Graduate Student Stories

One CBS Student’s Mission to Inspire and Uplift the Next Generation of Scientists

Jessica Bolivar, a graduate student in the Biochemistry, Molecular, Cellular and Developmental Biology (BMCDB) Graduate Group, knows firsthand the difference that one person’s mentorship can make. 

During her time at UC Davis, Bolivar has made it her mission to give back and inspire the next generation of scientists by balancing her research with a slew of community-uplifting and diversity, equity and inclusion initiatives.

Cultivating Inclusive Environments: UC Davis DEIJ Leader Fellowship Projects in Action

The UC Davis College of Biological Sciences champions Diversity, Equity, Inclusion, and Justice (DEIJ) through the Graduate Student DEIJ Leader Fellowship program. Now in its second year, the program empowers enterprising graduate students committed to enhancing DEIJ within the CBS community by supporting projects aimed at fostering a more inclusive academic environment. 

How Plants Sense Scent

Plants need to be able to communicate with themselves—by sending signals from their leaves to their roots to their flowers—so that they can coordinate growth and optimize resource use. They also need to communicate with other plants and organisms, which they achieve by releasing volatile organic compounds (VOCs), tiny molecules that are often associated with distinct smells. Scientists know a lot about how plants emit these odorous signals, however very little is known about how they receive and interpret them.

Discovery Hints at Genetic Basis for the Most Challenging Symptoms of Schizophrenia

Our understanding of schizophrenia has increased greatly in recent years, as studies of large groups of people have identified a multitude of genetic variants that increase a person’s risk of the disease. But each of those individual risk factors accounts for “only a very minor amount of the overall risk,” said Alex Nord, a professor of neurobiology, physiology and behavior in the College of Biological Sciences and the Center for Neuroscience.

New Research Identifies Protein Integral to Sperm Development and Male Fertility

Early in the development of sperm, a strange event happens: the X and Y chromosomes condense into tight packages and are sequestered away from the other 44 human chromosomes. If any part of this process goes awry, the cells cannot mature into sperm. Researchers in the College of Biological Sciences have now identified an important link in this process — a little-known protein called ATF7IP2.

New Findings Shed Light on Pancreatic Cancer Treatment Targets

Pancreatic cancer is the third leading cause of cancer-related deaths in the United States and only 12% of patients survive five years after being diagnosed. Severe pancreatic cancer is associated with metastasis, and it is this spread of secondary tumors that usually causes death, but little is known about the molecular mechanisms that drive metastasis.

Understanding Neutrophil Decision-Making: How Immune Cells Prioritize Competing Signals

Neutrophils, the primary foot soldiers of the immune system, swarm to sites of infection and inflammation by following breadcrumb pathways made up of signaling molecules. But the human body is a complex place, and neutrophils are often simultaneously bombarded with multiple signals, some of which are more important than others. For example, signals of infection or tissue damage require more urgent attention than signals produced by other immune cells.

Chloroplasts Do More Than Photosynthesis; They’re Also a Key Player In Plant Immunity

Scientists have long known that chloroplasts help plants turn the sun’s energy into food, but a new study, led by researchers in the Department of Plant Biology, shows that they’re also essential for plant immunity to viral and bacterial pathogens.

Chloroplasts are generally spherical, but a small percentage of them change their shape and send out tube-like projections called “stromules.” First observed over a century ago, the biological function of stromules has remained enigmatic.

From Tide Pools to Policy: CBS Graduate Student Leads in Environmental Research and DEIJ Advocacy

Elena Suglia, a soon-to-graduate Ph.D. candidate in the Population Biology Graduate Group, has spent her time at Davis tackling the “inextricably intertwined issues” of environmental protection, environmental justice, and equity.

In recognition of her leadership in working at the intersection of science and public policy, Suglia was awarded the 2023 Emerging Public Policy Leadership Award from the American Institute of Biological Sciences.