Does evolution drive ecology? And a Science twofer

It’s widely accepted that ecology drives the evolution of new traits, but is the reverse also true? In the Jan. 28 issue of the journal Science, UC Davis expert Thomas Schoener describes growing evidence that it does, and explores what this might mean to our understanding of how environmental change affects species and vice-versa.

In the same issue, Schoener, graduate student Jonah Piovia-Scott and David Spiller report on an island-scale experiment to manipulate the environment and look at the effect on how predators and prey interact.

UC Davis in new Intel Visual Computing Center

UC Davis will partner with seven other universities in a new effort, sponsored by Intel Corporation, to make computer-generated images ever more realistic. The Intel Science and Technology Center for Visual Computing is lead by Stanford University and will be supported by Intel with $2.5 million a year for up to five years.

John Owens, associate professor of electrical and computer engineering at UC Davis, will be ‘theme leader’ for graphics systems — one of four themes that the center will work on.

Video: Owens discusses his role in the new Center

Research@Intel blog post on the new Center (with videos)

Princeton physicist gives public lecture Feb. 2

Nima Arkani-Hamed, widely regarded as one of the world’s top theoretical physicists, will give a public lecture at UC Davis Feb. 2 on “Space-time, quantum mechanics and the Large Hadron Collider.” Arkani-Hamed’s talk will take place at 7.30 pm in the ARC Ballroom on campus, and is free and open to the public.

Arkani-Hamed will discuss some of the central theoretical challenges of physics in the 21st century: Is space-time doomed, and what will replace it? What tames quantum fluctuations, so that we can live in a huge universe? A spectacular new experiment, the Large Hadron Collider, is now running and poised to shed significant light on at least some of these mysteries. Arkani-Hamed will describe these ideas, and discuss what we can expect to know by 2020.

Talk on daylighting office buildings is tomorrow

A reminder that Lorne Whitehead, professor of applied physics at the University of British Columbia, will speak Tuesday, Jan. 25 at 6 pm on harnessing daylight to illuminate the windowless cores of buildings. The talk will take place in the Ballroom of the UC Davis Conference Center and is free and open to the public.


Ten elected as AAAS Fellows

Ten UC Davis faculty members are among 503 new fellows elected to the American Association for the Advancement of Science this year for their efforts to advance science or its applications. The new fellows will be presented with a certificate and rosette pin on Saturday, Feb. 19, during the society’s annual meeting in Washington, D.C..

Here are the new AAAS fellows from UC Davis:

Professor Eduardo Blumwald of the Department of Plant Sciences was recognized for his contributions to “the field of plant ion transport and the application of those discoveries to the development of salt- and drought-tolerant crops.” Blumwald’s research focuses on developing crop plants that can be grown with less irrigation water and on marginal lands, thus better equipping global agriculture to deal with limited and variable water supplies.

Dating the first dinosaurs

Geologists from Argentina and the U.S. today announced a new dinosaur that roamed what is now South America 230 million years ago at the beginning of the age of the dinosaurs. The discovery, backed up by careful dating of dinosaur fossils and the volcanic ash around them by researchers from UC Berkeley and UC Davis, casts doubt on the idea that dinosaurs appeared and opportunistically replaced other animals. Instead — at least in this valley — they seem to have existed side by side and gone through similar periods of extinction.

Eodramaeus head

See a picture gallery of the new dinosaur here

Talk: Can ag science get support inside the Beltway?

The Chancellor’s Colloquium Distinguished Speakers Series opens Wednesday, Jan. 12, with a talk by Roger N. Beachy, director of the National Institute of Food and Agriculture at the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

The UC Davis Humanities Institute, which is organizing the series, announced that Beachy will address the question: “Can Support of Science for ‘Agriculture’ Prosper Inside the Beltway?”

Also, since first announcing the series, the Humanities Institute has made a change in the lineup: The second speaker in the three-part series is now listed as Laura D. Tyson, a business professor at UC Berkeley and an adviser to Presidents Obama and Clinton. Her talk is scheduled for March 30.