The Schmidt Ocean Institute R/V Falkor is exploring hydrothermal vents off the coast of Mexico. (Schmidt Ocean Institute)
Robert Zierenberg, professor emeritus of geology at UC Davis, is currently Chief Scientist on the R/V Falkor, on a cruise exploring hydrothermal vents off the time of Baja, Mexico. The Falkor, owned by the Schmidt Ocean Institute, is using remote operated vehicles to explore the newly discovered vents and live streaming the dives online.
Information on the cruise can be found on the SOI web site and the scientists onboard are posting blogs in both English and Spanish about their research on the site.
Astronomers have spotted many Earth-like worlds around other stars, but are these exoplanets really similar to our home, and could they support life? The CLEVER Planets project, including UC Davis professor Sarah Stewart, has received a $7.7 million NASA grant to explore how rocky planets like Earth acquire, sustain, and nurture the chemical conditions necessary for life.
Credit: Courtney Dressing, Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics
For poor and subsistence farmers in developing countries, a severe drought, flood or other catastrophe can cost them everything. In response to these kinds of climate-related risks, farmers often choose to minimize their exposure to loss. They might avoid higher-cost improved seeds that promise bigger harvests or riskier but profitable cash crops. Both of these strategies can keep them poor.
Maize farmers in Tanzania. Agricultural index insurance could help small farmers like these invest in higher-value crops and increase their income.
As an undergraduate physics major, Maureen Kinyua discovered her passion for science—combined with a sincere interest in helping others—could lead to a fruitful career in engineering.
Maureen Kinyua is taking new approaches to recycling animal waste. (UC Davis College of Engineering)
“I liked how you could combine physics, chemistry and biology into something more applied,” she said. “Engineering also gave me a way to mix my interest in science while actually doing good for the environment.”
UC Davis scientists are taking part in a project to build the new “Frontera” supercomputer at the University of Texas at Austin. Funded by a $60 million grant from the National Science Foundation announced last week, Frontera will be the fastest computer at any U.S. university and among the most powerful in the world.
Global simulation of Earth’s mantle convection by the NSF-funded Stampede supercomputer at UT Austin. Computational Infrastructure for Geodynamics, headquartered at UC Davis, is developing software for Earth sciences that will run on the new Frontera system. [Courtesy of ICES, UT Austin]
The Earth has been through a lot of changes in its 4.5 billion year history, including a shift to incorporating and retaining volatile compounds such as water, nitrogen and carbon from the atmosphere in the mantle before spewing them out again through volcanic eruptions.
This transport could not have begun much before 2.5 billion years ago, according to researchers at UC Davis and Washington University in St. Louis, published Aug. 9 in the journal Nature.
How does a fish avoid being eaten by a bigger fish? Evolution could build up defenses such as spines or armor, or favor avoidance strategies such as quick reactions, swimming away and hiding. The rules of evolution are tough, so you cannot really have both, the argument goes.
But this hypothesis has been difficult to test in practice. Now Jennifer Hodge, a postdoctoral researcher working with Professor Peter Wainwright and colleagues in the UC Davis Department of Evolution and Ecology, College of Biological Sciences, has carried out a survey of hundreds of specimens of butterflyfish, carefully measuring their physical traits and defenses compared to feeding style.
As lizards before the hurricane fly: A new study in the journal Nature gives a graphic demonstration of natural selection in action. It’s about Anole lizards living on islands in the Caribbean and how they survived – or not – two violent hurricanes in 2017.
Anolis scriptus lizards are endemic to the Turks and Caicos Islands. (Colin Donihue/Harvard University)
Thomas Schoener, professor of evolution and ecology in the UC Davis College of Biological Sciences, is a coauthor on the paper. Schoener has extensively studied these lizards and other animals on small Caribbean islands as models for evolution and natural selection.
The snipefish, an ocean-dwelling relative of the seahorse, has a very long, skinny snout ending in a tiny mouth. A recent study by UC Davis graduate student Sarah Longo shows that snipefish feed with an elastic-boosted head flick at almost unprecedented speed.
“At as little as two milliseconds, it’s among the fastest feeding events ever recorded for fish,” said Longo, now a postdoctoral researcher at Duke University.
Snipefish, seahorses and pipefish all have long, skinny snouts and use “pivot feeding” to capture food, Longo said, meaning that they pivot their head rapidly to bring their mouth up close to the prey and suck it in.