Meet the Provost Candidates

Three candidates for the position of Provost and Executive Vice Chancellor of UC Davis visited the campus recently and took part in public forums. Our correspondents were there, and Dateline has a complete package online.

The candidates are:

Pramod P. Khargoneka, Dean, College of Engineering, and Eckis Professor of Electrical and Computer Engineering, University of Florida

Education: Indian Institute of Technology, Bombay, B. Tech (electrical engineering), 1977; and University of Florida, M.S. (mathematics), 1980, and Ph.D. (electrical engineering), 1981

Quote: “I don’t think there is a university left that can do everything,” Khargonekar said. “But whatever you choose, excellence should be your goal.”

Cigarette smoke, peroxide and cancer

“Scientists discover how cigarette smoke causes cancer,” according to a press release from the FASEB Journal. It’s about a paper by Tzipora Goldkorn, professor of pulmonary and critical care medicine at UC Davis, and colleagues in which they show that exposure to cigarette smoke causes the same changes in lung airway cells as exposure to hydrogen peroxide (H2O2). Both cause activation of epidermal growth factor receptor (EGFR), but with a faulty chemical modification so that it is not broken down. Those molecular changes might lead cells to grow and become cancerous.

New approach for treating heart attacks, strokes, degenerative diseases

A new compound that blocks an early step in cell death could lead to a novel class of drugs for treating heart attacks and stroke.

When cells are deprived of oxygen — during a heart attack, for example — they start to die through a tidy process called apoptosis or programmed cell death. Early in apoptosis, the mitochondria — complex structures that supply energy to the cell — divide into pieces, holes appear in their membranes and proteins such as cytochrome c leak out. These events trigger other processes, ending in cell death.

“Lost” cores show polar magnetic vortex

UC Davis researchers studying cores of sediment collected 40 years ago have found evidence for magnetic field vortices in the Earth’s core beneath the South Pole. The results contrast with earlier studies at lower latitudes, and could lead to a better understanding of processes in the core.

The results came from a seabed sediment core collected by the U.S. Navy in the Antarctic Ross Sea in 1968 as part of Operation Deep Freeze. Samples from the core, covering almost 2.5 million years of the Earth’s history, were stored at the Antarctic Marine Geology Research Facility in Tallahassee, Fla., before being re-discovered by Ken Verosub, professor of geology at UC Davis, who brought them back to Davis for magnetic analysis.

Cats trade efficiency for stealth

A short item in New Scientist reports that cats use convert only 20-38 percent of the energy they put into walking into forward motion, especially when in a stalking mode. Dogs, in comparison, are about 70 percent efficient. The work was done by Kristin Bishop, now a postdoctoral researcher at UC Davis, while studying for her Ph.D. at Brown University. Unfortunately, I can’t find a link to an original paper, and half the New Scientist story is hidden behind their subscription wall.

Eisen is Academic Editor in Chief at PLoS Biology

Jonathan Eisen of the UC Davis Genome Center has been named as the first Academic Editor in Chief of the open access journal, Public Library of Science (PLoS) Biology. He has been a member of the journal’s academic editorial board since its beginnings in 2003. Academic board members play an important role at the PLoS journals, reading and commenting on manuscripts submitted for publication.

Welcome MBA students’ marketing blog

Four MBA students in the Working Professionals program of the Graduate School of Management have started a blog focused on marketing issues. Currently up: Would you buy Green Coke?

On the shark highway

New research shows that sharks follow defined migration routes around the world’s ocean, complete with “rest stops.” The work was presented in a session at the annual meeting of the American Association for the Advancement of Science earlier this month. One of the researchers presenting was Peter Klimley of UC Davis’s Bodega Marine Lab. Understanding shark’s travel patterns could help in conserving these fish, for example by protecting waters around the islands where sharks feed, he said.

Welcome Ag and Natural Resources blogs

I’ve just come across a news blog published by the University of California’s Division of Agriculture and Natural Resources. ANR (“Anar”) carries out agricultural research and supports farmers and gardeners through a wide variety of programs. Most of the entries on the news blog highlight media coverage of ANR researchers, staff and programs.

Hmmm…I wonder where they got that idea from.

Mmmm, Chia Pet

Chia seeds, better known for growing green hair on clay animals, are the latest health food fad according to the Tri-Valley Herald. Chia seeds are high in omega-3 fatty acids, also found in flax seed and fish oil, that might help prevent heart disease. Whatever the validity of the health claims (the FDA regulates such things as foods) sales of omega-3 products are worth about $500 million a year and products are apparently flying off the shelves.

“I don’t recommend it as a cure-all, but as a way to get more of what’s healthy into our diets,” said Sheri Zidenberg-Cherr, a Cooperative Extension specialist at the University of California-Davis Department of Nutrition. Chia seeds, she said, “deserve more study.”