Nat Geo special features UC Davis Keck CAVES

A National Geographic Channel special feature, ‘X-Ray Earth,’ will air Tuesday, May 24 at 1 PM featuring work by UC Davis geophysicist Magali Billen and the Keck Center for Active Visualization in Earth Sciences.

Billen and the Keck CAVES are shown in the online trailer, available here.

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Learning robotics and programming at C-STEM Day

(Contributed by Harry Cheng, Department of Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering)

The 1st UC Davis C-STEM Day was held on April 30, organized by the UC Davis K-14 Outreach Center for Computing and STEM Education (C-STEM) and College of Engineering with help from the UC Davis Robotics Club and assistance from the California Scholarship Federation in Davis Senior High School.

The 2011 C-STEM Day included four distinct events: UC Davis Secondary School Programming Competition; a Symposium on Computing and STEM Education in the 21st Century; C-STEM Awards for K-12 teachers and students; and demonstrations of robots developed by UC Davis faculty and students. The overall focus of the day was the integration of computing with STEM education. Detailed information about the 2011 C-STEM Day and pictures can be found here.

A simpler route to splitting water?

The key to the hydrogen economy could come from a common mineral better known as a black stain on rock, according to researchers at Monash University in Melbourne, Australia and UC Davis, and published online May 15 in the journal Nature Chemistry.

Chemists and materials scientists have been trying to reproduce what green plants have been doing for billions of years: split water into hydrogen and oxygen. A cheap, efficient way to split water, powered for example by sunlight, would open up production of hydrogen as a clean fuel.

Computer scientist will study tree growth

Vladimir Filkov, an assistant professor in the UC Davis Department of Computer Science, is a collaborator on a new grant from the US Department of Agriculture’s National Institute of Food and Agriculture (NIFA).

Filkov will be working on the project with Andrew Groover, director of genetics at the US Forest Service’s Pacific Southwest Research Station in Davis, on their joint project, “Regulatory Networks Controlling Hormone Signaling During Woody Growth of Forest Trees.” The research aims to experimentally and computationally understand gene networks of woody growth in poplar trees, with potential applications in altering wood phenotypes for biofuels and carbon sequestration.

Free movie screening: Lost in Africa

Actress Connie Nielsen will be interviewed by Steve Currall, dean of the UC Davis Graduate School of Management, before the U.S. premiere Nielsen picof her film “Lost in Africa” in the Vanderhoef Studio of the Mondavi Center May 21st.

The interview will begin at 6.30 pm and the film showing will be at 7 pm. Tickets are available free through the Mondavi Center box office with code “KIBERA.” More information about the event here.

A trailer for the movie, about a Danish boy lost in the vast slum outside Nairobi, Kenya, is on Youtube.

Experts propose massive overhaul of U.S. agriculture

Transformative changes in markets, policy and science, rather than just incremental changes in farming practices and technology, will be critical if the United States is to achieve long-term sustainability in agriculture, according to a nationwide team of agriculturists that includes a UC Davis animal scientist.

The team’s recommendations, first published as a 2010 report by the U.S. National Research Council, appear as a Policy Forum piece in the May 6 issue of the journal Science. The lead author of the paper is John Reganold, regents professor of soil science and agroecology at Washington State University, Pullman.

Artist, physicist present ‘Another look at particle physics’

UC Davis research physicist Richard Breedon and artist Marianne Ryan will give a joint presentation at the Commonwealth Club of San Francisco May 16. Ryan will Ryan printtalk about her paintings inspired by visits to the Large Hadron Collider at CERN, Switzerland. Breedon will follow up with a presentation about the experiments being undertaken at the LHC and what physicists are trying to achieve there.

The event is called “Another look at particle physics” and begins at 6 p.m.. For more information and tickets, look here.

Lifetime achievement award for ‘buckyballs’ expert

Alan Balch, distinguished professor of chemistry, has been awarded the F. Albert Cotton Award in Synthetic Organic Chemistry by the American Chemical Society.

Established in 2002, the Cotton Award is given to one person a year to recognize distinguished lifetime achievements in synthetic inorganic chemistry.

“Alan is an outstanding scientist who has made seminal contributions to organic chemistry in at least three major areas,” wrote Richard Eisenberg, Tracy H. Harris Balch at ACS 2011Professor of Chemistry at the University of Rochester, in supporting Balch’s nomination for the award. “I cannot think of a more deserving candidate.”