About Egghead

Egghead is a blog about research by, with or related to UC Davis. Comments on posts are welcome, as are tips and suggestions for posts. General feedback may be sent to Andy Fell. This blog is created and maintained by UC Davis Strategic Communications, and mostly edited by Andy Fell.

UC Davis Engineering Projects Fight COVID-19

By Noah Pflueger-Peters

With new seed grants from the UC Davis Office of Research’s COVID-19 Research Accelerator Funding Track (CRAFT), three teams of UC Davis engineers are applying their expertise toward the pandemic response to help people become safer, healthier and better-tested.

Mechanical and aerospace engineering professor and chair Cristina Davis and chemical engineering professors Priya Shah, Karen McDonald and Roland Faller received $25,000 project awards for research that rapidly generates new insights about COVID-19, while biological and agricultural engineering professor Gang Sun received a $5,000 award to apply current research to the pandemic response. These proposals were chosen out from more than 100 applications and were awarded with the expectation that these projects will lead to larger collaborations.

Help Name a New Species of California Spider

By Greg Watry

An unnamed spider species lurks in the sand dunes of Monterey County’s Moss Landing State Beach and UC Davis scientists need your help naming it.

UC Davis Professor of Entomology and Nematology Jason Bond recently appeared on Assistant Professor of Teaching Joel Ledford’s to discuss the discovery of this new, unique species of trapdoor spider and the upcoming paper describing it.

All You Want To Know About Hornets

There’s been much ado about hornets in the U.S. media lately, after a colony of the Asian giant hornet, Vespa mandarinia, was found and destroyed on Vancouver Island, British Columbia last year. Hornets are predators of other insects and a potential threat to beehives. But with no Asian giant hornets detected in North America so far this year, it’s highly unlikely that the so-called “murder hornet” poses a threat to U.S. apiculture. In any case, Asian beekeepers have long learned how to keep them out of hives. Sadly, that hasn’t in parts of the U.S..

Earliest Ichthyosaur Munched on Shellfish

The ichthyosaurs were sleek, dolphin-like marine reptiles that roamed the oceans while dinosaurs ruled on land. But the earliest known member of the group was a short, seal-like animal that could likely pull itself on to land. Now scanning of that animal’s skull shows that it likely fed on hard-shelled animals such as shellfish and crabs. The appearance of similar teeth in other ichthyosaurs gives insight into how these animals were evolving in the wake of the mass extinction at the end of the Permian era, 250 million years ago.

Neandertals Were Choosy About Making Bone Tools

Evidence continues to mount that the Neandertals, who lived in Europe and Asia until about 40,000 years ago, were more sophisticated people than once thought. A new study from UC Davis shows that Neandertals chose to use bones from specific animals to make a tool for specific purpose: working hides into leather.

Naomi Martisius, research associate in the Department of Anthropology, studied Neandertal tools from sites in southern France for her doctoral research. The Neandertals left behind a tool called a lissoir, a piece of animal rib with a smoothed tip used to rub animal hides to make them into leather. These lissoirs are often worn so smooth that it’s impossible to tell which animal they came from just by looking at them.

Studying the Ghost Dogs of the Amazon

The Amazon rainforest is full of rare and little-understood species, and one of the most mysterious is the short-eared wild dog, Atelocynus microtis. In a genus all by themselves in the canid family, they are so shy and elusive even locals and career researchers rarely see them, earning the name “ghost dogs”.

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The rarely seen Amazon short-eared dog or ‘ghost dog’ is getting a little better understood thanks to an effort coordinated by UC Davis graduate student Daniel Rocha. (Photo by Daniel Rocha via the New York Times)

Lighting Center Gets $5M for Training Program

The California Lighting Technology Center (CLTC), part of the UC Davis College of Letters and Science’s Department of Design, recently received a $5 million grant to expand electrical training programs in California and Nevada. The award from the U.S. Department of Labor will provide funding for 25 organizations with electrical training and apprenticeships programs.

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Professor Michael Siminovitch, Director of the California Lighting Technology Center. The center has received a $5 million grant from the U.S. Department of Labor to enhance training and apprenticeship programs.

It will include enhancements in training for:

Engineers, Urologists Develop Device to Help People with Spinal Injury

By Lisa Howard

UC Davis medical and engineering experts are teaming up to develop an under-clothing biosensor that can recognize in real time when someone’s bladder is full. Most people take that kind of biological awareness for granted, but it is lacking for the approximately half a million individuals in the United States with spinal cord injuries or spinal anomalies.

快2彩票Lifeng Lai, Eric Kurzrock and Soheil Ghiasi in a hospital setting.

Lifeng Lai (left), Eric Kurzrock and Soheil Ghiasi are developing a device to help people with spinal injuries know when their bladder is full. (Wayne Tilcock/UC Davis Health)

Tracking Striped Bass in the Pacific

The striped bass is a popular target for recreational fishing in the Delta and San Francisco estuary. Native to the Atlantic Coast, they migrate between fresh water where they spawn and salt water. On the East Coast, stripers are known to migrate north in summer in search of feeding grounds.

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Striped bass, introduced to San Francisco Bay in the 19th century, are an important food and sports fish. UC Davis researchers are using acoustic tags to learn more about what striped bass do once they leave the bay and enter the Pacific Ocean. (Public domain image)

Genetic Variation Not an Obstacle to Gene Drive Strategy to Control Mosquitoes

New research from entomologists at UC Davis clears a potential obstacle to using CRISPR-Cas9 “gene drive” technology to control mosquito-borne diseases such as malaria, dengue fever, yellow fever and Zika.

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One strategy to control mosquitoes that transmit malaria and other diseases is to use CRISPR-Cas9 gene drive technology to interfere with mosquito breeding or their ability to carry diseases. (Public domain image of malaria mosquito, Anopheles gambiae).

The idea is to create genetically engineered mosquitoes (GEM) that either fail to reproduce, reducing the mosquito population, or that resist carrying viruses and parasites that cause disease. These mosquitoes would be created in a lab and released to interbreed with wild mosquitoes.