College News 2019

June 14, 2019

Green shrubbery
UCR research uncovers elusive process essential to plant greening

By creating mutant plants, UC Riverside researchers have uncovered a cellular communication pathway sought by scientists for decades. Results were published today in two papers in the journal Nature Communications. “The nucleus is like the federal government of the cell, while a sub-organ called the plastid functions more like the state,” said UCR’s Meng Chen, an associate professor of cell biology whose lab is one of few in the world focused on phytochrome communications.

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June 10, 2019

Planets orbiting
New study dramatically narrows the search for advanced life in the universe

In a new study, a UC Riverside-led team discovered that a buildup of toxic gases in the atmospheres of most planets makes them unfit for complex life as we know it. Traditionally, much of the search for extraterrestrial life has focused on what scientists call the “habitable zone,” defined as the range of distances from a star warm enough that liquid water could exist on a planet’s surface. That description works for basic, single-celled microbes — but not for complex creatures like animals, which include everything from simple sponges to humans. The study was published today in The Astrophysical Journal.

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June 4, 2019

EEOB GSA Award 2019
CNAS GSAs win 2019 UCR Student Life Awards

The Graduate Student Associations of Evolution, Ecology Organismal Biology (EEOB) and Plant Pathology as well as the Dynamic Genome Outreach Group were awarded multiple UC Riverside Student Life awards, acknowledging excellence in science outreach, education, and community service. 

Big congratulations to all winning GSA officers, students, and supporting faculty and staff!

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June 3, 2019

EurosemillasEuropean agriculture innovation company to invest $5M with UC Riverside

Eurosemillas S.A., a global leader in the commercialization of agriculture innovations, has signed a $5 million agreement with UCR to expand a research and licensing partnership that has taken the campus’ citrus varieties to nearly 20 countriesThe company, based in Cordoba, Spain, is UCR’s largest international licensee of the Tango mandarin variety. Internationally, it is sold under various brands, including Tango Fruit. In the U.S., the Tango mandarin is grown by California citrus growers and is among the varieties sold as Cuties and Halos.

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May 29, 2019

Research teams started moving into MRB

A total of 16 full laboratory teams have moved in UCR's Multidisciplinary Research Building. Once the full move-in process is completed in January 2020, 45 faculty investigators and their teams will be working in the MRB. “It’s a great space,” said Ansel Hsiao, an assistant professor of microbiology and the primary investigator of the microbiology and plant pathology team, as he and his team unpacked boxes for their lab. “One of the advantages is we’re a lot closer to other labs that work on similar things.”

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May 28, 2019

Commencement 2019
UCR Commencement 2019

The University of California, Riverside’s 65th commencement will celebrate 5,857 eligible graduates. Read about featured CNAS students Cebrina Nolan and Alejandro De Santiago Perez and their journeys.

As with every graduating class, UC Riverside takes pride in every student who leaves the campus ready to start a bright future, said Chancellor Kim A. Wilcox.

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May 24, 2019

Jupiter & Saturn
Meteor magnets in outer space

A UCR-led team has discovered two Jupiter-sized planets about 150 light years away from Earth that could reveal whether life is likely on the smaller planets in other solar systems. “We believe planets like Jupiter have profoundly impacted the progression of life on Earth. Without them, humans might not be here to have this conversation,” said Stephen Kane, lead study author and UCR associate professor of planetary astrophysics. “Understanding how many other stars have planets like Jupiter could be very important for learning about the habitability of planets in those systems.”

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May 15, 2019

Loss of plant diversity harms not only bumblebees

A new study led by Hollis Woodard, assistant professor in the UCR Entomology Department, reveals that loss of plant diversity harms bumblebees at a critical stage in their development -- and as bumblebee diets narrow, ours could as well. Study lead Hollis Woodard explained bumblebees perform a type of pollination that honeybees do not. The fuzzy insects use their jaws to shake flowers until they release their pollen, and this process is essential for food crops, such as tomatoes, blueberries, cranberries, strawberries, peppers, eggplants, and potatoes.

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May 14, 2019

Rochelle A. Campbell and Allison Campbell
UCR research agronomist receives USDA New Investigator Award

The National Institute of Food and Agriculture, a division of the U.S. Department of Agriculture, has awarded nearly $500,000 to Elia Scudiero, a professional researcher in the environmental sciences department, for a project helping California’s farmers use water more efficiently while protecting crops. Scudiero came to UC Riverside as a postdoctoral researcher from Padua, Italy, in 2014 and became an assistant research agronomist in 2018. He studies properties of soil, such as salinity and water content, to increase the economic and environmental sustainability of farms. Scudiero carries out his research at the U.S. Salinity Laboratory, one of USDA-Agricultural Research Service’s national laboratories, which is located at UCR.

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May 8, 2019

Rochelle A. Campbell and Allison Campbell
Campbell family gives $10 million to UC Riverside

The University of California, Riverside today announced a $10 million gift from Rochelle A. Campbell and Allison Campbell. The gift from the mother-daughter philanthropists will support access and opportunity across the university’s disciplines for students and parents of limited means. Past gifts from the Campbell family have benefited the College of Natural and Agricultural Sciences (CNAS). Their new commitment is divided among CNAS, the College of Humanities and Social Sciences (CHASS), and across campus, including for scholarships and internships.

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May 2, 2019

Nematodes under Microscope
Petri dishes don’t make good hosts for parasitic nematodes

A new study by a team led by Adler Dillman, asst. professor in UCR's Entomology Department, suggests that some of what scientists have learned about nematode toxin production and release may be missing the mark because it came from research done on nematodes outside of a host. Parasitic nematodes are a large group of wormlike organisms that can infect an astonishing array of plants, insects, and animals, including humans. They undergo dramatic changes when they come into contact with their host’s tissues, releasing proteins toxic to the host, leading to tissue damage or even death. Because parasitic nematodes are a major source of human disease and mortality, infecting nearly 25% of the global population, scientists have extensively studied the kinds of toxins they produce. 

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April 30, 2019

Marilyn Fogel
UCR Professor Marilyn Fogel elected to the National Academy of Sciences

The National Academy of Sciences announced today the election of 100 new members and 25 foreign associates in recognition of their distinguished and continuing achievements in original research. UCR EDGE Institute Director Dr. Marilyn Fogel, Wilbur W. Mayhew Endowed Professor of Geoecology, is a new member. Forty percent of the newly elected members are women—the most ever elected in any one year to date.

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April 30, 2019

NSF logo
NSF award helps UCR train tomorrow's STEM teachers

A $1.5 million National Science Foundation award will help transform more than 50 UC Riverside students into the next generation of science, technology, engineering, and math teachers. The Foundation’s Robert Noyce Teacher Scholarship is building a pipeline to move talented undergraduate STEM students through UCR’s teaching credential programs and into nearby school districts. The award program addresses the critical need for highly effective middle and high school STEM teachers.

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April 29, 2019

UCR forensic entomology class teaches students to interpret insect clues to aid legal investigations

Entomology professor Alec Gerry said intense student interest in crime scene shows led him to develop a course that exposes students to hands-on experiences and examinations. Though crime scene clues may point to grisly realities, the challenge of interpreting the evidence is more exciting than grubs and gore are repellant to students, as evidenced by the waiting list this year for Gerry’s course.

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April 25, 2019

Space tomatoes
Grant to UC Riverside could help put tiny tomato plants on the International Space Station

Martha Orozco-Cárdenas, director of the Plant Transformation Research Center in the College of Natural and Agricultural Sciences, and Robert Jinkerson, an assistant professor of chemical and environmental engineering in the Marlan and Rosemary Bourns College of Engineering, will use the two-year $800,000 grant to continue to reduce the size of the miniature plants, engineer them for enhanced photosynthesis, grow them in a container that mimics conditions on the International Space Station, analyze the fruit’s nutritional content, and conduct taste tests.

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April 24, 2019

Professor Yehua Li
Professors Yehua Li and Mark Alber recognized for their accomplishments

Professors Yehua Li of Statistics and Mark Alber of Mathematics are acknowledged by the American Statistical Association and Leiden University. Distinguished Professor of Mathematics Mark Alber (pictured) has been named the 2019 Kloosterman Professor at the Mathematical Institute, Leiden University, The Netherlands. Professor of Statistics Yehua Li has been selected a Fellow of the American Statistical Association.

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April 24, 2019

NSF logo
CNAS students receive prestigious NSF fellowships and honorable mentions

Nine University of California, Riverside, students received National Science Foundation, or NSF, Graduate Research Fellowships this year in the STEM fields: Graduate students Holly Christenson, astronomy and astrophysics; Alexandria Nicole Costantino, particle physics; Martin Fernandez, cosmology; Marie Laura Leger, entomology; Jill Marzolino, evolutionary biology; Gregory Michael Newkirk, microbial biology; and Samantha Smith, systematics and biodiversity. Undergraduate students Sofia Rose Martinez Alberga, algebra, number theory, and combinatorics; and Cindy Cristina Yanez, climate and large-scale atmospheric dynamics.

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April 22, 2019

Nobel laureate Barry Barish
CNAS physicist and Nobel laureate Barry Barish elected foreign member of the Royal Society

Barry Barish, a distinguished professor of physics at UC Riverside, has been elected a foreign member of the Royal Society for his exceptional contribution to science. Barish was awarded the 2017 Nobel Prize in Physics “for decisive contributions to the LIGO detector and the observation of gravitational waves,” along with American physicists Rainer Weiss and Kip S. Thorne. The Royal Society announcement can be found here.

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April 17, 2019

CNAS Dean Kathryn UhrichDean Kathryn Uhrich highlighted in magazine

The University of North Dakota Alumni Review wrote a cover story titled "When inspiration strikes -- curiosity sparks aha moment for UND alumna Kathryn Uhrich" on Dean Uhrich for their spring 2019 issue.

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April 16, 2019

Researcher Sam Ying
Fulbright sends UCR soil scientist to dam disaster site

UCR researcher Samantha Ying has won a Fulbright Award to understand the environmental effects of the 2015 Fundão dam disaster, widely considered the worst in Brazilian history. The dam break killed 19 people and sent more than 14.5 billion gallons of toxic metals rushing toward the Atlantic Ocean. The Fulbright award enables Ying to head to São Paulo, Brazil in 2020 to examine the long-term effects of the Fundão mine tailings on a protected coastal estuary.

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April 9, 2019

Nasa program for STEM K-12JUUL e-cigarettes linked to cellular damage

With high nicotine concentrations, JUUL products, which are highly popular among adolescents, have been found to have negative effects on living cells. A research team led by Prue Talbot, a professor in the Department of Molecular, Cell and Systems Biology at the University of California, Riverside, and James F. Pankow, a professor of chemistry as well as civil and environmental engineering at Portland State University, Oregon, has now found that nicotine concentrations are higher in JUUL electronic cigarettes than in any of the hundreds of other electronic cigarette products the team analyzed.

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April 8, 2019

Nasa program for STEM K-12New NASA-funded program to train K-12 students in STEM fields

NASA has awarded the University of California, Riverside a grant of $320,000 to launch a research and training program in STEM fields aimed at enhancing K-12 students’ experiences outside school hours. Titled “Launch Pad from High School to NASA: A Research and Training Program in STEM Fields,” the program has received funding for two years. Its goal is to advance STEM education at high schools and beyond by developing a workforce pipeline and working collaboratively with other agencies and universities to train students and teachers in disciplines of interest to NASA.

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April 8, 2019

Prof. Holly BikPioneering worm research wins award
UCR nematology professor Holly Bik is pioneering the use of microscopic worms as indicators of pollution and environmental change in marine environments. For this effort, Bik has won California Sea Grant’s 2019 Special Focus Award, one of only four such awards handed out in the entire state. The award provides her lab with $70,000 to evaluate the health of an estuary near the now-defunct San Onofre nuclear power plant. Bik says the worms offer valuable data about whether the estuary is as healthy as it should be.

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April 1, 2019

Citrus greening diseasePlant pathologist leads research to stop spread of citrus-destroying disease

“HLB has no cure so far,” said Jin, a professor of microbiology and plant pathology, who holds the Cy Mouradick Endowed Chair at UCR and is a member of the university’s Institute for Integrative Genome Biology. “We have already identified a novel class of peptides by studying HLB-tolerant close relatives and hybrids of citrus. These peptides can directly kill the HLB bacteria and inhibit their spread in HLB-affected trees. They can also induce plant immune responses to protect trees from future HLB infection.”

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March 28, 2019

Amir HaghverdiIrrigation specialist receives USDA New Investigator Award

Amir Haghverdi, an assistant cooperative extension specialist of irrigation and water management in the environmental sciences department, has been awarded a nearly $500,000 Food and Agricultural Science Enhancement New Investigator grant by the National Institute of Food and Agriculture of the United States Department of Agriculture. National Institute of Food and Agriculture Food and Agricultural Science Enhancement Grants are highly competitive funds awarded to researchers at the beginning their career, with less than five years postgraduate career-track experience.

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March 27, 2019

Kangaroo RatHigh-speed video reveals amazing skills: kangaroo rat vs. snake, rat wins

Research by a student-led team from UC Riverside, San Diego State University, and UC Davis shows that desert kangaroo rats frequently foil snakes through a combination of fast reaction times, powerful evasive leaps, and mid-air, ninja-style kicks. Timothy Higham, an associate professor in the Department of Evolution, Ecology and Organismal Biology at UCR, is a coauthor on two papers published today in Functional Ecology and the Biological Journal of the Linnean Society that present detailed analyses of the behaviors and biomechanics of both kangaroo rats and rattlesnakes.

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March 19, 2019


Study finds natural selection favors cheaters

A team of biologists at UCR has now found strong evidence of this cheating. Focusing on the interaction between nitrogen-fixing bacteria, or rhizobia, and their legume hosts spanning about 530 miles of California habitat, the researchers found that natural selection in their study populations favors cheating rhizobia. “Our data show that natural selection favors cheating rhizobia, and support predictions that rhizobia can often subvert plant defenses and evolve to exploit hosts,” said Joel Sachs, a professor of biology in the Department of Evolution, Ecology & Organismal Biology, who led the research team.

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March 18, 2019

Proxima Centauri
Carbon monoxide detectors could warn of extraterrestrial life

In a study published today in The Astrophysical Journal, UCR's Edward Schwieterman, a postdoctoral researcher in the Earth Sciences department, and his team used computer models of chemistry in the biosphere and atmosphere to identify two intriguing scenarios in which carbon monoxide readily accumulates in the atmospheres of living planets.

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March 13, 2019

Coastal ecosystems suffer from upriver hydroelectric dams

Researchers at UC Riverside and Scripps Institution of Oceanography at UC San Diego have found that inland river dams can have highly destructive effects on the stability and productivity of coastline and estuarine habitats.

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February 28, 2019

Vibrating Universe
Research identifies mechanism that helps plants fight bacterial infectionc

Hailing Jin, professor of microbiology and plant pathology, leads a team of researchers in regulating Argonaute protein to fight bacterial infection in plants.

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February 26, 2019

Vibrating Universe
When life gives you sour lemons, use genetics to find out why

A group of researchers (with two from UC Riverside) have discovered the genes that give many citrus fruits its sour taste.

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February 22, 2019

Vibrating Universe
Assistant professor Hoori Ajami holds NIFA conference

Ajami holds a NIFA conference in regards of various environmental issues. 

February 21, 2019

Vibrating Universe
UCR student researcher takes smoking personally

Careen Khachatoorian, a sixth-year Cell, Molecular, and Developmental Biology graduate student, studies the dangers that come with smoking e-cigarettes and the residue left behind by it. 

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February 15, 2019

Vibrating UniverseNew NASA research consortium to tackle life's origins

NASA's new Prebiotic Chemistry and Early Earth Environments works to identify planetary conditions that might give rise to life's chemistry and find other habitable worlds.

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February 15, 2019

Vibrating Universe
Scientists image conducting edges in a promising 2-D material

Researchers from UCR and the University of Washington image "edge conduction" for the first time in monolayer tungsten ditelluride , which can be used to build energy-efficient electronic devices. 

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February 5, 2019

Vibrating UniverseThe "Vibrating Universe"

Since 2015, Gillian Wilson, senior associate vice chancellor for research and economic development and a professor of physics and astronomy at UCR, and Mario De Leo-Winkler, director of the National System of Researchers of Mexico and a former postdoctoral scholar at UCR, have developed astronomy outreach activities  – astronomy photography competitions, traveling astronomy exhibitions, K12 workshops, interdisciplinary honors thesis projects, hands-on undergraduate astrophotography – that have touched 40,000 people.

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February 4, 2019

electronsUC Riverside physicists create exotic electron liquid

Associate Professor of Physics Nathaniel Gabor, who directs the UCR Quantum Materials Optoelectronics Lab, and his colleagues at UCR have created the first “electron liquid” at room temperature by bombarding an ultrathin semiconductor sandwich with powerful laser pulses.

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February 4, 2019

PlasmodiumGenome structure of malaria parasites linked to virulence

Co-lead researcher Karine Le Roch, a professor in the UCR Department of Molecular, Cell and Systems Biology stated that novel intervention strategies targeting the genome structure could mark a breakthrough for both vaccine and drug development against malaria.

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February 4, 2019

California smogA warming world increases air pollution

Climate change is warming the ocean, but it’s warming land faster and that’s really bad news for air quality all over the world, says a new University of California, Riverside study (first author is Robert Allen, an associate professor in the UCR Earth Sciences department).

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January 17, 2019

mollie veliferaSize matters  to livebearer fish, big fins are a big deal

In a new paper, biologists from the UC Riverside studied the evolution of 40 molly and Limia species, and concluded dorsal fin displays arose first for males to compete with other males, only later being used in courtship displays to females. These changes in fin function went hand in hand with enlargement of the male dorsal fin. The fins reached extreme sizes in a few species and appear to be associated with rapid evolution, especially in mollies. 

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January 11, 2019

MRB ribbon cuttingUCR opens largest research facility on campus

UC Riverside is celebrating the completion of the $150 million Multidisciplinary Research Building, or MRB, which will provide an innovative and collaborative approach to conducting research. Campus leaders held a dedication ceremony Friday for the five-story, 179,000-square-foot building that now stands as the largest and most sophisticated research facility on campus. Located on 2 acres near the intersection of Aberdeen and North Campus drives, the project took three-and-half years to complete.

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January 11, 2019

plant    UCR scientists identify how plants sense temperature

Meng Chen, associate professor of cell biology at the University of California, Riverside, is leading a team to explore the role of phytochrome B, a molecular signaling pathway that may play a pivotal role in how plants respond to temperature. With a temperature sensor in hand, researchers can engineer crops that produce yields in warmer climates. Read the article "Daytime temperature is sensed by phytochrome B in Arabidopsis through a transcriptional activator HEMERA" published in Nature on January 11th, 2019.

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January 9, 2019

Varroa Mite
Bee mite arrival in Hawaii causes pathogen changes in honeybee predators

A team led by entomologists at the University of California, Riverside, performed a study on the Big Island and found viruses associated with the mite have spilled over into the western yellowjacket, a honeybee predator and honey raider. The result is a hidden, yet remarkable, change in the genetic diversity of viruses associated with the larger pathogen community of the mite and wasp, with repercussions yet to be understood.

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