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Even without all the industrial and technological growth that has accelerated climate change, humans can — and do — dramatically impact ecosystems.   A new paper in Nature Communications, co-authored by UC Merced Professor Marilyn Fogel, indicates early humans were responsible for the fairly rapid extinction of the 10-foot-tall flightless bird Genyornis newtoni in Australia about 47,000 years ago, simply through hunting and the interruption of reproduction.   In “Human Predation Contributed to the Extinction of...
In Fall 2007, Maricela Rangel-Garcia became one of the first UC Merced students to sign up for a new, non-clinical volunteer program in the busy Mercy Medical Center Emergency Department (ED).   Her participation in what has become a vital and growing program cemented her career path.    “I decided to volunteer because I wanted general experience with doctors and patients,” said Rangel-Garcia, a Clovis resident who graduated in 2009 with a degree in biological sciences. “The program was a great way to gain...
Less than a year after mapping the genetic landscape of melanoma, a researcher from the University of California, Merced, has identified a drug that could be effective in battling the deadly skin cancer.   UC Merced Professor Fabian V. Filipp led a team of researchers on the new project, the results of which were published today (Feb. 29) in the journal Neoplasia.   Filipp’s previous study used data from The Cancer Genome Atlas — which includes DNA sequences from 471 melanoma patients and more than 12,000 cancer...
Professor Anne Myers Kelley, with the School of Natural Sciences, has been elected vice-chair of the Division of Laser Science (DLS) of the American Physical Society (APS), the world's largest organization of physicists.   Kelley, one of the first faculty members to join the campus in 2003, is with the Chemistry and Chemical Biology group in her school. She will serve as vice-chair until October, then move into the positions of chair-elect, chair and past chair, each for one year.   “It’s a very nice honor from my...
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...

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