NPB in the News https://npb.ucdavis.edu/articles.rss NPB in the News for Department of Neurobiology, Physiology and Behavior en Engineering a Balanced Diet? Hormone FGF21 Promotes Protein Preference https://npb.ucdavis.edu/news/engineering-balanced-diet-hormone-fgf21-promotes-protein-preference <span class="field field--name-title field--type-string field--label-hidden">Engineering a Balanced Diet? Hormone FGF21 Promotes Protein Preference</span> <span class="field field--name-uid field--type-entity-reference field--label-hidden"> <span lang="" about="/user/9041" typeof="schema:Person" property="schema:name" datatype="">Greg Watry</span> </span> <span class="field field--name-created field--type-created field--label-hidden">May 13, 2019</span> <div class="field field--name-field-sf-primary-image field--type-image field--label-hidden field__item"> <img src="/sites/g/files/dgvnsk581/files/styles/sf_landscape_16x9/public/images/article/Mouse-Ryan-Karen-College-of-Biological-Sciences-UC-Davis.jpg?h=c673cd1c&amp;itok=YOdlO0d3" width="1280" height="720" alt="picture of a mouse eating" title="In a study appearing in Endocrinology, researchers identified the hormone fibroblast growth factor-21 (FGF21) as a control for regulating dietary protein intake in male mice. Pixabay" typeof="foaf:Image" class="image-style-sf-landscape-16x9" /> </div> <div class="addthis_toolbox addthis_default_style addthis_32x32_style" addthis:url="https://npb.ucdavis.edu/articles.rss" addthis:title="NPB in the News" addthis:description="To function daily, your body gleans energy from three food-derived macronutrients: carbohydrates, fats and proteins. How you divvy up those macronutrients in your diet is a matter of personal preference. But what if you could train your brain to prefer one macronutrient over the other? After all, not all macronutrients are created equal. While carbohydrates and fats are stored as inert forms in the body for later energy use, proteins are broken down to amino acids, which provide the biochemical basis for muscle, hormones, enzymes and neurotransmitters, among other important molecules. When demand for amino acids exceeds the dietary supply, our bodies respond by breaking down muscle and other functional proteins. For this reason “protein intake has important effects on many aspects of health, from development to aging to metabolism to performance,” said Associate Professor Karen Ryan, Department of Neurobiology, Physiology and Behavior. In a study appearing in Endocrinology, Ryan and her colleagues, including Molecular, Cellular and Integrative Physiology Ph.D. student and lead study author Karlton Larson, identified the hormone fibroblast growth factor-21 (FGF21) as a control for regulating dietary protein intake in male mice. They found that male mice injected with the hormone increased their intake of dietary protein over carbohydrates and fats. “FGF21 is a hormone that’s secreted primarily from the liver in response to nutritional stresses, and most strongly when the diet is deficient in protein or amino acids” said Ryan. “It increases energy expenditure and causes body weight and body fat loss in mice and for that reason, it’s been a target for development of treatments for metabolic diseases. But what we don’t understand very well is— what is its physiological role?” The study supports the hypothesis that FGF21 is used to promote protein homeostasis, in other words, to balance amino acid supply with demand, within the body. Ph.D. student Karlton Larson, Ryan and their colleagues found that male mice injected with the hormone increased their intake of dietary protein over carbohydrates and fats. David Slipher/UC Davis  Shutting down sugary cravings? Inspired by research showing FGF21 decreased intake of sweet carbs like sucrose, Ryan wondered if the mice responded to the depletion of one macronutrient by increasing the intake of another. She and her colleagues treated mice with FGF21 then gave them a choice between three different diets, each one consisting of a single macronutrient. The FGF21-treated mice decreased carb intake and increased dietary protein intake without a difference in total calories consumed. “That was really interesting to us because the homeostatic control of protein intake has been sort of an elusive concept,” said Ryan. “But here we have a hormone that is secreted in response to protein restriction, and when you give it to mice it leads to a compensatory increase in protein intake, so that caught our attention.” To confirm that FGF21 increased preference for dietary protein rather than avoidance of carbs, the team performed a series of two-choice diet tests. The diets were matched to different combinations of fats, proteins and carbs. “We knew that FGF21 decreased intake of sweet things,” said Ryan. “Whether it also regulates carbs independent of that was not clear. So we kept sugar constant across all diets.”   Inspired by research showing FGF21 decreased intake of sweet carbs like sucrose, Ryan wondered if the mice responded to the depletion of one macronutrient by increasing the intake of another. David Slipher/UC DavisIn the first test, mice chose between a diet of 22 percent fat, 18 percent protein and 60 percent carbohydrates or a diet of 22 percent fat, 4 percent protein and 74 percent carbohydrates. Upon treatment with FGF21, the mice shifted their preference towards the higher protein diet. In the second test, mice chose between a diet of 35 percent carbohydrates, 18 percent protein and 47 percent fat or a diet of 35 percent carbohydrates, 4 percent protein and 61 percent fat. Again, the FGF21-treated mice shifted their preference towards the higher protein diet. To further validate their findings, the team performed another test. They presented mice with a diet of 18 percent protein, 60 percent carbohydrates and 22 percent fat or a diet of 18 percent protein, 52 percent carbohydrates and 30 percent fat. This time, FGF21 treatment did not change diet preference, supporting the hypothesis that FGF21 plays a role to specifically regulate dietary protein. Food on the brain Now that they’ve confirmed one of FGF21’s roles, the team wants to know how it accomplishes this, neurologically speaking. They’re currently investigating a receptor in the brain called β-klotho (Klb), a co-receptor for FGF21. When the team deleted Klb from the whole brain, FGF21 no longer increased protein intake. “We know something about how amino acids can de directly sensed by different parts of the brain,” said Ryan. But “we don’t where in the brain FGF21 is acting, so that’s really the first question we’d like to answer.” “Which specific neurons are necessary to convey the effects of FGF21 on protein intake, and then how do those potentially talk to other areas of the brain that are important for amino acid sensing?” she added. Identifying a hormone that regulates dietary protein could have important implications for understanding organismal health when it comes to metabolism, cognition, development, and aging, according to Ryan. A grant from the National Institutes of Health supported the study.   "> <a class="addthis_button_facebook"></a> <a class="addthis_button_linkedin"></a> <script> var addthis_share = { templates: { twitter: "To function daily, your body gleans energy from three food-derived macronutrients: carbohydrates, fats and proteins. How you divvy up those macronutrients in your diet is a matter of personal preference. But what if you could train your brain to prefer one macronutrient over the other?" } } </script> <a class="addthis_button_twitter"></a> <a class="addthis_button_email"></a> <a class="addthis_button_compact"></a> </div> <div class="clearfix text-formatted field field--name-body field--type-text-with-summary field--label-hidden field__item"><p>To function daily, your body gleans energy from three food-derived macronutrients: carbohydrates, fats and proteins. How you divvy up those macronutrients in your diet is a matter of personal preference.</p> <p>But what if you could train your brain to prefer one macronutrient over the other?</p> <p>After all, not all macronutrients are created equal. While carbohydrates and fats are stored as inert forms in the body for later energy use, proteins are broken down to amino acids, which provide the biochemical basis for muscle, hormones, enzymes and neurotransmitters, among other important molecules. When demand for amino acids exceeds the dietary supply, our bodies respond by breaking down muscle and other functional proteins.</p> <blockquote> <p>For this reason “protein intake has important effects on many aspects of health, from development to aging to metabolism to performance,” said Associate Professor Karen Ryan, Department of Neurobiology, Physiology and Behavior.</p> </blockquote> <p>In a study appearing in <a href="https://academic.oup.com/endo/article/160/5/1069/5364429"><em>Endocrinology</em></a><em>, </em>Ryan and her colleagues, including Molecular, Cellular and Integrative Physiology Ph.D. student and lead study author Karlton Larson, identified the hormone fibroblast growth factor-21 (FGF21) as a control for regulating dietary protein intake in male mice. They found that male mice injected with the hormone increased their intake of dietary protein over carbohydrates and fats.</p> <p>“FGF21 is a hormone that’s secreted primarily from the liver in response to nutritional stresses, and most strongly when the diet is deficient in protein or amino acids” said Ryan. “It increases energy expenditure and causes body weight and body fat loss in mice and for that reason, it’s been a target for development of treatments for metabolic diseases. But what we don’t understand very well is— what is its physiological role?”</p> <p>The study supports the hypothesis that FGF21 is used to promote protein homeostasis, in other words, to balance amino acid supply with demand, within the body.</p> <figure role="group" class="caption caption-img"><img alt="Picture of karen in her lab with a phd student" data-entity-type="file" data-entity-uuid="ae9e80b6-b320-495a-941c-c52320916b02" src="/sites/g/files/dgvnsk581/files/inline-images/Karen-Ryan-College-of-Biological-Sciences-UC-Davis-Web-2.jpg" /><figcaption>Ph.D. student Karlton Larson, Ryan and their colleagues found that male mice injected with the hormone increased their intake of dietary protein over carbohydrates and fats. David Slipher/UC Davis</figcaption></figure><p> </p> <h4><strong>Shutting down sugary cravings?</strong></h4> <p>Inspired by research showing FGF21 decreased intake of sweet carbs like sucrose, Ryan wondered if the mice responded to the depletion of one macronutrient by increasing the intake of another. She and her colleagues treated mice with FGF21 then gave them a choice between three different diets, each one consisting of a single macronutrient.</p> <p>The FGF21-treated mice decreased carb intake and increased dietary protein intake without a difference in total calories consumed.</p> <p>“That was really interesting to us because the homeostatic control of protein intake has been sort of an elusive concept,” said Ryan. “But here we have a hormone that is secreted in response to protein restriction, and when you give it to mice it leads to a compensatory increase in protein intake, so that caught our attention.”</p> <p>To confirm that FGF21 increased preference for dietary protein rather than avoidance of carbs, the team performed a series of two-choice diet tests. The diets were matched to different combinations of fats, proteins and carbs.</p> <blockquote> <p>“We knew that FGF21 decreased intake of sweet things,” said Ryan. “Whether it also regulates carbs independent of that was not clear. So we kept sugar constant across all diets.”</p> </blockquote> <p> </p> <figure role="group" class="caption caption-img align-right"><img alt="head shot of Karen Ryan" data-entity-type="file" data-entity-uuid="4fa7b540-7e3a-4fb6-98ad-ef8a15a1b21f" height="351" src="/sites/g/files/dgvnsk581/files/inline-images/Karen-Ryan-College-of-Biological-Sciences-UC-Davis-Web-3.jpg" width="234" /><figcaption>Inspired by research showing FGF21 decreased intake of sweet carbs like sucrose, Ryan wondered if the mice responded to the depletion of one macronutrient by increasing the intake of another. David Slipher/UC Davis</figcaption></figure><p>In the first test, mice chose between a diet of 22 percent fat, 18 percent protein and 60 percent carbohydrates or a diet of 22 percent fat, 4 percent protein and 74</p> <p>percent carbohydrates. Upon treatment with FGF21, the mice shifted their preference towards the higher protein diet.</p> <p>In the second test, mice chose between a diet of 35 percent carbohydrates, 18 percent protein and 47 percent fat or a diet of 35 percent carbohydrates, 4 percent protein and 61 percent fat. Again, the FGF21-treated mice shifted their preference towards the higher protein diet.</p> <p>To further validate their findings, the team performed another test. They presented mice with a diet of 18 percent protein, 60 percent carbohydrates and 22 percent fat or a diet of 18 percent protein, 52 percent carbohydrates and 30 percent fat. This time, FGF21 treatment did not change diet preference, supporting the hypothesis that FGF21 plays a role to specifically regulate dietary protein.</p> <h4><strong>Food on the brain</strong></h4> <p>Now that they’ve confirmed one of FGF21’s roles, the team wants to know how it accomplishes this, neurologically speaking. They’re currently investigating a receptor in the brain called β-klotho (<em>Klb)</em>, a co-receptor for FGF21. When the team deleted <em>Klb</em> from the whole brain, FGF21 no longer increased protein intake.</p> <blockquote> <p>“We know something about how amino acids can de directly sensed by different parts of the brain,” said Ryan. But “we don’t where in the brain FGF21 is acting, so that’s really the first question we’d like to answer.”</p> </blockquote> <p>“Which specific neurons are necessary to convey the effects of FGF21 on protein intake, and then how do those potentially talk to other areas of the brain that are important for amino acid sensing?” she added.</p> <p>Identifying a hormone that regulates dietary protein could have important implications for understanding organismal health when it comes to metabolism, cognition, development, and aging, according to Ryan.</p> <p>A grant from the National Institutes of Health supported the study.</p> <p> </p> </div> <div class="field field--name-field-sf-article-category field--type-entity-reference field--label-above"> <div class="field__label">Category</div> <div class="field__item"><a href="/articles/human-animal-health" hreflang="en">Human &amp; Animal Health</a></div> </div> <div class="field field--name-field-sf-tags field--type-entity-reference field--label-above"> <div class="field__label">Tags</div> <div class="field__items"> <div class="field__item"><a href="/tags/neuroscience" hreflang="en">neuroscience</a></div> <div class="field__item"><a href="/tags/neurobiology" hreflang="en">neurobiology</a></div> <div class="field__item"><a href="/tags/nutrition" hreflang="en">nutrition</a></div> <div class="field__item"><a href="/tags/protein" hreflang="en">protein</a></div> <div class="field__item"><a href="/tags/carbohydrates" hreflang="en">carbohydrates</a></div> <div class="field__item"><a href="/tags/fats" hreflang="en">fats</a></div> <div class="field__item"><a href="/tags/public-health" hreflang="en">public health</a></div> <div class="field__item"><a href="/tags/food" hreflang="en">food</a></div> <div class="field__item"><a href="/tags/women-stem" hreflang="en">Women in STEM</a></div> <div class="field__item"><a href="/tags/graduate-student" hreflang="en">Graduate Student</a></div> <div class="field__item"><a href="/tags/graduate-group" hreflang="en">Graduate Group</a></div> </div> </div> Mon, 13 May 2019 20:51:54 +0000 Greg Watry 611 at https://npb.ucdavis.edu Professor Mark Goldman Appointed to the Joel Keizer Endowed Chair in Theoretical and Computational Biology https://npb.ucdavis.edu/news/professor-mark-goldman-appointed-joel-keizer-endowed-chair-theoretical-and-computational <span class="field field--name-title field--type-string field--label-hidden">Professor Mark Goldman Appointed to the Joel Keizer Endowed Chair in Theoretical and Computational Biology</span> <span class="field field--name-uid field--type-entity-reference field--label-hidden"> <span lang="" about="/user/9041" typeof="schema:Person" property="schema:name" datatype="">Greg Watry</span> </span> <span class="field field--name-created field--type-created field--label-hidden">May 01, 2019</span> <div class="field field--name-field-sf-primary-image field--type-image field--label-hidden field__item"> <img src="/sites/g/files/dgvnsk581/files/styles/sf_landscape_16x9/public/images/article/Mark-Goldman-Lab-College-of-Biological-Sciences-UC-Davis-4.jpg?h=c673cd1c&amp;itok=z_tlEiAY" width="1280" height="720" alt="Picture of mark and a student" title="Professor Mark Goldman walks a student through an experiment during an NPB 100L class. David Slipher/UC Davis" typeof="foaf:Image" class="image-style-sf-landscape-16x9" /> </div> <div class="addthis_toolbox addthis_default_style addthis_32x32_style" addthis:url="https://npb.ucdavis.edu/articles.rss" addthis:title="NPB in the News" addthis:description="Quick Summary To figure out the labyrinthine-like puzzle of the brain, scientists need computational and quantitative biology skills Professor Mark Goldman applies the quantitative skills he learned as a physicist to questions in neuroscience Named to the Keizer Chair, Goldman will continue to make UC Davis a home for quantitative biology by ushering in a new quantitative biology major Our brains are incredible biological machines synthesizing uncountable, chaotic, sensory inputs into coherent experience. We populate a world of objects and each object—a computer screen, a red apple, even the shape and identity of your best friend—is visually perceived and interpreted to construct our reality. “You see something that’s red; you see something that’s round. How do you know it’s a red circle?” asked Professor Mark Goldman. “You have these individual attributes and the idea is that there are different parts of our brain that are responsible for color, others that are responsible for form. How is the information carried by these pathways combined in a faithful, yet flexible manner?” This concept of neural binding—what may underlie the miraculous coherence of consciousness— is just one of the many aspects of the brain that puzzle neuroscientists. “How are we going to figure out the algorithms used by the neural networks of the brain?” asked Goldman, who holds appointments in the Department of Neurobiology, Physiology and Behavior and the Center for Neuroscience. “We’re not likely to uncover these directly from measurements of brain activity. We’re going to need computer models to interpret the data and to stimulate the formation of new hypotheses that, when tested experimentally, provide novel insights.” An advocate for computational and quantitative biology, Goldman has been appointed to the Joel Keizer Endowed Chair in Theoretical and Computational Biology. The position honors the late Professor Joel Keizer, a pioneering UC Davis faculty member and theoretical biologist who spent 28 years on campus. He died on May 16, 1999 from lung cancer at the age of 56. “I never had the honor of knowing Joel Keizer but I’ve certainly heard from my colleagues here about him, about how generous he was, about how he was a community builder,” said Goldman. “It’s obviously a huge honor.” “Mark is ideally suited for the Keizer Endowed Chair,” said Executive Associate Dean of Academic Affairs John Harada, a professor in the Department of Plant Biology. “His research in theoretical and computational neuroscience is providing a foundation for linking information obtained at the cellular level to a system level understanding of animal behavior.” Big data visualization techniques like this connectome—a computer-generated map of the brain pathways of 20 humans—inform neuroscience and help create models of complex biological systems. Andreas Horn/Max Planck Institute for Human DevelopmentThe big future of big data A physicist by training, Goldman branched into neuroscience early in his career. He was fascinated by a simple question—what makes us tic?—and realized that any potential answers would be found in the domain of neuroscience. Mentored by Larry Abbott, currently a professor of theoretical neuroscience at Columbia University, Goldman sought to apply the quantitative skills he learned in physics to problems in neuroscience. It’s been a guiding desire ever since. “We’re in the age of big data,” said Goldman. “We need to be able to integrate biology with the approaches of the mathematical sciences, the engineering sciences, and the physical sciences if we want to crack the big problems.”       Biology is becoming more and more quantitative. Innumerable biological data, like the kind generated from fields like genomics, only emphasize the need for computational and analytical skills. Questions like, “How does the genome influence behavior?” inherently require quantitative approaches, according to Goldman. “How are we going to go from strings of four letters to understanding what that means biologically?” said Goldman. “At its core, it’s a computational problem.” Teasing apart the function of the plethora of biochemical pathways underlying diseases such as cancer is also a computational problem, according to Goldman. “To understand the detailed mechanisms underlying disease, we’re going to need computer models,” he added. In Goldman&#039;s NPB 100L class, students recreate interactions in the brain. David Slipher/UC DavisUC Davis, a home for quantitative biology On top of research and teaching, Goldman is a pivotal player in developing a quantitative biology major at UC Davis. Though still in the design process, Goldman and colleagues are piloting new courses intended for the major. One that’s currently being explored is called Genome Hunters. In the class, students perform a mentored research project that relates features of an organism’s growth or behavior to its genome. This year, students learned about microbes and microbial growth, with an emphasis on the microorganisms found in high saline environments.   Students in Goldman&#039;s class discuss their experiment. David Slipher/UC Davis“How the microbiome adapts to high salinity environments is important across a range of problems.  For example, increased soil salinity is a critical issue in agriculture, which can affect the helpful bacteria that promote healthy soils and plant growth.” said Goldman. “The students are going to analyze the genomes from their different organisms to make sense of the variation in salt-tolerance among the microbes.” Using quantitative techniques, the students will explore the genetic data to identify markers for salt tolerance in their studied bacteria. Developing this new major isn’t just about making the College of Biological Sciences a place for quantitative biology. Goldman sees it as a university-wide effort. “It’s a major initiative that is going to bridge all four undergraduate colleges,” he said. That goal aligns with Keizer’s legacy. Throughout his career, Keizer worked at the nexus of math and biology, creating models for biological processes like insulin secretion and intracellular calcium dynamics, among many others. “It really is about combining perspectives across disciplines to bring biology training and practice to the cutting edge,” said Goldman. “That’s something Joel was doing many years ago, and it’s only become more important.” Through the quantitative biology major, Goldman will be sharing Keizer’s legacy with a new generation of students. Developing this new major isn’t just about making the College of Biological Sciences a place for quantitative biology. Goldman sees it as a university-wide effort. David Slipher/UC Davis  "> <a class="addthis_button_facebook"></a> <a class="addthis_button_linkedin"></a> <script> var addthis_share = { templates: { twitter: "Quick Summary To figure out the labyrinthine-like puzzle of the brain, scientists need computational and quantitative biology skills Professor Mark Goldman applies the quantitative skills he learned as a physicist to questions in neuroscience Named to the Keizer Chair, Goldman will continue to make UC Davis a home for quantitative biology by ushering " } } </script> <a class="addthis_button_twitter"></a> <a class="addthis_button_email"></a> <a class="addthis_button_compact"></a> </div> <div class="clearfix text-formatted field field--name-body field--type-text-with-summary field--label-hidden field__item"><aside class="wysiwyg-feature-block u-width--half u-align--right"><h3 class="wysiwyg-feature-block__title">Quick Summary</h3> <div class="wysiwyg-feature-block__body"> <ul><li><em><strong>To figure out the labyrinthine-like puzzle of the brain, scientists need computational and quantitative biology skills</strong></em></li> <li><em><strong>Professor Mark Goldman applies the quantitative skills he learned as a physicist to questions in neuroscience</strong></em></li> <li><em><strong>Named to the Keizer Chair, Goldman will continue to make UC Davis a home for quantitative biology by ushering in a new quantitative biology major</strong></em></li> </ul></div> </aside><p>Our brains are incredible biological machines synthesizing uncountable, chaotic, sensory inputs into coherent experience. We populate a world of objects and</p> <p>each object—a computer screen, a red apple, even the shape and identity of your best friend—is visually perceived and interpreted to construct our reality.</p> <p>“You see something that’s red; you see something that’s round. How do you know it’s a red circle?” asked Professor Mark Goldman. “You have these individual attributes and the idea is that there are different parts of our brain that are responsible for color, others that are responsible for form. How is the information carried by these pathways combined in a faithful, yet flexible manner?”</p> <p>This concept of neural binding—what may underlie the miraculous coherence of consciousness— is just one of the many aspects of the brain that puzzle neuroscientists.</p> <blockquote> <p>“How are we going to figure out the algorithms used by the neural networks of the brain?” asked Goldman, who holds appointments in the Department of Neurobiology, Physiology and Behavior and the Center for Neuroscience. “We’re not likely to uncover these directly from measurements of brain activity. We’re going to need computer models to interpret the data and to stimulate the formation of new hypotheses that, when tested experimentally, provide novel insights.”</p> </blockquote> <p>An advocate for computational and quantitative biology, Goldman has been appointed to the Joel Keizer Endowed Chair in Theoretical and Computational Biology. The position honors the late Professor Joel Keizer, a pioneering UC Davis faculty member and theoretical biologist who spent 28 years on campus. He died on May 16, 1999 from lung cancer at the age of 56.</p> <p>“I never had the honor of knowing Joel Keizer but I’ve certainly heard from my colleagues here about him, about how generous he was, about how he was a community builder,” said Goldman. “It’s obviously a huge honor.”</p> <p>“Mark is ideally suited for the Keizer Endowed Chair,” said Executive Associate Dean of Academic Affairs John Harada, a professor in the Department of Plant Biology. “His research in theoretical and computational neuroscience is providing a foundation for linking information obtained at the cellular level to a system level understanding of animal behavior.”</p> <figure role="group" class="caption caption-img"><img alt="picture of the mapping of the brain pathways" data-entity-type="file" data-entity-uuid="d4f5800c-245d-4788-ad1a-efe5f5132b8b" src="/sites/g/files/dgvnsk581/files/inline-images/connectome.jpg" /><figcaption>Big data visualization techniques like this connectome—a computer-generated map of the brain pathways of 20 humans—inform neuroscience and help create models of complex biological systems. Andreas Horn/Max Planck Institute for Human Development</figcaption></figure><h4><strong>The big future of big data</strong></h4> <p>A physicist by training, Goldman branched into neuroscience early in his career. He was fascinated by a simple question—what makes us tic?—and realized that any potential answers would be found in the domain of neuroscience. Mentored by Larry Abbott, currently a professor of theoretical neuroscience at Columbia University, Goldman sought to apply the quantitative skills he learned in physics to problems in neuroscience. It’s been a guiding desire ever since.</p> <blockquote> <p>“We’re in the age of big data,” said Goldman. “We need to be able to integrate biology with the approaches of the mathematical sciences, the engineering sciences, and the physical sciences if we want to crack the big problems.”      </p> </blockquote> <p>Biology is becoming more and more quantitative. Innumerable biological data, like the kind generated from fields like genomics, only emphasize the need for computational and analytical skills. Questions like, “How does the genome influence behavior?” inherently require quantitative approaches, according to Goldman.</p> <p>“How are we going to go from strings of four letters to understanding what that means biologically?” said Goldman. “At its core, it’s a computational problem.”</p> <p>Teasing apart the function of the plethora of biochemical pathways underlying diseases such as cancer is also a computational problem, according to Goldman.</p> <p>“To understand the detailed mechanisms underlying disease, we’re going to need computer models,” he added.</p> <figure role="group" class="caption caption-img"><img alt="picture of student experiment" data-entity-type="file" data-entity-uuid="15021d17-2fb2-4a05-9ccb-1cb667141cc8" src="/sites/g/files/dgvnsk581/files/inline-images/Mark-Goldman-Lab-College-of-Biological-Sciences-UC-Davis.jpg" /><figcaption>In Goldman's NPB 100L class, students recreate interactions in the brain. David Slipher/UC Davis</figcaption></figure><h4><strong>UC Davis, a home for quantitative biology</strong></h4> <p>On top of research and teaching, Goldman is a pivotal player in developing a quantitative biology major at UC Davis. Though still in the design process, Goldman and colleagues are piloting new courses intended for the major. One that’s currently being explored is called Genome Hunters. In the class, students perform a mentored research project that relates features of an organism’s growth or behavior to its genome. This year, students learned about microbes and microbial growth, with an emphasis on the microorganisms found in high saline environments.</p> <p> </p> <figure role="group" class="caption caption-img align-right"><img alt="picture of students in a lab" data-entity-type="file" data-entity-uuid="552a8a67-f880-4d14-a449-3de4f84dbea4" height="269" src="/sites/g/files/dgvnsk581/files/inline-images/Mark-Goldman-Lab-College-of-Biological-Sciences-UC-Davis-2.jpg" width="404" /><figcaption>Students in Goldman's class discuss their experiment. David Slipher/UC Davis</figcaption></figure><p>“How the microbiome adapts to high salinity environments is important across a range of problems.  For example, increased soil salinity is a critical issue in agriculture, which can affect the helpful bacteria that promote healthy soils and plant growth.” said Goldman. “The students are going to analyze the genomes from their different organisms to make sense of the variation in salt-tolerance among the microbes.”</p> <p>Using quantitative techniques, the students will explore the genetic data to identify markers for salt tolerance in their studied bacteria.</p> <p>Developing this new major isn’t just about making the College of Biological Sciences a place for quantitative biology. Goldman sees it as a university-wide effort.</p> <p>“It’s a major initiative that is going to bridge all four undergraduate colleges,” he said.</p> <p>That goal aligns with Keizer’s legacy. Throughout his career, Keizer worked at the nexus of math and biology, creating models for biological processes like insulin secretion and intracellular calcium dynamics, among many others.</p> <blockquote> <p>“It really is about combining perspectives across disciplines to bring biology training and practice to the cutting edge,” said Goldman. “That’s something Joel was doing many years ago, and it’s only become more important.”</p> </blockquote> <p>Through the quantitative biology major, Goldman will be sharing Keizer’s legacy with a new generation of students.</p> <figure role="group" class="caption caption-img"><img alt="picture of mark in front of a class" data-entity-type="file" data-entity-uuid="8d489390-623e-4b52-afbd-d492edecda64" src="/sites/g/files/dgvnsk581/files/inline-images/Mark-Goldman-Lab-College-of-Biological-Sciences-UC-Davis-5.jpg" /><figcaption>Developing this new major isn’t just about making the College of Biological Sciences a place for quantitative biology. Goldman sees it as a university-wide effort. David Slipher/UC Davis</figcaption></figure><p> </p> </div> <div class="field field--name-field-sf-article-category field--type-entity-reference field--label-above"> <div class="field__label">Category</div> <div class="field__item"><a href="/articles/university-news" hreflang="en">University News</a></div> </div> <div class="field field--name-field-sf-tags field--type-entity-reference field--label-above"> <div class="field__label">Tags</div> <div class="field__items"> <div class="field__item"><a href="/tags/quantitative-biology" hreflang="en">quantitative biology</a></div> <div class="field__item"><a href="/tags/human-health" hreflang="en">human health</a></div> <div class="field__item"><a href="/tags/human-disease" hreflang="en">human disease</a></div> <div class="field__item"><a href="/tags/cancer" hreflang="en">cancer</a></div> <div class="field__item"><a href="/tags/genomes" hreflang="en">genomes</a></div> <div class="field__item"><a href="/tags/center-neuroscience" hreflang="en">Center for Neuroscience</a></div> <div class="field__item"><a href="/tags/cognitive-function" hreflang="en">cognitive function</a></div> <div class="field__item"><a href="/tags/mind-and-brain" hreflang="en">mind and brain</a></div> <div class="field__item"><a href="/tags/neuroscience" hreflang="en">neuroscience</a></div> <div class="field__item"><a href="/tags/philanthropy" hreflang="en">philanthropy</a></div> </div> </div> Wed, 01 May 2019 22:49:03 +0000 Greg Watry 606 at https://npb.ucdavis.edu Assistant Professor Rebecca Calisi Rodríguez Named Faculty Assistant to the Dean for Science Communications https://npb.ucdavis.edu/news/assistant-professor-rebecca-calisi-rodriguez-named-faculty-assistant-dean-science <span class="field field--name-title field--type-string field--label-hidden">Assistant Professor Rebecca Calisi Rodríguez Named Faculty Assistant to the Dean for Science Communications</span> <span class="field field--name-uid field--type-entity-reference field--label-hidden"> <span lang="" about="/user/9041" typeof="schema:Person" property="schema:name" datatype="">Greg Watry</span> </span> <span class="field field--name-created field--type-created field--label-hidden">April 11, 2019</span> <div class="field field--name-field-sf-primary-image field--type-image field--label-hidden field__item"> <img src="/sites/g/files/dgvnsk581/files/styles/sf_landscape_16x9/public/images/article/UC-Davis-College-of-Biological-Sciences-Becca-Calisi-Scicomm_1.jpg?h=c673cd1c&amp;itok=210pS3r8" width="1280" height="720" alt="picture of Rebecca with her birds" title="“Sharing discoveries with heart and humor.” That’s the philosophy behind Assistant Professor Rebecca Calisi Rodríguez’s science communications work. UC Davis" typeof="foaf:Image" class="image-style-sf-landscape-16x9" /> </div> <div class="addthis_toolbox addthis_default_style addthis_32x32_style" addthis:url="https://npb.ucdavis.edu/articles.rss" addthis:title="NPB in the News" addthis:description="“Sharing discoveries with heart and humor.” Quick Summary Calisi Rodríguez has a long-held interest in science communication Through video storytelling, she&#039;s explored the neurobiology of bird brains and has worked to increase diversity in STEM She’ll work with the college’s communications team to identify further opportunities to bolster faculty communications efforts That’s the philosophy behind Assistant Professor Rebecca Calisi Rodríguez’s science communications work. For the past couple of years, Calisi Rodríguez has taken on the mantle of public outreach, sharing her love for science using culturally relevant storytelling in online videos. And now, she’ll bring that passion to the UC Davis College of Biological Sciences as the faculty assistant to the dean for science communications. “I love this idea of creating actual positions for faculty-scholar communicators, who are able to identify not only as someone who does the science, who runs the lab, who writes the research grants, but who also is talented in science communication,” said Calisi Rodríguez. “We see more of these types of hybrid positions popping up at various universities to meet the need of bridging the disconnect between scientists and the public. I love that the College of Biological Sciences is willing to take a chance on me and my ideas to develop this role here.” For her first formal project in the position, Calisi Rodríguez recently produced the College of Biological Sciences annual Give Day video. On top of filming and editing it, she helped brainstorm the idea and enlisted the help of her colleagues from the Department of Neurobiology, Physiology and Behavior. “For the past few years, I’ve learned so much working closely with the university’s professional communications staff, and now we’ve combined superpowers,” said Calisi Rodríguez. “Theirs is the art of strategic communications, mine in running a research lab, conducting experiments, analyzing data, and hey! Being a Latina mother-in-science! We trust and support each other in taking risks, because we have a common goal—to innovate how we communicate research discoveries to a broader audience.” “Rebecca has been building a dossier of projects in which she seeks to humanize scientists and make them relatable with a particular attention to making the science accessible to those from groups traditionally underrepresented in science,” said College of Biological Sciences Dean Mark Winey. “I am delighted to have her bring her skills to telling the stories of the CBS faculty and students.”  Starting with familia Calisi Rodríguez has a long-held interest in finding different ways to communicate ideas to the public, but her science communications efforts started with her family. When she visited relatives in Texas for the holidays, she often found it difficult to explain the finer points of her neurobiology research. Why does a neurobiologist study bird brains? And why are bird brains important to human health? To answer these questions, Calisi Rodríguez created a humorous video called “Studying Bird Brains: Not Such a Bird-Brained Idea!” She shared it with her family and voila, understanding was born. “It felt so wonderful to connect with my tíos, with my primos and make this video that was approachable with them in mind,” she said. Calisi Rodríguez was inspired. Brandishing an iPhone and iMovie, she began exploring ways to utilize video to facilitate her own public outreach efforts. She also realized the video medium could be used to inspire social change in the sciences. “Some of the topics that I’ve communicated about have been very serious in nature, like under-representation of marginalized groups and obstacles that breastfeeding mothers face,” she said. “At first I was worried that my lack of training in film making would be an issue, but one of my mentors who is an actual filmmaker told me that the rawness of my videos can be a way of making me and the people I interview that much more real and approachable. So I’m going for it! Sin miedo!”   New directions and ventures Calisi Rodríguez is excited to explore her new role with the college. She’ll work with Winey and the college’s communications team to identify further opportunities to bolster faculty communications efforts while also pursuing her own projects. Recently, she wrapped up filming on a National Geographic-funded digital series called “I Can Science,” which showcases diversity in research and teaching. The series, hosted by Calisi Rodríguez, is being produced by UC Davis. “Expect to see witty and insightful video interviews and profiles of CBS faculty developed by Rebecca in her role as faculty assistant to the dean for science communications,” said Winey.    "> <a class="addthis_button_facebook"></a> <a class="addthis_button_linkedin"></a> <script> var addthis_share = { templates: { twitter: "“Sharing discoveries with heart and humor.”" } } </script> <a class="addthis_button_twitter"></a> <a class="addthis_button_email"></a> <a class="addthis_button_compact"></a> </div> <div class="clearfix text-formatted field field--name-body field--type-text-with-summary field--label-hidden field__item"><p><em>“Sharing discoveries with heart and humor.”</em></p> <aside class="wysiwyg-feature-block u-width--half u-align--right"><h3 class="wysiwyg-feature-block__title">Quick Summary</h3> <div class="wysiwyg-feature-block__body"> <ul><li><em><strong>Calisi Rodríguez has a long-held interest in science communication</strong></em></li> <li><em><strong>Through video storytelling, she's explored the neurobiology of bird brains and has worked to increase diversity in STEM</strong></em></li> <li><strong><em>She’ll work with the college’s communications team to identify further opportunities to bolster faculty communications efforts</em></strong></li> </ul></div> </aside><p>That’s the philosophy behind Assistant Professor Rebecca Calisi Rodríguez’s science communications work. For the past couple of years, Calisi Rodríguez has taken on the mantle of public outreach, sharing her love for science using culturally relevant storytelling in online videos. And now, she’ll bring that passion to the UC Davis College of Biological Sciences as the faculty assistant to the dean for science communications.</p> <p>“I love this idea of creating actual positions for faculty-scholar communicators, who are able to identify not only as someone who does the science, who runs the lab, who writes the research grants, but who also is talented in science communication,” said Calisi Rodríguez. “We see more of these types of hybrid positions popping up at various universities to meet the need of bridging the disconnect between scientists and the public. I love that the College of Biological Sciences is willing to take a chance on me and my ideas to develop this role here.”</p> <p>For her first formal project in the position, Calisi Rodríguez recently produced the <a href="https://giveday.ucdavis.edu/giving-day/12421/department/12424">College of Biological Sciences annual Give Day video</a>. On top of filming and editing it, she helped brainstorm the idea and enlisted the help of her colleagues from the Department of Neurobiology, Physiology and Behavior.</p> <blockquote> <p>“For the past few years, I’ve learned so much working closely with the university’s professional communications staff, and now we’ve combined superpowers,” said Calisi Rodríguez. “Theirs is the art of strategic communications, mine in running a research lab, conducting experiments, analyzing data, and hey! Being a Latina mother-in-science! We trust and support each other in taking risks, because we have a common goal—to innovate how we communicate research discoveries to a broader audience.”</p> </blockquote> <p>“Rebecca has been building a dossier of projects in which she seeks to humanize scientists and make them relatable with a particular attention to making the science accessible to those from groups traditionally underrepresented in science,” said College of Biological Sciences Dean Mark Winey. “I am delighted to have her bring her skills to telling the stories of the CBS faculty and students.” </p> <div class="responsive-embed" style="padding-bottom: 56.25%"><iframe width="480" height="270" src="https://www.youtube.com/embed/fbYCKqOFBtc?feature=oembed" frameborder="0" allow="accelerometer; autoplay; encrypted-media; gyroscope; picture-in-picture" allowfullscreen=""></iframe></div> <h4><strong>Starting with familia</strong></h4> <p>Calisi Rodríguez has a long-held interest in finding different ways to communicate ideas to the public, but her science communications efforts started with her family. When she visited relatives in Texas for the holidays, she often found it difficult to explain the finer points of her neurobiology research. Why does a neurobiologist study bird brains? And why are bird brains important to human health? To answer these questions, Calisi Rodríguez created a humorous video called “<em><a href="https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MabfgGPzsAI">Studying Bird Brains: Not Such a Bird-Brained Idea!</a></em>” She shared it with her family and voila, understanding was born.</p> <p>“It felt so wonderful to connect with my tíos, with my primos and make this video that was approachable with them in mind,” she said.</p> <p>Calisi Rodríguez was inspired. Brandishing an iPhone and iMovie, she began exploring ways to utilize video to facilitate her own public outreach efforts. She also realized the video medium could be used to inspire social change in the sciences.</p> <p>“Some of the topics that I’ve communicated about have been very serious in nature, like under-representation of marginalized groups and <a href="https://vimeo.com/299507626">obstacles that breastfeeding mothers face</a>,” she said. “At first I was worried that my lack of training in film making would be an issue, but one of my mentors who is an actual filmmaker told me that the rawness of my videos can be a way of making me and the people I interview that much more real and approachable. So I’m going for it! <em>Sin miedo</em>!”</p> <div class="responsive-embed" style="padding-bottom: 56.25%"><iframe width="480" height="270" src="https://www.youtube.com/embed/MabfgGPzsAI?feature=oembed" frameborder="0" allow="accelerometer; autoplay; encrypted-media; gyroscope; picture-in-picture" allowfullscreen=""></iframe></div> <p> </p> <h4><strong>New directions and ventures</strong></h4> <p>Calisi Rodríguez is excited to explore her new role with the college. She’ll work with Winey and the college’s communications team to identify further opportunities to bolster faculty communications efforts while also pursuing her own projects. Recently, she wrapped up filming on a National Geographic-funded digital series called “I Can Science,” which showcases diversity in research and teaching. The series, hosted by Calisi Rodríguez, is being produced by UC Davis.</p> <blockquote> <p>“Expect to see witty and insightful video interviews and profiles of CBS faculty developed by Rebecca in her role as faculty assistant to the dean for science communications,” said Winey.   </p> </blockquote> <div class="responsive-embed" style="padding-bottom: 56.25%"><iframe src="https://player.vimeo.com/video/319601252?app_id=122963" width="640" height="360" frameborder="0" title="Cracking Marcia McNutt" allow="autoplay; fullscreen" allowfullscreen=""></iframe></div> </div> <div class="field field--name-field-sf-article-category field--type-entity-reference field--label-above"> <div class="field__label">Category</div> <div class="field__item"><a href="/articles/university-news" hreflang="en">University News</a></div> </div> <div class="field field--name-field-sf-tags field--type-entity-reference field--label-above"> <div class="field__label">Tags</div> <div class="field__items"> <div class="field__item"><a href="/tags/science-communications" hreflang="en">science communications</a></div> <div class="field__item"><a href="/tags/women-stem" hreflang="en">Women in STEM</a></div> <div class="field__item"><a href="/tags/birds" hreflang="en">birds</a></div> <div class="field__item"><a href="/tags/neurobiology" hreflang="en">neurobiology</a></div> </div> </div> Thu, 11 Apr 2019 21:16:23 +0000 Greg Watry 601 at https://npb.ucdavis.edu Discovering Curiosity: Fighting Neuromuscular Disorders with New Faculty Lucas Smith https://npb.ucdavis.edu/news/discovering-curiosity-fighting-neuromuscular-disorders-new-faculty-lucas-smith <span class="field field--name-title field--type-string field--label-hidden">Discovering Curiosity: Fighting Neuromuscular Disorders with New Faculty Lucas Smith</span> <span class="field field--name-uid field--type-entity-reference field--label-hidden"> <span lang="" about="/user/9041" typeof="schema:Person" property="schema:name" datatype="">Greg Watry</span> </span> <span class="field field--name-created field--type-created field--label-hidden">April 05, 2019</span> <div class="field field--name-field-sf-primary-image field--type-image field--label-hidden field__item"> <img src="/sites/g/files/dgvnsk581/files/styles/sf_landscape_16x9/public/images/article/Lucas-Smith-Lab-College-of-Biological-Sciences-UC-Davis.jpg?h=c673cd1c&amp;itok=x7x102Ed" width="1280" height="720" alt="Picture of Lucas" title=" In his new lab at UC Davis, Assistant Professor Lucas Smith hopes to develop therapies that alleviate neuromuscular disorders and restore healthy muscle regeneration. David Slipher/UC Davis" typeof="foaf:Image" class="image-style-sf-landscape-16x9" /> </div> <div class="addthis_toolbox addthis_default_style addthis_32x32_style" addthis:url="https://npb.ucdavis.edu/articles.rss" addthis:title="NPB in the News" addthis:description="Quick Summary Assistant Professor Lucas Smith studies neuromuscular disorders, like cerebral palsy and muscular dystrophy Smith explores how scar tissue accumulation, which is seen in these conditions, affects muscle mechanics He wants to find ways to increase the expression of proteins that can alleviate overly stiff muscles In debilitating neuromuscular disorders, like muscular dystrophies and cerebral palsy, the body’s muscles scar, turning fibrotic and stiff. These skeletal muscles—your biceps, quadriceps, abdominals and the lot—are integral to your body’s healthy ability to function. Connected to bones and controlled by the nervous system, muscles support a full range of motion, but they can’t do their job if they’re stiff and scarred. “What’s not really understood is how the scar tissue ends up making such a stiff muscle,” said Assistant Professor Lucas Smith, Department of Neurobiology, Physiology and Behavior. “For us, it might take intense exercise or resistance training to cause a bit of damage, which elicits a regenerative response. In dystrophic conditions, just typical muscle contractions can damage the muscle and that chronic injury leads to fibrosis.” This ceaseless muscular tearing and regeneration introduces unhealthy scar tissue to the body. In his new lab at UC Davis, Smith, who also holds an appointment in the Department of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation, investigates how the accumulation of scar tissue affects muscle mechanics. His aim is to develop therapies that alleviate neuromuscular disorders and restore healthy muscle regeneration. In his lab, Smith tests the effects of fibrotic conditions on mouse muscles, like this tibialis anterior muscle. David Slipher/UC DavisThe Air Force and bioengineering Muscle study first blipped onto Smith’s radar while he was studying bioengineering at the University of Washington. While a member of the Air Force Reserve Officer Training Corps, he worked in a lab researching basic muscle physiology, learning about the molecular mechanisms of muscle contraction. Following graduation, he continued lab work while waiting on his assignment from the Air Force. Initially intent on pursuing medical school following his military service, he found an inclination for research. Smith was a member of the Air Force Researve Officer Training Corps and served a two-year commitment following undergrad. Courtesy photo from Lucas Smith“That’s when I sort of fell in love with doing research in the lab and decided to sort of switch gears and pursue grad school,” said Smith. “But I owed a service commitment to the Air Force.” For about two years, Smith worked as a logistics officer at Washington’s McChord Field, where he coordinated the movement of cargo and military personnel around the globe. Afterward, he enrolled in UC San Diego’s bioengineering Ph.D. program. Making sense of stiff muscle fibers At UC San Diego, Smith joined the lab of Professor Richard Lieber and pursued translational research. Through the Howard Hughes Medical Institute’s Med into Grad program, he gained experience in the operating room at Rady Children’s Hospital in San Diego, where he assisted with biopsies for muscle research. Smith’s dissertation covered muscle adaptations in patients with spastic cerebral palsy.  The dissertation explored how the arrangement of the muscles’ individual fibers along with the scar tissue resulted in excessively stiff muscles. This state typically leads to the contracted-looking limbs seen in cerebral palsy patients. “We’re still trying to understand how that altered input from the nerve turns into the muscle pathology that we see by the time patients require surgery,” said Smith. During his postdoctoral research at the University of Pennsylvania, Smith used mouse models to investigate the role of stem cells in reorganizing muscle extracellular matrices, the scaffolding of the muscle. “Stem cells in muscles are really critical for providing muscle adaptability,” said Smith. “So if you work out, the stem cells get activated to incorporate into the muscle fibers to help your muscles grow or respond to damage.” Patients with muscular dystrophies and cerebral palsy tend to have depleted stem cell populations. “That’s part of the reason they are not able to compensate over time to the injuries that are occurring in their muscles,” said Smith. Smith prepares for an experiment on a muscle in his lab. David Slipher/UC DavisLearning from the liver To further understand muscle fibrosis, Smith took a postdoctoral position in Professor Rebecca Wells’ lab, also located at the University of Pennsylvania. The Wells Lab studies the causes and effects of liver fibrosis. “In the fibrosis world, skeletal muscle is not really at the forefront,” said Smith, noting the focus is usually on liver and lung fibrosis. “I wanted to learn some new techniques that I could maybe steal and bring back to muscles.” All the while, Smith pondered his next step and sent out applications for faculty positions all around the United States. UC Davis became the obvious choice following some advice from one of his previous mentors, Professor Dennis Discher of Penn Engineering.   “He basically said go to the place that has the best students because they’re going to be the ones that make or break you,” said Smith. “I really felt that Davis was where I was going to be able to work with the best students.”  Stem cells: keys to the extracellular matrix Something that’s recently piqued Smith’s fascination is the role stem cell migration plays in neuromuscular disorders. “The stem cells have to migrate quite a bit to get where they’re going,” said Smith. “But if the space they migrate through is small enough, they actually rupture their nucleus.”   This can damage the DNA packaged in the stem cell’s nucleus, negatively affecting muscle regeneration. Smith and colleagues want to unravel mechanisms behind this cellular migration and squeezing process. On the therapy side, Smith wants to find ways to increase the expression of proteins that degrade a muscle’s extracellular matrix. In patients with muscular dystrophies and cerebral palsy, the scaffolding is often too stiff. Smith wonders if there’s a way to reorganize it. “It’s not necessarily how much of something you have, it’s how it’s put together. So we want to focus on how it’s put together,” he said.    Smith stands with lab junior specialist Sarah Brashear, &#039;18 B.S. in neurobiology, physiology and behavior. David Slipher/UC Davis"> <a class="addthis_button_facebook"></a> <a class="addthis_button_linkedin"></a> <script> var addthis_share = { templates: { twitter: "Quick Summary Assistant Professor Lucas Smith studies neuromuscular disorders, like cerebral palsy and muscular dystrophy Smith explores how scar tissue accumulation, which is seen in these conditions, affects muscle mechanics He wants to find ways to increase the expression of proteins that can alleviate overly stiff muscles " } } </script> <a class="addthis_button_twitter"></a> <a class="addthis_button_email"></a> <a class="addthis_button_compact"></a> </div> <div class="clearfix text-formatted field field--name-body field--type-text-with-summary field--label-hidden field__item"><aside class="wysiwyg-feature-block u-width--half u-align--right"><h3 class="wysiwyg-feature-block__title">Quick Summary</h3> <div class="wysiwyg-feature-block__body"> <ul><li><em><strong>Assistant Professor Lucas Smith studies neuromuscular disorders, like cerebral palsy and muscular dystrophy</strong></em></li> <li><em><strong>Smith explores how scar tissue accumulation, which is seen in these conditions, affects muscle mechanics</strong></em></li> <li><strong><em>He wants to find ways to increase the expression of proteins that can alleviate overly stiff muscles</em></strong></li> </ul></div> </aside><p>In debilitating neuromuscular disorders, like muscular dystrophies and cerebral palsy, the body’s muscles scar, turning fibrotic and stiff. These skeletal muscles—your biceps,</p> <p>quadriceps, abdominals and the lot—are integral to your body’s healthy ability to function. Connected to bones and controlled by the nervous system, muscles support a full range of motion, but they can’t do their job if they’re stiff and scarred.</p> <p>“What’s not really understood is how the scar tissue ends up making such a stiff muscle,” said Assistant Professor Lucas Smith, Department of Neurobiology, Physiology and Behavior. “For us, it might take intense exercise or resistance training to cause a bit of damage, which elicits a regenerative response. In dystrophic conditions, just typical muscle contractions can damage the muscle and that chronic injury leads to fibrosis.”</p> <p>This ceaseless muscular tearing and regeneration introduces unhealthy scar tissue to the body. In his new lab at UC Davis, Smith, who also holds an appointment in the Department of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation, investigates how the accumulation of scar tissue affects muscle mechanics. His aim is to develop therapies that alleviate neuromuscular disorders and restore healthy muscle regeneration.</p> <figure role="group" class="caption caption-img"><img alt="Picture of lab equipment" data-entity-type="file" data-entity-uuid="d16c37ce-93c8-419d-9c2e-4fb3ab28d2b9" src="/sites/g/files/dgvnsk581/files/inline-images/Lucas-Smith-Lab-College-of-Biological-Sciences-UC-Davis-3-4_0.jpg" /><figcaption>In his lab, Smith tests the effects of fibrotic conditions on mouse muscles, like this tibialis anterior muscle. David Slipher/UC Davis</figcaption></figure><h4><strong>The Air Force and bioengineering</strong></h4> <p>Muscle study first blipped onto Smith’s radar while he was studying bioengineering at the University of Washington. While a member of the Air Force Reserve Officer Training Corps, he worked in a lab researching basic muscle physiology, learning about the molecular mechanisms of muscle contraction. Following graduation, he continued lab work while waiting on his assignment from the Air Force. Initially intent on pursuing medical school following his military service, he found an inclination for research.</p> <figure role="group" class="caption caption-img align-right"><img alt="picture of lucas in air force uniform" data-entity-type="file" data-entity-uuid="e227ca2e-0804-415b-89eb-5047b6b2fdf3" src="/sites/g/files/dgvnsk581/files/inline-images/Lucas-Smith-Lab-College-of-Biological-Sciences-UC-Davis-Air-Force_0.jpg" /><figcaption>Smith was a member of the Air Force Researve Officer Training Corps and served a two-year commitment following undergrad. Courtesy photo from Lucas Smith</figcaption></figure><p>“That’s when I sort of fell in love with doing research in the lab and decided to sort of switch gears and pursue grad school,” said Smith. “But I owed a service commitment to the Air Force.”</p> <p>For about two years, Smith worked as a logistics officer at Washington’s McChord Field, where he coordinated the movement of cargo and military personnel around the globe. Afterward, he enrolled in UC San Diego’s bioengineering Ph.D. program.</p> <h4><strong>Making sense of stiff muscle fibers</strong></h4> <p>At UC San Diego, Smith joined the lab of Professor Richard Lieber and pursued translational research. Through the Howard Hughes Medical Institute’s Med into Grad program, he gained experience in the operating room at Rady Children’s Hospital in San Diego, where he assisted with biopsies for muscle research.</p> <p>Smith’s dissertation covered muscle adaptations in patients with spastic cerebral palsy.  The dissertation explored how the arrangement of the muscles’ individual fibers along with the scar tissue resulted in excessively stiff muscles. This state typically leads to the contracted-looking limbs seen in cerebral palsy patients.</p> <p>“We’re still trying to understand how that altered input from the nerve turns into the muscle pathology that we see by the time patients require surgery,” said Smith.</p> <p>During his postdoctoral research at the University of Pennsylvania, Smith used mouse models to investigate the role of stem cells in reorganizing muscle extracellular matrices, the scaffolding of the muscle.</p> <blockquote> <p>“Stem cells in muscles are really critical for providing muscle adaptability,” said Smith. “So if you work out, the stem cells get activated to incorporate into the muscle fibers to help your muscles grow or respond to damage.”</p> </blockquote> <p>Patients with muscular dystrophies and cerebral palsy tend to have depleted stem cell populations. “That’s part of the reason they are not able to compensate over time to the injuries that are occurring in their muscles,” said Smith.</p> <figure role="group" class="caption caption-img"><img alt="working on a microsope" data-entity-type="file" data-entity-uuid="4c604c1a-b4b1-4ef8-9677-2be05fc4ae12" src="/sites/g/files/dgvnsk581/files/inline-images/Lucas-Smith-Lab-College-of-Biological-Sciences-UC-Davis-2.jpg" /><figcaption>Smith prepares for an experiment on a muscle in his lab. David Slipher/UC Davis</figcaption></figure><h4><strong>Learning from the liver</strong></h4> <p>To further understand muscle fibrosis, Smith took a postdoctoral position in Professor Rebecca Wells’ lab, also located at the University of Pennsylvania. The Wells Lab studies the causes and effects of liver fibrosis.</p> <p>“In the fibrosis world, skeletal muscle is not really at the forefront,” said Smith, noting the focus is usually on liver and lung fibrosis. “I wanted to learn some new techniques that I could maybe steal and bring back to muscles.”</p> <p>All the while, Smith pondered his next step and sent out applications for faculty positions all around the United States. UC Davis became the obvious choice following some advice from one of his previous mentors, Professor Dennis Discher of Penn Engineering.  </p> <blockquote> <p>“He basically said go to the place that has the best students because they’re going to be the ones that make or break you,” said Smith. “I really felt that Davis was where I was going to be able to work with the best students.” </p> </blockquote> <h4><strong>Stem cells: keys to the extracellular matrix</strong></h4> <p>Something that’s recently piqued Smith’s fascination is the role stem cell migration plays in neuromuscular disorders.</p> <p>“The stem cells have to migrate quite a bit to get where they’re going,” said Smith. “But if the space they migrate through is small enough, they actually rupture their nucleus.”  </p> <p>This can damage the DNA packaged in the stem cell’s nucleus, negatively affecting muscle regeneration. Smith and colleagues want to unravel mechanisms behind this cellular migration and squeezing process.</p> <p>On the therapy side, Smith wants to find ways to increase the expression of proteins that degrade a muscle’s extracellular matrix. In patients with muscular dystrophies and cerebral palsy, the scaffolding is often too stiff. Smith wonders if there’s a way to reorganize it. “It’s not necessarily how much of something you have, it’s how it’s put together. So we want to focus on how it’s put together,” he said.   </p> <figure role="group" class="caption caption-img"><img alt="Picture of lucas and lab assistant" data-entity-type="file" data-entity-uuid="25f5d7fc-eab4-4c8b-be47-e678e119a30c" src="/sites/g/files/dgvnsk581/files/inline-images/Lucas-Smith-Lab-College-of-Biological-Sciences-UC-Davis-5_0.jpg" /><figcaption>Smith stands with lab junior specialist Sarah Brashear, '18 B.S. in neurobiology, physiology and behavior. David Slipher/UC Davis</figcaption></figure></div> <div class="field field--name-field-sf-article-category field--type-entity-reference field--label-above"> <div class="field__label">Category</div> <div class="field__item"><a href="/articles/human-animal-health" hreflang="en">Human &amp; Animal Health</a></div> </div> <div class="field field--name-field-sf-tags field--type-entity-reference field--label-above"> <div class="field__label">Tags</div> <div class="field__items"> <div class="field__item"><a href="/tags/school-medicine" hreflang="en">School of Medicine</a></div> <div class="field__item"><a href="/tags/muscles" hreflang="en">muscles</a></div> <div class="field__item"><a href="/tags/cerebral-palsy" hreflang="en">cerebral palsy</a></div> <div class="field__item"><a href="/tags/muscular-dystrophy" hreflang="en">muscular dystrophy</a></div> <div class="field__item"><a href="/tags/neuromuscular-disorders" hreflang="en">neuromuscular disorders</a></div> <div class="field__item"><a href="/tags/fibrosis" hreflang="en">fibrosis</a></div> <div class="field__item"><a href="/tags/stem-cells" hreflang="en">stem cells</a></div> <div class="field__item"><a href="/tags/public-health" hreflang="en">public health</a></div> <div class="field__item"><a href="/tags/human-physiology" hreflang="en">human physiology</a></div> <div class="field__item"><a href="/tags/human-health" hreflang="en">human health</a></div> </div> </div> Fri, 05 Apr 2019 21:08:10 +0000 Greg Watry 596 at https://npb.ucdavis.edu The CAMPOS Mission Continues: Newly Inducted Scholars Add to Faculty Diversity https://npb.ucdavis.edu/news/campos-mission-continues-newly-inducted-scholars-add-faculty-diversity <span class="field field--name-title field--type-string field--label-hidden">The CAMPOS Mission Continues: Newly Inducted Scholars Add to Faculty Diversity</span> <span class="field field--name-uid field--type-entity-reference field--label-hidden"> <span lang="" typeof="schema:Person" property="schema:name" datatype=""> (not verified)</span> </span> <span class="field field--name-created field--type-created field--label-hidden">December 06, 2018</span> <div class="field field--name-field-sf-primary-image field--type-image field--label-hidden field__item"> <img src="/sites/g/files/dgvnsk581/files/styles/sf_landscape_16x9/public/images/article/wilsaan-joiner-enviro-925.jpg?h=c673cd1c&amp;itok=XyLVN8zb" width="1280" height="720" alt="Picture of Will" title="CAMPOS Faculty Scholar Wilsaan M. Joiner, pictured in the Life Sciences Building. (David Slipher/UC Davis)" typeof="foaf:Image" class="image-style-sf-landscape-16x9" /> </div> <div class="addthis_toolbox addthis_default_style addthis_32x32_style" addthis:url="https://npb.ucdavis.edu/articles.rss" addthis:title="NPB in the News" addthis:description="Quick Summary Assistant professors Wilsaan M. Joiner and James A. Letts are among the newest CAMPOS Faculty Scholars Professor Emeritus Raymond L. Rodriguez received the inaugural CAMPOS Hall of Fame Award UC Davis is committed to CAMPOS: Center for the Advancement of Multicultural Perspectives on Science. Campus leaders made that clear during the induction ceremony for the university’s newest CAMPOS Faculty Scholars: Fawn A. Cothran, Wilsaan M. Joiner, Rose Kagawa and James A. Letts. They are new to UC Davis, recruited by CAMPOS in its mission to change the face of STEM by building faculty diversity in science, technology, engineering and mathematics. “In a state with rapidly changing demographics like California, it’s essential that we strive for inclusive excellence and equity,” Chancellor Gary S. May said in his remarks at the induction ceremony held Nov. 7 at the Jan Shrem and Maria Manetti Shrem Museum of Art. Under the leadership of founding director Mary Lou de Leon Siantz, professor in the Betty Irene Moore School of Nursing, CAMPOS established itself in 2012 as a research center to promote the discovery of knowledge by supporting women in science, starting with Latinas. “It continues to expand its mission by increasing multicultural perspectives in science that are diverse, inclusive and reflect our global society,” de Leon Siantz said. Original funding came from UC Davis ADVANCE, which in 2012 with a $3.725 million, five-year grant from the National Science Foundation’s ADVANCE program. The federal funding has run its course, but CAMPOS remains in place. “University leadership believes that the important work of CAMPOS must continue and become even more impactful,” Ralph J. Hexter, provost and executive vice chancellor, said at the ceremony. “Given that the program must first be sustainable if it is to survive and advance, we are very happy that CAMPOS has moved from its original home in ADVANCE to operate as a joint program of the Office of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion and the Office of the Vice Provost for Academic Affairs. “This administrative migration will increase the stability of CAMPOS and give it a secure home at the center of university operations.” Today, de Leon Siantz continues as the CAMPOS director, working closely with Raquel Aldana, associate vice chancellor for Academic Diversity; and Phil Kass, vice provost of Academic Affairs. Acknowledging “how far we have come in the seven years since UC Davis received its landmark ADVANCE award,” Kass took time to recognize the people who were instrumental in making it happen: Linda Katehi, chancellor emerita and distinguished professor, and principal investigator; Linda Bisson, professor emerita and ADVANCE co-director; and co-principal investigators Adela de la Torre, vice chancellor and distinguished professor emerita; Karen McDonald, professor; Ray Rodriguez, professor emeritus; and Maureen Stanton, vice provost and distinguished professor emerita. “Our university understands the importance an institutional transformation grant has in permanently altering its academic landscape,” Kass said. “Successful new programs mean little without an enduring legacy that is assimilated into the DNA of this university, so that they can live on and evolve along with the university’s community. “Academic Affairs is proud to play a role in the sustainability of the components of our ADVANCE program — ones that we believe in, and that meaningfully touch the lives of our colleagues.” ‘Exactly what this campus needs’ CAMPOS has inducted 25 CAMPOS Faculty Scholars since 2014. “They are expert minds and role models that our scientific community needs,” Chancellor May said. “They are exactly what this campus needs.” Regardless of their academic disciplines, Chancellor May said, each CAMPOS Faculty Scholar has a key thing in common: “They are not only grooming the next generation of scientists, they serve as role models and mentors to attract minority students interested in STEM to UC Davis. “They are also a great inspiration to those who are already here. They’re showing that success in STEM can take on many faces, many backgrounds and many perspectives.” Hexter recognized CAMPOS for the many ways it seeks to increase the visibility of the Faculty Scholars and create a community of inclusive excellence.  For we know that it is not enough to open the door to multicultural perspectives through hiring alone. If a university is to equitably serve its faculty, it must create the conditions necessary for all faculty to succeed, excel, and thrive.” Below you&#039;ll find information about College of Biological Sciences CAMPOS scholars.  Wilsaan M. Joiner, assistant professor with a dual appointment in the Department of Neurobiology, Physiology and Behavior, College of Biological Sciences; and Department of Neurobiology, School of Medicine — He studies how we use different sources of information to aid behavior, ranging from visual perception to movement planning and updating. Specifically, his laboratory is interested in how external and internally-generated sensory information is integrated in healthy individuals, in comparison to certain disease and impaired populations (e.g., schizophrenia and upper extremity amputees). Previously, Joiner served as an associate professor in the Department of Bioengineering, George Mason University. He holds a Bachelor of Science degree in biomedical engineering from Saint Louis University and a Ph.D. in biomedical engineering from the Johns Hopkins School of Medicine.   James A. Letts, assistant professor, Department of Molecular and Cellular Biology, College of Biological Sciences — His research program focuses on how the body converts energy from the food that we eat into a form that can be used by cells across many essential processes. He seeks to characterize the structures and functions of important membrane proteins involved in energy conversion in order to learn about how they work and how their dysfunction results in disease. Before UC Davis, Letts was a Marie Skłodowska-Curie Fellow at the Institute of Science and Technology Austria, where he studied the structure and function of large membrane protein complexes of the mitochondrial electron transport chain. Letts holds a Bachelor of Science degree from the University of Victoria and a Ph.D. from The Rockefeller University, where he worked in the Laboratory of Molecular Neurobiology and Biophysics.   CAMPOS Hall of Fame The CAMPOS ceremony also included the inaugural presentation of the CAMPOS Hall of Fame Award, given to Professor Emeritus Raymond L. Rodriguez, Department of Molecular and Cellular Biology, and director of the National Institutes of Health-sponsored Center of Excellence for Nutritional Genomics at UC Davis. The award recognizes his exceptional contributions to science, his multicultural perspective and his work in paving the way for diversity in science. His own path began in the fields of the Central Valley, where, from the age of 6, he joined his family in picking cotton, grapes, cantaloupes and tomatoes. His last farm work was in 1965, when he picked grapes to raise tuition to attend Fresno City College. From there he went to California State University, Fresno, for his bachelor’s degree and UC Santa Cruz for his Ph.D. in genetics. Today, he is working with CAMPOS Director Mary Lou de Leon Siantz to put together education and training proposals aimed at transforming farm work into a high-tech, high-skills occupation — given the “smart farm” technology that is already being introduced. “Without a transformation of the farm labor work force, we are going to see massive displacement of farmworkers and their families,” Rodriguez said. “We have to make this a win-win for farmers, workers, their children, as well as for consumers.” Rodriguez and de Leon Siantz foresee a pipeline that includes middle and high schools, community colleges and universities that provides training for different levels of ability and attainment. This story originally appeared on Dateline UC Davis. "> <a class="addthis_button_facebook"></a> <a class="addthis_button_linkedin"></a> <script> var addthis_share = { templates: { twitter: "Quick Summary Assistant professors Wilsaan M. Joiner and James A. Letts are among the newest CAMPOS Faculty Scholars Professor Emeritus Raymond L. Rodriguez received the inaugural CAMPOS Hall of Fame Award UC Davis is committed to CAMPOS: Center for the Advancement of Multicultural Perspectives on Science." } } </script> <a class="addthis_button_twitter"></a> <a class="addthis_button_email"></a> <a class="addthis_button_compact"></a> </div> <div class="clearfix text-formatted field field--name-body field--type-text-with-summary field--label-hidden field__item"><aside class="wysiwyg-feature-block u-width--half u-align--right"><h3 class="wysiwyg-feature-block__title">Quick Summary</h3> <div class="wysiwyg-feature-block__body"> <ul><li><em><strong>Assistant professors Wilsaan M. Joiner and James A. Letts are among the newest CAMPOS Faculty Scholars</strong></em></li> <li><strong><em>Professor Emeritus Raymond L. Rodriguez received the inaugural CAMPOS Hall of Fame Award</em></strong></li> </ul></div> </aside><p>UC Davis is committed to CAMPOS: Center for the Advancement of Multicultural Perspectives on Science.</p> <p>Campus leaders made that clear during the induction ceremony for the university’s newest CAMPOS Faculty Scholars: Fawn A. Cothran, Wilsaan M. Joiner, Rose Kagawa and James A. Letts. They are new to UC Davis, recruited by CAMPOS in its mission to change the face of STEM by building faculty diversity in science, technology, engineering and mathematics.</p> <p>“In a state with rapidly changing demographics like California, it’s essential that we strive for inclusive excellence and equity,” Chancellor Gary S. May said in his remarks at the induction ceremony held Nov. 7 at the Jan Shrem and Maria Manetti Shrem Museum of Art.</p> <p>Under the leadership of founding director Mary Lou de Leon Siantz, professor in the Betty Irene Moore School of Nursing, CAMPOS established itself in 2012 as a research center to promote the discovery of knowledge by supporting women in science, starting with Latinas. “It continues to expand its mission by increasing multicultural perspectives in science that are diverse, inclusive and reflect our global society,” de Leon Siantz said.</p> <p>Original funding came from UC Davis ADVANCE, which in 2012 with a $3.725 million, five-year grant from the National Science Foundation’s ADVANCE program. The federal funding has run its course, but CAMPOS remains in place.</p> <p>“University leadership believes that the important work of CAMPOS must continue and become even more impactful,” Ralph J. Hexter, provost and executive vice chancellor, said at the ceremony. “Given that the program must first be sustainable if it is to survive and advance, we are very happy that CAMPOS has moved from its original home in ADVANCE to operate as a joint program of the Office of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion and the Office of the Vice Provost for Academic Affairs. “This administrative migration will increase the stability of CAMPOS and give it a secure home at the center of university operations.”</p> <p>Today, de Leon Siantz continues as the CAMPOS director, working closely with Raquel Aldana, associate vice chancellor for Academic Diversity; and Phil Kass, vice provost of Academic Affairs.</p> <p>Acknowledging “how far we have come in the seven years since UC Davis received its landmark ADVANCE award,” Kass took time to recognize the people who were instrumental in making it happen: Linda Katehi, chancellor emerita and distinguished professor, and principal investigator; Linda Bisson, professor emerita and ADVANCE co-director; and co-principal investigators Adela de la Torre, vice chancellor and distinguished professor emerita; Karen McDonald, professor; Ray Rodriguez, professor emeritus; and Maureen Stanton, vice provost and distinguished professor emerita.</p> <p>“Our university understands the importance an institutional transformation grant has in permanently altering its academic landscape,” Kass said. “Successful new programs mean little without an enduring legacy that is assimilated into the DNA of this university, so that they can live on and evolve along with the university’s community.</p> <p>“Academic Affairs is proud to play a role in the sustainability of the components of our ADVANCE program — ones that we believe in, and that meaningfully touch the lives of our colleagues.”</p> <h2><strong>‘Exactly what this campus needs’</strong></h2> <p>CAMPOS has inducted 25 CAMPOS Faculty Scholars since 2014. “They are expert minds and role models that our scientific community needs,” Chancellor May said. “They are exactly what this campus needs.”</p> <p>Regardless of their academic disciplines, Chancellor May said, each CAMPOS Faculty Scholar has a key thing in common: “They are not only grooming the next generation of scientists, they serve as role models and mentors to attract minority students interested in STEM to UC Davis.</p> <p>“They are also a great inspiration to those who are already here. They’re showing that success in STEM can take on many faces, many backgrounds and many perspectives.”</p> <p>Hexter recognized CAMPOS for the many ways it seeks to increase the visibility of the Faculty Scholars and create a community of inclusive excellence.  For we know that it is not enough to open the door to multicultural perspectives through hiring alone. If a university is to equitably serve its faculty, it must create the conditions necessary for all faculty to succeed, excel, and thrive.”</p> <p>Below you'll find information about College of Biological Sciences CAMPOS scholars. </p> <p><strong><img alt="Picture of will" data-entity-type="file" data-entity-uuid="4d75c992-2e4c-4fce-98c6-157c0a9f14c9" src="/sites/g/files/dgvnsk581/files/inline-images/wilsaan-m-joiner-150.jpg" class="align-left" />Wilsaan M. Joiner, </strong>assistant professor with a dual appointment in the Department of Neurobiology, Physiology and Behavior, College of Biological Sciences; and Department of Neurobiology, School of Medicine — He studies how we use different sources of information to aid behavior, ranging from visual perception to movement planning and updating. Specifically, his laboratory is interested in how external and internally-generated sensory information is integrated in healthy individuals, in comparison to certain disease and impaired populations (e.g., schizophrenia and upper extremity amputees).</p> <p>Previously, Joiner served as an associate professor in the Department of Bioengineering, George Mason University. He holds a Bachelor of Science degree in biomedical engineering from Saint Louis University and a Ph.D. in biomedical engineering from the Johns Hopkins School of Medicine.</p> <p> </p> <p><strong><img alt="Picture of James" data-entity-type="file" data-entity-uuid="8efd9fcc-c129-47a2-8a44-0c85442888a4" src="/sites/g/files/dgvnsk581/files/inline-images/james-a-letts-150.jpg" class="align-left" />James A. Letts, </strong>assistant professor, Department of Molecular and Cellular Biology, College of Biological Sciences — His research program focuses on how the body converts energy from the food that we eat into a form that can be used by cells across many essential processes. He seeks to characterize the structures and functions of important membrane proteins involved in energy conversion in order to learn about how they work and how their dysfunction results in disease.</p> <p>Before UC Davis, Letts was a Marie Skłodowska-Curie Fellow at the Institute of Science and Technology Austria, where he studied the structure and function of large membrane protein complexes of the mitochondrial electron transport chain. Letts holds a Bachelor of Science degree from the University of Victoria and a Ph.D. from The Rockefeller University, where he worked in the Laboratory of Molecular Neurobiology and Biophysics.</p> <p> </p> <h4>CAMPOS Hall of Fame<img alt="Picture of Professor Emeritus Raymond L. Rodriguez" data-entity-type="file" data-entity-uuid="545e625c-f032-4736-b6cd-c9ab6a21be97" src="/sites/g/files/dgvnsk581/files/inline-images/raymond-l-rodriguez-570-316x253.jpg" class="align-right" /></h4> <p>The CAMPOS ceremony also included the inaugural presentation of the CAMPOS Hall of Fame Award, given to Professor Emeritus Raymond L. Rodriguez, Department of Molecular and Cellular Biology, and director of the National Institutes of Health-sponsored Center of Excellence for Nutritional Genomics at UC Davis.</p> <p>The award recognizes his exceptional contributions to science, his multicultural perspective and his work in paving the way for diversity in science.</p> <p>His own path began in the fields of the Central Valley, where, from the age of 6, he joined his family in picking cotton, grapes, cantaloupes and tomatoes. His last farm work was in 1965, when he picked grapes to raise tuition to attend Fresno City College. From there he went to California State University, Fresno, for his bachelor’s degree and UC Santa Cruz for his Ph.D. in genetics.</p> <p>Today, he is working with CAMPOS Director Mary Lou de Leon Siantz to put together education and training proposals aimed at transforming farm work into a high-tech, high-skills occupation — given the “smart farm” technology that is already being introduced. “Without a transformation of the farm labor work force, we are going to see massive displacement of farmworkers and their families,” Rodriguez said. “We have to make this a win-win for farmers, workers, their children, as well as for consumers.”</p> <p>Rodriguez and de Leon Siantz foresee a pipeline that includes middle and high schools, community colleges and universities that provides training for different levels of ability and attainment.</p> <p>This story originally appeared on <a href="https://www.ucdavis.edu/news/campos-mission-continues?utm_source=datelinehtml&amp;utm_medium=datelinenewsletter&amp;utm_campaign=dateline_20181120">Dateline UC Davis</a>.</p> </div> <div class="field field--name-field-sf-article-category field--type-entity-reference field--label-above"> <div class="field__label">Category</div> <div class="field__item"><a href="/articles/university-news" hreflang="en">University News</a></div> </div> <div class="field field--name-field-sf-tags field--type-entity-reference field--label-above"> <div class="field__label">Tags</div> <div class="field__items"> <div class="field__item"><a href="/tags/campos" hreflang="en">CAMPOS</a></div> <div class="field__item"><a href="/tags/department-neurobiology-physiology-and-behavior" hreflang="en">Department of Neurobiology Physiology and Behavior</a></div> <div class="field__item"><a href="/tags/department-molecular-and-cellular-biology" hreflang="en">Department of Molecular and Cellular Biology</a></div> </div> </div> Thu, 06 Dec 2018 18:05:17 +0000 Anonymous 586 at https://npb.ucdavis.edu Exploring Vision, Perception and Behavior: W. Martin Usrey Named Barbara A. Horwitz and John M. Horowitz Endowed Chair in Physiology https://npb.ucdavis.edu/news/exploring-vision-perception-and-behavior-w-martin-usrey-named-barbara-horwitz-and-john-m <span class="field field--name-title field--type-string field--label-hidden">Exploring Vision, Perception and Behavior: W. Martin Usrey Named Barbara A. Horwitz and John M. Horowitz Endowed Chair in Physiology</span> <span class="field field--name-uid field--type-entity-reference field--label-hidden"> <span lang="" about="/user/9041" typeof="schema:Person" property="schema:name" datatype="">Greg Watry</span> </span> <span class="field field--name-created field--type-created field--label-hidden">November 27, 2018</span> <div class="field field--name-field-sf-primary-image field--type-image field--label-hidden field__item"> <img src="/sites/g/files/dgvnsk581/files/styles/sf_landscape_16x9/public/images/article/W.-Martin-Usrey-College-of-Biological-Sciences-UC-Davis.jpg?h=c673cd1c&amp;itok=aNNf1qVS" width="1280" height="720" alt="Picture of Marty in lab gear adjusting equipment" title="The UC Davis College of Biological Sciences named Professor W. Martin Usrey to the Barbara A. Horwitz and John M. Horowitz Endowed Chair in Physiology. David Slipher/UC Davis" typeof="foaf:Image" class="image-style-sf-landscape-16x9" /> </div> <div class="addthis_toolbox addthis_default_style addthis_32x32_style" addthis:url="https://npb.ucdavis.edu/articles.rss" addthis:title="NPB in the News" addthis:description="Quick Summary The Barbara A. Horwitz and John M. Horowitz Endowed Chair in Physiology was created in 2004 Usrey will hold the appointment for five years The endowment will support his research in visual perception, teaching and service activities Amblyopia, or reduced vision from one eye, affects approximately two to three of every 100 children, according to the National Eye Institute. Today the disability is correctable, but it wasn’t until the 20th century that scientists realized the eye wasn’t responsible for the condition. Its origin was in how the eye and brain worked together.  “Back in the day, no one realized that there was a ‘critical period’ in childhood, where this could be corrected,” said Professor W. Martin Usrey, chair of the Department of Neurobiology, Physiology and Behavior. “Through basic science, that was discovered.”    In 1981, David H. Hubel and Torsten N. Wiesel won the Nobel Prize for their discoveries concerning the visual system. They and others revealed that visual information travels through a complex network of brain cells, where its component pieces are broken apart and sent to different areas of the brain for processing, eventually forming an image. Through experiments, the researchers found that columns of brain cells developed for each eye in the visual cortex, with critical development of these columns and their interactions occurring during childhood. The realization that the brain played just as large a role in vision as the eye led to development of the medical interventions used today to correct amblyopia. “Basic science research is exploration,” said Usrey, who was mentored by Wiesel early in his career. “It’s going out into the unknown and figuring out how things work. And it’s only by knowing how things work and making that discovery that you can then say, ‘How can that discovery be used?’” Usrey is a neurobiologist interested in the physiology of vision. David Slipher/UC DavisSupporting physiology research Recently, the UC Davis College of Biological Sciences named Usrey, a neurobiologist interested in the physiology of vision, to the Barbara A. Horwitz and John M. Horowitz Endowed Chair in Physiology. Usrey will hold the appointment for five years, with the endowment supporting his research, teaching and service activities. Distinguished Professor Emerita Horwitz and Professor Emeritus Horowitz created the endowed chair in 2004.       “It’s a great honor for many reasons, but for me in particular, it’s being able to do research under the name of Barbara Horwitz and John Horowitz,” said Usrey, who also holds appointments in the Center for Neuroscience and the Department of Neurology in the School of Medicine. “They have done so much for the university. To be associated with their legacy is really quite special.”  College of Biological Sciences Dean Mark Winey said, “This appointment isn’t just a recognition of Dr. Usrey’s past accomplishments, but an acknowledgment of his continuing efforts to advance our understanding of the role the brain plays in vision.” An entry into visual systems Usrey began studying visual systems while pursuing a Ph.D. in Neurobiology at Duke University. While working in neurobiologist David Fitzpatrick’s laboratory, he became fascinated with comparative physiology and focused his attention on the tree shrew, a small squirrel-like mammal from Southeast Asia that is considered a close relative of primates. According to Usrey, the tree shrew has a very complex brain that is packaged in a small space and efficiently organized. Usrey likened it to uncooked spaghetti pasta, with one able to neatly follow threads of connection from the eye to various parts of the brain. This makes it an ideal organism for studying the visual pathway. But evolution is a complex weaver of traits and as a result, not all mammals have such neatly organized brains.   “You can also take that same pack of spaghetti and then mix it all up, cook it and now, it’s just a big web,” said Usrey. “The connections may be just as precise, but going in as an experimentalist, it’s very difficult to understand because you don’t have that organization.” By taking a comparative approach, researchers can gain insight and uncover brain mechanisms that otherwise might be impossible to unravel. Usrey began studying visual systems while pursuing a Ph.D. in Neurobiology at Duke University. David Slipher/UC DavisKnocking on the doors of perception Today, at the UC Davis Center for Neuroscience, Usrey studies the physiological mechanisms responsible for vision, exploring the relationships between cell physiology, circuit activity, behavior and perception. At the back of the eye exists a group of cells called retinal ganglion cells. Primates, including humans, have more than 25 different classes of these cells, with each class processing a component of the visual scene and sending it to different areas of the brain.  Usrey’s research concerns the electrical signals that travel through the optic nerve to the thalamus and on to the primary visual cortex. Once there, these signals are further processed and sent to other visual cortical areas, which include hubs responsible for the processing of color and movement, among other aspects.    “An individual neuron in the visual cortex receives input from many sources, so there’s a lot of convergence and integration that’s taking place,” Usrey said. “What distinguishes our group is that to understand things, we often record from neurons at multiple stations in the brain simultaneously, so that we can watch the transfer of information occur from cell to cell to cell in real time.” Currently, Usrey and his lab are studying how behavior affects this relaying of visual signals. Understanding this relationship could provide insights into visual and cognitive impairments. Spatial attention and human health One phenomenon Usrey and his colleagues are dissecting is spatial attention, the ability to focus on a specific place in the visual field without moving the eyes. Imagine you’re in a staring contest, but something behind your competition attracts your attention, say a red ball flying through the air. Without breaking eye contact, you’re capable of shifting your mental attention to that ball. “Even though you haven’t moved your eyes, your brain is enhancing the processing of signals that are coming from that region in space,” Usrey said. “It’s something entirely internal.” Further investigation of neural processes governing peripheral vision and spatial attention could help researchers understand things like attention deficit disorders. But Usrey said it may also hold implications for those with Alzheimer’s disease.  Usrey and colleagues suspect that brain cells and synapses in an area of the brain called the basal forebrain are highly active during such spatial attention tasks. This part of the brain also degrades in those afflicted with Alzheimer’s disease. “Understanding attention in the non-diseased brain is fundamental because you need that information in order to test hypotheses for things like attention deficit disorder or models for Alzheimer’s,” he said.   Usrey sees the endowed chair appointment as an opportunity to not only promote high-risk, high-reward studies but also to promote student research experiences in his lab. “I’ve decided to focus the opportunities that accompany the endowed chair on things that are important to Barbara and John and equally important to me,” he said.    Usrey sees the endowed chair appointment as an opportunity to not only promote high-risk, high-reward studies but also to promote student research experiences in his lab. David Slipher/UC Davis  "> <a class="addthis_button_facebook"></a> <a class="addthis_button_linkedin"></a> <script> var addthis_share = { templates: { twitter: "Quick Summary The Barbara A. Horwitz and John M." } } </script> <a class="addthis_button_twitter"></a> <a class="addthis_button_email"></a> <a class="addthis_button_compact"></a> </div> <div class="clearfix text-formatted field field--name-body field--type-text-with-summary field--label-hidden field__item"><aside class="wysiwyg-feature-block u-width--half u-align--right"><h3 class="wysiwyg-feature-block__title">Quick Summary</h3> <div class="wysiwyg-feature-block__body"> <ul><li><strong><em>The Barbara A. Horwitz and John M. Horowitz Endowed Chair in Physiology was created in 2004</em></strong></li> <li><strong><em>Usrey will hold the appointment for five years</em></strong></li> <li><strong><em>The endowment will support his research in visual perception, teaching and service activities</em></strong></li> </ul></div> </aside><p>Amblyopia, or reduced vision from one eye, affects approximately two to three of every 100 children, according to the National Eye Institute. Today the disability is</p> <p>correctable, but it wasn’t until the 20th century that scientists realized the eye wasn’t responsible for the condition. Its origin was in how the eye and brain worked together. </p> <p>“Back in the day, no one realized that there was a ‘critical period’ in childhood, where this could be corrected,” said Professor W. Martin Usrey, chair of the Department of Neurobiology, Physiology and Behavior. “Through basic science, that was discovered.”   </p> <p>In 1981, David H. Hubel and Torsten N. Wiesel won the Nobel Prize for their discoveries concerning the visual system. They and others revealed that visual information travels through a complex network of brain cells, where its component pieces are broken apart and sent to different areas of the brain for processing, eventually forming an image.</p> <p>Through experiments, the researchers found that columns of brain cells developed for each eye in the visual cortex, with critical development of these columns and their interactions occurring during childhood. The realization that the brain played just as large a role in vision as the eye led to development of the medical interventions used today to correct amblyopia.</p> <p>“Basic science research is exploration,” said Usrey, who was mentored by Wiesel early in his career. “It’s going out into the unknown and figuring out how things work. And it’s only by knowing how things work and making that discovery that you can then say, ‘How can that discovery be used?’”</p> <figure role="group" class="caption caption-img"><img alt="Picture of Marty writing on a white board" data-entity-type="file" data-entity-uuid="2a7a4b52-a445-4b87-8ece-e139a7e69963" src="/sites/g/files/dgvnsk581/files/inline-images/W.-Martin-Usrey-College-of-Biological-Sciences-UC-Davis-2.jpg" /><figcaption>Usrey is a neurobiologist interested in the physiology of vision. David Slipher/UC Davis</figcaption></figure><h4><strong>Supporting physiology research</strong></h4> <p>Recently, the UC Davis College of Biological Sciences named Usrey, a neurobiologist interested in the physiology of vision, to the Barbara A. Horwitz and John M. Horowitz Endowed Chair in Physiology. Usrey will hold the appointment for five years, with the endowment supporting his research, teaching and service activities. Distinguished Professor Emerita Horwitz and Professor Emeritus Horowitz created the endowed chair in 2004.      </p> <blockquote> <p>“It’s a great honor for many reasons, but for me in particular, it’s being able to do research under the name of Barbara Horwitz and John Horowitz,” said Usrey, who also holds appointments in the Center for Neuroscience and the Department of Neurology in the School of Medicine. “They have done so much for the university. To be associated with their legacy is really quite special.” </p> </blockquote> <p>College of Biological Sciences Dean Mark Winey said, “This appointment isn’t just a recognition of Dr. Usrey’s past accomplishments, but an acknowledgment of his continuing efforts to advance our understanding of the role the brain plays in vision.”</p> <h4><strong>An entry into visual systems</strong></h4> <p>Usrey began studying visual systems while pursuing a Ph.D. in Neurobiology at Duke University. While working in neurobiologist David Fitzpatrick’s laboratory, he became fascinated with comparative physiology and focused his attention on the tree shrew, a small squirrel-like mammal from Southeast Asia that is considered a close relative of primates.</p> <p>According to Usrey, the tree shrew has a very complex brain that is packaged in a small space and efficiently organized. Usrey likened it to uncooked spaghetti pasta, with one able to neatly follow threads of connection from the eye to various parts of the brain. This makes it an ideal organism for studying the visual pathway.</p> <p>But evolution is a complex weaver of traits and as a result, not all mammals have such neatly organized brains.  </p> <p>“You can also take that same pack of spaghetti and then mix it all up, cook it and now, it’s just a big web,” said Usrey. “The connections may be just as precise, but going in as an experimentalist, it’s very difficult to understand because you don’t have that organization.”</p> <p>By taking a comparative approach, researchers can gain insight and uncover brain mechanisms that otherwise might be impossible to unravel.</p> <figure role="group" class="caption caption-img align-left"><img alt="Picture of marty at a computer doing lab work" data-entity-type="file" data-entity-uuid="71878b12-463e-4a83-a0e0-622ce0267860" height="343" src="/sites/g/files/dgvnsk581/files/inline-images/W.-Martin-Usrey-College-of-Biological-Sciences-UC-Davis-3.jpg" width="514" /><figcaption>Usrey began studying visual systems while pursuing a Ph.D. in Neurobiology at Duke University. David Slipher/UC Davis</figcaption></figure><h4><strong>Knocking on the doors of perception</strong></h4> <p>Today, at the UC Davis Center for Neuroscience, Usrey studies the physiological mechanisms responsible for vision, exploring the relationships between cell physiology, circuit activity, behavior and perception.</p> <p>At the back of the eye exists a group of cells called retinal ganglion cells. Primates, including humans, have more than 25 different classes of these cells, with each class processing a component of the visual scene and sending it to different areas of the brain. </p> <p>Usrey’s research concerns the electrical signals that travel through the optic nerve to the thalamus and on to the primary visual cortex. Once there, these signals are further processed and sent to other visual cortical areas, which include hubs responsible for the processing of color and movement, among other aspects.   </p> <p>“An individual neuron in the visual cortex receives input from many sources, so there’s a lot of convergence and integration that’s taking place,” Usrey said. “What distinguishes our group is that to understand things, we often record from neurons at multiple stations in the brain simultaneously, so that we can watch the transfer of information occur from cell to cell to cell in real time.”</p> <p>Currently, Usrey and his lab are studying how behavior affects this relaying of visual signals. Understanding this relationship could provide insights into visual and cognitive impairments.</p> <h4><strong>Spatial attention and human health</strong></h4> <p>One phenomenon Usrey and his colleagues are dissecting is spatial attention, the ability to focus on a specific place in the visual field without moving the eyes. Imagine you’re in a staring contest, but something behind your competition attracts your attention, say a red ball flying through the air. Without breaking eye contact, you’re capable of shifting your mental attention to that ball.</p> <p>“Even though you haven’t moved your eyes, your brain is enhancing the processing of signals that are coming from that region in space,” Usrey said. “It’s something entirely internal.”</p> <p>Further investigation of neural processes governing peripheral vision and spatial attention could help researchers understand things like attention deficit disorders. But Usrey said it may also hold implications for those with Alzheimer’s disease. </p> <p>Usrey and colleagues suspect that brain cells and synapses in an area of the brain called the basal forebrain are highly active during such spatial attention tasks. This part of the brain also degrades in those afflicted with Alzheimer’s disease.</p> <blockquote> <p>“Understanding attention in the non-diseased brain is fundamental because you need that information in order to test hypotheses for things like attention deficit disorder or models for Alzheimer’s,” he said.  </p> </blockquote> <p>Usrey sees the endowed chair appointment as an opportunity to not only promote high-risk, high-reward studies but also to promote student research experiences in his lab.</p> <p>“I’ve decided to focus the opportunities that accompany the endowed chair on things that are important to Barbara and John and equally important to me,” he said.   </p> <figure role="group" class="caption caption-img"><img alt="Picture of Marty in front of the center for neuroscience sign" data-entity-type="file" data-entity-uuid="14068748-f7ad-4a54-99cb-5c8dcc43e65c" src="/sites/g/files/dgvnsk581/files/inline-images/W.-Martin-Usrey-College-of-Biological-Sciences-UC-Davis-4.jpg" /><figcaption>Usrey sees the endowed chair appointment as an opportunity to not only promote high-risk, high-reward studies but also to promote student research experiences in his lab. David Slipher/UC Davis</figcaption></figure><p> </p> </div> <div class="field field--name-field-sf-article-category field--type-entity-reference field--label-above"> <div class="field__label">Category</div> <div class="field__item"><a href="/articles/university-news" hreflang="en">University News</a></div> </div> <div class="field field--name-field-sf-tags field--type-entity-reference field--label-above"> <div class="field__label">Tags</div> <div class="field__items"> <div class="field__item"><a href="/tags/center-neuroscience" hreflang="en">Center for Neuroscience</a></div> <div class="field__item"><a href="/tags/school-medicine" hreflang="en">School of Medicine</a></div> <div class="field__item"><a href="/tags/neurology" hreflang="en">neurology</a></div> <div class="field__item"><a href="/tags/neuroscience-graduate" hreflang="en">Neuroscience Graduate</a></div> <div class="field__item"><a href="/tags/group-vision" hreflang="en">Group Vision</a></div> <div class="field__item"><a href="/tags/visual-cortex" hreflang="en">visual cortex</a></div> <div class="field__item"><a href="/tags/brain-research" hreflang="en">brain research</a></div> <div class="field__item"><a href="/tags/human-health" hreflang="en">human health</a></div> <div class="field__item"><a href="/tags/philanthropy" hreflang="en">philanthropy</a></div> </div> </div> Tue, 27 Nov 2018 21:10:03 +0000 Greg Watry 581 at https://npb.ucdavis.edu Social Bee-stortion: Exploring Pesticide’s Effects on Pollinators https://npb.ucdavis.edu/news/social-bee-stortion-exploring-pesticides-effects-pollinators <span class="field field--name-title field--type-string field--label-hidden">Social Bee-stortion: Exploring Pesticide’s Effects on Pollinators</span> <span class="field field--name-uid field--type-entity-reference field--label-hidden"> <span lang="" about="/user/9041" typeof="schema:Person" property="schema:name" datatype="">Greg Watry</span> </span> <span class="field field--name-created field--type-created field--label-hidden">November 08, 2018</span> <div class="field field--name-field-sf-primary-image field--type-image field--label-hidden field__item"> <img src="/sites/g/files/dgvnsk581/files/styles/sf_landscape_16x9/public/images/article/Stacey-Combes-Bees-Pesticides1-College-of-Biological-Sciences-UC-Davis.jpg?h=c673cd1c&amp;itok=CnT2DUpp" width="1280" height="720" alt="Picture of a bee collecting pollen on a flower" title="While honeybees have been the prime pollinators for agriculture, diseases like colony collapse disorder are wiping out their numbers, leading to concerns about stability. In light of this, many food producers and researchers are searching for backup pollinators, like the bumblebee. Andrew Mountcastle, Combes Lab" typeof="foaf:Image" class="image-style-sf-landscape-16x9" /> </div> <div class="addthis_toolbox addthis_default_style addthis_32x32_style" addthis:url="https://npb.ucdavis.edu/articles.rss" addthis:title="NPB in the News" addthis:description="Quick Summary Researchers observed the effects of imidacloprid, a pesticide, on bumblebee behaviors within the hive To study this hidden world, they outfitted bumblebees with tiny QR code tags and tracked individuals with video They found imidacloprid disrupts nest behavior, causing reduced growth in exposed colonies  A pesticide banned in the European Union but still in use in the United States is proving to have detrimental effects on pollinators. In a study appearing in Science, researchers show that the pesticide imidacloprid, which has been sold in the U.S. since 1994, disrupts bumblebee (Bombus impatiens) nest behavior, causing reduced growth in exposed colonies.   “We’ve known for a while that imidacloprid is bad for bumblebees and a number of bees,” said study co-author Stacey Combes, an associate professor of neurobiology, physiology and behavior at UC Davis. “This work adds another piece of strong evidence that these pesticides should be banned in the U.S., just like they are in the E.U.”     A look inside the hive Imidacloprid is generally applied as a seed coating to protect crops and plants from being eaten by insects. While an effective deterrent against pests, it eventually spreads throughout the plant, manifesting in the pollen and nectar. This spells trouble for helpful pollinators like bees. “There’s work showing that exposure to these pesticides reduces productivity, less queens are made and the hives don’t do as well overall,” said Combes, noting that previous studies have also explored the pesticide’s effects on behaviors outside the hive, showing a reduction in navigation skills. “This is the first time anyone has looked at behavior within the hive.” To study behaviors within the hive, Combes and colleagues, led by Combes’ former graduate student James Crall, outfitted bumblebees with tiny QR code tags—a system called BEEtag—for identification purposes. They then dosed the bees with field-realistic concentrations of imidacloprid and monitored their subsequent behavior by video.      Less interactions, less productivity The researchers found that chronic imidacloprid exposure led to a reduction in general activity and nursing rates within the hive. Bumblebees dosed with imidacloprid also congregated near the nest’s periphery rather than the center, leading to an overall reduction in their interactions with other bumblebees. “The bees that are given more of these pesticides are basically just dropping out of these social networks,” said Combes. “As a result, a lot of the work that needs to be done in the hive is probably not getting done.” According to Combes, only a handful of bumblebees in a colony actually go out and forage. The majority stay within the hive, where they take care of the young, feed the queen and tidy the hive. “Bumblebee hives in particular are underground usually,” said Combes. “This study gives us a hint that the effects of imidacloprid on behavior are just as important to the hidden parts of their life cycle as they are to the visible parts.” The team also found the pesticide’s effects on hive behavior were more pronounced at night and that nest workers couldn’t regulate the hives’ temperatures efficiently. “In a lot of insects, if the brood are not exactly the right temperature, the offspring come out not nearly as skilled at learning or foraging, or they don’t survive,” said Combes. Protecting backup pollinators While honeybees have been the prime pollinators for agriculture, diseases like colony collapse disorder are wiping out their numbers, leading to concerns about stability. In light of this, many food producers and researchers are searching for backup pollinators. “There’s more and more interest in bumblebees and native pollinators as a kind of backup to honeybees,” said Combes. “A lot of these native pollinators are much better pollinators than honeybees, so understanding how pesticides affect them is really important.” This work was supported by the National Science Foundation, the Winslow Foundation, the Rockefeller Foundation, the Moore and Sloan Foundations and the Statistical and Applied Mathematical Sciences Institute, among other funding agencies.     All videos provided by James Crall.   "> <a class="addthis_button_facebook"></a> <a class="addthis_button_linkedin"></a> <script> var addthis_share = { templates: { twitter: "Quick Summary Researchers observed the effects of imidacloprid, a pesticide, on bumblebee behaviors within the hive To study this hidden world, they outfitted bumblebees with tiny QR code tags and tracked individuals with video They found imidacloprid disrupts nest behavior, causing reduced growth in exposed colonies  " } } </script> <a class="addthis_button_twitter"></a> <a class="addthis_button_email"></a> <a class="addthis_button_compact"></a> </div> <div class="clearfix text-formatted field field--name-body field--type-text-with-summary field--label-hidden field__item"><aside class="wysiwyg-feature-block u-width--half u-align--right"><h3 class="wysiwyg-feature-block__title">Quick Summary</h3> <div class="wysiwyg-feature-block__body"> <ul><li><em><strong>Researchers observed the effects of imidacloprid, a pesticide, on bumblebee behaviors within the hive</strong></em></li> <li><strong><em>To study this hidden world, they outfitted bumblebees with tiny QR code tags and tracked individuals with video</em></strong></li> <li><strong><em>They found imidacloprid disrupts nest behavior, causing reduced growth in exposed colonies </em></strong></li> </ul></div> </aside><p>A pesticide banned in the European Union but still in use in the United States is proving to have detrimental effects on pollinators. In a study appearing in <em><a href="http://science.sciencemag.org/content/362/6415/683">Science</a>, </em>researchers show that the pesticide imidacloprid, which has been sold in the U.S. since 1994, disrupts bumblebee (<em>Bombus impatiens</em>) nest behavior, causing reduced growth in exposed colonies.  </p> <p>“We’ve known for a while that imidacloprid is bad for bumblebees and a number of bees,” said study co-author Stacey Combes, an associate professor of neurobiology, physiology and behavior at UC Davis. “This work adds another piece of strong evidence that these pesticides should be banned in the U.S., just like they are in the E.U.”</p> <p> </p> <div class="responsive-embed" style="padding-bottom: 56.25%"><iframe width="480" height="270" src="https://www.youtube.com/embed/2-xcfagrO9s?feature=oembed" frameborder="0" allow="accelerometer; autoplay; encrypted-media; gyroscope; picture-in-picture" allowfullscreen=""></iframe></div> <p> </p> <h4><strong>A look inside the hive</strong></h4> <p>Imidacloprid is generally applied as a seed coating to protect crops and plants from being eaten by insects. While an effective deterrent against pests, it eventually spreads throughout the plant, manifesting in the pollen and nectar. This spells trouble for helpful pollinators like bees.</p> <blockquote> <p>“There’s work showing that exposure to these pesticides reduces productivity, less queens are made and the hives don’t do as well overall,” said Combes, noting that previous studies have also explored the pesticide’s effects on behaviors outside the hive, showing a reduction in navigation skills. “This is the first time anyone has looked at behavior within the hive.”</p> </blockquote> <p>To study behaviors within the hive, Combes and colleagues, led by Combes’ former graduate student James Crall, outfitted bumblebees with tiny QR code tags—<a href="https://biology.ucdavis.edu/news/stacey-combes-and-why-these-bumblebees-are-wearing-itty-bitty-qr-codes-wired">a system called BEEtag</a>—for identification purposes. They then dosed the bees with field-realistic concentrations of imidacloprid and monitored their subsequent behavior by video.   </p> <div class="responsive-embed" style="padding-bottom: 74.946%"><iframe width="459" height="344" src="https://www.youtube.com/embed/iJzfwvNk_uk?feature=oembed" frameborder="0" allow="accelerometer; autoplay; encrypted-media; gyroscope; picture-in-picture" allowfullscreen=""></iframe></div> <p> </p> <h4><strong>Less interactions, less productivity</strong></h4> <p>The researchers found that chronic imidacloprid exposure led to a reduction in general activity and nursing rates within the hive. Bumblebees dosed with imidacloprid also congregated near the nest’s periphery rather than the center, leading to an overall reduction in their interactions with other bumblebees.</p> <blockquote> <p>“The bees that are given more of these pesticides are basically just dropping out of these social networks,” said Combes. “As a result, a lot of the work that needs to be done in the hive is probably not getting done.”</p> </blockquote> <p>According to Combes, only a handful of bumblebees in a colony actually go out and forage. The majority stay within the hive, where they take care of the young, feed the queen and tidy the hive.</p> <p>“Bumblebee hives in particular are underground usually,” said Combes. “This study gives us a hint that the effects of imidacloprid on behavior are just as important to the hidden parts of their life cycle as they are to the visible parts.”</p> <p>The team also found the pesticide’s effects on hive behavior were more pronounced at night and that nest workers couldn’t regulate the hives’ temperatures efficiently.</p> <p>“In a lot of insects, if the brood are not exactly the right temperature, the offspring come out not nearly as skilled at learning or foraging, or they don’t survive,” said Combes.</p> <h4><strong>Protecting backup pollinators</strong></h4> <p>While honeybees have been the prime pollinators for agriculture, diseases like colony collapse disorder are wiping out their numbers, leading to concerns about stability. In light of this, many food producers and researchers are searching for backup pollinators.</p> <blockquote> <p>“There’s more and more interest in bumblebees and native pollinators as a kind of backup to honeybees,” said Combes. “A lot of these native pollinators are much better pollinators than honeybees, so understanding how pesticides affect them is really important.”</p> </blockquote> <p>This work was supported by the National Science Foundation, the Winslow Foundation, the Rockefeller Foundation, the Moore and Sloan Foundations and the Statistical and Applied Mathematical Sciences Institute, among other funding agencies.    </p> <p><strong><em>All videos provided by James Crall.</em></strong></p> <div class="responsive-embed" style="padding-bottom: 74.946%"><iframe width="459" height="344" src="https://www.youtube.com/embed/2KYOOQGO6vk?feature=oembed" frameborder="0" allow="accelerometer; autoplay; encrypted-media; gyroscope; picture-in-picture" allowfullscreen=""></iframe></div> <p> </p> </div> <div class="field field--name-field-sf-article-category field--type-entity-reference field--label-above"> <div class="field__label">Category</div> <div class="field__item"><a href="/articles/human-animal-health" hreflang="en">Human &amp; Animal Health</a></div> </div> <div class="field field--name-field-sf-tags field--type-entity-reference field--label-above"> <div class="field__label">Tags</div> <div class="field__items"> <div class="field__item"><a href="/tags/combes" hreflang="en">Combes</a></div> <div class="field__item"><a href="/tags/pollinators" hreflang="en">pollinators</a></div> <div class="field__item"><a href="/tags/bees" hreflang="en">bees</a></div> <div class="field__item"><a href="/tags/beehives" hreflang="en">beehives</a></div> <div class="field__item"><a href="/tags/insects" hreflang="en">insects</a></div> <div class="field__item"><a href="/tags/pesticides" hreflang="en">pesticides</a></div> <div class="field__item"><a href="/tags/insecticides" hreflang="en">insecticides</a></div> <div class="field__item"><a href="/tags/agriculture-environment" hreflang="en">agriculture environment</a></div> <div class="field__item"><a href="/tags/women-stem" hreflang="en">Women in STEM</a></div> <div class="field__item"><a href="/tags/animal-behavior" hreflang="en">Animal Behavior</a></div> <div class="field__item"><a href="/tags/graduate-group" hreflang="en">Graduate Group</a></div> </div> </div> Thu, 08 Nov 2018 23:19:53 +0000 Greg Watry 576 at https://npb.ucdavis.edu Flight Turbulence: New Study Explores How Flies Navigate Unstable Convective Air https://npb.ucdavis.edu/news/flight-turbulence-new-study-explores-how-flies-navigate-unstable-convective-air <span class="field field--name-title field--type-string field--label-hidden">Flight Turbulence: New Study Explores How Flies Navigate Unstable Convective Air</span> <span class="field field--name-uid field--type-entity-reference field--label-hidden"> <span lang="" about="/user/9041" typeof="schema:Person" property="schema:name" datatype="">Greg Watry</span> </span> <span class="field field--name-created field--type-created field--label-hidden">October 26, 2018</span> <div class="field field--name-field-sf-primary-image field--type-image field--label-hidden field__item"> <img src="/sites/g/files/dgvnsk581/files/styles/sf_landscape_16x9/public/images/article/Fly-Turbulence-College-of-Biological-Sciences-UC-Davis.jpg?h=c673cd1c&amp;itok=v8E_mx4F" width="1280" height="720" alt="a picture of a fly&#039;s lying path" title="A fly, on the left, is tasked with navigating convection vortices, the flow of which is traced in green. Victor Ortega-Jimenez" typeof="foaf:Image" class="image-style-sf-landscape-16x9" /> </div> <div class="addthis_toolbox addthis_default_style addthis_32x32_style" addthis:url="https://npb.ucdavis.edu/articles.rss" addthis:title="NPB in the News" addthis:description="Quick Summary A new study provides detailed data on how insects navigate convection cells These flights required insects to invest more time and energy, with around 34% failing to maintain flight trajectory The study highlights challenges insects might face in urban environments, where surface temperatures soar When insects migrate over vast distances, many take advantage of a natural phenomenon called thermal convection, which causes flow movement when air at different temperatures interact. Hitching a ride on invisible rollercoasters called convection cells, insects—like aphids and spiders—follow the flow of warm air upwards and cold air downwards. “They are floating up to 3,000 feet,” said Victor Ortega-Jimenez, an assistant project scientist in the Combes Lab at UC Davis, of this movement. “All these clouds of insects are floating up there and moving in these convection cell patterns.”      Ortega-Jimenez has long wondered about the aerodynamics of insect flight in convection cells. In a new study appearing in the Journal of the Royal Society Interface, Ortega-Jimenez and Assistant Professor Stacey Combes, Department of Neurobiology, Physiology and Behavior, provide detailed data on how fruit flies (Drosophila melanogaster) maintain stability while flying through convection cells on a small scale. According to the research, flight through convection cells required more time and energy from the majority of flies and about one-third of the flies were unable to complete the experimental flight task through convection cells. The research highlights the challenges insects might face in urban environments, where soaring surface temperatures can lead to multiple convection cells capable of disrupting flight patterns. “One problem with these artificial environments is they have pavement, concrete, glass and metals, which are prone to heating up,” said Ortega-Jimenez. “Because it’s really hot, the convection processes are really intense and for fruit flies or small insects, they have hard time because they are challenged by these intense flows.”   A chamber of convection cells In the experiment, Ortega-Jimenez created a 22 centimeter-long flight chamber with a bottom heated by an infrared lamp and a top cooled by ice. This setup created two distinct convection cells for the flies to traverse during the experiments. Ortega-Jimenez tested 32 flies in still air conditions and then in convective flow conditions. “Fruit flies are a good biological model because they are—evolutionarily speaking—adapted to deserts and also to cities,” said Ortega-Jimenez, noting that this might make them better adapted to deal with aerial environments saturated with convection cells. According to the research, after entering the chamber, the flies responded to convective flows by changing their body angle, decreasing flight speed and increasing flapping frequency of their wings. They also flew in a curved, wave-like manner. “When fruit flies reduce speed and have a more curvy flight path, it tells you that they are investing more time and energy.” - Victor Ortega-Jimenez.    Despite flow speeds in the convection chamber being modest compared to typical outdoor airflow conditions, 34 percent of the flies failed to maintain a controlled flight trajectory and fell to the ground before reaching the landing target. Flies that failed the experiment flew slower in still air conditions and had smaller wing areas.   “Wing size is a very important parameter in aerodynamics because lift, the force that makes the insect stay up in the air, is related to speed and the wing surface area,” said Ortega-Jimenez. “If you have low speed and low wing area, then you have low lift.” Flies that successfully traversed the convective cells were faster in still air conditions and boasted larger wing areas. The researchers also found that 24 percent of the successful flies followed a curved path resembling the flow of the convection vortices, showing that some individuals ride the flow of the vortices. These individuals accomplished the flight task in a shorter amount of time and at a higher speed than they did in still air conditions.   Trouble in a turbulent environment Drosophila melanogaster. Sanjay AcharyaWhile fruit flies are adapted to living in desert-like conditions, the research suggests that pockets of convective vortices can have detrimental effects on fly flight patterns and behavior. With maximum ground temperatures in desert and urban environments reaching from 158 to 212 degrees Fahrenheit, surface environments can be particularly tricky for small insects to navigate, according to the research.   “This could significantly diminish the short-range dispersal of some organisms, especially for individuals and species with low aerodynamic capacities, like aphids, midges or thrips,” said Ortega-Jimenez.  The study’s results suggest that flies are adversely affected by thermal convection, which increases near surfaces heated by processes like solar radiation and fermentation. So next time you see a fly hovering around on a sweltering day, tip your hat. That flight requires might. The study was supported by the National Science Foundation.     "> <a class="addthis_button_facebook"></a> <a class="addthis_button_linkedin"></a> <script> var addthis_share = { templates: { twitter: "Quick Summary A new study provides detailed data on how insects navigate convection cells These flights required insects to invest more time and energy, with around 34% failing to maintain flight trajectory The study highlights challenges insects might face in urban environments, where surface temperatures soar " } } </script> <a class="addthis_button_twitter"></a> <a class="addthis_button_email"></a> <a class="addthis_button_compact"></a> </div> <div class="clearfix text-formatted field field--name-body field--type-text-with-summary field--label-hidden field__item"><aside class="wysiwyg-feature-block u-width--half u-align--right"><h3 class="wysiwyg-feature-block__title">Quick Summary</h3> <div class="wysiwyg-feature-block__body"> <ul><li><em><strong>A new study provides detailed data on how insects navigate convection cells</strong></em></li> <li><em><strong>These flights required insects to invest more time and energy, with around 34% failing to maintain flight trajectory</strong></em></li> <li><strong><em>The study highlights challenges insects might face in urban environments, where surface temperatures soar</em></strong></li> </ul></div> </aside><p>When insects migrate over vast distances, many take advantage of a natural phenomenon called thermal convection, which causes flow movement when air at</p> <p>different temperatures interact. Hitching a ride on invisible rollercoasters called convection cells, insects—like aphids and spiders—follow the flow of warm air upwards and cold air downwards.</p> <p>“They are floating up to 3,000 feet,” said Victor Ortega-Jimenez, an assistant project scientist in the <a href="http://combeslab.ucdavis.edu/">Combes Lab</a> at UC Davis, of this movement.</p> <blockquote> <p>“All these clouds of insects are floating up there and moving in these convection cell patterns.”     </p> </blockquote> <p>Ortega-Jimenez has long wondered about the aerodynamics of insect flight in convection cells. In a new study appearing in the <em><a href="http://rsif.royalsocietypublishing.org/content/15/147/20180636">Journal of the Royal Society Interface</a></em><em>, </em>Ortega-Jimenez and Assistant Professor Stacey Combes, Department of Neurobiology, Physiology and Behavior, provide detailed data on how fruit flies (<em>Drosophila melanogaster</em>) maintain stability while flying through convection cells on a small scale.</p> <p>According to the research, flight through convection cells required more time and energy from the majority of flies and about one-third of the flies were unable to complete the experimental flight task through convection cells. The research highlights the challenges insects might face in urban environments, where soaring surface temperatures can lead to multiple convection cells capable of disrupting flight patterns.</p> <p>“One problem with these artificial environments is they have pavement, concrete, glass and metals, which are prone to heating up,” said Ortega-Jimenez. “Because it’s really hot, the convection processes are really intense and for fruit flies or small insects, they have hard time because they are challenged by these intense flows.”</p> <div class="responsive-embed" style="padding-bottom: 56.25%"><iframe width="480" height="270" src="https://www.youtube.com/embed/Z3ElgaHi8cY?feature=oembed" frameborder="0" allow="accelerometer; autoplay; encrypted-media; gyroscope; picture-in-picture" allowfullscreen=""></iframe></div> <p> </p> <h4><strong>A chamber of convection cells</strong></h4> <p>In the experiment, Ortega-Jimenez created a 22 centimeter-long flight chamber with a bottom heated by an infrared lamp and a top cooled by ice. This setup created two distinct convection cells for the flies to traverse during the experiments. Ortega-Jimenez tested 32 flies in still air conditions and then in convective flow conditions.</p> <p>“Fruit flies are a good biological model because they are—evolutionarily speaking—adapted to deserts and also to cities,” said Ortega-Jimenez, noting that this might make them better adapted to deal with aerial environments saturated with convection cells.</p> <p>According to the research, after entering the chamber, the flies responded to convective flows by changing their body angle, decreasing flight speed and increasing flapping frequency of their wings. They also flew in a curved, wave-like manner.</p> <blockquote> <p>“When fruit flies reduce speed and have a more curvy flight path, it tells you that they are investing more time and energy.” - Victor Ortega-Jimenez.   </p> </blockquote> <p>Despite flow speeds in the convection chamber being modest compared to typical outdoor airflow conditions, 34 percent of the flies failed to maintain a controlled flight trajectory and fell to the ground before reaching the landing target. Flies that failed the experiment flew slower in still air conditions and had smaller wing areas.  </p> <p>“Wing size is a very important parameter in aerodynamics because lift, the force that makes the insect stay up in the air, is related to speed and the wing surface area,” said Ortega-Jimenez. “If you have low speed and low wing area, then you have low lift.”</p> <p>Flies that successfully traversed the convective cells were faster in still air conditions and boasted larger wing areas.</p> <p>The researchers also found that 24 percent of the successful flies followed a curved path resembling the flow of the convection vortices, showing that some individuals ride the flow of the vortices. These individuals accomplished the flight task in a shorter amount of time and at a higher speed than they did in still air conditions.</p> <p> </p> <h4><strong>Trouble in a turbulent environment</strong></h4> <figure role="group" class="caption caption-img align-right"><img alt="picture of a fly" data-entity-type="file" data-entity-uuid="65836743-3258-4222-b19c-38ee97fb6f21" height="240" src="/sites/g/files/dgvnsk581/files/inline-images/Drosophila_melanogaster-COllege-of-Biological-Sciences-UC-Davis.jpg" width="428" /><figcaption>Drosophila melanogaster. Sanjay Acharya</figcaption></figure><p>While fruit flies are adapted to living in desert-like conditions, the research suggests that pockets of convective vortices can have detrimental effects on fly flight</p> <p>patterns and behavior. With maximum ground temperatures in desert and urban environments reaching from 158 to 212 degrees Fahrenheit, surface environments can be particularly tricky for small insects to navigate, according to the research.  </p> <p>“This could significantly diminish the short-range dispersal of some organisms, especially for individuals and species with low aerodynamic capacities, like aphids, midges or thrips,” said Ortega-Jimenez. </p> <p>The study’s results suggest that flies are adversely affected by thermal convection, which increases near surfaces heated by processes like solar radiation and fermentation. So next time you see a fly hovering around on a sweltering day, tip your hat. That flight requires might.</p> <p>The study was supported by the National Science Foundation.</p> <p> </p> <p> </p> </div> <div class="field field--name-field-sf-article-category field--type-entity-reference field--label-above"> <div class="field__label">Category</div> <div class="field__item"><a href="/articles/science-technology" hreflang="en">Science &amp; Technology</a></div> </div> <div class="field field--name-field-sf-tags field--type-entity-reference field--label-above"> <div class="field__label">Tags</div> <div class="field__items"> <div class="field__item"><a href="/tags/combes" hreflang="en">Combes</a></div> </div> </div> Fri, 26 Oct 2018 19:05:30 +0000 Greg Watry 561 at https://npb.ucdavis.edu Advancing Diabetes Research: Mark Huising Receives Faculty Research Award https://npb.ucdavis.edu/news/advancing-diabetes-research-mark-huising-receives-faculty-research-award <span class="field field--name-title field--type-string field--label-hidden">Advancing Diabetes Research: Mark Huising Receives Faculty Research Award</span> <span class="field field--name-uid field--type-entity-reference field--label-hidden"> <span lang="" about="/user/9041" typeof="schema:Person" property="schema:name" datatype="">Greg Watry</span> </span> <span class="field field--name-created field--type-created field--label-hidden">October 19, 2018</span> <div class="field field--name-field-sf-primary-image field--type-image field--label-hidden field__item"> <img src="/sites/g/files/dgvnsk581/files/styles/sf_landscape_16x9/public/images/article/Mark-Huising-Lab-College-of-Biological-Sciences-UC-Davis%20%281%20of%201%29.jpg?h=c673cd1c&amp;itok=Uum0WItK" width="1280" height="720" alt="Picture of mark working on a microscope" title="For his discovery of a new type of insulin-producing cell, among other research contributions featured in the journal Cell Metabolism, Associate Professor Mark Huising, Department of Neurobiology, Physiology and Behavior, was awarded the 2017-2018 College of Biological Sciences Faculty Research Award. David Slipher/UC Davis" typeof="foaf:Image" class="image-style-sf-landscape-16x9" /> </div> <div class="addthis_toolbox addthis_default_style addthis_32x32_style" addthis:url="https://npb.ucdavis.edu/articles.rss" addthis:title="NPB in the News" addthis:description="Quick Summary Diabetes is a disease that affects 30 million people and is the seventh leading cause of death in the U.S. Huising is honored for discovery of a new insulin-producing cell The finding could lead to new therapies for diabetes treatment Science is about advancing knowledge, work that requires dedication and tenacity. Another component is a keen and critical eye, as discovery is predicated on synthesizing and evaluating the work that came before.  For his discovery of a new type of insulin-producing cell, among other research contributions featured in the journal Cell Metabolism, Associate Professor Mark Huising, Department of Neurobiology, Physiology and Behavior, was awarded the 2017-2018 College of Biological Sciences Faculty Research Award. “When it comes to research, College of Biological Sciences faculty are at the forefront of discovery,” said College of Biological Sciences Dean Mark Winey. “Dr. Huising’s research is changing the way scientists look at diabetes, questioning prior research and providing new ideas for treatment. His research and discoveries are advancing our understanding of human health and truly add to the legacy of the College of Biological Sciences.”   “There’s great science happening at the college and to receive the CBS Faculty Research Award is just a wonderful recognition by your peers, which is always a good feeling.” -Mark Huising Pancreatic islets make insulin in response to blood glucose. In this image, cells are stained red for insulin and green for a marker of mature beta cells, so the mature cells are green/orange. Red cells at the edges are a newly discovered type of immature insulin-producing cell. Mark Huising/UC DavisRedefining beta cells Huising’s research focuses on diabetes, a disease that affects more than 30 million adults and is the seventh leading cause of death in the United States, according to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention. In type 1 diabetes, the body fails to create enough insulin, a hormone produced by the pancreas that regulates cellular intake of nutrients. With type 2 diabetes, cells no longer respond efficiently to insulin.   For decades, scientists have studied pancreatic cells, focusing on hormone-producing regions called pancreatic islets, to understand the pathogenesis of diabetes. What’s known about type 1 diabetes is that the body kills and fails to regenerate beta cells, which signal insulin secretion. In a paper titled “Virgin Beta Cells Persist throughout Life at a Neogenic Niche within Pancreatic Islets,” Huising reported the discovery of a new type of beta cell originating at the edge of the pancreatic islet. “The discovery of a persistent population of immature beta cells is a distinct departure from the prevailing dogma in Mark’s field that holds new beta cells can only be derived from self-replication of existing mature beta cells,” said Professor W. Martin Usrey, chair of the Department of Neurobiology, Physiology and Behavior. “Acutely aware of the conceptual novelty of his observations and striving to leave no doubt regarding the veracity of his discovery, Mark has delivered a true tour-de-force with this paper.&quot;  -Marty Usrey Making an impact and questioning diabetes research According to Usrey, Huising’s paper was cited 16 times within a year of its publication. Huising also received numerous invitations to present research at various events and meetings, including the University of British Columbia Diabetes Day, the Gordon Conference on Pancreatic Diseases, the American Diabetes Association meeting and the Keystone Conference in Islet Biology, among others. The paper was also featured in Cell Metabolism’s “Best of 2017” issue. “In essence, there’s nothing remarkable about these new cells that we found except for the fact that they stick around throughout life,” said Huising. “And that flew in the face and still flies in the face of the dogma in the field, which has concluded that all beta cells arise by replication of existing beta cells after you’ve exceed a certain postnatal age.” In another paper published in 2017 by Cell Metabolism, Huising and lab colleagues raised questions regarding a study published in Cell that suggested an antimalarial drug could help treat type 1 diabetes. The paper highlighted the importance of reproducibility in science.   A new pathway to treatment? Currently, Huising is continuing his research on pancreatic islets, with a focus on the maturation process of the new beta cell type he discovered. If the new beta cells mature, it would mean a new therapeutic avenue for introducing the cells into patients with type 1 diabetes.   “Mark’s findings have significant implications in the context of type 1 diabetes, where regeneration of beta cell mass by replication of existing beta cells is no longer an option for most patients,” said Usrey. From left to right: Department of Neurobiology, Physiology and Behavior Chair Martin Usrey, Associate Professor Mark Huising and College of Biological Sciences Dean Mark Winey stand together at the college&#039;s Fall Welcome event. David Slipher/UC Davis  "> <a class="addthis_button_facebook"></a> <a class="addthis_button_linkedin"></a> <script> var addthis_share = { templates: { twitter: "Quick Summary Diabetes is a disease that affects 30 million people and is the seventh leading cause of death in the U.S. Huising is honored for discovery of a new insulin-producing cell The finding could lead to new therapies for diabetes treatment Science is about advancing knowledge, work that" } } </script> <a class="addthis_button_twitter"></a> <a class="addthis_button_email"></a> <a class="addthis_button_compact"></a> </div> <div class="clearfix text-formatted field field--name-body field--type-text-with-summary field--label-hidden field__item"><aside class="wysiwyg-feature-block u-width--half u-align--right"><h3 class="wysiwyg-feature-block__title">Quick Summary</h3> <div class="wysiwyg-feature-block__body"> <aside><ul><li><em><strong>Diabetes is a disease that affects 30 million people and is the seventh leading cause of death in the U.S.</strong></em></li> <li><em><strong>Huising is honored for discovery of a new insulin-producing cell</strong></em></li> <li><strong><em>The finding could lead to new therapies for diabetes treatment</em></strong></li> </ul></aside></div> </aside><p>Science is about advancing knowledge, work that requires dedication and tenacity. Another component is a keen and critical eye, as discovery is predicated on</p> <p>synthesizing and evaluating the work that came before. </p> <p>For his <a href="https://biology.ucdavis.edu/news/new-type-insulin-producing-cell-discovered">discovery of a new type of insulin-producing cell</a>, among other research contributions featured in the journal <em>Cell Metabolism</em>, Associate Professor Mark Huising, Department of Neurobiology, Physiology and Behavior, was awarded the 2017-2018 College of Biological Sciences Faculty Research Award.</p> <p>“When it comes to research, College of Biological Sciences faculty are at the forefront of discovery,” said College of Biological Sciences Dean Mark Winey. “Dr. Huising’s research is changing the way scientists look at diabetes, questioning prior research and providing new ideas for treatment. His research and discoveries are advancing our understanding of human health and truly add to the legacy of the College of Biological Sciences.”  </p> <blockquote> <p>“There’s great science happening at the college and to receive the CBS Faculty Research Award is just a wonderful recognition by your peers, which is always a good feeling.” -Mark Huising</p> </blockquote> <figure role="group" class="caption caption-img align-left"><img alt="picture of a cell from a microscope" data-entity-type="file" data-entity-uuid="22c20bb6-80d7-498f-82ce-9cc80165b4b2" height="266" src="/sites/g/files/dgvnsk581/files/inline-images/huising.jpg" width="315" /><figcaption>Pancreatic islets make insulin in response to blood glucose. In this image, cells are stained red for insulin and green for a marker of mature beta cells, so the mature cells are green/orange. Red cells at the edges are a newly discovered type of immature insulin-producing cell. Mark Huising/UC Davis</figcaption></figure><h4><strong>Redefining beta cells</strong></h4> <p>Huising’s research focuses on diabetes, a disease that affects more than 30 million adults and is the seventh leading cause of death in the United States, according to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention. In type 1 diabetes, the body fails to create enough insulin, a hormone produced by the pancreas that regulates cellular intake of nutrients. With type 2 diabetes, cells no longer respond efficiently to insulin.  </p> <p>For decades, scientists have studied pancreatic cells, focusing on hormone-producing regions called pancreatic islets, to understand the pathogenesis of diabetes. What’s known about type 1 diabetes is that the body kills and fails to regenerate beta cells, which signal insulin secretion.</p> <p>In a paper titled <a href="https://www.cell.com/cell-metabolism/fulltext/S1550-4131(17)30169-9">“Virgin Beta Cells Persist throughout Life at a Neogenic Niche within Pancreatic Islets</a>,” Huising reported the discovery of a new type of beta cell originating at the edge of the pancreatic islet.</p> <p>“The discovery of a persistent population of immature beta cells is a distinct departure from the prevailing dogma in Mark’s field that holds new beta cells can only be derived from self-replication of existing mature beta cells,” said Professor W. Martin Usrey, chair of the Department of Neurobiology, Physiology and Behavior.</p> <blockquote> <p>“Acutely aware of the conceptual novelty of his observations and striving to leave no doubt regarding the veracity of his discovery, Mark has delivered a true tour-de-force with this paper."  -Marty Usrey</p> </blockquote> <h4><strong>Making an impact and questioning diabetes research</strong></h4> <p>According to Usrey, Huising’s paper was cited 16 times within a year of its publication. Huising also received numerous invitations to present research at various events and meetings, including the University of British Columbia Diabetes Day, the Gordon Conference on Pancreatic Diseases, the American Diabetes Association meeting and the Keystone Conference in Islet Biology, among others. The paper was also featured in <em>Cell Metabolism’s</em> <a href="http://blogs.ucdavis.edu/egghead/2018/05/15/biology-researchers-make-cell-metabolism-best-2017/">“Best of 2017”</a> issue.</p> <p>“In essence, there’s nothing remarkable about these new cells that we found except for the fact that they stick around throughout life,” said Huising. “And that flew in the face and still flies in the face of the dogma in the field, which has concluded that all beta cells arise by replication of existing beta cells after you’ve exceed a certain postnatal age.”</p> <p>In another paper published in 2017 by <em><a href="https://www.cell.com/cell-metabolism/fulltext/S1550-4131(17)30614-9">Cell Metabolism</a></em><em>, </em>Huising and lab colleagues raised questions regarding a study published in <em>Cell </em>that suggested an antimalarial drug could help treat type 1 diabetes. The paper highlighted the importance of <a href="https://biology.ucdavis.edu/news/diabetes-research-huising-lab-emphasizes-importance-reproducibility-science">reproducibility in science</a>.  </p> <h4><strong>A new pathway to treatment?</strong></h4> <p>Currently, Huising is continuing his research on pancreatic islets, with a focus on the maturation process of the new beta cell type he discovered. If the new beta cells mature, it would mean a new therapeutic avenue for introducing the cells into patients with type 1 diabetes.  </p> <p>“Mark’s findings have significant implications in the context of type 1 diabetes, where regeneration of beta cell mass by replication of existing beta cells is no longer an option for most patients,” said Usrey.</p> <figure role="group" class="caption caption-img"><img alt="Picture of mark receiving the award" data-entity-type="file" data-entity-uuid="0799fca7-21f5-473e-8ebc-a2618c016077" src="/sites/g/files/dgvnsk581/files/inline-images/Mark-Huising-Research-Award-College-of-Biological-Sciences-UC-Davis_%281_of_1%29.jpg" /><figcaption>From left to right: Department of Neurobiology, Physiology and Behavior Chair Martin Usrey, Associate Professor Mark Huising and College of Biological Sciences Dean Mark Winey stand together at the college's Fall Welcome event. David Slipher/UC Davis</figcaption></figure><p> </p> </div> <div class="field field--name-field-sf-article-category field--type-entity-reference field--label-above"> <div class="field__label">Category</div> <div class="field__item"><a href="/articles/university-news" hreflang="en">University News</a></div> </div> <div class="field field--name-field-sf-tags field--type-entity-reference field--label-above"> <div class="field__label">Tags</div> <div class="field__items"> <div class="field__item"><a href="/tags/huising" hreflang="en">Huising</a></div> <div class="field__item"><a href="/tags/usrey" hreflang="en">usrey</a></div> <div class="field__item"><a href="/tags/award" hreflang="en">award</a></div> </div> </div> Fri, 19 Oct 2018 19:14:30 +0000 Greg Watry 566 at https://npb.ucdavis.edu College of Biological Sciences Welcomes Eight New Faculty for 2018-2019 Year https://npb.ucdavis.edu/news/college-biological-sciences-welcomes-eight-new-faculty-2018-2019-year <span class="field field--name-title field--type-string field--label-hidden">College of Biological Sciences Welcomes Eight New Faculty for 2018-2019 Year</span> <span class="field field--name-uid field--type-entity-reference field--label-hidden"> <span lang="" about="/user/9041" typeof="schema:Person" property="schema:name" datatype="">Greg Watry</span> </span> <span class="field field--name-created field--type-created field--label-hidden">October 17, 2018</span> <div class="field field--name-field-sf-primary-image field--type-image field--label-hidden field__item"> <img src="/sites/g/files/dgvnsk581/files/styles/sf_landscape_16x9/public/images/article/New-Faculty-College-of-Biological-Sciences-UC-Davis_%281_of_7%29.jpg?h=c673cd1c&amp;itok=w47mmXEf" width="1280" height="720" alt="picture with the new faculty and dean" title="From left to right: new faculty members Nitzan Shabek, Wilsaan Joiner, James Letts, Rachael Bay, Lucas Smith and Chang-il Hwang pose with Dean Mark Winey, who stands center. David Slipher/UC Davis" typeof="foaf:Image" class="image-style-sf-landscape-16x9" /> </div> <div class="addthis_toolbox addthis_default_style addthis_32x32_style" addthis:url="https://npb.ucdavis.edu/articles.rss" addthis:title="NPB in the News" addthis:description="For the 2018-2019 academic year, we are proud to welcome eight new members to the UC Davis College of Biological Sciences faculty. Below you’ll learn more about the research interests of each faculty member, what brought them to UC Davis and more.   Rachael Bay Rachael Bay, Department of Evolution and Ecology. David Slipher/UC DavisRachael Bay joins the Department of Evolution and Ecology as an assistant professor. She was a National Science Foundation postdoctoral fellow at UCLA, where she used genomic data to identify genes associated with climate adaptation in migratory birds. “Broadly, I am interested in understanding how human actions change the evolutionary trajectories of organisms,” said Bay. “A lot of this work involves trying to figure out how organisms might adapt to rapidly changing conditions. I use a range of techniques from DNA sequencing to ecological and physiological experiments to analyze large-scale environmental data.” Bay received a Ph.D. from Stanford University, where she was a student at the Hopkins Marine Station. There, she investigated the thermal tolerance of corals, trying to understand how fast they can adapt to rising temperatures. She then used genetic data to understand tolerance differences within individuals of a species. Bay lauded UC Davis as one of the largest, broadest and most collaborative communities in ecology and evolutionary biology. She said what impressed her the most was the interdisciplinary nature of the community. “It’s easy to look up someone in a completely different department and start a conversation and next thing you know, you’re doing a project together,” she said. “This type of community helps fuel great science.” When not in the lab, Bay enjoys spending time outdoors hiking, scuba diving and kayaking. “Anything that gets me outside,” she added, “especially if it involves the ocean.”   Rishidev Chaudhuri Rishidev Chaudhuri will join the Department of Neurobiology, Physiology and Behavior in March 2019 as an assistant professor. He’ll hold a joint appointment in the Department of Mathematics in the College of Letters and Science. Harnessing mathematics and computer science, Chaudhuri studies the underlying principles that govern how neurons organize and transmit information. “Everything that we think and feel emerges from the activity of large networks that collectively carry out complex computations,” he said. “The principles that these neurons use to organize and transmit information are quite foreign to our everyday intuition.”  Chaudhuri’s current research questions include, how do memories persist over time even though neurons are constantly changing? How do neurons efficiently share information with each other even though many don’t interact with each other? And how can networks that evolved for one purpose be efficiently reused for another task? Among many others. Before UC Davis, Chaudhuri was a postdoctoral researcher at The University of Texas at Austin. He received a Ph.D. in Applied Mathematics from Yale University and a B.A. in Physics from Amherst College. Chaudhuri joined UC Davis due to its strength in interdisciplinary research and its long tradition of fostering computational and quantitative skills in the biological sciences.  “Davis is very strong in both neuroscience and mathematics, and I’m thrilled to be part of these departments,” Chaudhuri said. “I was really struck by the depth of biology across the whole institution, ranging from applied to abstract.” “Also the promise of delicious local vegetables and lots of bikes really helped,” he added. Asked for a fun fact, Chaudhuri said that before continuing his education at Yale, he tried out a number of careers, including silkworm farm worker, journalist and schoolteacher.   Chang-il Hwang Chang-il Hwang, Department of Microbiology and Molecular Genetics. David Slipher/UC DavisChang-il Hwang joins the Department of Microbiology and Molecular Genetics as an assistant professor. Hwang was a postdoctoral fellow at Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory, where he developed organoid models for pancreatic cancer research. He received a Ph.D. in Comparative Biomedical Sciences from Cornell University. “I will continue on pancreatic cancer research and study more details on how genetic and epigenetic changes impact pancreatic cancer progression and how we can utilize this knowledge for therapeutic strategies for pancreatic cancer patients,” said Hwang.    Trained as a veterinarian in South Korea, Hwang said that UC Davis is a dream school for him. “Both the collegial and highly collaborative environment made me join UC Davis,” he said. “In addition, my family was looking for a family friendly environment. No doubt UC Davis meets all of these criteria.” In his free time, Hwang enjoys spending time with his twin boys. “My kids love to play soccer and we often play the FIFA soccer video game,” he said, noting that his boys’ video game skills have superseded his own. “I can’t beat my kids anymore, and I’m losing interest in the game,” he joked.   Wilsaan Joiner Wilsaan Joiner, Department of Neurobiology, Physiology and Behavior. David Slipher/UC DavisWilsaan Joiner joins the Department of Neurobiology, Physiology and Behavior as an assistant professor. He holds a joint appointment with the Department of Neurology at the School of Medicine. “My laboratory at Davis will mostly focus on how we use different sources of information to aid behavior,” Joiner said, noting the behaviors his lab studies range from visual perception to movement planning and updating. Joiner is interested in understanding how the integration of such information occurs in both healthy and impaired individuals, like those with schizophrenia or upper extremity amputations. Previously, Joiner was an associate professor in George Mason University’s Department of Bioengineering. He received a Ph.D. in Biomedical Engineering from Johns Hopkins School of Medicine and a B.S. in Biomedical Engineering from Saint Louis University. He came to UC Davis for the wide breadth of research opportunities on campus, like the chance to work with the Primate Research Center. ”The university provides a strong intellectual community and numerous unique opportunities to further develop my research program,” he said. “In addition, the welcoming atmosphere convinced my wife and me that the city would be a great place to raise our family.” In his free time, Joiner enjoys spending time with his family, running and biking. When asked for a fun fact, he said he was quite a good tap dancer when he was younger. “I can still perform some of the moves, but not nearly as well as when I was 10,” he said.   James Letts James Letts, Department of Molecular and Cellular Biology. David Slipher/UC DavisJames Letts joins the Department of Molecular and Cellular Biology as an assistant professor. He is a faculty scholar for the Center for the Advancement of Multicultural Perspectives on Science. Before UC Davis, Letts was a Marie Skłodowska-Curie Fellow at the Institute of Science and Technology Austria, where he studied the structure and function of large membrane protein complexes of the mitochondrial electron transport chain. These include protein complexes that play pivotal roles in metabolism and cellular defense against microbes.  “Currently, I am interested in continuing to characterize the electron transport membrane protein complexes using a combination of biochemical, biophysical and structural techniques,” said Letts. Letts received a Ph.D. from The Rockerfeller University. He worked in the Laboratory of Molecular Neurobiology and Biophysics with Professor Roderick MacKinnon, with whom he studied the human voltage-gate proton channel. “UC Davis is an exciting place to do basic research and is investing in new electron cryomicroscopy with a new state-of-the-art microscope arriving later this year,” said Letts. “Furthermore, the other facilities on campus are also very exciting, for example, the CalEPR facility, which is the largest electron paramagnetic resonance facility on the West Coast, and the West Coast Metabolomics Center.”      Letts said the collegial and supporting atmosphere on campus was a major factor in his decision to join the UC Davis faculty.   Nitzan Shabek Nitzan Shabek, Department of Plant Biology. Courtesy photoNitzan Shabek joins the Department of Plant Biology as an assistant professor. His work comprises theoretical and applied research in the fields of structural biology, biochemistry and cellular and molecular biology. “My group aims to decipher how naturally-occurring physical and chemical signals are perceived, transduced and regulated in cells, and how these biological pathways can be controlled by proteolytic machineries,” which breakdown proteins, Shabek said. “Using cutting-edge structural and cellular biology technologies, my goal is to envision biological pathways from atomic to organismal levels and address pathophysiological challenges through bioengineering.” Before coming to UC Davis, Shabek was a postdoctoral fellow at the University of Washington. He received a Ph.D. in Biochemistry from the Technion-Israel Institute of Technology in Haifa, Israel. Shabek said he decided to join UC Davis due to its top-tier status in the fields of biological and plant sciences. “UC Davis provides a unique opportunity to be part of developing a cutting-edge structural biology core that will become the beacon for others and surely will illuminate many biological pathways,” he said. “The College and particularly the Department of Plant Biology provide and amazing platform to join with brilliant scientists, excellent graduate and undergraduate students to carry out complementary research,” he added. When not investigating the biological pathways of plants, he enjoys playing guitar and hiking with his family.   Patrick Shih Patrick Shih, Department of Plant BiologyPatrick Shih joins the Department of Plant Biology as an assistant professor. Previously, he worked at the UC Davis-affiliated Joint BioEnergy Institute, an institute devoted to bioenergy crop innovation, where he developed plant synthetic biology tools for metabolic engineering efforts.  “We are interested in using synthetic biology to improve our ability to engineer plants,” Shih said of his lab’s research. “Much of my interest is more specifically in plant metabolic biochemistry and how we might be able to introduce new pathways into various crops.” According to Shih, his lab is studying how plant metabolisms evolve, with an emphasis on photosynthesis and carbon fixation. He’s also the director of Plant Biosystems Design division at the Joint BioEnergy Institute. “Davis is one of the best places in the world to be carrying out plant biology research,” Shih said. “The combination of great basic science and applications in agriculture was a perfect fit for my research interests.” Shih received a Ph.D. in Plant Biology from UC Berkeley and a B.S. in Microbiology and B.A. in Political Sciences from UC San Diego.    In his free time, he tries to spend as much time as possible hiking, camping and backpacking.   Lucas Smith Lucas Smith, Department of Neurobiology, Physiology and Behavior. David Slipher/UC DavisLucas Smith joins the Department of Neurobiology, Physiology and Behavior as an assistant professor. He holds a joint appointment in the Department of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation in the School of Medicine.    Smith studies how muscles either adapt or fail to adapt to disease conditions, like to the scarring that results from muscular dystrophy. “We focus on how the structure of the scar within the muscle, not simply the amount of damage, impacts both the ability to mechanically function and adapt based on resident stem cells,” Smith said. “Our work ranges from working with cells in a dish and animal models to patients with disease with hopes of offering novel treatments for muscle scarring.” Previously, Smith worked at the University of Pennsylvania. There, he studied a variety of fields, including dentistry, bioengineering and gastroenterology, focusing on how tissues interact with their extracellular matrices. “UC Davis has a wealth of expertise in the broadly defined biological sciences to help support my interdisciplinary research,” said Smith of his decision to comes to UC Davis. “The collegial atmosphere of the town also provides an appealing place to bring our family.” Smith received a Ph.D. in Bioengineering from UC San Diego and a B.S. in Bioengineering from the University of Washington. Outside the lab, Smith’s time centers around his children. “We enjoy touring playgrounds, the farmer’s market and recently discovered the fun atmosphere of Aggie football games,” he said. “I also enjoy staying active in nature and playing sports.”  "> <a class="addthis_button_facebook"></a> <a class="addthis_button_linkedin"></a> <script> var addthis_share = { templates: { twitter: "For the 2018-2019 academic year, we are proud to welcome eight new members to the UC Davis College of Biological Sciences faculty. Below you’ll learn more about the research interests of each faculty member, what brought them to UC Davis and more." } } </script> <a class="addthis_button_twitter"></a> <a class="addthis_button_email"></a> <a class="addthis_button_compact"></a> </div> <div class="clearfix text-formatted field field--name-body field--type-text-with-summary field--label-hidden field__item"><p><span><span><span><span><span><span><span><span><span><span><span><span><span><span><span><span><span><span>For the 2018-2019 academic year, we are proud to welcome eight new members to the UC Davis College of Biological Sciences faculty. Below you’ll learn more about the research interests of each faculty member, what brought them to UC Davis and more.</span></span></span></span></span></span></span></span></span></span></span></span></span></span></span></span></span></span></p> <h4> </h4> <h4><span><span><span><span><strong><span><span><span><span><span><span><span><span><span><span><span><span><span><span><span><span><strong><span><span><span>Rachael Bay</span></span></span></strong></span></span></span></span></span></span></span></span></span></span></span></span></span></span></span></span></strong></span></span></span></span></h4> <figure role="group" class="caption caption-img align-right"><img alt="picture of rachael" data-entity-type="file" data-entity-uuid="0e7a278c-7573-4267-9eea-fe0a8d984117" height="333" src="/sites/g/files/dgvnsk581/files/inline-images/Rachael-Bay-College-of-Biological-Sciences-UC-Davis_%286_of_7%29.jpg" width="222" /><figcaption>Rachael Bay, Department of Evolution and Ecology. David Slipher/UC Davis</figcaption></figure><p><a href="https://biology.ucdavis.edu/people/rachael-bay">Rachael Bay</a> joins the Department of Evolution and Ecology as an assistant professor. She was a National Science Foundation postdoctoral fellow at UCLA, where</p> <p>she used genomic data to identify genes associated with climate adaptation in migratory birds.</p> <p>“Broadly, I am interested in understanding how human actions change the evolutionary trajectories of organisms,” said Bay. “A lot of this work involves trying to figure out how <a href="https://biology.ucdavis.edu/news/new-faculty-rachael-bay-receives-nsf-grant-study-links-between-physiology-genomics-and">organisms might adapt to rapidly changing conditions</a>. I use a range of techniques from DNA sequencing to ecological and physiological experiments to analyze large-scale environmental data.”</p> <p>Bay received a Ph.D. from Stanford University, where she was a student at the Hopkins Marine Station. There, she investigated the thermal tolerance of corals, trying to understand how fast they can adapt to rising temperatures. She then used genetic data to understand tolerance differences within individuals of a species.</p> <p>Bay lauded UC Davis as one of the largest, broadest and most collaborative communities in ecology and evolutionary biology. She said what impressed her the most was the interdisciplinary nature of the community.</p> <p>“It’s easy to look up someone in a completely different department and start a conversation and next thing you know, you’re doing a project together,” she said. “This type of community helps fuel great science.”</p> <p>When not in the lab, Bay enjoys spending time outdoors hiking, scuba diving and kayaking. “Anything that gets me outside,” she added, “especially if it involves the ocean.”</p> <h4> </h4> <h4><strong>Rishidev Chaudhuri</strong></h4> <p>Rishidev Chaudhuri will join the Department of Neurobiology, Physiology and Behavior in March 2019 as an assistant professor. He’ll hold a joint appointment in the Department of Mathematics in the College of Letters and Science.</p> <p>Harnessing mathematics and computer science, Chaudhuri studies the underlying principles that govern how neurons organize and transmit information. “Everything that we think and feel emerges from the activity of large networks that collectively carry out complex computations,” he said. “The principles that these neurons use to organize and transmit information are quite foreign to our everyday intuition.” </p> <p>Chaudhuri’s current research questions include, how do memories persist over time even though neurons are constantly changing? How do neurons efficiently share information with each other even though many don’t interact with each other? And how can networks that evolved for one purpose be efficiently reused for another task? Among many others.</p> <p>Before UC Davis, Chaudhuri was a postdoctoral researcher at The University of Texas at Austin. He received a Ph.D. in Applied Mathematics from Yale University and a B.A. in Physics from Amherst College.</p> <p>Chaudhuri joined UC Davis due to its strength in interdisciplinary research and its long tradition of fostering computational and quantitative skills in the biological sciences. </p> <p>“Davis is very strong in both neuroscience and mathematics, and I’m thrilled to be part of these departments,” Chaudhuri said. “I was really struck by the depth of biology across the whole institution, ranging from applied to abstract.”</p> <p>“Also the promise of delicious local vegetables and lots of bikes really helped,” he added.</p> <p>Asked for a fun fact, Chaudhuri said that before continuing his education at Yale, he tried out a number of careers, including silkworm farm worker, journalist and schoolteacher.</p> <h4> </h4> <h4><strong>Chang-il Hwang</strong></h4> <figure role="group" class="caption caption-img align-right"><img alt="picture of chang" data-entity-type="file" data-entity-uuid="2cc211bf-9f5a-42f5-898e-797ae31e8c30" height="332" src="/sites/g/files/dgvnsk581/files/inline-images/Chang-Il-Hwang-College-of-Biological-Sciences-UC-Davis_%284_of_7%29.jpg" width="221" /><figcaption>Chang-il Hwang, Department of Microbiology and Molecular Genetics. David Slipher/UC Davis</figcaption></figure><p><a href="https://biology.ucdavis.edu/people/chang-il-hwang">Chang-il Hwang</a> joins the Department of Microbiology and Molecular Genetics as an assistant professor.</p> <p>Hwang was a postdoctoral fellow at Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory, where he developed organoid models for pancreatic cancer research. He received a Ph.D. in Comparative Biomedical Sciences from Cornell University.</p> <p>“I will continue on pancreatic cancer research and study more details on how genetic and epigenetic changes impact pancreatic cancer progression and how we can utilize this knowledge for therapeutic strategies for pancreatic cancer patients,” said Hwang.   </p> <p>Trained as a veterinarian in South Korea, Hwang said that UC Davis is a dream school for him. “Both the collegial and highly collaborative environment made me join UC Davis,” he said. “In addition, my family was looking for a family friendly environment. No doubt UC Davis meets all of these criteria.”</p> <p>In his free time, Hwang enjoys spending time with his twin boys.</p> <p>“My kids love to play soccer and we often play the FIFA soccer video game,” he said, noting that his boys’ video game skills have superseded his own.</p> <p>“I can’t beat my kids anymore, and I’m losing interest in the game,” he joked.</p> <h4> </h4> <h4><strong>Wilsaan Joiner</strong></h4> <figure role="group" class="caption caption-img align-right"><img alt="picture of Wilsaan" data-entity-type="file" data-entity-uuid="e01c2577-d383-4eed-960b-8fb6de16f372" height="365" src="/sites/g/files/dgvnsk581/files/inline-images/Wilsaan-Joiner-College-of-Biological-Sciences-UC-Davis_%282_of_7%29.jpg" width="243" /><figcaption>Wilsaan Joiner, Department of Neurobiology, Physiology and Behavior. David Slipher/UC Davis</figcaption></figure><p><a href="https://biology.ucdavis.edu/people/wilsaan-joiner">Wilsaan Joiner</a> joins the Department of Neurobiology, Physiology and Behavior as an assistant professor. He holds a joint appointment with the Department of Neurology at the School of Medicine.</p> <p>“My laboratory at Davis will mostly focus on how we use different sources of information to aid behavior,” Joiner said, noting the behaviors his lab studies range from visual perception to movement planning and updating. Joiner is interested in understanding how the integration of such information occurs in both healthy and impaired individuals, like those with schizophrenia or upper extremity amputations.</p> <p>Previously, Joiner was an associate professor in George Mason University’s Department of Bioengineering. He received a Ph.D. in Biomedical Engineering from Johns Hopkins School of Medicine and a B.S. in Biomedical Engineering from Saint Louis University.</p> <p>He came to UC Davis for the wide breadth of research opportunities on campus, like the chance to work with the Primate Research Center.</p> <p>”The university provides a strong intellectual community and numerous unique opportunities to further develop my research program,” he said. “In addition, the welcoming atmosphere convinced my wife and me that the city would be a great place to raise our family.”</p> <p>In his free time, Joiner enjoys spending time with his family, running and biking. When asked for a fun fact, he said he was quite a good tap dancer when he was younger.</p> <p>“I can still perform some of the moves, but not nearly as well as when I was 10,” he said.</p> <h4> </h4> <h4><strong>James Letts</strong></h4> <figure role="group" class="caption caption-img align-right"><img alt="picture of james" data-entity-type="file" data-entity-uuid="3758c387-e728-4056-9b88-0515517b9555" height="338" src="/sites/g/files/dgvnsk581/files/inline-images/James-Letts-College-of-Biological-Sciences-UC-Davis_%285_of_7%29.jpg" width="225" /><figcaption>James Letts, Department of Molecular and Cellular Biology. David Slipher/UC Davis</figcaption></figure><p>James Letts joins the Department of Molecular and Cellular Biology as an assistant professor. He is a faculty scholar for the Center for the Advancement of Multicultural Perspectives on Science.</p> <p>Before UC Davis, Letts was a Marie Skłodowska-Curie Fellow at the Institute of Science and Technology Austria, where he studied the structure and function of large membrane protein complexes of the mitochondrial electron transport chain. These include protein complexes that play pivotal roles in metabolism and cellular defense against microbes. </p> <p>“Currently, I am interested in continuing to characterize the electron transport membrane protein complexes using a combination of biochemical, biophysical and structural techniques,” said Letts.</p> <p>Letts received a Ph.D. from The Rockerfeller University. He worked in the Laboratory of Molecular Neurobiology and Biophysics with Professor Roderick MacKinnon, with whom he studied the human voltage-gate proton channel.</p> <p>“UC Davis is an exciting place to do basic research and is investing in new electron cryomicroscopy with a new state-of-the-art microscope arriving later this year,” said Letts. “Furthermore, the other facilities on campus are also very exciting, for example, the CalEPR facility, which is the largest electron paramagnetic resonance facility on the West Coast, and the West Coast Metabolomics Center.”     </p> <p>Letts said the collegial and supporting atmosphere on campus was a major factor in his decision to join the UC Davis faculty.</p> <h4> </h4> <h4><strong>Nitzan Shabek</strong></h4> <figure role="group" class="caption caption-img align-right"><img alt="picture of nitzan" data-entity-type="file" data-entity-uuid="d69f5417-b3a5-4d75-a041-5beeec8f46bb" height="267" src="/sites/g/files/dgvnsk581/files/inline-images/Nitzan-Shabek-College-of-Biological-Sciences-UC-Davis.jpg" width="240" /><figcaption>Nitzan Shabek, Department of Plant Biology. Courtesy photo</figcaption></figure><p><a href="https://biology.ucdavis.edu/people/nitzan-shabek">Nitzan Shabek</a> joins the Department of Plant Biology as an assistant professor. His work comprises theoretical and applied research in the fields of structural biology, biochemistry and cellular and molecular biology.</p> <p>“My <a href="http://shabek-lab.ucdavis.edu/index.php/research/">group</a> aims to decipher how naturally-occurring physical and chemical signals are perceived, transduced and regulated in cells, and how these biological pathways can be controlled by proteolytic machineries,” which breakdown proteins, Shabek said. “Using cutting-edge structural and cellular biology technologies, my goal is to envision biological pathways from atomic to organismal levels and address pathophysiological challenges through bioengineering.”</p> <p>Before coming to UC Davis, Shabek was a postdoctoral fellow at the University of Washington. He received a Ph.D. in Biochemistry from the Technion-Israel Institute of Technology in Haifa, Israel.</p> <p>Shabek said he decided to join UC Davis due to its top-tier status in the fields of biological and plant sciences. “UC Davis provides a unique opportunity to be part of developing a cutting-edge structural biology core that will become the beacon for others and surely will illuminate many biological pathways,” he said.</p> <p>“The College and particularly the Department of Plant Biology provide and amazing platform to join with brilliant scientists, excellent graduate and undergraduate students to carry out complementary research,” he added.</p> <p>When not investigating the biological pathways of plants, he enjoys playing guitar and hiking with his family.</p> <h4> </h4> <h4><strong>Patrick Shih</strong></h4> <figure role="group" class="caption caption-img align-right"><img alt="picture of Patrick" data-entity-type="file" data-entity-uuid="eb0b6b45-18c1-4cdd-b353-3856e29bc86d" height="342" src="/sites/g/files/dgvnsk581/files/inline-images/Patrick-Shih-College-of-Biological-Sciences-UC-Davis.jpg" width="228" /><figcaption>Patrick Shih, Department of Plant Biology</figcaption></figure><p><a href="https://biology.ucdavis.edu/people/patrick-shih">Patrick Shih</a> joins the Department of Plant Biology as an assistant professor. Previously, he worked at the UC Davis-affiliated Joint BioEnergy Institute, an institute devoted to bioenergy crop innovation, where he developed plant synthetic biology tools for metabolic engineering efforts. </p> <p>“We are interested in using synthetic biology to improve our ability to engineer plants,” Shih said of his lab’s research. “Much of my interest is more specifically in plant metabolic biochemistry and how we might be able to introduce new pathways into various crops.”</p> <p>According to Shih, his lab is studying how plant metabolisms evolve, with an emphasis on photosynthesis and carbon fixation. He’s also the director of <a href="https://www.jbei.org/research/divisions/feedstock/plant-biosystems-design/">Plant Biosystems Design</a> division at the Joint BioEnergy Institute.</p> <p>“Davis is one of the best places in the world to be carrying out plant biology research,” Shih said. “The combination of great basic science and applications in agriculture was a perfect fit for my research interests.”</p> <p>Shih received a Ph.D. in Plant Biology from UC Berkeley and a B.S. in Microbiology and B.A. in Political Sciences from UC San Diego.   </p> <p>In his free time, he tries to spend as much time as possible hiking, camping and backpacking.</p> <h4> </h4> <h4><strong>Lucas Smith</strong></h4> <figure role="group" class="caption caption-img align-right"><img alt="picture of lucas" data-entity-type="file" data-entity-uuid="580d19ab-cbb1-45cf-abc5-a19e8592570f" height="342" src="/sites/g/files/dgvnsk581/files/inline-images/Lucas-Smith-College-of-Biological-Sciences-UC-Davis_%283_of_7%29.jpg" width="228" /><figcaption>Lucas Smith, Department of Neurobiology, Physiology and Behavior. David Slipher/UC Davis</figcaption></figure><p><a href="https://biology.ucdavis.edu/people/lucas-smith">Lucas Smith</a> joins the Department of Neurobiology, Physiology and Behavior as an assistant professor. He holds a joint appointment in the Department of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation in the School of Medicine.   </p> <p>Smith studies how muscles either adapt or fail to adapt to disease conditions, like to the scarring that results from muscular dystrophy.</p> <p>“We focus on how the structure of the scar within the muscle, not simply the amount of damage, impacts both the ability to mechanically function and adapt based on resident stem cells,” Smith said. “Our work ranges from working with cells in a dish and animal models to patients with disease with hopes of offering novel treatments for muscle scarring.”</p> <p>Previously, Smith worked at the University of Pennsylvania. There, he studied a variety of fields, including dentistry, bioengineering and gastroenterology, focusing on how tissues interact with their extracellular matrices.</p> <p>“UC Davis has a wealth of expertise in the broadly defined biological sciences to help support my interdisciplinary research,” said Smith of his decision to comes to UC Davis. “The collegial atmosphere of the town also provides an appealing place to bring our family.”</p> <p>Smith received a Ph.D. in Bioengineering from UC San Diego and a B.S. in Bioengineering from the University of Washington.</p> <p>Outside the lab, Smith’s time centers around his children. “We enjoy touring playgrounds, the farmer’s market and recently discovered the fun atmosphere of Aggie football games,” he said. “I also enjoy staying active in nature and playing sports.” </p> </div> <div class="field field--name-field-sf-article-category field--type-entity-reference field--label-above"> <div class="field__label">Category</div> <div class="field__item"><a href="/articles/university-news" hreflang="en">University News</a></div> </div> <div class="field field--name-field-sf-tags field--type-entity-reference field--label-above"> <div class="field__label">Tags</div> <div class="field__items"> <div class="field__item"><a href="/tags/joiner" hreflang="en">joiner</a></div> <div class="field__item"><a href="/tags/smith" hreflang="en">smith</a></div> </div> </div> Wed, 17 Oct 2018 19:21:11 +0000 Greg Watry 571 at https://npb.ucdavis.edu