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A new organization at UC Merced is working to close the gender gap by engaging, supporting and mentoring women in fields traditionally dominated by men.   WSTEM — or Women in Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics — brings together undergraduate and graduate students, postdoctoral researchers, professors and staff members of both genders. Formed last year, the grassroots organization sponsors monthly events such as panel discussions and workshops, and also offers mentoring opportunities to help improve the...
Biodiversity Professor Michael Dawson has been named UC Merced’s inaugural Faculty Climate Action Champion by the UC Office of the President (UCOP).   Dawson’s work and his plan, which formed a proposal for a project to engage the campus and community in sustainability, earned him the title and $25,000 to fund a research project in the 2015-16 academic year. UCOP recently announced its first Faculty Climate Action Champions, with one selection from each UC campus.   Through the award, Dawson, with the School of...
A team of scientists led by UC Merced Professor Aaron D. Hernday has made a major advancement in understanding how the most common fungal pathogen in humans can alter its cellular phenotype and behavior.   Although typically a benign component of the human microbiome, Candida albicans can transition into a dangerous pathogen that can cause yeast infections in women, thrush in babies, and serious bloodstream infections in people with compromised immune systems. The researchers have discovered a transcriptional regulator that controls the...
Shakespeare might have been right when he wrote “what’s past is prologue,” but not when it comes to modeling climate change.   A new study shows that rising air temperatures could have a crippling effect on the likelihood of precipitation falling as snow.   That’s a huge problem for California, because the snowpack in the Sierra is the state’s natural reservoir, storing up snow in the winter for release through spring and summer melt.   Lead author Mohammad Safeeq, a research hydrologist with...
School of Natural Sciences Dean Juan Meza has been elected to the American Association for the Advancement of Science’s (AAAS) council, representing the Section on Mathematics.   The association is an international nonprofit organization dedicated to advancing science for the benefit of all people, with one of its major goals being to communicate science to the public to convey its importance.   Meza’s term begins in February and lasts three years.   “I want to make sure I do a good job of representing...
The basic structure of Earth’s ecosystems lasted for 300 million years but changed about 6,000 years ago, and humans are the most likely reason.   A team of about 25 researchers from around the globe, including UC Merced Professor Jessica Blois, outline that discovery in a paper published today in the journal Nature.   “Over the past 10,000 years, we see rapid changes in natural communities,” said Blois, a professor in UC Merced’s School of Natural Sciences. “We really see the turning point happening...
Many species of trees and plants have begun migrating as the climate changes, but some, like California’s giant coastal redwoods, can’t just pick up and move.   The proximity of the ocean, which has unique effects on temperature and climate, makes it challenging to predict what the redwoods’ habitat will look like in the future. By using California’s historical climate data, UC Merced researchers have developed near-term predictions about the coastal habitat for the archetypal redwoods.   The trees will...
UC Merced Professor Miriam Barlow was honored with a major award last month for her role in developing a method to restore the efficacy of antibiotics and help doctors deal with resistant bacteria.   Barlow, a biologist, worked with American University mathematician Kristina Crona on the “Time Machine” software to rewind the evolution of bacteria. For that project, Barlow and Crona were chosen from among five finalists in the Health and Medicine category of the annual World Technology Network awards.   “...
Professor Linda Hirst, with the School of Natural Sciences, has been elected to the executive council of GSOFT, the new Topical Group on Soft Matter in the American Physical Society (APS), the world's largest organization of physicists.   “This is a big honor and is very exciting,” Hirst said. “I wanted to become more involved with the APS, and this is a great way to do it. This will bring a lot more attention to soft-matter physics at UC Merced, too.”   Hirst, an affiliate of the Health Sciences...
Three graduate students from the School of Natural Sciences have been named Dan David Solar Fellows through the University of California Advanced Solar Technologies Institute (UC Solar), headquartered at UC Merced.    The fellowship began in 2007 through a generous gift from Sarah R. Kurtz, principal scientist in the National Center for Photovoltaics at the U.S. Department of Energy’s National Renewable Energy Lab (NREL). Kurtz established the fellowship in the name of the Dan David Foundation, which awarded her and NREL...

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