By Pat Bailey
As 2015 draws to a close, a team of UC Davis undergraduates can look back with pride and a sigh of relief on one of the most grueling but rewarding experiences of their college career.
Students Gabriel Freund, Muntaha Samad, Andrew Shepherd, Logan Vinson and Joanne Wu, were selected last spring as members of UC Davis’ 2015 iGEM (International Genetically Engineered Machines) team. They were joined by Andrew Michelmore, who is from Davis but attends Santa Clara University.
Gabriel Freund in the lab
By AJ Cheline
A team of researchers from the University of California, Davis and the University of Washington have demonstrated that the conductance of DNA can be modulated by controlling its structure, thus opening up the possibility of DNA’s future use as an electromechanical switch for nanoscale computing. Although DNA is commonly known for its biological role as the molecule of life, it has recently garnered significant interest for use as a nanoscale material for a wide-variety of applications.
By Holly Ober
Thermal ablation with magnetic resonance–guided focused ultrasound surgery (MRgFUS) is a noninvasive technique for treating fibroids and cancer. New research from UC Davis shows that combining the technique with chemotherapy can allow complete destruction of tumors in mice.
MRgFUS combines an ultrasound beam that heats and destroys tissue with a magnetic resonance imaging to guide the beam and monitor the effects of treatment. The effectiveness of the treatment can be limited by the need to spare normal tissue or critical structures on the tumor margins, as well as the need to eliminate micrometastases.
By Kat Kerlin
It requires roughly the same level of greenhouse gas emissions to extract shale oil as it does to extract conventional crude oil, according to a pair of studies by UC Davis and Stanford University released this week by the U.S. Department of Energy’s Argonne National Laboratory.
The research analyzed the Eagle Ford shale play in Texas and the Bakken play in North Dakota. These plays are shale formations with low permeability that must be hydraulically fractured to produce oil and gas.
The Eagle Ford Shale in Texas is one of the largest oil and gas producing regions in the country.
The National Science Foundation will award almost $5 million over five years to UC Davis to include the large earthquake-simulating centrifuge at the Center for Geotechnical Modeling as part of the new Natural Hazards Engineering Research Infrastructure program.
The geotechnical centrifuge at UC Davis is the largest of its kind in the world. It is used for scale model experiments on the effect of earthquakes on soils and buildings.
By Jocelyn Anderson
Sponge-like nanoporous gold could be key to new devices to detect disease-causing agents in humans and plants, according to UC Davis researchers.
In two recent papers in Analytical Chemistry (here & here), a group from the UC Davis Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering demonstrated that they could detect nucleic acids using nanoporous gold, a novel sensor coating material, in mixtures of other biomolecules that would gum up most detectors. This method enables sensitive detection of DNA in complex biological samples, such as serum from whole blood.
Taking lessons from nature and biology into civil engineering is the goal of the new Center for Bio-inspired and Bio-mediated Geotechnics, including the University of California, Davis, Arizona State University, New Mexico State University and the Georgia Institute of Technology, and funded with a five-year, $18.5 million grant from the National Science Foundation.
The center’s director will be Edward Kavazanjian, a professor of civil engineering and senior scientist at ASU’s Julie Ann Wrigley Global Institute of Sustainability. The UC Davis team will be headed by Jason DeJong, professor of geotechnical engineering in the Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering.
UC Davis is a partner in new $610 million institute for photonics manufacturing innovation announced July 27 by Vice President Joe Biden at an event in Greece, N.Y.
The Integrated Photonics Institute for Manufacturing Innovation (IP-IMI) aims to stimulate new investment and industrial growth based on photonics technology, which uses light, rather than electrons, to carry information. Integrated photonics has the potential to pack more processing power onto a single chip, opening new possibilities in computing, telecommunications and related fields.
Integrated photonics device designed and fabricated in Professor Yoo’s lab at UC Davis. Credit: Binbin Guan
By Jeffrey Day
Raúl Aranovich, an associate professor of linguistics at UC Davis, is using his knowledge of language structure and theory on a project to identify programmers most likely to write vulnerable code.
He is working with UC Davis computer scientists Prem Devanbu and Vladimir Filikov on a National Science Foundation funded project called “Language, Computation and Cybersecurity.”
Q&A with Raúl Aranovich
“There’s this big debate whether an author leaves a quantitative fingerprint on his or her work. It could be from things like average sentence length or how many adverbs you include in your writing or your speech,” Aranovich said.
Travis Smith has always been interested in building things. This summer, the UC Davis graduate student will be on national television building robots and then watching his creations stand up to spikes, chainsaws and flamethrowers as a team member in the sixth series of “Battlebots” on the ABC network.
Travis Smith, a Ph.D. student in engineering, is taking part in the sixth season of the TV show “Battlebots.”
In the show, teams build armed robots that fight it out in an arena full of hazards. Think FIRST Robotics, but with chainsaws.