The Burroughs Wellcome Fund's Career Award at the Scientific Interface is intended to foster the early career development of researchers with backgrounds in the physical/computational sciences whose work addresses biological questions and who are dedicated to pursuing a career in academic research. Advances in genomics, quantitative structural biology, and modeling of complex systems have created opportunities for an exciting research career at the interface between the physical/computational sciences and the biological sciences. Tackling key problems in biology will require scientists trained in areas such as chemistry, physics, applied mathematics, computer science, and engineering. The Burroughs Wellcome Fund has developed Career Awards at the Scientific Interface recognizing the vital role such cross-trained scientists will play in furthering biomedical science. Daniel Goldman is a physicist in Professor Robert Full's laboratory conducting research on how animals interact with complex media.
Plant species in California's Mediterranean climate must deal with the severe drought conditions we experience each summer. IB Researchers Jeffrey Corbin, Meredith Thomsen, Todd Dawson and UC Santa Barbara Professor Carla D'Antonio analyzed the stable isotope composition of water in plants to understand the importance of summer fog inputs to native grasses in coastal grasslands. They found that, during the summer drought, 16-66% of the water in these long-lived species came from fog. This study demonstrated that coastal fog moderates the summer drought experienced by coastal California grassland species, and likely allows native perennial species to extend their growing period – a potentially significant advantage over exotic annual species that compete their life cycles in the spring. This paper was published in the October 2005 issue of Oecologia.
The October issue of the journal High Country News features the ongoing Grinnell Resurvey Project in Yosemite, as led by IB professor emeritus and Museum of Vertebrate Zoology curator, Jim Patton. Between 1904 and 1940, Joseph Grinnell, the founding director of the Museum, surveyed over 700 California sites, including Yosemite Park. Researchers affiliated with IB and the MVZ are now using the abundant data left by Grinnell to resurvey Yosemite Park, and document the changes that have occurred since Grinnell's time. The project began in 2003 with funding from the US Geological Survey and the Yosemite Fund.
The program is open to qualified candidates who are committed to university careers in research, teaching and service at the University of California. The fellowship looks for candidates in the Life and Physical Sciences with a demonstrated record of outreach activities that promote access and opportunity in higher education. The award is for $40-50,000 for research conducted in any UC campus. Download a PDF of the announcement here.
The research of IB students and faculty affiliated with the UC Museum of Paleontology is currently featured in the Lawrence Hall of Science exhibit, Big Dinos Return. Professor Kevin Padian and graduate students Matt Wedel, Katie Brakora, Drew Lee, Brian Kraatz, and Alan Shabel share their research with exhibit viewers through a number of key displays, explaining the work they do in the field and the lab, and how this research is applied in paleontology. The exhibit also showcases a variety of robotic dinosaurs, including a T. rex and its offspring. The exhibit remains open through Jan. 16, 2006.
The movements of the helical bacteria Spiroplasma resemble a kink traveling down a spiral phone cord. This discovery was made by a team of researchers led by IB Post-doc researcher and Miller Fellow Joshua Shaevitz. Understanding the movements of bacteria is important for disease control and crop regulation. Spriroplasma has been known to stunt the growth of citrus crops, with no real treatment to prevent infection. The paper describing this research was published in the September 23 issue of the journal Cell.
IB Professor Nicole King was recently chosen to be a MacArthur Fellow in recognition for her work with choanoflagellates. The fellowship provides unrestriced financial support for the next five years. Dr. King is also a professor in the Department of Molecular & Cell Biology.
The class project for IB 250 / ESPM 290, Disease Ecology seminar from Spring 2004 is being published in the September 2005 issue of Trends in Ecology and Evolution. Host population thresholds for the invasion or persistence of infectious disease are core concepts of disease ecology and underlie disease control policies based on culling and vaccinations. The paper reviews the theoretical bases and empirical evidence for disease thresholds in wildlife. The article, Should we expect population thresholds for wildlife disease?, was written by IB and ESPM students and faculty, including IB Professor Cherie Briggs and IB Lecturer John Latto.
IB Professor Wayne Sousa has been studying the structure and dynamics of mangrove forests on Punta Galeta, Panama for more than 17 years. His work has focused on natural patterns and processes of mangrove regeneration. It has been estimated that as much as one third of the world's mangrove forests have been lost in the past 50 years, making Dr. Sousa's work critical to management and conservation of mangrove forests. His research on Punta Galeta was featured in a three part series in the Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute newsletter.
MIOMAP is an online research database of Oligocene and Miocene mammal occurrences and related information that facilitates a host of paleoecological and evolutionary research. It was created by IB Professor Tony Barnosky, IB researcher Marc Carrasco and IB graduate students Brian Kraatz and Edward Davis. The database was featured in the July 22 issue of Science’s Netwatch.
After successfully working on the effects of enriched and impoverished environments on the structure of rat brains for many decades, IB Professor Marian Diamond is now involved with a project called Enrichment in Action. Funded by private donations, the project directly enriches the lives of impoverished children in Cambodia. By providing the children with an enriched environment through supplementary vitamins, education, and wider social interaction, the project aims to increase the children’s chances of obtaining good jobs while living healthy, productive lives with their families. The project is now assisting 27 boys and 13 girls.
Dr. Briggs and other researchers experimentally induced outbreaks of the California red scale insect on individual trees. These insects were stabilized within a few months by its natural enemy, the parasitoid Aphytis. The interaction of the life-history characteristics between the insect and parasitoid is the key to stabilization. The paper was published in the July 22 issue of Science Magazine and is titled, Host suppression and stability in a parasitoid-host system: experimental demonstration.
The paper, written by IB Professor Tony Barnosky, researcher Marc Carassco, and graduate student Edward Davis, has broad implications for understanding major ecological, evolutionary, and extinction events in the history of life. The article was published in the August issue of PLoS Biology.