College News Archive 2016

December 14, 2016

Michael Pirrung
Pirrung Elected to National Academy of Inventors

Distinguished Professor of Chemistry Michael C. Pirrung is among 11 University of California innovators who were recently elected to the National Academy of Inventors for “. . . creating or facilitating outstanding inventions that have made a tangible impact on quality of life, economic development and the welfare of society.”

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December 8, 2016

SHINES to Host Workshop on Spintronics and Thermal Transport

With support from the Vice Chancellor for Research, UCR's Energy Frontier Research Center (EFRC) on Spins and Heat in Nanoscale Electronic Systems (SHINES) will hold a workshop at UCR’s Palm Desert Center on January 12-13, 2017. The workshop will focus on the most recent development at the frontiers of spintronics and thermal transport in nano-materials and nano-devices.

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November 10, 2016

Gillian Wilson
Wilson Named Interim Deputy Director of UC Observatories

Professor of Physics and Astronomy Gillian Wilson has been named interim deputy director of UC Observatories, a multi-campus astronomical research unit with headquarters on the UC Santa Cruz campus. The unit operates the Lick Observatory on Mount Hamilton near San Jose, technical labs at UC Santa Cruz and UCLA, and is also a managing partner of the W. M. Keck Observatory in Hawaii. The appointment comes just months after Wilson was named chair of the University of California Observatories Advisory Committee.

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July 11, 2016

Mahi fish
Study Shows Lingering Toxic Effects of Oil Pollution on Development of Fish Embryos and Larvae

In the first experiment evaluating the effects of oil from the three-million-barrel leak from the Deep Water Horizon well in the Gulf of Mexico in 2010, Professor of Aquatic Ecotoxicology Daniel Schlenk found that the weathering of the oil produced significant changes in gene expression related to critical functions in Mahi embryos and larvae.

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July 11, 2016

Study of Cloud Records Demonstrates Effects of Climate Change

A research team that includes Assistant Professor of Earth Sciences Robert Allen analyzed satellite cloud records and discovered that cloud storm tracks are moving toward the Earth’s poles, subtropical zones are expanding and cloud tops are moving higher in the atmosphere. The study, “Evidence for Climate Change in the Satellite Cloud Record,” appears in the July 11 edition of the journal Nature.

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July 8, 2016

Why Do Galaxies Stop Creating Stars?

Using a large sample of around 70,000 galaxies, a team of researchers led by astronomers Behnam Darvish and Bahram Mobasher focused on the effects of external and internal processes that influence star formation activity and may have found an explanation for why galaxies stop creating stars.

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June 30, 2016

Umar Mohideen
Mohideen Named Divisional Dean of Physical Sciences and Mathematics

Professor and Chair of the Department of Physics and Astronomy Umar Mohideen has agreed to serve as Divisional Dean of Physical Sciences and Mathematics for the college, effective July 1, 2016. He will replace Professor of Chemistry Cindy Larive, who has been chosen to serve the university as Vice Provost for Undergraduate Education.

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June 14, 2016

Fortino Morales III
Morales '11 Recognized with UC Global Food Initiative 30 Under 30 Award

Fortino Morales III (B.S., environmental science, 2011), manager of UCR's R’Garden, has been recognized by the UC Global Food Initiative for his work at the 3-acre community garden on campus, which serves as a source of food, food education and community engagement.

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June 6, 2016

Citrus Research Foundation and UCR Team Up to Fight Citrus Killer

California Citrus Research Foundation and UCR launched an effort Monday, June 6 that will result in construction of a new facility to be used by researchers to fight a disease devastating the citrus industry. The research partnership aims to protect California’s $3.3 billion citrus industry from Huanglongbing, the citrus disease.

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May 19, 2016

Larive Named Vice Provost for Undergraduate Education

Provost and Executive Vice Chancellor Paul D’Anieri has announced that Cindy Larive, Professor of Chemistry and Divisional Dean for Physical Sciences and Mathematics in the College of Natural and Agricultural Sciences, has agreed to serve as UCR's next Vice Provost for Undergraduate Education effective July 1, 2016.

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May 17, 2016

Study Advances Understanding of Colon Cancer and Colitis

A new study led by Professor of Cell Biology and Toxicologist Frances M. Sladek explains how the distribution of two forms of a transcription factor in the colon influence the risk of disease. Both forms are important and require an appropriate balance between them in the gut. The next step in the research is to identify foods that disrupt this balance and those that help preserve it.

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May 5, 2016

Exploiting Male-Killing Bacteria to Control Insects

A team of scientists including Assistant Professor of Entomology Omar Akbari have discovered a key mechanism that drives a bacteria that kills male insects, a development that could potentially be exploited to control insect pest species in the future. In a paper published in Current Biology, they describe how the bacterium Spiroplasma initiates male killing by directly targeting the dosage compensation complex of an organism, which equalizes gene expression between the males and females.

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May 4, 2016

Renowned Biologists to Give Free Public Talk on Earth’s Tipping Point

Biologists Anthony D. Barnosky and Elizabeth A. Hadly will deliver the John A. and Betty C. Moore Science as a Way of Knowing lecture on Thursday, May 12, 2016. Free and open to the public, their hour-long talk is titled “Tipping Point for Planet Earth – How Close Are We to the Edge?” and will begin at 5:30 p.m. at the UCR Extension Center.

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May 3, 2016

Chen to Deliver Faculty Research Lecture on Small RNAs

Distinguished Professor of Botany and Plant Sciences Xuemei Chen will deliver the 64th annual Faculty Research Lecture titled, “Small RNAs – Small but Powerful” from 3:30 to 5 p.m. on June 6 in the Genomics Auditorium. Small RNAs were the “dark matter” in biology until the early 2000s, when they were found to be universally present in animals and plants. In the past 15 years, efforts in the research community have unveiled many secrets of these enigmatic molecules and have begun to harness their power.

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May 3, 2016

Bailey-Serres Elected to National Academy of Sciences

Professor of Genetics Julia Bailey-Serres has been elected a member of the National Academy of Sciences (NAS) for her excellence in original scientific research. Membership in the NAS is one of the highest honors given to a scientist or engineer in the United States. Bailey-Serres learned of her election May 3, 2016, during the academy’s 153rd annual meeting in Washington, D.C.

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April 27, 2016

Bacteria Beneficial to Plants Have Spread Across California

A recent study led by Associate Professor of Biology Joel Sachs and published in the Proceedings of the Royal Society B shows that a strain of beneficial nitrogen-fixing bacteria has spread across California, demonstrating that beneficial bacteria can share some of the same features that are characteristic of pathogens. The bacteria, called Bradyrhizobium, form tumor-like nodules on the roots of plants and are able to “fix” nitrogen by breaking it down and rendering it into forms that plants can easily metabolize.

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April 25, 2016

College Saddened by Loss of Robert Haddon

Robert Cort Haddon, UCR distinguished professor of Chemistry and of Chemical and Environmental Engineering, and Director of the Center for Nanoscale Science and Engineering, passed away April 21, 2016. He was awarded the American Physical Society’s James C. McGroddy Prize for New Materials in 2008 and named by Thomson Reuters as one of the “best and brightest minds of our times” in 2014.

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April 19, 2016

More Natural History Training Needed, Survey Shows

A survey by scientists from three UC campuses and led by Cameron Barrows, associate researcher at the Center for Conservation Biology, shows that only 11 percent of early career scientists felt their academic training alone provided the needed exposure to natural history, which can be defined as the observation of organisms in their natural environment.

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April 19, 2016

Physics and Astronomy Hosts Public Events About Dark Matter, Mercury Transit

The Department of Physics and Astronomy is holding a Cosmic Wednesday discussion on April 27 about dark matter, along with a viewing of the rarely-seen Mercury transit. Designed to educate the community about science in an accessible way, the Cosmic Wednesday lecture will feature Professor George Becker, who will discuss computer-generated simulations of dark matter--a special kind of matter that doesn’t emit light or magnetic or electric fields.

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April 18, 2016

Self-healing Polymer Could Lead to Artificial Muscle

Assistant Professor of Chemistry Chao Wang is co-author of a study published in Nature Chemistry that describes a new polymer that can stretch to 100 times its original length, and even repair itself if punctured. It can also twitch by exposing it to an electric field, causing it to expand and contract, making it potentially useful as an artificial muscle.

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April 18, 2016

All Ants on Deck

Like humans, ants work together to enhance their response to emergency situations with different members of the group carrying out different tasks. A team of scientists that includes Assistant Professor of Entomology Jessica Purcell has found that a species of ant that clusters together to form rafts to survive floods exhibits memory and repeatedly occupies the same position during raft formation.

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April 12, 2016

$1M NSF Grant Will Help Sophomores Persist in Science

UCR has received a five-year, $1 million grant from the National Science Foundation to provide scholarships, academic support, research experience and internships for a group of sophomores majoring in science. The program builds on the highly successful Freshman Scholars Learning Communities program developed at CNAS.

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April 6, 2016

Reznick Among Three UCR Scholars Awarded Guggenheim Fellowship

Distinguished Professor of Biology David Reznick is among 175 persons in the U.S. awarded a prestigious Guggenheim Fellowship for 2016. Also honored from UCR are Laila Lalami, professor of creative writing, Fred Moten, professor of English and poetry. Reznick is an evolutionary biologist whose groundbreaking research found that an individual’s response to environmental conditions may predict evolutionary changes in future generations.

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April 4, 2016

Study Shows How Broadbills Use Their Wings to Create Sounds to Mark Territory

A study published in the Journal of Experimental Biology by Assistant Professor of Biology Christopher J. Clark demonstrates that Broadbills, birds found in some parts of Africa, produce a startlingly loud sound that they make with their wings to mark off territory. Clark was able to demonstrate that that it is not the outermost wing feathers but the ones just inside of these feathers that make their klaxon-like sound.

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March 30, 2016

Study Finds Wide-Reaching Impact of Nitrogen Deposition on Loss of Plant Diversity

Professor of Plant Ecology Edith B. Allen is among a group scientists who studied more than 15,000 sites across the U.S. and discovered that human activity is leading to nitrogen deposition in levels the decrease soil health and diversity of plant species in 24 percent of the sites they examined. Among the causes of this diminishing plant diversity are fossil fuel combustion, agricultural fertilizer application and livestock waste.

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March 30, 2016

Trumble Gan
Researchers to Study Contaminants from Treated Wastewater on Food Produce

Jay Gan, a professor of environmental chemistry, and John Trumble, a distinguished professor of entomology, have been awarded a $749,631 grant from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency to study the human and ecological health impacts of water reuse and conservation practices. University researchers will use the funds to measure levels of contaminants in vegetables irrigated with treated wastewater.

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March 30, 2016

New Tumbleweed Species Rapidly Expanding Range

Two invasive species of tumbleweed have hybridized to create a new species that Professor of Genetics Norman C. Ellstrand and his former graduate student Shana R. Welles found has dramatically expanded its geographic range in California in just a decade. They believe the invasive species Salsola ryanii could spread beyond California to other states.

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March 29, 2016

Scientists Unlock Genetic Secret that Could Help Fight Malaria

Omar Akbari, an assistant professor of entomology, is among group of scientists who have discovered a long-hypothesized male determining gene in the mosquito species that carries malaria, laying the groundwork for the development of strategies that could help control the disease. This is significant because male mosquitoes offer the potential to develop novel vector control strategies to combat diseases, such as malaria and the zika and dengue viruses, because males do not feed on blood or transmit diseases.

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March 21, 2016

Humans Releasing Carbon 10 times Faster Than Any Time in Past 66 million Years

New research published in Nature Geoscience by Professor of Earth Sciences Andy Ridgwell and two co-authors looks at changes of Earth’s temperature and atmospheric carbon dioxide (CO2) since the end of the age of the dinosaurs. Their findings suggest humans are releasing carbon about 10 times faster than during any event in the past 66 million years.

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March 17, 2016

Close Leads Team on $1.6M Grant to Sequence Cowpea Genome

Professor of Genetics Timothy Close is leading a team of UCR scientists on a nearly $1.6-million grant from the National Science Foundation to sequence the genome of the cowpea and further research developing superior cowpea breeding lines. The cowpea, which also includes black-eyed peas, is one of the most widely grown legume crops in the world and number one source of protein in the human diet in sub-Saharan Africa.

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March 2, 2016

Spinning Better Electronic Devices

A team of researchers led by Professor of Physics Jing Shi have demonstrated for the first time the transmission of electrical signals through insulators in a sandwich-like structure, a development that could help create more energy efficient electronic devices. The research results, published in Nature Communications, are the first first major collaborative result from the SHINES (Spins and Heat In Nanoscale Electronic Systems) center, which is funded with a $12-million grant from the U.S. Department of Energy.

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March 1, 2016

New Method Developed to Stop Argentine Ants

Graduate student Kevin Welzel and Dong-Hwan Choe, assistant professor of entomology and assistant cooperative extension specialist, are co-authors of a new paper describing research results showing bait that includes ant pheromones can be nearly twice as effective as bait without them in controlling Argentine ant populations.

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February 18, 2016

Akbari Co-Authors Paper on State of Engineered Gene Drives

In a highly innovative and technical review, Assistant Professor of Entomology Omar Akbari and his graduate students have published a paper in the journal Nature Reviews Genetics that examines the different gene drives systems, analyzes the pros and cons of each and applications associated with them, and also surveys the safety and regulatory issues associated with them. Engineered gene drives have the potential to spread desirable genes throughout wild populations or to suppress harmful species.

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February 8, 2016

Funning Co-Authors Paper on Potential for Double Earthquakes

A team of researchers including Associate Professor of Earth Sciences Gareth Funning has published a paper in journal Nature Geoscience that describes how an earthquake rupture on one thrust fault can trigger a second earthquake on another thrust fault much further away than previously thought. The finding could have severe implications for the Los Angeles area and other regions in the world.

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January 29, 2016

Bailey Serres Yin
Bailey-Serres and Yin Named Among World's Most Influential Scientists

CNAS scientists Juilia Bailey-Serres (botany and plant sciences) and Yadong Yin (chemistry) have been named to the Thomson Reuters 2015 list of “some of the best and brightest minds of our times.” The 2015 list focuses on contemporary research achievement using highly cited papers in journals indexed in the Web of Science Core Collection during the 11-year period 2003-2013 and defined as those that rank in the top 1 percent by citations for field and publication year..

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January 19, 2016

Watching Electrons Cool in 30 Quadrillionths of a Second

Nathan Gabor and Joshua C. H. Lui, assistant professors in the Department of Physics, are among the co-authors of a paper published recently in Nature Physics titled, “Tuning ultrafast electron thermalization pathways in a van der Waals heterostructure.” It describes a new process the research team developed that could have applications in visual displays, solar cells and photodetectors.

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January 13, 2016

Tracy Kahn Appointed Givaudan Endowed Chair

Tracy Kahn, curator of UCR’s Citrus Variety Collection, has been appointed the Givaudan Citrus Variety Collection Endowed Chair. The appointment, which went into effect July 1, 2015 and runs through June 30, 2020, allows the collection to be supported and maintained in perpetuity.

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January 12, 2016

Distinguished Professor Mark S. Alber to Join UCR’s Department of Mathematics

Distinguished Professor Mark S. Alber will join the faculty in the CNAS Department of Mathematics effective June 30, 2016. Professor Alber is currently the Vincent J. Duncan Family Professor of Applied Mathematics in the Department of Applied and Computational Mathematics and Statistics at the University of Notre Dame.

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January 11, 2016

Backyard Chickens Harbor Many Parasites

A study in the Journal of Medical Entomology by graduate student Amy Murillo and Professor of Entomology Bradley Mullens demonstrates that backyard chickens are infested by a greater diversity of mites and lice than cage-raised chickens.

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January 5, 2016

Chalmers Oatman
Emeritus Faculty Members Chalmers and Oatman Pass Away

The CNAS community was saddened to learn of the loss of two emeritus colleagues: Professor Emeritus of Mathematics Bruce Chalmers, who passed away December 11; and Professor Emeritus of Entomology Earl Oatman, who passed away December 13. Professor Chalmers joined the Department of Mathematics in 1976 and retired in 2008. Professor Oatman was hired at UCR in 1962 to work in Biological Control, served for a time as chair of the Division of Biological Control, and retired in 1988.

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