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Engineers Invent Machine to Shake up UC Davis’ COVID-19 Testing

UC Davis engineers have invented shaking and inversion machines that are a critical part of the UC Davis Genome Center’s award-winning asymptomatic COVID-19 testing. These machines, designed and built by biological and agricultural engineering (BAE) development engineer Dennis Sadowski, professor Stavros Vougioukas and postdoctoral researcher Zhenghao Fei in just six weeks, help treat saliva samples so they can be tested for the virus.

Researchers Identify a Potentially Safer Approach to Opioid Drug Development

Opioids are powerful painkillers but their use is hindered because patients become tolerant to them, requiring higher and higher doses, and overdoses can cause respiratory depression and death. A recent study from researchers at the UC Davis Center for Neuroscience contradicts existing thinking about how opioid drugs cause tolerance and respiratory depression, and suggests a new, balanced approach to developing safer analgesics. The work was published July 13 in Neuropsychopharmacology.

Mark Winey Reappointed as CBS Dean

Mark Winey has been reappointed as the dean of the College of Biological Sciences (CBS) and will serve a second five-year term, Provost and Executive Vice Chancellor Mary Croughan announced today (August 24). Concurrent with his leadership of CBS, overseeing all aspects of its work and the advancement of its excellence and impact, he will continue to serve as a professor in the college.

Why Sunflowers Face East

Sunflowers face the rising sun because increased morning warmth attracts more bees and also helps the plants reproduce more efficiently, according to a study by researchers at the University of California, Davis. The results were published Aug. 9 in New Phytologist.

“It’s quite striking that they face east,” said Stacey Harmer, professor of plant biology in the UC Davis College of Biological Sciences and senior author on the paper. “It’s better for them to face east, as they produce more offspring.”

Evolutionary Thinking

We watch a ball as it falls into our glove. We hear a strange sound in another part of the house and listen intently. In neuroscience, the act of narrowing our senses in response to an environmental event is called “attention,” and it is understood that when we attend to a stimulus, we lose the ability to focus on other surrounding inputs.

Interrupting the Development of Cancer Cells

Think of chromosomes as nature’s shoelaces. Built from DNA, these thread-like structures carry and ferry the genetic information necessary for life. To maintain genetic integrity, chromosomes possess protective structures located at their ends called telomeres. These telomeres are like the plastic tips of shoelaces, preventing the genetic thread from unraveling as cells continuously divide.

The Greatest Fundraising Year in UC Davis History

Donors continue to bring nothing but good news to the University of California, Davis, setting giving records to achieve greater impact during a challenging and tragic year. Despite the COVID-19 pandemic, the university raised a historic amount from July 1, 2020, to June 30, 2021: a record $269.4 million from 36,016 donors, with an all-time high of 63,650 gifts and pledges.

Drought Changes Root Microbiome

Drought can have a lasting impact on the community of microbes that live in and around roots of rice plants, a team led by UC Davis researchers has found. Root-associated microbes help plants take up nutrients from the soil, so the finding could help in understanding how rice responds to dry spells and how it can be made more resilient to drought. The work was published July 22 in Nature Plants.

Helping the Socially Disadvantaged

Rishi Sharma’s passion for community service can be traced back to his parents. While growing up in Dubai, Sharma watched his parents, who are both doctors, hone their expertise in the medical field. According to Sharma, as his parents advanced in their careers, they never forgot about the people around them.

“As they moved up the ladder, they used more of their experience to invest in the community,” said Sharma, a biochemistry and molecular biology major in the UC Davis College of Biological Sciences. 

$2 Million NIH Grant Expands Grad Program for Underrepresented Students

Aldrin Gomes, a professor in the Departments of Neurobiology, Physiology and Behavior, and Physiology and Membrane Biology, can still recall the reality he faced when he came to the United States to conduct postdoctoral research. Growing up in Trinidad and Tobago, Gomes was accustomed to the cultural diversity of the island. But shortly after stepping on American soil, he started experiencing things he didn’t understand.

$1 Million Keck Foundation Grant Backs Research to "Build a Brain"

A team of scientists from UC Davis and Rice University are starting small as they begin to figure out how to build an artificial brain from the bottom up.

Celina Juliano, an associate professor in the Department of Molecular and Cellular Biology, and Jacob Robinson of Rice University’s Brown School of Engineering have won a $1 million Keck Foundation grant to advance the team’s synthetic neurobiology effort to define the connections between neurons and muscles that drive programmed behaviors in living animals.