UC Davis a leader for women in Chemistry

A survey by Chemical & Engineering News Magazine features the UC Davis Department of Chemistry as one of the Top 5 Departments for Female Faculty among big spenders on chemistry research. With 10 female assistant, associate and full professors out of 40, UC Davis chemistry ranks on the Top Five for both the number of female faculty and by percentage.

Unfortunately, the overall figures are not good. C&E News reports that women held only 17 percent of the tenured and tenure-track positions at U.S. universities in 2010–11, up from 16 percent in the previous two years. C&E News notes that the figures have grown slowly but steadily from 10 percent in 2000-1, when the magazine began collecting data.

Students take home trophy in synthetic biology competition

A team of four UC Davis undergraduates took home the trophy for best entry in their track at the Internationally Genetically Engineered Machine competition held at MIT Nov 5-7.

While other UC Davis students enter competitions to engineer cars or bridges, iGEM is an annual competition for undergraduate students working with life itself — in the new field of synthetic biology. Competing teams get a basic kit of parts and use them to build circuits that work in living cells.

The team members are, with majors (from the left): Nick Csicsery, biological systems engineering; Keegan Owsley, biomedical engineering; Aaron Heuckroth, microbiology and classics; and Tim Fenton, cell biology.

Wrapping sorts carbon nanotubes

Carbon nanotube wrapper

Carbon nanotubes – sheets of carbon atoms rolled up into tiny cylinders or tubes – have many interesting properties and potential uses, for example in flexible display screens or printed circuits. Some act like conducting metals, and others are semiconductors. But when chemists make these nanotubes, the different types are usually mixed together. Now researchers at Stanford University have come up with a polymer material that can sort separate the different types of nanotubes, and with help from computational scientists at UC Davis they have been able to figure out how it works.

Ophthalmologist writes book on eye evolution

Ivan Schwab, professor of ophthalmology at UC Davis and Ig Nobel Prize laureate, has written “Evolution’s Witness,” a book on how eyes evolved.

The ability to detect light appeared early in the evolution of life and ‘eyes’ of many different types have evolved numerous times in different lineages of animals. From jellyfish to birds, spiders to fish, different animals have developed eyes that meet their needs.