Primate Center alumna wins Presidential Award

President Barack Obama named Claudia R. Valeggia, who conducted her Ph.D. research at the California National Primate Research Center, as one of 94 recipients of the Presidential Early Career Awards for Scientists and Engineers (PECASE) Sept. 26. The PECASE is the highest honor bestowed by the United States government on science and engineering professionals in the early stages of their independent research careers.

Valeggia, now professor in the Department of Anthropology at the University of PennsylvaniaClaudia Valeggia, said she was “speechless” on hearing the news. “It’s such a great honor, and it’s such a big push for my research.”

The Pentagon on campus, Gorilla health, fixing California: All in UC Davis Magazine

The Fall issue of UC Davis Magazine is now online with some great feature articles.

There’s my story on the role of the Defense Department in funding research on campus — from breast cancer to electrical engineering.

Clifton Parker talks to faculty experts and gets a more hopeful perspective than you might expect on the future of California’s political system.

And from Rwanda, Don Buroughs describes how the UC Davis Mountain Gorilla One Health Program is working to protect the health of these remarkable creatures — as well as that of the people who live and work in the national park where the gorillas live.

Sept. 28 is World Rabies Day

Today, Sept. 28 is World Rabies Day, according to the Centers for Disease Control. Around 55,000 people die of rabies worldwide every year, although cases in rural areas of the developing world may be undercounted. Many of the victims are young — often young boys who are more likely to try to play with or approach strange dogs or other animals.

While fatalities from rabies in the U.S. are rare, about 40,000 Americans receive booster shots every year because they may have been exposed to the disease. These shots, called ‘post-exposure prophylaxis’ are very effective if given before the virus reaches the central nervous system. Once neurological symptoms develop, rabies is almost always fatal.

Report presents roadmaps for cybersecurity education

A holistic approach to secure computing education that includes both budding programmers and those who will never write code is required to strengthen future software systems against attack, according to a report from a workshop run by experts at University of California, Davis and The George Washington University.

(The full report is available online here.)

This report grew out of the Summit for Education in Secure Software sponsored by the National Science Foundation and held in Washington, D.C. last October. The authors of the report, Professor Matt Bishop of UC Davis and Professor Diana Burley of The George Washington University, will discuss the Summit’s recommendations at a workshop, ‘Shaping the Future of Cybersecurity Education,’ sponsored by the National Initiative for Cybersecurity Education and held at the National Institute of Standards and Technology in Gaithersburg, Md. this week.

Plant breeding science for the world’s poor

Millions of the world’s poorest people depend on cassava, banana and plantain for their staple diet. These are hardy crops, but they are also basically trees and they propagate as vegetative clones. That means that creating new varieties is a difficult and slow process — leaving them vulnerable to pests and diseases, such as the Panama fungus threatening bananas.

Now UC Davis plant biologist Simon Chan and colleagues from the International Institute of Tropical Agriculture are teaming up to bring some of Chan’s advanced plant breeding techniques to benefit farmers making a living with these crops. The project is being funded by the BREAD program, a joint initiative by the National Science Foundation and the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.