Category Archives: News

Our Newest Neighbors?

By Nicole Strossman, Biochemistry and Molecular Biology, ‘17

Author’s Note:

“I decided to write this piece after seeing news headlines announcing the potential of life on planets in a nearby star system. As this is a topic that fascinates many people, myself included, I decided to investigate the new discoveries. While the research on the particular planet mentioned in the various news articles is still fairly new, it has brought about renewed interest in the search for life beyond our planet. This article aims to describe what these recent discoveries are, and show the implications they have for astronomers.”

Continue reading Our Newest Neighbors?

Blueberries and Breast Cancer Treatment

By Shivani Kamal, Biochemistry and Molecular Biology, ’17

Author’s Note:

“I originally became interested in the potential anti-cancer effects of blueberries when I took a nutrition seminar my first year at UC Davis. Curious about further research on its effects on breast cancer, I decided to write an article to educate other students about it. Many of us either have a family member or know someone diagnosed with cancer, so spreading knowledge of current cancer research is an important reminder of support, hope, and determination to individuals and their families.” Continue reading Blueberries and Breast Cancer Treatment

Mitofusin 2 as a Mammalian ER-Mitochondria Tether? A Review

By Lauren Uchiyama, Biochemistry and Molecular Biology, ’17

Author’s Note:

“I chose to write this piece to familiarize myself with the most recent scientific literature on Mitofusin 2 for my UWP104E Writing in Science class. I was preparing to apply for the Undergraduate Research Center Provost Undergraduate Fellowship and felt this would be a good way to inform myself about a protein related to my own undergraduate project in Jodi Nunnari’s lab.  I was puzzled that different experiments could lead to such conflicting findings on the same issue; thus, writing this review was an invaluable learning experience for me as both an undergraduate student and scientist.”

Continue reading Mitofusin 2 as a Mammalian ER-Mitochondria Tether? A Review

Exploring the Known Unknowns Using the Power of Metagenomics: Discovery of the crAssphage

By Connie Chen, Microbiology, ’15-’16

Author’s Note:

“Metagenomics is the study of genetic material directly from environmental samples such as the soil or the human gut. With whole metagenomic sequencing, it is possible to obtain and analyze every piece of genetic material in the sample. As we being to learn more about the world, it becomes evident that there is more that is unknown. The crAssphage is an example of a “known unknown” because through metagenomics, the virus’s genome has been built and certain properties can be interpreted from the genome, but it has never been seen under a microscope and there is much still unknown about the virus. Metagenomics have opened the doors to analyzing multiple sequences and determining the ecology of the environment. Because metagenomics is becoming more prevalent, it is essential to understand the potential of this growing field. I hope that by learning about the potential of metagenomics, new ideas can sprout from using this technology in order to help others.”

Continue reading Exploring the Known Unknowns Using the Power of Metagenomics: Discovery of the crAssphage

The Infant Airway Microbiome Linked to Childhood Asthma

By Shivani Kamal, Biochemistry and Molecular Biology, ’17

Author’s Note:

“I am pursing a career in pediatrics and wanted to familiarize myself with new research regarding health and development of children. I was amazed at the advancements of medical technology which allow us to understand diseases and create potential cures, previously never thought possible. My purpose for writing this review is to show scientific audiences the most current research on how bacteria in the respiratory microbiome has an impact on asthma. Recently, much research initiated by the Human Microbiome Projects (HMP) proved that the bacteria living on and inside humans contribute to the health and disease of the body. This review is meant to educate scientists on the most recent information on development of childhood asthma and prompt others to conduct future research on preventative treatments for the disease.”

Continue reading The Infant Airway Microbiome Linked to Childhood Asthma

Human Health and Safety Impacts of Recombinant Bovine Somatotropin Consumption

By Danielle Kassatly, Genetics and Genomics, ’16

Author’s Note:

“This piece aspires to encourage consumers to critically interpret the scientific facts presented in everyday advertisements. Our society assumes that rBST and many other synthetic chemicals are detrimental to health, this essay emphasizes the importance of challenging fallacious argument in order to fairly evaluate the use of rBST.”

Continue reading Human Health and Safety Impacts of Recombinant Bovine Somatotropin Consumption

Vector and Disease Management Research to Reduce the Effects of Pierce’s Disease in California’s Vineyards

By Natalie Swinhoe, Anthropology and Evolution, Ecology, and Biodiversity, 2015

Pierce’s Disease in grapevines is a major threat to California’s viticultural economy. Caused by the bacterial strain Xylella fastidiosa, the disease blocks water transfer in the xylem of stems, leading to water stress and eventual death. Until the 1990s, the only carriers for the disease were native Blue-Green Sharpshooters, Graphocephala atropunctata. However, between 1994 and 2000, a devastating outbreak occurred in Southern California, destroying more than 1000 acres of vineyards (Ringenberg et al., 2014). This epidemic was caused by a new nonnative vector- the Glassy-Winged Sharpshooter, Homalodisca vitripennis (Tumber et al, 2013). Compared to the Blue-Green Sharpshooter, the Glassy-Winged Sharpshooter has a much greater capacity to spread Pierce’s Disease because it can fly further and feed on a larger variety of plant parts (Alston et al., 2013, Baccari and Lindow, 2010).

Continue reading Vector and Disease Management Research to Reduce the Effects of Pierce’s Disease in California’s Vineyards

A Breakthrough in Breast Cancer Treatment

 Exciting, new gene therapy treatments for breast cancer are on the verge of making a breakthrough. With proper funding, these procedures could reduce the need for the surgical removal of organs.

By Rayan Kaakati, Neurobiology, Physiology, and Behavior

Being born female automatically enters one in a game of Russian roulette: About 1 in 8 women will develop invasive breast cancer over the course of their lifetime; for American women, breast cancer is the second leading cause of death (U.S. Breast Cancer Statistics).

Breast cancer is a disease that starts in the tissues of the breast and is statistically fatal for one in thirty-two women (Breast Cancer Facts). Many women, throughout recorded history, have succumbed to this malignant disease. Rapid advancements in research have been very promising for cancer cell-targeting medications and for gene modification techniques.

Medicine in the twenty-first century is still resorting to what the ancient Chinese and Arab doctors used to practice: “If cancerous, cut it out if possible,” or in current-day terms, order a “lumpectomy” or a “mastectomy” (if the entire breast is to be removed). In recent years, a toxic chemo “smoothie” and an intensive radiation regimen have been added, coupled with hormone therapy.  While these medical procedures are credited with saving thousands of lives, they are still primitive compared to current, promising research works.

Continue reading A Breakthrough in Breast Cancer Treatment

SV2A is a Galactose Transporter

By Marisa Sanchez, Molecular and Cellular Biology ’15

SV2A is a synaptic vesicle protein, which participates in the regulation of neurotransmitter release in humans. SV2A is expressed in neurons and endocrine cells. The exact function of SV2A is still unknown, but it has been identified that SV2A is the binding site for the antiepileptic drug, levetiracetam. Levetiracetam reduces presynaptic glutamate release, especially in neurons with high frequency firing. Abnormally enhanced glutamatergic neurotransmission with high frequency neural firing is found in epilepsy and several neurodegenerative disorders, such as Parkinson’s disease, Alzheimer’s disease, and Huntington’s disease. Continue reading SV2A is a Galactose Transporter