Egghead is a blog about research by, with or related to UC Davis. Comments on posts are welcome, as are tips and suggestions for posts. General feedback may be sent to Andy Fell. This blog is created and maintained by UC Davis Strategic Communications, and mostly edited by Andy Fell.
By Karen Nikos-Rose
Third-grader Jessica was quiet in group discussions and did not see herself as a strong science student. But after an eight-week unit in school where she was able to read, write about, collect data on and even draw and photograph ladybugs for a project, she began to see herself as scientist in her own right – explaining the life stages and lifestyles of ladybugs to grownups with conviction.
Citizen science projects can engage kids, a UC Davis study finds.
Jessica became a citizen scientist.
By Greg Watry
The American Gut Project has just produced the largest study yet of microbial diversity in human poop. With “contributions” from more than 11,000 citizen scientists, the team led by researchers at UC San Diego has compiled a public reference database on the human gut microbiome, published May 15 in the journal mSystems. The study is a step forward in understanding how factors such as diet, antibiotics and mental health relate to the microbes living in the human gut.
Two different teams of researchers from the College of Biological Sciences are represented in the “Best of 2017” issue of the prominent journal Cell Metabolism. Their papers, on insulin-producing beta cells and on the effects of a low-carb diet on longevity in mice, are among just five research articles chosen to appear in the special issue along with two clinical reports and four review articles.
Pancreatic islets make insulin in response to blood glucose. Mark Huising/UC Davis
Kilauea volcano on the island of Hawaii continues to erupt, creating spectacular footage of lava shooting out of vents and eating cars. While the lava flows are slow moving, and so far no one has been hurt, U.S. Geological Survey scientists were today (May 10) warning that the volcano might erupt explosively, sending large rocks flying through the air.
This 8-10 ton boulder fell on a landing strip about a kilometer from Halema‘uma‘u crater during the eruption of May, 1924 (USGS photo collection).
Full post: Volcanologists Watch Kilauea Eruption
(499 words, 1 image, estimated 2:0 mins reading time)
It’s been widely reported that investigators got a break in the East Area Rapist/Golden State Killer case when they uploaded a DNA profile to a genealogy database, GEDmatch, and identified relatives of the suspect, Joseph DeAngelo. Did they get lucky, or did they have a good chance of finding him? UC Davis population biologists Graham Coop and M. D. “Doc” Edge have written a nice explainer of the science behind this search.
DNA overlap between first cousins and their common grandmother (GCBias.org)
Earlier this week NPR broadcast a story about growing interest in giving probiotics – beneficial bacteria that live in the gut – to babies. Mark Underwood, professor of pediatrics, explained that in UC Davis neonatal care unit, all premature babies under a certain weight are given a probiotic to prevent necrotizing enterocolitis (NEC),a potentially deadly inflammation of the intestine. It’s becoming a common practice in premature infants, and Underwood and colleagues have carried out a clinical trial in full-term infants. They showed that newborns fed a supplement containing Bifidobacterium bacteria (thought to be beneficial) had more “good bacteria” and fewer “bad bacteria” in their guts two months later.
This week I had the opportunity to meet the new director of the UC Davis Forensic Science Graduate Program and catch up on the program. Founded in 2002, the program, which offers a Master of Science degree through either part-time or full-time study, currently has about 80 students enrolled.
The UC Davis graduate program in forensic science includes lab work and a research thesis.
By Karen Nikos-Rose
Catherine Brinkley is a professor of human and community development and human ecology at UC Davis. So it’s interesting that in a recent published paper, she advocates that cities should work more like coral reefs — supporting a diversity of niches and uses for sustained vigor and resilience. In ecology and medical sciences, the term for a physical form with such topographic complexity is rugosity.
Traditional urban planning favors “concentric” layouts with a downtown core surrounded by suburbs and farmland (right). But Catherine Brinkley argues instead that cities should plan for “rugosity” (left) with more interfaces between functions.
Teams of undergraduate engineers from UC Davis and nearby colleges and universities will be pulling an all-nighter this weekend, working on using the inspiration or processes of nature to prevent or mitigate natural hazards.
The Center for Bio-mediated and Bio-inspired Geotechnics Design-a-thon runs from 11 a.m. Saturday, April 28 to 3 p.m. on Sunday, April 29 in room 1065, Kemper Hall.
Registration is still open: click here
Student teams will select a natural hazard such as fire, flood, earthquake, tsunami or hurricane, and come up with an engineering solution that is affordable, sustainable, has minimal environmental impact and is equitable for all. There will be cash prizes for first, second and third places.
This month I talk to Professor Harris Lewin, one of the organizers of the Earth BioGenome Project. The ambitious project to sequence the genomes of all eukaryotic life on Earth within ten years is described in a paper published this week in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.
Listen: Three Minute Egghead: The Earth BioGenome Project
Earth BioGenome Project Aims to Sequence DNA from All Complex Life on Earth (news release)
Earth BioGenome Project to Sequence All Life: Partnership Announced at World Economic Forum in Davos (news release)
Full post: Podcast: The Earth BioGenome Project
(119 words, 1 image, estimated 29 secs reading time)