Prion Nobelist Prusiner to speak on brain injuries, Oct. 12

Soldiers, football players and Alzheimer’s patients… What do they all have in common? Brain injuries.

Come hear Stanley B. Prusiner, the 1997 recipient of the Nobel Prize for Physiology or Medicine, speak on the topic of brain injuries in these groups on Friday, October 12, 2012, at 5:30 pm. The talk in Freeborn Hall on the UC Davis campus is free and open to the public.

Plastics chemical shows two-generation effect in pregnant monkeys

Exposure of pregnant monkeys to the widely-used chemical bisphenol A (BPA) disrupts development of fetal ovaries, potentially causing birth defects and reproductive problems that would not emerge for a generation, according to research by scientists at Washington State University and the California National Primate Research Center at UC Davis.

(A news release from Washington State University can be found here.)

BPA is a chemical used in plastics, epoxy resins that line cans and cash register receipts. Most people in the United States have measurable levels of BPA in their blood that indicate that exposure is nearly continuous.

The natural beauty of Mars

Mt Sharp, Mars

Mt Sharp, Mars taken by Curiosity, Aug. 27 2012

The Mars Curiosity rover took this photo of Mt. Sharp, Mars on Aug. 27. It’s the cover art for the journal Astrobiology, with a note by UC Davis geologist Dawn Sumner, who is working with the Curiosity science team.

You can clearly see layers of sedimentary rock exposed on the hillside. That means water was once here, and lots of it.

Sumner writes:

What happens to the floodplain after restoration?

Contributed by Kat Kerlin

Restoring floodplains —  fertile swaths of land favored for agriculture, ecological diversity and shipping — can benefit wildlife while also reducing the risk of flood, acknowledge water managers. But predicting the effects of restoration projects is challenging. For instance, what happens to the fish, birds, plants and other life along the floodplain as levees and lands are rearranged to create a more natural setting?

A group of UC Davis graduate students set out to ask such questions as part of the interdisciplinary training program, Responding to Rapid Environmental Change Integrative Graduate Education and Research Traineeship — or REACH IGERT, for short. The REACH IGERT is a two-year program funded by the U.S. National Science Foundation.

UC Davis C-STEM Center Wins NSF Grant for Learning Math with Robots

10-graders from Hiram Johnson High School working with robots at C-STEM Day, UC Davis, May 2012

Contributed by Harry Cheng

The UC Davis C-STEM Center has received a grant of $300,000 from the National Science Foundation to study collaborative mathematics learning with robots. The two-year project aims to transform math education by integrating computer programming, robotics, and handheld computing into middle and high school math classrooms.

“Algebra is one of the most important and also one of the most difficult courses for students in K-12 grades,” said Harry H. Cheng, professor in the Department of Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering and the Center’s director.

People’s Choice Awards, science edition!

The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services is opening up its “HHSInnovates” program to public voting for the first time, and one of the projects in contention is the UC Davis-based 100K Genome Project to sequence the DNA of 100,000 microbes that cause foodborne disease.

The HHSInnovates program is a way to highlight projects that involve the Department, which includes the National Institutes of Health. Twice a year, HHS employees are invited to submit innovations for voting within the Department to choose six finalists.  The Secretary then picks a winner and the public picks the “People’s Choice.”  The winning innovations are recognized by the Secretary in an awards ceremony and the innovators are personally invited to headquarters to share their innovations with the Department’s leadership.

Hyundai, UC Davis sign partnership

The Hyundai Motor Group, South Korea’s biggest automaker, is to establish Centers of Excellence at the University of California, Davis and UC Berkeley. Hyundai and university officials signed a memorandum of understanding Friday, Aug. 31 at a ceremony at the Claremont hotel in Berkeley.

UC Davis, UC Berkeley, Hyundai sign agreement

Left to right: Michael Katz, Director, IP & Industry Research Alliances, UC Berkeley; Dean Shankar Sastry, UC Berkeley College of Engineering; Woong-chul Yang, Vice Chairman, Hyundai Motor Group; Dean Enrique J. Lavernia, UC Davis College of Engineering; Greg Gibbs, Director of Corporate Relations, College of Engineering, UC Davis. Photo by Scott Chernis.