researchers highlight how mutations in a gene called spo11 can lead to zebrafish males that are infertile and females that produce offspring with developmental problems. David Slipher/UC Davis" typeof="foaf:Image" class="image-style-sf-landscape-16x9" /> </div> <div class="addthis_toolbox addthis_default_style addthis_32x32_style" addthis:url="https://biology.ucdavis.edu/articles.rss" addthis:title="Recent News" addthis:description="Quick Summary A study shows that mutations to a gene called spo11 lead to infertility and developmental problems in zebrafish The mutation prevented chromosomes from properly separating during cell division In humans, such missegregation can lead to disabilities, such as Down syndrome When it comes to reproductive biology, meiosis, the process responsible for sex cell division, is essential in all nucleus-based cell life. In humans, plants, mice, fish, worms and even yeast, primordial sex cells use meiosis to proliferate. Since her postdoctoral training, Professor Sean Burgess, Department of Molecular and Cellular Biology, has investigated the choreography of the chromosome-based events of meiosis using yeast as a model organism. “I really appreciated the power of yeast and yeast genetics for the breadth of experiments you can do,” said Burgess. Despite its versatility, there are some natural phenomena associated with reproduction that Burgess can’t investigate with yeast, like the differences between the production of eggs and sperm. Partnering with Associate Professor Bruce Draper in the Department of Molecular and Cellular Biology, Burgess started using zebrafish, Danio rerio, to investigate these meiosis events. In a study appearing in PLOS Genetics, Burgess, Draper and their colleagues highlight how mutations in a gene called spo11 can lead to zebrafish males that are infertile and females that produce offspring with developmental problems. They found that mutating spo11 prevented chromosomes from properly separating during cell division. In humans, such missegregation can lead to disabilities, such as Down syndrome. “It also turns out that the leading cause of miscarriages in humans is due to embryos or fetuses having the wrong number of chromosomes,” said Burgess. Graduate student Masuda Sharifi stands with Professor Sean Burgess in the campus&#039; zebrafish facility. David Slipher/UC DavisThe origin of collaboration Burgess decided to study meiosis in zebrafish after attending seminars led by Draper. Part of Draper’s research concerns germline stem cells, which eventually become eggs and sperm. With zebrafish, researchers can visualize the meiosis process much more easily than with an organism like yeast, which has a tiny nucleus and even tinier chromosomes.  With zebrafish, researchers can visualize the meiosis process much more easily than with an organism like yeast, which has a tiny nucleus and even tinier chromosomes. David Slipher/UC Davis The researchers developed a method to visualize the chromosome using super-resolution microscopy at the UC Davis MCB Light Microscopy Imaging Facility. For the study, Burgess and colleagues mutated the spo11 gene, known to be involved in homologous chromosome pairing in yeast. Knockout of the gene disrupted the chromosome pairing process, resulting in an incorrect number of chromosomes within the new egg cells. “One of the most surprising discoveries was that the mutation in males and females gave really different reproductive outcomes,” said Burgess. According to the study, males with this mutation didn’t produce any sperm. Females with the spo11 mutation were capable of producing fertile eggs, but the embryos that arose from them didn’t develop properly. For example, some didn’t develop tails. “There’s something being disrupted that causes the meiotic program to halt in males,” said Burgess. “This is thought to be due to checkpoint proteins that monitor how a cell process is being carried out.” The fish-human connection The effects seen in zebrafish could hold implications for human reproduction and development. According to the Mayo Clinic, about 10 to 20 percent of pregnancies end in miscarriages, and most miscarriages, according to Burgess, occur due to missegregation of chromosomes. “Usually, Down syndrome is consequence of eggs contributing an extra copy of chromosome 21 and not sperm,” said Burgess Burgess will continue to use zebrafish as a model for studying reproductive biology. While the lead author of the paper, Yana Blokhina, recently graduated from UC Davis with Ph.D. in Genetics, two graduate students, Ivan Olaya and Masuda Sharifi, have signed on to continue this research.  “We’d like to understand why in some cases these mutants affect sperm production more than egg production,” said Burgess, noting that total sperm count has declined 50-60% among men in western countries since 1973. While the causes of reduced fertility in humans are complex, Burgess argues that zebrafish could provide valuable insights into environmental, genetic and sex-specific effects on adverse meiotic outcomes. “We are primarily interested in basic science to understand the mechanisms that establish meiotic chromosome architecture during key transitions, but a direct link to human health is a big plus,” she said.  This work was funded by a grant from the National Institute of General Medical Sciences. Burgess and graduate student Masuda Sharifi will continue to use zebrafish as a model for studying reproductive biology. David Slipher/UC Davis  "> <a class="addthis_button_facebook"></a> <script> var addthis_share = { templates: { twitter: "In a study appearing in PLOS Genetics, Professor Sean Burgess and her colleagues highlight how mutations in a gene called spo11 can lead to zebrafish males that are infertile and females that produce offspring with developmental problems. " } } </script> <a class="addthis_button_twitter"></a> <a class="addthis_button_google_plusone_share"></a> <a class="addthis_button_email"></a> <a class="addthis_button_compact"></a> </div> <div class="clearfix text-formatted field field--name-body field--type-text-with-summary field--label-hidden field__item"><aside class="wysiwyg-feature-block u-width--half u-align--right"><h3 class="wysiwyg-feature-block__title">Quick Summary</h3> <div class="wysiwyg-feature-block__body"> <ul><li><em><strong>A study shows that mutations to a gene called spo11 lead to infertility and developmental problems in zebrafish</strong></em></li> <li><em><strong>The mutation prevented chromosomes from properly separating during cell division</strong></em></li> <li><em><strong>In humans, such missegregation can lead to disabilities, such as Down syndrome</strong></em></li> </ul></div> </aside><p><span><span><span><span><span><span>When it comes to reproductive biology, meiosis, the process responsible for sex cell division, is essential in all nucleus-based cell life. In </span></span></span></span></span></span><span><span><span><span><span><span>humans, plants, mice, fish, worms and even yeast, primordial sex cells use meiosis to proliferate. </span></span></span></span></span></span></p> <p><span><span><span><span><span><span>Since her postdoctoral training, Professor Sean Burgess, Department of Molecular and Cellular Biology, has investigated the choreography of the chromosome-based events of meiosis using yeast as a model organism. </span></span></span></span></span></span></p> <p><span><span><span><span><span><span>“I really appreciated the power of yeast and yeast genetics for the breadth of experiments you can do,” said Burgess. </span></span></span></span></span></span></p> <p><span><span><span><span><span><span>Despite its versatility, there are some natural phenomena associated with reproduction that Burgess can’t investigate with yeast, like the differences between the production of eggs and sperm. </span></span></span></span></span></span></p> <p><span><span><span><span><span><span>Partnering with Associate Professor Bruce Draper in the Department of Molecular and Cellular Biology, Burgess started using zebrafish, <em>Danio rerio, </em>to investigate these meiosis events. In a study appearing in <em><a href="https://journals.plos.org/plosgenetics/article?id=10.1371/journal.pgen.1007730">PLOS Genetics</a>, </em>Burgess, Draper and their colleagues highlight how mutations in a gene called <em>spo11 </em>can lead to zebrafish males that are infertile and females that produce offspring with developmental problems.</span></span></span></span></span></span></p> <p><span><span><span><span><span><span>They found that mutating <em>spo11 </em>prevented chromosomes from properly separating during cell division. In humans, such missegregation can lead to disabilities, such as Down syndrome.</span></span></span></span></span></span></p> <p><span><span><span><span><span><span>“It also turns out that the leading cause of miscarriages in humans is due to embryos or fetuses having the wrong number of chromosomes,” said Burgess.</span></span></span></span></span></span></p> <figure role="group" class="caption caption-img"><img alt="Graduate student Madusa Sharifi and Professor Sean Burgess stand together" data-entity-type="file" data-entity-uuid="aec731d0-1694-4bd5-a523-8f2236475530" src="/sites/g/files/dgvnsk2646/files/inline-images/Sean-Burgess-Masuda-Sharifi-Zebrafish-College-of-Biological-Sciences-UC-Davis-3.jpg" /><figcaption>Graduate student Masuda Sharifi stands with Professor Sean Burgess in the campus' zebrafish facility. David Slipher/UC Davis</figcaption></figure><h4><span><span><span><strong><span><span><span>The origin of collaboration</span></span></span></strong></span></span></span></h4> <p><span><span><span><span><span><span>Burgess decided to study meiosis in zebrafish after attending seminars led by Draper. Part of <span><span><a href="https://biology.ucdavis.edu/news/zebrafish-reproductive-development-may-hold-insights-ovarian-cancer">Draper’s research concerns germline stem cells</a></span></span>, which eventually become eggs and sperm. With zebrafish, researchers can visualize the meiosis process much more easily than with an organism like yeast, which has a tiny nucleus and even tinier chromosomes.  </span></span></span></span></span></span></p> <figure role="group" class="caption caption-img align-right"><img alt="Zebrafish swim in a tank" data-entity-type="file" data-entity-uuid="e03190eb-6c8a-4d6e-ac55-894c60c152de" height="533" src="/sites/g/files/dgvnsk2646/files/inline-images/Sean-Burgess-Masuda-Sharifi-Zebrafish-College-of-Biological-Sciences-UC-Davis-4.jpg" width="355" /><figcaption>With zebrafish, researchers can visualize the meiosis process much more easily than with an organism like yeast, which has a tiny nucleus and even tinier chromosomes. David Slipher/UC Davis </figcaption></figure><p><span><span><span><span><span><span>The researchers developed a method to visualize the chromosome using super-resolution microscopy at the UC Davis <span><span><a href="https://microscopy.mcb.ucdavis.edu/">MCB Light Microscopy Imaging Facility</a></span></span>.</span></span></span></span></span></span></p> <p><span><span><span><span><span><span>For the study, Burgess and colleagues mutated the <em>spo11 </em>gene, known to be involved in homologous chromosome pairing in yeast. Knockout of the gene disrupted the chromosome pairing process, resulting in an incorrect number of chromosomes within the new egg cells. </span></span></span></span></span></span></p> <p><span><span><span><span><span><span>“One of the most surprising discoveries was that the mutation in males and females gave really different reproductive outcomes,” said Burgess. </span></span></span></span></span></span></p> <p><span><span><span><span><span><span>According to the study, males with this mutation didn’t produce any sperm. Females with the <em>spo11 </em>mutation were capable of producing fertile eggs, but the embryos that arose from them didn’t develop properly. For example, some didn’t develop tails. </span></span></span></span></span></span></p> <p><span><span><span><span><span><span>“There’s something being disrupted that causes the meiotic program to halt in males,” said Burgess. “This is thought to be due to checkpoint proteins that monitor how a cell process is being carried out.”</span></span></span></span></span></span></p> <h4><span><span><span><strong><span><span><span>The fish-human connection </span></span></span></strong></span></span></span></h4> <p><span><span><span><span><span><span>The effects seen in zebrafish could hold implications for human reproduction and development. According to the Mayo Clinic, about 10 to 20 percent of pregnancies end in miscarriages, and most miscarriages, according to Burgess, occur due to missegregation of chromosomes. </span></span></span></span></span></span></p> <p><span><span><span><span><span><span>“Usually, Down syndrome is consequence of eggs contributing an extra copy of chromosome 21 and not sperm,” said Burgess </span></span></span></span></span></span></p> <p><span><span><span><span><span><span>Burgess will continue to use zebrafish as a model for studying reproductive biology. While the lead author of the paper, Yana Blokhina, recently graduated from UC Davis with Ph.D. in Genetics, two graduate students, Ivan Olaya and Masuda Sharifi, have signed on to continue this research.  </span></span></span></span></span></span></p> <p><span><span><span><span><span><span>“We’d like to understand why in some cases these mutants affect sperm production more than egg production,” said Burgess, noting that total sperm count has declined 50-60% among men in western countries since 1973. </span></span></span></span></span></span></p> <p><span><span><span><span><span><span>While the causes of reduced fertility in humans are complex, Burgess argues that zebrafish could provide valuable insights into environmental, genetic and sex-specific effects on adverse meiotic outcomes. “We are primarily interested in basic science to understand the mechanisms that establish meiotic chromosome architecture during key transitions, but a direct link to human health is a big plus,” she said.  </span></span></span></span></span></span></p> <p><span><span><span><span><span><span>This work was funded by a grant from the National Institute of General Medical Sciences. </span></span></span></span></span></span></p> <figure role="group" class="caption caption-img"><img alt="Sean Burgess and Masuda Sharifi look at a small tank " data-entity-type="file" data-entity-uuid="5d4d4ffa-09b9-48cb-b009-611962eac56a" src="/sites/g/files/dgvnsk2646/files/inline-images/Sean-Burgess-Masuda-Sharifi-Zebrafish-College-of-Biological-Sciences-UC-Davis-7.jpg" /><figcaption>Burgess and graduate student Masuda Sharifi will continue to use zebrafish as a model for studying reproductive biology. David Slipher/UC Davis</figcaption></figure><p> </p> </div> <div class="field field--name-field-sf-article-category field--type-entity-reference field--label-above"> <div class="field__label">Category</div> <div class="field__item"><a href="/articles/genetics-microbiology" hreflang="en">Genetics and Microbiology</a></div> </div> <div class="field field--name-field-sf-tags field--type-entity-reference field--label-above"> <div class="field__label">Tags</div> <div class="field__items"> <div class="field__item"><a href="/tags/molecular-and-cellular-biology" hreflang="en">Department of Molecular and Cellular Biology</a></div> <div class="field__item"><a href="/tags/zebrafish" hreflang="en">zebrafish</a></div> <div class="field__item"><a href="/tags/yeast" hreflang="en">yeast</a></div> <div class="field__item"><a href="/tags/women-stem" hreflang="en">Women in STEM</a></div> <div class="field__item"><a href="/tags/meiosis" hreflang="en">Meiosis</a></div> <div class="field__item"><a href="/tags/sex-cells" hreflang="en">sex cells</a></div> <div class="field__item"><a href="/tags/chromosomes" hreflang="en">chromosomes</a></div> <div class="field__item"><a href="/tags/human-health" hreflang="en">human health</a></div> <div class="field__item"><a href="/tags/cell-biology" hreflang="en">cell biology</a></div> <div class="field__item"><a href="/tags/model-organisms" hreflang="en">model organisms</a></div> <div class="field__item"><a href="/tags/reproductive-biology" hreflang="en">Reproductive Biology</a></div> <div class="field__item"><a href="/tags/graduate-student-news" hreflang="en">Graduate Student News</a></div> <div class="field__item"><a href="/tags/biochemistry-molecular-cellular-and-developmental-biology-graduate-group" hreflang="en">Biochemistry, Molecular, Cellular and Developmental Biology Graduate Group</a></div> </div> </div> Thu, 17 Jan 2019 17:15:31 +0000 Greg Watry 2941 at https://biology.ucdavis.edu Koala Poo, Chlamydia and the Microbiome: Biophysics Graduate Student Katherine Dahlhausen https://biology.ucdavis.edu/news/koala-poo-chlamydia-and-microbiome-biophysics-graduate-student-katherine-dahlhausen <span class="field field--name-title field--type-string field--label-hidden">Koala Poo, Chlamydia and the Microbiome: Biophysics Graduate Student Katherine Dahlhausen</span> <span class="field field--name-uid field--type-entity-reference field--label-hidden"> <span lang="" about="/user/5451" typeof="schema:Person" property="schema:name" datatype="">Greg Watry</span> </span> <span class="field field--name-created field--type-created field--label-hidden">January 11, 2019</span> <div class="field field--name-field-sf-primary-image field--type-image field--label-hidden field__item"> <img src="/sites/g/files/dgvnsk2646/files/styles/sf_landscape_16x9/public/images/article/Katie-Dalhausen-College-of-Biological-Sciences-UC-Davis-2.jpg?h=755b114a&amp;itok=2JfresNL" width="1280" height="720" alt="Katherine Dahlhausen in the lab" title="Katherine Dahlhausen studies microbes in the lab of Professor Jonathan Eisen. Here, she checks out some bacteria she collected from a household. David Slipher/UC Davis" typeof="foaf:Image" class="image-style-sf-landscape-16x9" /> </div> <div class="addthis_toolbox addthis_default_style addthis_32x32_style" addthis:url="https://biology.ucdavis.edu/articles.rss" addthis:title="Recent News" addthis:description="Quick Summary Katherine Dahlhausen&#039;s microbial curiosity was inspired by a bacterial disease she contracted while traveling Today, she&#039;s a student in the Biophysics Graduate Group and works in the lab of Professor Jonathan Eisen She helped uncover that treatments meant to combat chlamydia in koalas actually hurt important gut microbes On the bus ride to visit a friend in Cuenca, Ecuador, Katherine Dahlhausen kept losing consciousness. For days, she hadn’t felt right, but she chalked up her ill feelings to fatigue. After all, she’d spent much of her South American adventure engaging in rigorous activities, like mountain biking down the Cotopaxi Volcano and whitewater rafting in Tena, Ecuador. But something was wrong. Seriously wrong. In Cuenca, Dahlhausen’s condition worsened to the point where she had trouble breathing. Whatever she was experiencing, it wasn’t altitude sickness as she initially thought. She was taken to a local hospital, where doctors found her lungs brimming with fluid. She also had a high fever; her kidneys, gall bladder and liver were failing; and her heart rate had slowed to 20 beats per minute. “My whole body was shutting down and so I got medevaced back to the States. I got the right antibiotics and everything I needed,” recalled Dahlhausen, now a Biophysics Ph.D. student. From deadly infection to microbial curiosity While Dahlhausen successfully recovered from her bout of leptospirosis, a rare bacterial disease spread through animal urine, her brush with death piqued within her a curiosity about microbes. Dahlhausen poses during a hike along Peru&#039;s Santa Cruz trail. Courtesy photoHow and where did the microbes responsible for her sickness invade her body? She researched the bacteria responsible for leptospirosis, retraced her South American trip and determined that she must have picked up the bug while whitewater rafting in Tena. At one point during the expedition, Dahlhausen’s raft had flipped under a waterfall. “I was under the waterfall for a long time and in that turmoil, I had smashed my head open on a rock,” she said, noting that the bacteria that causes leptospirosis infects animals by traveling through wounds or other orifices. “That’s where I think I got my infection because I had quite a few stitches and it probably wasn’t the cleanest water.”   Today, Dahlhausen works in the lab of Professor Jonathan Eisen, who holds appointments in the Department of Evolution and Ecology, the Genome Center, the Center for Population Biology and the Department of Medical Microbiology and Immunology in the School of Medicine. “Microbes are a part of every corner of our existence,” said Dahlhausen. “They live in places we could never dream of exploring and we discover new ones all the time. I just think it’s such a cool world. They’re fascinating.” Investigating koala microbiomes With her mind set on studying microbes, Dahlhausen enrolled at UC Davis for graduate studies in fall 2013, following her tumultuous but memorable summer experience in South America. Already, she was aware of Eisen, his extensive research and citations, as well as his prolific social media presence. “I realize this now, he picks students based on enthusiasm,” said Dahlhausen. “I was not a star student by any stretch of the imagination but I think he loved my enthusiasm and the next thing I knew I was in his lab.” “Yes, it is true that enthusiasm is one of the main criteria I use in picking people for the lab,” said Eisen. “But I myself was enthusiastic about Katie’s background – double majoring in physics and biology, working after college on microscopy, and being a part of the Biophysics Graduate Group, a topic area in which I have always been interested. So, sure her enthusiasm was a part of it, but there was a lot more than just enthusiasm.” Together, they brainstormed potential ideas for how to study things like ultraviolet resistance and antibiotic resistance in microbes. Around this time, Dahlhausen heard about how fecal transplants could potentially remedy infections caused by the bacteria Clostridium difficile. This bacteria is usually low in abundance in the human gut, but nuking your system with antibiotics opens up plenty of gastrointestinal real estate for the bacteria. And this can cause problems.  But “fecal transplants had an amazing cure rate of this infection,” said Dahlhausen. All this was in the back of Dahlhausen’s mind when she was on a trip to Australia with her now husband, whom she met in South America. During a trip to the Australia Zoo, the two noticed a sign posted outside the koala exhibit that showed a baby koala with a brown smear on its face. “The sign was like, ‘It’s not chocolate,’” said Dahlhausen, noting that baby koalas eat a form of their mother’s feces called “pap” before they start eating eucalyptus leaves. “I just started hitting Matt and was like, ‘That’s microbes!’” Baby koalas eat a form of their mother’s feces called “pap,” which may contain beneficial microbes. WikipediaFrom poo to chlamydia Dahlhausen wondered, what exactly do koalas gain by eating their mother’s feces? How do they know when to switch from a diet of feces to one of toxic eucalyptus leaves? And moreover, how do they survive on a toxic diet?  She knew the gut microbiome was probably part of the answer to these questions, but what microbes were koalas inheriting from their mothers? Dahlhausen has had the opportunity to get up close and personal with koalas. Courtesy photoIntrigued, she started collaborating with researchers at Australia’s University of the Sunshine Coast and the Australia Zoo Wildlife Hospital. But she hit a snag. “Koalas are so protected; there’s no way we were going to take a juvenile koala and sample its gut microbiome,” said Dahlhausen. “But in that process, I learned that koalas have a high rate of chlamydia in their populations and they were regularly being brought to the hospital to be treated for chlamydia with antibiotics.” Dahlhausen found reports in the literature and in her own observations that some of the koalas were getting sick after receiving treatments meant to combat chlamydia. She thought that maybe the antibiotic treatments were affecting the microbes the koalas needed to digest toxic eucalyptus leaves. She funded the study by raising money on Indiegogo.    Using several different analyses, “I took all of the microbes that I found in my koala samples and tried to find which microbe was most predictive of whether or not koalas will live or die on this antibiotic treatment,” she said. “And what always came out on top was this microbe called Lonepinella koalarum, and I went to the literature and it’s known as a predominant tannin degrader, which is a toxic compound found in eucalyptus leaves.”  The research was published in PeerJ and made rounds in the science presses, including a mention in The New York Times. Treating Koalas for Chlamydia Alters Gut Microbes Koalas are one of Australia’s iconic animals, but they have been hard hit by an epidemic of Chlamydia infections contributing to a steep decline in numbers. With assistance from colleagues, Dahlhausen continued researching Lonepinella koalarum, culturing the bacteria and sequencing its genome. She’s now searching for the genes responsible for degrading tannins and is investigating the degradation process from a molecular standpoint.  “It’s an oversimplified system because there’s probably several microbes in the koala gut that degrade toxins,” she said. “This project is more of a practice of microbiology and figuring out how to analyze genes and do comparative genomics.” Dahlhausen continues to showcase an affinity for all things microbes, but chlamydia holds a special place in her heart. “It’s an intracellular pathogen, meaning this bacteria is able to get inside host cells, which in and of itself is tricky,” she said. “To evade all of the host’s immune systems to get inside a cell is absolutely fascinating.”  Chlamydia is also versatile, with nine recognized species. In addition to humans and koalas, fish can get it, birds can get it, reptiles can get it, even amoebas can get it.   “It can infect the entire animal kingdom, which I find really cool,” said Dahlhausen. “Chlamydia is really badass.” In the Eisen Lab, Dahlhausen continues to showcase an affinity for all things microbes. David Slipher/UC Davis  "> <a class="addthis_button_facebook"></a> <script> var addthis_share = { templates: { twitter: "Katherine Dahlhausen&#039;s microbial curiosity was inspired by a rare bacterial disease she contracted while traveling in South America. Today, she&#039;s a graduate student in Professor Jonathan Eisen&#039;s lab exploring things like koala poo, chlamydia and the microbiome. " } } </script> <a class="addthis_button_twitter"></a> <a class="addthis_button_google_plusone_share"></a> <a class="addthis_button_email"></a> <a class="addthis_button_compact"></a> </div> <div class="clearfix text-formatted field field--name-body field--type-text-with-summary field--label-hidden field__item"><aside class="wysiwyg-feature-block u-width--half u-align--right"><h3 class="wysiwyg-feature-block__title">Quick Summary</h3> <div class="wysiwyg-feature-block__body"> <ul><li><strong><em>Katherine Dahlhausen's microbial curiosity was inspired by a bacterial disease she contracted while traveling</em></strong></li> <li><strong><em>Today, she's a student in the Biophysics Graduate Group and works in the lab of Professor Jonathan Eisen</em></strong></li> <li><em><strong>She helped uncover that treatments meant to combat chlamydia in koalas actually hurt important gut microbes</strong></em></li> </ul></div> </aside><p><span><span><span><span><span><span>On the bus ride to visit a friend in Cuenca, Ecuador, Katherine Dahlhausen kept losing consciousness. For days, she hadn’t felt right, but she</span></span></span></span></span></span><span><span><span><span><span><span> chalked up her ill feelings to fatigue. After all, she’d spent much of her South American adventure engaging in rigorous activities, like mountain biking down the Cotopaxi Volcano and whitewater rafting in Tena, Ecuador. But something was wrong. Seriously wrong. </span></span></span></span></span></span></p> <p><span><span><span><span><span><span>In Cuenca, Dahlhausen’s condition worsened to the point where she had trouble breathing. Whatever she was experiencing, it wasn’t altitude sickness as she initially thought. She was taken to a local hospital, where doctors found her lungs brimming with fluid. She also had a high fever; her kidneys, gall bladder and liver were failing; and her heart rate had slowed to 20 beats per minute. </span></span></span></span></span></span></p> <p><span><span><span><span><span><span>“My whole body was shutting down and so I got medevaced back to the States. I got the right antibiotics and everything I needed,” recalled Dahlhausen, now a Biophysics Ph.D. student.</span></span></span></span></span></span></p> <h4><span><span><span><strong><span><span><span>From deadly infection to microbial curiosity</span></span></span></strong></span></span></span></h4> <p><span><span><span><span><span><span>While Dahlhausen successfully recovered from her bout of leptospirosis, a rare bacterial disease spread through animal urine, her brush with death piqued within her a curiosity about microbes. </span></span></span></span></span></span></p> <figure role="group" class="caption caption-img align-right"><img alt="Katherine Dahlhausen during her trip to South America" data-entity-type="file" data-entity-uuid="44246894-639e-40c4-957b-1d09f3ebb059" src="/sites/g/files/dgvnsk2646/files/inline-images/Katie-Dalhausen-College-of-Biological-Sciences-UC-Davis-CourtesyPhoto1.jpg" /><figcaption>Dahlhausen poses during a hike along Peru's Santa Cruz trail. Courtesy photo</figcaption></figure><p><span><span><span><span><span><span>How and where did the microbes responsible for her sickness invade her body? She researched the bacteria responsible for leptospirosis, retraced her South American trip and determined that she must have picked up the bug while whitewater rafting in Tena. At one point during the expedition, Dahlhausen’s raft had flipped under a waterfall. </span></span></span></span></span></span></p> <p><span><span><span><span><span><span>“I was under the waterfall for a long time and in that turmoil, I had smashed my head open on a rock,” she said, noting that the bacteria that causes leptospirosis infects animals by traveling through wounds or other orifices. “That’s where I think I got my infection because I had quite a few stitches and it probably wasn’t the cleanest water.”   </span></span></span></span></span></span></p> <p><span><span><span><span><span><span>Today, Dahlhausen works in the lab of Professor Jonathan Eisen, who holds appointments in the Department of Evolution and Ecology, the Genome Center, the Center for Population Biology and the Department of Medical Microbiology and Immunology in the School of Medicine. </span></span></span></span></span></span></p> <p><span><span><span><span><span><span>“Microbes are a part of every corner of our existence,” said Dahlhausen. “They live in places we could never dream of exploring and we discover new ones all the time. I just think it’s such a cool world. They’re fascinating.” </span></span></span></span></span></span></p> <h4><span><span><span><strong><span><span><span>Investigating koala microbiomes</span></span></span></strong></span></span></span></h4> <p><span><span><span><span><span><span>With her mind set on studying microbes, Dahlhausen enrolled at UC Davis for graduate studies in fall 2013, following her tumultuous but memorable summer experience in South America. Already, she was aware of Eisen, his extensive research and citations, as well as his prolific social media presence. </span></span></span></span></span></span></p> <p><span><span><span><span><span><span>“I realize this now, he picks students based on enthusiasm,” said Dahlhausen. “I was not a star student by any stretch of the imagination but I think he loved my enthusiasm and the next thing I knew I was in his lab.” </span></span></span></span></span></span></p> <p><span><span><span><span><span><span>“Yes, it is true that enthusiasm is one of the main criteria I use in picking people for the lab,” said Eisen. “But I myself was enthusiastic about Katie’s background – double majoring in physics and biology, working after college on microscopy, and being a part of the Biophysics Graduate Group, a topic area in which I have always been interested. So, sure her enthusiasm was a part of it, but there was a lot more than just enthusiasm.”</span></span></span></span></span></span></p> <p><span><span><span><span><span><span>Together, they brainstormed potential ideas for how to study things like ultraviolet resistance and antibiotic resistance in microbes. Around this time, Dahlhausen heard about how fecal transplants could potentially remedy infections caused by the bacteria <em>Clostridium difficile</em>. This bacteria is usually low in abundance in the human gut, but nuking your system with antibiotics opens up plenty of gastrointestinal real estate for the bacteria. And this can cause problems.  </span></span></span></span></span></span></p> <p><span><span><span><span><span><span>But “fecal transplants had an amazing cure rate of this infection,” said Dahlhausen.</span></span></span></span></span></span></p> <p><span><span><span><span><span><span>All this was in the back of Dahlhausen’s mind when she was on a trip to Australia with her now husband, whom she met in South America. During a trip to the Australia Zoo, the two noticed a sign posted outside the koala exhibit that showed a baby koala with a brown smear on its face. </span></span></span></span></span></span></p> <p><span><span><span><span><span><span>“The sign was like, ‘It’s not chocolate,’” said Dahlhausen, noting that baby koalas eat a form of their mother’s feces called “pap” before they start eating eucalyptus leaves. “I just started hitting Matt and was like, ‘That’s microbes!’”</span></span></span></span></span></span></p> <figure role="group" class="caption caption-img"><img alt="Koala and a cub" data-entity-type="file" data-entity-uuid="1dcad595-5b92-4fa5-b2a5-c5e28eff5033" src="/sites/g/files/dgvnsk2646/files/inline-images/Koala-with-cub.jpg" /><figcaption>Baby koalas eat a form of their mother’s feces called “pap,” which may contain beneficial microbes. Wikipedia</figcaption></figure><h4><span><span><span><strong><span><span><span>From poo to chlamydia</span></span></span></strong></span></span></span></h4> <p><span><span><span><span><span><span>Dahlhausen wondered, what exactly do koalas gain by eating their mother’s feces? How do they know when to switch from a diet of feces to one of toxic eucalyptus leaves? And moreover, how do they survive on a toxic diet?  She knew the gut microbiome was probably part of the answer to these questions, but what microbes were koalas inheriting from their mothers?</span></span></span></span></span></span></p> <figure role="group" class="caption caption-img align-left"><img alt="Dahlhausen and a koala" data-entity-type="file" data-entity-uuid="d1ec69c3-2bf7-4371-ba24-d2063659a7ea" height="324" src="/sites/g/files/dgvnsk2646/files/inline-images/Katie-Dalhausen-College-of-Biological-Sciences-UC-Davis-CourtesyPhoto2_1.jpg" width="431" /><figcaption>Dahlhausen has had the opportunity to get up close and personal with koalas. Courtesy photo</figcaption></figure><p><span><span><span><span><span><span>Intrigued, she started collaborating with researchers at Australia’s University of the Sunshine Coast and the Australia Zoo Wildlife Hospital. </span></span></span></span></span></span><span><span><span><span><span><span>But she hit a snag. </span></span></span></span></span></span></p> <p><span><span><span><span><span><span>“Koalas are so protected; there’s no way we were going to take a juvenile koala and sample its gut microbiome,” said Dahlhausen. “But in that process, I learned that koalas have a high rate of chlamydia in their populations and they were regularly being brought to the hospital to be treated for chlamydia with antibiotics.” </span></span></span></span></span></span></p> <p><span><span><span><span><span><span>Dahlhausen found reports in the literature and in her own observations that some of the koalas were getting sick after receiving treatments meant to combat chlamydia. She thought that maybe the antibiotic treatments were affecting the microbes the koalas needed to digest toxic eucalyptus leaves. She funded the study by <a href="http://blogs.ucdavis.edu/egghead/2015/05/21/help-fund-koala-microbiome-study/">raising money on Indiegogo</a>.   </span></span></span></span></span></span></p> <p><span><span><span><span><span><span>Using several different analyses, “I took all of the microbes that I found in my koala samples and tried to find which microbe was most predictive of whether or not koalas will live or die on this antibiotic treatment,” she said. “And what always came out on top was this microbe called <em>Lonepinella koalarum</em>, and I went to the literature and it’s known as a predominant tannin degrader, which is a toxic compound found in eucalyptus leaves.”  </span></span></span></span></span></span></p> <p><span><span><span><span><span><span>The research was published in <span><span><em><a href="https://peerj.com/articles/4452/">PeerJ</a></em></span></span><em> </em>and made rounds in the science presses, including a mention in <span><span><em><a href="https://www.nytimes.com/2018/05/08/world/australia/koalas-chlamydia-john-oliver.html">The New York Times</a></em></span></span><em>. </em></span></span></span></span></span></span></p> <a href="http://blogs.ucdavis.edu/egghead/2018/03/26/treating-koalas-chlamydia-alters-gut-microbes/" class="media-link"><div class="media-link__wrapper" data-url="http://blogs.ucdavis.edu/egghead/2018/03/26/treating-koalas-chlamydia-alters-gut-microbes/"> <div class="media-link__figure"><img alt="" data-entity-type="file" data-entity-uuid="f25a6098-03bd-4616-9e6f-3134875ba287" src="/sites/g/files/dgvnsk2646/files/inline-images/largeImageSrc.adapt_.687.HIGH_-300x169.jpg" /></div> <div class="media-link__body"> <h3 class="media-link__title">Treating Koalas for Chlamydia Alters Gut Microbes</h3> <div class="media-link__content"> <p>Koalas are one of Australia’s iconic animals, but they have been hard hit by an epidemic of <em>Chlamydia</em> infections contributing to a steep decline in numbers.</p> </div> </div> </div></a> <p><span><span><span><span><span><span>With assistance from colleagues, Dahlhausen continued researching <em>Lonepinella koalarum, </em>culturing the bacteria and sequencing its genome. She’s now searching for the genes responsible for degrading tannins and is investigating the degradation process from a molecular standpoint.  </span></span></span></span></span></span></p> <p><span><span><span><span><span><span>“It’s an oversimplified system because there’s probably several microbes in the koala gut that degrade toxins,” she said. “This project is more of a practice of microbiology and figuring out how to analyze genes and do comparative genomics.” </span></span></span></span></span></span></p> <p><span><span><span><span><span><span>Dahlhausen continues to showcase an affinity for all things microbes, but chlamydia holds a special place in her heart. </span></span></span></span></span></span></p> <p><span><span><span><span><span><span>“It’s an intracellular pathogen, meaning this bacteria is able to get inside host cells, which in and of itself is tricky,” she said. “To evade all of the host’s immune systems to get inside a cell is absolutely fascinating.”  </span></span></span></span></span></span></p> <p><span><span><span><span><span><span>Chlamydia is also versatile, with nine recognized species. In addition to humans and koalas, fish can get it, birds can get it, reptiles can get it, even amoebas can get it.   </span></span></span></span></span></span></p> <p><span><span><span><span><span><span>“It can infect the entire animal kingdom, which I find really cool,” said Dahlhausen. “Chlamydia is really badass.” </span></span></span></span></span></span></p> <figure role="group" class="caption caption-img"><img alt="Dahlhausen in the lab" data-entity-type="file" data-entity-uuid="1ec336ed-b476-4245-b534-dadd13a1dbdd" src="/sites/g/files/dgvnsk2646/files/inline-images/Katie-Dalhausen-College-of-Biological-Sciences-UC-Davis.jpg" /><figcaption>In the Eisen Lab, Dahlhausen continues to showcase an affinity for all things microbes. David Slipher/UC Davis</figcaption></figure><p> </p> </div> <div class="field field--name-field-sf-article-category field--type-entity-reference field--label-above"> <div class="field__label">Category</div> <div class="field__item"><a href="/articles/ecology-environment" hreflang="en">Ecology and Environment</a></div> </div> <div class="field field--name-field-sf-tags field--type-entity-reference field--label-above"> <div class="field__label">Tags</div> <div class="field__items"> <div class="field__item"><a href="/tags/microbes" hreflang="en">microbes</a></div> <div class="field__item"><a href="/tags/biophysics-graduate-group" hreflang="en">Biophysics Graduate Group</a></div> <div class="field__item"><a href="/tags/graduate-student-news" hreflang="en">Graduate Student News</a></div> <div class="field__item"><a href="/tags/women-stem" hreflang="en">Women in STEM</a></div> <div class="field__item"><a href="/tags/evolution-and-ecology" hreflang="en">Department of Evolution and Ecology</a></div> <div class="field__item"><a href="/tags/school-medicine" hreflang="en">School of Medicine</a></div> <div class="field__item"><a href="/tags/koalas" hreflang="en">koalas</a></div> <div class="field__item"><a href="/tags/chlamydia" hreflang="en">chlamydia</a></div> <div class="field__item"><a href="/tags/ecology" hreflang="en">ecology</a></div> <div class="field__item"><a href="/tags/microbial-diversity" hreflang="en">microbial diversity</a></div> <div class="field__item"><a href="/tags/microbial" hreflang="en">microbial</a></div> </div> </div> Fri, 11 Jan 2019 18:33:07 +0000 Greg Watry 2921 at https://biology.ucdavis.edu Discovering My Voice at UC Davis: Jennifer La, Biochemistry and Molecular Biology https://biology.ucdavis.edu/news/discovering-my-voice-uc-davis-jennifer-la-biochemistry-and-molecular-biology <span class="field field--name-title field--type-string field--label-hidden">Discovering My Voice at UC Davis: Jennifer La, Biochemistry and Molecular Biology</span> <span class="field field--name-uid field--type-entity-reference field--label-hidden"> <span lang="" typeof="schema:Person" property="schema:name" datatype=""> (not verified)</span> </span> <span class="field field--name-created field--type-created field--label-hidden">January 11, 2019</span> <div class="field field--name-field-sf-primary-image field--type-image field--label-hidden field__item"> <img src="/sites/g/files/dgvnsk2646/files/styles/sf_landscape_16x9/public/images/article/Sharon%27s%20Preference.jpg?h=c673cd1c&amp;itok=HHjXRMHM" width="1280" height="720" alt="Jennifer La sits" title="&quot;Not only am I always studying here, but I value how welcoming the [Student Community] Center is to people of various backgrounds. Photo: Daniel Oberbauer" typeof="foaf:Image" class="image-style-sf-landscape-16x9" /> </div> <div class="addthis_toolbox addthis_default_style addthis_32x32_style" addthis:url="https://biology.ucdavis.edu/articles.rss" addthis:title="Recent News" addthis:description="Jennifer La &#039;19 Biochemistry and Molecular Biology Tell us about your first generation background. Where did you grow up and what is your family history? What is unique about your story?  My family is part of an ethnic minority group from Vietnam known as the Hoa people, ethnically Chinese people who fled to Vietnam to escape economic hardship and violence during the founding of the Republic of China. Following the Vietnam War, the Hoa people were targets of political violence so my family fled Vietnam by boat, enduring overcrowded and dangerous conditions that left them vulnerable to sickness and pirate attacks. My family was eventually able to settle in San Francisco, where I grew up. Growing up in the Sunnydale district of San Francisco, I witnessed crime and poverty, and almost everyone faced language, cultural, or financial barriers. After noticing these barriers within my community my whole life, I became determined to pursue experiences in college that would allow me to learn how to give back to my community. How did you end up in college? What brought you to UC Davis?  After my junior year of high school, I attended a 4-week residential summer camp at UC Davis called the California State Summer School for Mathematics and Science (COSMOS), where I got my first exposure to what college life was like. Living on my own for the first time was daunting, but my fears quickly faded as I learned to adapt and make friends. The environment at UC Davis was incredibly welcoming and motivating, so I knew that I had to come back for my undergraduate education. This decision to come to UC Davis was one of the most defining moments of my life as I met incredible people who taught me so much about the world, and I gained opportunities that shaped my values and passions. What were you afraid of about college?  When I was younger, I always doubted myself and felt I was never doing enough.I enrolled in ESL classes due to my accent; I felt I was a slow learner and that I had to work a lot harder than other people. I was a very different person in high school – I stuttered whenever I spoke up in class and I shied away from starting conversations with others. As a result, in college I was afraid that I would fall behind and feel as lost as a small fish in a big pond. Putting myself out of my comfort zone to make friends and join student organizations made all the difference, as I now consider myself a leader and an advocate. Finding a community of people who accepted me for who I was helped me gain the confidence to speak for myself and pursue my dreams.  How your background helped you: As the cultural broker of my family, I was often a translator for my parents at parent-teacher conferences and medical appointments. Lacking professionals who understood my parents, I quickly picked up on the value of cultural competency and diversity. As an aspiring pharmacist, I understand that when health care professionals are similar to their patients or are open to learning about the struggles of various communities, their relationships with patients are more grounded in compassion and trust. Since neither of my parents attended high school or college, figuring out how to navigate college and beyond has taught me to be resourceful and to seek help when I needed it. My personal experiences served as my motivation to succeed in college and be a mentor to others. Have you been mentored by a faculty member/advisor on campus? Has someone on campus made an impact on you? One of my biggest mentors is Dr. Camelia Hostinar, a professor that I’ve been fortunate to do research with. She gave me research projects that specifically matched my personal interests and goals and encouraged me to present posters at the Undergraduate Research Conference each year. Her support and belief in me inspired me to go above and beyond in my undergraduate career. I am currently working on my senior thesis related to socioeconomic factors to health, and with Dr. Hostinar’s guidance I realized that I wish to incorporate research in my future career as well.  Joanne Snapp, the director of Health Professions Advising, has also made an impact on me. Coming to Davis as a freshman, I did not know what it meant to be pre-health. Attending the quarterly pre-health workshops she led really kept me on track and gave me the knowledge and perspectives I needed to succeed and support others. The resources that I have gotten at UC Davis have made me a braver and stronger person than I was before. The best thing about your college experience: For the past three years, I have worked at the Willow Clinic, a student-run clinic that provides free medical and psychiatric services to the homeless population of Sacramento. Since we have an on-site dispensary, we are able to ensure that our patients, despite their financial and social barriers, receive the treatment they need to improve their health. Working in the leadership team in various organizations such as the Pre-Pharmacy Club helped me realize the value of collaboration. As a future pharmacy student, I will seek opportunities that allow me to continually learn, share my story, and advocate for patients’ rights. My undergraduate education provided me the opportunity to encounter new environments, people, and knowledge. I can confidently say I developed skills to aid my community and engaged in experiences that made an impact on others. What would you tell a first-year student?  Take it easy your first year to figure out who you are and what your own interests are. There are so many opportunities available at UC Davis that it can be easy to feel overwhelmed, but by taking time to figure out the kind of person you are, you will grow the most from the experiences you later choose to engage in. What are your future goals? In the future, I wish to work as a psychiatric pharmacist. Passionate about the continually expanding scopes of practice of pharmacists, I wish to be a pharmacist to help bridge the gaps in mental health treatment through their roles in primary care. This story originally appeared on First Generation Initiative "> <a class="addthis_button_facebook"></a> <script> var addthis_share = { templates: { twitter: "In this Q&amp;A, Jennifer La, a biochemistry and molecular biology major, talks about her journey to UC Davis and what it means to be a first generation student. " } } </script> <a class="addthis_button_twitter"></a> <a class="addthis_button_google_plusone_share"></a> <a class="addthis_button_email"></a> <a class="addthis_button_compact"></a> </div> <div class="clearfix text-formatted field field--name-body field--type-text-with-summary field--label-hidden field__item"><h2>Jennifer La '19</h2> <h2 class="heading--underline" dir="ltr">Biochemistry and Molecular Biology</h2> <h4><strong>Tell us about your first generation background. Where did you grow up and what is your family history? What is unique about your story? </strong></h4> <p>My family is part of an ethnic minority group from Vietnam known as the Hoa people, ethnically Chinese people who fled to Vietnam to escape economic hardship and violence during the founding of the Republic of China. Following the Vietnam War, the Hoa people were targets of political violence so my family fled Vietnam by boat, enduring overcrowded and dangerous conditions that left them vulnerable to sickness and pirate attacks. My family was eventually able to settle in San Francisco, where I grew up. Growing up in the Sunnydale district of San Francisco, I witnessed crime and poverty, and almost everyone faced language, cultural, or financial barriers. After noticing these barriers within my community my whole life, I became determined to pursue experiences in college that would allow me to learn how to give back to my community.</p> <h4>How did you end up in college? What brought you to UC Davis? </h4> <p>After my junior year of high school, I attended a 4-week residential summer camp at UC Davis called the California State Summer School for Mathematics and Science (COSMOS), where I got my first exposure to what college life was like. Living on my own for the first time was daunting, but my fears quickly faded as I learned to adapt and make friends. The environment at UC Davis was incredibly welcoming and motivating, so I knew that I had to come back for my undergraduate education. This decision to come to UC Davis was one of the most defining moments of my life as I met incredible people who taught me so much about the world, and I gained opportunities that shaped my values and passions.</p> <h4>What were you afraid of about college? </h4> <p>When I was younger, I always doubted myself and felt I was never doing enough.I enrolled in ESL classes due to my accent; I felt I was a slow learner and that I had to work a lot harder than other people. I was a very different person in high school – I stuttered whenever I spoke up in class and I shied away from starting conversations with others.</p> <blockquote> <p>As a result, in college I was afraid that I would fall behind and feel as lost as a small fish in a big pond.</p> </blockquote> <p>Putting myself out of my comfort zone to make friends and join student organizations made all the difference, as I now consider myself a leader and an advocate. Finding a community of people who accepted me for who I was helped me gain the confidence to speak for myself and pursue my dreams. </p> <h4>How your background helped you:</h4> <p>As the cultural broker of my family, I was often a translator for my parents at parent-teacher conferences and medical appointments. Lacking professionals who understood my parents, I quickly picked up on the value of cultural competency and diversity. As an aspiring pharmacist, I understand that when health care professionals are similar to their patients or are open to learning about the struggles of various communities, their relationships with patients are more grounded in compassion and trust. Since neither of my parents attended high school or college, figuring out how to navigate college and beyond has taught me to be resourceful and to seek help when I needed it. My personal experiences served as my motivation to succeed in college and be a mentor to others.</p> <h4>Have you been mentored by a faculty member/advisor on campus? Has someone on campus made an impact on you?</h4> <p>One of my biggest mentors is Dr. Camelia Hostinar, a professor that I’ve been fortunate to do research with. She gave me research projects that specifically matched my personal interests and goals and encouraged me to present posters at the Undergraduate Research Conference each year. Her support and belief in me inspired me to go above and beyond in my undergraduate career. I am currently working on my senior thesis related to socioeconomic factors to health, and with Dr. Hostinar’s guidance I realized that I wish to incorporate research in my future career as well. </p> <p>Joanne Snapp, the director of Health Professions Advising, has also made an impact on me. Coming to Davis as a freshman, I did not know what it meant to be pre-health. Attending the quarterly pre-health workshops she led really kept me on track and gave me the knowledge and perspectives I needed to succeed and support others. The resources that I have gotten at UC Davis have made me a braver and stronger person than I was before.</p> <h4><img alt="Jennifer La" data-entity-type="file" data-entity-uuid="4c7c5886-9991-420a-9b70-33a135bf70ec" height="427" src="/sites/g/files/dgvnsk2646/files/inline-images/_G9A5464a_0.jpg" width="240" class="align-left" />The best thing about your college experience:</h4> <p>For the past three years, I have worked at the Willow Clinic, a student-run clinic that provides free medical and psychiatric services to the homeless population of Sacramento. Since we have an on-site dispensary, we are able to ensure that our patients, despite their financial and social barriers, receive the treatment they need to improve their health. Working in the leadership team in various organizations such as the Pre-Pharmacy Club helped me realize the value of collaboration.</p> <blockquote> <p>As a future pharmacy student, I will seek opportunities that allow me to continually learn, share my story, and advocate for patients’ rights.</p> </blockquote> <p>My undergraduate education provided me the opportunity to encounter new environments, people, and knowledge. I can confidently say I developed skills to aid my community and engaged in experiences that made an impact on others.</p> <h4>What would you tell a first-year student? </h4> <p>Take it easy your first year to figure out who you are and what your own interests are. There are so many opportunities available at UC Davis that it can be easy to feel overwhelmed, but by taking time to figure out the kind of person you are, you will grow the most from the experiences you later choose to engage in.</p> <h4>What are your future goals?</h4> <p>In the future, I wish to work as a psychiatric pharmacist. Passionate about the continually expanding scopes of practice of pharmacists, I wish to be a pharmacist to help bridge the gaps in mental health treatment through their roles in primary care.</p> <p><em><strong>This story originally appeared on <a href="https://firstgen.ucdavis.edu/blog/stories/jennifer-la">First Generation Initiative </a></strong></em></p> </div> <div class="field field--name-field-sf-article-category field--type-entity-reference field--label-above"> <div class="field__label">Category</div> <div class="field__item"><a href="/articles/campus-community" hreflang="en">Campus and Community</a></div> </div> <div class="field field--name-field-sf-tags field--type-entity-reference field--label-above"> <div class="field__label">Tags</div> <div class="field__items"> <div class="field__item"><a href="/tags/biochemistry" hreflang="en">biochemistry</a></div> <div class="field__item"><a href="/tags/first-generation-initiative" hreflang="en">First Generation Initiative</a></div> <div class="field__item"><a href="/tags/molecular-and-cellular-biology" hreflang="en">Department of Molecular and Cellular Biology</a></div> <div class="field__item"><a href="/tags/women-stem" hreflang="en">Women in STEM</a></div> <div class="field__item"><a href="/tags/undergraduate-research" hreflang="en">undergraduate research</a></div> </div> </div> Fri, 11 Jan 2019 16:28:22 +0000 Anonymous 2926 at https://biology.ucdavis.edu Business Leader Heidi Jannenga, ’92, B.S., Explains How a Purpose-Driven Career Can Shape Your Future https://biology.ucdavis.edu/news/alumna-business-leader-explains-how-purpose-driven-career-can-shape-your-future <span class="field field--name-title field--type-string field--label-hidden">Business Leader Heidi Jannenga, ’92, B.S., Explains How a Purpose-Driven Career Can Shape Your Future</span> <span class="field field--name-uid field--type-entity-reference field--label-hidden"> <span lang="" about="/user/11656" typeof="schema:Person" property="schema:name" datatype="">Katherine Lee</span> </span> <span class="field field--name-created field--type-created field--label-hidden">January 10, 2019</span> <div class="field field--name-field-sf-primary-image field--type-image field--label-hidden field__item"> <img src="/sites/g/files/dgvnsk2646/files/styles/sf_landscape_16x9/public/images/article/uc-davis-heidi-jannenga.jpg?h=c673cd1c&amp;itok=vSgSfNrI" width="1280" height="720" alt="Heidi Jannenga" title="“UC Davis gave me so much in terms of my education and longtime friendships. It helped to form the mold in terms of who I am today,” said Heidi Jannenga, an alumna from the College of Biological Sciences." typeof="foaf:Image" class="image-style-sf-landscape-16x9" /> </div> <div class="addthis_toolbox addthis_default_style addthis_32x32_style" addthis:url="https://biology.ucdavis.edu/articles.rss" addthis:title="Recent News" addthis:description="About the UC Davis Alumni Awards Heidi Jannenga is this year’s recipient of the Outstanding Alumna Award, 2018. This award honors a UC Davis graduate who is in the mid-point of his or her career, who has displayed outstanding achievement, promoted innovative change and made outstanding contributions professionally, to the community and to UC Davis. The Cal Aggie Alumni Awards annually recognize alumni and friends of UC Davis that have brought distinction to their professions and through philanthropic efforts. The theme this year is “A Community in Action.” Seven awards celebrating alumni and one friend of the university will be presented for their outstanding achievements. When Heidi Jannenga ’92 was injured playing women’s basketball for the University of California, Davis, she was nearly out for the entire season. But after receiving excellent care from a physical therapist, she was able to rejoin her team and finish the year, albeit with a brace. The experience inspired her to  pursue physical therapy (PT) as a career, and she went on to create WebPT, today’s leading physical therapy software and one of Inc. 5000’s fastest growing businesses for the sixth year in a row.  “At the time I began managing my first PT clinics, physical therapists everywhere were feeling financial pressure, and eighty percent of the industry was using paper and pen in their practice. So our largest expenses were transcription and dictation,” Jannenga explained. “There wasn’t a better solution available. So a software developer and I put our heads together and said, ‘Let’s build something,’ and that’s what we did. Today, the industry is 80 percent digital. We’ve been able to disrupt how people think about documentation and using technology within their practice.” From only 10 users in 2006 to over 80,000 in 2018, WebPT now serves more than one-third of the physical therapy provider market. And it all started in the back of a coffee shop, without any previous experience of her own in the software industry. By pursuing her passion and consistently seeking solutions to challenges along the way, Jannenga eventually became President and Co-Founder of her own company. How to Shape a Successful Career or Business At Jannenga’s core is an ability to lead and adapt and a deep desire to motivate others to do the same, the basics of which she attributes to the ideas behind conscious capitalism, the higher purpose of business. With this framework in mind, she shares four expert tips for fellow UC Davis alumni about how to develop a pioneering and innovative spirit for lifelong success: 1. Collaborate. Have an open workspace that facilitates teamwork, participate in community-building projects, learn to ask for help and spend time with others whose strengths balance yours. Acknowledging your areas for growth actually builds trust. 2. Learn to adapt. Practice introspection or ask for feedback directly from your stakeholders. Try something new just when you are starting to feel comfortable. Be open to new experiences even if you aren’t sure where they are headed. 3. Be purpose-driven. Find what motivates you and your team. Have a clear mission and vision for yourself and others to follow. Create something that is a part of something greater than yourself. 4. Focus on your strengths. Do more of the things you are already good at by “living in the zone in which you thrive.” Find something you love; this will give you the confidence to pursue the right opportunities and help you continue on the path to success and be a leader in your field. Said Jannenga, “The core of who you are will pull you through and shine through all of these experiences.” Jannenga, is soon to be honored with an Outstanding Alumna Award by CAAA for her outstanding achievements, contributions to community, and innovative change. She shares, “I hope that by telling my story I can inspire others to go on and do something amazing with their future. Helping to shape the next generation of leaders is part of how I give back to my alma mater.” Looking for ways to inspire fellow Aggies in their careers? Become a mentor or volunteer or support additional opportunities by giving back to UC Davis. About the UC Davis Alumni Awards Heidi Jannenga is this year’s recipient of the Outstanding Alumna Award, 2018. This award honors a UC Davis graduate who is in the mid-point of his or her career, who has displayed outstanding achievement, promoted innovative change and made outstanding contributions professionally, to the community and to UC Davis. The Cal Aggie Alumni Awards annually recognize alumni and friends of UC Davis that have brought distinction to their professions and through philanthropic efforts. The theme this year is “A Community in Action.” Seven awards celebrating alumni and one friend of the university will be presented for their outstanding achievement This story was originally featured on One Aggie Network "> <a class="addthis_button_facebook"></a> <script> var addthis_share = { templates: { twitter: "Heidi Jannenga is this year’s recipient of the Outstanding Alumna Award, 2018. This award honors a UC Davis graduate who is in the mid-point of his or her career, who has displayed outstanding achievement, promoted innovative change and made outstanding contributions professionally, to the community and to UC Davis. " } } </script> <a class="addthis_button_twitter"></a> <a class="addthis_button_google_plusone_share"></a> <a class="addthis_button_email"></a> <a class="addthis_button_compact"></a> </div> <div class="clearfix text-formatted field field--name-body field--type-text-with-summary field--label-hidden field__item"><aside class="wysiwyg-feature-block u-width--half u-align--right"><h3 class="wysiwyg-feature-block__title">About the UC Davis Alumni Awards</h3> <div class="wysiwyg-feature-block__body"> <div class="wysiwyg-feature-block__body"> <p>Heidi Jannenga is this year’s recipient of the Outstanding Alumna Award, 2018. This award honors a UC Davis graduate who is in the mid-point of his or her career, who has displayed outstanding achievement, promoted innovative change and made outstanding contributions professionally, to the community and to UC Davis.</p> <p>The Cal Aggie Alumni Awards annually recognize alumni and friends of UC Davis that have brought distinction to their professions and through philanthropic efforts. The theme this year is “<a href="https://www.alumni.ucdavis.edu/events/alumni-awards">A Community in Action</a>.” Seven awards celebrating alumni and one friend of the university will be presented for their outstanding achievements.</p> </div> </div> </aside><p><span><span><span>When Heidi Jannenga ’92 was injured playing women’s basketball for the University of California, Davis, she was nearly out </span></span></span><span><span><span>for the entire season. But after receiving excellent care from a physical therapist, she was able to rejoin her team and finish the year, albeit with a brace. The experience inspired her to  pursue physical therapy (PT) as a career, and she went on to create <strong>WebPT</strong>, today’s leading physical therapy software and one of <em>Inc. 5000</em>’s fastest growing businesses for the sixth year in a row.  </span></span></span></p> <p><span><span><span>“At the time I began managing my first PT clinics, physical therapists everywhere were feeling financial pressure, and eighty percent of the industry was using paper and pen in their practice. So our largest expenses were transcription and dictation,” Jannenga explained. “There wasn’t a better solution available. So a software developer and I put our heads together and said, ‘Let’s build something,’ and that’s what we did. Today, the industry is 80 percent digital. We’ve been able to disrupt how people think about documentation and using technology within their practice.” </span></span></span></p> <p><span><span><span>From only 10 users in 2006 to over 80,000 in 2018, WebPT <span>now serves </span>more than one-third of the physical therapy provider market. And it all started in the back of a coffee shop, without any previous experience of her own in the software industry. By pursuing her passion and consistently seeking solutions to challenges along the way, Jannenga eventually became President and Co-Founder of her own company.</span></span></span></p> <p><span><span><span><strong>How to Shape a Successful Career or Business</strong></span></span></span></p> <p><span><span><span>At Jannenga’s core is an ability to lead and adapt and a deep desire to motivate others to do the same, the basics of which she attributes to the ideas behind conscious capitalism, the higher purpose of business. With this framework in mind, she shares four expert tips for fellow UC Davis alumni about how to develop a pioneering and innovative spirit for lifelong success: </span></span></span></p> <p><span><span><span><strong>1. Collaborate. </strong>Have an open workspace that facilitates teamwork, participate in community-building projects, learn to ask for help and spend time with others whose strengths balance yours. Acknowledging your areas for growth actually builds trust.</span></span></span></p> <p><span><span><span><strong>2. Learn to adapt</strong>. Practice introspection or ask for feedback directly from your stakeholders. Try something new just when you are starting to feel comfortable. Be open to new experiences even if you aren’t sure where they are headed.</span></span></span></p> <p><span><span><span><strong>3. Be purpose-driven. </strong>Find what motivates you and your team. Have a clear mission and vision for yourself and others to follow. Create something that is a part of something greater than yourself.</span></span></span></p> <p><span><span><span><strong>4.</strong> <strong>Focus on your strengths</strong>. Do more of the things you are already good at by “living in the zone in which you thrive.” Find something you love; this will give you the confidence to pursue the right opportunities and help you continue on the path to success and be a leader in your field. </span></span></span></p> <p><span><span><span>Said Jannenga, “The core of who you are will pull you through and shine through all of these experiences.” </span></span></span></p> <p><span><span><span>Jannenga, is soon to be honored with an <span><a href="https://www.alumni.ucdavis.edu/events/alumni-awards"><span>Outstanding Alumna Award by CAAA</span></a></span><strong> </strong>for her outstanding achievements, contributions to community, and innovative change. She shares, “I hope that by telling my story I can inspire others to go on and do something amazing with their future. Helping to shape the next generation of leaders is part of how I give back to my alma mater.”</span></span></span></p> <p><strong><span><span><span><em>Looking for ways to inspire fellow Aggies in their careers? Become a <span><a href="https://www.alumni.ucdavis.edu/get-connected/volunteer/"><span>mentor or volunteer</span></a></span> or support additional opportunities by <span><a href="https://give.ucdavis.edu/CAAA/"><span>giving back to UC Davis</span></a></span>.</em></span></span></span></strong></p> <hr /><p><strong><span><span><span><em>About the UC Davis Alumni Awards</em></span></span></span></strong></p> <p><span><span><span><span>Heidi Jannenga is this year’s recipient of the Outstanding Alumna Award, 2018. <span>This award honors a UC Davis graduate who is in the mid-point of his or her career, who has displayed outstanding achievement, promoted innovative change and made outstanding contributions professionally, to the community and to UC Davis. </span></span></span></span></span></p> <p><span><span><span><span><span>The Cal Aggie Alumni Awards annually recognize alumni and friends of UC Davis that have brought distinction to their professions and through philanthropic efforts. The theme this year is “</span></span><span><span><a href="https://www.alumni.ucdavis.edu/events/alumni-awards"><span>A Community in Action</span></a></span></span><span><span>.” Seven awards celebrating alumni and one friend of the university will be presented for their outstanding achievement</span></span></span></span></span></p> <p><span><span><span><span><span><em><strong>This story was originally featured on <a href="https://alumni.ucdavis.edu/news/heidi-jannenga">One Aggie Network</a></strong></em></span></span></span></span></span></p> </div> <div class="field field--name-field-sf-article-category field--type-entity-reference field--label-above"> <div class="field__label">Category</div> <div class="field__item"><a href="/articles/students-campus-life" hreflang="en">Awards and Recognition</a></div> </div> <div class="field field--name-field-sf-tags field--type-entity-reference field--label-above"> <div class="field__label">Tags</div> <div class="field__items"> <div class="field__item"><a href="/tags/alumni-profiles" hreflang="en">alumni profiles</a></div> <div class="field__item"><a href="/tags/women-stem" hreflang="en">Women in STEM</a></div> <div class="field__item"><a href="/tags/outstanding-alumna-award" hreflang="en">Outstanding Alumna Award</a></div> <div class="field__item"><a href="/tags/cal-aggie-alumni-awards" hreflang="en">Cal Aggie Alumni Awards</a></div> <div class="field__item"><a href="/tags/entrepreneurship" hreflang="en">entrepreneurship</a></div> </div> </div> Thu, 10 Jan 2019 20:05:55 +0000 Katherine Lee 2916 at https://biology.ucdavis.edu Discovering Curiosity: Mining the Frontiers of Neuroscience with Wilsaan Joiner https://biology.ucdavis.edu/news/discovering-curiosity-mining-frontiers-neuroscience-wilsaan-joiner <span class="field field--name-title field--type-string field--label-hidden">Discovering Curiosity: Mining the Frontiers of Neuroscience with Wilsaan Joiner</span> <span class="field field--name-uid field--type-entity-reference field--label-hidden"> <span lang="" about="/user/5451" typeof="schema:Person" property="schema:name" datatype="">Greg Watry</span> </span> <span class="field field--name-created field--type-created field--label-hidden">January 09, 2019</span> <div class="field field--name-field-sf-primary-image field--type-image field--label-hidden field__item"> <img src="/sites/g/files/dgvnsk2646/files/styles/sf_landscape_16x9/public/images/article/Wilsaan-Joiner-College-of-Biological-Sciences-UC-Davis-4.jpg?h=06ac0d8c&amp;itok=YwNuhy3g" width="1280" height="720" alt="Wilsaan Joiner sits at his desk" title="Assistant Professor Wilsaan Joiner explores sensorimotor integration: how sensory inputs, like vision, influence our motor actions and vice versa. David Slipher/UC Davis " typeof="foaf:Image" class="image-style-sf-landscape-16x9" /> </div> <div class="addthis_toolbox addthis_default_style addthis_32x32_style" addthis:url="https://biology.ucdavis.edu/articles.rss" addthis:title="Recent News" addthis:description="Quick Summary Assistant Professor Wilsaan Joiner explores how sensory inputs, like vision, influence our motor actions and vice versa Currently, he&#039;s researching the neural pathways disrupted in the brains of those with schizophrenia Another project explores how the brain creates awareness of the body in space, which could inform prosthetic design What are the unmined frontiers of human knowledge? As an adolescent, Wilsaan Joiner was asked this question by his father, but in classic parental fashion, his dad already had a couple of answers in mind. Space exploration was one. “I hate to fly, so that was out,” said Joiner. “And the other area he thought was understanding how the brain works. He strongly suggested that neuroscience was an area where there was a potential amount of room to explore and grow and really contribute.” Today, Joiner finds himself completing his first six months on the faculty at UC Davis. An assistant professor in the Department of Neurobiology, Physiology and Behavior, he also holds an appointment in the School of Medicine’s Department of Neurology. His research explores sensorimotor integration: how sensory inputs, like vision, influence our motor actions and vice versa. “We usually think of our senses as guiding our motor actions, but there are some parts of our brain that are actually using our motor actions to sort of guide our senses,” said Joiner. “Or at least, to combine them with our senses to form a better model or a better representation of ourselves in our environment.” Another source of sensory information of the body in space is proprioception, and through his interest in athletics, Joiner started to wonder how athletes develop such fine motor skills and how those motor skills relate to how their brains process sensory information. “Through multiple sources of information, ballet dancers have a profound representation of their body in space and they’re able to make very intricate, precise movements of their body,” said Joiner. “How do you take this information and basically create these extremely fine motor movements with such precision in a very, very short amount of time?”  Colleagues in the Joiner Lab seek to understand the neural mechanisms that underlie these fine motor movements. And their research isn’t just to satisfy curiosity. Figuring out how healthy brains integrate sensory information to inform movement and orientation in space could aid the development of new treatments for those with schizophrenia and help improve prosthetic designs for amputees. Inside his lab in the Life Sciences Building, Joiner and his colleagues have installed a robotic device that’ll help them study how people compensate for unexpected disruptions to limb movement. David Slipher/UC DavisOrigins of a neuroscientist As an undergraduate at Saint Louis University in Missouri, Joiner studied biomedical engineering, becoming one of the university’s first students in what was then a newly launched program. After graduating in 2001, he continued his studies in the field at The Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine in Baltimore, Md., earning a Ph.D. in Biomedical Engineering in 2007. Postdoctoral positions at Harvard University’s John A. Paulson School of Engineering and Applied Sciences and the National Institutes of Health followed. At the NIH, Joiner studied visual perception, eye movement control and predictive planning in non-human primates. He was particularly interested in how the brain is capable of seamlessly integrating visual information and creating a crisp picture, despite our eyes constantly moving. “If our visual system is kind of like a camera, then these movements that we make should disrupt the visual input we get all the time,” he said. “Anyone who has seen shaky camera video footage knows how hard it is to watch and make sense of what they’re seeing.” But healthy brains and eyes don’t work that way. Under normal circumstances our brain does an amazing job compensating for the shakes—the eye movements. Together, the brain and eyes work in tandem to anticipate and compensate for these movements, creating a clear visual scene. During his research, Joiner found that if he temporarily silenced a group of neurons inside a part of the brain called the thalamus, healthy research subjects lost the ability to form a clear picture of their environment. The thalamus can be thought of as a weigh station for sensory information before it travels to other parts of the brain. The finding could have implications for those affected by schizophrenia.   “One of the thoughts for schizophrenia is that you have the reduced ability to make a distinction between internal and external sources of stimuli or information,” said Joiner. “Building off that is the thought that visual perception deficits may be because they can have a difficult time distinguishing changes in the environment that are caused by their own movements, so caused by their eyes movements, as opposed to actual changes in the external environment.”    Currently, Joiner is working on NIH-funded research at the UC Davis School of Medicine’s Imaging Research Center to explore whether the pathways he disrupted in non-human primates are similar to the pathways disrupted in the brains of humans with schizophrenia. The research could help explain why visual perception is disturbed in those afflicted with the condition. &quot;Coupling our robotics with immersive virtual reality may provide a tractable way to manipulate the sensory information and examine changes in control,&quot; said Joiner. This image shows what such an experiment might look like. David Slipher/UC DavisRobotics to help amputees Another research avenue Joiner is interested in exploring at UC Davis is how our brains create within us an understanding of where our limbs are in space. Inside his lab in the Life Sciences Building, Joiner and his colleagues have installed a robotic device that’ll help them study how people compensate for unexpected disruptions to limb movement. Controlled by research subjects via joystick-like handles, the robot collects information about how a subject moves their limbs under specific direction. It then introduces disruptions to those movements and collects information about how the participants respond to the disruptions. Joiner and colleagues have studied this thus far exclusively in participants with both arms. “The question we want to ask now at Davis is what happens if you’re actually missing a limb,” he said. “If they’re using some prosthetic, do they have a sense of the movements that they’re making even with their residuum?” Joiner hopes to perform studies that will help answer this question so he and his team can gain insights into how amputees control their residual muscles. “Based on that control, can we then use some insight from that to build better prosthetics?” he wondered. “We can also ask similar questions about the normal motor system. For example, coupling our robotics with immersive virtual reality may provide a tractable way to manipulate the sensory information and examine changes in control. In the virtual reality environment we could change the length of the limb segments and quantify how subjects adjust their control.” Another research avenue Joiner is interested in exploring at UC Davis is how our brains create within us an understanding of where our limbs are in space. David Slipher/UC Davis  "> <a class="addthis_button_facebook"></a> <script> var addthis_share = { templates: { twitter: "An assistant professor in the Department of Neurobiology, Physiology and Behavior, Wilsaan Joiner explores sensorimotor integration: how sensory inputs, like vision, influence our motor actions and vice versa. " } } </script> <a class="addthis_button_twitter"></a> <a class="addthis_button_google_plusone_share"></a> <a class="addthis_button_email"></a> <a class="addthis_button_compact"></a> </div> <div class="clearfix text-formatted field field--name-body field--type-text-with-summary field--label-hidden field__item"><aside class="wysiwyg-feature-block u-width--half u-align--right"><h3 class="wysiwyg-feature-block__title">Quick Summary</h3> <div class="wysiwyg-feature-block__body"> <ul><li><em><strong>Assistant Professor Wilsaan Joiner explores<strong><em><span><span><span><span><span><span> how sensory inputs, like vision, influence our motor actions and vice versa </span></span></span></span></span></span></em></strong></strong></em></li> <li><em><strong><span><span><span><span><span><span>Currently, he's researching the neural pathways disrupted in the brains of those with schizophrenia</span></span></span></span></span></span></strong></em></li> <li><em><strong>Another project explores how the brain creates awareness of the body in space, which could inform prosthetic design</strong></em></li> </ul></div> </aside><p><span><span><span><em><span><span><span>What are the unmined frontiers of human knowledge? </span></span></span></em></span></span></span></p> <p><span><span><span><span><span><span>As an adolescent, Wilsaan Joiner was asked this question by his father, but in classic parental fashion, his dad already had a couple of answers in mind. Space exploration was one. </span></span></span></span></span></span></p> <p><span><span><span><span><span><span>“I hate to fly, so that was out,” said Joiner. “And the other area he thought was understanding how the brain works. He strongly suggested that neuroscience was an area where there was a potential amount of room to explore and grow and really contribute.” </span></span></span></span></span></span></p> <p><span><span><span><span><span><span>Today, Joiner finds himself completing his first six months on the faculty at UC Davis. An assistant professor in the Department of Neurobiology, Physiology and Behavior, he also holds an appointment in the School of Medicine’s Department of Neurology. His research explores sensorimotor integration: how sensory inputs, like vision, influence our motor actions and vice versa. </span></span></span></span></span></span></p> <p><span><span><span><span><span><span>“We usually think of our senses as guiding our motor actions, but there are some parts of our brain that are actually using our motor actions to sort of guide our senses,” said Joiner. “Or at least, to combine them with our senses to form a better model or a better representation of ourselves in our environment.” </span></span></span></span></span></span></p> <p><span><span><span><span><span><span>Another source of sensory information of the body in space is proprioception, and through his interest in athletics, Joiner started to wonder how athletes develop such fine motor skills and how those motor skills relate to how their brains process sensory information. </span></span></span></span></span></span></p> <p><span><span><span><span><span><span>“Through multiple sources of information, ballet dancers have a profound representation of their body in space and they’re able to make very intricate, precise movements of their body,” said Joiner. “How do you take this information and basically create these extremely fine motor movements with such precision in a very, very short amount of time?”  </span></span></span></span></span></span></p> <p><span><span><span><span><span><span>Colleagues in the Joiner Lab seek to understand the neural mechanisms that underlie these fine motor movements. And their research isn’t just to satisfy curiosity. Figuring out how healthy brains integrate sensory information to inform movement and orientation in space could aid the development of new treatments for those with schizophrenia and help improve prosthetic designs for amputees.</span></span></span></span></span></span></p> <figure role="group" class="caption caption-img"><img alt="Wilsaan Joiner and a student use a robotic setup in Joiner's lab" data-entity-type="file" data-entity-uuid="bc31b7a5-9ebe-4367-b03d-f25a951e5f02" src="/sites/g/files/dgvnsk2646/files/inline-images/Wilsaan-Joiner-College-of-Biological-Sciences-UC-Davis-2.jpg" /><figcaption>Inside his lab in the Life Sciences Building, Joiner and his colleagues have installed a robotic device that’ll help them study how people compensate for unexpected disruptions to limb movement. David Slipher/UC Davis</figcaption></figure><h4><span><span><span><strong><span><span><span>Origins of a neuroscientist</span></span></span></strong></span></span></span></h4> <p><span><span><span><span><span><span>As an undergraduate at Saint Louis University in Missouri, Joiner studied biomedical engineering, becoming one of the university’s first students in what was then a newly launched program. After graduating in 2001, he continued his studies in the field at The Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine in Baltimore, Md., earning a Ph.D. in Biomedical Engineering in 2007. Postdoctoral positions at Harvard University’s John A. Paulson School of Engineering and Applied Sciences and the National Institutes of Health followed. </span></span></span></span></span></span></p> <p><span><span><span><span><span><span>At the NIH, Joiner studied visual perception, eye movement control and predictive planning in non-human primates. He was particularly interested in how the brain is capable of seamlessly integrating visual information and creating a crisp picture, despite our eyes constantly moving. </span></span></span></span></span></span></p> <p><span><span><span><span><span><span>“If our visual system is kind of like a camera, then these movements that we make should disrupt the visual input we get all the time,” he said. “Anyone who has seen shaky camera video footage knows how hard it is to watch and make sense of what they’re seeing.” </span></span></span></span></span></span></p> <p><span><span><span><span><span><span>But healthy brains and eyes don’t work that way. Under normal circumstances our brain does an amazing job compensating for the shakes—the eye movements.</span></span></span> <span><span><span>Together, the brain and eyes work in tandem to anticipate and compensate for these movements, creating a clear visual scene. During his research, Joiner found that if he temporarily silenced a group of neurons inside a part of the brain called the thalamus, healthy research subjects lost the ability to form a clear picture of their environment. The thalamus can be thought of as a weigh station for sensory information before it travels to other parts of the brain. The finding could have implications for those affected by schizophrenia.  </span></span></span></span></span></span></p> <p><span><span><span><span><span><span>“One of the thoughts for schizophrenia is that you have the reduced ability to make a distinction between internal and external sources of stimuli or information,” said Joiner. “Building off that is the thought that visual perception deficits may be because they can have a difficult time distinguishing changes in the environment that are caused by their own movements, so caused by their eyes movements, as opposed to actual changes in the external environment.”    </span></span></span></span></span></span></p> <p><span><span><span><span><span><span>Currently, Joiner is working on NIH-funded research at the UC Davis School of Medicine’s Imaging Research Center to explore whether the pathways he disrupted in non-human primates are similar to the pathways disrupted in the brains of humans with schizophrenia. The research could help explain why visual perception is disturbed in those afflicted with the condition. </span></span></span></span></span></span></p> <figure role="group" class="caption caption-img align-right"><img alt="A mock virtual reality setup in Joiner's lab" data-entity-type="file" data-entity-uuid="01dba7b7-ad32-4b6d-961e-8388b2aa7ae3" height="271" src="/sites/g/files/dgvnsk2646/files/inline-images/Wilsaan-Joiner-College-of-Biological-Sciences-UC-Davis-7.jpg" width="407" /><figcaption>"Coupling our robotics with immersive virtual reality may provide a tractable way to manipulate the sensory information and examine changes in control," said Joiner. This image shows what such an experiment might look like. David Slipher/UC Davis</figcaption></figure><h4><span><span><span><strong><span><span><span>Robotics to help amputees</span></span></span></strong></span></span></span></h4> <p><span><span><span><span><span><span>Another research avenue Joiner is interested in exploring at UC Davis is how our brains create within us an understanding of where our limbs are in space. Inside his lab in the Life Sciences Building, Joiner and his colleagues have installed a robotic device that’ll help them study how people compensate for unexpected disruptions to limb movement. Controlled by research subjects via joystick-like handles, the robot collects information about how a subject moves their limbs under specific direction. It then introduces disruptions to those movements and collects information about how the participants respond to the disruptions. Joiner and colleagues have studied this thus far exclusively in participants with both arms. </span></span></span></span></span></span></p> <p><span><span><span><span><span><span>“The question we want to ask now at Davis is what happens if you’re actually missing a limb,” he said. “If they’re using </span></span></span></span></span></span><span><span><span><span><span><span>some prosthetic, do they have a sense of the movements that they’re making even with their residuum?” </span></span></span></span></span></span></p> <p><span><span><span><span><span><span>Joiner hopes to perform studies that will help answer this question so he and his team can gain insights into how amputees control their residual muscles. </span></span></span></span></span></span></p> <p><span><span><span><span><span><span>“Based on that control, can we then use some insight from that to build better prosthetics?” he wondered. “We can also ask similar questions about the normal motor system. For example, coupling our robotics with immersive virtual reality may provide a tractable way to manipulate the sensory information and examine changes in control. In the virtual reality environment we could change the length of the limb segments and quantify how subjects adjust their control.”</span></span></span></span></span></span></p> <figure role="group" class="caption caption-img"><img alt="Wilsaan Joiner and lab members play some foosball" data-entity-type="file" data-entity-uuid="24b7a883-e9e5-4a87-984a-8b3746ca830e" src="/sites/g/files/dgvnsk2646/files/inline-images/Wilsaan-Joiner-College-of-Biological-Sciences-UC-Davis-8.jpg" /><figcaption>Another research avenue Joiner is interested in exploring at UC Davis is how our brains create within us an understanding of where our limbs are in space. David Slipher/UC Davis</figcaption></figure><p> </p> </div> <div class="field field--name-field-sf-article-category field--type-entity-reference field--label-above"> <div class="field__label">Category</div> <div class="field__item"><a href="/articles/human-animal-health" hreflang="en">Human and Animal Health</a></div> </div> <div class="field field--name-field-sf-tags field--type-entity-reference field--label-above"> <div class="field__label">Tags</div> <div class="field__items"> <div class="field__item"><a href="/tags/school-medicine" hreflang="en">School of Medicine</a></div> <div class="field__item"><a href="/tags/neurobiology-physiology-and-behavior" hreflang="en">Department of Neurobiology, Physiology and Behavior</a></div> <div class="field__item"><a href="/tags/neuroscience-graduate-group" hreflang="en">Neuroscience Graduate Group</a></div> <div class="field__item"><a href="/tags/senses" hreflang="en">senses</a></div> <div class="field__item"><a href="/tags/motor-control" hreflang="en">motor control</a></div> <div class="field__item"><a href="/tags/sensorimotor-integration" hreflang="en">sensorimotor integration</a></div> <div class="field__item"><a href="/tags/vision" hreflang="en">Vision</a></div> <div class="field__item"><a href="/tags/human-health" hreflang="en">human health</a></div> <div class="field__item"><a href="/tags/robots" hreflang="en">robots</a></div> <div class="field__item"><a href="/tags/robotics" hreflang="en">robotics</a></div> <div class="field__item"><a href="/tags/virtual-reality" hreflang="en">virtual reality</a></div> <div class="field__item"><a href="/tags/brain-research" hreflang="en">brain research</a></div> <div class="field__item"><a href="/tags/discovering-curiosity" hreflang="en">Discovering Curiosity</a></div> </div> </div> Wed, 09 Jan 2019 16:20:00 +0000 Greg Watry 2911 at https://biology.ucdavis.edu Blending In: Ecology Graduate Student Grace Ha Investigates Camouflage in Seagrass Meadows https://biology.ucdavis.edu/news/blending-ecology-graduate-student-grace-ha-investigates-camouflage-seagrass-meadows <span class="field field--name-title field--type-string field--label-hidden">Blending In: Ecology Graduate Student Grace Ha Investigates Camouflage in Seagrass Meadows </span> <span class="field field--name-uid field--type-entity-reference field--label-hidden"> <span lang="" about="/user/5451" typeof="schema:Person" property="schema:name" datatype="">Greg Watry</span> </span> <span class="field field--name-created field--type-created field--label-hidden">January 07, 2019</span> <div class="field field--name-field-sf-primary-image field--type-image field--label-hidden field__item"> <img src="/sites/g/files/dgvnsk2646/files/styles/sf_landscape_16x9/public/images/article/Grace-Ha-College-of-Biological-Sciences-UC-Davis-2.jpg?h=06ac0d8c&amp;itok=TkFC-Cy7" width="1280" height="720" alt="Grace Ha sifts through a tide pool in Horseshoe Cove" title="Since enrolling at UC Davis, Grace Ha has studied eelgrass through the lenses of ecology and natural history. She currently researches the role camouflage plays in these beds. David Slipher/UC Davis" typeof="foaf:Image" class="image-style-sf-landscape-16x9" /> </div> <div class="addthis_toolbox addthis_default_style addthis_32x32_style" addthis:url="https://biology.ucdavis.edu/articles.rss" addthis:title="Recent News" addthis:description="Quick Summary Grace Ha is an ecology graduate student studying camouflage in seagrass beds Seagrass beds are known to be nurseries for juvenile marine organisms Ha performs field experiments to understand the survival rates of prey species in different colored habitats Morning fog hugs Horseshoe Cove, a wispy veil of gray masking the Pacific Ocean. As it rolls towards the beach by the Bodega Marine Laboratory, UC Davis students explore the cove’s tide pools. A sea star engages in a slow motion life-or-death battle with a mussel, a bright yellow nudibranch traverses a kelp blade and a quarter-sized crab scurries among wet rocks. “We’re in a region with a Mediterranean climate and upwelling— what’s cool is that both of these are associated with high levels of biodiversity,” says Grace Ha, an ecology Ph.D. student. In upwelling zones, nutrient-rich waters from the deep ocean are transported to coastal regions, which makes them hotspots for biodiversity. As Ha guides the group to the intertidal zone, she discusses the three subset zones within it. Mid-explanation, she stops and turns to the group of undergraduates, all of whom were at the Bodega Marine Laboratory for summer classes. “You guys are taking the class,” Ha says and turns to Stephanie Tsui, a senior environmental science and management major. “Can you explain zonation?” Tsui smiles. “The tidal height affects how much a certain area is submerged throughout the day, so there’s the low, middle and upper intertidal zone,” she says. “Because the lower intertidal zone is submerged more, there’s usually more biodiversity and as you get higher, it’s more stressful for marine species because they’re more exposed to the air and desiccation. So there tend to be fewer species living there.” Though Ha leads the impromptu tour of Horseshoe Cove, her research actually relates to a different habitat. Ha studies seagrass beds, specifically beds of eelgrass (Zostera marina). “Eelgrass is an unsung hero of coastal zones,” says Ha. “It forms meadows -- beautiful, lush meadows underwater that host a wide diversity of species.” Since enrolling at UC Davis, Ha has studied eelgrass through the lenses of ecology and natural history. She currently researches the role camouflage plays in these beds. “I spent a lot of time characterizing this ecosystem and the species in it,” says Ha. “Over the course of that work, I became fascinated by how everything was green—the habitat, the crustaceans, the worms, the anemones, the slugs, even some of the fish. Why was everything green?” Stephanie Tsui and Grace Ha look at a crab while tidepooling in Horseshoe Cove. David Slipher/UC DavisLearning to see marine ecology Ha didn’t consider marine ecology as an academic pursuit until her sophomore year at Cornell University. Already on the premed track, she wanted to enroll in a class that was completely different than any she’d taken before. One day, she found a flyer on campus advertising a field class in marine biology at the Shoals Marine Laboratory in Maine, which is jointly run by Cornell and the University of New Hampshire.   “It was a class that involved waking up early in the morning for the low tide and coming out into the field to the rocky intertidal,” says Ha. “I had fantastic professors and their whole mission for us was to learn to see, and I think that was the biggest thing for me.” Ha grew up outside of Philadelphia in Blue Bell, Penn. While she wasn’t particularly outdoorsy during her youth, she was enamored with the rugged, outdoorsy characters she read about in books. After experiencing research firsthand, she was hooked. “I was obsessed and just took as many ecology classes as I could in my senior and junior year of college,” she says. Finding inspiration from the late Susan Williams After graduation, Ha spent a year in Korea on a Fulbright Scholarship, exploring intersections between anthropology, sociology and marine ecology. She returned to the U.S. with her sights set on graduate school, with the Bodega Marine Laboratory already on her radar. Eventually, she joined the lab of the late Susan Williams, whose research revealed how strategically planting seagrass beds could help restore marine environments damaged by human activity. “I wish I could have heard more stories from her life — her colorful, difficult, incredible life — because through everything she experienced, it was an inspiration to see how she still retained an absolute passion for the ocean,” Ha recently wrote in a piece for Bay Nature Magazine. “What a privilege it was to have her as a role model and mentor.”   Ha intends to name a new species of crustacean she discovered after Williams. “I spent a lot of time characterizing this ecosystem and the species in it,” says Grace Ha. “Over the course of that work, I became fascinated by how everything was green—the habitat, the crustaceans, the worms, the anemones, the slugs, even some of the fish. Why was everything green?” David Slipher/UC Davis. Inside the disguised world of eelgrass Seagrass beds are known to be nurseries for juvenile marine organisms, like crustaceans, smelts, and anchovies. With so much green, one might assume it’s beneficial for prey species to be similar in color to their surroundings. “Camouflage is something children learn starting from a young age, and it’s an engrained part of how we think about ecology and evolution,” says Ha, noting that the idea of camouflage is really about predation. The theory typically goes that the less detectable the prey species, the more likely it will survive and pass on its genes to the next generation. But camouflage, according to Ha, is much more complex. Ha works with a bright green, shrimp-like crustacean called Ampithoe lacertosa, performing field experiments to understand their survival rates in different colored habitats. So far, her data indicates that in seagrass environments abundant with predators, the match between the color of the crustacean and its habitat doesn’t seem to matter. Camouflaged or not, they get gobbled up. Ha says this makes sense since a high abundance of predators likely means there’s a high variety of visual capabilities among the predator population.  “Color, if you think of it technically, is not an intrinsic trait of an object; it is the perception of that object by a viewer.” says Ha. “The context in which we see a particular color really affects how we see that color itself.” While people have written about camouflage as a theory, Ha says the relative lack of experimental research motivated much of her current work. Answering such deep questions about color and camouflage will require further investigations that combine ecology and neurobiology, according to her.  Grace Ha guides a group through Horseshoe Cove. David Slipher/UC Davis  "> <a class="addthis_button_facebook"></a> <script> var addthis_share = { templates: { twitter: "Since enrolling at UC Davis, Ecology Graduate Student Grace Ha has studied eelgrass through the lenses of ecology and natural history. She currently researches the role camouflage plays in these beds. " } } </script> <a class="addthis_button_twitter"></a> <a class="addthis_button_google_plusone_share"></a> <a class="addthis_button_email"></a> <a class="addthis_button_compact"></a> </div> <div class="clearfix text-formatted field field--name-body field--type-text-with-summary field--label-hidden field__item"><aside class="wysiwyg-feature-block u-width--half u-align--right"><h3 class="wysiwyg-feature-block__title">Quick Summary</h3> <div class="wysiwyg-feature-block__body"> <ul><li><strong><em><span><span><span><span><span><span><span>Grace Ha is an ecology graduate student studying camouflage in seagrass beds</span></span></span></span></span></span></span></em></strong></li> <li><strong><em><span><span><span><span><span><span><span>Seagrass beds are known to be nurseries for juvenile marine organisms</span></span></span></span></span></span></span></em></strong></li> <li><strong><em><span><span><span><span><span><span>Ha <span>performs f</span></span></span><span><span><span>ield experiments to understand the survival rates of prey species in different colored habitats</span></span></span></span></span></span></span></em></strong></li> </ul></div> </aside><p class="BodyA"><span><span><span><span><span><span><span>Morning fog hugs Horseshoe Cove, a wispy veil of gray masking the Pacific Ocean. As it rolls towards the beach by </span></span></span></span></span></span></span><span><span><span><span><span><span><span>the Bodega Marine Laboratory, UC Davis students explore the cove’s tide pools. A sea star engages in a slow motion life-or-death battle with a mussel, a bright yellow nudibranch traverses a kelp blade and a quarter-sized crab scurries among wet rocks. </span></span></span></span></span></span></span></p> <p class="BodyA"><span><span><span><span><span><span><span>“We’re in a region with a Mediterranean climate and upwelling— what’s cool is that both of these are associated with high levels of biodiversity,” says Grace Ha, an ecology Ph.D. student. In upwelling zones, nutrient-rich waters from the deep ocean are transported to coastal regions, which makes them hotspots for biodiversity. </span></span></span></span></span></span></span></p> <p class="BodyA"><span><span><span><span><span><span><span>As Ha guides the group to the intertidal zone, she discusses the three subset zones within it. Mid-explanation, she stops and turns to the group of undergraduates, all of whom were at the Bodega Marine Laboratory for </span></span></span><span><span><span><span><span><a href="https://bml.ucdavis.edu/academics/undergraduate-courses/summer-classes"><span>summer classes</span></a></span></span></span></span></span><span><span><span>.</span></span></span></span></span></span></span></p> <p class="BodyA"><span><span><span><span><span><span><span>“You guys are taking the class,” Ha says and turns to Stephanie Tsui, a senior environmental science and management major. “Can you explain zonation?” </span></span></span></span></span></span></span></p> <p class="BodyA"><span><span><span><span><span lang="IT" xml:lang="IT" xml:lang="IT"><span><span>Tsui smiles. </span></span></span><span><span><span>“The tidal height affects how much a certain area is submerged throughout the day, so there’s the low, middle and upper intertidal zone,” she says. “Because the lower intertidal zone is submerged more, there’s usually more biodiversity and as you get higher, it’s more stressful for marine species because they’re more exposed to the air and desiccation. So there tend to be fewer species living there.”</span></span></span></span></span></span></span></p> <p class="BodyA"><span><span><span><span><span><span><span>Though Ha leads the impromptu tour of Horseshoe Cove, her research actually relates to a different habitat. Ha studies seagrass beds, specifically beds of eelgrass (</span></span></span><em><span lang="IT" xml:lang="IT" xml:lang="IT"><span><span>Zostera marina</span></span></span></em><span><span><span>). </span></span></span></span></span></span></span></p> <p class="BodyA"><span><span><span><span><span><span><span>“Eelgrass is an unsung hero of coastal zones,” says Ha. “It forms meadows -- beautiful, lush meadows underwater that host a wide diversity of species.”</span></span></span></span></span></span></span></p> <p class="BodyA"><span><span><span><span><span><span><span>Since enrolling at UC Davis, Ha has studied eelgrass through the lenses of ecology and natural history. She currently researches the role camouflage plays in these beds.</span></span></span></span></span></span></span></p> <p class="BodyA"><span><span><span><span><span><span><span>“I spent a lot of time characterizing this ecosystem and the species in it,” says Ha. “Over the course of that work, I became fascinated by how everything was green—the habitat, the crustaceans, the worms, the anemones, the slugs, even some of the fish. Why was everything green?” </span></span></span></span></span></span></span></p> <figure role="group" class="caption caption-img"><img alt="Stephane Tsui and Grace Ha look at a crab" data-entity-type="file" data-entity-uuid="f2792dfb-5896-438a-ab94-ecf0c74a6db0" src="/sites/g/files/dgvnsk2646/files/inline-images/Grace-Ha-College-of-Biological-Sciences-UC-Davis-3.jpg" /><figcaption>Stephanie Tsui and Grace Ha look at a crab while tidepooling in Horseshoe Cove. David Slipher/UC Davis</figcaption></figure><h4><span><span><span><span><strong><span><span><span>Learning to see marine ecology </span></span></span></strong></span></span></span></span></h4> <p class="BodyA"><span><span><span><span><span><span><span>Ha didn’t consider marine ecology as an academic pursuit until her sophomore year at Cornell University. Already on the premed track, she wanted to enroll in a class that was completely different than any she’d taken before. One day, she found a flyer on campus advertising a field class in marine biology at the Shoals Marine Laboratory in Maine, which is jointly run by Cornell and the University of New Hampshire.   </span></span></span></span></span></span></span></p> <p class="BodyA"><span><span><span><span><span><span><span>“It was a class that involved waking up early in the morning for the low tide and coming out into the field to the rocky intertidal,” says Ha. “I had fantastic professors and their whole mission for us was to learn to see, and I think that was the biggest thing for me.” </span></span></span></span></span></span></span></p> <p class="BodyA"><span><span><span><span><span><span><span>Ha grew up outside of Philadelphia in Blue Bell, Penn. While she wasn’t particularly outdoorsy during her youth, she was enamored with the rugged, outdoorsy characters she read about in books. After experiencing research firsthand, she was hooked.</span></span></span></span></span></span></span></p> <p class="BodyA"><span><span><span><span><span><span><span>“I was obsessed and just took as many ecology classes as I could in my senior and junior year of college,” she says.</span></span></span></span></span></span></span></p> <h4><span><span><span><span><strong><span><span><span>Finding inspiration from the late Susan Williams</span></span></span></strong></span></span></span></span></h4> <p class="BodyA"><span><span><span><span>After graduation, Ha spent a year in Korea on a Fulbright Scholarship, exploring intersections between anthropology, sociology and marine ecology. She returned to the U.S. with her sights set on graduate school, with the Bodega Marine Laboratory already on her radar. Eventually, she joined the lab of the late <span><span><span><span lang="DA" xml:lang="DA" xml:lang="DA"><span><a href="https://www.ucdavis.edu/news/in-memoriam-susan-williams-bodega-marine-lab/"><span>Susan Williams</span></a></span></span></span></span></span>, whose research revealed how strategically planting seagrass beds could help restore marine environments damaged by human activity. </span></span></span></span></p> <blockquote> <p class="BodyA"><span><span><span><span>“I wish I could have heard more stories from her life — her colorful, difficult, incredible life — because through everything she experienced, it was an inspiration to see how she still retained an absolute passion for the ocean,” Ha recently wrote in a piece for <span><span><em><span><span><span><a href="https://baynature.org/2018/10/26/whats-in-a-scientific-name-a-story/"><span>Bay Nature Magazine</span></a></span></span></span></em></span></span>. “What a privilege it was to have her as a role model and mentor.”   </span></span></span></span></p> </blockquote> <p class="BodyA"><span><span><span><span>Ha intends to name a new species of crustacean she discovered after Williams. </span></span></span></span></p> <figure role="group" class="caption caption-img align-right"><img alt="Grace Ha sits in the lab" data-entity-type="file" data-entity-uuid="c598502b-9a01-4098-85db-5688c5508fca" height="596" src="/sites/g/files/dgvnsk2646/files/inline-images/Grace-Ha-College-of-Biological-Sciences-UC-Davis-4.jpg" width="397" /><figcaption>“I spent a lot of time characterizing this ecosystem and the species in it,” says Grace Ha. “Over the course of that work, I became fascinated by how everything was green—the habitat, the crustaceans, the worms, the anemones, the slugs, even some of the fish. Why was everything green?” David Slipher/UC Davis. </figcaption></figure><h4><span><span><span><span><strong><span><span><span>Inside the disguised world of eelgrass</span></span></span></strong></span></span></span></span></h4> <p class="BodyA"><span><span><span><span><span><span><span>Seagrass beds are known to be nurseries for juvenile marine organisms, like crustaceans, smelts, and anchovies. With so </span></span></span></span></span></span></span><span><span><span><span><span><span><span>much green, one might assume it’s beneficial for prey species to be similar in color to their surroundings. </span></span></span></span></span></span></span></p> <blockquote> <p class="BodyA"><span><span><span><span><span><span><span>“Camouflage is something children learn starting from a young age, and it’s an engrained part of how we think about ecology and evolution,” says Ha, noting that the idea of camouflage is really about predation. </span></span></span></span></span></span></span></p> </blockquote> <p class="BodyA"><span><span><span><span><span><span><span>The theory typically goes that the less detectable the prey species, the more likely it will survive and pass on its genes to the next generation. But camouflage, according to Ha, is much more complex. </span></span></span></span></span></span></span></p> <p class="BodyA"><span><span><span><span><span><span><span>Ha works with a bright green, shrimp-like crustacean called </span></span></span><em><span lang="IT" xml:lang="IT" xml:lang="IT"><span><span>Ampithoe lacertosa, </span></span></span></em><span><span><span>performing field experiments to understand their survival rates in different colored habitats. So far, her data indicates that in seagrass environments abundant with predators, the match between the color of the crustacean and its habitat doesn’t seem to matter. Camouflaged or not, they get gobbled up. Ha says this makes sense since a high abundance of predators likely means there’s a high variety of visual capabilities among the predator population.  </span></span></span></span></span></span></span></p> <blockquote> <p class="BodyA"><span><span><span><span><span><span><span>“Color, if you think of it technically, is not an intrinsic trait of an object; it is the perception of that object by a viewer.” says Ha. “The context in which we see a particular color really affects how we see that color itself.” </span></span></span></span></span></span></span></p> </blockquote> <p class="BodyA"><span><span><span><span><span><span><span>While people have written about camouflage as a theory, Ha says the relative lack of experimental research motivated much of her current work. Answering such deep questions about color and camouflage will require further investigations that combine ecology and neurobiology, according to her.  </span></span></span></span></span></span></span></p> <figure role="group" class="caption caption-img"><img alt="Grace Ha guides a group through Horseshoe Cove" data-entity-type="file" data-entity-uuid="c9df3b06-58f8-4e5d-8576-a4de7672976b" src="/sites/g/files/dgvnsk2646/files/inline-images/Grace-Ha-College-of-Biological-Sciences-UC-Davis.jpg" /><figcaption>Grace Ha guides a group through Horseshoe Cove. David Slipher/UC Davis</figcaption></figure><p> </p> </div> <div class="field field--name-field-sf-article-category field--type-entity-reference field--label-above"> <div class="field__label">Category</div> <div class="field__item"><a href="/articles/ecology-environment" hreflang="en">Ecology and Environment</a></div> </div> <div class="field field--name-field-sf-tags field--type-entity-reference field--label-above"> <div class="field__label">Tags</div> <div class="field__items"> <div class="field__item"><a href="/tags/graduate-student-news" hreflang="en">Graduate Student News</a></div> <div class="field__item"><a href="/tags/ecology" hreflang="en">ecology</a></div> <div class="field__item"><a href="/tags/coastal-and-marine-sciences-institute" hreflang="en">Coastal and Marine Sciences Institute</a></div> <div class="field__item"><a href="/tags/bodega-marine-lab" hreflang="en">Bodega Marine Lab</a></div> <div class="field__item"><a href="/tags/bogega-marine-laboratory" hreflang="en">Bogega Marine Laboratory</a></div> <div class="field__item"><a href="/tags/evolution-and-ecology" hreflang="en">Department of Evolution and Ecology</a></div> <div class="field__item"><a href="/tags/oceans" hreflang="en">oceans</a></div> <div class="field__item"><a href="/tags/seagrass" hreflang="en">seagrass</a></div> </div> </div> Mon, 07 Jan 2019 18:45:07 +0000 Greg Watry 2906 at https://biology.ucdavis.edu Finding a Research Lab: Undergraduate Mackenzie Noon Bridges Biology and Computer Science https://biology.ucdavis.edu/news/finding-research-lab-undergraduate-mackenzie-noon-bridges-biology-and-computer-science <span class="field field--name-title field--type-string field--label-hidden">Finding a Research Lab: Undergraduate Mackenzie Noon Bridges Biology and Computer Science</span> <span class="field field--name-uid field--type-entity-reference field--label-hidden"> <span lang="" about="/user/5451" typeof="schema:Person" property="schema:name" datatype="">Greg Watry</span> </span> <span class="field field--name-created field--type-created field--label-hidden">January 02, 2019</span> <div class="field field--name-field-sf-primary-image field--type-image field--label-hidden field__item"> <img src="/sites/g/files/dgvnsk2646/files/styles/sf_landscape_16x9/public/images/article/Mackenzie-Noon-Ken-Kaplan-College-of-Biological-Sciences-UC-Davis-3.jpg?h=06ac0d8c&amp;itok=_Bg7Uhlu" width="1280" height="720" alt="Professor Ken Kaplan and student Mackenzie Noon sit in the lab" title="Mackenzie Noon, right, is an undergraduate researcher in the lab of Professor Ken Kaplan, on the left, where he studies cancer at the chromosomal level. David Slipher/UC Davis " typeof="foaf:Image" class="image-style-sf-landscape-16x9" /> </div> <div class="addthis_toolbox addthis_default_style addthis_32x32_style" addthis:url="https://biology.ucdavis.edu/articles.rss" addthis:title="Recent News" addthis:description="Quick Summary Mackenzie Noon is an undergraduate researcher studying cancer at the chromosomal level During healthy cell division, chromosomes must separate neatly through a multi-step process that results in two daughter cells Noon’s research concerns disruptions to this cellular process that result in cellular structures commonly found in cancer cells Mackenzie Noon’s upbringing in Redlands, Calif. was a synthesis of biology and computer science. Noon’s mother—a physician—taught her son the basics of biology, while his father introduced him to the joys of DIY and computer programming. Together, they built bottle rockets and Tesla coils, and Noon programmed his own video games. By the age of 15, Noon had turned his curiosity into more than just a hobby. He split his time between high school at The Grove School in Redlands and an internship with a company called Cybertek. While initially hauling ladders, he eventually began installing routers and configuring networks for the company and its customers. “I worked for a networking company setting up computer networks as a summer job, but I was also interested in biology,” recalled Noon. “But my experience with biology was probably a lot less hands-on because of the nature of the thing. Everybody has a computer in their house, but a genetics lab? Not so much.” Mackenzie Noon’s research projects concern disruptions to this cellular process that result in structures called chromatin bridges. David Slipher/UCDavisGetting involved in science When he enrolled at UC Davis, Noon gravitated towards genetics. Advances in bioinformatics enticed him, and he was taken with news stories he’d read about mosquitos genetically engineered to fight malaria. “I thought, “Oh my god, I’ve got to get into this. This is so cool,’” said Noon. Now, Noon is an undergraduate researcher in the lab of Professor Ken Kaplan, Department of Molecular and Cellular Biology, where he studies cancer at the chromosomal level. Cancerous cells commonly have abnormal numbers of chromosomes and other aberrations. Noon said he finds the foundational nature of the research rewarding. “Studying the process of chromosome segregation might potentially lend some insight into novel therapies for cancers,” he said. The path to undergraduate research Noon was eager to get involved in research after arriving at UC Davis. He enrolled in a couple of Course-based Undergraduate Research Experiences (CUREs) courses, including one called “The Nectar Microbiome,” and learned basic laboratory techniques, like polymerase chain reaction and gel electrophoresis. He found the courses rewarding but was eager to dive into his very own independent research. “I went to the Undergraduate Research Center because I heard that’s where you’re supposed to go and I said, ‘Okay, how do I find a lab?’” Noon identified numerous labs of interest but narrowed his search after attending Kaplan’s “Road to Research” seminar hosted by the Biology Academic Success Center. Afterwards, they exchanged a few emails, and Kaplan invited Noon to attend one of his lab’s weekly meetings. “I am typically cautious about taking first year students into my lab, as they are often overwhelmed by the quarter system and generally benefit from the maturity experience brings them,” said Kaplan. “Mackenzie convinced me otherwise. At our first meeting he showed a remarkable level of maturity, an impressive intellectual engagement in our conversation and a degree of thoughtfulness that made me eager to chat with him more.” Soon, Noon was completing safety training and learning Kaplan Lab basics, like how to culture and dilute budding yeast (Saccharoymyces cerevisiae), which the Kaplan Lab uses as a model organism for studying chromosome segregation. “Mackenzie is helping us understand how autophagy—a process by which cells undergo ‘self -eating,’—pathways in cells are connected to adaptation to drugs like hydroxyurea that inhibit DNA replication,” said Professor Ken Kaplan. David Slipher/UC DavisStudying yeast to stop cancer During healthy cell division, chromosomes, which carry vital genetic information, must separate neatly through a multi-step process that results in two daughter cells. Integral to healthy separation is a region of the chromosome called the centromere, which recruits proteins responsible for dividing the cell in two. Noon’s research projects concern disruptions to this cellular process that result in structures called chromatin bridges. These linkages keep sister chromatids—identical ends of chromosomes—stuck together and are commonly found in cancer cells. Mackenzie Noon identified numerous labs of interest but narrowed his search after attending Professor Ken Kaplan’s “Road to Research” seminar hosted by the Biology Academic Success Center. David Slipher/UC Davis“Mackenzie is helping us understand how autophagy—a process by which cells undergo ‘self -eating,’—pathways in cells are connected to adaptation to drugs like hydroxyurea that inhibit DNA replication,” said Kaplan. “There is long history of using this strategy to defeat cancer cells; the logic is that since they divide more than ‘normal’ cells they will be sensitive to drugs that make replicating their genome difficult.” But according to Kaplan, cancer cells can quickly adapt to treatments meant to stifle their replication. “Mackenzie’s work suggests that an important part of this particular adaptation pathway is the cell’s ability to selectively ‘degrade’ specific parts of the cell,” said Kaplan. “One possibility is that inhibiting both pathways—DNA replication and autophagy—will create a big enough impediment to cancer cell proliferation to prevent chemotherapeutic resistance. Mackenzie’s early results are tantalizing and now he’s off to the races to figure out the molecular mechanisms that explain his observations.”  Sifting through biological data While only a sophomore, Noon currently hopes to pursue a research career after completing his undergraduate degree. Until then, he’ll continue to make the most of the plentiful research resources on campus. “UC Davis has some really remarkable resources and I think that often times people are not made aware of them,” Noon said. “The Undergraduate Research Center is a great way to get hooked up with a real academic laboratory.” Noon’s also got his sight set on the future of biology. With technologies rapidly advancing, computer science and big data are continuously becoming more important to the life sciences realm, especially in genetics, an area known to generate large swaths of biological data. “Biology is very complicated,” Noon said. “Figuring out where to investigate is kind of a big data task.” "> <a class="addthis_button_facebook"></a> <script> var addthis_share = { templates: { twitter: "When he enrolled at UC Davis, student Mackenzie Noon gravitated towards genetics. Today, he&#039;s an undergraduate researcher studying cancer at the chromosomal level in the lab of Professor Ken Kaplan, Department of Molecular and Cellular Biology. " } } </script> <a class="addthis_button_twitter"></a> <a class="addthis_button_google_plusone_share"></a> <a class="addthis_button_email"></a> <a class="addthis_button_compact"></a> </div> <div class="clearfix text-formatted field field--name-body field--type-text-with-summary field--label-hidden field__item"><aside class="wysiwyg-feature-block u-width--half u-align--right"><h3 class="wysiwyg-feature-block__title">Quick Summary</h3> <div class="wysiwyg-feature-block__body"> <ul><li><strong><em><span><span><span><span><span>Mackenzie Noon is an undergraduate researcher studying cancer at the chromosomal level </span></span></span></span></span></em></strong></li> <li><strong><em><span><span><span><span><span>During healthy cell division, chromosomes must separate neatly through a multi-step process that results in two daughter cells </span></span></span></span></span></em></strong></li> <li><strong><em><span><span><span><span><span>Noon’s research concerns disruptions to this cellular process that result in cellular structures commonly found in cancer cells</span></span></span></span></span></em></strong></li> </ul></div> </aside><p class="BodyA"><span><span><span><span><span>Mackenzie Noon’s upbringing in Redlands, Calif. was a synthesis of biology and computer science. Noon’s mother—a </span></span></span></span></span><span><span><span><span><span>physician—taught her son the basics of biology, while his father introduced him to the joys of DIY and computer programming. Together, they built bottle rockets and Tesla coils, and Noon programmed his own video games. </span></span></span></span></span></p> <p><span><span><span>By the age of 15, Noon had turned his curiosity into more than just a hobby. He split his time between high school at The Grove School in Redlands and an internship with a company called Cybertek. While initially hauling ladders, he eventually began installing routers and configuring networks for the company and its customers. </span></span></span></p> <p><span><span><span>“I worked for a networking company setting up computer networks as a summer job, but I was also interested in biology,” recalled Noon. “But my experience with biology was probably a lot less hands-on because of the nature of the thing. Everybody has a computer in their house, but a genetics lab? Not so much.” </span></span></span></p> <figure role="group" class="caption caption-img"><img alt="Mackenzie Noon sits at a computer" data-entity-type="file" data-entity-uuid="85c59c7c-4dcd-4b3c-89f7-4c1b308dbb0a" src="/sites/g/files/dgvnsk2646/files/inline-images/Mackenzie-Noon-College-of-Biological-Sciences-UC-Davis.jpg" /><figcaption>Mackenzie Noon’s research projects concern disruptions to this cellular process that result in structures called chromatin bridges. David Slipher/UCDavis</figcaption></figure><h4><span><span><span><strong><span><span>Getting involved in science</span></span></strong></span></span></span></h4> <p class="BodyA"><span><span><span><span><span>When he enrolled at UC Davis, Noon gravitated towards genetics. Advances in bioinformatics enticed him, and he was taken with news stories he’d read about mosquitos genetically engineered to fight malaria. </span></span></span></span></span></p> <p class="BodyA"><span><span><span><span><span>“I thought, “Oh my god, I’ve got to get into this. This is so cool,’” said Noon. </span></span></span></span></span></p> <p class="BodyA"><span><span><span><span><span>Now, Noon is an undergraduate researcher in the lab of Professor Ken Kaplan, Department of Molecular and Cellular Biology, where he studies cancer at the chromosomal level. Cancerous cells commonly have abnormal numbers of chromosomes and other aberrations. Noon said he finds the foundational nature of the research rewarding. </span></span></span></span></span></p> <p class="BodyA"><span><span><span><span><span>“Studying the process of chromosome segregation might potentially lend some insight into novel therapies for cancers,” he said. </span></span></span></span></span></p> <h4><span><span><span><strong><span><span>The path to undergraduate research</span></span></strong></span></span></span></h4> <p class="BodyA"><span><span><span><span><span>Noon was eager to get involved in research after arriving at UC Davis. He enrolled in a couple of Course-based Undergraduate Research Experiences (CUREs) courses, including one called “The Nectar Microbiome,” and learned basic laboratory techniques, like polymerase chain reaction and gel electrophoresis. He found the courses rewarding but was eager to dive into his very own independent research.</span></span></span></span></span></p> <p class="BodyA"><span><span><span><span><span>“I went to the Undergraduate Research Center because I heard that’s where you’re supposed to go and I said, ‘Okay, how do I find a lab?’”</span></span></span></span></span></p> <p class="BodyA"><span><span><span><span><span>Noon identified numerous labs of interest but narrowed his search after attending Kaplan’s “Road to Research” seminar hosted by the </span></span><span><span><a href="https://basc.biology.ucdavis.edu/"><span>Biology Academic Success Center</span></a></span></span><span><span>. Afterwards, they exchanged a few emails, and Kaplan invited Noon to attend one of his lab’s weekly meetings. </span></span></span></span></span></p> <blockquote> <p class="BodyA"><span><span><span><span><span>“I am typically cautious about taking first year students into my lab, as they are often overwhelmed by the quarter system and generally benefit from the maturity experience brings them,” said Kaplan. “Mackenzie convinced me otherwise. At our first meeting he showed a </span></span></span></span></span><span><span><span><span><span>remarkable level of maturity, an impressive intellectual engagement in our conversation and a degree of thoughtfulness that made me eager to chat with him more.”</span></span></span></span></span></p> </blockquote> <p class="BodyA"><span><span><span><span><span>Soon, Noon was completing safety training and learning Kaplan Lab basics, like how to culture and dilute budding yeast (<em>Saccharoymyces cerevisiae</em>), which the Kaplan Lab uses as a model organism for studying chromosome segregation. </span></span></span></span></span></p> <figure role="group" class="caption caption-img"><img alt="Mackenzie Noon and Professor Ken Kaplan discuss in the lab" data-entity-type="file" data-entity-uuid="7de55539-8ef9-41b0-b114-98678b19daac" src="/sites/g/files/dgvnsk2646/files/inline-images/Mackenzie-Noon-Ken-Kaplan-College-of-Biological-Sciences-UC-Davis_0.jpg" /><figcaption>“Mackenzie is helping us understand how autophagy—a process by which cells undergo ‘self -eating,’—pathways in cells are connected to adaptation to drugs like hydroxyurea that inhibit DNA replication,” said Professor Ken Kaplan. David Slipher/UC Davis</figcaption></figure><h4><span><span><span><strong><span><span>Studying yeast to stop cancer</span></span></strong></span></span></span></h4> <p class="BodyA"><span><span><span><span><span>During healthy cell division, chromosomes, which carry vital genetic information, must separate neatly through a multi-step process that results in two daughter cells. Integral to healthy separation is a region of the chromosome called the centromere, which recruits proteins responsible for dividing the cell in two. </span></span></span></span></span></p> <p class="BodyA"><span><span><span><span><span>Noon’s research projects concern disruptions to this cellular process that result in structures called chromatin bridges. These linkages keep sister chromatids—identical ends of chromosomes—stuck together and are commonly found in cancer cells. </span></span></span></span></span></p> <figure role="group" class="caption caption-img align-right"><img alt="Professor Ken Kaplan and student Mackenzie Noon discuss in the lab" data-entity-type="file" data-entity-uuid="53f65e3d-87b0-4861-84a1-34714a4a5c73" height="340" src="/sites/g/files/dgvnsk2646/files/inline-images/Mackenzie-Noon-Ken-Kaplan-College-of-Biological-Sciences-UC-Davis-2.jpg" width="511" /><figcaption>Mackenzie Noon identified numerous labs of interest but narrowed his search after attending Professor Ken Kaplan’s “Road to Research” seminar hosted by the <a href="https://basc.biology.ucdavis.edu/">Biology Academic Success Center</a>. David Slipher/UC Davis</figcaption></figure><p class="BodyA"><span><span><span><span><span>“Mackenzie is helping us understand how autophagy—a process by which cells undergo ‘self -eating,’—pathways in cells are connected to adaptation to drugs like hydroxyurea that inhibit DNA replication,” said Kaplan. “There is long history of using this strategy to defeat cancer cells; the logic is that since they divide more than ‘normal’ cells they will be sensitive to drugs that make replicating their genome difficult.”</span></span></span></span></span></p> <p class="BodyA"><span><span><span><span><span>But according to Kaplan, cancer cells can quickly adapt to treatments meant to stifle their replication. </span></span></span></span></span></p> <p><span><span><span>“Mackenzie’s work suggests that an important part of this particular adaptation pathway is the cell’s ability to selectively ‘degrade’ specific parts of the cell,” said Kaplan. “One possibility is that inhibiting both pathways—DNA replication and autophagy—will create a big enough impediment to cancer cell proliferation to prevent chemotherapeutic resistance. Mackenzie’s early results are tantalizing and now he’s off to the races to figure out the molecular mechanisms that explain his observations.” </span></span></span></p> <h4><span><span><span><strong><span><span>Sifting through biological data</span></span></strong></span></span></span></h4> <p class="BodyA"><span><span><span><span><span>While only a sophomore, Noon currently hopes to pursue a research career after completing his undergraduate degree. Until then, he’ll continue to make the most of the plentiful research resources on campus.</span></span></span></span></span></p> <blockquote> <p class="BodyA"><span><span><span><span><span>“UC Davis has some really remarkable resources and I think that often times people are not made aware of them,” Noon said. “The Undergraduate Research Center is a great way to get hooked up with a real academic laboratory.” </span></span></span></span></span></p> </blockquote> <p class="BodyA"><span><span><span><span><span>Noon’s also got his sight set on the future of biology. With technologies rapidly advancing, computer science and big data are continuously becoming more important to the life sciences realm, especially in genetics, an area known to generate large swaths of biological data. </span></span></span></span></span></p> <p class="BodyA"><span><span><span><span><span>“Biology is very complicated,” Noon said. “Figuring out where to investigate is kind of a big data task.” </span></span></span></span></span></p> </div> <div class="field field--name-field-sf-article-category field--type-entity-reference field--label-above"> <div class="field__label">Category</div> <div class="field__item"><a href="/articles/genetics-microbiology" hreflang="en">Genetics and Microbiology</a></div> </div> <div class="field field--name-field-sf-tags field--type-entity-reference field--label-above"> <div class="field__label">Tags</div> <div class="field__items"> <div class="field__item"><a href="/tags/undergraduate-student-news" hreflang="en">Undergraduate Student News</a></div> <div class="field__item"><a href="/tags/undergraduate-research" hreflang="en">undergraduate research</a></div> <div class="field__item"><a href="/tags/cancer" hreflang="en">cancer</a></div> <div class="field__item"><a href="/tags/chromosomes" hreflang="en">chromosomes</a></div> <div class="field__item"><a href="/tags/chromatids" hreflang="en">chromatids</a></div> <div class="field__item"><a href="/tags/computer-science" hreflang="en">computer science</a></div> <div class="field__item"><a href="/tags/molecular-and-cellular-biology" hreflang="en">Department of Molecular and Cellular Biology</a></div> <div class="field__item"><a href="/tags/autophagy" hreflang="en">autophagy</a></div> <div class="field__item"><a href="/tags/bioinformatics" hreflang="en">bioinformatics</a></div> <div class="field__item"><a href="/tags/cell-division-and-cytoskeleton" hreflang="en">Cell Division and the Cytoskeleton</a></div> </div> </div> Wed, 02 Jan 2019 16:40:10 +0000 Greg Watry 2896 at https://biology.ucdavis.edu Giving the Gift of Science: UC Davis Young Scientist Program Brings Bugs to the Classroom https://biology.ucdavis.edu/news/giving-gift-science-uc-davis-young-scientist-program-brings-bugs-classroom <span class="field field--name-title field--type-string field--label-hidden">Giving the Gift of Science: UC Davis Young Scientist Program Brings Bugs to the Classroom</span> <span class="field field--name-uid field--type-entity-reference field--label-hidden"> <span lang="" about="/user/5451" typeof="schema:Person" property="schema:name" datatype="">Greg Watry</span> </span> <span class="field field--name-created field--type-created field--label-hidden">December 18, 2018</span> <div class="field field--name-field-sf-primary-image field--type-image field--label-hidden field__item"> <img src="/sites/g/files/dgvnsk2646/files/styles/sf_landscape_16x9/public/images/article/Classroom-Young-Scientist-Program-College-of-Biological-Sciences-UC-Davis.jpg?h=c1ce04ee&amp;itok=2kzVXhNk" width="1280" height="720" alt="YSP members present their module Industious Insects to Woodbridge Elementary School students" title="In the last year, the Young Scientist Program has engaged roughly 1,100 students across the San Joaquin and Sacramento counties, bringing science education with a flair to underserved and poverty-stricken communities in the region. The mission: to encourage students, regardless of their background, to pursue higher education and careers in STEM fields. Aron Judd Perez Mendiola " typeof="foaf:Image" class="image-style-sf-landscape-16x9" /> </div> <div class="addthis_toolbox addthis_default_style addthis_32x32_style" addthis:url="https://biology.ucdavis.edu/articles.rss" addthis:title="Recent News" addthis:description="Quick Summary The Young Scientist Program is dedicated to bringing STEM education to underserved communities Launched 2014, it&#039;s grown from a one-person outfit to one supported by nearly 100 UC Davis student volunteers In the last year, they&#039;ve engaged roughly 1,100 students across the San Joaquin and Sacramento counties “What do you all think a scientist looks like?” Jennifer Baily, co-president of the Young Scientist Program and a Biochemistry, Molecular, Cellular and Developmental Biology Ph.D. student, stood in front of a group of Woodbridge Elementary School third graders. Silence didn’t linger long between her question and the answer that followed. Third graders tend to be an eager group, and the students in teacher Kathleen Barth’s class were no exception.  “With a white vest and goggles that go around their eyes just in case something might be dangerous,” a girl said. It was a good answer, one that OSHA would approve of, and with help from other Young Scientist Program members, Baily outfitted a third grader with a white lab coat and goggles. She asked if the student looked like a scientist now and the class’ answer was a resounding yes. But there was a deeper idea behind Baily’s question, one that went beyond safety attire in the lab.              “What we want to show you all with this exercise is that you don’t need the goggles and you don’t need the lab coat to be a scientist,” said Baily. “All you have to do is ask questions and be really excited about learning. And all of us are scientists; we’re not wearing goggles and lab coats right now.” Creating equity in STEM A Woodbridge Elementary School student displays an insect specimen. Aron Judd Perez MendiolaIn the last year, the Young Scientist Program has engaged roughly 1,100 students across the San Joaquin and Sacramento counties, bringing science education with a flair to underserved and poverty-stricken communities in the region. The mission: to encourage students, regardless of their background, to pursue higher education and careers in STEM fields. “We are promoting diversity in science by challenging stereotypes about what it means to be a scientist or who can be a scientist,” said Briana Rocha-Gregg, founder of the Young Scientist Program and a BMCDB Ph.D. student.   “I came from a rough neighborhood and never envisioned going to college,” she continued. “When I got to a point where I made it through undergrad and I could reflect, I realized that a lot of that had to do with me just not knowing any scientists. I could never really perceive it as something that was feasible for me.”  Rocha-Gregg and members of the Young Scientist Program want to make sure other children never feel that way. YSP volunteer shows a group of children an insect specimen. Aron Judd Perez MendiolaA growing program Since its inception in 2014, the Young Scientist Program has grown from a one-person outfit to one supported by nearly 100 graduate student volunteers at UC Davis. About 45 new undergraduate and graduate student volunteers joined the program this year alone, according to co-president and BMCDB Ph.D. student Abby Primack. And UC Davis students are gaining just as much from volunteering with the program as the children who are benefitting from it. According to Rocha-Gregg, a 2016 informal survey of Young Scientist Program volunteers revealed that only 13 percent of the program’s volunteers felt confident in their ability to talk about science with non-scientists. She surveyed the group later and found that 90 percent reported increased confidence in their ability to discuss science with non-scientists. “One thing that’s been important for me is to develop and nurture this sense of commitment to community engagement and sustained outreach and getting out there and realizing that you can’t just stay cooped up in the lab,” said Rocha-Gregg. “You really need to go out into the public and talk about research, and you can fight misconceptions about science in that way.” “We really tailor their volunteer participation to relevant skill development,” added Primack. “They can participate in grant writing, curriculum building, finance, event organization and general leadership within the organization.”     Each year, the groups revamps the curriculum to reflect a new area of science, designing new notebooks and lesson plans for the students. Two years ago, the focus was microbes, and last year, the program created modules around model organisms, bringing zebrafish, roundworms and fruit flies to classrooms and explaining to children how scientists use these organisms to advance knowledge. “The kids got to look at all these model organism underneath the microscope and answered questions about whether they think the animals all have brains, DNA, eyes, a heart,” Primack said. “This year, we’re doing industrious insects.”    Passalidae, commonly known as bess beetles, are a shiny black with striated abdomens. Aron Judd Perez Mendiola     Back in the classroom: A lesson in lassoing beetles The terrarium was small, but the beetles inside were mighty. The third graders, working in groups of roughly five, had just finished inspecting black display cases holding insect specimens. There were green valley grasshoppers, sunset-colored alfalfa butterflies and a polka-dotted saltmarsh caterpillar. But the students’ eyes were now fixated on the beetles being passed around the room. Passalidae, commonly known as bess beetles, are a shiny black with striated abdomens.    “Beetles are actually stronger than humans by weight,” said Baily, noting that the class was going to perform their very own experiment to measure this strength. Young Scientist Program volunteers helped the students fashion sleds out of paper towels and string. Each group then gently tied the opposite end of the string around their assigned beetle and loaded their paper towel sled with pennies. Using scales and mathematics, the volunteers helped the students calculate how many times its body weight their champion beetle could carry.  “Who do you think had the strongest beetle?” Baily asked after the class regrouped. The strongest beetle in the class, it turned out, carried 17 pennies, roughly 41 times its body weight. “No way!” a student said. Even the weakest beetle could carry around 2.6 times its body weight. “That’s still like you carrying three of your friends at once,” Baily said to the class. As the session wrapped up, the Young Scientist Program members said their goodbyes. But the day wasn’t over. They collected their materials and headed to the next classroom scheduled for their day at Woodbridge Elementary School. For Barth, who’s had experiences with the Young Scientist Program before, their return reaffirmed her affinity for the program and its volunteers. “One of the things that I thought was so impressive was that the college students really adapted their terminology, their explanations, to the level of the students,” she said. “They were able to answer in a way that, you know, really exuded enthusiasm, natural curiosity, not necessarily answering the question but asking another question to the students that would help them to elicit an answer.” And that’s what it’s all about: creating equity in the STEM fields by inspiring future generations. Learn more about the Young Scientist Program The terrarium was small, but the beetles inside were mighty. Aron Judd Perez Mendiola       "> <a class="addthis_button_facebook"></a> <script> var addthis_share = { templates: { twitter: "In the last year, the Young Scientist Program has engaged roughly 1,100 students across the San Joaquin and Sacramento counties, bringing science education with a flair to underserved and poverty-stricken communities in the region. " } } </script> <a class="addthis_button_twitter"></a> <a class="addthis_button_google_plusone_share"></a> <a class="addthis_button_email"></a> <a class="addthis_button_compact"></a> </div> <div class="clearfix text-formatted field field--name-body field--type-text-with-summary field--label-hidden field__item"><aside class="wysiwyg-feature-block u-width--half u-align--right"><h3 class="wysiwyg-feature-block__title">Quick Summary</h3> <div class="wysiwyg-feature-block__body"> <ul><li><strong><em><span><span><span><span><span><span>The Young Scientist Program is dedicated to bringing STEM education </span></span></span></span></span></span></em></strong><span><span><span><span><span><span><strong><em>to </em></strong><strong><em>underserved</em></strong></span></span></span></span></span></span><strong><em><span><span><span><span><span><span> communities</span></span></span></span></span></span></em></strong></li> <li><strong><em><span><span><span><span><span><span>Launched 2014, it's grown from a one-person outfit to one supported by nearly 100 UC Davis student volunteers</span></span></span></span></span></span></em></strong></li> <li><strong><em><span><span><span><span><span><span>In the last year, they've engaged roughly 1,100 students across the San Joaquin and Sacramento </span></span></span></span></span></span><span><span><span><span><span><span>counties</span></span></span></span></span></span></em></strong></li> </ul></div> </aside><p><span><span><span><span><span><span>“What do you all think a scientist looks like?” </span></span></span></span></span></span></p> <p><span><span><span><span><span><span>Jennifer Baily, co-president of the Young Scientist Program and a Biochemistry, Molecular, Cellular and Developmental Biology Ph.D. student, stood in front of a group of Woodbridge Elementary School third graders. Silence didn’t linger long between her question and the answer that followed. Third graders tend to be an eager group, and the students in teacher Kathleen Barth’s class were no exception.  </span></span></span></span></span></span></p> <p><span><span><span><span><span><span>“With a white vest and goggles that go around their eyes just in case something might be dangerous,” a girl said.</span></span></span></span></span></span></p> <p><span><span><span><span><span><span>It was a good answer, one that OSHA would approve of, and with help from other Young Scientist Program members, Baily outfitted a third grader with a white lab coat and goggles. She asked if the student looked like a scientist now and the class’ answer was a resounding yes. But there was a deeper idea behind Baily’s question, one that went beyond safety attire in the lab.             </span></span></span></span></span></span></p> <blockquote> <p><span><span><span><span><span><span>“What we want to show you all with this exercise is that you don’t need the goggles and you don’t need the lab coat to be a scientist,” said Baily. “All you have to do is ask questions and be really excited about learning. And all of us are scientists; we’re not wearing goggles and lab coats right now.” </span></span></span></span></span></span></p> </blockquote> <h4><span><span><span><strong><span><span><span>Creating equity in STEM</span></span></span></strong></span></span></span></h4> <figure role="group" class="caption caption-img align-right"><img alt="A Woodbridge Elementary School student shows off an insect display" data-entity-type="file" data-entity-uuid="6022310f-ad3e-44d3-81f6-b462b1b52855" height="326" src="/sites/g/files/dgvnsk2646/files/inline-images/Kamillia-Young-Scientist-Program-College-of-Biological-Sciences-UC-Davis.jpg" width="489" /><figcaption>A Woodbridge Elementary School student displays an insect specimen. Aron Judd Perez Mendiola</figcaption></figure><p><span><span><span><span><span><span>In the last year, the Young Scientist Program has engaged roughly 1,100 students across the San Joaquin and Sacramento </span></span></span></span></span></span><span><span><span><span><span><span>counties, bringing science education with a flair to underserved and poverty-stricken communities in the region. The mission: to encourage students, regardless of their background, to pursue higher education and careers in STEM fields. </span></span></span></span></span></span></p> <p><span><span><span><span><span><span>“We are promoting diversity in science by challenging stereotypes about what it means to be a scientist or who can be a scientist,” said <span><span><a href="https://biology.ucdavis.edu/news/young-scientist-program-promoting-k-12-life-science-local-communities">Briana Rocha-Gregg, founder of the Young Scientist Program</a></span></span> and a BMCDB Ph.D. student.  </span></span></span></span></span></span></p> <p><span><span><span><span><span><span>“I came from a rough neighborhood and never envisioned going to college,” she continued. “When I got to a point where I made it through undergrad and I could reflect, I realized that a lot of that had to do with me just not knowing any scientists. I could never really perceive it as something that was feasible for me.”  </span></span></span></span></span></span></p> <p><span><span><span><span><span><span>Rocha-Gregg and members of the Young Scientist Program want to make sure other children never feel that way. </span></span></span></span></span></span></p> <figure role="group" class="caption caption-img"><img alt="YSP volunteer shows students insect specimens" data-entity-type="file" data-entity-uuid="63fe0b63-3914-4ff1-9e79-fd651b4e0330" src="/sites/g/files/dgvnsk2646/files/inline-images/Bug-Display-Young-Scientist-Program-College-of-Biological-Sciences-UC-Davis.jpg" /><figcaption>YSP volunteer shows a group of children an insect specimen. Aron Judd Perez Mendiola</figcaption></figure><h4><span><span><span><strong><span><span><span>A growing program </span></span></span></strong></span></span></span></h4> <p><span><span><span><span><span><span>Since its inception in 2014, the Young Scientist Program has grown from a one-person outfit to one supported by nearly 100 graduate student volunteers at UC Davis. About 45 new undergraduate and graduate student volunteers joined the program this year alone, according to co-president and BMCDB Ph.D. student Abby Primack. And UC Davis students are gaining just as much from volunteering with the program as the children who are benefitting from it. </span></span></span></span></span></span></p> <p><span><span><span><span><span><span>According to Rocha-Gregg, a 2016 informal survey of Young Scientist Program volunteers revealed that only 13 percent of the program’s volunteers felt confident in their ability to talk about science with non-scientists. She surveyed the group later and found that 90 percent reported increased confidence in their ability to discuss science with non-scientists. </span></span></span></span></span></span></p> <blockquote> <p><span><span><span><span><span><span>“One thing that’s been important for me is to develop and nurture this sense of commitment to community engagement and sustained outreach and getting out there and realizing that you can’t just stay cooped up in the lab,” said Rocha-Gregg. “You really need to go out into the public and talk about research, and you can fight misconceptions about science in that way.” </span></span></span></span></span></span></p> </blockquote> <p><span><span><span><span><span><span>“We really tailor their volunteer participation to relevant skill development,” added Primack. “They can participate in grant writing, curriculum building, finance, event organization and general leadership within the organization.”    </span></span></span></span></span></span></p> <p><span><span><span><span><span><span>Each year, the groups revamps the curriculum to reflect a new area of science, designing new notebooks and <span><span><a href="https://www.youngscientistprogram.org/worksheets">lesson plans</a></span></span> for the students. Two years ago, the focus was microbes, and last year, the program created modules around model organisms, bringing zebrafish, roundworms and fruit flies to classrooms and explaining to children how scientists use these organisms to advance knowledge.</span></span></span></span></span></span></p> <p><span><span><span><span><span><span>“The kids got to look at all these model organism underneath the microscope and answered questions about whether they think the animals all have brains, DNA, eyes, a heart,” Primack said. “This year, we’re doing industrious insects.”    </span></span></span></span></span></span></p> <figure role="group" class="caption caption-img"><img alt="Beetle crawls on a hand" data-entity-type="file" data-entity-uuid="ac05915d-eda2-4817-a2d9-b8ecbf3342a6" src="/sites/g/files/dgvnsk2646/files/inline-images/Beetle-Young-Scientist-Program-College-of-Biological-Sciences-UC-Davis.jpg" /><figcaption><em>Passalidae, </em>commonly known as bess beetles, are a shiny black with striated abdomens. Aron Judd Perez Mendiola   <em>  </em></figcaption></figure><h4><span><span><span><strong><span><span><span>Back in the classroom: A lesson in lassoing beetles</span></span></span></strong></span></span></span></h4> <p><span><span><span><span><span><span>The terrarium was small, but the beetles inside were mighty. The third graders, working in groups of roughly five, had just finished inspecting black display cases holding insect specimens. There were green valley grasshoppers, sunset-colored alfalfa butterflies and a polka-dotted saltmarsh caterpillar. But the students’ eyes were now fixated on the beetles being passed around the room.</span></span></span></span></span></span></p> <p><span><span><span><em><span><span><span>Passalidae, </span></span></span></em><span><span><span>commonly known as bess beetles, are a shiny black with striated abdomens. <em>  </em></span></span></span></span></span></span></p> <p><span><span><span><span><span><span>“Beetles are actually stronger than humans by weight,” said Baily, noting that the class was going to perform their very own experiment to measure this strength.</span></span></span></span></span></span></p> <p><span><span><span><span><span><span>Young Scientist Program volunteers helped the students fashion sleds out of paper towels and string. Each group then gently tied the opposite end of the string around their assigned beetle and loaded their paper towel sled with pennies. Using scales and mathematics, the volunteers helped the students calculate how many times its body weight their champion beetle could carry.  </span></span></span></span></span></span></p> <p><span><span><span><span><span><span>“Who do you think had the strongest beetle?” Baily asked after the class regrouped. </span></span></span></span></span></span></p> <p><span><span><span><span><span><span>The strongest beetle in the class, it turned out, carried 17 pennies, roughly 41 times its body weight. “No way!” a student said. Even the weakest beetle could carry around 2.6 times its body weight. “That’s still like you carrying three of your friends at once,” Baily said to the class. </span></span></span></span></span></span></p> <p><span><span><span><span><span><span>As the session wrapped up, the Young Scientist Program members said their goodbyes. But the day wasn’t over. They collected their materials and headed to the next classroom scheduled for their day at Woodbridge Elementary School. </span></span></span></span></span></span></p> <p><span><span><span><span><span><span>For Barth, who’s had experiences with the Young Scientist Program before, their return reaffirmed her affinity for the program and its volunteers. </span></span></span></span></span></span></p> <blockquote> <p><span><span><span><span><span><span>“One of the things that I thought was so impressive was that the college students really adapted their terminology, their explanations, to the level of the students,” she said. “They were able to answer in a way that, you know, really exuded enthusiasm, natural curiosity, not necessarily answering the question but asking another question to the students that would help them to elicit an answer.” </span></span></span></span></span></span></p> </blockquote> <p><span><span><span><span><span><span>And that’s what it’s all about: creating equity in the STEM fields by inspiring future generations. </span></span></span></span></span></span></p> <p><strong><em>Learn more about the <a href="https://www.youngscientistprogram.org/">Young Scientist Program</a></em></strong></p> <figure role="group" class="caption caption-img"><img alt="Beetle pulls pennies" data-entity-type="file" data-entity-uuid="1d456980-3792-4737-bf50-6eccbf733c56" src="/sites/g/files/dgvnsk2646/files/inline-images/Pulling-Pennies-Young-Scientist-Program-College-of-Biological-Sciences-UC-Davis.jpg" /><figcaption>The terrarium was small, but the beetles inside were mighty. Aron Judd Perez Mendiola   <em>  </em></figcaption></figure><p> </p> </div> <div class="field field--name-field-sf-article-category field--type-entity-reference field--label-above"> <div class="field__label">Category</div> <div class="field__item"><a href="/articles/campus-community" hreflang="en">Campus and Community</a></div> </div> <div class="field field--name-field-sf-tags field--type-entity-reference field--label-above"> <div class="field__label">Tags</div> <div class="field__items"> <div class="field__item"><a href="/tags/undergraduate-student-news" hreflang="en">Undergraduate Student News</a></div> <div class="field__item"><a href="/tags/graduate-student-news" hreflang="en">Graduate Student News</a></div> <div class="field__item"><a href="/tags/biochemistry-molecular-cellular-and-developmental-biology-graduate-group" hreflang="en">Biochemistry, Molecular, Cellular and Developmental Biology Graduate Group</a></div> <div class="field__item"><a href="/tags/women-stem" hreflang="en">Women in STEM</a></div> <div class="field__item"><a href="/tags/young-scientist-program" hreflang="en">Young Scientist Program</a></div> <div class="field__item"><a href="/tags/science-communication" hreflang="en">Science Communication</a></div> <div class="field__item"><a href="/tags/stem-education" hreflang="en">STEM education</a></div> <div class="field__item"><a href="/tags/philanthropy" hreflang="en">philanthropy</a></div> <div class="field__item"><a href="/tags/insects" hreflang="en">insects</a></div> <div class="field__item"><a href="/tags/entomology" hreflang="en">entomology</a></div> </div> </div> Tue, 18 Dec 2018 18:32:00 +0000 Greg Watry 2881 at https://biology.ucdavis.edu National Academy of Sciences President to Visit UC Davis to Discuss Sexual Harassment and Women in STEM https://biology.ucdavis.edu/news/national-academy-sciences-president-visit-uc-davis-discuss-impacts-sexual-harassment-women <span class="field field--name-title field--type-string field--label-hidden">National Academy of Sciences President to Visit UC Davis to Discuss Sexual Harassment and Women in STEM</span> <span class="field field--name-uid field--type-entity-reference field--label-hidden"> <span lang="" about="/user/5451" typeof="schema:Person" property="schema:name" datatype="">Greg Watry</span> </span> <span class="field field--name-created field--type-created field--label-hidden">December 17, 2018</span> <div class="field field--name-field-sf-primary-image field--type-image field--label-hidden field__item"> <img src="/sites/g/files/dgvnsk2646/files/styles/sf_landscape_16x9/public/images/article/Marcia-McNutt-College-of-Biological-Sciences-UC-Davis.jpg?h=825ca543&amp;itok=oW607Oh8" width="1280" height="720" alt="National Academy of Sciences President Marcia McNutt will visit campus for a presentation on “The Climate for Women in STEM: Past, Present, and Future.” " title="McNutt’s academic career started at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, where she served as the E.A. Griswold Professor of Geophysics and directed the Joint Program in Oceanography/Applied Ocean Science and Engineering. Courtesy Photo" typeof="foaf:Image" class="image-style-sf-landscape-16x9" /> </div> <div class="addthis_toolbox addthis_default_style addthis_32x32_style" addthis:url="https://biology.ucdavis.edu/articles.rss" addthis:title="Recent News" addthis:description="The Climate for Women in STEM: Past, Present, and Future When: Friday, Jan. 18 from 10:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. Where: Mondavi Center, Jackson Hall Lecturer: National Academy of Sciences President Marcia McNutt RSVP: bit.ly/CBS-DDL2019 Please note the event venue has changed to the Mondavi Center, Jackson Hall. The event will also be live streamed here: https://livestream.com/UCDavis/McNutt-2019 National Academy of Sciences President Marcia McNutt will visit campus for a presentation on “The Climate for Women in STEM: Past, Present, and Future.” The free event will be held on Friday, Jan. 18 from 10:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. in the Mondavi Center, Jackson Hall. The lecture will cover insights from the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine’s report entitled “Sexual Harassment of Women: Climate, Culture, and Consequences.” A panel discussion with McNutt and UC Davis faculty will follow her presentation. “What is important about this new study from the National Academies is that it provides the evidence that a spectrum of forms of gender harassment, many subtle, contribute to the attrition of women in the scientific workforce,” said McNutt, a geophysicist. “The report also discusses how organizations can change their culture to be intolerant of gender harassment as well as other forms of sexual harassment.” Elected to the National Academy of Sciences in 2005, McNutt was editor-in-chief of the Science family of journals from 2013 to 2016 and served as the director of the U.S. Geological Survey from 2009 to 2013. She earned a Ph.D. in Earth Sciences from the Scripps Institution of Oceanography and a B.A. in Physics from Colorado College. McNutt’s academic career started at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, where she served as the E.A. Griswold Professor of Geophysics and directed the Joint Program in Oceanography/Applied Ocean Science and Engineering. She was also president and chief executive officer of the Monterey Bay Aquarium Research Institute and is a member of the American Philosophical Society and the American Academy of Arts and Sciences. “I entered the field of science as a graduate student back in the 1970s when women were still a rarity at all levels in all fields,” said McNutt. “In the following decades, I witnessed the numbers of women studying science at the graduate level increase greatly, such that in many fields women attained parity with men.” “And yet in the upper ranks across all sectors and in leadership levels, women remained seriously under-represented,” she added. “My female friends, colleagues, and students questioned whether they were good enough, whether they belonged, and whether they even wanted a professional life in science badly enough to ‘pay the price.’” According to the report, 58 percent of women faculty and staff in academia have experienced sexual harassment. “I have chosen this topic in the wake of the recent NAS report on sexual harassment and in recognition of the Me Too movement,” said College of Biological Sciences Dean Mark Winey. “The event is also a recognition of the upcoming 20th anniversary of the groundbreaking report of the status of women faculty at MIT championed by Nancy Hopkins.” Hopkins and other female faculty members conducted a pivotal study about gender bias at MIT in the 1990s. At the time, they found that MIT’s School of Science had 197 tenured men and only 15 tenured women. Additionally, women often had less laboratory space and were paid less than male peers.   This inaugural event for the College of Biological Sciences Dean’s Distinguished Lecture series is sponsored by the college’s Dean’s Circle. To RSVP for the event, visit bit.ly/CBS-DDL2019. Panel Discussion Lead: Maureen Stanton, Distinguished Professor Emerita of Evolution and Ecology Panel: Phil Kass, Vice Provost for Academic Affairs, Professor, Population Health &amp; Reproduction Linda Katehi, Chancellor Emerita, Distinguished Professor of Electrical and Computer Engineering Wendi Delmendo, Chief Compliance Officer, UC Davis Linda Bisson, UC Davis ADVANCE Faculty Director, Professor Emeritus, Viticulture and Enology Shelley Meeusen, Executive Director, General Medical Biology, Genomics Institute of Novartis Research Foundation (GNF), UC Davis 2003 PhD in Biochem and Molecular Biology Download Event Flier PDF "> <a class="addthis_button_facebook"></a> <script> var addthis_share = { templates: { twitter: "National Academy of Sciences President Marcia McNutt will visit campus for a presentation on “The Climate for Women in STEM: Past, Present, and Future.” The free event will be held on Friday, Jan. 18 from 10:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. in the UC Davis Mondavi Center. " } } </script> <a class="addthis_button_twitter"></a> <a class="addthis_button_google_plusone_share"></a> <a class="addthis_button_email"></a> <a class="addthis_button_compact"></a> </div> <div class="clearfix text-formatted field field--name-body field--type-text-with-summary field--label-hidden field__item"><aside class="wysiwyg-feature-block u-width--half u-align--right"><h3 class="wysiwyg-feature-block__title"><span><span><span><span><span><span>The Climate for Women in</span></span></span></span></span></span><span><span><span><span><span><span> STEM: Past, Present, and Future</span></span></span></span></span></span></h3> <div class="wysiwyg-feature-block__body"> <p><em><strong>When: Friday, Jan. 18 from 10:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m.</strong></em></p> <p><em><strong>Where: Mondavi Center, Jackson Hall</strong></em></p> <p><em><strong>Lecturer: National Academy of Sciences President Marcia McNutt</strong></em></p> <p><em><strong>RSVP: <a href="http://bit.ly/CBS-DDL2019"><span><span><span><span><span><span>bit.ly/CBS-DDL2019</span></span></span></span></span></span></a></strong></em></p> </div> </aside><div class="alert alert--error"><strong>Please note the event venue has changed to the Mondavi Center, Jackson Hall. The event will also be live streamed here: <a href="https://livestream.com/UCDavis/McNutt-2019">https://livestream.com/UCDavis/McNutt-2019</a></strong></div> <p><span><span><span><span><span><span>National Academy of Sciences President Marcia McNutt will visit campus for a presentation on “The Climate for Women in</span></span></span></span></span></span><span><span><span><span><span><span> STEM: Past, Present, and Future.” </span></span></span></span></span></span></p> <p><span><span><span><span><span><span>The free event will be held on Friday, Jan. 18 from 10:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. in the Mondavi Center, Jackson Hall. The lecture will cover insights from the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine’s report entitled <a href="http://bit.ly/womenNAS">“Sexual Harassment of Women: Climate, Culture, and Consequences.</a>” </span></span></span></span></span></span></p> <p><span><span><span><span><span><span>A panel discussion with McNutt and UC Davis faculty will follow her presentation.</span></span></span></span></span></span></p> <p><span><span><span><span><span><span>“What is important about this new study from the National Academies is that it provides the evidence that a spectrum of forms of gender harassment, many subtle, contribute to the attrition of women in the scientific workforce,” said McNutt, a geophysicist. “The report also discusses how organizations can change their culture to be intolerant of gender harassment as well as other forms of sexual harassment.” </span></span></span></span></span></span></p> <p><span><span><span><span><span><span>Elected to the National Academy of Sciences in 2005, McNutt was editor-in-chief of the <em>Science </em>family of journals from 2013 to 2016 and served as the director of the U.S. Geological Survey from 2009 to 2013. She earned a Ph.D. in Earth Sciences from the Scripps Institution of Oceanography and a B.A. in Physics from Colorado College. </span></span></span></span></span></span></p> <p><span><span><span><span><span><span>McNutt’s academic career started at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, where she served as the E.A. Griswold Professor of Geophysics and directed the Joint Program in Oceanography/Applied Ocean Science and Engineering. She was also president and chief executive officer of the Monterey Bay Aquarium Research Institute and is a member of the American Philosophical Society and the American Academy of Arts and Sciences. </span></span></span></span></span></span></p> <p><span><span><span><span><span><span>“I entered the field of science as a graduate student back in the 1970s when women were still a rarity at all levels in all fields,” said McNutt. “In the following decades, I witnessed the numbers of women studying science at the graduate level increase greatly, such that in many fields women attained parity with men.”</span></span></span></span></span></span></p> <blockquote> <p><span><span><span><span><span><span>“And yet in the upper ranks across all sectors and in leadership levels, women remained seriously under-represented,” she added. “My female friends, colleagues, and students questioned whether they were good enough, whether they belonged, and whether they even wanted a professional life in science badly enough to ‘pay the price.’” </span></span></span></span></span></span></p> </blockquote> <p><span><span><span><span><span><span>According to the report, 58 percent of women faculty and staff in academia have experienced sexual harassment. </span></span></span></span></span></span></p> <p><span><span><span><span><span><span>“I have chosen this topic in the wake of the recent NAS report on sexual harassment and in recognition of the Me Too movement,” said College of Biological Sciences Dean Mark Winey. “The event is also a recognition of the upcoming 20th anniversary of the groundbreaking report of the status of women faculty at MIT championed by Nancy Hopkins.” </span></span></span></span></span></span></p> <p><span><span><span><span><span><span>Hopkins and other female faculty members conducted a pivotal study about gender bias at MIT in the 1990s. At the time, they found that MIT’s School of Science had 197 tenured men and only 15 tenured women. Additionally, women often had less laboratory space and were paid less than male peers.   </span></span></span></span></span></span></p> <p><span><span><span><span><span><span>This inaugural event for the College of Biological Sciences Dean’s Distinguished Lecture series is sponsored by the college’s Dean’s Circle. <strong>To RSVP for the event, visit <a href="http://bit.ly/CBS-DDL2019">bit.ly/CBS-DDL2019</a></strong></span></span></span></span></span></span><strong><span><span><span><span><span><span>.</span></span></span></span></span></span></strong></p> <h4><strong><span>Panel Discussion </span></strong></h4> <p><span>Lead: <strong>Maureen Stanton</strong>, Distinguished Professor Emerita of Evolution and Ecology </span></p> <p><em><span>Panel: </span></em></p> <ul type="disc"><li><strong><span>Phil Kass</span></strong><span>, Vice Provost for Academic Affairs, Professor, Population Health &amp; Reproduction </span></li> <li><strong><span>Linda Katehi</span></strong><span>, Chancellor Emerita, Distinguished Professor of Electrical and Computer Engineering </span></li> <li><strong><span>Wendi Delmendo</span></strong><span>, Chief Compliance Officer, UC Davis </span></li> <li><strong><span>Linda Bisson</span></strong><span>, UC Davis ADVANCE Faculty Director, Professor </span><span>Emeritus, Viticulture and Enology </span></li> <li><strong><span>Shelley Meeusen</span></strong><span>, Executive Director, General Medical Biology, </span><span>Genomics Institute of Novartis Research Foundation (GNF), UC Davis 2003 PhD in Biochem and Molecular Biology </span></li> </ul><p><span><span><span><span><span><span><em><strong><a class="btn--primary" data-entity-type="file" data-entity-uuid="1dc92da9-cfb3-4d15-a17e-877f672dc1ba" href="https://biology.ucdavis.edu/sites/g/files/dgvnsk2646/files/files/page/McNutt%20Flier.%20docx.pdf">Download Event Flier PDF</a></strong></em></span></span></span></span></span></span></p> </div> <div class="field field--name-field-sf-article-category field--type-entity-reference field--label-above"> <div class="field__label">Category</div> <div class="field__item"><a href="/articles/campus-community" hreflang="en">Campus and Community</a></div> </div> <div class="field field--name-field-sf-tags field--type-entity-reference field--label-above"> <div class="field__label">Tags</div> <div class="field__items"> <div class="field__item"><a href="/tags/women-stem" hreflang="en">Women in STEM</a></div> <div class="field__item"><a href="/tags/deans-office-leadership" hreflang="en">Dean&#039;s Office Leadership</a></div> <div class="field__item"><a href="/tags/molecular-and-cellular-biology" hreflang="en">Department of Molecular and Cellular Biology</a></div> <div class="field__item"><a href="/tags/deans-office-college-leadership" hreflang="en">Dean&#039;s Office - College Leadership</a></div> <div class="field__item"><a href="/tags/deans-distinguished-lecture" hreflang="en">Dean&#039;s Distinguished Lecture</a></div> <div class="field__item"><a href="/tags/national-academy-sciences" hreflang="en">National Academy of Sciences</a></div> </div> </div> Mon, 17 Dec 2018 17:58:14 +0000 Greg Watry 2876 at https://biology.ucdavis.edu Fruit Flies Raised in Space by UC Davis Researcher Show Weakened Immunity https://biology.ucdavis.edu/news/fruit-flies-raised-space-uc-davis-researcher-show-weakened-immunity <span class="field field--name-title field--type-string field--label-hidden">Fruit Flies Raised in Space by UC Davis Researcher Show Weakened Immunity </span> <span class="field field--name-uid field--type-entity-reference field--label-hidden"> <span lang="" about="/user/12611" typeof="schema:Person" property="schema:name" datatype="">Karen Nikos-Rose</span> </span> <span class="field field--name-created field--type-created field--label-hidden">December 14, 2018</span> <div class="field field--name-field-sf-primary-image field--type-image field--label-hidden field__item"> <img src="/sites/g/files/dgvnsk2646/files/styles/sf_landscape_16x9/public/images/article/Fruit-Flies-Deborah-Kimbrell-College-of-Biological-Sciences-UC-Davis.jpg?h=e9b5f5a4&amp;itok=Qg191oQd" width="1280" height="720" alt="Professor Deborah Kimbrell holds a tray of fruit fly specimens" title="Professor Deborah Kimbrell holds a tray of fruit fly specimens. She launched fruit flies into space in 2006 as part of an experiment to test their immunity in space. (Kathy Keatley Garvey/UC Davis)" typeof="foaf:Image" class="image-style-sf-landscape-16x9" /> </div> <div class="addthis_toolbox addthis_default_style addthis_32x32_style" addthis:url="https://biology.ucdavis.edu/articles.rss" addthis:title="Recent News" addthis:description="Quick Summary Deborah Kimbrell is one of first researchers to study innate immunity in fruit flies This is one in a series of stories highlighting UC Davis’ role in space research as the country reaches the 50th anniversary of the moon landing Deborah Kimbrell was a little girl growing up all over the world with Air Force parents when she began to get curious about space. “I watched everything happening with space exploration, all the spaceflights, the first landing on the moon,” she said, recalling the event that happened nearly 50 years ago. “I knew it was the next way to fly, the new frontier.” “I resolved then that whatever career I pursued it would have something to do with space.” She followed a liberal arts curriculum at Mills College, but a core class in genetics set her on the path to eventually achieving a doctoral degree in genetics at UC Berkeley. First in flight, first in flies Kimbrell is now an emerita researcher in the University of California, Davis, Department of Molecular and Cellular Biology in the College of Biological Sciences, where she has been since 1999. One of the first researchers to study innate immunity in fruit flies, Kimbrell early on recognized its potential for modeling the effects of altered gravity on astronauts’ immune systems. Professor Deborah Kimbrell gives the thumbs up as her fruit flies take off into space in 2006. (Photo/Ingemar Olsson)In 2006, she and a group of researchers were selected by NASA to study just that. After weeks of lab work and research on location at Kennedy Space Center in Florida, they sent up 10 small containers, each similar in size to a television remote, with fruit flies that would lay eggs while on the space shuttle Discovery. Given the flies’ short life span (enabling long-term testing in a brief time) and immune systems strikingly similar to humans’, they were ideal subjects. Returning from the 12-day trip were hatched, 2-day-old, young adult fruit flies. Kimbrell and her team from UC Davis and other universities tested the flies’ responses to two different infections: a fungus and a bacterial infection. A control group, which never left the ground, underwent the same tests. Started research on gravity that continues today The spaceflight experiment was an extension of the ground-based research done by Kimbrell&#039;s UC Davis laboratory on the effects of increased gravity — research that continues today at NASA and UC Davis. “What we found is that in one kind of infection in flies that were raised in space, they did fine, and in another kind of infection, they really didn’t respond at all,” said Kimbrell. “The pathway that did not respond, the Toll pathway, is critical in humans for all kinds of health-related issues,” said Kimbrell. In fact, the Toll pathway response is involved in sepsis, which is still a big problem in human health, she explained. Kimbrell looked at the effects of microgravity (decreased gravity, like that in space) and hypergravity (increased gravity), which was simulated on a centrifuge at UC Davis — and is similar to what living beings experience in launch and landing of spacecrafts. The flies, or fly eggs, that had been exposed to hypergravity did much better than the flies who were not, suggesting that hypergravity treatment for astronauts before and after space travel could mitigate some health problems experienced after space travel. The idea that even short-term exposure to increased gravity during a ride on a roller coaster, for example, could potentially have a positive effect on immune response in humans comes from the boost demonstrated in fruit fly immunity during hypergravity exposure. Kimbrell ’s research, published in 2014, suggested that exposing astronauts to “normal” gravity like that on earth, or hypergravity while they are living on the space station could help mitigate some of the biological problems, including weakened immune response, experienced by those who have traveled in space. NASA developed lab to continue research on fruit flies NASA developed a new Fruit Fly Lab in 2014 to accommodate continued study of Drosophila, or fruit flies, in space. This facility supports longer duration studies involving multiple generations of fruit flies. Additionally, centrifuge-based science was delivered to the International Space Station this year in the form of a mechanism that houses fruit flies and spins them quickly up to two times the force of gravity. Video: NASA continues study of fruit flies in space. “It makes me happy that now many laboratories are in this field and that my research group’s work related to gravity contributes to understanding the challenges of space travel,” Kimbrell said. “As this research continues, I am optimistic about the future for space travel and proud of UC Davis’ contribution.” This story originally appeared on UC Davis News Media Resources NASA video on fruit fly research: &quot;Spinning Science.&quot; Smithsonian: How flies make space safer for humans Kimbrell’s study on spaceflight and flies, July 2014 Researchers Forged Path From UC Davis to Space "> <a class="addthis_button_facebook"></a> <script> var addthis_share = { templates: { twitter: "Deborah Kimbrell is one of first researchers to study innate immunity in fruit flies. This is one in a series of stories highlighting UC Davis’ role in space research as the country reaches the 50th anniversary of the moon landing. " } } </script> <a class="addthis_button_twitter"></a> <a class="addthis_button_google_plusone_share"></a> <a class="addthis_button_email"></a> <a class="addthis_button_compact"></a> </div> <div class="clearfix text-formatted field field--name-body field--type-text-with-summary field--label-hidden field__item"><aside class="wysiwyg-feature-block u-width--half u-align--right"><h3 class="wysiwyg-feature-block__title">Quick Summary</h3> <div class="wysiwyg-feature-block__body"> <ul><li><strong><em>Deborah Kimbrell is one of </em></strong><strong><em>first</em></strong><strong><em> researchers to study innate immunity in fruit flies </em></strong></li> <li><strong><em>This is one in a series of stories highlighting UC Davis’ role in space research as the country reaches the 50th anniversary of the moon landing </em></strong></li> </ul></div> </aside><p>Deborah Kimbrell was a little girl growing up all over the world with Air Force parents when she began to get curious about space.</p> <p>“I watched everything happening with space exploration, all the spaceflights, the first landing on the moon,” she said, recalling the event that happened nearly 50 years ago. “I knew it was the next way to fly, the new frontier.”</p> <p>“I resolved then that whatever career I pursued it would have something to do with space.”</p> <p>She followed a liberal arts curriculum at Mills College, but a core class in genetics set her on the path to eventually achieving a doctoral degree in genetics at UC Berkeley.</p> <h4><strong>First in flight, first in flies</strong></h4> <p><a href="https://biology.ucdavis.edu/people/deborah-kimbrell">Kimbrell is now an emerita researcher</a> in the University of California, Davis, Department of Molecular and Cellular Biology in the College of Biological Sciences, where she has been since 1999.</p> <p>One of the first researchers to study innate immunity in fruit flies, Kimbrell early on recognized its potential for modeling the effects of altered gravity on astronauts’ immune systems.</p> <figure role="group" class="caption caption-img align-left"><img alt="Professor Deborah Kimbrell gives the thumbs up as her fruit flies take off into space in 2006" data-entity-type="file" data-entity-uuid="8c5fdae7-d03f-47b7-a1b7-56675a0fd9d5" src="/sites/g/files/dgvnsk2646/files/inline-images/Launch-Deborah-Kimbrell-College-of-Biological-Sciences-UC-Davis.jpg" /><figcaption>Professor Deborah Kimbrell gives the thumbs up as her fruit flies take off into space in 2006. (Photo/Ingemar Olsson)</figcaption></figure><p>In 2006, she and a group of researchers were selected by NASA to study just that. After weeks of lab work and research on location at Kennedy Space Center in Florida, they sent up 10 small containers, each similar in size to a television remote, with fruit flies that would lay eggs while on the space shuttle Discovery. Given the flies’ short life span (enabling long-term testing in a brief time) and immune systems strikingly similar to humans’, they were ideal subjects.</p> <p>Returning from the 12-day trip were hatched, 2-day-old, young adult fruit flies. Kimbrell and her team from UC Davis and other universities tested the flies’ responses to two different infections: a fungus and a bacterial infection. A control group, which never left the ground, underwent the same tests.</p> <h4><strong>Started research on gravity that continues today</strong></h4> <p>The spaceflight experiment was an extension of the ground-based research done by Kimbrell's UC Davis laboratory on the effects of increased gravity — research that continues today at NASA and UC Davis.</p> <p>“What we found is that in one kind of infection in flies that were raised in space, they did fine, and in another kind of infection, they really didn’t respond at all,” said Kimbrell. “The pathway that did not respond, the Toll pathway, is critical in humans for all kinds of health-related issues,” said Kimbrell. In fact, the Toll pathway response is involved in sepsis, which is still a big problem in human health, she explained.</p> <p>Kimbrell looked at the effects of microgravity (decreased gravity, like that in space) and hypergravity (increased gravity), which was simulated on a centrifuge at UC Davis — and is similar to what living beings experience in launch and landing of spacecrafts. The flies, or fly eggs, that had been exposed to hypergravity did much better than the flies who were not, suggesting that hypergravity treatment for astronauts before and after space travel could mitigate some health problems experienced after space travel.</p> <p>The idea that even short-term exposure to increased gravity during a ride on a roller coaster, for example, could potentially have a positive effect on immune response in humans comes from the boost demonstrated in fruit fly immunity during hypergravity exposure.</p> <p>Kimbrell ’s <a href="http://journals.plos.org/plosone/article?id=10.1371/journal.pone.0086485">research</a>, published in 2014, suggested that exposing astronauts to “normal” gravity like that on earth, or hypergravity while they are living on the space station could help mitigate some of the biological problems, including weakened immune response, experienced by those who have traveled in space.</p> <h4>NASA developed lab to continue research on fruit flies</h4> <p>NASA developed a new <strong><a href="http://www.nasa.gov/mission_pages/station/research/news/fruit_fly/#.U4dEE_ldWAj">Fruit Fly Lab</a></strong> in 2014 to accommodate continued study of <em>Drosophila</em>, or fruit flies, in space. This facility supports longer duration studies involving multiple generations of fruit flies. Additionally, centrifuge-based science was delivered to the <a href="https://www.nasa.gov/mission_pages/station/research/news/Spinning_Science_MVP_Arrives_At_ISS">International <strong>Space Station this year</strong></a> in the form of a mechanism that houses fruit flies and spins them quickly up to two times the force of gravity.</p> <div class="responsive-embed" style="padding-bottom: 56.25%"><iframe width="480" height="270" src="https://www.youtube.com/embed/kzUXMrhAY28?feature=oembed" frameborder="0" allow="accelerometer; autoplay; encrypted-media; gyroscope; picture-in-picture" allowfullscreen=""></iframe></div> <p><em>Video: NASA continues study of fruit flies in space.</em></p> <p>“It makes me happy that now many laboratories are in this field and that my research group’s work related to gravity contributes to understanding the challenges of space travel,” Kimbrell said. “As this research continues, I am optimistic about the future for space travel and proud of UC Davis’ contribution.”</p> <p><em><strong>This story originally appeared on <a href="https://www.ucdavis.edu/news/fruit-flies-raised-space-uc-davis-researcher-show-weakened-immunity/">UC Davis News</a></strong></em></p> <div> <h2><span>Media</span> Resources</h2> <div> <div> <ul><li><a href="https://www.nasa.gov/mission_pages/station/research/news/Spinning_Science_MVP_Arrives_At_ISS">NASA video on fruit fly research: "Spinning Science."</a></li> <li><a href="https://www.smithsonianmag.com/videos/category/science/smartnews-flies-in-space/">Smithsonian: How flies make space safer for humans</a></li> <li><a href="https://www.nasa.gov/mission_pages/station/research/news/plos_one/">Kimbrell’s study on spaceflight and flies, July 2014</a></li> <li><a href="https://www.ucdavis.edu/curiosity/news/researchers-forged-path-from-uc-davis-to-space">Researchers Forged Path From UC Davis to Space</a></li> </ul></div> </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field--name-field-sf-article-category field--type-entity-reference field--label-above"> <div class="field__label">Category</div> <div class="field__item"><a href="/articles/human-animal-health" hreflang="en">Human and Animal Health</a></div> </div> <div class="field field--name-field-sf-tags field--type-entity-reference field--label-above"> <div class="field__label">Tags</div> <div class="field__items"> <div class="field__item"><a href="/tags/molecular-and-cellular-biology" hreflang="en">Department of Molecular and Cellular Biology</a></div> <div class="field__item"><a href="/tags/space" hreflang="en">space</a></div> <div class="field__item"><a href="/tags/flies" hreflang="en">flies</a></div> <div class="field__item"><a href="/tags/curiosity" hreflang="en">curiosity</a></div> </div> </div> Fri, 14 Dec 2018 16:29:24 +0000 Karen Nikos-Rose 2871 at https://biology.ucdavis.edu