Dr Verosub Goes to Washington

Last February, on his first day at the State Department, Ken Verosub was told to prepare a briefing book on water issues for Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton.

Ken Verosub meets Hillary ClintonA few weeks later, on World Water Day, Clinton drew on Verosub’s material as she gave a speech at the National Geographic Society, announcing that water would be a foreign policy imperative for the United States.

Verosub, a distinguished professor of geology at UC Davis, spent six months at the U.S. Agency for International Development and then six months at the Department of State — with both assignments comprising his one-year of service as a Jefferson Science Fellow.

Understanding the molecular basis of diabetes

U.S. and Japanese researchers have identified a key step in activating the metabolic pathways linked to diabetes and cancer. The study on activation of the protein complex TORC 2 was published online in the journal Current Biology Oct. 28.

TORC 2 activates a protein called Akt, which plays a crucial role in how cells respond to insulin, said Kazuo Shiozaki, professor of microbiology in the College of Biological Sciences at UC Davis, who is senior author on the paper.

Biophotonics Center at USA Science Festival in Washington, DC

A team from the UC Davis Center for Biophotonics Science and Technology will be taking part in the Inaugural USA Science & Engineering Festival this weekend in Washington, D.C.

The event, the country’s first national science festival, began Oct. 10 and ends Oct. 24. Over 1 million people are expected to visit 1,500 exhibits at the festival Expo this weekend.

The Festival’s mission is to reinvigorate the interest of our nation’s youth in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM), by producing and presenting the most compelling, exciting, educational and entertainment science gatherings in the United States.

UC Davis Grad Student at White House Science Fair

UC Davis graduate student Wilson To was invited to the White House last week for President Obama’s Science Fair. The event included the winners of various national and international STEM competitions, and To was part of a team that won the Grand Prize in the U.S. finals of the Microsoft-sponsored Imagine Cup recently.White House Photo

After winning the competition, To was sent to Poland to discuss his team’s project, which uses a cell-phone based system to look for early warning signs of damaged blood vessels in diabetes and other diseases.

Redox and nanoparticles: Size does matter

Particle size has a far more dramatic impact on chemical reactivity than previously thought, according to new research from UC Davis. The results have implications for understanding a wide range of vital chemical reactions, from rusting iron to the origins of life.

The researchers, led by Professor Alexandra Navrotsky, studied the energy changes involved in oxidation and reduction reactions in oxides of transition metals. The results were published Oct. 8 in the journal Science.

“Oxidation and reduction reactions are the energy source for most chemistry in nature,” said Navrotstky, who directs the Nanomaterials in the Environment, Agriculture and Technology program at UC Davis.

Chemistry Nobel for joining carbon atoms

The 2010 Nobel Prize for Chemistry goes to Richard F. Heck, Ei-ichi Negishi and Akira Suzuki “for palladium-catalyzed cross couplings in organic synthesis”. The method uses a catalyst that can make quick connections between different carbon atoms to build more complex molecules, said Annaliese Franz, assistant professor of chemistry at UC Davis, via email.

“This is a well-deserved Nobel Prize for impressive chemistry that will continue to impact science and society,” Franz said.

The prize recognizes how synthetic organic chemistry is really done in the 21st century, said Professor Neil Schore of the Department of Chemistry.

Two-D materials awarded 2010 Nobel for Physics

3-D may be all the rage in movie theaters, but since 2004 physicists have been getting excited about two-dimensional materials. Now the Nobel Prize for Physics has been awarded to two Russian-born scientists working in England, Andre Geim and Konstantin Novoselov, for the discovery of graphene, a sheet of carbon one atom thick.

Geim and Novoselov made their discovery by sticking Scotch tape (or Sellotape as we would call it in the UK) on a block of graphite and peeling it off. The hard part, notes UC Davis physics professor Warren Pickett, was locating and identifying the layer of carbon atoms after they have peeled it off.

Volunteers Sought for Endometriosis Study

Researchers led by Dr. Antoni Duleba from the UC Davis Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology are recruiting women aged 18-44 for a study of endometriosis. Volunteers may be healthy or have been diagnosed with endometriosis, a disorder of the female reproductive system. In endometriosis, the endometrium, which normally lines the uterus, grows in other places as well, such as the fallopian tubes, ovaries or the tissue lining the pelvis.

To be eligible for the study, volunteers should not be taking hormones or using hormonal birth control or an intrauterine device (IUD), and have predictable menses.

Back to Antarctica

UC Davis geologist Dawn Sumner is on her way back to Antarctica, where she will spend the next couple of months camped out by Lake Joyce in the dry valleys, studying microbes in the lake. Sumner is repeating a trip she made last year with postdoc researcher Bekah Shepard: This time she is accompanied by UC Davis graduate student Tyler Mackey.

Follow Sumner’s travels on her blog, Dawn in Antarctica. Mackey is also blogging about the trip at Cyanobacterial Adventures.